How to get from Krakow to Lviv

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There are numerous possibilities to travel from Krakow to Lviv. Perhaps one of the key factors you would base your choice on is your budget, so we decided to provide you with the complete information on every type of transport you could possibly use to get to Lviv, its cost, and approximate journey time. Regardless of the option you choose for yourself, try to evaluate all the possible problems and advantages carefully, as the journey to Lviv is often important for how much time you will have in the city and in which condition you arrive in Lviv.

1. How to get from Krakow to Lviv by train

A Krakow-Lviv train is a nice travel option for those willing not to spend too much time on the road and at the same time saving money on the trip itself. Generally, you can take either:
a slower train with sleeping cars (with the journey taking up to 10 hours);
OR
a faster train (Intercity) with seating with an obligatory transfer in Przemysl (in this case you will arrive in Lviv just in 6 hours).
The cheapest ticket for a bed in a night train is for a bed in a 3-bed compartment which will cost you ~250 PLN (60 Euro). Seating car train tickets are half the price – 133 PLN (32 Euro). These are the current prices available on the website of the Polish Railways. You can take return tickets right away, and we highly recommend to do it, because if you decide to buy tickets back to Poland from Lviv, you will have to go to the train station ticket office in Lviv. Ukrainian Railways simply doesn’t give you the option to purchase international train tickets online.

Pros: Reasonable prices; comfortable journey
Cons: Sleeping car trains can take up to 10 hours to get to Lviv; seating trains require transfer

2. How to get from Krakow to Lviv by bus

Taking a direct bus from Krakow to Lviv can often get tricky, as motorways on both sides of the border tend to be crowded with cars coming back and forth on a regular basis. Sometimes the total border waiting time can reach more than 8 hours. However, bus drivers often consult specialised online services.

Things to know about the border crossings from Poland to Ukraine

We recommend for you to also check those website that show the current waiting time on the border crossings. You can check:

Both sides are tracking the car lines on the main border crossings between the Poland and Ukraine. Bus drivers will often go to the crossings which have the lowest waiting time at the given moment. There are a few key border crossings between Ukraine and Poland that are located close to Krakow and Lviv correspondingly. Those are:

  • Korchova – Krakovets – This is one of the most popular car border crossings between Ukraine and Poland, which often results in long waiting hours for cars and buses, especially from the Ukrainian side.
  • Medyka – Schegyni – This border crossing is located near Przemysl and is usually relatively free from long-waiting lines.
  • Rava Ruska – Hrebenne –  The third closest automobile crossing is located in the Northern part of Lviv Oblast. The international car route here connects Lviv and Warsaw and thus is quite busy from time to time.

When choosing a bus company for your trip to Lviv, consider the fact that some carriers do not provide an opportunity to buy tickets in local physical ticket offices, so you will need to purchase them online. As a result, you won’t manage to find some buses on a local timetable of your bus station as well. The good thing, however, is that ticket prices for such bus carriers are often lower than those for regular bus companies. This is why you might still consider to purchase them. The are many local Ukrainian companies that go on cross-border routes, but you can also find international ones. Our Lviv Buddies usually use: the German Flixbus which is very modern and has free wifi. Local companies usually do not provide that, but can be cheaper.

How to find a bus connection from Krakow to Lviv

There are many internationals sites that list all bus departures and make it possible to book the tickets right online. The best-known are GoEuro, on which you can also look for flights and train connections as well as rideshares. We also like Busradar because they seem to find more connections sometimes.Don’t forget some proof of your ticket – be it a print copy or on your mobile. Most companies accept that but you might wanna check the conditions.

Pros: Cheap tickets
Cons: Long and exhausting waiting on the border

3. How to get to Lviv from Krakow by plane

Thankfully, there are now direct flights from Krakow to Lviv. You can fly with Ryanair for as low as 5 Euro. However, you need to remember that their luggage policy is quite strict and you need to pay for extra baggage. Well and that’s not even talking about the environmental issues. But unfortunately it is by far the fastest option, as a train takes at least 5 hours and by car the wait at the border can by very long.

However, you have several choices to visit other Polish cities by train or bus from Krakow and then take a flight to Lviv.

