For many years after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, Minsk and Belarus, in general, had a reputation of a Soviet experience park. In the late 2010s, this stereotype started losing its relevance: Minsk offers reliable and affordable public transport, plentiful hotels, convenient banking, and shopping and dining that international tourists will find familiar. The quality and number of sightseeing opportunities have improved remarkably too. Still, the Soviet past - Stalinist architecture and socialist street art, old-style canteens and department stores - exists alongside the renovated churches, fancy restaurants, hipster joints and tourist sightseeing traps. This makes Minsk an attractive destination for those who look for new experiences.
Minsk is one of the oldest Belarusian cities. Its beginning is counted from 1067 when it was mentioned in a medieval chronicle for the first time. In the 13th century, Minsk peacefully joined the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. By the middle of the 16th century, it was an important economic and cultural centre in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It suffered badly during the Russo-Polish War (1654–1667) and the Great Northern War (1700–1721). Minsk was annexed by Russia in 1793. It enjoyed a speedy development throughout the 19th century as one of the provincial centres of the Russian Empire. By the end of the 19th century, the city had over 90,000 inhabitants, with Jews constituting more than half of its population. Other substantial ethnic groups were Russians, Poles and Belarusians. Ethnic Belarusians dominated in rural areas on the country.
In the early years of the 20th century, Minsk was a major centre for the worker's movement. The 1st Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, the forerunner to the Soviet Communists, was held there in 1898. It was also one of the major centres of the Belarusian national revival, alongside Vilnius. The First World War devastated Minsk. By 1915, it was a battle-front city.
The first attempt of an independent Belarusian state, the Belarusian Democratic Republic, was made in Minsk in March 1918. In 1919, Minsk became the capital city of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, BSSR, one of the founders of the Soviet Union (1922-1991). Minsk was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941-1944. Before the Second World War, Minsk had a population of 300,000 people, but this had fallen to around 50,000 by 1944. After the war, Minsk was almost completely rebuilt. The historical centre was replaced in the 1940s and 1950s by Stalinist architecture, which favoured grand buildings, broad avenues and wide squares. Many magnificent and just precious buildings, incl. churches and synagogues were lost in the post-war decades of disregard to the pre-Socialist past.
Minsk is increasingly more confident in being the capital city of a country in the very centre of Europe. It is becoming better connected and more open, both economically and culturally. In return, it makes Minsk more attractive to all kinds of visitors, not only those who are after the quirkiest experiences.
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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 freezing cold, but snow does not stay on the ground for long.
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), ☏ , fax: . All international flights arrive here. After the passport control, before the luggage collection and customs, two duty-free shops selling mostly foreign alcohol to the arriving passengers are available - show your passport and boarding pass used for flying to Minsk. The Arrivals feature a standard selection of cash machines, currency exchange, a taxi call point, 24/7 snacks and beverages shop and mobile phone providers - A1, MTS and life:) - kiosks. The Departures hall has a good selection of cafes, banking facilities, post office, hairdresser and shops with Belarusian specialities, souvenirs, alcohol and newspapers. After passing the passport control, duty-free shops and cafes are available. For all services, see the airport website [dead link]. For the free airport-wide Wi-Fi, use the AirportMinsk network (roaming for receiving a text message with the password is required). Cafes in the Departures have their own networks which do not require an SMS code.
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 [formerly dead link] and few other airlines fly to Minsk daily or near daily. For transfer instructions, see the Airport website [dead link] (links in the left-hand menu).
Getting to the cityEdit
The airport is served by buses №300Э and private minivans №1400-ТК and №1430-ТК running 24/7 every 15 to 45 minutes (see timetable [dead link]) from the central coach terminals (Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, Аўтавакзал Цэнтральны; also may be spelt Avtovokzal Tsentralnyi, from its Russian name). The bus stop is outside the arrivals sectors 5/6. The timetable is on display at the stop. Free wifi is available on all buses and minivans, however, you will have to be able to receive an SMS with the password.
