The Secret Bar in Lviv, Ukraine (Kryjivka Bar – ssssh!)

I was gonna add this to my list of things to see in Lviv but I thought it actually warrants its own snappy article. This is one more of those moments when you need to sit back and think this travel lifestyle is pretty cool. And so I found the Secret Bar in Lviv, complete with a password and complimentary vodka shots on arrival.

Kryjivka secret bar in lviv
Kryjivka secret bar in lviv

Downtown Lviv

I wanted to go for a beer, and after a few suggestions, I heard a place that tickled my fancy. A bar in a basement of a building in the Old Town. This sounded suitably dingy for a reprobate like myself. As I marched off to find the said bar, the Ukrainian girl helping me told: “Hold on, you don’t know the password”.

Kriyivka bar Lviv
Kriyivka bar Lviv

Is it really a secret Bar?!

It’s secret in that it requires a password, has a guard with a gun, and the whole thing is in a dingy basement. But it’s not secret in a way they won’t welcome you. Let’s say that. More info here:

Where is the Secret Bar in Lviv?

It’s a secret (kinda), so all I can say is “Somewhere at Rynok Square”. Ask around once you get there.

What’s the story behind this secret KRYJIVKA bar?

It is the last hiding place of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army left from the times of World War II. Their motto is “The Fight Continues”. 

And now to enter the bar I need to whisper the password the guard at the gate.

What’s the password?!

The password? Glory to Ukraine (“Slava Ukrayini, slava Ukraini, slava Ukraini“).

Slava Ukrayini,   slava Ukraini,   slava Ukraini
Slava Ukrayini, slava Ukraini, slava Ukraini

What’s the bar like?

And off I went, found the address, and went into the archway. A large, old wooden door with a peephole for the guard on the other side. I nervously knocked on the door, no answer. So I banged it heartily next time round. The peephole opens, 2 ancient beady eyes spiel some Ukrainian to me, I respond with the password, hear two locks move and I’m in.

The 200-year-old guard (he must have been at least 200) has a gun hanging over his shoulder, I begin to go down the stairs to get to the basement bar but he grabs me. Oh sh*t. When I look back he’s pouring me a shot of vodka. Part of the ritual apparently. I was tempted to go out, come back in again for a free round two. But that gun convinced me otherwise.

secret bar in lviv
Kryjivka bar
underground bar in Lviv
Inside the bar

Downstairs I sat down and ordered, the waiter spoke a little bit of English and to be honest, it wasn’t half as sketchy as I thought. I mean the walls were wood and cold stone but there were groups of people drinking, everyone was friendly and the area was quite big. I ate, drank paid up (about $10).

On my way out I shook the old guard’s hand, he looked at me with the warmest smile I’ve seen in a long time. I thought to myself “I could live in this city” and waltzed back into the old town with a smile on my face. Happy travels! Next up, I was off to the East of the country on a Chernobyl tour.

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