For a long time after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, Minsk and Belarus, in general, had a reputation of a Soviet experience park among those few tourists who considered visiting it. This stereotype has started losing its relevance: Minsk now offers reliable and affordable public transport, plentiful hotels, convenient banking, as well as shopping and dining experience that international tourists will find familiar. The quality and number of sightseeing opportunities have improved remarkably too. Those who want to see the Soviet past in action, should venture further afield in Belarus and consider specialist tours.
Visa matters, passport control and customs at the airport
The majority of visitors to Belarus require a visa, however, there are numerous exemptions. Most notably, citizens of 80 countries coming to and leaving Belarus via the Minsk airport can stay in Belarus visa-free for up to five days (if you arrive even a minute before midnight, this will count as the whole day; five days in this case really mean four nights, not "up to 120 hours in total"). Those who use this option are not required to register at the local police station which is mandatory for longer stays.  Normally, visas are obtained from Belarusian consulates. They can also be obtained at the Minsk airport upon arrival, however, they are considerably more expensive and certain documents have to be submitted in advance. Please see the Belarus.by website for the official advice.
Unless you flew from one of the Russian airports, you will be required to pass the passport control. You will need your passport, visa if applicable, migration card (normally distributed on the plane before landing) and travel insurance. The travel insurance policy has to mention explicitly or imply Belarus, e.g. "Europe, including all countries west of the Ural Mountains". In the absence of such policy, a short-visit one will have to be purchased just before the passport control; it is not expensive.
After collecting your luggage, proceed to the Customs. Don't be alarmed if stopped by the Customs officer in the green corridor - it happens very frequently. You are likely to be asked about the amount of cash, alcohol, cigarettes and valuables you carry. Ordinary travelers will find the Customs regulations in Belarus alike in the majority of other countries, and in some respects even more relaxed; for example, you can bring in up to three litres of alcohol duty-free. Wine and premium spirits will be the obvious choices in this case, taking into account their extortionate prices in Belarus.
Transit passengers traveling to Russia via Minsk must have the applicable Russian visa. All flights from Minsk arrive to international terminals of Russian airports where passport control takes place.
- 1 Minsk National Airport (MSQ IATA , formerly known as Minsk-2) (37 km (23 mi) east of the city border), ☎ , fax: . All international flights arrive here. The Arrivals feature a standard selection of cash machines, currency exchange, a taxi call point, mobile phone providers, Life:) and MTS, kiosks. The Departures hall has several cafes and small shops. On departure, after passing the passport control, a selection of duty-free shops and cafes are available. For all services, please see the airport website. Airport plan For the free airport-wide Wi-Fi, use the АirportMinsk network. Cafes in the Departures have their own free Wi-Fi network.
The only Belarusian airline, Belavia, is based at the Minsk National Airport which has become an increasingly popular transit hub for travel between Ukraine, Russia, Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe. Also, a number of Russian airlines, Ukrainian International Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian, airBaltic, Etihad, Air China and few other airlines fly to Minsk daily or near daily. For transfer instructions, see the Airport website (links in the left-hand menu).
Getting to the city
The airport is served by regular buses №300Э (price as of October 2017 is BYN4.00 and BYN0.40 for luggage) and private minivans №1400-ТК and №1430-ТК running every 30 to 45 minutes – less frequently in the night – from the central coach terminals (Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, Аўтавакзал Цэнтральны; also may be spelled Avtovokzal Tsentralny, from its Russian name). The bus stop can be easily found in front of the airport, in front of the exit by the arrivals sectors 5/6 (far left side of the building). Tickets are purchased from the driver (Belarusian cash only) or terminals inside the airport building and at the bus stop using any local or international bank cards (only for the most frequent bus, №300Э).
If you take bus №300Э or minivan №1400-ТК, the first stop is in about 30 minutes - the Uručča, Уручча metro station. Change here to continue your journey by Minsk Metro (underground). Alternatively, continue to the final stop, Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, located next to the main train station, Minsk Pasažyrski, Мінск Пасажырскі.
On the way back to the airport, either depart from the central coach terminals (Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, Аўтавакзал Цэнтральны) or from the Uručča, Уручча metro station. Leave the station through the front exit, turn right, and find the outermost bus stop. Tickets can be purchased from the kiosk at the bus stop or from the driver. The schedule is available online.
