The national transportation system is somewhat similar to the national humor — every country has it, but there are always “gotchas” waiting for a foreigner.
Here’s a detailed guide for a kind and ingenuous traveler (that is you) to avoid all the pitfalls of using public transport in Minsk.
So you have arrived. First things first: do not, we repeat, do not agree to go with taxi drivers free-roaming in the airport, bus or train station.
Their services will cost you three, four or even five times as mush as the usual rate. It all depends on how greedy each individual driver is. You can easily save a lot of money if you take care of the airport transfer in advance.
If your starting point is Minsk central bus station or railway station, you have Minsk subway and ground transport at your immediate disposal.
*as of the date of the article’s publication – note BelarusFeed.
It is very difficult to get lost in Minsk metro. It has only two lines now, the third is being constructed. Every entrance is marked with a red “M” letter.
Maskoŭskaja line of Minsk subway has 15 stations, and Aŭtazavodskaja counts 14. The pass between lines is located at Kastryčnickaja and Kupałaŭskaja stations.
Minsk metro maps are located at every station. Plus, metro maps are found inside the trains and often above doors.
If some symbols in stations’ names seem queer to you, just ignore them and read these letters in your usual manner.
Not planning to leave the center of the city? Minsk metro is actually all you need. It is the best way to avoid traffic jams in the rush hour, and plenty of attractions are located not far from stations.
What to see: Church of Saints Simon and Helena, City Gates, Dinamo Stadium, Maksim Gorky Theather
What to see: Belarusian National Arts Museum, Palace of Republic
What to see: Belarusian State Circus, Gorky Park, Victory Monument
What to see: National Academic Big Opera and Ballet Theatre, Trinity Hill, Zybickaja Street, Minsk Town Hall,
Holy Spirit Cathedral, Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary, Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum
What to see: Minsk Concert Hall, Kastrycnickaja street
What to see: National Library of Belarus
If you find yourself at Kastryčnickaja, Płošča Pieramohi, Płošča Lenina, Pieršamajskaja, Praletarskaja or Frunzienskaja stations, take a minute or two to admire their decor telling the stories of the Soviet past of Belarus.
That is where you enter the wild grounds. Many buses and trolleybuses are running through the city, but all the indicators are written in Belarusian, and a driver is unlikely to understand your English.
So if you decided to go unaccompanied, make sure you got a fully charged smartphone with Google Translate app on it.
There are also two pieces of code that will help you survive through intricacies of transport systems: Avenue and YandexTransport. They display the public transport in real time and can map a route to the desired address.
Timetable and pricing
Ground transport starts to run around 6 a.m. Last buses, trolleybuses and street-cars depart from terminal stations around 1 a.m.
You can hop on two bus routes – №1 and №100 – passing through the city center and equipped with an audio guide in English, so you won’t get lost having a nice historic tour around Minsk.
Also, Minsk transport system boasts of such a bizarre invention as “shuttles” or minibusses. They usually follow bus routes, drive faster and make stops only by passengers’ request.
You won’t find them in transport apps, so it’s better to use them only if you are accompanied by a local or you don’t mind an adventure. One ride will cost you ~1.5 BYN or $0.3 (as of the date of the article’s publication – note BelarusFeed).
One more reminder in case you have forgotten: do not use services of free-roaming drivers. There are Uber and YandexTaxi apps, so use them freely.
These two companies work together in Belarus, so don’t be surprised if Uber request will get you a car with yellow Yandex logo.
There are some more services with applications that won’t make you talk to Russian-speaking operators: NextApp, Almaz Taxi and Taxi NEXT.
Prices may vary and usually start from ~0.55 BYN (or $0.25) for 1 km. (as of the date of the article’s publication – note BelarusFeed).
Text by Anton Ananich.