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Minsk

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Minsk (Belarusian: Мінск, Russian: Минск) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Belarus, its population is about two million people.

Minsk and Belarus, in general, had a reputation of a Soviet experience park. However, this stereotype is not accurate; Minsk offers reliable and affordable public transport, plentiful hotels, convenient banking, as well as shopping and dining experience that international tourists will find familiar. The quality and number of sightseeing opportunities is plentiful. Those who want to see the Soviet past in action should venture further afield in Belarus and consider specialist tours.

Understand

Climate

Average temperatures are maximum 24°C, minimum 12°C in summer and maximum 3°C, minimum -7°C in winter. The best time to visit Minsk is from May to September when it is full of greenery. Summers are often hot and dry. Winters are mild and wet, mostly around 0°C, snow does not stay for long.

Get in

By plane

Passengers from 74 countries do not need a visa if flying to Minsk National Airport under certain conditions. For more information, see Belarus#Get_in.

  • 1 Minsk National Airport (MSQ IATA , formerly known as Minsk-2) (37 km (23 mi) east of the city border), ☏ +375 17 2791300, fax: +375 17 2791730. All international flights arrive here. The Arrivals feature a standard selection of cash machines, currency exchange, a taxi call point, mobile phone providers - Velcom/A1 and MTS - kiosks. The Departures hall has a selection of cafes and shops with souvenirs, alcohol and newspapers. On departure, after passing the passport control, several duty-free shops and cafes are available. For all services, see the airport website. For the free airport-wide Wi-Fi, use the АirportMinsk network. Cafes in the Departures have their own free Wi-Fi network.

Flight connections

The only Belarusian airline, Belavia, is based at the Minsk National Airport which has become an increasingly popular transit hub for travel between Ukraine, Russia, Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe. Also, a number of Russian airlines, Ukrainian International Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian, airBaltic, Etihad, Air China and few other airlines fly to Minsk daily or near daily. For transfer instructions, see the Airport website (links in the left-hand menu).

Getting to the city

Bus

The airport is served by buses №300Э and private minivans №1400-ТК and №1430-ТК running every 15 to 45 minutes 24/7 (see timetable) from the central coach terminals (Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, Аўтавакзал Цэнтральны; also may be spelled Avtovokzal Tsentralnyi, from its Russian name). The bus stop is outside the arrivals sectors 5/6. Tickets are purchased from the driver (Belarusian cash only, cards are also accepted on some buses №300Э) or terminals inside the airport building. Cost of one-way travel - BYN3 to BYN4 depending on the final destination (May 2019). The №300Э bus - the most frequent one - has free Wi-Fi requiring a phone number for SMS validation.

If you take bus №300Э or minivan №1400-ТК, the first stop is in about 30 minutes at the Uručča, Уручча metro station. Change here to continue your journey by Minsk Metro (underground). Alternatively, continue to the final stop, Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, located next to the main train station, Minsk Pasažyrski, Мінск Пасажырскі and metro station, Plošča Lienina, Плошча Леніна.

On the way back to the airport, either depart from the central coach terminals (Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, Аўтавакзал Цэнтральны) or from the Uručča, Уручча metro station. At Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, buses and minivans depart from platform 2 (February 2019). At Uručča, leave the metro station through the front exit, turn right, and find the outermost bus stop. Tickets can be purchased from the kiosk at the bus stop or from the driver.

The minibus №1430-ТК runs less frequently (see schedule) and takes a different route. It stops at the Mahilioŭskaja, Магілёўская metro station which may be more convenient for those going to the Šabany, Шабаны, Aŭtazavod, Аўтазавод, Čyžoǔka, Чыжоўка, Sierabranka, Серабранка districts and the stations along the Aŭtazavodskaja metro line. Tickets can only be purchased from the driver - BYN3 to the Mahilioŭskaja, Магілёўская metro station, BYN4 - to the central coach terminals (May 2019). Luggage is free, but there is only limited space in minivans, so particularly large suitcases may not be appreciated by drivers and fellow passengers. From the Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, minibus №1430-ТК departs from platform 2, BYN3 (May 2019).

Taxi

Yandex taxi, which can also be accessed via the Uber mobile app, operates in Minsk. If requesting from the airport, it may be helpful having the Viber app installed - taxi drivers tend to use it for contacting customers with foreign phone numbers. The airport charges drivers for repeat entries to the airport area; drivers employ various tricks to avoid charges, incl. applying fake number plates. This may confuse travelers occasionally. The app offers a choice of collection points described by the exit in the Arrivals; there are three of them: Sectors 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6. The latter one is the nearest to the airport shuttle bus stop and so is the busiest one - to be avoided.

  • Official Airport Transfer. Flat-rate trips, from 30 rubles. The taxi desk can be found in the Arrivals area. Payment in cash or by credit card. 30 rubles.
  • Minsk Airport Transfer. Using an online booking form you can book a fixed price transfer. You will be met by the driver in the Arrivals and get a free bottle of water and wifi in the car. From €30 single trip up to three passangers.