The minibus №1430-ТК runs less frequently (see schedule) and takes a different route. It stops at the Mahilioŭskaja, Магілёўская metro station which may be more convenient for those going to the Šabany, Шабаны, Aŭtazavod, Аўтазавод, Čyžoǔka, Чыжоўка, Sierabranka, Серабранка districts and the stations along the Aŭtazavodskaja metro line. Tickets can only be purchased from the driver. The fare to the Mahilioŭskaja, Магілёўская metro station is BYN3.00, to the central coach terminals (Aŭtavakzal Centraĺny, Аўтавакзал Цэнтральны) - BYN4.00. Luggage is free, but there is only limited space in minivans, so particularly large suitcases may not be appreciated by drivers and fellow passengers.
Uber and Yandex taxi (now the same company in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine; however, both international apps are in use) operate in Minsk. If calling from the airport, it may be helpful having a Viber app installed - taxi drivers tend to use it for contacting customers with foreign phone numbers. The airport charges drivers for repeat entries to the Airport area; drivers employ various tricks to avoid charges, incl. applying fake number plates. This may confuse travelers occasionally. The Uber app offers a choice of collection points described by the exit in the Arrivals; there are three of them: Sectors 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6. The latter one is the nearest to the airport shuttle bus stop and so is the busiest one - to be avoided.
- Official Airport Transfer. Flat-rate trips, from BYN30. The taxi desk can be found in the Arrivals. Only cash payments in the Belarusian currency. English-speaking drivers and wifi in the car. BYN30.
- Minsk Airport Transfer. Using an online booking form you can book a fixed price transfer. You will be met by the driver in the Arrivals and get a free bottle of water and wifi in the car. From €30 single trip up to three passangers.
Alternatively, many taxi drivers offer their services in the Arrivals and just outside. Their prices tend to be steep, but negotiable; always agree on the price in advance.
To reach the airport by car, leave the city by Praspiekt [Avenue] Niezaliežnasci | Праспект Незалежнасці and follow the M2 highway.
- 2 Railway Station (Minsk-Pasažyrski), 220050 Minsk, pl. Pryvakzaĺnaja, 3 (Metro: Plošča Lienina | Плошча Леніна. Bus: 3с, 81э, 85с, 102, 43, 79, 79д to stop Vakzal | Вакзал. Tram: 2, 1, 4, 7 to stop Vakzal | Вакзал), ☎ . 24/7. The main railway station of the country, it is well served by trains from western and central Europe, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia - in addition to local destinations.
There is at least one daily connection from Berlin, some direct, some with change in e.g. Warsaw. Departures and travel times vary. - From Warsaw, the trip is about 10 hours. There is one train a day that departs from Central (or possibly Gdański) Station around 20:35 and arrives in Minsk around 8:00. - From Vilnius, Lithuania, the fastest train takes about 2½ hours. The train is pretty cheap: about US$10–15 one way. Also quite comfortable. - There are also trains from Prague and other European cities. - From Kiev is always a daily train leaving Tsentralnyi Vokzal (Central Station) at the eponymous metro stop in Kiev. It leaves Kiev at 18:22 and arrives the next morning at around 06:00. A 4 person berth should cost around US$47. From Minsk, train #86 leaves at 20:51, and arrives in Kiev the next morning around 09:00. A 4 person berth should cost about $47. - From Moscow an overnight train leaves every day about 23:30 and arrives Minsk about 06:30. No stop at the border for passport checks, so a good nights sleep in the 2 berth cabins. - In the train you will be given a card with two sides to fill out, and the guards at the Belarusian border will take one. You need to keep the other one for your hotel to stamp, and give it back to the guards when you leave the country. There are two stops. You should have your insurance and invitation letter (if you're a tourist) out to show the guards.
- 3 "Tsentralnyi" Bus Terminal (Аўтавакзал "Цэнтральны"), Vulica Babrujskaja, 6 (M: Plošča Lienina 0.5km or Trolleybuses 44, 4, 7, 36 or Buses 46, 78, 958, 102, 123, 300э to Stop «Aǔtavakzal Centralny», - Next to), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. International ticket offices: tel.: +375 17 3285605. - Buses to Augsburg (daily), Airport Minsk-2, Baranavičy, Brest, Bystrica, Warsaw, Vilnius hourly, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Munich. International couches timetable.
- 4 Karbyšava Bus Station, vulica Karbyšava. For suburban buses to Lahojsk, Astrašycki Haradok, Radaškovičy, Plieščanicy and Viliejka.
Driving in, while possible, requires knowledge of the border system. This is a border of European Union, so control is very strict. Crossing it can take 2 hours. They may check your bags. Without knowledge of Russian, Belarusian or Polish, this can be very hard. There may be a very long line of cars at a border crossing. However, if you have passport, visa and car registration papers prepared, act honest and helpful and arrives as a tourist in a personal car the border crossing can go very smoothly and be over within 45 minutes. There are may toll roads in Belarus, please be prepared to get on-board electronic unit and pay right from the start, so not to face heavy fines later on. Please check out information on toll roads at Beltoll's site [dead link].
