Aah Minsk, the vibrant capital of Belarus! Nestled at the crossroads of Eastern Europe, Minsk seamlessly blends history, culture, and modernity – think historical monuments with hipster cafés and street art. Discover a city where Soviet-era architecture coexists with contemporary landmarks, offering a unique and intriguing atmosphere.
To be honest, our short trip to Minsk was a result of a late night watching Friends, the episode where Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend David jets off to Minsk! Friends fans will surely remember that! But we had a nice break exploring its parks, museums, and quaint markets. And savouring the rich flavours of Belarusian cuisine. From its historic sites to its vibrant nightlife, Minsk was a unique city-break into a lesser-explored corner of Europe for us.
Getting Around In Minsk
What is the best way to get around? The metro! Minsk has one of the most affordable metros in the world – it costs just €0.25 for a single journey. If you are lazy about taking the Metro, then taxis are pretty affordable too. For instance a 5 kilometre journey costs around €3
Staying in Minsk
Hotels in Minsk are extremely affordable and well-equipped. You can find hotels to suit most budgets, but we recommend choosing something central, especially if you’re in Minsk for a short time. Hampton by Hilton City Centre is a great option as is Double Tree By Hilton as they are perfectly located, well-equipped, and mostly importantly safe.
Things to see and do in Minsk
1) Metro Stations
Minsk’s Metro Stations are like art galleries and will remind you of the ones in Tashkent. Some of the most unique metro stations to visit are Ploshcha Lyenina, with a massive statue of sickle and hammer, Kastrychnitskaya, and Ploshcha Yakuba Kolasa. However do beware that photography is not allowed at Metro Stations and policemen are allowed to confiscate cameras.
2) Old Town
Unlike most European cities, Minsk doesn’t have a huge Old Town. There is, however, a small part of the city that serves as Minsk Old Town. It’s located between the Republic Palace and Svislach river. You can find here the town hall as well as a few old churches and museums. The area is alive until late hours, especially in the summertime.The Old Town might be tiny but it is really charming. You must go for a gander – you’ll find cobblestone streets with quaint cafes, artisan boutiques, and hidden courtyards.
3) Trinity Suburb
Few steps further, across the river, you can find the Trinity Suburb with pretty pastel houses and cobbled streets. This historic district has colourful facades, cobbled streets, and a vibrant cultural life. You can expect street performances, art galleries, and traditional crafts, to regale visitors. You MUST stop at one of our personal favourite places, which is a little photography spot with the river and trinity suburb in the backdrop.
4) All Saints Church
Definitely the most beautiful Orthodox church in Minsk and a must visit for all tourists
5) The Parks of Minsk
Minsk’s parks, especially Gorky Park and the Loshitsa estate and park, are some of the most beautiful places in Minsk, especially in the snow. This makes them very popular for wedding photographers.
Even during summer, they offer a serene escape in the heart of the city. Gorky Park, a cherished oasis, boasts vast green spaces, pedal boats on serene ponds, and recreational activities. The Loshitsa estate enchants with its 18th-century charm, featuring landscaped gardens, a palace, and a serene lake. These parks are Minsk’s lungs, providing a breath of fresh air for locals and visitors alike.
6) Traktorozavodskoy or Zavodskoy District
Unlike other glamorous Minsk districts, Traktorozavodskoy District in Minsk is a former industrial hub, which has transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood with a distinct character. Its streets are lined with a mix of Soviet-era architecture and contemporary buildings, reflecting the city’s evolution and urban diversity. This industrial heart of the city bears the marks of its past while embracing a contemporary spirit. Here you can expect to find bustling markets, local eateries, and creative spaces. Iconic landmarks like the Victory Square and the Great Patriotic War Museum stand as tributes to history. If you’re a curious and inquisitive traveller, then do visit this corner of Minsk
7. Oktyabrskaya street
If you’re looking for a place to take colourful photos or enjoy places like Shoreditch in London, or perhaps you enjoy stunning street art and want see the largest graffiti in the world, then do visit Oktyabrskaya street! It’s particularly popular with youngsters, hipsters and creative locals in Minsk.
Oktyabrskaya Street, named after the October Revolution of 1917, is somewhat of a historical and cultural artery, lined with a mix of architectural styles that reflect Minsk’s journey through time. The street is punctuated by various landmarks, institutions, and points of interest. These include theatres, iconic Soviet-era apartment buildings, shopping centres, and government buildings. Oktyabrskaya Street plays a vital role in Minsk’s urban life as this is where a number of events, parades, and gatherings are hosted.
8. Try local food
If you’re after local fare, you must try hearty and comforting dishes like Draniki (potato pancakes) and Machanka (pork stew) are staples, for a taste of authentic Belarusian food. Don’t miss trying traditional dairy products like syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes) and exploring local markets for fresh produce, bread, and artisanal treats that embody Minsk’s culinary diversity.
Union coffee, Coffeevarium, and Milano Café are cute cafés, that have decent breakfast and coffee. If you’re after a uniquely Soviet experience, that also makes for great photos check out Centralny Univiersam Snack Bar at Independence Avenue. The food isn’t the main reason why you should stop here – it’s the interior that makes the place unmissable.Think chandeliers and marble columns – it’s a fast food bar but looks amazing. Try their legendary Coffee Oskar which is coffee, cognac, and egg white.
If you want to try local food at affordable prices, the best place is a stolovaya – a sort of diner/canteen where all the food is already prepared and you can pick what you would like to eat.There are many in Minsk but one of the most popular ones that came recommended by locals is Lido. It is a chain restaurant, but if you’re in Minsk for a short time, you will probably find it easiest to go the one next to the Ploshcha Yakuba Kolasa metro station or Nyamiha metro station. It is also one of the few that have menus in English as well. If you’re after some draniki – Belarusian potato pancakes, then Grunwald Café is a great place! You can try ones with sour cream and meat as well!
That’s it – everything you need to plan a short city break in Minsk. Minsk is a unique and quirky little city, offering a mix of that European vibe along with remnants of its Soviet past. Let us know if you do make it there too 🙂