Grodno

Travel Guide Europe Belarus Grodno

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Introduction

Grodno is a city in western Belarus with 373,547 inhabitants. It is located on the Neman close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania. This is a very pleasant town, with a nice pedestrian area and central square worth a visit, but it may remind you more of western Europe than the former Soviet Union until you get out of the center. There are still some interesting remnants of the Soviet era which might be hard to find elsewhere, such as Lenin statues or some street names.

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Sights and Activities

Kalozha Church (Sts. Boris and Gleb Church). A 12th-century Orthodox church, one of the few surviving monuments of the Old Rus period in the country.
St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. A fine Baroque basilica, once a church of a Jesuit monastery, now the city's Roman Catholic cathedral.
Old Hrodna Castle. The present appearance of this royal residence was mostly shaped in 16th century, when it was renovated in Renaissance fashion for King Stephen Bathory. Only a few elements of the previous Gothic castle survive.
Fire Tower. The old Fire Tower built at the end of 19th century. Every day at midday a trumpeter dressed in historic costume goes 120 stairs up and plays a tune on the top of the tower. Interestingly, a fresco on the tower has a lady with the face of Mona Lisa.
Hrodna Zoo. Hrodna Zoo is next to the railway station. It was the first Belarusian Zoo, opened in 1927. There are over 300 kinds of animals in the Zoo nowadays: predators, small predators, hoofed animals, birds and a terrarium. Total area is 5.35 ha.
Great Synagogue.

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Getting There

By Plane

On Fridays and Tuesdays, there are flights from Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad to Grodno at 09:10, and Grodno to Kaliningrad at 11:30. Flight duration is around 45 minutes.

By Train

The train station at Grodno is where the change of car trucks (wheels and axles) takes place to accommodate different track gauges on east and west routes. It is a place of almost terrifying size, disorder and noise.

Carriages are uncoupled from the others and, in turn, lifted about ten feet as the trucks are changed. This is done without notice and while the operation takes place one has a good view of the acres of rusted, obsolete and unused equipment that litters the area.

Domestic trains from Minsk are daily, departing 16:22 taking five hours, with several night trains.

There are several international trains from Russia, the one from Moscow is daily and for a 16-hr journey. From Saint Petersburg there is up to three departures a week taking 22 hr. During summer additional routes are added, Odessa (39 hr) via Kiev, Simferopol (37.5 hr) and Sochi (62 hr). From Poland, you can take a train in Białystok. There are two direct trains per day, at 06:50 and at 19:02. A ticket is about 20 zł.

By Car

Roads are pretty good, you can easily get here from Minsk, Brest, Vilnius (Lithuania), Białystok, Warsaw (Poland).

Be aware of borders, and possible waiting in line (especially on the Polish border Kuznica-Bruzgi or, with usually smaller lines, Berestavitsa). Even if there are only a few cars waiting in the line, you might spend there considerable time due to their still surviving Soviet police attitude. To get your stamp, you have to be proactive and decently remind the policeman of your presence.

If coming by car from Poland or Lithuania, be sure to fill the customs declaration, even on one day trip using the visa free regime. You can fill the declaration online and just bring a printed copy of it. When coming from Poland, do not use the motorway bypass of Grodno, as a motorway fee is required for this and there are reports of cops checking for these just after the beginning of the bypass near the Polish border. You can pay the motorway fee at the first petrol station beyond the border, but there is no need for it if you are going only to Grodno.

By Bus

There are a lot of buses from Minsk (costs around 45 Belarus rubles for the express route, which takes 4 hr) from Vostochnyj Station or from Druzhnaya Station (behind the main train station), few from Brest (the same price), few from Vilnius, one bus from Warsaw (departure around 10:00-11:00 from Warszawa-Stadion station); a few buses from Moscow.

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Getting Around

There are plenty of buses and trolley buses going around town. In the evenings though, they get down to travelling on the outskirts once an hour or two. A ticket for a trip costs 0.13 rubles. Buy the tickets from kiosks near the bus stops. If you speak no Russian, just say "Talony," and hold up fingers to indicate how many.

When you get on the bus, find a grey metal device that they have near the windows, put your ticket in and clamp down on it with a little lever next to it. Then, it is validated and if a ticket controller comes in, you will get no fine.

Taxis are cheap and plentiful: taxi trips within the city cost about BYN5.00.

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Eat

Bolshoy Bufet (Big Buffet), Sovetskaya ulitca 18 (On fourth floor off a mall building, on the city main boulevard), ☏ +375(152)77-17-80. 12:00-23:00. A popular self-catering restaurant offering European and Belarusian food. Be sure to put the right food on the right plate - watch the other people and do the same.
Retro Pizza, 31 Sovetskaya St (Follow the long pedestrian street down from the main square. Near Lenin Square). Good pizzas here. The menu is only in Russian, but some staff speak English, and some dishes (not the pizzas) have pictures to point to.
Pizza Kofe, 15 Kirova St, ☏ +375 15 272 2229. Good pizza and poor coffee. 6.50 rubles for medium pizza and 8.50 rubles for big one.

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Sleep

A good way to find cheap accommodation is to rent an apartment for a short period.

Hotel Semashko, 10, Antonov str. (100 metres up from the bus station). Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. The hotel is very nice, right up to "western" standards. It has air conditioning, and everything is clean and modern. There is a pool in the hotel. The location is very convenient: when you get off the bus, look for where there is lots of traffic, walk up there and cross the road: that is Semashko, about 100 m up. Some of the service was a little bit less than ideal, but nothing is out of the ordinary in this part of the world. About US$83 for a 'superior room'.
Neman Hotel, 8, Stefana Batoria Str. (Sovetskaya Sq.) (in the heart of the city), ☏ +375 152 79 17 00. The modern hotel has 69 fully equipped rooms: conditioning, 32-inch LCD TV-set and cable TV, modern furniture, orthopedic bed, telephone, bathroom with shower/bathtub, additional black-out curtains, hair-drier, refrigerator, kettle, mini-bar. There are also Wi-Fi and secure parking, restaurant "Neman" and pub. Hotel proposes weekend discounts for staying on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Daily rates: Standard single room - from US$52/€43, Standard double/twin room - from US$75/€58. Breakfast is included in the room rate.
Slavia Hotel, 1, Molodyezhnaya Str. (close to Sovetskaya Sq.), ☏ +375 152 77 35 35. Mini hotel has 22 comfortable rooms: individual conditioning, LCD TV, telephone, bathroom, mini-bar. Other services: Wi-Fi, secure parking, cafe, in-room dining. Hotel offers 10% discounts for staying on week-end. Rates by request, breakfast included.
Tourist Hotel, 63, Yanki Kupaly Pr. (behind the Neman river), ☏ +375 0152 56 99 48. 152 comfortable rooms are well-appointed with TV, telephone, bathroom; classic interiors. Hotel services: High Speed Internet Access, restaurant "Tourist" with European and national cuisine, express-cafe, dental office, solarium, massage room, currency exchange office, hairdresser and a business center.
Kronon Hotel, woodland Pyshki, ☏ +375 152 73 98 00, ✉ info@kronon.by. All rooms are equipped with telephone, mini-bar, personal safe, LCD/plasma TV, hair-drier, fluffy bathrobe and slippers. High speed Internet access in the lobby. Standard room is from US$135/€103. The price includes breakfast, VAT and all fees. Swimming pool and sauna are free of charge.

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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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This is version 5. Last edited at 8:34 on Nov 26, 19 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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