Central part of Minsk is easily manageable on foot. Public transportation consists of buses, trams, trolleybuses and Minsk Metro (underground). It is cheap and reliable. One ride on bus, tram or trolleybus costs BYN0.60 or BYN0.65 when a ticket is bought from the driver (as of March 2018). Tickets have to be validated straight away.
The Minsk Metro (underground) consists of two lines crossing at the very city centre, stations Kastryčnickaja and Kupalaǔskaja. On the Metro map, the Maskoŭskaja line is in blue, it is often referred as the first line. It is the oldest line of the Minsk Metro. Its earliest stations, Instytut Kultury to Uschod, each uniquely decorated, are listed objects reflecting the Soviet architectural tradition. The Aŭtazavodskaja line is in red, it is often referred to as the second line. Each station on the map has been assigned a number (making a life for some tourists much easier, for sure), however, locals call the stations by their proper names. Trains run every two to fifteen minutes depending on the time of the day. The first train in the morning departs the initial station at about 5.30am, the last one in the night - 0.40am. A single journey payment is made by tokens bought at a window inside the station. One ride costs BYN0.65 (March 2018). Magnetic cards can be purchased for BYN1.00 (March 2018) for uploading to it 10, 15 or 30-day pass, or 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 discounted trips. The cost of the card will be refunded on return. Visa and MasterCard bank cards can be used at the Plošča Lienina, Plošča Jakuba Kolasa and Kamiennaja Horka stations (March 2018) for contactless pay-as-you-go payments. This is likely to be extended to other stations soon. See more about fares and payment forms on the Metro website in Russian.
Taxis Uber and Yandex Taxi (the same company in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, but two separate apps are in use) operate in Minsk, cars are abundant most of the time and they are most convenient if you don't speak Russian or Belarusian. Stopping a taxi car on the street is a common practice. A flat call charge will be applied straight away; the driver must turn the fare meter on, otherwise leave the car or negotiate the final price immediately. Drivers waiting for customers at the airport and train stations tend to ask for hugely inflated fares; always negotiate.
- Taxi Almaz 7788, toll-free: 7788. A large taxi company. Cars can be ordered by phone, online and via its own app.
- 1 St Mary Magdalene Church (Tsarkva Svyatoi Maryi Magdaleny, Belorusian: Царква Сьвятой Марыі Магдалены), Vulica Kisialiova (вуліца Кісялёва) 42 (Buses 39, 18, 26, 44, 136, 29, 29н or Trams3, 4, 5; all to Stop «Театральная»). It was built in 1847 in the Russian Revival style, with a pointed octagonal bell tower over the entrance.
- 2 Sts Peter & Paul Church (Православная церковь Петра и Павла), Vulitsa Rakovskaja 4 (Metro: Nemiga). Built in 1613 and restored in 1871, it is the oldest church in Minsk. It is worthwhile to go inside.
- 3 Sts Simon & Helena Church (Russian: Костёл святых Семёна и Елены, Belorusian: Касьцёл Сьвятых Сымона і Алены), Vulitsa Sovietskaja 15. The best known Roman Catholic church in the city, commonly known as the Red Church, built between 1908 and 1910 in Romanesque Revival style.
- 4 Church of Saint Joseph (Belorusian: Касьцёл Сьвятога Язэпа,).
- 5 Holy Spirit Cathedral, Belorusian:Кафедральны сабор Сашэсця Святога Духа, Russian: Кафедральный собор Сошествия Святого Духа.
- 6 Catholic St. Mary church (Католический костёл Пресвятой Девы Марии).
- 7 Church of All Saints (Vsekh Svyatykh Sobor).
- 8 Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Касьцёл Узьвіжаньня Сьвятога Крыжа), Kaĺvaryjskaja vulica (Calvary cemetery - Metro 'Маладзёжная' 0.5km).
- 9 Church of Holy Trinity (Saint Rochus) (Касьцёл Найсьвяцейшай Тройцы (Сьвятога Роха)), Čyrvanazornaja vulica 44/А (M Plošča Pieramohi 'Плошча Перамогi').
- Church of St. Yevfrosinya of Polotsk (Yevfrosinyi Polotskoy Sobor).
- Church of St Elizabeth Convent.
- Church of St Sophia of Slutsk (Sofia Sluckaya church).
