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* '''Pechki-Lavochki''', Main Ave. Is a great Belarusian restaurant.
* '''Pechki-Lavochki''', Main Ave. Is a great Belarusian restaurant.
* '''Vasilki''', Independence Avenue, 16, A restaurant serving traditional local cuisine. Pleasant interior in a rustic style. There are breakfasts from 8am. There are also restaurants at str. J. Kolasa, 37, and Independence Avenue, 89
* '''Beze''', Main ave.  Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.
* '''Beze''', Main ave.  Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.

Revision as of 10:05, 12 November 2012

Minsk town hall

Minsk [11] is the capital and biggest city of Belarus. It is situated on the Svislach and Niamiha rivers. From 1919-1991 it was the capital of the Former Byelorussian SSR. It is also the capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

The city was 80% destroyed during World War II and as such was rebuilt in the 1950s to the liking of Stalin. Large Soviet-Bloc style buildings make up a large portion of the city. For this reason Minsk is a wonderful place to visit for those interested in the Soviet Union and are interested in seeing it almost alive.

English is rarely spoken, and tourism is not a priority in Minsk. It would be wise to learn some key phrases in Russian (which is the default language, but Belarusian may also be spoken or understood).

Get in

By plane

Visa on arrival
Travelling by plane is much easier, and you can get a visa just upon arrival! But beware, getting a visa at the airport is 3 times more expensive than getting it in advance at the Belarusian Embassy in your country. Detailed price-tag can is available from the Belarus Foreign Ministry website. Only if there is no such embassy, you will be charged the normal visa fee. If your travel is arranged with a Belarusian Agency, the procedure may be well planned for you - the original of the tourist invitation letter will be delivered to the Minsk Airport Consulate (don't forget to bring one passport size photo!). Sometimes the Consulate people speak several languages, sometimes none at all

International flights arrive at the National Airport Minsk [12] (MSQ, formerly known as Minsk-2) located 37 km north-east from the city border. If you are applying for a visa in Minsk Airport or just landing there it is important to know several tips about insurance, visa office and passports control. The spacious terminal building is impressive from outside, yet its interior and infrastructure are ideal examples of poor USSR-style design that renders the quiet airport with very sparse traffic ugly and inconvenient. There are some issues to be aware of about landing in MSQ Airport. Flight information: +375 (17) 279-13-00, 279-17-30, and up-to-date schedule on the website.

After passing the customs (first comes the Visa Office on the second floor, second - passports control, third - customs control), you find yourself in one of the dim arrival halls on the ground level. Each of the two halls offers a currency exchange booth (only one of them functions - the one at sector 5-6, 24/7 but with lots of stupid "technical breaks"), a newspaper kiosk sector 5-6, 3rd floor, and lots of private taxi drivers. ATMs are few and badly marked, but they do help in avoiding the queues at the exchange booths. Car rentals (Sixt and Europcar) are located at the sector 5-6, on the far left. Departure hall on the third floor is more bright and comfortable, with a 24/7 restaurant and few other place to eat (open 9—21) as well as a small souvenir shop and a bank office.

Upon departure, you have to go through a very slow security control before you are allowed to check-in. The area behind the check-in features several duty-free shops and pricey bars with limited choice of snacks. The whole terminal is covered by decent wireless internet from Beletelecom, but you have to purchase an access card (very cheap, though) at their office or at the newspaper kiosk in the departure hall (before check-in).

Getting to the city by public transport is a tough job. The airport is served by regular buses that run every 45-60 minutes from Moskovsky or Vostochny bus terminals. The bus stop is well hidden so that many passengers do not even know about them. In the arrival hall, you won't find a single sign indicating the buses, but don't be confused: the bus stop does exist! It is next to the terminal, close to the exits 3-4, and designated by a small plate with the timetable written in Russian. The buses are punctual, and bring you to the city in 30 min for 5000 rubles. Tickets are purchased from the driver. You can go to any of the bus terminals, but it is advisable to get off at the subway station Uruchye and continue to the city center by subway (as most people do). On the way back to the airport, leave the subway station through the front exit, turn right, and find the outermost bus stop. There is again a small, well-hidden plate with a timetable. The schedule is also available on-line [13] (type НАЦ АЭРОПОРТ МИНСК in the search form). Alternatively, travel to Moscovskaya Metro Station, walk forward for 500 meters and turn right to arrive at Moscovsky Bus Station.

