What to visit in Lviv region: banana farm, waterfalls, ancient settlements
We explain how to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city
Lviv is a city you always want to return to. It is great if you can dedicate a one or two-week vacation to the city of lions, but don't be upset if you have little time for a long-awaited trip. This city is worth a visit even on weekends, and not only for its ancient streets, outstanding architecture, cathedrals, various museums, and themed cafes.
There are many wonderful places near Lviv where you can relax, learn something new and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city: mysterious castles, stunning rocks, caves where primitive people lived, picturesque waterfalls, lakes with clear water, and even unexpected, exotic locations. You can get to all these places by car or public transport and fill one of the allotted days with pleasant, unusual emotions and unforgettable impressions.
Restored from ashes and ruins, Olesko Castle remains the oldest surviving castle in the Lviv region. Since the XIV century, it stands on a high hill and is a witness and participant in many events that have forever gone down in history. It was here in 1629 that one of the most prominent Polish rulers, Jan III Sobieski, was born. It's believed that it was after his birth that the castle began to be haunted by disasters: earthquakes, fires, seizures, treasure hunters, who destroyed everything that nature and history didn't reach in their thirst for profit.
After the devastating earthquake of 1838, the castle was completely abandoned for more than a hundred years, and only in 1965, its restoration began.
Today the museum reserve has about 1,500 unique exhibits. In 11 halls, unique works of painting, household items, applied arts, tapestries, original furniture are exhibited. The museum boasts Ukraine's largest collection of XIV-XIX century wooden sculptures. In general, it's a vast collection of unique works of art of the XIII-XIX centuries.
Next to the castle, there is the Capuchin monastery from 1739, made in the Baroque style. By the way, one of the Capuchins is considered the inventor of the well-known coffee drink, cappuccino. It has a castle and its own ghosts. After all, many adventures, life stories, and intrigues have taken place here in six centuries.
How to get there. The distance along the route Lviv-Olesko is 74 km, approximate travel time is 1 h 24 min.
Herburt Castle or Dobromyl Castle is the highest castle in the Lviv region. And yet, this castle can be considered one of the most hidden, because until you start climbing directly to the castle hill, you cannot see it. The castle has long since turned into ruins, but even in this form, it doesn't lose its appeal.
The first information about the castle dates back to 1450. Originally, it was wooden, built by the then-owner of the surrounding lands, Mykola Herburt. In 1497, during the attack, the Tatars burned the castle. For more than half a century, namely in 1566, Jan Herburt built a new brick castle on the same site. The thickness of the walls reached 4 meters here and there. Researchers believe that the castle was never inhabited permanently, and it played a protective role. In fact, it was a fortress.
Until the 19th century, the castle was gradually dismantled for building materials; the monks were building nearby, the locals. Since then, almost unchanged, it has survived to the present day and fits well into the surrounding landscape, attracting tourists, extreme and incorrigible romantics.
How to get there. A bus (about 2 hours) or electric train will take you from Lviv to Khyriv (or Dobromyl), then on foot or with passing transport to Ternava.
Stilsko or White Croats Settlement
At the end of the first millennium AD, there was a Slavic country in Transnistria known as Greater or White Croatia. The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII reported it in the X century in his book "Empire Management." Croats are also mentioned in "Tale of Bygone Years."
In the village of Stilsko, Mykolayiv district, Lviv archaeologist Orest Korchynskyi discovered a unique archeological monument, Stilsko Settlement, the capital of White Croatia. Archaeological excavations found the remains of residential and craft buildings, household items, weapons, the armor of a rider and a horse, women's jewelry. Some of the finds are open for review and stored in the local ethnographic museum.
Stilsko settlement impresses with its unusual appearance and mystique; tourists are attracted by mysterious rocks, caves, underground labyrinths, and even altars. The area of the settlement reaches 15 hectares, and the defensive walls stretch for as much as 10 kilometers. They say that under the surface, there's also an underground city.
In the neighboring village of Dubrova, there's an ancient sanctuary and many caves, which modern residents use as cellars, as well as the remains of an ancient dam and gates. The sanctuary is located on a stone, popularly called Diriavets, once it was used as a place for the unquenchable sacrificial fire.
How to get there. Stilsko settlement is located on the outskirts of the villages of Stilsko and Dubrova. You can get to the reserve by the road leading to Mykolaiv. Before reaching about 10 km to the city, there will be a turn to the village of Trostianets, followed by Stilsko.
Pryima tract is located just two kilometers from the city of Mykolayiv, Lviv region, but until recently, finding a monument lost in a large forest was not so easy. But it's worth it! The stone formation impresses with its phantasmagoria. It seems as if it was built from the bones of fantastic creatures.
The grotto comprises several caves, where Neanderthal remains were found for the first time in the Lviv region. Pryima tract is considered the oldest settlement of hunting camps in the cave conditions of mainland Ukraine. Its age is over 45 thousand years.
Archaeological finds indicate that this place served as a kind of winter hunting camp. Neanderthals used the cave to live in the winter, hunted wild animals with stone-tipped spears, and ate their meat. And when it got warmer, they switched to a nomadic lifestyle.