- 10 Belarusian National Arts Museum (Belarusian: Нацыянальны мастацкі музей Рэспублікі Беларусь), Vulitsa Lenina 20. We-Mo 11:00-19:00. Excellent overview of fine arts in Belarus. Many art description placards in English, unlike most museums in Belarus. - More than twenty seven thousand works of art – creating twenty miscellaneous collections and comprising two main representative ones: the one of national art and the other of monuments of art of the countries and nations of the world – can be found on exposition, at the branches of the Museum and its depositories. 50,000 rubles.
- 11 Belarusian National History Museum (Нацыянальны гістарычны музей Рэспублікі Беларусь), vul. Karla Marksa (вулiца Карла Маркса) 12 (Kastryčnickaja metro station Кастрычніцкая 0.6km Kupalaǔskaja metro station Купалаўская , Plošča Lienina metro station Плошча Леніна 0.6km), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-19:00 (last entry 6:30PM). Here is the biggest collection of the monuments of material and spiritual culture of the Belarusian people from the ancient times to our days. The museum has a good souvenir shop. Permanent exhibition - BYN7.00. Optional guided tour - BYN7.00; discounted entry for students and children. Additional charge for temporary exhibitions..
- 12 Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum (Музей ВАВ, Беларускі дзяржаўны музей гісторыі Вялікай Айчыннай вайны), praspiekt Pieramožcaŭ, 8, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu, Th-Su 10:00-18:00, We 12:00-20:00, closed Mo. A large collection of exhibits about WWII in Belarus. Adults 8.00 BYN, students 4.00 BYN, free on 1st Tuesday of a month.
- 13 [dead link] Maksim Bahdanovič Literary Museum (Літаратурны музей Максіма Багдановіча), (вул. М. Багдановіча), 7a, ☎ . 10.00–17.00. It is dedicated to the writer Maksim Bahdanovič (1891–1917).
- Art Palace (Palats Mastatsva), Vulitsa Kazlova 3. Tu-Su 10AM-7PM. Several exhibition spaces showing modern art, second hand books and antiques stalls. Admission Free.
- 14 Mastatsky Salon, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 12. Mon-Sat 10.00-20.00. An art gallery with local artists exhibitions and some overpriced souvenirs.
- 15 Ў Gallery, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti (Проспект Независимости) 37a. (Metro Station «Площадь Победы»). contemporary art space, a bar, a bookstore and a souvenir shop with Belarusian design.
- 16 National Library of Belarus (Национальная библиотека), Prospekt Nezalezhnasti (Проспект Независимости) 116 (metro station Восток 0.5km). Huge, glass and concrete rhombicuboctahedron houses a collection of over 8 million items. On 22 floors it features conference halls, 20 reading rooms and a Book Museum, on the roof there is an observation deck with good views of the city and surrounding area (accessed from outside via lift, ticket price below €1).
Other interesting places
- Former Residence of Lee Harvey Oswald, Vulitsa Kamunistychnaja 4 (the bottom left apartment). Lee arrived in the Soviet Union in December 1959 willing to denounce his US citizenship and was sent to Minsk. He changed his name to Alek and married a native woman, Marina Prusakova, with whom he had a child. The young family left for the United States in June 1962.
- 17 KGB Headquarters, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti (Проспект Независимости) 17 (Metro 'Купаловская' 0.5km; or Metro 'Октябрьская' 0.6km or Bus 100 to Stop «Ленина ул.»). This impressive building, on the main street of Minsk has a façade that belies what's found within.
You might be willing to hire a private guide when staying in Minsk or another major Belarusian city. Private guides are licensed by the National Tourism Agency - and you can check the list of their names on the official website of the Agency List of private guides in Russian  [dead link]. A licensed guide must always wear a special Badge of a licensed guide in Belarus.
Out of town
- Minsk Sea (Minskoe More) (5 km north of the city centre. - Buses leave the central bus station regularly. To get there by car, head north along the P28 and lookout for signs after Ratomka village.). This is an artificial reservoir. There's a free public beach, and pedal-boat and catamaran rental.