Before boarding bus №300Э, purchase a ticket from a self-service kiosk at the bus stop (most international cards are accepted) or from the driver (Belarusian cash, cards are accepted on some buses). For minivans №1400-ТК and №1430-ТК, take any available seat and wait for the driver to collect cash payments just before departure. Cost of one-way travel is 2.9-4.00 rubles depending on the final destination (December 2019). Stowing luggage is free on minivans (limited space is available) and 0.40 rubles - on bus №300Э.
On the bus №300Э or minivan №1400-ТК routes, 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, Аўтавакзал Цэнтральны, located next to the main train station, Minsk Pasažyrski, Мінск Пасажырскі and metro station, Plošča Lienina, Плошча Леніна.
The minibus №1430-ТК runs less frequently (see schedule [dead link]) and takes a different route. It stops at the Mahilioŭskaja, Магілёўская metro station which is more convenient for those going to the Šabany, Шабаны, Aŭtazavod, Аўтазавод, Čyžoǔka, Чыжоўка and Sierabranka, Серабранка districts, and the stations along the Aŭtazavodskaja metro line. Tickets can only be purchased from the driver - 3 rubles to the Mahilioŭskaja, Магілёўская metro station, 4 rubles - to the central coach terminals (December 2019). Luggage is free, but there is only limited space available.
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. From the Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, all buses and minivans for the airport depart every 15 minutes (less frequently during off-peak hours) from the platform 2 (August 2019). If departing from the Uručča, leave the metro station along the train arriving from the city centre; in the subway, turn right and right again at the very end to leave the subway. Tickets for bus №300Э can be purchased from the kiosk nearest to the exit from the subway or from the driver. The electronic screen at the stop shows the waiting time for buses №300Э. For minivans №1400-ТК, tickets can be purchased from the driver.
- Official Airport Transfer, ☏ , 7373 (from Belarusian mobile). Flat-rate trips from 40 rubles from and to the airport. The taxi desk can be found in the Arrivals area and a call point is near the luggage carousels after the passport control upon arrival. Taxi can be requested in advance from the airport website [dead link]. Cash and most credit cards are accepted. Booking in advance is recommended.
- Yandex Taxi. For those who are used to taxi apps, the Yandex Taxi is the most convenient in Minsk. Uber merged its operations with Yandex in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia in 2017. Yandex is about as expensive as the official airport taxi service. If requesting Yandex Taxi 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; drivers employ various tricks to avoid charges, incl. applying fake number plates. 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 shuttle bus stop and so is the busiest one - to be avoided. About 30 rubles.
- Minsk Airport Transfer. Fixed price transfer with an online booking form. You will be met by the driver in the Arrivals. Free bottled water and wifi in the car. From €30 single trip up to three passengers.
Many taxi drivers offer their services in the Arrivals and just outside it. Their prices tend to be steep, but negotiable; always agree on the price in advance.
To reach the airport by car, leave the city by Praspiekt [Avenue] Niezaliežnasci | Праспект Незалежнасці and follow the highway.
- 2 Central 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), ☏ . 24/7. The main railway station in the country. It is well served by trains from western and central Europe, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia, in addition to local destinations.
The fastest train from Vilnius takes about 2½ hours and costs about US$10-15 one way. An overnight trip from Warsaw is about 10 hours departing from Zachodnia, Centralna and Wschodnia stations. There are also trains from Prague and other European cities. A daily sleeper train from Kiev leaves in the evening and arrives the next morning. A four-person berth costs around US$47. There are multiple trains from/to Moscow, including several overnight sleepers. Note, only Belarusian or Russian citizens can cross the Belarus-Russia land border by train or coach; holders of other passports must take a plane. For train times, prices and booking tickets for trips from or within Belarus use the Belarusian Railway website.
- 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), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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 [dead link].
The central area of Minsk is easily manageable on foot. Public transportation comprises buses, trams, trolleybuses, railway city lines and the Minsk metro (underground). Minsk public transport is cheap and reliable. For navigation, Google Maps does a good job.