How to get there. Get to Mykolaiv by bus from the central bus station. Outside the city, there are stairs near the cemetery. They go down, bypass the quarry, and then into the woods, there are rocks, caves, and canyons. Now the paths to the tract have been trodden and signs have been placed.
This is a great place to relax for the weekend, relatively close to Lviv.
Picturesque, with steep rocky shores, this quarry is also called Blue Lake for its extremely beautiful watercolor. It is forbidden to swim in the quarry: it's deep (up to 20 m.) and dangerous, however, it won't prevent you from having a good rest on the shore and taking beautiful photos. You can continue the journey to the quarry with a walk in Turka, where Boiko's wooden churches and old houses are located.
How to get there. From Lviv by car or bus to Turka, the distance is about 140 km.
Wooden church in Matkiv
The wooden church of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin (or St. Demetrius) in the village of Matkiv, built in 1838, is one of the peaks of wooden Ukrainian architecture. This architectural masterpiece, resembling a Chinese pagoda with its numerous folds, is considered by most experts to be the best among the 70 Boiko-type temples preserved in our area. The temple is included in the register of architectural monuments of national importance; it is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The exact date of construction of the first church in Matkiv is unknown, but mentions of it, under the name of the Church of the Escape to Egypt of the Blessed Virgin, exist at least since the XVIII century. However, at the beginning of the next century, this church was no longer in the best condition and the community decided to build a new church in its place. Interestingly, the labor force on the temple construction site was mainly women; the male population of the village in those years was recruited to the troops of the Austro-Hungarian Empire en masse. Therefore, the new church was also a kind of offering to God for the return of husbands and sons home.
How to get there. Buses from Lviv to Matkiv depart from the central bus station three times a day. You can also get to Skole, and from there by local bus to Matkiv.
Near the village of Urych, Skole district, on the left slope of the valley of the Urychanka stream, majestic precipitous cliffs up to 50 meters high rise in the middle of the forest. Amazingly shaped, formed tens of millions of years ago, today they look like remnants of a game of ancient fairy giants. Petroglyphs have been preserved on the rocks: stone carvings depicting the Sun, animals, people, and other symbols.
Urych rocks are not only an outstanding natural monument but also an archeological monument. Remains of walls and building structures, which are the remains of the ancient fortress Tustan (XI – XIII centuries), were found here. The fortress defenders resisted the Tatar-Mongol conquerors for a long time. In the rocks, there are cut grottoes, underground passages, wells. The fortification's wooden part hasn't survived, but what's left and the grand panoramas from the height of the Urych rocks are worth climbing to the very top of the fortress on long and winding wooden stairs.
Museum of History of Tustan in Urych will help you learn more about the history and decline of the fortress.
How to get there. You can get there by minibus from Lviv: from the railway station, it passes through Truskavets, Boryslav and comes to the village of Skhidnytsia. From Skhidnytsia to the village of Urych, there is 7 km. Or take the Kyiv-Chop highway and return to Urych outside the village of Verkhne Syniovydne. Pointers will help you get to the fortress.
The waterfall height is eight meters, and the depth of its basin reaches half a meter. The water doesn't fall down, but flows down a rocky steep slope, flowing into Sopotianka, a tributary of the Stryi. Around the waterfall, a picturesque Carpathian forest grows, which man hasn't destroyed yet. According to legend, the waterfall owes its name to the Ukrainian word "shypit" (whisper), which resembles the characteristic sound of water gurgling in the ledges of rocks and rapids.
How to get there. From Lviv to the village of Sopit, there are 120 kilometers. By car, you can get there in 2 hours. Along the way, you'll find mountain landscapes and the Stryi river, which will be your companion. The waterfall is easy to find; at the end of the village, there is a road on the right that leads to the forest. 500 meters from the last estate, you'll hear the water roar. The path to the left of the road will lead down to the waterfall.
Rozhirche is an ancient village located 90 km from Lviv, on the banks of the Stryi River, and surrounded by several ponds. Near the village, there is a cave monastery, the first mention of which dates back to the XV century. This cult building, used in pagan times, later became a spiritual monastery and a place of pilgrimage. According to legends, monks from the Kyiv-Pechersk Monastery lived here. The complex comprises three caves, located on two levels, with entrances, hollowed-out windows, and stairs. It is known that people, following a vow of silence inhabited it, and earned a living by selling honey from their own apiary.
How to get there. From Lviv to Stryi, you can reach by train or bus. There are regular buses from Stryi to Rozhirche. By own car: to Stryi by Kyiv-Chop highway. Then turn toward Ivano-Frankivsk. In the village of Myrtiuki, turn right, behind the bridge over the river Stryi. The distance from Lviv is 92 km.
Pomoriany is a village in the Zolochiv district of the Lviv region. Fans of history, ancient architecture, and mysterious legends should visit it. Here is a partially destroyed Pomeranian Castle, a unique monument of the defensive architecture of the XVI-XVII centuries. The castle building was built as a rectangular two-story building with corner towers and a courtyard. Thanks to the moats with water, which surrounded the walls on three sides, the fortress repeatedly held a long siege of the Turks and Tatars.