- 18 Ozertso - Open Air Museum of Rural Architecture and Life (Aźjarco, Aziarco. Азярцо - Беларускі Дзяржаўны Музей Народнай Архітэктуры і Побыту), Aźjarco (The 203 bus from “Paŭdniova-zachodniaja” coach station goes directly to the museum. Timetable to the museum: 9:15, 12:00, 13:15, 15:50. - - Or The 402, 363, 277, 325, 357 buses from “Paŭdniova-zachodniaja” coach station to the bus stop “Pavarot na muzej”. These buses go in the direction of “Haradzišča” – 277, “Dubiancy” – 357, “kalchoz Kalinina” – 363, “Zachodnija mohilki” – 402, “Bohušava” - 325. - Timetable to the museum: 9:40, 10:00, 10:28, 11:35, 12:20, 13:10; 14:14; 14:40; 15:50; 16:30.). W-Su 10:00-18:20. 4 km west. 30 000 BYR, Cartage: - Itinerary №1: BYR10 000, - Itinerary№ 2: BYR20 000.
- 19 Stalin's Line (30 km north-west. - 'P28' Road West side. - From Lashany village 2.2 km north), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A reconstructed line of defences on what once was the state border of the USSR.
- 20 Mound of Glory (20 km east- 'P53' Road North side - Northeast 0.5km from Sloboda village). 70m high mound from 1969 commemorating Soviet soldiers who died during World War II.
- 21 Khatyn Memorial Complex. 50 km north. A place where a village, savagely massacred in 1943 by Nazi forces, once stood.
- 1 Children's Railroad (K. S. Zaslonov Children's Railroad in Minsk (Belarusian: Дзiцячая чыгунка (Dzitsyachaya chyhunka); Russian: Минская детская железная дорога имени К.С.Заслонова (Minskaya detskaya zheleznaya doroga imeni K.S.Zaslonova)), prospekt Nezavisimosti, ~84a (Chelyuskinites Park - M Station Chelyuskinites Park). This is a 750 mm (2 ft 5½ in) narrow gauge railroad loop passing through the Chelyuskinites Park. The railway line counts 3 stations (listed from north to south): Zaslonovo, Pionerskaya (or Pionerskaja) and Sosnovy Bor (or Sosnovyj Bor); and a pair of rail loops after the end stops.
- Alivaria Brewery Tour, Vulica Kisialiova Кісялёва, 30 (Niamiha Няміга metro station 1,2km along Vulica Bahdanoviča вул.Багдановіча), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Wednesday to Sunday. The oldest Minsk brewery - and the largest in Belarus - can be visited with a tour which also includes beer tasting. This compact brewery located not far from the Minsk centre has preserved some of its original buildings from the 19th century. English tours are run if eight or more people get together, so inviting others to join makes it more likely to happen. Contact the brewery museum by email or online form in advance specifying the desired day and time, and the English language of the tour (it's Russian by default). Most likely, the tour will take place at 14:00. BYN14, card payment available.
Parks and gardens
- 2 Botanical Garden, Vulica Surhanava вул.Сурганава, 2v (M Park Čaliuskincaǔ station Парк Чалюскінцаў 100m). with some 9,000 different species. Opened in 1932.
- 3 Chelyuskinites Park (Belarusian: Парк Чалюскiнцаў, Russian: Парк Челюскинцев, pronounced [park tɕeˈlʲʉskʲintsef]), prospekt Nezavisimosti, ~91 (M Park Čaliuskincaǔ station Парк Чалюскінцаў). is an urban forest park. The park's area is 78 ha. The park contains an amusement park. Other attractions include a Children's Railroad, operated exclusively by teenagers, and a cinema Raduga (Russian: rainbow). There is a Minsk Metro station "Park Chalyuskintsau" next to the park. The park is adjacent to the Minsk Botanical Garden.
- 4 Gorky Park (Парк Горкага, Цэнтральны дзіцячы парк імя Максіма Горкага, Maksim Gorky Central Children's Park), Vuliсa Frunze вул.Фрунзэ, 2 (M Pločša Pieramohi station 100m). A public park established in 1800 under the name Governor's Garden. During the Soviet times it was renamed "парк культуры і адпачынку імя Максіма Горкага" (Park of culture and recreation after A.M.Gorky) after the famous Russian/Soviet writer Maksim Gorky. Parks with this name have been established in many cities of the Soviet Union. A part of the park's territory is occupied by an amusement park with a 56 metre high Ferris wheel. It also has an educational observatory with a planetarium. The Ice Palace (indoors skating rink) is also located in Gorky Park. President Lukashenko, known for his hobby of ice hockey, frequents this place, at which times the access to this part of the park is closed for general public.
- 5 Janka Kupala Park (Парк імя Янкі Купалы) (along Svislač river, M Pločša Pieramohi station 100m).