Single trip tickets and margetic cards for uploading carnets and period passes can be purchased from metro ticket offices, Minsktrans (state public transport company for Minsk) offices in front of most metro station exits and from Minsktrans kiosks at many bus stops. There are a large number of carnet and pass combinations depending on the length of the intended stay and plans for travel. The metro-only magnetic card costs 1 ruble (refundable) plus cost of travel; the Minsktrans magnetic card costs 2.88 rubles (refundable) and is valid for metro, bus, trolleybus, tram and railway city lines (September 2019). For details, see the Minsk metro fairs guide in Belarusian and Russian.
A single trip ticket for bus, tram or trolleybus is paper-based and costs 0.60 rubles if purchased from a ticket office or kiosk, 0.65 rubles if purchased from the driver (September 2019). Tickets have to be validated straight away. In metro, a single journey is 0.65 rubles (September 2019) paid by tokens bought at a window or self-service kiosk inside the station. Visa and MasterCard bank cards can be used for contactless pay-as-you-go payments. Magnetic cards with carnets or period passes have to be scanned upon boarding buses, trolleybuses and trams; if successful, the scanner displays Аплочана (Belarusian for paid). There is no need to scan cards at the end of the journey. Validators for paper tickets and scanners for cards are separate machines. In metro, scan a card at the gate to your right and enter the station.
There are a few express buses (their route number is followed by Э - for Belarusian Экспрэс) in Minsk. They are not covered by the majority of available period passes, but can be added for a small payment.
Privately-run minivans (their route numbers consist of four digits followed by letters, e.g. 1097-TK, displayed in the front and side windows of vehicles) often serve longer routes than city buses, trolleybuses and trams do. They are of good quality, safe and very quick. Minivans stop on request at regular bus or trolleybus stops and cost 1.00-1.50 rubles depending on the route. Period passes and carnets from Minsktrans are not valid on minivans. To catch one, stand at the edge of a bus stop and make a sign to the driver of the approaching vehicle; then take a seat and pass the money to the driver (via other passengers if necessary); change will be passed to you if applicable in the same manner. Ask to stop when approaching your stop.
Minsk metro consists of two underground 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 maps has been assigned a number making navigation for tourists much easier, however, locals may not even be aware of that - they always 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 - at 0:40. If you travel with even a slightly large bag, you are likely to be stopped by the police present at all stations for scanning your luggage. In such situations, the police are polite and efficient most of the time. Travelling in metro while drunk is prohibited. Station staff and police will question anyone appearing unstable. Standard questions include the intended destination, address and whether one will be able to get there safely. Keep calm and polite; use taxi if in doubt.
Taxis App-based taxi services - Yandex and Next Taxi - are inexpensive and abundant most of the time; they are convenient if you don't speak Russian or Belarusian. Most locals also use telephones to call for a taxi which are then likely to arrive in just a few minutes. Stopping a taxi on the street is common. The driver must use a fare meter which may be a phone-based. If unsure, check how the fare will be determined beforehand. 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.
In Minsk you can find many bike sharing stations, even automated ones - if you see a lonely orange bike or electric scooter with QR code - just scan it and explore the city!
- 1 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. It 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.
- 2 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), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 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..
- 3 Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum (Музей ВАВ, Беларускі дзяржаўны музей гісторыі Вялікай Айчыннай вайны), praspiekt Pieramožcaŭ, 8, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 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.
- Contemporary Fine Arts Museum (Музей сучаснага выяўленчага мастацтва), Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, 47 (M Plošča Jakuba Kolasa, 0.1 km), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 11:00-19:00. National Centre for Contemporary Arts has two venues, at praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, 47 and vulica Niakrasava, 3 (tram no. 1, stop Vulica Carnyseuskaha; closed Mon and Tue) - a short tram ride from each other. Both are comparatively small venues hosting several exhibitions simultaneously. Tickets can be purchased for either gallery or a combined one - for both. 8 rubles.