Alternatively, many taxi drivers offer their services in the Arrivals and just outside. Their prices tend to be steep, but negotiable; always agree on the price in advance.

Car

To reach the airport by car, leave the city by Praspiekt [Avenue] Niezaliežnasci | Праспект Незалежнасці and follow the highway.

By train

  • 2 Railway Station (Minsk-Pasažyrski), 220050 Minsk, pl. Pryvakzaĺnaja, 3 (Metro: Plošča Lienina | Плошча Леніна. Bus: 3с, 81э, 85с, 102, 43, 79, 79д to stop Vakzal | Вакзал. Tram: 2, 1, 4, 7 to stop Vakzal | Вакзал), ☏ +375 17 225 70 00. 24/7. The main railway station of the country, it is well served by trains from western and central Europe, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia - in addition to local destinations.

There is at least one daily connection from Berlin, some direct, some with change in e.g. Warsaw. Departures and travel times vary. - From Warsaw, the trip is about 10 hours. There is one train a day that departs from Central (or possibly Gdański) Station around 20:35 and arrives in Minsk around 08:00. - From Vilnius, Lithuania, the fastest train takes about 2½ hours. The train is pretty cheap: about US$10–15 one way. Also quite comfortable. - There are also trains from Prague and other European cities. - From Kiev is always a daily train leaving Tsentralnyi Vokzal (Central Station) at the eponymous metro stop in Kiev. It leaves Kiev at 18:22 and arrives the next morning at around 06:00. A 4-person berth should cost around US$47. From Minsk, train #86 leaves at 20:51, and arrives in Kiev the next morning around 09:00. A 4 person berth should cost about US$47. - From Moscow an overnight train leaves every day about 23:30 and arrives Minsk about 06:30. No stop at the border for passport checks, so a good nights sleep in the 2 berth cabins. - In the train you will be given a card with two sides to fill out, and the guards at the Belarusian border will take one. You need to keep the other one for your hotel to stamp, and give it back to the guards when you leave the country. There are two stops. You should have your insurance and invitation letter (if you're a tourist) out to show the guards.

By bus

  • 3 "Tsentralnyi" Bus Terminal (Аўтавакзал "Цэнтральны"), Vulica Babrujskaja, 6 (M: Plošča Lienina 0.5 km or Trolleybuses 44, 4, 7, 36 or Buses 46, 78, 958, 102, 123, 300э to Stop «Aǔtavakzal Centralny», - Next to), ☏ +375 17 3285605, fax: +375 17 2260994, ✉ avtovokzal@minsktrans.by. International ticket offices: tel.: +375 17 3285605. - Buses to Augsburg (daily), Airport Minsk-2, Baranavičy, Brest, Bystrica, Warsaw, Vilnius hourly, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Mir, Munich, Nesvizh. International couches timetable.
  • 4 Karbyšava Bus Station, vulica Karbyšava. For suburban buses to Lahojsk, Astrašycki Haradok, Radaškovičy, Plieščanicy and Viliejka.

By car

Driving in, while possible, requires knowledge of the border system. This is a border of European Union, so control is very strict. Crossing it can take 2 hours. They may check your bags. Without knowledge of Russian, Belarusian or Polish, this can be very hard. There may be a very long line of cars at a border crossing. However, if you have passport, visa and car registration papers prepared, act honest and helpful and arrives as a tourist in a personal car the border crossing can go very smoothly and be over within 45 minutes. There are may toll roads in Belarus, please be prepared to get on-board electronic unit and pay right from the start, so not to face heavy fines later on. Please check out information on toll roads at Beltoll's site .

Get around

The central area of Minsk is easily manageable on foot. Public transportation comprises buses, trams, trolleybuses and the Minsk Metro (underground). It is cheap and reliable. One ride on bus, tram or trolleybus costs 0.60 rubles or 0.65 rubles when a ticket is bought from the driver (as of March 2018). Tickets have to be validated straight away.

The Minsk Metro (underground) consists of two lines crossing at the very city centre, stations Kastryčnickaja and Kupalaǔskaja. On the Metro map, the Maskoŭskaja line is in blue, it is often referred as the first line. It is the oldest line of the Minsk Metro. Its earliest stations, Instytut Kuĺtury to Uschod, each uniquely decorated, are listed objects reflecting the Soviet architectural tradition. The Aŭtazavodskaja line is in red, it is often referred to as the second line. Each station on the map has been assigned a number (making a life for some tourists much easier, for sure), however, locals call the stations by their proper names. Trains run every two to fifteen minutes depending on the time of the day. The first train in the morning departs the initial station at about 05:30, the last one at night - 0:40. A single journey payment is made by tokens bought at a window inside the station. One ride costs 0.65 rubles (March 2018). Magnetic cards can be purchased for 1 ruble (March 2018) for uploading to it 10-, 15- or 30-day pass, or 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 discounted trips. The cost of the card will be refunded on return. Visa and MasterCard bank cards can be used at the Plošča Lienina, Plošča Jakuba Kolasa and Kamiennaja Horka stations (March 2018) for contactless pay-as-you-go payments. This is likely to be extended to other stations soon. See more about fares and payment forms on the Metro website in Russian.

