The Old Town sits on the eastern side of the Svislach River, bordered by Vul Maxima Bahdanovicha. Known as Troitskoe Predmestiye, or “Trinity Suburb”, the Old Town is not really that old. The original 17th and 18th century houses were recreated in the 1980’s. However, it’s a delightful place to walk around in. You can relax in quaint cafés or browse through the souvenir shops.
Standing defiantly on a small hill is the Holy Spirit Cathedral, one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks of Minsk. This two-towered Orthodox cathedral is situated in the Upper Town. It was once part of a Polish Bernadine convent. The monastery buildings nearby are now a music academy.
Gorky Park is the city’s oldest park, at its loveliest in the summer. It is very popular with locals who often stroll along the well-tended paths. Gorky Park is a big draw to guests of all ages because of its enormous Ferris Wheel. Another reason to come here is the great view of the city.
Next to the classical-style Trade Union’s Culture Palace lies the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. This museum tells of Belarus during World War II. It also tells the story of Minsk’s Jewish population following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Behind the building is a park filled with vintage tanks and planes.
Albeit on the expensive side by Minsk standards, Taj is an excellent Indian restaurant decked out with Buddhist statues and Russian dolls that specializes in North Indian cuisine - the dhal and pakoras are gorgeous - and one that boasts the city's most extensive and exciting vegetarian menu.
If you you're looking for a low-key, relaxed establishment then Gosti is the place to be. They serve European and Belarusian cuisine, pub grub, great beer and other drinks. Live music is played on some nights, and there even is a small dance floor to be made use of later in the night.
Grunwald’s classy atmosphere, elegant themed décor (the crockery and dishes are all branded with the restaurant's name) and a perfect fusion of Berlarusian and Eastern European cuisines all make it a popular meeting point for local diners. Smoking and non-smoking rooms available.
This intimate cafe occupies the space of a former antiques shop, a location that has now been transformed into one of the capital's most curious spots for a relaxing break. Photographs, old signs and bookshelves adorn the walls, adding to the establishment's unique charm. Serves food and coffee.
News cafe is one that aims to recreate the atmosphere of a hip coffee shop in central and/or western Europe, with up-to-standards service, decent coffee, English-speaking staff and menus. The cafe is open all through the day and has something to offer for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Stille serves heavenly pies (both by piece and whole) to eat in or take away, and boasts several convenient locations across Minsk. The one on Rakovskaya Street also serves a selection of traditional Belarusian and Eastern European dishes. Refer to the official website for a full list of branches.
The posh Grand Cafe is more of a rather upscale restaurant, really, with fully laid tables and schooled, English-speaking servers attending to guests' every need. The menu is dominated by Italian (and miscellaneous European) specialties, and offers a pleasant selection of desserts.
Food Republic is essentially an upper-range food court, with restaurants specializing in world cuisines from Turkish to Japanese arranged in a circular manner around the space. There is a pleasant outdoor terrace overlooking the river available to customers during the summer.
Located on the ground floor of a student dorm, Graffiti has some of the best live music in Minsk and frequently plays host to shows by local bands. It’s an intimate red brick hangout (walls adorned with - you guessed it - graffiti art) where drinks are cheap, locals friendly and the music top-notch.
BierKeller is a German beer cellar with a large selection of exclusive German beer. The "German" theme is followed to the letter, complete with dirndl-clad waitresses serving guests traditional pork dishes. Some patrons even have their own personal mugs waiting for them in a designated cabinet.
ID Bar boasts one of the city's finest terraces, which makes it a great choice during the summertime. The establishment is no less appealing other times of year either - dishes are well-crafted from fresh ingredients, and the drink selection is pleasantly varied. Reservations recommended.
If you are a beer lover and/or connoisseur, then Gambrinus Pub is the place to be. The pub is divided into four different parts, each one representing a world-famous beer capital. It is also a foreigner-friendly location, with English-speaking staff and menu. Serves a good selection of savoury foods and dessert.
Cherdak - translated "attic" - indeed occupies the top floor of a very centrally located building in Minsk's old town. The bar is known for its creative cocktail list and the adjacent airy rooftop terrace, immensely popular with locals in-the-know during the summer months. DJ sets and dancing have their place
Part of the quickly emerging scene of craft beer bars, Craft House packs a punch with its varied selection of beer (over a dozen on tap and about 50 bottled varieties, from local brands to international favourites) and some great meal choices. Emerging Russian (AF Brew) and Belarusian microbrews are also represented.
With its unique decor (one of the rooms is Alice in Wonderland themed, with chairs glued to the walls) and an excellent drink list, Insomnia is one of Minsk's currently most attractive, stylish bars. One of its major draws is that food here is served late into the night, making it a good after-party location.
Minsk's largest food market, Komarovskiy is where locals head to stock up on fresh, locally-sourced produce. It's an experience even if you don't plan to buy, although prepare to be tempted - what better place to try the infamous local specialty called "salo" (cured animal fat), or purchase excellent quality honey.
It’s great fun wandering around GUM, where you can find all manner of products - from souvenirs to edibles and clothing. GUM is big, brash and an unforgettable place to shop. Little has changed since the Soviet era's end a couple of decades ago in terms of the general atmosphere, so a trip here might be worth it for the experience alone.
TSUM is an abbreviation for (roughly) "universal store", and this shopping center really is a one-stop location for all shopping needs imaginable. The building has several levels, each dedicated to a specific theme - male and female clothing, household goods and deli. The nearby Lido is a great value lunch spot.
The three-storey underground mall is one of several larger shopping centres in the capital. The assortment of stores is what one would expect from a location like this one - mass-market and upper-range local and international brand boutiques, as well as a few eateries.
The country's main international airport is located at a distance of 42 km from the city. Reaching the city centre is possible via public transport - buses 300Э and 173Э and shuttles 400-ТК and 1430-ТК all circulate between the city center and the airport. Tickets may be purchased at vending machines and/or from the driver directly. Journey time is estimated at 1 hour approximately. You can also easily get a taxi from outside the arrivals hall.
As of 2017, visa-free entry via the Minsk National Airport has been introduced for citizens of multiple world countries for stays of up to 5 days. In order to make use of visa-free entry, travelers must arrive and exit solely through the Minsk National Airport (no border crossing by car or train allowed). This does not apply to flights to and from Russia. Those eligible for the 5-days visa include all nationals of the European Union and further European countries, as well as the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and many others. For longer stays a visa will most definitely be required. To learn more about different types of visas and supporting documents for each type, visit: http://mfa.gov.by/en/visa/typesofvisa
Belarus' continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters, makes late spring through early fall the best times to visit the country weather-wise. The months of June, July and August are normally very warm but not uncomfortably so, and these also see the Belarusian capital come alive with outdoor events and festivals, residents pouring out into the city's parks and outdoor cafes.
You can get around Minsk by using the bus, tram, or the metro. All three are cheap and reliable. The two-line metro is an interesting way of getting around as each station's decor is dedicated to a specific theme (the October Square station commemorates the 1917 revolution, for example). Public transport operates from about 05.30 to 01.00 daily and serves all parts of the city. Trolleybuses 1, 2 and 18 pass through Minsk’s main street, Pr Francysk Skaryna The metro closes at 24.30 every night. Remember to validate your ticket on board buses and trams by punching it on one of the red punching machines. Ten-day or monthly passes are available for all modes of transport.