The largest religious community in Minsk - as in the whole country - is the Belarusian Orthodox Church, part of the Russian Orthodox Church. A significant proportion of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant communities. Other religions have a much smaller presence. Over the centuries, other religions like Greek Catholics (Uniates) and Muslims (Belarusian Tatars, also known as Polish–Lithuanian or Lipka Tatars) have left a strong imprint on the city too. According to the 1897 census, 52% of the Minsk population were Jews;there were over 100 synagogues in Minsk then. During the Soviet Union time, many religious buildings were closed, demolished or used for other purposes. Since Belarus regained its independence in 1991, some religious buildings were returned to their communities; many others remain in use by state institutions.
- 4 Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (Свято-Духов Кафедральный Собор; праваслаўная катэдра), Vulica Kiryla i Miafodzija, 3 (M Niamiha 0.1km), ☏ . Mon-Sat 07:00-23:00; Sun 06:00-23:00. The main Orthodox church of Belarus, a fine example of the late baroque style, known in Belarus as Vilno baroque. It was built in 1633-1642 as a Roman Catholic church of the Bernardine monastery. It became an Orthodox church in 1860s. Nowadays, it houses a magnificent icon of Our Lady of Minsk, the main religious symbol of the city. The church is richly decorated and is always busy with faithful and curious visitors.
- 5 Saint Apostles Peter and Paul Church (Сабор Святых апосталаў Пятра і Паўла; Пертрапаўлаўская царква), Vulica Rakaǔskaja, 4 (M Niamiha 0.1km), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon-Fri 07:00-20:00; Sat 06:30-20:00; Sun 06:00-20:00 or after the end of the late night church service. The oldest Orthodox church in Minsk that survived until our days. It was built in 1620-1630 and remains a striking example of Belarusian tradition in Orthodox sacral architecture. The church is richly decorated with frescoes and icons.
- 6 Saint Mary Magdalene Church (Belarusian: Царква Святой Марыі Магдаліны, Russian: Церковь Святой Равноапостольной Марии Магдалины), Vulica Kisialiova, 42 (Bus 39, 18, 26, 44, 136, 29, 29н; Tram 3, 4, 5; all to the stop Teatraĺnaja), ☏ . The church was built in 1847 in the Classical and Russian Revival styles. Roman Catholics were invited to pray in the church after the last Catholic church in Minsk was closed by the Soviet authorities in 1937. The church was taken from believers in 1949 and used as a state film archive. It was returned to the Church in 1990.
- 7 Archcathedral of the Name of the Most Holy Virgin Mary (Архікафедральны касцёл Імя Найсвяцейшай Панны Марыі), Plosšča Svabody, 9 (M Niamiha, Kastryčnickaja, Kupalaǔskaja 0.2km), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Built as a Jesuit church at the beginning of the 18th century, this beautiful Baroque church was closed or used as a sports training facility during different periods of the Soviet Union time. In the 1990s, the church was returned to the believers and became the archcathedral - the seat of the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus. The building is a fine example of Baroque, an architectural style common to medieval Belarus. The church is squeezed between two modern buildings almost hiding it from passers-by - a witness to the prosecution which churches experienced in the Soviet Union.
- 8 Church of Holy Trinity (Касцёл Найсвяцейшай Тройцы; св. Роха; на Залатой Горцы), Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, 44A (M Plošča Pieramohi, Plošča Jakuba Kolasa 0.2km), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. An elegant Neogothic church constructed in 1861-74. During the Soviet Union time, it was used as book storage for the National Library; later, it was refurbished to house a classical music hall. In independent Belarus, the Catholic community campaigned for the return of the church and shared the building with the state music company for many years.
- 9 St Simon and St Helena Church (Red church; Чырвоны касцёл; Касцёл Святых Сымона і Алены; Красный костёл), Vulica Savieckaja, 15 (M Plošča Lienina 0.1km), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 08:00-20:00. The best-known church in the city, commonly known as the Red Church (or Čyrvony kasciol), was built between 1908 and 1910 in Romanesque Revival style. Its photographs and silhouette drawings are often used on Minsk souvenirs as the city's most recognizable symbol. The church has a rich history and, nowadays, is home to a large and active community. It is richly decorated inside and houses many artifacts and religious objects to explore.