Taxis Uber and Yandex Taxi (the same company in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, but two separate apps are in use) operate in Minsk, cars are abundant most of the time and they are most convenient if you don't speak Russian or Belarusian. Stopping a taxi car on the street is a common practice. A flat call charge will be applied straight away; the driver must turn the fare meter on, otherwise leave the car or negotiate the final price immediately. Drivers waiting for customers at the airport and train stations tend to ask for hugely inflated fares; always negotiate.

  • Taxi Almaz 7788, toll-free: 7788. A large taxi company. Cars can be ordered by phone, online and via its own app.

See

Churches

  • 1 St Mary Magdalene Church (Belarusian: Царква Святой Марыі Магдалены, Carka Sviatoj Maryi Mahdalieny), Vulica Kisialiova (вуліца Кісялёва) 42 (Buses 39, 18, 26, 44, 136, 29, 29н or Trams 3, 4, 5; all to stop Teatralnaja, Тэатральная). It was built in 1847 in the Russian Revival style, with a pointed octagonal bell tower over the entrance.
  • 2 Sts Peter and Paul Church (Russian Orthodox) (Царква святых апосталаў Пятра і Паўла (Руская Праваслаўная)), Vuliсa Rakauskaja 4 (Niamiha metro station). Built in 1613 and restored in 1871, it is the oldest church in Minsk. It is worthwhile to go inside.
  • 3 Sts Simon & Helena Church (Russian: Костёл святых Семёна и Елены, Belarusian: Касьцёл Сьвятых Сымона і Алены), Vulitsa Sovietskaja 15. The best known Roman Catholic church in the city, commonly known as the Red Church, built between 1908 and 1910 in Romanesque Revival style.
  • 4 Church of Saint Joseph (Belarusian: Касьцёл Сьвятога Язэпа,).
  • 5 Holy Spirit Cathedral, Belarusian:Кафедральны сабор Сашэсця Святога Духа, Russian: Кафедральный собор Сошествия Святого Духа.
  • 6 Catholic St. Mary church (Католический костёл Пресвятой Девы Марии).
  • 7 Church of All Saints (Vsekh Svyatykh Sobor).
  • 8 Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Касьцёл Узьвіжаньня Сьвятога Крыжа), Kaĺvaryjskaja vulica (Calvary cemetery - Metro 'Маладзёжная' 0.5 km).
  • 9 Church of Holy Trinity (Saint Rochus) (Касьцёл Найсьвяцейшай Тройцы (Сьвятога Роха)), Čyrvanazornaja vulica 44/А (M Plošča Pieramohi 'Плошча Перамогi').
  • Church of St. Yevfrosinya of Polotsk (Yevfrosinyi Polotskoy Sobor).
  • Church of St Elizabeth Convent.
  • Church of St Sophia of Slutsk (Sofia Sluckaya church).

Museums

  • 10 Belarusian National Arts Museum (Belarusian: Нацыянальны мастацкі музей Рэспублікі Беларусь), Vulitsa Lenina 20 (Kastryčnickaja metro station Кастрычніцкая 0.4 km; Kupalaǔskaja metro station Купалаўская 0.3 km). W-M 11:00-19:00. This one of the most popular tourist destinations in Minsk offers an excellent overview of fine arts in Belarus. Many art description tags are in English. The main collection is spread across two buildings. The first building visitors come to houses a significant collection of the 19-century Russian art. The back building houses masterpieces of the Belarusian art from the Medieval times to the present, as well as temporary exhibitions. Audio guides (3 rubles, December 2018) are available from the bookshop at the entry, however they only cover a small number of the key exhibits in the permanent collection. 8 rubles.
  • 11 Belarusian National History Museum (Belarusian: Нацыянальны гістарычны музей Рэспублікі Беларусь), vul. Karla Marksa (вулiца Карла Маркса) 12 (Kastryčnickaja metro station Кастрычніцкая 0.6 km Kupalaǔskaja metro station Купалаўская, Plošča Lienina metro station Плошча Леніна 0.6 km), ☏ +375 17 327-3665, ✉ histmuseum@tut.by. 11:00-19:00 (last entry 18:30). The largest collection of material and spiritual culture of Belarus from the ancient times to our days. The museum has a good souvenir shop. Permanent exhibition - 7 rubles. Optional guided tour - 7 rubles; discounted entry for students and children. Additional charge for temporary exhibitions..
  • 12 Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum (Музей ВАВ, Беларускі дзяржаўны музей гісторыі Вялікай Айчыннай вайны), praspiekt Pieramožcaŭ, 8, ☏ +375-017-327-11-66, ✉ museumww2@tut.by. Tu Th-Su 10:00-18:00, W 12:00-20:00, closed M. A large collection of exhibits about WWII in Belarus. Adults 8. rubles, students 4 rubles, free on 1st Tuesday of a month.
  • 13 Maksim Bahdanovič Literary Museum (Літаратурны музей Максіма Багдановіча), (вул. М. Багдановіча), 7a, ☏ +375 017 3340761. 10:00–17:00. It is dedicated to the writer Maksim Bahdanovič (1891–1917).
  • Art Palace (Palats Mastatsva), Vulitsa Kazlova 3. Tu-Su 10:00-19:00. Several exhibition spaces showing modern art, second hand books and antiques stalls. Admission Free.
  • 14 Mastatsky Salon, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 12. M-Sa 10:00-20:00. An art gallery with local artists exhibitions and some overpriced souvenirs.
  • 15 Ў Gallery, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti (Проспект Независимости) 37a. (Metro Station «Площадь Победы»). contemporary art space, a bar, a bookstore and a souvenir shop with Belarusian design.
  • 16 National Library of Belarus (Национальная библиотека), Prospekt Nezalezhnasti (Проспект Независимости) 116 (Metro station Восток 0.5 km. Observation deck is accessed via a lift, entrance to it from outside on the other side of the building.). Huge, glass and concrete rhombicuboctahedron houses a collection of over 8 million items. On 22 floors it features conference halls, 20 reading rooms and a Book Museum, on the roof there is an observation deck with good views of the city and surrounding area. 3.50 rubles.
  • Contemporary Fine Arts Museum (Belarusian: Музей сучаснага выяўленчага мастацтва; part of: National Centre for Contemporary Arts), Praspiekt Niezaležnasci, 47 (Plošča Jakuba Kolasa metro station, 0.1 km), ☏ +375 (17)399 09 79, ✉ artmoderncenter@gmail.com. Tu-Su 11:00-19:00. A small venue housing several exhibitions simultaneously. 7 rubles.

