Lviv is one of the most frequently visited cities in Ukraine. And there are many reasons for that: beautiful architecture, great cultural diversity, vivid social life, breathtaking panoramic views, delicious food and drinks…and this list can go on forever. However, there is one thing about this city that was and will remain (at least for some time) extremely messy and ambiguous – Lviv’s public transportation system. While getting to Lviv from other countries or cities does not seem to be that of a problem, finding one’s way around can become a real challenge for newcomers. So it is very important that you read a brief introduction to our city’s public transport before you actually face it on your own. Those are the main types of public transport in Lviv:
Buses in Lviv are considered to be the most convenient type of public transport. Generally, they are big and therefore can admit more people than smaller marshrutkas. It does not mean, however, that buses do not get fully overcrowded throughout the day – they surely do. So in order to get the most of your trip, try to get in the bus after 12 and before 5 p.m.
Most of the old buses have been recently replaced with modern ones, which means they have an automatic bus announcement system and special areas for disabled people.
Some buses also circulate outside the city and during night hours.
They are basically small yellow buses of the ‘Bohdan’ brand that are currently being produced in Cherkasy. Because they are smaller than regular buses and because they tend to circulate on specific routes, marshrutkas can be regarded as route/share taxis. There are many old marshrutkas in Lviv that break down often, especially during winter time when it is more than -10 degrees outside. But when they become overcrowded, it becomes a complete mess. And it happens all the time, considering their size and the amount of people commuting to/from work every day.
Trolleybuses are more often used either by students or retired people, mainly because of the functioning benefit system on electric types of transport and because the ticket prices there are lower than in gas engine transport. Surprisingly, sometimes they tend to be less crowded than any other type of transport in Lviv. Having entered a trolleybus, you have to pay money directly to a driver, take a ticket and validate it through one of the ticket punches available in a trolleybus cabin.
Trams in Lviv have the same system as trolleybuses but they are more often used by people because of more convenient routes available. As a result, they also often get overcrowded, so you should choose your trip time wisely. By the way, the local government has recently introduced an electronic payment system in some of the trams, which allows you to pay for a trip with a debit card by using electronic PIN-machines installed in the trams.
Lviv Night buses
Night buses are marked with H letter (i.e. 1H, 2H, 3H etc.) and are only expected once in an hour starting from 23:40 and ending at 5 a.m. By the way: The H does not mean the Latin letter H but instead the Ukrianian H (Cyrillic spelling for N) as short term for Night bus.
Typical features of the Lviv public transport system
Traffic jams occur during on-peak hours (morning and evening) and are mainly concentrated in the center and on the roads leading to it: Horodots’ka str., Shevchenko str., Pidval’na str.;
The City Center (including Svobody Avenue) is blocked for cars on Sundays and during big holidays.
The Lviv public transport can also be very unreliable. Buses sometimes don’t show up when they should or even spontaneously take another route than they are supposed to. In the meantime you stand at the stop and wait.
If you have an urgent appointment, we therefore recommend to take a taxi instead.
Often the especially the marshrutkas and buses are overcrowded. If you as a foreigner thing that the bus is full, Ukrainians will surely find a way to fit even more people in. But hey, the next point on our list is one of the reasons why you still can’t complain much.
Costs of the Lviv public transport
There are hardly any cities in Europe where public transport is still cheaper than in Lviv. Fees are so ridiculously low that you can even buy a monthly ticket for the electro transport for less than a single fare ride in Berlin or London will cost you!
Prices in Lviv public transport
As of the 2018, the gas engine public transport (yellow marshrutkas, bigger buses) costs 5 UAH per person, while electric transport (tram, trolleybuses) costs 3 UAH for a single fare on this vehicle. You can not switch to another vehicle with this tickets and will have to pay again there. Please note: On the trams and trolleybuses of Lviv Elektrotrans there is a extra fare for large luggage (meaning everything of size that would have to be checked-in at the airport) of the price of a single ticket (currently also 3 UAH).
