Explore the culture and history of Ukraine on this seven-day, self-guided tour of Kyiv and Lviv. You will arrive in the capital city, which is rich with gold-domed monasteries to visit. In addition, you can discover the local arts, from the opera and ballet at the National Opera of Ukraine to shops along Andriyivskyy Descent, which highlights the local craftsmen. In Lviv, you can indulge in local flavors, including cherry wine and plenty of sweet treats. A hike up the ruins of Lviv High Castle will provide spectacular panoramic views of the charming town.

Highlights

  • Visit the historical monuments in Kyiv’s Independence Square
  • Take a boat tour along the iconic Dnieper River
  • Explore the Rynok Market Square’s museums, cafés, and cathedrals
  • Browse local art galleries and eat at art-themed restaurants in Lviv

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Kyiv Kyiv
Day 2 Kyiv - Self-Guided Tour Kyiv
Day 3 Explore Kyiv and Overnight Train to Lviv Overnight Train
Day 4 Arrival in Lviv Lviv
Day 5 Lviv - Self-Guided Tour Lviv
Day 6 Lviv - Last Day and Travel to Kyiv Overnight Train
Day 7 Return to Kyiv and Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kyiv

Independence Square
Independence Square

Welcome to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine! When you arrive, a guide will take you to your hand-picked apartment, which will be your home for the next few days. Your accommodations will include a detailed guidebook that will help you map out your self-guided tour of the city.

There is a lot to explore in Kyiv, from historical sites to art galleries and the city’s beautiful waterways. Launch into the day over at Khreshchatyk, which was significant in World War II, and experienced widespread destruction, but has since been rebuilt. A lively area that is home to many street performers and musicians, the busy road closes on holidays and weekends for the enjoyment of spectators and visitors. Here, you will find Independence Square, which hosts the Monument of Independence. Erected in 2001, the tribute honors the separation of Ukraine from Russia. You will also find the Friendship of the Nations monument nearby, which, conversely, celebrates the 1654 integration of the two countries.

Then, walk over to Andriyivskyy Descent. This is one of the oldest streets in the city. You will find charming history here, from the iconic architecture style to the unique color schemes. Long ago, this is where many musicians, sculptors, and artists lived. Today, it remains a bohemian hub with a variety of art galleries, salons, art cafés, and shops selling items from local craftsmen. Make a stop at the One Street Museum, too, where you will find one-of-a-kind wares, including paintings, photos, and furniture representative of Kyiv’s decorated history.

For dinner, make sure to taste the local flavors, which range from Ukrainian cuisine to American, Georgian, Asian, and Mediterranean. After dinner, take some time to explore the famous nightlife scene of Kyiv. You can enjoy the array of dive bars and pubs, along with nightclub hot spots. You can drink and dance your way through Arena City, which is near the city center. Keep in mind that weather and dress code are factors that will impact your evening plans.

Day 2: Kyiv - Self-guided tour

National Opera of Ukraine
National Opera of Ukraine

Good Morning! Today, you will explore all the historical sites of Kyiv. A breakdown of the most notable sites includes:

  • Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra: Perched on top of the grassy hills of the Dnipro River, this iconic cluster of golden-domed churches attracts tourists and Orthodox pilgrims, alike.
  • Maydan Nezalezhnosti: This pro-independence square has seen significant historical events, including protests in the 1990s, the Orange Revolution in 2004, and the Euromaidan Revolution in 2013-2014. In times of peace, you can enjoy the festiveness of the locals, popular weekend concerts, and the nightly fountain show.
  • St. Sophia’s Cathedral: Kyiv’s oldest church, the interiors of St. Sophia’s are filled with original mosaics and murals and is influenced by the 18th-century baroque style. Climb the bell tower for a bird’s-eye view, and a panoramic look of Kyiv below.
  • St. Michaels Golden-Domed Monastery: You can learn all about this golden-domed monastery’s decorated history, including its rebuild in 2001, at the museum located in the bell tower.

In the evening, you can enjoy a nice dinner and then go to a show. Popular genres of entertainment in Kyiv are ballet and opera, which are commonly fused together. Visit the National Opera of Ukraine for an affordable evening outing to experience an unforgettable local performance.   

Day 3: Explore Kyiv and overnight train to Lviv

Dnieper River
Boat tour along the Dnieper River

On your final day in Kyiv, take a cruise along the beautiful Dnieper River. You can expect music to fuel your float, which is all part of the cultural experience. You will sail under famous bridges, like the Parkovy Pedestrian Bridge, the Metro Bridge, and the Patron Bridge. You can also expect great views of the Soviet-era Motherland Monument and the city skyline.