Other interesting places

  • Former Residence of Lee Harvey Oswald, Vulitsa Kamunistychnaja 4 (the bottom left apartment). Lee arrived in the Soviet Union in December 1959 willing to denounce his US citizenship and was sent to Minsk. He changed his name to Alek and married a native woman, Marina Prusakova, with whom he had a child. The young family left for the United States in June 1962.
  • 17 KGB Headquarters, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti (Проспект Независимости) 17 (Metro 'Купаловская' 0.5 km; or Metro 'Октябрьская' 0.6 km or Bus 100 to Stop «Ленина ул.»). This impressive building, on the main street of Minsk has a façade that belies what's found within.

You might be willing to hire a private guide when staying in Minsk or another major Belarusian city. Private guides are licensed by the National Tourism Agency - and you can check the list of their names on the official website of the Agency List of private guides in Russian [1] . A licensed guide must always wear a special Badge of a licensed guide in Belarus.

Out of town

  • Minsk Sea (Minskoe More) (5 km north of the city centre. - Buses leave the central bus station regularly. To get there by car, head north along the P28 and lookout for signs after Ratomka village.). This is an artificial reservoir. There's a free public beach, and pedal-boat and catamaran rental.
  • 18 Ozertso - Open Air Museum of Rural Architecture and Life (Aźjarco, Aziarco. Азярцо - Беларускі Дзяржаўны Музей Народнай Архітэктуры і Побыту), Aźjarco (The 203 bus from “Paŭdniova-zachodniaja” coach station goes directly to the museum. Timetable to the museum: 09:15, 12:00, 13:15, 15:50. Or the 402, 363, 277, 325, 357 buses from “Paŭdniova-zachodniaja” coach station to the bus stop “Pavarot na muzej”. These buses go in the direction of “Haradzišča” – 277, “Dubiancy” – 357, “kalchoz Kalinina” – 363, “Zachodnija mohilki” – 402, “Bohušava” - 325. - Timetable to the museum: 9:40, 10:00, 10:28, 11:35, 12:20, 13:10; 14:14; 14:40; 15:50; 16:30). W-Su 10:00-18:20. 4 km west.
  • 19 Stalin's Line (Лінія Сталіна) (30 km north-west, on road P28 to Maladziečna. Bus stop a few meters from the entrance. From Lashany village 2.2 km north.), ☏ +375 0175032020, ✉ info@stalin-line.by. A reconstructed line of defences on what once was the state border of the USSR. 14 rubles.
  • 20 Mound of Glory (20 km east- 'P53' Road north side - northeast 0.5 km from Sloboda village). 70-m-high mound from 1969 commemorating Soviet soldiers who died during World War II.
  • 21 Khatyn Memorial Complex (50 km to the north. Take a minibus in direction of Pleshchanitsy and ask the driver to get off near Khatyn. The site is 5 km from the main road.). A place where a village, savagely massacred in 1943 by Nazi forces, once stood.