Other interesting placesEdit
- Alivaria Brewery Tour, Vulica Kisialiova Кісялёва, 30 (Niamiha Няміга metro station 1.2 km along Vulica Bahdanoviča вул.Багдановіча), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Minsk Tractor Works (Мінскі трактарны завод, Минский тракторный завод), vul. Daŭhabrockaja, 35 (M Traktarny zavod), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tourists can visit the plant manufacturing the Belarus tractors - the most popular tractor in the world by the number of machines sold - every workday (except national holidays). Tours normally take place at 11:00 and 13:00 in Russian; translation into English can be requested. The standard tour includes visiting two workshops, including the final assembly line. There are plenty of photo opportunities for visitors. Payment is in cash or by card in the museum located in the far right corner of the Works buildings in front of the Traktarny Zavod metro station. 12 rubles; less for children.
- 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.
- 10 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.
- 11 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.
Out of townEdit
- 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.
- 12 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: 09:40, 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.
- 13 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.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A reconstructed line of defences on what once was the state border of the USSR. 14 rubles.
- 14 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.
- 15 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.
- 16 BELAZ (БелАЗ), 40 let Oktyabrya Str. 4, Žodzina (From the Uschod Metro station in Minsk, take a minibus to Žodzina and get off at the final stop. Minivans to Barysaŭ also stop in Žodzina by the bus station. Then, a 10-minute walk.), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Huge trucks and super heavy-duty hauliers are produced in Žodzina, a town in Minsk region. The manufacturing site is open for visits to see the world’s largest trucks listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Visitors can climb up to the larges track ever produced and see one of the assembly workshops. Tours are in Russian; translation into English can be requested in advance - call or email. Riding the track is available for an additional charge. The tours end in a souvenir shop. From 20 rubles.
- Mir castle. 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.
- 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 (Park Čaliuskincaǔ - M: Park Čaliuskincaǔ station (Парк Чалюскінцаў)). 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.
Parks and gardensEdit
- 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)), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-20:00. 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. 8/4 rubles.
- 3 Park Čaliuskincaǔ (Belarusian: Парк Чалюскінцаў; 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), Vulica Frunze вул.Фрунзэ, 2 (M Plošča 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 Plošča Pieramohi station 100 m).
- 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, Купалаўскі тэатр), Vulica Enhielsa вул.Энгельса, 7, 220030 (M Kupalaǔskaja, Kastryčnickaja), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 19:00 performances. The oldest and, arguably, the best Belarusian drama theatre. All performances - classical and modern Belarusian and foreign plays - and are in Belarusian; some are dubbed into English and Russian. 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. The cafe inside the theatre is open before performances and during intervals; interval refreshments can be ordered in advance. 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.
Traditionally, tourists bring from Belarus linen goods, embroidery, souvenirs made of straw and leather, glass, ceramics and other artisanal items. Belarusian vodka has an excellent reputation; it can be purchased from airport duty-free shops. Zubroǔka (a Polish equivalent of Żubrówka) is a popular spirit originally created in Belarusian Brest. Sugar-coated cranberries, flat crisps (čypsy, чыпсы), zefir (a soft baked confectionery of apple puree and sugar), chocolate-glazed cheesecake deserts (hlazuravany syrok, глазураваны сырок) and rye bread are treated as Belarusian specialities; they are loved by locals and are widely available, also from airport shops.
Shopping malls mainly feature foreign brands. Local department stores – GUM, TSUM, Na Nemige, Univermag Belaruś etc. – stock a wider variety of the goods produced locally.
- 1 Vialiki Dziakuj (Вялікі дзякуй), vul. Kastryčnickaja, 23A (M Pieršamajskaja, 0.5 km), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 12:00 - 22:00. A well-curated collection of souvenirs, bags, inexpensive jewellery, t-shirts, games, snacks and drinks reflecting the latest trends in the Belarusian youth culture.
