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Orest Zub: Your Local Lviv Insighter

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7 months ago

Meet Orest Zub, your Local Insighter from Lviv, Ukraine. Orest is a professional world traveler, having visited over 130 countries!

Orest is passionate about tennis, overland travel and online entrepreneurship, but today we are gaining exclusive access to all his local insights from his hometown of Lviv. If you are considering traveling to Ukraine in 2024, you will not want to miss Orest’s tips to getting under the skin of Lviv.

Orest Zub in field with Ukrainian flag

Orest, welcome to Travel Insighter! We are so excited to have you join us. For our readers who aren’t yet familiar with your journey, would you mind introducing yourself?

I’m Orest Zub, native to Lviv, the largest city and cultural centre of Western Ukraine.

I started traveling at school by mostly visiting various international camps. Then proceeded during college by attending in academic conferences.

After I graduated from my degree in International Commercial Law, I undertook a few professional internships abroad but eventually didn’t set off on a legal path. I got into online entrepreneurship which is a more favorable path for a constant life on the road. This led me to founding a few successful internet projects and visiting over a hundred countries to date.

Orest Zub war reporter from ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine at a full scale in February 2022, I came back home and took a role as a war reporter. I’m actively involved into building meaningful connections between Ukrainian and international humanitarian organizations.

My main career focus currently is developing which is a global platform for extreme travelers by which we help people discover the world, plan and track their trips as well as connect with other travelers all over the world.

Usually I spend approximately half of the year exploring the world outside of my home base in Lviv, Ukraine which feels like a good balance for me. So far, so good.

Wow, it seems like you have had many unexpected turns in your life! We want to hear more about your hometown. How long have you lived in Lviv?

I was born and grew up in Lviv. This is my home and main base.

trams in lviv ukraine
Trams give Lviv a cosmopolitan air

What do you love most about living in Lviv?  

Lviv is a manageable city of just under one million residents providing all the beauty of a charming, mid-sized Central European town as well as access to all the facilities every metropolis would have.

It is well placed centrally in Europe with easy access to a dozen countries within a one-day ride.

Being just outside the EU, Lviv has this old European charm. Think of Prague, Budapest or Krakow in the early 2000s.

Orest Zub in lviv city

Nowadays during the Russo-Ukrainian war, Lviv became the main city where life goes on as normal with all the facilities operating as usual. The distance to the active combat zone is similar to Western Europe. So there is not much to worry about.

In many ways, city life looks normal nowadays. Recently, we organized the 2023 NomadMania Travel Awards event in Lviv – an Oscar in the world of travel. (One of Travel Insighter’s co-founders, Daniel, was awarded the NomadMania Most Positive Traveler Award in 2021!)

If you had a guest in town, what would you say are the must-visit places in Lviv? 

The entire Old Town of Lviv is a single UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are just too many things to outline here. With probably the highest number of coffee shops and restaurants per capita anywhere in world, what you want to do in Lviv is just to get lost in the city and see what happens.

The streets are always packed with locals and there is something happening all the time. My city hosts over 50 festivals per year. Only this fact will make sure you’re not getting bored!

Something I like doing is taking a long walk on the Znesinnya Park (former Kaiserwald – King’s Forest) which is a huge green and hilly area just outside the city centre completely surrounded by the urban area.

The views over the city landscape are spectacular. And don’t miss Bold Hill.

king danilo in lviv ukraine
Lviv Old Town

Can you share with our readers a hidden gem in Lviv which nobody knows about?

Once you make it to Znesinnya, enjoy an easy trail east which will bring you to Shevchenkivskyi Hai, a beautiful nicely kept skansen (an open-air museum) with numerous traditional timber churches and houses brought here from various ethno-cultural parts of Ukraine.

What are your favorite cafes or restaurants for a leisurely lunch in Lviv and for dinner in Lviv?

I love to have a lunch in Viennese Coffee House. It is one of those classic Lviv restaurants which remind us about the Austro-Hungarian past of the city.

They have amazing lunch deals. My favorite is the one with schnitzel.

Now turning to coffee…Where can we find the best coffee in Lviv? 

Everywhere. YES, everywhere.

Lviv native, Yuri Kulchytsky, opened the first coffee shop in Central Europe in Vienna named The Blue Bottle Coffee House in 1686. Nothing is settled in Lviv without having a coffee first.

My favorite place to have a morning coffee is Under the Golden Star. This coffee shop is located in the old pharmacy setting where the gas lamp was invented in early 19th century. Besides that, I live just in front of it, so my home WiFi signal can reach there.

Well now we know where to find you – for half the year at least. Turning to the sweet side of Lviv, what’s your favorite dessert or snack in Lviv?

Cherry strudel.

This is a cake which I used to seduce my wife over a decade ago in Cukiernia cafe. It’s so tasty that I try not to eat it more often than once in a month so as not to get used to it.

Orest Zub with Wife in Ukraine

What’s there to do after dark in Lviv? 

Lviv is a pub city. Don’t expect too many discos.

Order one of the numerous local craft beers and start a chat with the nearby stranger. Then go to another pub and then another pub. In the meantime, you will probably visit a few galleries and meet a few interesting people. Maybe the party will finish in one of their apartments.

What’s your favorite landmark or place to go in Lviv, even if just to pass the time?

Old Armenian Church backyard is a good way to make a shortcut between Virmenska and Lesi Ukrainky streets.

Visiting here brings you back into the 13th century straight away for a few minutes – unless you decide to stay longer.

We know Lviv is famous for unique food experiences. Are there any unique foods in Lviv that only locals would know? 

Try old-fashioned pyrizhky (small pies) baked or fried with various fillings from potato and meat to egg and beans in a café which hasn’t changef since the 1980s.

For the best pyrizhky in Lviv, look for a hole in the wall place in from of the main post office.

Do you have any warnings we should share with visitors to Lviv? 

Don’t be unkind – treat everyone with dignity.

Lviv is still a relatively cheap city for Western standards. Your buck will go a long way here. But don’t flash it and talk how cheap it is. It’s really a great value for money. Use it and enjoy.

restaurant ukraine pink balls tables georgian
Lviv’s diverse history is best experienced in its many unique restaurants

Are there any events, festivals or celebrations that are particularly special in Lviv?

There are over 50 festivals happening in the city across the year.

I’d say the best time to visit Lviv is during Easter which is kind of a bigger deal here (even more than Christmas). Expect most people to wear traditional Ukrainian clothes and watch out for Wet Monday (just after Easter Sunday) when everyone is pouring water on each other on the streets.

Remember that Orthodox Easter doesn’t usually collide with Catholic Easter. Check the Orthodox calendar and you might end up with two Easters in one year!

The next best time to visit Lviv would be September when streets are getting busy with students and some of the biggest festivals take place in town. For example, Lviv Bok Forum, Jazz Fest and others.

Are there any unique souvenirs in Lviv? 

You can get some freshly roasted Lviv coffee and toilet paper with Putin’s face on it.

If you could give only one piece of local insight to visitors to Lviv, what would it be?

Just come over and the city itself will do the rest of the job.

orest zub in lviv old town

Orest, this has been incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your hometown with us. How can our readers get in touch with you or learn more about your experiences?

I am pretty active on social media: Instagram, Facebook and Youtube!

You can watch some of my videos on YouTube for more information about Lviv.

Feel free to drop me a line on Facebook or Instagram.

And welcome to Lviv!

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