Minsk, capital of Belarus. Much easier to visit now, with relaxed visa rules. Go there soon before it gets ruined by the introduction of budget airlines!
Backpacking in Minsk | Belarus. This post is based on my visit to Belarus in May 2018 and originally appeared on my other, now-defunct travel blog. Visa details have been updated accordingly.
When I visited Belarus in May 2018, I visited under the fairly new 5 Day Visa-Free Regime. Since that trip, the Visa-Free Regime has been extended to 30 days. The rules remain the same. In brief:
Upstairs on the 'check-in' floor, you'll find the money changers. I cashed just 5Euros. Enough to get me downtown and some dinner. 5Euros got me 11BYN. So your ball-park figure is 2BYN is 1€.
Buses from the airport to the centre leave from outside gate 5/6, ground floor arrival hall, that's to the far left when you enter the arrivals hall from immigration. There are a number of services but the 300Э and the 1400-TK are probably the most useful as they run until late.
The 300Э is a regular bus and the 1400-TK is a 19 seater minivan known as a marshrutka.
I took the 1400-TK. The fare downtown is 4BYN. You can pay the driver. It takes about an hour. The last stop is Tsentralnyi, the central bus terminal, just up from the train station, which has a few snack stands and a money changer.
Where to stay in Minsk
I stayed at the Dreamy Castle Hostel which is near Victory Park, a 4km walk from the main station (or 2 stops on the Metro). 8-bed dorm rooms cost from 8USD per person per night.
The airport bus trundles right down the main boulevard, Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci and I got off at Victory Park. Very convenient!
Transportation in Minsk
I generally walked everywhere within the city but rode the metro for fun. You can buy one-trip tokens called 'jetons' and in 2018 the cost was just 0.65BYN. The Official Website of the Republic of Belarus has a very clear metro map. It's very efficient. In rush-hour, they go every 90 seconds. Below is the Plošča Lienina Metro Station.
With directions clearly stated using Roman characters too.
There's an extensive bus and tram network though I didn't make use of it and even a Minsk Transport App on Google Play. A one-trip fare is 0.65BYN. Buy the ticket from the driver and don't forget to validate it!
The receptionist at the Dreamy Castle Hostel told me a place up the road called Lido.
It is in fact a Belorussian version of Puzata Hata that I know so well from Ukraine. Buffet style food where you pay per gram. I took rice and gretchka. More than enough at such a late hour and it cost me just 0.98BYN - 50US cents. Really not bad. They serve beer too.
Places to get a coffee and a beer:
On my first morning, I got a coffee and a croissant at Stories. An Americano cost me 2.50BYN (1€ was about 2BYN)
My favourite place to get a beer was Happy Point Café where 500ml draft beers cost just 2.50BYN
My Top Sights in Minsk, Belarus:
Below, images of monuments, statues, churches and memorials in the city of Minsk:
Victory Park: Yet another memorial for those who lost their lives in the Great and Patriotic Wars:
Vorota Minska: - City Gates - welcomes you to the city of Minsk as you exit the train station. Not helpful when the 5-day visa-free regime stipulates that you must fly in. But Moscow is 750km away and Vilnius just 190km.
Name a city in the former CCCP that does not have a statue of Lenin! Here he is at Plošča Lienina/Lenin Square:
Mother Belarus at the Patriotic War Memorial Site:
Patriotic War Memorial:
Son of the Fatherland Monument:
Memorial to Belorussians who lost their lives on peace keeping missions overseas:
St Peter and St Paul church, Minsk:
First catholic church in Minsk:
Holy Spirit Cathedral, Minsk:
Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre, Minsk:
Footnote, assuming you've got his far:
All businesses, cafes, bars, hostels mentioned in this post are for information purposes only. I receive no kickback or commission. This is an information post after all!
Linked Post: How to get from Minsk to Mir, onto Nesvizh and back to Minsk all in a single day using public transport!
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Travelling the world solo, since 1992, as a low-budget backpacker.