Minsk Mini Guide
Minsk in a Nutshell
Minsk is the capital of Belarus and situated on the Svislach and Niamiha Rivers. The city was 80% destroyed during World War II and was rebuilt in soviet-bloc style – the railway station is a perfect example of Stalinist Minsk.
How Would I get There?
There are long distance trains from Europe and Russia
if you have the time and are feeling adventurous. Driving could be an option if you have the correct paperwork and don’t mind the two hour wait at border control. The best option is to fly into Belarus National Airport as there are flights from Europe and Russia. To get around the city there are buses and trams but the subway and taxis are cheap and easy.
What can I see in Minsk?
One of the best ways to see the city is to hire a private guide licensed by the tourism agency but it is easy to explore if you know a few words in Russian and have a English tourist map. Visit St Mary Magdalene Church, it is orthodox style with an octagonal bell tower and is the largest church built in the Russian Imperial period. Another church worth visiting is the St Peter and St Paul Church, built in 1613, it is the oldest church in Minsk. Take a look at the Palats Mastatsva (art palace), they have a modern art gallery and books and antiques stalls. In the main shopping area of Minsk you will find, perhaps surprisingly the headquarters of the KGB and to understand more about the city’s dark history you can visit the Belarus National Museum of History and Culture.
What Else can I do?
In summer time, visit the Minsk Sea, it is an artificial reservoir with beaches and there are pedal boats and catamarans. In winter, go ice skating at Palats Republiki or go skiing or snowboarding at Silichy and Lagorsk. If you want to shop, the only bargains you will really find there are linen goods and vodka.
What’s the Food Like?
Belarusian cuisine is quite heavy and many dishes are based on meat and potatoes and soups and stews. European cuisine in the capital is not the best, but the Indian dishes are very good! Pechki-Lavochki is the place to go to sample local dishes and the Golden Coffee Café is the place to have coffee and a snack al fresco and people watch. Chomolungme offers a large menu and is great for Nepalese and Tibetan food as well as Indian food.
Where can I Stay in the City?
The Minsk Crowne Plaza is a 5 star hotel in a central location, all the attractions are within walking distance. The hotel has a business centre if you need to work and there is a leisure club with swimming pool if you want to work off some energy. After dark you can head for the hotel nightclub and casino or eat in their restaurant.
Minsk has some great sights to see if you are prepared to hire a car and search the city for them. There are a lot of traditional buildings including the church of St Mary Magdalene, built in the Orthodox style and the church of St Peter and St Paul which has a beautiful interior.
For something a little different, visit the apartment on Vulitsa Kamunistychnaja 4 where Lee Harvey Oswald was housed by the Russians following his defection from the US. The apartment is now a museum dedicated to the man who shot JFK