- 2 Lianok (Лянок, Lyanok), pr. Niezaliežnasci, 46 (M Jakuba Kolasa, 0.1 km), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-19:00. The prime destination for Belarusian linen - fabrics, bedding, table clothes and souvenirs
Arts and traditional craftsEdit
- 3 Art House Ugrinovich (Мастацкі дом Угрыновіч), vulica Internacyjanaĺnaja 13, ☏ . 10:00 - 20:00. The Belarusian tradition of porcelain is centuries-old. Olga Ugrinovich exemplifies the best of this tradition - originality and high quality. She uses dry herbs for making imprints on her porcelain items which are then hand decorated. Herbs get destroyed by high temperature during the production process making each item - mugs, plates, vases and even coffee tables - absolutely unique. The shop also stocks the artist's paintings and souvenirs. From 10 rubles.
- Honar, vulica Kujbyšava, 22-6-106, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 12:00-20:00, Sa Su 12:00-17:00. Men's and women's clothes and accessories with delicate ethno accents and embroidery from two designers, Karina Adesenka and Pavel Dounar.
- LSTR, vulica Viery Charužaj, 5 (M Jakuba Kolasa), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-20:00. A streetwear brand with a strong loyal following. Many of its lines were created for local cultural campaigns and were promoted by Belarusian celebrities. The exclusive “LSTR x Лідскія” RED trainers have achieved a particular status due to featuring the Columns of Gediminas, the state symbol of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania part of which was contemporary Belarus.
- Centralnaja Kniharnia (Цэнтральная кнігарня), praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, 19 (M Kastryčnickaja 0.2 km). One of the largest bookshops in the city selling some English language novels, guidebooks, albums and stationery.
- Svietač (Дом кнігі Светач), praspiekt Pieramožcaŭ, 11 (M Niamiha 0.2 km), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 10:00-21:00, Sa 11:00-20:00, Su 11:00-19:00. The largest bookshop in Minsk.
- Stolitsa, Nezalezhnasti pl (centrally located).
- GUM department store, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 23. Built in the 1950s, Socialist Realist classic.
- TSUM department store, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 54.
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 others, Georgian and Central Asian restaurants have a good reputation.
While meat has always been an integral part of traditional Belarusian meals, vegetarians and vegans are increasingly well served in Minsk. Belarus is a landlocked country; seawater fish is expensive.
Most, if not all venues in Minsk accept bank cards even for small amounts. Tipping up to 10% for table service is common, but not compulsory. Many cafes and bars have tip cups; leaving tips there is not compulsory either.
- 1 Supermarket Centralny Buffet (Універсам "Цэнтральны"), praspeiekt Nieszliežnasci, 23 (M Kastryčnickaja, Kupalaǔskaja), ☏ . 09:00-22:00. This is one of the oldest supermarkets in Minsk and is well worth of visiting just for its interiors reflecting the Soviet heritage of the city. The buffet on the ground floor has changed very little over the decades. It serves simple hot food, coffee, alcohol and Soviet-style cakes and pastries. Eat them standing by the window watching passers-by on the main Minsk avenue, Praspeiekt Niezaliežnasci. In the summer, an outdoor cafe is available too. This place is always busy, it is hugely popular with locals for reliable food, alcohol and low prices. The central location - just by the exit from two main metro stations - makes it very convenient for tourists.
- 2 Draniki, Plošča Svabody, 4 (M Niamiha 0.2km; M Kastryčnickaja or Kupalaǔskaja 0.3km). 11:00-00:00. Belarusian cuisine: draniki, cepelinai, salads, liquors (naliŭki) and beer. It is good for a quick meal. Large groups will feel particularly at home in the basement with more seating. English menu. 6-14 rubles mains.
- 3 Pesochnica (Песочница), vul. Kujbyšava 45 / pr. Mašerava 11 (M Plošcča Pieramohi 0.5 km), ☏ . 12:00 - 23:00. Streetfood, beer, ice cream, live music and films. This venue is closed for winter, except for the Christmas and New Year period. 7-10 rubles for set.
- 4 ENZO, vulica Kastryčnickaja, 23, ☏ . Su-Th 11:00-24:00, F Sa 11:00-01:00. A two-floor steak and burger restaurant in the heart of the trendy hang-out quarter. Quality food, a good wine selection and the ambience of distressed walls. 15-50 rubles dinner mains; up to 10 rubles lunch courses.
