Destinations Europe Ukraine

Visiting the Carpathians from Lviv

River passing through Skole

Getting to the Carpathians by train

Going to the Carpathian Mountains is one of the most popular tourist activities in Ukraine. Getting to the mountains is easy if you have a car but if you are on a budget or have limited time, then it is a little bit harder. In this post, I will show you how visiting the Carpathians from Lviv on a day trip is easy to do.

On my visit to Ukraine earlier this year I decided to take a day trip to the small town of Skole, on the edge of the Carpathians.

Skole is a small town approximately 100km south-west of Lviv near the Polish and Slovakian borders. This day trip was completed by using the very reliable Ukrainian train system. You can buy a ticket online by reading my previous post here.

On my journey, I took the 108W to Uzhhorod leaving Lviv at 1010 and arriving in Skole at 1147. The return leg was on the 828D leaving Skole at 1906 and arriving back in Lviv at 2045. That would give me almost 9 hours to play with – more than enough time.

Skole train station

Walking the trail

After arriving in Skole, I made my way through the small train station and across to the other side of the town. According to Google maps there was a hiking trail/path in that direction. Hiking paths in Ukraine don’t have the best signposting / directions which we will come back to later on.

To get to the opposite side of the town you have to cross a bridge over the Opir river which offers some great views of the landscape and the town.

visiting the carpathians from lviv

River passing through Skole

 

River passing through Skole

River passing through Skole

 

Having crossed the bridge I was able to reach the starting point of the trail. As with a lot of places in Ukraine, there is very limited information on signs in English. So I decided to take a photo with my phone in case I needed it or worse, I got lost. The bridge is in the bottom right of the photo, with the yellow dotted line being the path.

Path

Path

 

I should have paid more attention to the photo as for some reason I thought the path followed the river all the way. You can guess what eventually happened to me…..

As I walked along the side of the river, the path gradually became more and more like a mountain bike trail. After an hour or so I couldn’t work out where to go. I crossed over the river (now more of a stream) but that became a dead end. After crossing back, I could see a slight clearing in the trees. With a little bit of clambering through the branches I made it, only to discover another dead end. I decided to give up and return to the path and to go back to the start. I would walk in reverse order trying to complete the trail after lunch.

The start of the trail

The start of the trail

 

One of the more sturdy river crossings

One of the more sturdy river crossings

 

The wide path at the start was now more of a mountain bike trail

The wide path at the start was now more of a mountain bike trail

 

 

And a less sturdy crossing

And a less sturdy crossing

Going back into the town

I turned around and made my way back to Skole. I was back much faster than I thought (I walk quickly plus I couldn’t get lost). When I made it back to the start, I crossed the bridge over the Opir river once more and headed for what appeared to be the centre of Skole. This comprised of one main street with small shops, no supermarkets to be seen. I got some supplies from the shops and then sat at the main square and watched as people walked past. Now suitably fed, I made my way back to the trail going through random small streets in the town.

The river Opir passes through the town of Skole

The river Opir passes through the town of Skole

 

The main square where I had lunch

The main square where I had lunch

 

Random street in Skole

Random street in Skole

 

Back on the trail

The reverse direction started being more open than the correct way. It was like walking along a path between fields. There was even a man who appeared to be asleep with two dogs, which took an interest in me and started to chase after me whilst barking. I am not sure if the barking woke him or if he was already awake but he was able to call the dogs off. I was safe for now.

The trail soon narrowed and reminded me of countryside lanes where I grew up in Northern Ireland, used only by farm tractors.

As I mentioned earlier, the paths aren’t really signposted so I soon took another wrong turn. I didn’t even notice until about an hour later when I realised I was in the wrong place.

Rather than turning around I kept going until I was able to rejoin the path at a later point, from where I would be able to track my way back and find out where I was supposed to turn. I found the path after another 20 minutes, there was just one problem and that was what appeared to be a 70 degree downhill bank in the way.

I slowly made my way down with the thought in my head that if I was to fall and break any bones, I was in the middle of nowhere and no-one knew where I was. Fortunately I made it to the bottom by taking things very gingerly. I was pretty tired by this point so decided to take my time and to go backwards on the correct path to see where my mistake was. It turns out that instead of going straight on as I did, I was supposed to turn left and go underneath some (gas?) pipes.

 

More open and spacious walking

More open and spacious walking

 

Countryside lane

Countryside lane

 

Wrong way

Wrong way

 

Right way

Right way

Back to Lviv

I made it back to the train station and double checked the train timetable. The train back to Lviv was in about 30 minutes. I was glad that I had learned some Ukrainian before my visit. I waited for the train and then sat and relaxed until I was back in Lviv.

