A hidden gem is a place that is outstanding to visit but not too many people know about it. There is plenty of regions that remain largely untouched by tourists but offer huge potential. As we explore more and more of the world, we are constantly looking for unique and exciting destinations that are off the beaten track.
Finding hidden gems within towns and cities can be great, this might be stumbling across a great bar or restaurant. But finding an entire city that is a hidden gem may not be as exciting as you might expect. The reason being is that you may struggle to find a whole lot of things to do there. The key is to find a city that is in between being a hidden gem and a popular tourist destination.
Lviv is a UNESCO-listed city that’s located in western Ukraine near the border with Poland. It is the country’s seventh most populous city with around 725,000 inhabitants. In 2019 the city welcomed around 2.5 million tourists through its borders. This may sound like a lot, but compared to cities such as Paris and London, it’s just a drop in the ocean. Even so, this is no ghost town to tourists.
HIGH SEASON: July & August.
SHOULDER SEASON: May, June, September & October.
LOW SEASON: November – March.
This not so hidden gem has all the top attractions that a popular tourist city would have with the likes of The National Art Gallery and the Mountain High Castle. On the other hand, the city has only a fraction of the number of tourists compared to bigger cities, has little to no tourist traps and has a city that’s bursting with a colourful personality.
The picturesque Old Town is the beating heart of the city. It possesses a beauty that we so often associate with medieval European cities such as Kraków and Prague, but garnished with just a hint of the Soviet era. The colourful buildings of Rynok Square come as a little rough around the edges all adding to the vigorous character radiating throughout the streets.
Sat in the centre of the Market Square you can climb to the top of the Town Hall and gaze throughout the city and Ukrainian countryside. Those who love to admire architecture will take pleasure in seeing the National Opera building, the Latin Cathedral and Dominican Cathedral that are all close by.
The city is packed with quirky cafés and restaurants, and all come served with an upbeat atmosphere. Just over a century ago, the region lay within the boundaries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its famous coffee-house tradition. Today the city keeps its fire burning and is proud of its marvellous coffee scene. Lʹvivsʹka Kopalʹnya Kavy is a lively café and its interior is overflowing with Ukrainian character. It provides customers with cheap and extremely cheerful food & drinks.
Heading a small bit out from the old town you can find the Park High Castle. Climb to the top of the park while surrounded by nature and witness panoramic views of the city where the 13th-century high castle once stood. The peace and tranquillity of the area will make you forget you’re in the hustle and bustle of a city like Lviv.
From extreme heights at the Park High Castle, there are also extreme depths at the mystic underground of Lviv’s former burial grounds. The catacombs are dark narrow passageways bedded beneath the surface of the city. There is so much to experience here such as hearing scary stories of ghosts and torture, trying the hottest coffee you will ever taste, and even exploring the oldest pharmacy in Lviv.
As the sun begins to fade away below the horizon, Lviv takes a turn from being a charming town to a vibrant nightlife hub. Restaurants get quite busy especially on weekends, and there is always a comfortable and vigorous atmosphere around. Ukraine has a rich food scene with dishes such as Borsch (soup made with beetroot, pork fat, and herbs) and Varensky (pasta pockets filled with anything from mashed potatoes to berries). The pubs and clubs, on the other hand, consist of energetic music and vodka fuelled nights.
Ukraine is a country that flies below the radar from tourists, especially visitors from outside Europe. Why would anyone travel all the way from Syndey, Boston, or Cape Town to Lviv, and miss out on London, Paris, or Milan? The reason being is that this fascinating city offers tourists a chance to dig into the cultures and traditions of a city that doesn’t suffer from over-tourism. This is a unique journey surrounded by warm-hearted locals in a truly budget-friendly city.
For more information on visiting Lviv, you can click on the link down below.
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