A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Lviv, Ukraine
Located in western Ukraine, Lviv has the quintessential charm of a small European city, especially since it managed to escape a lot of damage during World War II. From a tourist perspective, Lviv is stunning. From a wheelchair user’s perspective, cobblestone and steps make getting around Lviv difficult. We’ll show you accessible things to do in Lviv and give you tips for getting around.
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Is Lviv wheelchair accessible?
It’s surely the first question that comes to mind if you’re a wheelchair user considering a visit to Lviv. The short answer is yes, you can visit Lviv with a wheelchair.
The long answer, which we’ll go into detail in this post, is that modifications will be needed, cobblestone is everywhere, streets are narrow, and many stores and sites require going upstairs to enter.
How to get around Lviv with a wheelchair
The historical center of Lviv is small and the streets around Rynok Square are closed to public traffic. There’s a tram that runs through the center, but unfortunately, it isn’t accessible.
For this reason, it’s easiest- relatively speaking- to explore Lviv by strolling the streets. Nonetheless, be prepared for cobblestone and objects blocking portions of sidewalks that will require backtracking, going into the road, and/or getting support from others.
Wheelchair accessible things to do in Lviv
We’ve established that Lviv isn’t ideal for wheelchair users. However, it’s not an impossible city to visit. Below are eleven accessible things you can do in Lviv.
1. Svobody Avenue
Svobody Avenue is easily the most wheelchair-friendly part of Lviv. A wide, smooth-surfaced pedestrian street runs down the center, starting at the Opera and Ballet Theater and ending at the Monument to Adam Mickiewicz.
As you stroll down the avenue, you’ll get to take in views of some of Lviv’s best architecture. This now ritzy area was formerly the lower class district of Lviv, due to a polluted river that ran through it.
After the government decided to bury the river underground, the upper-class folks flocked the area, creating the Svobody Avenue we know today.
2. Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater
Ukraine is home to beautiful opera theaters, so it’s fitting that there’s an opera theater in Lviv. Opened in 1900, the theater continues to host performances throughout the year.
It’s a flat entry to the foyer of the theater. From there, there’s a wheelchair lift to take you up a small set of stairs. This is where you’ll be able to enter to watch a show from the ground level. Unfortunately, the higher floors of the Lviv theater aren’t accessible.
The theater is open to visitors during the day when there isn’t a show, with a cost of around $3 USD. The foyer area of the theater is beautiful, but your visit would be quick since the ground floor of the theater isn’t open during the day.
However, the theater has an accessible restroom, so it could be very much worth your visit to combine a visit to the theater with a restroom stop.
3. Lviv Croissants
When you think of Ukraine, do you think of croissants? You will after visiting Lviv!
Lviv Croissants is a local chain that’s famous for its sandwich croissants. It’ll take you time to go through their extensive menu, with every combination of ingredients you have and haven’t thought of.
The croissant sandwiches are huge and most are around $2 USD.
Although many of the Lviv Croissant cafes have stairs, we found one with a flat entry. It’s located on Svobody Avenue, at the corner of Svobody with Doroshenka.
4. Rynok Square
It’s far from a wheelchair user’s paradise, but this list of accessible things to do in Lviv wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Rynok Square. This square is the center of Lviv’s most notable tourist sites, entertainment, and nightlife.
Although Rynok Square, and the streets around it, are cobblestone, there’s a cement sidewalk that borders all sides of it.
During the day and evening, much of this sidewalk is taken up by outdoor seating for restaurants. However, head to the square before 9:00am, and you’ll encounter (mostly) uninterrupted sidewalk. Just keep in mind that cobblestone streets intersect at the four corners of the square, so you’ll still have to pass over cobblestone to travel from one side to the other.
5. Pravda Beer Theater
It won’t take you long to realize that Ukrainians are welcoming people. It won’t take you much longer to realize that locals in Lviv love political humor.
The Pravda Beer Theater showcases this perfectly with their signature politician drinks.
Putin beer, anyone?
How about Trump, Merkel, or Obama beer?
Don’t let the word “theater” throw you off- this is a lively bar located on Rynok Square. You can also order a meal at the Pravda Beer Theater. They have live music most evenings.
A flat entry with both indoor and outdoor accessible seating makes this a perfect stop during your Lviv explorations.
Travel Tip: Selling knock-off politicians’ driver’s licenses is a thing in Lviv. If your suitcase is too full to bring beer home as souvenirs, there’s the option to pick up a Putin, Trump, etc. driver’s license.
