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Top things to do in Minsk – weekend in the capital of Belarus

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things to do in Minsk
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In this post, you’ll find out about top things to do in Minsk, if you are heading there for a couple of days or maybe even more. Minsk is the capital of Belarus, located in the heart of Eastern Europe and it’s a truly unique city.

Why is Minsk unique? When I first visited Minsk, I felt like I travelled in time. Minsk looked like something straight from the Soviet Era, unchanged from the 80-es or even 70-es. Monumental buildings, very few cars on the roads, lack of international brands and advertisements, beautiful, quiet and clean parks, cafeterias, where you can buy a coffee and a chocolate for less than $1. I felt like Minsk is a city-museum. I hope it preserves this unique atmosphere and doesn’t change a lot very soon.

Do you need a visa for Belarus? Belarus visa policy. Visiting Minsk visa free

Do you need a visa to visit Belarus? Belarus introduced a visa-free policy if you arrive to Minsk by plane: you can stay in Belarus for up to 30 days without a visa (if you’re from 74 countries: all EU counties, the USA, Japan, Brazil and more – check the most updated list here). That’s actually amazing because it used to be as hard to get as the Russian visa (in case you would be interested in visiting Russia as well in the same trip or some other time, head to my post about getting a visa for Russia).

The only downside about this new visa policy of Belarus is the fact that you need to enter and exit from Minsk by plane. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to stay in Minsk all the time – you can travel around the country, however, you’ll have to return to Minsk to fly back to your own country. Flights to Minsk can sometimes be really cheap: check the prices and availability of the flights to Minsk now!

Visiting Russia and Belarus in one trip

That also means that if you want to combine Russia and Belarus in one trip, that’s impossible to do directly (unfortunately), as there is no border control between Belarus and Russia and all the flights and trains are considered internal. In order to visit Belarus and Russia in one trip, you need to take a flight with a stopover somewhere else, e.g. in Riga, Latvia and fly to Russia or Belarus from there. You also need to obtain a separate visa to Russia in case you need one (if you’re from Hong Kong or South America, you don’t need a visa to Russia, so it’s worth checking whether you need one).

Top things to do in Minsk - couple of days in the capital of Belarus
The city centre of Minsk

Weather in Minsk, Belarus

If you’re wondering what’s the weather like in Minsk, Belarus, I can tell you that the winters are usually snowy and cold (just like in Russia) and summers are nice and warm. I visited Minsk in the beginning of June and it was nearly 30C, but it felt amazing, since Minsk is such a green city and has many parks and not that many cars.

Is it safe to travel to Minsk?

If you’re wondering, whether it’s safe to travel to Minsk, well, it is. Minsk is one if the safest capitals in Europe and it’s just a pleasure to walk around there. However, just like anywhere else, you need to be cautious and not so stupid things.

My first thoughts about the capital of Belarus

Minsk is a really weird (in a great way) city, which looks like it is still in the 70-s. It’s extremely cheap for western standards and you can totally survive even with 20 dollars a day (excluding accommodation, of course).

5 years ago, there were no brands like H&M and there were no international restaurant chains, not even Starbucks is present in Minsk (although, there are rumours that Starbucks will open its first coffee shop in Minsk soon). Now, however, Minsk has changed a bit: there is a huge shopping mall (Dana Mall), where you can find a couple of international clothing brands like Zara and Pull & Bear, however, the local brands still prevail in Belarus. To be honest, I like it a lot: I’m tired of the same shops all over the world and sometimes it’s nice to see new stores and new designs. In Belarus, shopping is really affordable (if you have dollars, euros and pounds).

Belarus is still different from the rest of Eastern Europe. Poland is very developed and sometimes it’s hard to tell it apart from Germany (especially cities like Wroclaw). Russia is way more modern than you think (read my travel guide to Russia), even Moldova, the poorest country in Europe (read my post about the weekend in Moldova, I actually enjoyed it A LOT) looks more Western European than Belarus.

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Where to stay in Minsk: affordable accomodation in Minsk

If you’re planning to stay in Minsk overnight (and I would recommend you to do so), here are some of the best-rated hotels to stay in Minsk.

Amazing affordable hotels in Minsk: Gubernsky Hotel, Garni Hotel.

Hostels & apartments in Minsk: Stary Minsk Hostel, Ramman apartments.

Minsk sightseeing: best things to do in Minsk, Belarus

There isn’t that much you can do in Minsk compared to Rome or Paris. However, sightseeing in Minsk is also enjoyable.

Minsk is a pretty walkable city, however, if you’re going from one part of Minsk to another, it makes sense to use the metro. The metro is cheap, fast and clean.

How safe is Belarus?

If you’re wondering, how safe is Belarus, I must assure you that Belarus is really safe. Minsk is one of the safest capitals in Eastern Europe, so don’t worry about hiding your belongings there. At no point in Minsk I felt in danger, but I never left the city centre and haven’t walked there at night.

Sightseeing in Minsk: what to see in Minsk

Let’s get started with the best things to do in Minsk!

  • the Island of Tears
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  • the Old Town – full of beautiful churches and authentic sculptures
  • the National Library of Belarus
  • the Victory Square – a huge very traditional soviet-style square with a monument in the middle
  • National Opera and Ballet Theatre
  • Independence Square
  • The Museum of the Great War

If the weather is good, head to the main park, Gorky Park for some fun rides and Sweet Cotton Candy.

If you’re interested in the history of Minsk, you can buy this 3-hour walking tour of the city (in English).

To summarise, Minsk is a nice city to visit. There aren’t really many things to do in Minsk, and all the landmarks you could probably cover in 2-3 days. However, there are some nice day trips that you could do from Minsk, like Vitebsk, for example. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! And don’t forget to save this article on Pinterest 🙂

things to do in Minsk

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