Take a plane from Warsaw to Lviv

You can go to Warsaw, and from there you will manage to get a direct flight with the local Polish airline LOT or with Ryanair, as they provide direct and rather affordable flights from Poland to Ukraine and back. The ticket price will depend on how soon you make a purchase, so if you buy round-trip tickets at least one month before the trip, it will cost you just around 100 Euro.

Take a plane from Wroclaw to Lviv

Since April 2017 Hungarian discount airline Wizz Air is flying to Lviv from Wroclaw. Wroclaw also is one of the coolest Polish cities and worth a visit just as much as Krakow. Therefore we recommend checking it out and spending a couple days there before boarding one of the Wizzair flights to Lviv. Those can be cheap, if you just travel with hand luggage! If you have a bag bigger than that, you might wanna reconsider.

Take a plane from Katowice to Lviv

Wizz Air is also starting flights from Katowice to Lviv in April 2018. Therefore a flight can also be arranged from there. Book via wizzair.com and come here fast and without waiting time at the border.

How to find cheap flights

For finding cheap flights, you can visit the flight booking websites Skyscanner or Kayak for example. However, on some of them flights of cheap airlines are not listed and you might have to visit the websites of the companies directly.

Pros: Short travel time, no wait at the border
Cons: Relatively high prices (compared to other types of transport), not eco-friendly

4. How to get from Krakow to Lviv by rideshare – Blablacar

Probably in most cases the cheapest possibility to get from Krakow to Lviv is a rideshare. There are websites  like Blablacar where people list their own ride from one place to another. Because many people travel between Poland and Ukraine, you can often find very cheap transport on those sites – starting from 8 Euros. Many people actually take others just for the cost of gas to have some company.

Watch out though, as drivers sometimes come from other destinations and only stop in Krakow by passing by. But most of them do that regularly, so they will tell you a place to come to that is usually convenient for both sides (a tram or bus stop). Often they will come and pick you up, if you tell them where or drop you off where you need to go in Lviv, if you are a nice person and they have some time.

Another thing we like about rideshares: You actually meet people in the car. That means you in many cases won’t be as bored as on the bus. Often you can already make friends with them and if things go well, those people might invite you for a drink or show you around. That probably doesn’t happen in any other transport means.

Pros: Cheap, possibility to meet locals in the car, flexible
Cons: Long border wait, sometimes hard to get to the meeting point

5. How to get to Lviv from Krakow by combining different transports

There is one more possibility to cross the border, by combining different forms of public transport and a couple of meters walking. It’s less convenient and a bit adventurous but it can be a lovely and super cheap introduction to the chaos that Ukraine sometimes is. However, it includes certain time-consuming risks. The itinerary will look as follows:
1. Take a local bus from Krakow to Przemysl
2. Take another bus from Przemysl to the Polish-Ukrainian border (the border crossing on the Polish side is called Medyka)
3. Get off the bus and cross the Polish-Ukrainian border on foot (only via the Medyka – Shehyni crossing – Please read below for possible complications)
4. From the town Shehyni on the Ukrainian side take a bus (yellow marshrutka) from Shehyni to Lviv
5. Take a local bus or tram in Lviv from the train station to the city center to find your accommodation

This travel method is likely to save you a lot of money, as you can potentially spend not more than 10 Euro compared to ~25 Euro if you went by direct bus or more than 40 Euro if you went by train. There are a few down sides here, though.

Possible problems with this way to get from Krakow to Lviv

  • The first problem, of course, is time. You can not simply start this journey in the late afternoon, as you will most likely get stuck on the way. It will take you several hours to get to the border.
  • The border crossing by foot is only fast, if you are a EU/Schengen citizen. All other passport holders will have to wait in line with all the local Ukrainians that cross the border for trading purposes. This line is usually much longer (up to 4 hours standing). In this case, rather take a bus or rideshare.
  • When you get to the bus station in Shehyni, you will probably need to wait for a bus for another hour or so.
  • In addition, all the buses going to/from the Polish-Ukrainian border tend to be overcrowded, which can only spoil a general impression on your trip. So you really need to think twice before you choose this travel option.

Pros: Very cheap; you’re not THAT dependent on other people
Cons: Can take too long; can be tiresome.

If you made it all the way to Lviv from Krakow, we hope to see you here in town. Our Free Walking Tours can be a wonderful introduction to Lviv for all visitors. We meet every day at 10.30am and 3pm at the Amphitrite fountain on Rynok Square, right next to the Pravda Brewery.

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