Train timetable

Train timetable

 

Train destinations map

Train destinations map

 

That was the end of my day trip for visiting the Carpathians from Lviv. I was disappointed not to be able to complete the trail in full. I will be back in Lviv again in May next year. If I have time, I will possibly try to do this again.

 

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Juliette | Snorkels to Snow
    October 1, 2017 at 21:22

    Oh dear that was a bit lucky to not get entirely lost in the wild! Glad you were able to find your way back. Ukraine has such an interesting landscape – you are fortunate to have experienced this beautiful trail!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 9, 2017 at 13:15

      Thanks. I would like to explore some more of the Carpathians and some of the old castles in Ukraine

  • Reply
    Patricia - Ze Wandering Frogs
    October 1, 2017 at 20:47

    Definitely off-the-beaten path! 🙂 We got so used to have maps and trail signages and all that when we are hiking somewhere less documented, we need to remember to pay more attention to our surroundings when we go hiking in remote places.

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 9, 2017 at 13:14

      Thank you 🙂 Sometimes its nice to get lost. As long as you can find your way back again that is!

  • Reply
    Skye
    September 29, 2017 at 00:39

    The Carpathian Mountains look like a beautiful part of the world. We love hiking so this would be right up our alley. Did you come across any wildlife in your wanders? I would be curious to know what they have in the mountains of Ukraine. Thanks for the insight.

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 29, 2017 at 13:31

      On this trip no. The only wildlife were a couple of stray dogs in one of the fields. I know that you can find bears in the mountains in Romania but I do not know if it is the same in Ukraine.

  • Reply
    Sia
    September 28, 2017 at 20:26

    It is rare to see any articles or info about Ukraine or Russia for example so this was definitely very interesting to red. For some reason, when thinking about the Carpathians I always think of Romania, probably because it is right next to the border. Looks like a picturesque adventure and it is always nice to visit some small towns!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 29, 2017 at 13:30

      Ukraine has become one of my favourite places. I am actually going to be in Ukraine in December this year and Russia for a couple of months next year so I should have more articles coming up

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    September 28, 2017 at 16:42

    It was a nice trail. I am sure a wonderful experience in the midst of the serenity of nature. You did have a nice adventure in that you had to return to the start and do the trail again. Probably that also added to the fun of the experience. I would definitely have enjoyed this trek in the Carpathians.

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 29, 2017 at 13:29

      Thank you for your kind words

  • Reply
    Punita Malhotra
    September 28, 2017 at 08:36

    This sounds like one of those trips where you just go along losing track of time and place, exploring and wandering where your heart takes you. Carpathians seem like a lovely destination for hiking and trekking and nature walks.

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 28, 2017 at 13:22

      You hit the nail on the head! As i say, sometimes having no plan is the best plan!

  • Reply
    Corinne
    September 27, 2017 at 16:39

    I love the idea of getting into the mountains and having a day hike. We didn’t do this when we visited Lviv, but I wish we had. It looks like a fantastic walk, and who doesn’t love riding the train?

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 28, 2017 at 13:21

      Lviv is a fantastic city. Its one of the places that I am thinking about moving to actually. I’ll be back in Lviv at the end of November again too

  • Reply
    Jocelyn
    September 26, 2017 at 03:34

    The sturdy bridge looks ok…the not so sturdy one? Haha…would have turned around.

    I get lost in the US, so I’m not sure I would have been able to finish the walk either!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 28, 2017 at 13:20

      I probably should have turned round!

  • Reply
    Kaylene
    September 26, 2017 at 00:00

    Beautiful photos, I’d love to go hiking there! Sounds tough with the lack of sign postings but sometimes taking a wrong turn can take you to surprising places!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 28, 2017 at 13:20

      That is true and it is also one of the great things about Ukraine – not everything is overly sanitised.

  • Reply
    Carol Colborn
    September 25, 2017 at 22:16

    How brave of you? And lucky that, even if you got lost, you still got back in time for the return train!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 28, 2017 at 13:18

      Only just!

  • Reply
    Emily
    September 25, 2017 at 13:17

    This looks like such a pretty place to hike, although it looks like you have to be pretty nimble if you want to get over those bridges! I don’t think I’d have found the right way either – who’d have thought that the right way was under the pipes? Hopefully you’ll get to return and finish the walk!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      September 28, 2017 at 13:19

      I have been called a mountain goat in the past for my nimbleness! I am actually going back to Lviv at the end of November. Can’t wait!

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