Do

  • 1 Children's Railroad (K. S. Zaslonov Children's Railroad in Minsk (Belarusian: Дзiцячая чыгунка (Dzitsyachaya chyhunka); Russian: Минская детская железная дорога имени К.С.Заслонова (Minskaya detskaya zheleznaya doroga imeni K.S.Zaslonova)), prospekt Nezavisimosti, ~84a (Chelyuskinites Park - M Station Chelyuskinites Park). This is a 750-mm (2 ft 5½ in) narrow gauge railway loop passing through the Chelyuskinites Park. The railway line counts 3 stations (listed from north to south): Zaslonovo, Pionerskaya (or Pionerskaja) and Sosnovy Bor (or Sosnovyj Bor); and a pair of rail loops after the end stops.
  • Alivaria Brewery Tour, Vulica Kisialiova Кісялёва, 30 (Niamiha Няміга metro station 1.2 km along Vulica Bahdanoviča вул.Багдановіча), ☏ + 375295001755, ✉ museum@alivaria.by. Wednesday to Sunday. The oldest Minsk brewery - and the largest in Belarus - can be visited with a tour which also includes beer tasting. This compact brewery located not far from the Minsk centre has preserved some of its original buildings from the 19th century. English tours are run if eight or more people get together, so inviting others to join makes it more likely to happen. Contact the brewery museum by email or online form in advance specifying the desired day and time, and the English language of the tour (it's Russian by default). Most likely, the tour will take place at 14:00. 14 rubles, card payment available.

Parks and gardens

  • 2 Botanical Garden (Belarusian: Цэнтральны батанічны сад. Russian: Центральный ботанический сад), Vulica Surhanava вул.Сурганава, 2v (M: Park Čaliuskincaǔ station (Парк Чалюскінцаў) 100 m (330 ft)), ☏ +375 17 292-69-15. 10:00-20:00 Tue - Sun. A popular destination for a relaxed day in central Minsk. It is compact and mostly accessible, it has several outdoor and indoor cafes. An amusement park in Park Čaliuskincaǔ is next door. BYN8/BYN4.
  • 3 Park Čaliuskincaǔ (Belarusian: Парк Чалюскiнцаў; Russian: Парк Челюскинцев, IPA: [park tɕeˈlʲʉskʲintsef]), Praspekt Niezaliežnasci, ~91 (M: Park Čaliuskincaǔ station (Парк Чалюскінцаў)). An urban forest park. The park's area is 78 hectares (190 acres). The park contains an amusement park. Other attractions include a Children's Railway, operated exclusively by teenagers, and a cinema Raduga (Russian: Радуга). There is a Minsk Metro station "Park Čaliuskincaǔ" next to the park. The park is adjacent to the Botanical Garden.
  • 4 Park Horkaha (Парк Горкага, Цэнтральны дзіцячы парк імя Максіма Горкага, Maksim Gorky Central Children's Park), Vuliсa Frunze вул.Фрунзэ, 2 (M Pločša Pieramohi station 100 m). A public park established in 1800 under the name Governor's Garden. During the Soviet times it was renamed "парк культуры і адпачынку імя Максіма Горкага" (Park of culture and recreation after A.M.Gorky) after the famous Russian/Soviet writer Maksim Gorky. Parks with this name have been established in many cities of the Soviet Union. A part of the park's territory is occupied by an amusement park with a 56-metre-high Ferris wheel. It also has an educational observatory with a planetarium. The Ice Palace (indoors skating rink) is also located in Gorky Park. President Lukashenko, known for his hobby of ice hockey, frequents this place, at which times the access to this part of the park is closed for general public.
  • 5 Park Janki Kupaly (Парк імя Янкі Купалы) (along Svislač river, M Pločša Pieramohi station 100m).

Theatres

  • 6 National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre (Teatr opiery i balieta Тэатр оперы і балета), Plošča Paryžskaj Kamuny пл.Парыжскай Камуны, 1, 220029 (M Niamiha Няміга station 0.7 km). The most sought-after Minsk theatre. It has an excellent reputation for quality of the experience and variety of performances, incl. for children. For regular performances, tickets are readily available online and from various ticket vendors across the city. For the most exclusive shows, e.g. Christmas gala concerts, tickets - if sold out - are occasionally made available from the theatre box office at short notice, a day before or so. 4.50-80.00 rubles and more for special events.
  • 7 Janka Kupala National Theatre (Kupalaǔski), Vulica Enhielsa вул.Энгельса, 7, 220030 (M Kupalaǔskaja, Kastryčnickaja stations), ☏ +375 (17) 327-60-81, ✉ info@kupalauski.by. 19:00 performances. The oldest and, arguably, the best Belarusian drama theatre. All performances are in Belarusian, some are dubbed into English (see the What's On section on the theatre website). Occasional music concerts take place here too. The theatre has two stages. Tickets can be purchased online from major ticket selling companies and in person - from several box offices, see the Box Office page on the theatre website. A pleasant cafe at the rear of its building is particularly good on warm sunny days. 6-22 rubles.
  • 8 Film Actors' Studio Theatre (Teatr-studiya kioaktera Театр-студия киноактера), Praspiekt Pieramozcau пр.Пераможцаў, 13 (M Niamiha Няміга station 0.6 km). A small theatre well-regarded for its high-quality performances. Most of the plays are in Russian. Inexpensive tickets and unpretentious facilities. The threatre shares the building with once the most prestigious Minsk cinema, Moskva; it is a listed building from the time of the Soviet Union.
  • 9 Republican Theatre of Belarusian Drama (Тэатр беларускай драматургіі), Krapotkina 44.