After you disembark, you can stroll through the colorful parks scattered throughout Kyiv. Feofaniya Park is historical and well-groomed, with peaceful pond views, while Holosiivsky Park is the ideal place for a quiet picnic. You can also browse the fantastic landscapes of Mariinsky Park, which is a popular tourist spot or take a trip to Taras Shevchenko Park, where you can visit the National University of Kyiv and see the students walking to and from class.

Take an afternoon break for lunch, coffee, and a sweet treat at one of the many cafés around town like Wolkonsky or Milk Bar. Then, it will be time to make your way to the train station, where you will commute to the second leg of your trip on an overnight train to Lviv.

Day 4: Arrival in Lviv

Rynok Square
Rynok Square

When you arrive at the historic Lviv Train Station, take the shuttle to the city’s legendary Rynok Square, and make your way to check in to your apartment. Your accommodations will include a guide booklet to help you navigate your three-day trip in Lviv. Once you are settled, you can take the time to explore the area.

Rynok Square, also known as Market Square, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The former political, economic, and cultural hub of Lviv was once a trade market that welcomed Persian, British, French, and Turkish merchants. The area consists of close quarters, which was once divided by merchant interest. Rich with history, you can walk this complex of historical monuments. You can explore the town on a walking tour, where you will discover street musicians, cafes, cathedrals, and museums along the way. Sites to bookmark include the American Quarter, City Hall, the Black Mansion, and Korniakt Palace.

Retire for the evening with a taste of Galician food and drinks at one of the popular restaurants in town, including Gas Lamp, Kryjivka, or At the Golden Rose.

Day 5: Lviv - Self-guided tour 

Paintings in Lviv
Local art for sale in Lviv

Good Morning! Today, you will wake up early so you catch local painters in action, or see their work in the various art galleries scattered around the city. You can peruse notable art at:

  • Dzyga: Founded in 1993, you will find masterpieces from students and youths. Enjoy a cup of tea and a snack while you are here.
  • Lviv Art Gallery: Part of a museum complex that features both local and foreign works, here you will find paintings, sculptures, and more representing the 19th and 20th centuries among the 24 rooms.
  • Contemporary Sacred Art Gallery: Here, you will find religious-themed art from local artists. Discover contemporary art featuring Christian spirituality.

Continue the art appreciation into lunch. In Lviv, you will find plenty of restaurants with the arts in mind. Two eateries to bookmark include Left Bank and Salo Art Museum.

For an active adventure in the afternoon hours, make your way to Lviv High Castle. The walk from Rynok Square is 1.2 miles, and you can expect to hike up to the ruins of the castle for a spectacular view of the 800-year-old town below.

To wind down, take the trip over to House of Legends, where you can enjoy the beautiful sunset on the outdoor terrace of the seven-story building. You can enjoy a unique dining experience, where you can taste a dish on each floor of the building, each pertaining to its own legend. Your servers can explain the ingredients and significance to you to round out your educational visit. 

Day 6: Lviv - Last day and travel to Kyiv

Lviv, Ukraine
Farewell, Lviv!

On your final day in Lviv, take some time to explore the delicious delicacies of the town. Keep your breakfast light, and then get to tasting the confectionary gems all around. Bakeries and chocolate shops are numerous here. Depending on your taste, you can visit:

  • Lviv Handmade Chocolate: Featuring sweets from ancient recipes, you can indulge in chocolate-covered fruit, coffee drinks with different syrups, and signature hot chocolate with nuts.
  • Lviv Galician Cheese Cake and Strudel Bakery: Here, you will find the specialty syrnyky (cottage cheese pancakes), along with different types of strudels. For lunch, you can customize a plyatski (homemade cake) with meat, salmon, or vegetables, or include sweet fillings for dessert.
  • Cukiernia: Enter this three-room café for a grandiose experience. In the first room, select your confections of choice at the extensive dessert buffet, which features pastries and sweets galore. Then, find your way through two sitting rooms, where you can indulge at your leisure since it is impossible to taste all of the treats on your first round, alone.

Once you have had your fill of goodies, kick back and enjoy the music at the Lviv Organ Hall, where you can enjoy a striking Vivaldi concert.

To close out your stay in Lviv, it is customary to enjoy the local spirit. Toast to your visit with a glass of cherry wine (and consider packing a bottle to take home, too) before heading to the train station.

Board your overnight train to Kyiv, where you will spend the evening in your own two-bed compartment recalling a wonderful time exploring the age-old town of Lviv.

Day 7: Return to Kyiv and departure

Lviv Train Station
Lviv Train Station

In the morning, you will arrive back in Kyiv to prepare for your departure home. You will take with you all of the memorable history and culture you have discovered in Ukraine!