Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is a modern city with elements of its Soviet-era history on display throughout. Much of the country has been rebuilt since World War II, and its architecture is a monument to its turbulent past, while its thriving businesses are a badge of its prosperous present. Don't miss visiting this Eastern European jewel!
Minsk has beautiful churches that are worth a visit, from both Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions. You can even sleep in a converted monastery, the Manastyrski Hotel.
The city has been the flashpoint for several historic events and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War captures the imagination of WWII buffs.
Rich and homey, food in Minsk is as hearty as it gets; enjoy fluffy draniki and traditional herring-stuffed tomatoes.
Craft fairs throughout Minsk feature the handiwork of local artisans. Take home a matryoshka doll from the Stolitsa Underground Mall.
Drink your way through the city with local offerings like Balsam and vodka as well as Belgian and Bavarian brews on tap at city pubs.
One of the best ways to experience the culture of a city is to visit its museum. Art has a way of expressing the deepest desires and priorities of a people, and this National Art Museum does just that. It features hundreds of paintings, sculptures, and exhibits displaying the evolution of art and history in Belarus. The museum covers 16th to 20th century Belarusian fine arts right alongside 18th to 20th century Russian art, due to the country's close ties to it's eastern neighbor. There is also a café and souvenir shop located on-site where you can pick up a postcard or other souvenir.
Built at the beginning of the 17th century, the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church is a Russian Orthodox Church with Renaissance architecture which continues to attract thousands of visitors each year. While the outside exterior can seem rather fortress-like, the interior is adorned with unique pieces of religious art depicting famous scenes from the bible and the life of Jesus Christ. The church is also conveniently located in the middle of one of Minsk's most popular shopping streets, making it easy to find a café or restaurant to relax and recharge following your visit.
Just 5km to the north of Minsk lies an artificial reservoir popular with locals for its free public pool and many outdoor water activities. Here you can rent a paddle boat or catamaran for the day to get a breath of fresh air away from the bustling capital city. Minskaje Mora is easily reached by regional buses or suburban trains from the main terminal station in central Minsk.
While it may seem odd that the secret police have a rather conspicuous headquarters in Minsk, the neoclassical building on Praspiekt Niezalienasci is indeed home to the infamous KGB. Attached to the formal investigation building is the prison, which houses many political activists and opponents to the centralized dictatorship. Neither of these buildings are accessible to the public, nor would you care to find yourself on the inside! But it's worth a trip just to snap a quick picture of one of the world's most efficient and merciless police operations.
Museum Miniland is a great way to learn about other historical sites within Belarus for those who don't have time to venture outside of the capital city. Situated in the House of Labour Unions, it houses 18 miniature models of famous places around the country, including Brest Fortress, Kosava Palace, Kamenets Tower, and Kalozha Church. The exhibit is constantly changing and adapting to educate the public about the relevant cultural and historical shifts of Belarus. Entrance to the museum includes an audio guide which gives visitors a more in-depth knowledge about the regional attractions.
Visit Minsk in the mid-summer, when temperatures are around 68 degrees, or just at the beginning of fall. Avoid the winters as it can get as cold as -31 degrees.
Travelers will land at Minsk National Airport (MSQ). Take an airport bus to Centralny or train to Minsk Pasayrski in the city center for Br60,000.
Minsk Pasayrski is the main rail hub in Minsk and connects to trains coming in from many European cities, like Kiev and Vilnius.
Driving in to Minsk from other European cities like Warsaw or Kiev is a scenic trip with multiple routes, such as the P99 or P31. From Warsaw, for example, get on the S8 from Wisłostrada. Take the DK8 to Bialystok. Then get on to the E30/M1 and continue on to Minsk. Border crossings can take some time so be prepared.
Like trains, there are many services from European cities to Minsk, which arrive at the Avtovokzal Vostochny bus station.
When staying in Minsk, choose Crowne Plaza Minsk for a luxury stay, Hotel Belarus if you want a mid-range option, and Marx Hostel for budget-friendly but centrally located accommodation
Chyzhouka - this is a well-connected district in the southeast that is close to the Minsk Zoo and the Chyzhouka-Arena, which hosts concerts and hockey games.
Trinity Hill - Trinity Hill is a beautiful suburb in Minsk with luxurious homes, a waterfront, and several parks.
Nezavisimosti - the main hub of Minsk hosts lots of businesses and a beautiful park.
Public transport in Minsk consists of trams, buses, and subway. One ticket costs Br3,700, although 10-day and 14-day passes are available.
Getting around by taxi in Minsk is easy, and rates start at Br70,000.
Grab a car rental from Sixt or Europcar for EUR59.04 per day.
Besides the Stolitsa Underground Mall, don't miss Suvenirnaja Lavka, which is a famous souvenir shop with local crafts, and GUM department store in Prospekt Nezalezhnosti for fashion shopping.
A quart of milk in Minsk is Br11,829 while a dozen eggs costs Br22,653.
Close to Trinity Hill, right across from the Svislach River is one of the top-rated authentic restaurants in Minsk, Kuhmistr, dishing up Belarusian and Lithuanian food like kvaas. Expect to spend around Br60,000-120,000.