Buy

Traditionally, tourists bring from Belarus linen goods, embroidery, souvenirs made of straw and leather, as well glass and ceramics. Belarusian vodka has an excellent reputation; it can be purchased from the airport duty-free shops, though prices there will probably be slightly higher than in local shops. Zubroǔka (a Polish equivalent Żubrówka) is a popular spirit created in Belarusian Brest. Sugar-coated cranberries, flat crisps (čypsy, чыпсы), zefir (a soft confectionery), chocolate-glazed curd deserts (hlazuravany syrok, глазураваны сырок) and rye bread are treated as Belarusian specialties and are widely available.

Belarusian souvenirs are widely available from the airport and the main railway station, specialist shops and local department stores, and museums. Local department stores - GUM, TSUM, Na Nemige, Univermag Belaruś etc. - are good places for buying goods manufactured locally. Shopping malls mainly feature foreign brands.

Souvenirs

  • 1 Symbal.by (Сымбаль бай), Praspiekt Mašerava пр.Машэрава, 18 (M Plošča Pieramohi station 1 km), ☏ +375 (29) 177-35-18, +375 (33) 357-35-18, ✉ symbalby@gmail.com. 10:00-20:00. A popular store with a great selection of souvenirs, books, music and trendy t-shirts with patriotic prints. Purchases can be made online and collected from the store.

Shopping centres

  • Stolitsa, Nezalezhnasti pl (centrally located).
  • GUM department store, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 23. Built in the 1950s, Socialist Realist classic.
  • TSUM department store, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 54.

Other shops

  • Podzemka Bookshop, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 43. An underground bookshop-cum-art gallery.
  • Suvenirnaja Lavka, Vulitsa Maxima Bahdanovicha 9. A souvenir type shop with straw crafts, wooden boxes, embroidered linen & Belarusian alcohol.
  • Central Bookshop (Tsentralnaja Kniharnya), Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 19. The largest bookshop in the city, some English language novels, guidebooks and stationary. Also posters of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Eat

Due to the common history, traditional Belarusian cuisine is similar to that of the rest of Eastern Europe, but particularly Polish and Lithuanian. Soups, dumplings, baked potato, mushroom and meat dishes, pickled vegetables and salads are often on the menu. Beer and naliŭki (berries, fruits and various spices liquors) are traditional here. Minsk has a good selection of Belarusian traditional restaurants. Among the venues with international cuisine, Georgian and Central Asian restaurants have a particularly good reputation.

Belarusian

  • Draniki, Plošča Svabody, 4 (Niamiha metro station 0.2 km; Kastryčnickaja & Kupalaŭskaja metro stations 0.3 km). 11:00-00:00. A large Belarusian cuisine menu: draniki, cepelinai, salads, liquors (naliŭki) and beer. This centrally-located venue can be busy. It is good for a quick meal and large groups will feel particularly at home in the basement featuring more seating. 6-14 rubles mains.
  • 1 Kuchmistr (Кухмістр), Vulica Karla Marksa, 40 (Kastryčnickaja & Kupalaŭskaja metro stations 0.1 km), ☏ +375 17 327-48-48. 12:00-23:00. One of the most authentic restaurants of the Belarusian and Litvin (former Grand Duchy of Lithuania) cuisine. This venue regularly brings back well-forgotten receipies and produces its own naliŭki (traditional liquors). 15-35 rubles mains.
  • 2 Vasiĺki (Васількі), Praspiekt Niezaležnasci Незалежнасці 16, ☏ +375 29 706-44-52. 08:00–23:00. The largest chain of casual dining restaurants serving traditional cuisine. Bucolic style and good local fare. Suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinners. More restaurants can be found around the city and in shopping malls.

Other

  • Freskee Cafe, Nezalezhnasti pr. 18. Café with a large choice of main dishes.
  • 3 Gourman trattoria (Гурман), ul. Kommunisticheskaya 7 (close to Grand Opera Theater). Styled as an Italian trattoria, the place serves Belarusian and European cuisine. English menu available.
  • Taj restaurant, Vulitsa Romanovskaya Sloboda 26. Open Noon-Midnight. North Indian restaurant. There should be an English menu available. Indian dance group on weekends.
  • National Food (Trinity Suburb). Not the restaurant's real name but this place has "National Food" on the front in big English letters so should be easy to find. It has a large menu of traditional food available in English, including a couple of vegetarian options. The food really sticks to your ribs. They also sell honey-flavoured kvass.

