Polotsk (or Polatsk) is a city in Belarus, in Vitebsk Oblast. First mentioned in 862, it is the oldest city in Belarus. Now it is a city of local importance with 82,000 inhabitants and with considerable architectural heritage from the times of old Rus as well as from the later periods.
Polotsk is one of the places that are considered the geographic centre of Europe.
Apart from very few seasonal services to Brest, the only airport with regular international flights is Minsk, from which you can take a train or bus to Polotsk. Belavia, the national carrier, has flights to most european capitals but also several european airlinest, such as LOT, Lufthansa, Aeroflot, etc fly from their countries to Belarus. No low-cost airlines operate in Belarus at the moment.
There are, though regular, at least three times a day trains from Vilnius in Lithuania (about two hours and a half away), and less often but still regularly from Warsaw (with a change of trains in Brest if you are not taking the Berlin-Moscow train), and Riga in Latvia, which usually have cheaper flight connections. The downside is this route is only possible to those who have entirely visa-free access to Belarus. Those availing of the visa waiver program can only enter and leave the country through Minsk Airport if their final destination is Polotsk.
Polotsk is one of the most important railway hubs, with direct services from both Minsk and Vitebsk. The railway station is a bit to the north of the centre of town.
Although this is a tad more expensive, it's usually quicker too. No need to book in advance; just roll up and go.
As well as the larger inter-city style of coach, minibuses known as marshrutkas also take about 3 hours from Minsk, but you need to phone in advance to be sure of a seat.
The bus station is next door to the train station.
Belarusian drivers are poor drivers, often drive drunk and the sons and daughters of officials can be surprisingly aggressive, belligerent scoff-laws.
From Minsk: M3 towards Vitebsk until just after Lepel, and then the R46 (Р46 in Cyrillic) to Polotsk.
- 1 The Cathedral of Saint Sophia. This medieval building was completely redecorated during the Baroque period.
- 2 Transfiguration Church. A well-preserved building from the times of old Rus', with some later alterations.
- 3 Museum of Belarusian Printing. The collection includes some rare 16th-century editions. The building. It was erected in the 18th century as a monastery school. Francysk Skaryna, the first Belarusian printer, was born in Polotsk around 1490, and it is in memory of him that this museum was created.
- Museum of Traditional Weaving.
- Monument to the letter Ў. Monument dedicated to unique Belarussian letter Ў, not used in any other Slavic language.