- 6 National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre (Teatr opiery i balieta Тэатр оперы і балета), Plošča Paryžskaj Kamuny пл.Парыжскай Камуны, 1, 220029 (M Niamiha Няміга station 0.7km). The most sought-after Minsk theatre. It has an excellent reputation for quality of the experience and variety of performances, incl. for children. For regular performances, tickets are readily available online and from various ticket vendors across the city. For the most exclusive shows, e.g. Christmas gala concerts, tickets - if sold out - are occasionally made available from the theatre box office at short notice, a day before or so. BYN4.50-80.00 and more for special events.
- 7 Janka Kupala National Theatre (Kupalaǔski), Vulica Enhielsa вул.Энгельса, 7, 220030 (M Kupalaǔskaja, Kastryčnickaja stations), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 19:00 performances. The oldest and, arguably, the best Belarusian drama theatre. All performances are in Belarusian, some are dubbed into English (see the What's On section on the theatre website). Occasional music concerts take place here too. The theatre has two stages. Tickets can be purchased online from major ticket selling companies and in person - from several box offices, see the Box Office page on the theatre website. A pleasant cafe at the rear of its building is particularly good on warm sunny days. BYN6 to BYN22.
- 8 Film Actors' Studio Theatre (Teatr-studiya kioaktera Театр-студия киноактера), Praspiekt Pieramozcau пр.Пераможцаў, 13 (M Niamiha Няміга station 0.6km). A small theatre well regarded for its high-quality performances. Most of the plays are in Russian. Inexpensive tickets and unpretentious facilities. The threatre shares the building with once the most prestigious Minsk cinema, Moskva; it is a listed building from the time of the Soviet Union.
- 9 Republican Theatre of Belarusian Drama (Тэатр беларускай драматургіі), Krapotkina 44.
Traditionally, tourists bring from Belarus linen goods, embroidery, souvenirs made of straw and leather, as well glass and ceramics. Belarusian vodka has an excellent reputation; it can be purchased from the airport duty-free shops, though prices there will probably be slightly higher than in local shops. Zubroǔka (a Polish equivalent Żubrówka) is a popular spirit created in Belarusian Brest. Sugar-coated cranberries, flat crisps (čypsy, чыпсы), zefir (a soft confectionery), chocolate-glazed curd deserts (hlazuravany syrok, глазураваны сырок) and rye bread are treated as Belarusian specialties and are widely available.
Belarusian souvenirs are widely available from the airport and the main railway station, specialist shops and local department stores, and museums. Local department stores - GUM, TSUM, Na Nemige, Univermag Belaruś etc. - are good places for buying goods manufactured locally. Shopping malls mainly feature foreign brands.
- 1 Symbal.by (Сымбаль бай), Praspiekt Mašerava пр.Машэрава, 18 (M Plošča Pieramohi station 1km), ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00-20:00. A popular store with a great selection of souvenirs, books, music and trendy t-shirts with patriotic prints. Purchases can be made online and collected from the store.
- Stolitsa, Nezalezhnasti pl (centrally located).
- GUM department store, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 23. Built in the 1950s, Socialist Realist classic.
- TSUM department store, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 54.
- Podzemka Bookshop, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 43. An underground bookshop-cum-art gallery.
- Suvenirnaja Lavka, Vulitsa Maxima Bahdanovicha 9. A souvenir type shop with straw crafts, wooden boxes, embroidered linen & Belarusian alcohol.
- Central Bookshop (Tsentralnaja Kniharnya), Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 19. The largest bookshop in the city, some English language novels, guidebooks and stationary. Also posters of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.
Advice for vegetarians & vegans
Meat is always on the menu. It isn't considered a meal if meat isn't a part of it. Many dishes which seem vegetarian can be cooked with meat ingredients, like animal fat or bullion. If this is the matter of principle, always ask. Vegetarian and vegan cafes and restaurants have started appearing and the awareness of such preferences has grown considerably. Search online to find appropriate vegan and vegetarian venues.
Traditional Belarusian cuisine is similar to that of the rest of Eastern Europe, but particularly Polish and Lithuanian - due to the common history. Soups, dumplings, baked potato, mushroom and meat dishes, pickled vegetables and salads are often on the menu. Minsk has a good selection of Belarusian traditional restaurants. Among the venues with international cuisine, Georgian and Central Asian restaurants have a particularly good reputation.
- 1 Kuchmistr (Кухмістр), Karla Marksa 40, ☎ . Belarusian and Eastern European cuisine
- 2 Vasiĺki (Васількі), Praspiekt Niezaležnasci Незалежнасці 16, ☎ . 8–23. The largest chain of casual dining restaurants serving traditional cuisine. Bucolic style and good local fare. Suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinners. More restaurants can be found around the city and in shopping malls.
