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Vitebsk And Around. Ultimate Guide On Where To Sightsee, Eat And Party

Vitebsk is… the birthplace of Marc Chagall, Vitba waffles, and the international song contest Slavianski Bazaar.

Thousands of tourists flock here each year to soak up the vibes of the cultural capital of Belarus, walk along the Dvina and Vitba promenade, admire the city’s mesmerizing skyline pierced by the towers of mighty Svyato-Uspenskiy Kafedral’nyy Sobor.

Will Vitebsk become a stopping point on your itinerary?

Getting to Vitebsk

As the Vitebsk airport only services seasonal and charter flights, chances are that you will arrive via train or bus.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Fear not, because the Vitebsk railway station is located within a five-minute walk from Vitebsk bus station in the downtown area. You can cross the Western Dvina river over the Kirovsky bridge and reach the old town in no time.

Attractions

Climb the tower of the City Hall for a majestic view of the city. You will see a cityscape of the tiled red and green roofs, Svyato-Uspenskiy Kafedral’nyy Sobor, and the bend of the Vitba river gracefully curving behind. Entrance fee (including museum exhibition) is €1 (~BYN2*).

The Marc Chagall Museum is located in a small house where the painter spent his childhood. Entrance fee is €1 (~BYN2.5*). Right across the Western Dvina, in the Marc Chagall Art Center you will see a permanent exhibition of the painter’s graphic artworks.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Visit ART PRASTORA on Talstoha 7, a popular local art space featuring alternative art exhibitions, lectures, and workshops.

Vitebsk is widely known for its unique and growing street art. Set aside a day and explore the city’s street art scene using this guideWatch a puppet show at the Lyalka Belarusian Theatre. Don’t miss the chance to watch batleyka – Belarusian folk theatre.

Wander in the red quarter – the red brick houses on Chekhova street, Griboedov street, in the area surrounding the railway station, along with the parts of Oktyabrskaya, Revolucionnaya, and Dimitrova streets.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Most of the city was destroyed in WW2. The characteristic red brick houses are what best reconstructs the spirit of pre-war Vitebsk.

Memorial Complex Three Bayonets is a WW2 memorial honouring the memory of the liberators of the city. The memorial represents three bayonets shooting into the sky like three tall trees.

In good weather, the area is bustling with life – teens are laughing, newlyweds here and there making photoshoots, families with kids eating sweets and climbing on helicopters and tanks nearby.

Accomodation

Planning  a chick holiday in the best hotel? Or are you a thrifty backpacker on a round-the-world trip? Our humble selection will accommodate the tastes of all.

Hotel Eridan*** occupies a historic building from the 19th century with an unassuming exterior. Basic single rooms are available for €27 (~BYN65*) per person.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Hotel Eridan. Photo: Booking.com

A suite with a king size bed will cost you €56 (~BYN135*). For additional price you can use the hotel’s wellness facilities, which include sauna and pool.

Lifehack! You can stay in the hotel over weekend for a discounted price.

Vitebsk Hotel is positioned in the downtown. One glance at its typical Soviet facade is enough to suppose that not much has changed inside. You can get a standard single room for €20 (~BYN48*) with additional €3 (~BYN7*) for a breakfast.

Hostel X.O. is a backpacker’s paradise in the heart of Vitebsk. Not only it has a great location and friendly staff; their dorm beds are dirt cheap! From €5 (~BYN11*) for a bed in a 12-bed dorm to €8 (~BYN18*) for a room in a 2-bed dorm. No breakfast is included.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Hostel X.O. Photo: Booking.com

Lifehack! If you understand Russian, book directly from the hostel’s website to avoid additional fees.

Smart Boutique Hotel Vitebsk is conveniently located near the city’s major attractions. The small hotel offers 8 rooms with plain, somfy designs.

The price for a deluxe double room starts from €60 (~BYN145*), including a hearty breakfast. Be sure to book in advance, as the hotel is among the city’s most popular lodgings.

If none of the options above satisfies your needs, Hostel na Oktyabryskoj is a sure choice. It has beds starting from €5 (~BYN12*) in a male dormitory room or a comfort triple room for €31 (~BYN75*) per person.

Some rooms feature “retro” design throwing you back to the 1950s. Apart from what you can expect from a regular hostel, here you can enjoy a sauna, swimming pool, gym, and more. Save money by booking directly from their website (Russian only).

*All prices are accurate as of March 13, 2019

Restaurants and cafés

Vitebsk has a variety of restaurants serving traditional cuisine, snug cafés and local street food joints that will warm your heart and fill your belly.

You’ll find Vitebsky traktir in the historic center, between the City Hall and Voskresenskaya church. The restaurant occupies a 19th century building and overlooks the City Hall.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Vitebskij Traktir. Photo: bestbelarus.by

Vintage design creates a unique ambiance. Come here for the Belarusian and European cuisine.

Lifehack! Discounted lunch menu is available between 12:00 – 16:00

Restaurant Vasilki is a chain of Belarusian cuisine restaurants. It serves tasty, affordably priced comfort dishes. The interior replicates the insides of a country tavern.