- 5 Kuchmistr (Кухмістр), Vulica Karla Marksa, 40 (Kastryčnickaja & Kupalaŭskaja metro stations 0.1 km), ☏ . 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.
- 6 Simple, viluca Sviardlova, 2 (M Plošča Lienina 0.2km), ☏ . 12:00-23:00. The restaurant positions itself as the place to go to for rare wines and reimagined Belarusian cuisine. Cooking is different from the restaurants of traditional Belarusian cooking: a fusion of Belarusian dishes and locally sources ingredients (many are seasonal) with flavours and cooking techniques from other parts of the world. Meat, freshwater fish and vegetarian dishes are on the menu. 10-15 rubles starters, 20-25 - mains.
- 7 Tiflis (Тифлисъ), vul. Talbuchina 3 (M Čaliuskincaŭ 0.2km; M Akademija Navuk 0.3km), ☏ . 11- 23. A popular Georgian restaurant with a large selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, as well as traditional Georgian wines. 12-30 rubles mains.
- 8 Vasiĺki (Васількі), pr. Niezaležnasci (M Pieršamajskaja 0.3km), ☏ . 08:00–23:00. A large chain of casual dining restaurants serving traditional Belarusian 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.
Vegan food is still a novelty in Belarus, however there are a handful of reliable cafes in Minsk already.
- Green+Go, Vulica Kastryčnickaja, 19 (M Pieršamajskaja 0.2 km; at the back of the Y Gallery, enter through the gallery or back car park gate), ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-22:00, F Sa 12:00-23:00. A fast-food type establishment with breakfast and lunch set (until 16:00 weekdays) menu, and a la carte: wraps, soups, bowls, salads, traditional and innovative cold and hot beverages, and desserts. Menu in English is available. Pay and give your name to be called in a few minutes to collect your freshly assembled dishes. Upbeat music. 12 rubles set.
- MonkeyFood, Vulica Kastryčnickaja, 16 (M Pieršamajskaja 0,2km), ☏ . 11:00-22:00. Also, vulica Bahdanoviča, 128A. Delivery is available. 10 rubles set.
- Yellow SLON (Кафе «Желтый Слон»), Vulica Bahdanoviča, 133, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 11:00-22:00; Sa Su 12:00-22:00. This comfy cafe is suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a coffee with a cake. More upmarket than other vegan establishments in Minsk; business and romantic meetings can be held here without doubts. Delivery is available. 15 rubles lunch set.
Getting decent coffee in Minsk is not difficult. In addition to local and international coffee and bakery chains (Paul, Thierry, Golden Coffee), there are plenty of independent coffee shops and stalls around the city, in shopping malls and museums. Many convenience stores and supermarkets offer coffee too. Most coffee shops close by 23:00.
- 1801 Coffee (1801 Koфе), Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, 95 (M Park Čaliuskincaŭ), ☏ . 08:00-23:00. A trendy coffee destination boasting freshly roasted coffee beans. A watch salon of the local brand, Luch, shares the space.
- Beze Cafe, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti. Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.
- Grand Cafe, Vulitsa Lenina 2, ☏ . 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.
- Golden Coffee, Pr. Nezalezhnasti 18, ☏ . 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.
- Zerno (Зерно), Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, 46 (between M Jakuba Kolasa and M Plošča Pieramohi), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 07:00-23:00. Excellent coffee, quiches and cakes, as well as seasonal drinks like mulled wine and zbicień in the winter and iced coffee - in the summer - attract a large number of loyal customers. The small place is always busy. Staff speak English. Pay at the bar and take a seat - your order will be served to your table. Wifi. 5 rubles coffee, 7 rubles cakes.
Nowadays, beer and vodka are the most common traditional alcoholic drinks in Belarus. Samahonka (moonshine) is occasionally served in trendy bars, as well as in all venues with decent Belarusian cuisine. Some places may have naliŭki - liquors infused with local berries, fruits or spices like horseradish. Zubroǔka (Żubrówka in Poland) is native to Belarus too. Good wines are expensive in Belarus, but due to geopolitical reasons, the country is a good place to explore Georgian and Moldovan wines, as well as Armenian cognacs. Most, if not all venues in Minsk accept bank cards even for small amounts. Many cafes and bars without table service have tip cups; leaving tips there is not compulsory.