- Freskee Cafe, Nezalezhnasti pr. 18. Café with a large choice of main dishes.
- Dzhomalungma Indian, Vulitsa Gikalo 17. Huge menu with an array of cuisines: Nepalese, Tibetan, Sushi & Indian. Vegetarians and vegans should also be able to find something here. Mains from BYR8,000-30,000.
- 3 Gourman trattoria (Гурман), ul. Kommunisticheskaya 7 (close to Grand Opera Theater). Styled as an Italian trattoria, the place serves Belarusian and European cuisine. English menu available.
- Taj restaurant, Vulitsa Romanovskaya Sloboda 26. Open Noon-Midnight. North Indian restaurant. There should be an English menu available. Indian dance group on weekends. Vegetarian dishes start from around BR60,000 and mains from BR120,000.
- National Food (Trinity Suburb). Not the restaurant's real name but this place has "National Food" on the front in big English letters so should be easy to find. It has a large menu of traditional food available in English, including a couple of vegetarian options. The food really sticks to your ribs. They also sell honey-flavoured kvass. Mains BYR20,000-30,000..
- Beze Cafe, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti. Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.
- Grand Cafe, Vulitsa Lenina 2, ☎ . 12:00-00:00. A high end restaurant on Lenin Street. Try the roasted duck or salmon with asparagus. They offer a no smoking section, menu's in English and most of the servers speak good English, too. Making a reservation is recommended, especially on weekends.
- London, Pr. Nezalezhnasti (close to KGB headquarters, on the other side of the street). This friendly little café, in the shadow of the KGB headquarters, offers a wide range of teas, free wi-fi, seating outdoors (with heaters) and a small cozy room upstairs where it's possible to sit and talk in a relatively private setting.
- Golden Coffee, Pr. Nezalezhnasti 18, ☎ . 07:00-02:00. This cafe is on the main strip and one of the few that has both an outside and inside patio. And it is THE place to see and be seen. The food is exquisite and they provide free wifi (till 6PM when it automatically goes off for some reason). Also two other locations.
A foreign guest must register with the local police department - Department for Citizenship and Migration within 5 business days of arrival. Most hotels process the registration automatically upon check-in while many apartment rentals might be reluctant to provide registration. Check if the rental service offers registration service and at what price.
- Hostel Traveler, Golodeda 9a (8 km from the centre), ☎ . Opened in May 2012. Away from the center but in a fully-renovated house. Spacious rooms and facilities. English is spoken.
- Hostel Viva, Zhukovsky 4/ 1N (600m from main train station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Closest hostel to the centre, opened in 2012. Two bathrooms per 24 beds. €10 for a dorm bed, €12 for a bed in 4.
- [dead link] Minsk Hostel of the International Relations Center, Korolya 12, ☎ . Unfairly overlooked by international tourism, this Minsk Hostel of the International Relations Center (Belarus Ministry of Education) is a well-located block of budget rooms that has few matches in budget quality/rate category. The hostel can only be booked by telephone. No English-speaking personnel.
On the web you can find a lot of cheap offers to rent a flat. Average price is about US$50 for the night. There is also a good rental service provided by  . They rent rooms in good quality in the center of Minsk. They also provide assistance for visas. - You might receive a call to your hotel room late at night offering a "massage". To avoid being woken up it is worth unplugging your phone.
- 40 Let Pobedy (40 Years of Victory), Azgura 3. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Nice rooms, decent location. No internet, few English speaking receptionists. US$45/shared room.
- Hotel Belarus, Storozhevskaja 15-201, ☎ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Great location, clean Soviet hotel with very old school interior. Great indoor pool/hot tub and a gym, cost $10 extra. Free wifi in lobby. €35/single.
- Hotel Orbita. Prospekt Pushkina 39, a clean 208-room hotel with friendly but boring staff. There is a supermarket next door and Cash Exchange in the hotel lobby. The airport and train terminal are about 6km away. It is in the western part of Minsk not far from the Republican Exhibition Centre.
- Planeta, Prospekt Pobediteley 31, ☎ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. They have great services all within the hotel. Internet cafe is open till 20:00. Casino is open 24 hr.
- Hotel “Europe” (Отель «Европа»), Internatsionalnaya 28, ☎ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Exclusive five-star hotel situated in the historical and cultural heart of Minsk, at the intersection of Lenin Street and Internatsionalnaya Street. The beautiful 7-storey atrium-type building was built in the Modernist style of the early 20th century. Late departure (till 23:00 is charged with 50% of the room rate. From €100.