Cafe Nostalgia creates an image of a Soviet-style restaurant with national cuisine. It’s slightly far from the downtown. You can reach it by buses 106, 106a, 5 from Ratusha in about 20 minutes.

Pushkin Times Cafe Lounge is a restaurant with sophisticated ambiance, large chandeliers and armchairs draped in shiny velvet. Attentive staff and high-quality European cuisine.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Walk toward the Vitba river and you will see the statue of legendary Pushkin nodding at you approvingly from across the water.

Klukva is an all purpose café. It is centrally located, within a five-minute walk from Svyato-Uspenskiy Kafedral’nyy Sobor. Simple design and reasonable pricing. Particularly praised for its breakfasts, daily 9:00 to 12:30.

Drop by Kofeynya, the meeting point of the citizens no matter the season. Melanj café is a homely bakery close to the downtown. Come here for fresh pastries and pies. Big breakfast menu, works daily from 9:00.

Pirozhkovaya Zdoba is a 24/7 bakery and a café. It treats its guests with pirozhki (small pies), yummy bagels and baguette sandwiches. A perfect place for breakfast round the clock!

Vitebskie Ponchiki is a donut shop and a small bakery. Choose the filling and bite the donuts made right away. The bakery offers a menu of traditional Georgian treats: khachapuri, kubdari and others.

Nightlife

The nightlife in Vitebsk may not be comparable with other big European cities, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Cherdachok first came into existence as a Beatles-club and gradually developed into the centre of attraction for the city’s intellectuals and music enthusiasts. It’s a multifunctional space that is a concert venue, art centre and an anti-cafe at the same time.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Art-pub Torvald is a genuine Irish pub in the heart of Vitebsk. What make this place stand out are the great live performances, along with lectures and workshops. The drinks menu is regularly updated and if you are lucky, you can participate in a free degustation.

Bar212 is well-known for its vibrant parties, craft drinks, and amazing burgers. It’s a good place to hang out with friends. Or find new friends, if you venture there alone.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Cherniy Piu Pub is a pirate-themed pub with craft beer and tasty burgers. Small space gives off the feeling of confidentiality. Conveniently located along the bank of the Western Dvina river.

Nimbus Hookah Bar is a hookah bar that you will enjoy for sure. The intricate design makes one feel like a hero in a cyberpunk saga. Definitely worth checking out.

Ugol 90 is a gastrobar with equally great food and drinks. Blue couches and bicycles scattered around on the walls create a slightly alien ambience. DJ performances on Fridays and Saturdays.

Shopping

Whatever you are looking for, you will find it here. And if you don’t… contact us and we will rewrite the section.

The best places for grocery shopping are two biggest farmers’ markets, Polotskii rynok and Smolenskii rynok. The roofed markets and outdoor stalls offer a large variety of foods, clothes and household items.

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

Here, you can recharge on typical street food like pirozhki or chebureki!

When it comes to shopping malls, GREENCENTER as well as Korona will probably have anything you need. However, prices may be a bit higher compared to regular supermarkets.

Art Salon Gallery “The Wall” houses a great collection of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics created by Belarusian artists. Come here for artistic pleasure, and maybe you will find something you want to take home.

Shop for antiques in Antique Store Raritet on Kirova street, while admiring the historic part of the city. Suveniry is a cosy souvenir store featuring handicrafts from the local artisans. The store is located in the downtown area.

One-day trip suggestions

Located within 16 km from Vitebsk is the Museum-Estate of Ilya Repin “Zdravnevo”, where the famous painter toiled on his paintings since he acquired the mansion in 1892. What to do here?

Take a leisurely walk through the avenue of lime trees planted by Ilya Repin, they will get you in the right mood. Admire the former mansion, which is a fine architectural piece itself. Entrance fee is less than €1 (~BYN1*).

Vitebsk guide attractions accomodation cafes nightlife shopping

In one hour from Vitebsk sits Polotsk, the oldest city of Belarus, and one of the oldest cities of Ancient Rus, enshrouded in legends. It has many historic sites to behold, such as Saint Sophia Cathedrall on the hill above Dvina river, and Saint Euphrosyne Monastery dating back to the 12th century.

On the banks of Miorskaje lake there is a small town Miory that came into existence in the early 16th century. Apart from the picturesque surroundings it has an impressive neo-Gothic cathedral – the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In a half-hour drive from Miory is Dzisna, the smallest town in Belarus. The city attained Magdeburg rights and its own coat of arms – a rowboat – as early as 1569. Dzisna marks the middle of the Western Dvina river.

The landscape reserve Yelnya was created to protect one of the Europe’s largest high bogs rich in biodiversity. The reserve is located in about 200 km from Vitebsk. Many hiking trails are available to nature enthusiasts.

It’s better to plan your visit in time for “Cranes and Cranberries of Miory Region” ecofestival in September.

I could have squeezed more into this guide making it into a bowl of salad hard to search through. Instead I decided to turn it into an exquisite meal of carefully selected ingredients, both filling and making you ask for more. Don’t wait – get a ticket to Vitebsk!


Text by Alesia IvankovaPreview image by Chimkovsky Peter.