In some historical sources, the castle is mentioned as a favorite vacation spot of King of the Polish and Lithuanian Commonwealth Jan III Sobieski. Around the castle, there are the remains of a magnificent park, and nearby in the center of the village, there are the ruins of a neo-Gothic town hall (19th century) and the Church of the Holy Trinity (1748) with preserved interiors.
How to get there. You can get to Pomoriany by bus from Lviv. Another option is first by bus or train to Zolochiv, then by bus to Pomoriany.
The waterfall on the Kamianka river is located in the Skole district of the Lviv region near the village of Dubyna. The height of the waterfall is about 7 meters. Its water falls into a mountain river from its height, sparkling in the sun in different colors. Here you can refresh yourself under the icy mountain stream, and sunbathe, sitting on one of the many large stones. Besides, you can make wonderful photos in the waterfall's background.
Near the waterfall, there's Zhuravlyne Lake or Dead Lake.
The lake got its name because it has freezing water with hydrogen sulfide, and as a result, there are no fish in it. Another feature of the lake is the so-called "floating island," the accumulation and interweaving of tree roots and dead plants. This nature wonder moves along the lake, according to eyewitnesses who've visited the lake several times at different times.
How to get there. If you go from Lviv by bus, you need to get off at the stop in the village of Dubyna. Opposite the stop, there is a cross and a chapel, near which you'll find a sign to the waterfall. Or get to Skole by electric train and then walk a few kilometers. If you travel by car, it is even easier: turn from the Kyiv-Chop highway opposite the stop in the village of Dubyna, then through the railway crossing, and you'll face a direct road to the Kamianka waterfall.
Yavorivskyi National Park
The closest natural park to Lviv, where you can go for a weekend, is a popular vacation spot. There are six ecological tourist routes, as well as four recreation areas, where you can find places for picnics, playgrounds, equipment for water leisure. The park also has ponds with beaches and places where fishing is allowed. There are museums and masterclasses in the park. In the tourist complex "Oselia Roztochchia" in the apiary, you can not only taste bee products but also try the healing "sleep on bees."
However, the key value of the reserve is its plant and animal diversity, which covers an area of over 7,000 hectares. And there are many springs and karst lakes. While walking through the national park, you can come across the only Galician geyser, Parashka.
How to get there. The village of Ivano-Frankove can be reached by bus from Lviv. You can get to Zhovkva and Hlynsko stations by train (Lviv-Rava Ruska electric train). By car, it's about 30 km west on the M10 highway to Ivano-Frankove, and then, depending on where exactly you are going in the park complex.
Domazhyr Bear Shelter
In the Yavoriv district, near the village of Domazhyr, there's a bear rehabilitation center 20 km from Lviv, which aims to help and rescue bears from poisoning stations, mobile zoos, circuses, hotels, and restaurants.
The shelter area is 20 hectares, so the conditions for keeping animals here are as close as possible to natural ones. Each bear has its own personal enclosure with an area of at least 1 thousand square meters. There are currently 6 bears in the shelter.
There are special hiking trails between the enclosures, so everyone can watch the brown bears live in the wild. An electric protection system has been installed along the perimeter of the fence to protect and keep animals safe.
Domazhyr Bear Shelter is not only a place where rescued bears live but also a large educational and recreational space where you can take part in interesting educational and entertaining activities for children and adults, have a delicious meal in a cafe, have a nice and valuable time with friends and family.
How to get there. To get to Domazhyr, you need to drive from Lviv to Yamelnia (Yavoriv direction), then turn right at the signpost. Getting there is most convenient with your own car because otherwise, you'll have to walk more than 2 kilometers from the road.
Do you want exotics? Arrange a tour to the banana or snail farm! 🙂
Thus, in the village of Lypnyky, Pustomyty district, 10 km from Lviv, there's the first banana farm, where besides bananas, three dozen other species of exotic plants are grown: coffee trees, lemons, limes, kumquats, pomegranates. The farm's owner started working with rare plants about 3 years ago. The farm grows more than a dozen banana seedlings a month. Tropical plants are popular with designers who use them to decorate the premises. There, you can buy a banana tree. They also organize excursions on the farm, mainly for schoolchildren who come in groups. There are so-called night tours, but everything needs to be booked in advance.
And in the village of Solonka, there is another unusual farm for Ukrainians, a snail farm.
Snails are used in cosmetology, used to prepare delicious delicacies in the best restaurants in the world, and their caviar is valued at tens of times more expensive than black caviar. Would you like to try the popular delicacy of stuffed snails? Go on a gastro-tour to a snail farm!
Tasting snails in a variety of sauces and special recipes from experts is a fantastic way to spend your day differently than usual. The owners of the snail business will show you open snail plantations (which is 1.5 hectares of land), where snails graze and bask in the sun, will give a tour of the premises where snail "youth" is grown, and where females lay their offspring. You'll hear interesting stories about snail breeding, international experience in this field, and the peculiarities of Ukrainian production. See for yourself how it works, that European delicacies can be grown and cooked in Ukraine no worse than anywhere else in the world.
How to get there. It is best to book tours to farms from local travel agencies. They'll include other tours, which means you will see even more interesting things in one day.