- Crowne Plaza Minsk, Kirova 13, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star international hotel in the centre. The hotel, with its unique architecture, is opposite the Dynamo Stadium.
Minsk is a safe and clean city. If you are in need of assistance, there is a strong police presence in the downtown area. Emergency medical help can be accessed 24/7, either in designated hospitals or by phone.
All Minsk Metro stations are equipped with security scanners and police are always present there. Passengers with large bags and, particularly, backpacks, are routinely asked to submit their belongings for scanning. The procedure is quick and the police are usually polite. Both the police and Metro staff keep an eye on not letting drunk passengers in, particularly in the evening. Even if you are tipsy, be prepared to answer about your destination station and address. Alternatively, use taxi, buses, trolleybuses and trams.
The Belarusian law prohibits taking photographs of the government buildings. Locals tell stories of tourists approached by officials after attempting to photograph the monumental KGB headquarters on Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci.
Attending political and any protests may not be safe for tourists. Even bystanders may be detained by uniformed and plain cloth police. The judge is likely to accept the police story later on.
Belarus is safe for LGBT travelers most of the time. Belarusian law neither recognises nor bans same-sex relationships; it has some provision for transgender people. Homophobic and transphobic abuse is not recognised as a specific hate crime; any such incidents would be treated as generic hooliganism. This has its impact on the society: most of the people would not mind having LGBT people around, but would regard any explicit signs of affection as unacceptable. This may also lead to violence. Gay and lesbian club nights, if held, are not advertised openly; a Russian euphemism "zakrytaya vecherinka" (closed-door party) is often used. In the past, there were reports of vigilante groups using dating apps; the police challenged those crimes. Taking reasonable precautions should be enough to stay safe.
The Belarusian law prohibits distribution of pornography. While it is not used to routinely police people's belongings and video streaming habits, there were odd cases of prosecuting Belarusian citizens for posting explicit content on social media and even in password-protected profiles.
The enforcement of road safety for pedestrians and drivers by the traffic police is often ruthless, so observing traffic lights and crossings are well-engraved in Belarusians' behavior. As a rule, drivers always give the way to pedestrians crossing the road in the designated places.
Language may be a barrier for tourists to a certain extent. Virtually all Belarusians speak or understand both Belarusian and Russian; the latter remains the default means of communication. Increasingly more young people speak English and many of them will be eager to practice it. The older generation is unlikely to understand English. It is wise for visitors to learn some key phrases in Russian or Belarusian. Also, being familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet used both by Belarusian and Russian is essential for traveling without a guide. Many street signs and notices in public transport in Minsk are transliterated into the Latin alphabet. A confusion may arise from the fact that the names of landmarks, objects etc. may be transliterated either from Belarusian (as the current official practice requires, however it is not strictly enforced) or Russian; to add to the confusion, the old practice of translating geographical names still has a place. As the result, Плошча Перамогі (Площадь Победы in Russian) may be referred to in publications as Plošča Pieramohi (or Pieramohi Square - transliteration from Belarusian), Pobedy Square (transliteration from Russian) or Victory Square (direct translation). There is no an easy way to avoid this confusion completely right now, however, being aware of the possibility of the same object being referred to differently depending on the original language used by the speaker should help. Please see also the official standard used for transliteration of Belarusian geographical names into the Latin alphabet .
- 1 Georgia, Freedom sq. N4, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- India, 63 Sobinova St, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Japan, Pr. Pobediteley 23/1, 8F, ☎ , fax: .
- United Kingdom, 37 Karl Marx St, ☎ .
- United States, 46 Starovilenskaya St, ☎ , , , fax: , e-mail: ConsularMinsk@state.gov.
You may rent a car to travel around the country. Rates depend on period of hire and start from US$20 a day. There are offices of Europcar, Avis, Sixt and other rental companies.
Regional trains are also cheap. A trip from Minsk to Gomel (5h) with a cabin for 4 cost 20000 BYR and the train is almost never full.
- Brest is a regional capital on the border with Poland and is rich with history from both the Soviet times and before. You can see a Brest Hero Fortress, perhaps the most impressive Soviet monument ever built. You can get there by train (~20 daily trains running from Minsk) at US$5–20. It takes 3-4 hr by train.
- Mir is a medieval castle about 85km from Minsk. Formerly owned by the Radziwill family, one of the great families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. During the Second World War it was used by the Nazis as a Ghetto. Inside the castle is a museum showing artefacts from the castle's past, including exhibits from the Jewish community who lived in nearby Mir village until their destruction in the war.
- Lake Narach is the largest lake in Belarus, located about 160 km north of Minsk.