6. Church of St. Andrew
The Church of St. Andrew is part of the Ensemble of Bernadine Monastery. As of 1990, the space is used by the Greek Catholics.
The Church of St. Andrew is one of the few churches in Lviv that is accessible. It has a wide entry, with a single, approximately one inch ledge at the door.
The church is located about a five minute walk from Rynok Square. The road leading to the church has smoother cobblestone, making it fairly easy to roll to in your chair.
7. Halytsky Market
If you’re looking to stock up on cheap produce, look no further than Halytsky Market.
The entrance to this market is by Soborna Square, near the Church of St. Andrew.
The market is flat with cement walkways that weave throughout the stalls. However, aisles are fairly narrow, so it’s best to get there on the early end.
Halytsky Market is open daily from 8:00am – 7:00pm.
8. Go book shopping
Every day, locals set up a makeshift, secondhand bookstore around the Ivan Fedorov Monument.
Most of the books are in Ukrainian or Russian, but even if you can’t read them, it’s fun to look at the covers and dates; many of the books are from the Soviet Union days.
The plaza where the books are located is accessible, although the surface is bumpy thanks to uneven brick spaced far apart.
9. Keep an eye out for Slavik
Slavik is a beloved homeless man in Lviv. Slavik loves fashion and sports a different, unique clothing assemble every day, if not multiple times per day.
He became famous thanks to photographer Yurkov Dyachyshyn, who ran a photo series of Slavik. Even if you don’t get the chance to see Slavik around town, you’ll surely come across photos of him on buildings in the historical center.
There are plenty of theories and rumors about how Slavik leads his homeless lifestyle, but one thing is certain- he has a secret hideout, a bunker many say, as he doesn’t carry around extra clothes.
10. Street with 7 names
It’s easy to miss Arkhivna Street in Lviv because the street has seven signs…none of which indicate its real name, Arkhivna Street.
Let’s talk about the how and why behind it.
How can a street in Lviv, which is a city well marked by street signs, get away without having a sign? Because all of the buildings on it have entrances to other streets, meaning that none of them need to use Arkhivna Street as an address.
So then, why does Arkhivna Street have seven other names?
This was a rather recent tradition formed by the KinoLev Independent Film Festival to honor a filmmaker. The festival was held on and around Arkhivna Street each year.
However, the film festival went on hiatus after the start of the conflict in Crimea, so the street has maintained its seven name status for years now.
This street takes about 10 minutes to get to when rolling from Rynok Square.
However, this is a site that is better off driving past since it only requires a quick glimpse. For the amount of maneuvering around cobblestone and potential obstacles on the sidewalk you’d encounter, a vehicle will make your visit to Arkhivna Street much more pleasant.
11. Lviv Open Air Museum
The Lviv Open Air Museum, formally called the Museum of National Folk Architecture and Rural Life, is a great option for nature lovers.
The museum is located a short drive from downtown Lviv and there’s parking right by the entrance. Parking is informal and the parking lot usually isn’t crowded, so you should have plenty of room to get out of the vehicle even though there isn’t designated accessible parking.
The museum is built on acres of forested land with historic Ukranian houses, churches, mills, etc. that were taken down and reconstructed at the museum.
Unfortunately, stairs lead to the buildings, so you’ll have to admire the architecture from the outside. The path starts out as paved and turns into a dirt road after a certain point. The dirt road is easiest to manage when the path is dry. A power chair would also come in handy since there are some inclines, particularly on the dirt paths.
Wheelchair Accessible Hotels in Lviv
As you can imagine, accessible hotels aren’t overly common in Lviv. Below are our two recommendations.
Ibis Styles Lviv Center
As a 3-star hotel, Ibis offers affordable accommodation for wheelchair users. The hotel is located in downtown Lviv and has nice outdoor restaurant seating. Click here to check availability.
This 4-star hotel offers wheelchair accessible standard rooms that are equipped with a roll-in shower. Atlas Deluxe is located on the corner of a roundabout that leads to six roads sprawling out to different parts of the historical district. Click here to check availability.
No doubt, wheelchair users will find Lviv challenging to get around. Nonetheless, with some pre-planning and flexibility, there are a number of places that you can visit in this beautiful city.
If you’re a wheelchair user who’s already been to Lviv, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section. Will you be traveling to Lviv and have accessible questions? Leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.