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Travel Guide Europe Belarus Minsk

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Introduction

Minsk: October Square

Minsk: October Square

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Minsk, the capital and largest city in Belarus, is home to about 2 million people. During World War II, the city was virtually obliterated during heavy fighting, leaving much rebuilding to be done under the ensuing Soviet rule. Stalin's taste has left its mark on the city, with grand buildings, broad avenues, wide square and large apartment blocks making up the city's skyline. Aside from being the capital of Belarus, Minsk is also a headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

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Neighbourhoods

There are 9 administrative districts in Minsk:

  • Frunzenski
  • Kastrychnitski
  • Leninski
  • Maskouski
  • Partyzanski
  • Pershamayski
  • Savetski
  • Centralny, or "Central District".
  • Zavodzki, or "Factory district" (so named due to the major plants that were once located there).

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Sights and Activities

Mirsky Castle Complex

Mirsky Castle Complex (Мірскі замак) is an amazing sight located just outside of Mir or a day trip from Minsk. Construction of the castle was begun in the 15th century with a Gothic architecture style. Around 1568 the castle got a new Lithuanian Duke as owner who decided to finish the castle in a renaissance style. It was abandoned for about a century then it was restored in the 19th century. When the Nazi's took it over they turned the castle into a Jewish Ghetto. Today it is a very popular tourist sight and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Holy Spirit Cathedral - Was built in 17th century and is one of only a few historic buildings remaining in the city.
  • Museum of the Great Patriotic War (Location: pr Francyska Skaryny 25A, city centre. Tel: (017) 277 5611. Open: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm).
  • Palats Mastatsva (Art Palace) - Has several exhibition halls showcasing modern art. (Location: vul Kazlova 3, city centre. Tel: (017) 213 3549. ).
  • Victory Square - Located in Minsk is an excellent public square with several public structures and monuments.
  • National Library of Belarus - Check out this space age building in Minsk.

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Events and Festivals

Lipstapad International Film Festival

Founded by the government to promote the country’s film, this event takes place in Minsk every November. It brings together a vast array of talented movie makers and avid cinema-goers. It achieved international status in 2003.

Independence Day

Held each year on August 25, a garish, military-dominated Belarusian celebration sees the army parade through the streets of Minsk, tanks and all. It is an interesting spectacle to behold, but carries with it a creepy, overly Orwellian feel.

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Weather

Minsk has a continental climate with generally warm sunny summers and cold winters with regular snowfall. Daytime temperatures in summer (June to September) are around 25 °C (with a record of around 35 °C), in winter (December to February) around -3 °C. Nights are 15 °C and -10 °C respectively but can drop below -25 °C sometimes. Precipitation is fairly even during the year, although July and August are somewhat wetter. Winters have snowfall.

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Getting There

By Plane

Minsk International Airport (MSQ) is located 42 kilometres east of the city. The national carrier Belavia operates from the airport and several international carriers have flights as well including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Alitalia. Belavia theoretically flies to and from Minsk, Brest, Homel, Hrodna, Mahileu, Mazyr and Vitsebsk.

NOTE. Unless you are on a UK passport you will need to buy a local medical insurance policy (US$ 2-5) for a short-term visit. This is particularly an issue at MSQ Airport where you cannot cross the border without a local policy.

By Train

Belarus Railways operates an extensive rail network with frequent departures to and from Minsk from most major cities and towns, as well as smaller regional places.

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 is a very long line of cars at every 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.

By Bus

  • Avtovokzal Vostochny bus station (а/в "Восточный"), Vulitsa Vanieyeva 34 (Trolleybuses 41д, 15, 30, 36, 19, 41, 49; Bus 55, 84д, 2с, 84, 93, 127 to Stop «Восточный ав» or A taxi cost 10,000 rubles (less than €4) to/from downtown), ☎ 8 902 101 41 14, e-mail: info@minsktrans.by. There are several bus routes from Vilnius central bus station to here. The bus also drops passengers off outside the railway station (look out for two Stalinist towers) in the centre before proceeding to the Vostochny (Eastern) station. The bus service takes up to 5 hours and costs around 36 litas; be prepared to spend more than 1.5 hours at the border. Due to the bad quality of the train service, the bus is preferable. - International ticket office: "Vostochny" Bus Terminal - tel.: +375 17 3680628
  • "Tsentralnyi" Bus Terminal (автовокзал "Центральный"), Babrujskaja vulica (ул. Бобруйская), 6 (M: 'Lenin Square' (Площадь Ленина) 0.5km or Trolleybuses 44, 4, 7, 36 or Buses 46, 78, 958, 102, 123, 300э to Stop «а/в "Центральный"», - Next to), ☎ +375 17 3285605, fax: +375 17 2260994, e-mail: avtovokzal@minsktrans.by. International ticket offices: tel.: +375 17 3285605. - Buses to Augsburg (daily), Airport Minsk-2, Baranovichi, Brest, Bystrica, Warsaw, Vilnius hourly, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Munich
  • Bus station Karbyshava, vulica Karbyšava - For suburban buses

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxis are cheap. You will notice 70,000 rubles will already be on the meter. Like Russia there are no taxi ranks although you can usually find them outside the train station and can order one from the airport. You can get a local English-speaking taxi driver by phoning +375 297 777 313.