Unless you are prepared to a strenuous search for the bus, taxi is the only option. There is no official taxi service, yet private drivers abound. The ride to the city center should not cost more than €25—30, and bargaining is recommended. If you prefer official service, call a taxi from any company in the city and pay the same price. To reach the airport by car, leave the city by Nezavisimosti Avenue and follow the M2 highway.

Flight connections to Minsk are somewhat scarce. Belavia operates regular flights to Moscow (6 times a day), Saint Petersburg and Kaliningrad (1-2 flights a day) as well as Tbilisi, Prague, Kiev, and Riga. It also has flights to major European airports, but none of these destinations are served on an everyday basis. Alternatively, you can fly to Minsk with Aeroflot (Moscow, twice a day), Lufthansa (Frankfurt, 1-2 times a day), Austrian Airlines (Vienna, twice a day), LOT (Warsaw, once a day), and Aerosvit (Kiev, once a day). Although low-cost airlines do not serve Minsk, most of the available carriers offer cheap tickets every now and then. If you are unable to find a cheap ticket or a suitable connection, consider flying to Vilnius, Moscow, or Warsaw and traveling to Minsk by train. However, the overland travel may require an additional visa and generally causes more bother than the arrival by plane.

Minsk-1 [14] is an old airport in the very center of the city. The airfield is still in operation and, until recently, was used for domestic flights. As of April 2011, these flights are canceled with a faint chance of resumption. Unless the airport is permanently closed, it might be interesting to visit the terminal building, a fine example of Stalinist architecture, and watch small airplanes scattered around the airfield.

By train

The width of the train tracks is different in Poland and in Belarus, so if you choose to arrive by train please be prepared for long wheel changing. However, if you are arriving from say, Kiev, Moscow, or Lviv (Lvov) you need not worry about this. Plus as an added bonus, the prices are substantially cheaper from CIS countries.

From Berlin

There is almost always a daily train leaving from Lichtenberg station. It leaves at 13:49 and arrives the next morning at 9:30 or so. Note: This is the train en route to Russia.
Second Class, €69, 3 people per compartment - men and women separate.
First Class, €109, 2 people per compartment - not gender separated.

From Kiev

There is always a daily train leaving Tsentralnyi Vokzal (Central Station) station (at the eponymous metro stop in Kiev). It leaves Kiev at 18:22 and arrives the next morning at around 06:00. A 4 person berth should cost around 47 USD.

From Minsk, train #86 leaves at 20:51, and arrives in Kiev the next morning at around 09:00. A 4 person berth should cost about 47 USD.

From Warsaw

The trip is about 10 hours. There is one train a day that departs from Central Station at 20:35 which arrives in Minsk around 8:00.

From Vilnius

From Vilnius, Lithuania, the train takes about 4-5 hours. You will be given a card with two sides to fill out, and the guards at the Belarussian border keep one. You need to keep the other one for your hotel to stamp, and give it back to the guards when you leave Minsk. There are two stops. You should have your insurance and invitation letter (if you're a tourist) out to show the guards. The train from Vilnius is pretty cheap: about $10-15 one way. Also quite comfortable. You can check schedules at [15]

There are also trains from Prague and other European cities.

From Moscow

Overnight train leaves Moscow about 23:30 and arrives Minsk about 06:30. No stop at the border for passport checks, so a good nights sleep in the 2 berth cabins.

By bus

There are several bus routes from Vilnius central bus station to "Avtovokzal Vostochniy" bus station in Minsk. The Minsk bus station is not very close to downtown, however you can have a taxi ride with 10 000 rubles (less than €4). The bus also drops passengers off outside the railway station (look out for two Stalinist towers) in the centre of Minsk before proceeding to the Vostochniy (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, bus ride should be preferred.

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.

Get around

Minsk metro

Get around by using bus, tram, or subway or rent a car. First three are cheap and reliable. The subway is noted for being clean and safe. Additionally, each subway 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.

