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.
  • Minsk Opera - Theatre Address: Minsk, Parizhskaya Kommuna sq., 1, Phone: (+375 17) 334-10-41
  • Casino: "Shangri La" - Casino Address: 8/3 Kirova street, Phone: +375 29 796 70 87
  • National Theatre: "Maxim Gorky Drama" - Theater Address: Volodarsky street 5

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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

  • "Café Skif" - Cafe Address: 34 Prospekt Nezavisimosti, Phone: +375 29 304-86-22, Price: US$11-20
  • Vasilki - Belarusian cuisine Address: 6 Bobruiskaya street, Phone: 748-82-69, Price: US$11-20
  • "Stolle" - cafe Address: 23 International street, Minsk, Phone: +375447710051, Price: US$11-20
  • "Café Prime-Time" - Cafe Address: International Airport, Minsk, Price: less than US$10
  • National Library Café: "Café Graf" - Cafe Address: Prospect Nesavisimosti 116, 22nd floor, Phone: +375 17 266 37 22, Price: less than US$10
  • Benedictine refectory: Restaurant 'Lavski - restaurant Address: 6 Kirill & Mefodyi Street, Phone: +375 17 329 03 04, Price: less than US$10
  • McDonald’s - cafe Address: Independence avenue, 23, Price: average

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

If you need a visa to enter Belarus, you must get registered with the local police department - Department for Citizenship and Migration within 5 business days. Most hotels process the registration automatically upon check-in while many apartment rentals might be reluctant to provide registration. Check if the rental service offers registration service and at what price. There are plenty of apartment and room rentals available online. You might receive a call to your hotel room late at night offering a "massage". To avoid being woken up it is worth unplugging your phone.

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, e-mail: vip-zone@tut.by. Calm and cozy atmosphere. In the city center. 14-19 BYN.
  • 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, e-mail: smile.minsk@mail.ru. Cheap, quiet, central location. BYR 13.
  • Hostel Stary Minsk, praspiekt Niezalieznasci, 18, apt 20 (3-minute walk from Belarusian National Arts Museum), ☎ +375 25 767-05-24. 6-bed dorm: $11.
  • Trinity Traveler & Riverside Hostel, Starovilenskaya, 12 (5 minutes walk from “Nyamiha”, “Kastrychnickaya” and “Kupalauskaya” metro stations), ☎ +375 29 311 2783, e-mail: 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, e-mail: 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, e-mail: sonoro@inbox.ru. Far from the center, near the MKAD.
  • 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 wifi in lobby. €35/single. edit
  • 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 6km 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.
  • 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 located on one of the main transport highways in close proximity to the city center.

View our map of accommodation in Minsk or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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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

as well as Peter (7%), Lavafalls (6%), MuscoviteVT (4%), Sam I Am (2%), vanessa (<1%)

Minsk Travel Helpers

  • MuscoviteVT

    I positively like Minsk, and especially their Opera House, visit several times a year.
    My nightmare is that Westerners now flood the place – now that Byelorussians had waved the visa – and it becomes crowded, ‘touristy’ and extravagantly dear!

    Ask MuscoviteVT a question about Minsk

This is version 53. Last edited at 10:10 on Sep 5, 18 by Utrecht. 15 articles link to this page.

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