Drink

Cafes

  • Beze Cafe, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti. Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.
  • Grand Cafe, Vulitsa Lenina 2, ☏ +375 44 7031111. 12:00-00:00. A high end restaurant on Lenin Street. Try the roasted duck or salmon with asparagus. They offer a no-smoking section, menus in English and most of the servers speak good English, too. Making a reservation is recommended, especially on weekends.
  • London, Pr. Nezalezhnasti (close to KGB headquarters, on the other side of the street). This friendly little café, in the shadow of the KGB headquarters, offers a wide range of teas, free Wi-Fi, seating outdoors (with heaters) and a small cozy room upstairs where it's possible to sit and talk in a relatively private setting.
  • Golden Coffee, Pr. Nezalezhnasti 18, ☏ +375 17 237 41 87. 07:00-02:00. This cafe is on the main strip and one of the few that has both an outside and inside patio. And it is the place to see and be seen. The food is exquisite and they provide free Wi-Fi (till 18:00 when it automatically goes off for some reason). Also two other locations.

Bars

Clubs

Casinos

  • Casino Royal
  • Carat Casino

Sleep

Until 2019, a major advantage of staying in hotels while visiting Belarus was a registration with the local police organised by hotels for their customers. This registration is still mandatory, but can be done online without hotels. Read more in the Belarus article.

Budget

Many hostels are just apartment flats with bunk beds in all the rooms. Finding them and checking in many require a phone call and coordination and most apartments only have 1 or 2 bathrooms to be shared by all of the guests.

  • EasyFlat Hostel, Aeradromnaja str. 40, app. 14 (5 minutes walk from “Nyamiha”, “Kastrychnickaya” and “Kupalauskaya” metro stations), ☏ +375 29 7719833, ✉ vip-zone@tut.by. Calm and cozy atmosphere. In the city center. 14-19 rubles.
  • Smile Minsk Hotel, avenue Dzerzhinsky, house 131, entrance 8. Check-in only on a preliminary call (600m from main train station), ☏ +375 29 771 94 14, ✉ smile.minsk@mail.ru. Cheap, quiet, central location.
  • Hostel Stary Minsk, praspiekt Niezalieznasci, 18, apt 20 (3-minute walk from Belarusian National Arts Museum), ☏ +375 25 767-05-24. 6-bed dorm: US$11.
  • Trinity Traveler & Riverside Hostel, Starovilenskaya, 12 (5 minutes walk from “Nyamiha”, “Kastrychnickaya” and “Kupalauskaya” metro stations), ☏ +375 29 311 2783, ✉ hosteltravelerbelarus@gmail.com. The hostel has a spacious living room, kitchen, dormitories for 4-8 people, and a double. The hostel occupies two floors of a three-floored building.
  • Hostel Viva, Zhukovsky 4/ 1N (600m from main train station), ☏ +375 33 627 1133, ✉ hostelviva.by@gmail.com. Directly in the city center. Only 2 bathrooms for 24 beds. Dorm bed €6-12.
  • Your Hostel Minsk, 1-y pereulok Skoriny 28 ap.7 / Скорины 1-й переулок, дом 28, кв. 7 (Metro and then trolleybus), ☏ +375 33 627 1133, ✉ sonoro@inbox.ru. Far from the center, near the MKAD.

Mid-range

  • 40 Let Pobedy (40 Years of Victory), Azgura 3. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Nice rooms, decent location. No internet, few English speaking receptionists. US$45/shared room.
  • Hotel Belarus, Storozhevskaja 15-201, ☏ +375 17 209 7537. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Great location, clean Soviet hotel with very old school interior. Great indoor pool, hot tub and a gym, cost $10 extra. Free Wi-Fi in lobby. €35/single.
  • Hotel Orbita, Pushkin ave. 39. Prospekt Pushkina 39, a clean 208-room hotel with friendly but boring staff. There is a supermarket next door and cash exchange in the hotel lobby. The airport and train terminal are about 6 km away. It is in the western part of Minsk not far from the Republican Exhibition Centre.
  • Planeta, Prospekt Pobediteley 31, ☏ +375 17 203 8587. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. They have great services all within the hotel. Internet cafe is open till 20:00. Casino is open 24 hr.
  • Hampton by Hilton Minsk City Centre, Vulica Talstoha 8 (At the main train station, Minsk Pasažyrski Мінск Пасажырскі, leave through the exit for the Družnaja Дружная bus station (at the back of the train station). Then a five-minute walk along vulica Talstoha.), ☏ +375-17-2154000, ✉ MSQHX.hampton@hilton.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A well-maintained international chain hotel. US$95.

Splurge

  • Hotel Europe (Отель «Европа»), International Street 28, ☏ +375 17 229-8333. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Exclusive five-star hotel situated in the historical and cultural heart of Minsk. The beautiful 7-story atrium-type building was built in the Modernist style of the early 20th century. Late departure till 23:00 is charged with 50% of the room rate. From €100.
  • Crowne Plaza Minsk, Kirova 13, ☏ +375 17 2005354, toll-free: +800 181 6068. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star international hotel in the centre. The hotel, with its unique architecture, is opposite the Dynamo Stadium.
  • Marriott Renaissance Minsk Hotel, Dzerzhinsky Avenue 1E, ☏ +375-17-309 90 90, toll-free: +800 181 6068. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star international hotel. Hotel is on one of the main transport highways in close proximity to the city center.