- 1 Huligan (Хулиган), vulica Kastryčnickaja, 16 (M Pieršamajskaja 0.3km), ☏ . M-Th 17:00-24:00, F 17:00-04:00, Sa 08:00-04:00, Su 08. A trendy hipster hangout with well-curated music, dance parties at weekends, wifi, full bar, a long cocktail menu, a selection of naliǔki (Belarusian liquors) and snacks of the humous, falafels and quesadilla kind. 5 rubles beer, 12 rubles cocktails, 7 rubles snacks.
- 2 Berlin, zavulak Turčynski, 2 (M Frunzienskaja 0.4 km Maladziožnaja 0.5 km), ☏ . 19:00 - 05:00. A club that is aiming to replicate the Berlin-style club culture in central Minsk - trance, house and new music styles, also lighter dance music played by local and visiting DJs. Frequent thematic nights - queer, K-pop etc. 5-10 rubles.
- Club Burlesque, vulica Kastryčnickaja, 5 (M Pralietarskaja), ☏ . 18:00-06:00. A restaurant, beauty salon and LGBT-friendly club under the same roof. The venue gets mixed reviews, particularly for its intrusive and insensitive security staff.
- Petushnia (Петушня), zavulak Turčynski, 2 (M Maladziožnaja). Occasional queer/LGBT nights in the Club Berlin.
- Casino Royal
- Carat Casino
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.
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), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Calm and cozy atmosphere. In the city center. 14-19 rubles.
- Smile Minsk Hotel, praspekt Dziaržynskaha, 131, entrance 8. Check-in only on a preliminary call (M Malinaŭka), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. From 13 rubles in 8-person room.
- [dead link] Hostel Stary Minsk, praspiekt Niezalieznasci, 18, apt 20 (3-minute walk from Belarusian National Arts Museum), ☏ . 6-bed dorm: US$11.
- Trinity Traveler & Riverside Hostel, Starovilenskaya, 12 (5 minutes walk from “Nyamiha”, “Kastrychnickaya” and “Kupalauskaya” metro stations), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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), ☏ , ✉ email@example.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), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, vulica Staražoŭskaja, 15-201, ☏ . 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, vulica Puškina, 39 (M Puškinskaja Пушкінская).
- Planeta, Prospekt Pobediteley 31, ☏ . 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.), ☏ , ✉ MSQHX.email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A well-maintained international chain hotel. US$95.
- Hotel Europe (Отель «Европа»), International Street 28, ☏ . 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, ☏ , toll-free: . 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, ☏ , toll-free: . 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.
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 a 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.
Belarus is safe for LGBT travellers 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 society: most people would not mind having LGBT people around but would regard any explicit signs of affection disturbing. This may also lead to violence. 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 the 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' behaviour. As a rule, drivers always give the way to pedestrians crossing the road in the designated places.
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.
- 1 Armenia, 50 Bumažkova St, ☏ , , , , fax: .
- 2 Georgia, Freedom sq. N4, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- India, 63 Sobinova St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Japan, Pr. Pobediteley 23/1, 8F, ☏ , , fax: .
- United Kingdom, 37 Karl Marx St, ☏ .
- United States, 46 Starovilenskaya St, ☏ , , , fax: , ✉ ConsularMinsk@state.gov.
- Hungary, 1/b Platonova St, ☏ , , fax: .
Most Belarusian trains are cheap, comfortable and reliable. Some destinations are served by high-speed services, but slow overnight sleepers are widely available as well. Minibuses (maršrutka in Belarusian, маршрутка) is the most common local and intercity transportation used by Belarusians. They are not always less comfortable, but quick and cheap. You can also rent a car.
- 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.
- Hrodna is a border town in north-west Belarus, the last capital of Rzecz Pospolita, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 17-18 centuries.
- Lake Narač is the largest lake in Belarus, located about 160 km north of Minsk.