Lviv Elektrotrans recently introduced a 3-day-ticket for tourists. This ticket costs 40 UAH and allows you to use as many trams and trolleybuses during those three days as you wish. If you are in Lviv for a month or more and you need to take a tram or trolleybus often, it might be worth it to buy a monthly ticket for the electro transport, which currently costs around 100 UAH. Actually you can buy those monthly tickets at kiosks with the sign Преса. The passes are called місячний проїзний (read: Misyachnyj projiznyj). They cost 120 UAH. To buy the tourist ticket or the monthly ticket you can visit the website of Lviv Elektrotrans.
How to pay in Lviv public transport
Generally, you have to pay the fee directly to the driver right at the entrance. Bus and marshrutka drivers don’t give any tickets (although they have them). You can pay with bigger bills, but it’s usually inconvenient. So prepare to have some change ready. For the trams and trolleybuses you can also buy several tickets at once.
If you have to enter a bus or marshrutka from the back, you simply give the money to the people in front of you and ask to pass it to the driver (Ukrainian: Peredaite bud laska!). You shall then get the correct change handed back to you, if you need any. Ukrainians are very honest people and such money almost never gets lost.
If you forgot to pay, the fine in the Lviv Elektrotrans, the penalty fee is 60 UAH. This is also true for unpaid fares for bigger luggage.
Important routes to know
From airport to the city center
1. Marshrutka 48 – exit at Rizni Square
2. Trolleybus 9 (12.5 min interval) – ends at University
both places are in the center, but if you wanna get directly to Rynok (Market Square), you can transfer at Stepana Bandery Street to Tram 1 or 2 to the Rynok
From the Lviv railway station to the city center
1. Tram 1 (12.5 min interval) – exit at Rynok (Market Square)
2. Tram 9 (10 min. interval) – exit at Ruska Str. (just next to the Market Square)
3. Marshrutka 29 (12.5 min. interval) – go by foot to the bus station Zaliznychnyi vokzal (29) – exit at Pidvalna Str.
From airport to railway station
1. Take marshrutka 48 (20 min. interval) from the Airport bus stop (transfer at Liubinska Str.);
a) Take marshrutka 38 (exit at Zaliznychnyi vokzal)
b) Take bus 16 (exit at Zaliznychnyi vokzal)
From main bus station at Stryjska Street to the city center
1. Bus 3А (11 min. interval) – alight at Pidvalna Str.
2. Marshrutka 9 (22.5 min interval) – alight at Petra Doroshenka Str.
From bus station #2 (Bohdana Hmelnitskoho) to the city center
1. Bus 53 (12.5 min interval) – alight at Svobody Avenue
2. Suburban bus 114 (12.5 min interval) – alight at Opery ta baletu Teatr (Opera Theater)
3. Bus 1A (14 min. interval) – alight at Halytska Square
4. Marshrutka 39 (15 min. interval) – alight at Pidvalna Str.
Lviv public transport – Useful apps and tracking services
Easyway is a free transport-tracking app that was developed by a group of highly enthusiastic people from Ukraine in 2011. It was originally meant for helping both local and foreign tourists find their way around the given location. Luckily, Lviv happened to be the first city where Easyway was introduced, and by now it became so popular that even local citizens prefer to have it on their devices as an extremely handy tool that allows to see the approximate transport arrival time. Today, the app is available almost everywhere in Ukraine, so, regardless of which city you choose for your trip, Easyway is a must-have solution for you. By the way, the Easyway mobile app is available for both iOS and Android devices and it surely supports English.
Google Maps is probably the most widely used navigation app in the world. We love the fact that it actually also shows all possible connections in Lviv, including buses, trams, trolleybuses and such directly in the app. However, sometimes it does not always show the fastest way and also the estimated travel time is sometimes way too optimistic. Plus you don’t see the arrival of vehicles in real time but according to schedule. And unfortunately in Lviv, the schedule and reality differ usually vastly.
This one is another useful mobile tool that will give you the insight into frequently messy but nevertheless romantic public transport situation in Lviv. The app has recently added suburban routes to its database, so you will not miss your bus and be able to get wherever you need just in time. The bottom side of Lviv Transport App, though, is that it only supports iOS devices.