Stay safe

Minsk is a safe and clean city. If you are in need of assistance, there is a strong police presence in the downtown area. Emergency medical help can be accessed 24/7, either in designated hospitals or by phone.

All Minsk Metro stations are equipped with security scanners and police are always present there. Passengers with large bags and, particularly, backpacks, are routinely asked to submit their belongings for scanning. The procedure is quick and the police are usually polite. Both the police and Metro staff keep an eye on not letting drunk passengers in, particularly in the evening. Even if you are tipsy, be prepared to answer about your destination station and address. Alternatively, use taxi, buses, trolleybuses and trams.

The Belarusian law prohibits taking photographs of the government buildings. Locals tell stories of tourists approached by officials after attempting to photograph the monumental KGB headquarters on Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci.

Attending political and any protests may not be safe for tourists. Even bystanders may be detained by uniformed and plain cloth police. The judge is likely to accept the police story later on.

Belarus is safe for LGBT travelers most of the time. Belarusian law neither recognises nor bans same-sex relationships; it has some provision for transgender people. Homophobic and transphobic abuse is not recognised as a specific hate crime; any such incidents would be treated as generic hooliganism. This has its impact on the society: most of the people would not mind having LGBT people around, but would regard any explicit signs of affection as unacceptable. This may also lead to violence. Gay and lesbian club nights, if held, are not advertised openly; a Russian euphemism "zakrytaya vecherinka" (closed-door party) is often used. In the past, there were reports of vigilante groups using dating apps; the police challenged those crimes. Taking reasonable precautions should be enough to stay safe.

The Belarusian law prohibits distribution of pornography. While it is not used to routinely police people's belongings and video streaming habits, there were odd cases of prosecuting Belarusian citizens for posting explicit content on social media and even in password-protected profiles.

The enforcement of road safety for pedestrians and drivers by the traffic police is often ruthless, so observing traffic lights and crossings are well-engraved in Belarusians' behavior. As a rule, drivers always give the way to pedestrians crossing the road in the designated places.

Cope

Languages

Language may be a barrier for tourists to a certain extent. Virtually all Belarusians speak or understand both Belarusian and Russian; the latter remains the default means of communication. Increasingly more young people speak English and many of them will be eager to practice it. The older generation is unlikely to understand English. It is wise for visitors to learn some key phrases in Russian or Belarusian. Also, being familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet used both by Belarusian and Russian is essential for traveling without a guide. Many street signs and notices in public transport in Minsk are transliterated into the Latin alphabet. A confusion may arise from the fact that the names of landmarks, objects etc. may be transliterated either from Belarusian (as the current official practice requires, however it is not strictly enforced) or Russian; to add to the confusion, the old practice of translating geographical names still has a place. As the result, Плошча Перамогі (Площадь Победы in Russian) may be referred to in publications as Plošča Pieramohi (or Pieramohi Square - transliteration from Belarusian), Pobedy Square (transliteration from Russian) or Victory Square (direct translation). There is no an easy way to avoid this confusion completely right now, however, being aware of the possibility of the same object being referred to differently depending on the original language used by the speaker should help. Please see also the official standard used for transliteration of Belarusian geographical names into the Latin alphabet [2].

Embassies

  • 1 Georgia, Freedom sq. N4, ☏ +375 17 2276219, fax: +375 17 2276193, ✉ minsk.emb@mfa.gov.ge.
  • India, 63 Sobinova St, ☏ +375 17 2629399, fax: +375 17 2884799, ✉ amb@indemb.bn.
  • Japan, Pr. Pobediteley 23/1, 8F, ☏ +375 17 2236233, fax: +375 17 2102169.
  • United Kingdom, 37 Karl Marx St, ☏ +375 17 2298200.
  • United States, 46 Starovilenskaya St, ☏ +375 17 2101283, +375 17 2177347, +375 17 2177348, fax: +375 17 234-7853, ✉ ConsularMinsk@state.gov.

Go next

You may rent a car to travel around the country. Rates depend on period of hire and start from US$20 a day. There are offices of Europcar, Avis, Sixt and other rental companies.

Regional trains are also cheap. A trip from Minsk to Gomel (5 hr) and the train is almost never full.

  • Brest is a regional capital on the border with Poland and is rich with history from both the Soviet times and before. You can see a Brest Hero Fortress, perhaps the most impressive Soviet monument ever built. You can get there by train (~20 daily trains running from Minsk) at US$5–20. It takes 3-4 hr by train.
  • Gomel
  • Grodno is a border town in north-west Belarus, near Kuźnica-Białostocka in Poland.
  • Mir is a medieval castle about 85 km from Minsk. Formerly owned by the Radziwill family, one of the great families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. During the Second World War it was used by the Nazis as a Ghetto. Inside the castle is a museum showing artefacts from the castle's past, including exhibits from the Jewish community who lived in nearby Mir village until their destruction in the war.
  • Lake Narach is the largest lake in Belarus, located about 160 km north of Minsk.
  • Zaslavl


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