A panoramic English-language map of the centre of Minsk that shows every building individually is widely available from bookshops and kiosks for 5000 rubles. 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.

The subway (Minsk Metro) is the most reliable transport system around Minsk. The Minsk subway consists of two lines crossing at the very city centre, the red line runs from the northeast to the southwest (currently being expended with three more stations) while the blue line runs from the the west to the southeast. Train depart every 3 min and are almost never late. You can buy tokens at a window inside the station. One ride costs 1500 rubles (as of April 2012), but if you speak no Russian, just give 3000 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.

Taxis are cheap as well. You will notice 15 000 rubles will already be on the meter.

You may also rent a car to travel around the country. Rates depend on period of hire and start from $20 US a day. There are offices of Europcar, Avis, SIXT and other rental companies.

Regional trains from Central Station are also cheap. A trip from Minsk to Gomel (5 h) with a cabin for 4 cost 20000 rubles and almost never full.


St.Elizabeth monastery
Independence square
  • 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 on June 1, 1962.
  • National Arts Museum of the Republic of Belarus Lenin Street 20. Wednesdays to Mondays, 11-7 pm. Excellent overview of fine arts in Belarus. Many art description placards in English, unlike most museums in Belarus.
  • St Mary Magdeline Church (Tsarkva Svyati Mary Magdaleny), Vulitsa Kiseleva 42. Metro: Nemiga. It was built in 1847 in the Orthodox style - with a pointed octagonal bell tower over the entrance.
  • Saint Peter & Saint Paul Church, Vulitsa Rakovskaja 4. Metro: Nemiga. Built in 1613 and restored in 1871, it is the oldest church in Minsk. It is worthwhile to go inside.
  • Belarus National Museum of History and Culture, Vulitsa Karla Marxa 12. Admission 7,000 rubles. Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 11AM to 7PM. There is plenty to see here, sadly there is only Belarusian explanation panels.
  • Palats Mastatsva (Art Palace), Vulitsa Kazlova 3. Admission Free. Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10AM to 7PM. Several exhibition spaces showing modern art, second hand books and antiques stalls.
  • The Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War , Praspekt Nezavisimosty 12. Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10AM to 6PM. Several halls with the WWII exhibits on display with no English translation to the inscriptions. WWII Museum Website [16].
  • Mastatsky Salon, Praspekt Nezavisimosty 12. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 10AM to 8PM. An art gallery with local artists exhibitions and some overpriced souvenirs.
  • KGB Headquarters, Prospekt Nezavisimosty 17. This impressive building, on one of the main shopping streets of Minsk has a facade that belies what's found within. It is somehow appropriate that in a country like Belarus, the KGB should be located in a landmark building in the centre of the capital.
  • You might be willing to hire a private guide when staying in Minsk or another major Belarusian city. Please note that private guides are licensed by the National Tourism Agency - and you can check the list of their names on the official website of the Agency List of private guides in Russian [17]. A licensed guide in Belarus must always wear a special badge Badge of a licensed guide in Belarus.


  • Minskoe More (Minsk Sea) is an artificial reservoir 5km north of the city centre. There's a free public beach, and pedal-boat and catamaran rental. Buses leave the central bus station regularly. To get there by car, head north along the P28 and lookout for signs after Ratomka village.
  • Ice Skating Rink infront of the Palats Respubliki. In Winter there are crowds of people ice skating here. It is open from 8AM to 10PM, and a pair of skates should cost 3000-5000 rubles to rent.
  • Skiing resorts located at Silichy and Lagoisk are the most popular place to have a rest in Minsk. Located not far from the city they provide wide range of winter activities: skiing, snowboarding, skating, tubing etc.


Local goods are usually bad quality, but there are several things that are worth buying. Some wool and linen clothes - you can get very good stuff for little money. Linen in all forms is a special bargain. Typical is a woven patterned linen tablecloth, excellent quality, 150cm x 300cm (about 5 ft x 10 ft), for 34,280 Belarus rubles, approximately $16.25 US (10.30 euro, 8.25 GB pound) (as of May 2008). Womens housery "Milavitsa", is widely known across former USSR. This good quality, and cheap as well. Various types of cosmetics - firstly brand-name, are called "O2". Vodka produced by Brest spirit factory, is probably the best in the world. This easily outperforms Stolichnaya, Absolut and Smirnoff. Generally, the Minsk Airport has a very reliable duty free shop with rich choice of fragrances, spirits and souvenirs. There is no sense to get international brands- usually it costs 20-50% more than European average.

