Minsk is one of the least explored yet fascinating European capitals. It is a city that is both over 900 and less than 90 years old.
And now that Belarus has opened 5-day visa-free trips to travelers from 80 countries, it is just the right time to start planning your trip!
The guide tells how to get to the city from the National airport, where to stay, taste Belarusian cuisine and shop for souvenirs.
Explore Minsk on foot!
What to see and do in Minsk 5 days, which is barely enough as tourists say? Well, the city centre is rather compact, but has curious places that are hidden from the eye.
Here are four self-guided walking tours around the city’s must-see attractions.
The maps and short tips will help you learn about Minsk in ancient times, in the dark years of WWII, during the Soviet era, and get a glimpse of the city’s everyday life.
Best part? You can print them and have them in your pocket!
Getting from airport to Minsk
So, after you’ve landed at the airport and gone through customs formalities, you have to get to Minsk.
The fastest and most expensive option is to go by taxi, which will cost starting 35 Belarusian rubles (€17*). If you don’t want to spend that much, just hop on a bus No300Э or minibus No1400-TK.
They run with a half hour interval, the schedule can be found here.
You can purchase tickets online, at a ticket terminal in the airport building or at stopping points in 5-6 sectors on the ground floor. Tickets can also be bought from a cashier at a bus stop or the driver.
Bus ticket costs about €2. In about an hour you will be getting off the bus at the Central bus station (next to the Central railway station).
Pay attention that minibus No1400-TK also makes a stop near Uručča metro station, so depending on where your hotel is, you might find it more convenient to take metro from there rather go to the city centre.
*For your convenience all prices are in eur. They are for information purposes only, and may differ from actual prices.
Where to stay in Minsk
There are 48 hotels and 5 hostels in Minsk. Altogether they provide 5,600 rooms for 10,200 guests. 26 hotels are rated with stars.
Minsk hostels, apartments, hotels and other accommodation options can be found here. One night at a hotel in the Belarusian capital will cost from 30 to 120€ and above depending on the number of stars and the location.
When choosing a hostel, take into account the number of room beds and the distance from the center. Prices in hostels vary from €7 to €24. Apartments for rent can be found here.
Where to eat in Minsk
In Minsk there are enough cafes, restaurants and fast food for all tastes.
Do not hesitate to try Belarusian cuisine – local food may surprise you!
You can taste it in Vasilki – a chain of cafes that look like rustic huts and offer sorcerers with meat or mushrooms, pancakes with various fillings, boiled and fried dumplings, Belarusian vedaray and machanka with pancakes.
The interior in Kamyanitsa reminds of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania time tavern. One can find Belarusian soups and pork dishes, a wide variety of potato meals, casseroles, pancakes and salads with colorful national titles in the menu.
Kuhmistr is known for Belarusian pickles, alcoholic and non-alcoholic Belarusian homemade beverages in addition to traditional dishes. All dishes are accompanied with stories about their creation.
Another place with local cuisine is Gry housed in 18th century building in the city center. Each of the ten rooms is decorated in its own style and interprets one of the periods in Belarusian culture. The menu is full of ancient Belarusian recipes and liqueurs with a modern twist.
You can find cheaper Belarusian dishes in Lido.
Many Belarusian dishes with the local beer and snacks are served in Rakovsky Brovar.
When the weather is warm, one can also enjoy Belarusian meals on the inviting terrace of cafe Gryunvald located in a quiet street in the city’s heart.
Where to do shopping and buy souvenirs in Minsk
In Minsk you won’t find souvenirs sold at every corner like in other popular with tourists European capitals. You won’t usually see many street sellers in the city center except during big celebrations or festivals.
However, a lot of cute and curious things – from mugs to magnets and handicrafts – can be found in stores.
For traditional souvenirs, drop in at Soviet-legacy department stores like GUM and TSUM, where one can buy virtually anything.
Apart from shopping GUM is worth a visit for history, as well as for a look through probably the most original shop windows in the whole city.
The building was constructed in 1951, and a French architect called it Soviet architecture’s Rolling Stones because of its quirkiness and eccentricity. Almost nothing has changed inside, where you can easily get acquainted with almost all of the Made-in-Belarus light goods.
One more islet of traditional crafts is in a few minutes’ walk from GUM. Kirmash is two floors of crafts, dolls, pottery, linen and other handmade products from different parts of Belarus.
In the «Ў» gallery near the Victory Square you’ll find a selection of modern souvenirs, for example, pictures from threads strung on nails in the form of traditional Belarusian symbols and Belarus map, purses with Pahonia, Belarusian ancient clay houses and handmade soap.
In the other room you can see modern Belarusian art and also buy art books in the bookstore.
For unhacked artisan’s souvenirs, pay a visit to Slavutast gallery in the Trinity suburb. Fridge magnets with the national spirit, glassware, embroidery shirts, straw hats and lapti bast shoes are sold there.
One of the most precious gifts you can bring from Belarus is the famous Belarusian linen. Elegant tablecloths, napkins, towels, bed-linen and even clothes are on display in the shops Belaruskiy lyon in Stolitza shopping mall (middle level, right-hand side) and Lyanok near Yakub Kolas Square.
After a day for souvenirs shopping, pay a visit to the legendary cafe Lakomka near GUM to have a cup of hot chocolate at a table overlooking the main avenue. Lakomka opened in USSR times and has the finest selection of Belarusian chocolate, sweets and cakes.
Bread and bakery products produced in Minsk are sold in Karavay near Victory Square. Besides, the bakery sells cakes and éclairs baked according to Soviet standards.
Visa-free entry applies ONLY to those travelers to arrive and depart by plane through Minsk National Airport.