By Public Transport

Public transportation which consists of buses, trams and subway is cheap and reliable. The Minsk Metro is noted for being clean and safe. Additionally, each metro station is decorated uniquely. For instance, the station at Oktober square is decorated in the theme of the Communist Revolution. The station at Victory square is decorated in a victory theme, and the Lenin Station includes a bust of Lenin and a host of hammer and sickle reliefs.

The subway is the most reliable transport system in Minsk. It consists of two lines crossing at the very city centre, the red line runs from the northeast to the southwest (currently being expanded with three more stations) while the blue line runs from the west to the southeast. Trains depart every 3 min and are almost never late. You can buy tokens at a window inside the station. One ride costs 3,700 rubles, but if you speak no Russian, just give 7,400 rubles and stick 2 fingers up. Make sure you hold on because it goes very fast. For those staying a week or longer, a 10-day or a 14-day pass may be a good option.

By Foot

Central part of Minsk is easily manageable on foot. A hand-drawn panoramic English-language map of the centre which shows every building individually is available from bookshops and kiosks. It also has a conventional map showing more of Minsk and some tourist information. It is worth buying a copy as early on in your visit as you can because it makes getting around on foot easy and fun.

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Eat

Belarusian cuisine is similar to that of the rest of Eastern Europe but particularly Russian and Ukrainian. Generally it features heavy-fat potato dishes, mushrooms, soups and baked meat. - The quality of Western European cuisine (Italian, French...) is not amazing. The average level of cafes and restaurants is low but there are several good places in the centre. The price of a meal at these places should cost between 20,000 and 40,000 rubles.

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Drink

  • Beze Cafe, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti. Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.
  • Grand Cafe, Vulitsa Lenina 2, ☎ +375 44 7031111. 12-12. A high end restaurant on Lenin Street. Try the roasted duck or salmon with asparagus. They offer a no smoking section, menu's 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. 7a - 2a. 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 wifi (till 6PM when it automatically goes off for some reason). Also two other locations

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Sleep

Minsk has very few budget sleeping places that are advertised online. One of these is the Hostel of International Relations Center located in central Minsk.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Lux Apartment in MinskNemiga str. 10APARTMENT-
Palace Republic Apartment CenterNezavisimosti 23 Lenina 5APARTMENT-
Minsk AccommodationNezavisimosti 18-15 zip 222000Apartment-
Lido Apartment MinskYakub Kolas Gikalo 18APARTMENT-
Postoyalets HostelPartizansky Ave. 147HOSTEL-
Hostel JazzMozyrskaya Street 37aHostel-
Viva Hostel MinskZhukovskogo St, 4HOSTEL80
Prime Apartments agency 152-1, Nezavisimosti AvenueAPARTMENT-
Prime Apartments Agency 252-2, Nezavisimosti avenue, MinskAPARTMENT-
Avenue-Center HotelSovetskaya Str. 100 a ZaslavlHOTEL-
EasyFlatBerestyanskaya st. 4, flat 21Hostel-
Hostel Sky2b Leanida BiadyHOSTEL-
Trinity Hostel12 Starovilenskaya StrHOSTEL-
KinghostelStorozhevskaya 8-208HOSTEL-
Best Minsk Hostelul. Podgornaya 42HOSTEL-
Comfort Apart-Hotel1, Shchorsa Str. GrushevkaHOTEL-
Garni HotelInternacionalnaya St. 11HOTEL-
IBB Hotel11 Gazeta Pravda Ave.HOTEL-
Orbita Hotel39 Pushkin AvenueHOTEL-
Planeta Hotel31 Pobediteley Ave.HOTEL-
Yubileinaya Hotel19 Pobediteley Ave.HOTEL-
Marx HostelC. Marx str. 8-99HOSTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

A lot of places are appointed with WiFi hotspots but you have to buy a card and go through the login routine to get online. There are a few internet cafes in the major cities, but you’re more likely to be able to access the internet from your hotel’s Wi-Fi.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Belarus is: 375. To make international calls from Belarus it is necessary to dial 8, wait for a tone, then dial 10. Calls from Belarus to some countries must be booked through the international operator. Public telephones take cards. Grey booths are for internal calls and blue ones for international calls. Prepaid phone cards are available.

There are 3 major GSM providers in Belarus: MTS, Velcom and Life. All of them offer no-contract GSM SIM-cards and USB modems for Internet access. Cellular communications are very affordable and popular in Belarus. Each of these companies has numerous stores in Minsk, Brest and other regional centres. You will need your passport to purchase a SIM card, but many tariffs are available only to those who are registered with the authorities in Belarus. However, a stamp by your hotel on the back of the immigration card in your passport is sufficient to be registered, and this is routinely done by hotels upon check-in.

Avoid using your home SIM card in your own phone. Switch off data roaming and use only wifi instead.

Post

Belposhta (Belarusian: Белпошта) is the national postal service of Belarus. Services are affordabele but slow: airmail to Western Europe takes a minimum of 10 days. Post offices are generally open between 8:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Friday, but some central offices in major cities keep slightly longer hours. Likewise, in rural small communicaties post offices might not be open every day. If you want to send a package internationally, use companies like DHL, FedEx, TNT or UPS, as they are faster and more reliable.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 53.967787
  • Longitude: 27.576555

Accommodation in Minsk

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Minsk searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Minsk and areas nearby.

Contributors

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Minsk Travel Helpers

This is version 35. Last edited at 8:59 on Oct 19, 16 by Utrecht. 15 articles link to this page.

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