  • Podzemka, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 43. An underground bookshop-cum-art gallery.
  • Suveniraja Lavka, Vulitsa Maxima Bahdanovicha 9. A souvenir type shop with straw crafts, wooden boxes, embroidered linen & Belorussian alcohol.
  • Tsentralnaja Kniharnya, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 19. A bookshop with posters of Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko.


Advice for Vegetarians & Vegans
Meat is always on the menu. It isn't considered a meal if meat isn't a part of it but, because of a love of the potato you should be able to get vegetarian side dishes. Sometimes borsch is made with only potato and beetroot, but be aware that borsch is sometimes cooked with meat. Some golubsty are only stuffed with rice. If you're a vegan you will have a very hard time trying to adequately feed yourself; buying fresh produce at the numerous markets might be your best bet. Often it can be a lot easier to try and find perhaps an Indian restaurant. Pizza restaurants usually have a meat-free pizza on the menu.

Belarussian 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 center of the city. The price of a meal at these places should cost between 20,000 and 40,000 rubles. The list of the restaurants -> [18]

  • Pechki-Lavochki, Main Ave. Is a great Belarusian restaurant.
  • Vasilki, Independence Avenue, 16, A restaurant serving traditional local cuisine. Pleasant interior in a rustic style. There are breakfasts from 8am. There are also restaurants at str. J. Kolasa, 37, and Independence Avenue, 89
  • Beze, Main ave. Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.
  • Gourman, close to Grand Opera Theater. Styled as an Italian trattoria. It serves Belarusian and European cuisine.
  • Freskee Cafe, Niezaležnaści Square. Café with a large choice of main dishes.
  • Taj, vulitsa Brilevskaja 2. Wonderful North Indian restaurant. Vegetarians will find heaven. There should be an English menu available also. Vegetarian dishes start from around BR6,000 and mains from BR12,000. Open Noon-Midnight.
  • Chomolungme, vulitsa Gikalo 17. Huge menu with an array of cuisines: Nepalese, Tibetan, Sushi & Indian. Vegetarians and Vegans should also be able to find something here. Mains from BR8,000 to BR30,000.
  • National Food, Trinity Suburb. Not the restaurant's real name but this place has "National Food" on the front in big English letters so should be easy to find. It has a large menu of traditional food available in English, including a couple of vegetarian options. Mains BR20,000 to BR30,000. The food really sticks to your ribs. They also sell honey-flavoured kvass.
  • McDonald's, (corner of Pr. Nezavisimosti and Ul. Lenina / corner of Ul. Nemiga and Ul. Romanovskaya Sloboda). In most cities, McDonalds doesn't deserve or require a special listing. Minsk, however, is the capital of a country often described as having forgotten about the end of the Soviet Union. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the two prominent McDonald's restaurants in downtown Minsk are clear signs that Belarus has in fact changed a lot since the end of the cold war. Food is the same as in McDonald's restaurants around the world.


A typical drink is "Kefir", which is a sort of sour milk, similar to yogurt.

"Krambambulya" is a traditional medieval alcohol drink which you can buy in most stores or order in a restaurant. It's a pretty strong drink but its taste is much softer than vodka.

  • London, Pr. Nezavisimosti (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 Cafe, Pr Independent, 18, +375 17 237 41 87, [1]. 7a - 2a. This cafe is on the main strip of Minsk and one of the few that has both an outside and inside patio. And it is THE place to see and be seen. The beautiful people that frequent this cafe is amazing. The food is exquisite and they provide free wifi (till 6PM when it automatically goes off for some reason) I have listed the location I visited - there appear to be 3 locations. Moderate.
  • Grand Cafe, 2 Lenin Street, (44)7031111. 12-12. A high end restaurant on lovely Lenin Street. Great food and arguably the best service in Minsk. 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.


Please note that a foreign guest must get registered with the local police department - Department for Citizenship and Migration within 5 business days. This means that you can arrive in Belarus on Tuesday and leave on Sunday without the registration stamp. 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.


  • Minsk Hostel of the International Relations Center, 12 Korolya Street, +375 17 2008919, [2]. Unfairly overlooked by international tourism, this Minsk Hostel of the International Relations Center (Belarus Ministry of Education) is a well-located block of budget rooms that has few matches in budget quality/rate category. The hostel can only be booked by telephone. No English-speaking personnel.
  • Hostel Traveler, Golodeda 9a, +375 29 311 27 83, [3]. Opened in May 2012. Away from the center but in a fully-renovated house. Spacious rooms and facilities. English is spoken. Check the website of the hostel for more information.


On the web you can find a lot of cheap offers to rent a flat. Average price is about 50 USD for the night. There is also a good rental service provided by [19] . They rent rooms in good quality in the center of Minsk. They also provide assistance for Visas.

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.

  • 40 Let Pobedy (40 Years of Victory), Azgura 3. checkin: 12; checkout: 12. Nice rooms, decent location. No internet, few English speaking receptionists. $45/shared room.
  • Hotel Belarus, Storozhevskaja, 15-201, (017) 209 75 37, [4]. checkin: 12; checkout: 12. 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. CLOSED FOR OVERHAUL IN APRIL 2011. €35/single.
  • Hotel Orbita Praspekt Pushkina 39, [20], 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.
  • Minsk Vacation Apartments [21] and [22] Vacation apartments for rent in central Minsk. Near major railway stations. 1-3 room flats. Rates: €30-200.
  • Planeta, 31 Pobediteley avenue, (+375 17) 203 85 87, [5]. checkin: 12; checkout: 12. They have great services all within the hotel. Internet cafe is open till 8PM. Casino is open 24h.


  • Hotel “Europe” (Отель «Европа»), 28, Internatsionalnaya st., (+375 17) 229-83-33, [6]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Exclusive five-star hotel situated in the historical and cultural heart of Minsk, at the intersection of Lenin Street and Internatsionalnaya Street. The beautiful 7-storey atrium-type building is carried out in Modern Style of early XX century. Late departure (till 11PM (24.00) is charged with 50% of the room rate. From €265.
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel, 13 Kirova St., +375-17-2005354 or 0800 181 6068, [7]. checkin: 12; checkout: 12. 5 star international hotel in the heart of Minsk. The hotel, with its unique architecture, is opposite the Minsk Dynamo Stadium and within walking distance from the Minsk Nezavisimosti Square.

Stay Safe

Minsk is a very safe and clean city especially compared to neighbouring capital cities like Kiev or Moscow. Unlike most Central and Eastern European cities, there are very few homeless and drunkards wandering the streets. Although locals might insist otherwise, Minsk is a city where you really must go out of your way to find trouble, even at night. If you are in need of assistance, there is a strong police presence in the downtown area. However, their ability to speak English in most cases will be severely limited.

Be careful when photographing government buildings and the monument to Lenin at Independence Square. While you might be observed and kindly ushered away from the monument, photographing government buildings can lead to trouble with authorities and even arrest. Be mindful of what you are photographing.

While not seen as frequently as in Kiev, be aware of cars or delivery trucks moving on sidewalks. In some areas of Minsk parking is limited forcing drivers to maneuver and park their vehicles onto pedestrian lanes.



  • Ja-flag.png Japan, Pr. Pobediteley 23/1, 8F, +375 17 2236233 (+375 17 2234481, fax: +375 17 2102169), [8].
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, [9].
  • Us-flag.png United States, 46 Starovilenskaya St, +375 17 210-12-83 / 217-7347 / 217-7348 (, fax: +375 17 234-78-53), [10].
  • In-flag.png India, Sobinova Street 63,, 00-375-17-2629399 (, fax: 00-375-17-2884799).

Get out

  • Lake Narach is the largest lake in Belarus, located about 160 km north of Minsk.
  • 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 $5-20USD. It takes 3-4 hrs by train.
  • Grodno is a border town in north-west Belarus, near Kuźnica-Białostocka in Poland.
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