Our favorite things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Minsk is one of those capitals that we believe will leave a vivid memory in you, once you visit it. It’s one of the cleanest places on Earth (even with almost 2 million people living there), it has a great number of parks and green spaces, and the streets feel spacious. No matter if you just visit the city for a day or you decide to stay in the capital of Belarus for longer, you have so many things to do in Minsk.

Here come our recommendations on what to see and do, where to eat and drink, and how to have fun in Minsk. We’ve browsed the city for a total of 5 days so we could decide what our favorite places in Minsk are. Now it’s time to start sharing.

Places to visit in Minsk

Depending on how much time you have in Minsk, you can visit all the landmarks below or at least the majority of them. Especially if you don’t mind walking a lot and taking the subway every once in a while (and this is an experience itself – with the old-school tokens). Even if you spend just an hour in Minsk, you’ll realize this is one of the cleanest cities in the world and probably the most spacious capital.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

The Great Patriotic war museum

The magnificent building of the Great Patriotic War Museum is located in the park “Pobeda” (means Victory) at Heroes Square, right next to the Minsk Hero City Obelisk. The special place holds more than 8000 exposition items across tens of halls and square meters. The themed halls hold collections of combat reports, orders, diaries, journals of military operations, other documents, as well as drawings, military uniforms, flags, artillery weapons, military vehicles, and weapons. So whether you’re interested in the history of the Great Patriotic and World War II or not – you can easily spend half a day in the museum.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

The National Library

The National Library of Belarus is one of the most interesting libraries in the world, not just because of its huge collection of books, but because of the building’s impressive design and the modern technologies they apply to manage the library. You can join a library tour and see for yourself – there is a digital directory, automated order and release of books, and the most awesome thing you see in action – an automated system that delivers the book from the storage facility by special lifts.

At night, the library facade turns into an LED screen that contributes with ads and slogans to the night skyline of Minsk in a special way.

Traveling to Belarus, Minsk

The National Library rooftop observation deck

To make things even better, the National Library has a rooftop observation deck. You take a glass elevator and enjoy the panorama of Minsk at over 73 meters high. Those were the best 3 BYN spent! There’s also a small art gallery and a cafe if you want to stay with the good views for longer.

Trinity Hill

Trinity Hill is the oldest surviving district in Minsk. It used to be a suburb but now it’s a central picturesque neighborhood on the banks of the Svislach River. It has charming little cafes and restaurants, beautiful houses, and a hostel that you can stay in to absorb the amazing atmosphere.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Svislach river

The banks of the Svislach river make for the best river promenade, where you can enjoy the view of the peaceful waters, some old-time buildings as well as modern Minsk architecture. You can rent a pedal boat, an SUP, or even a motorboat for sightseeing. In the evening, the banks of the river become a stage for talented young performance artists.

Traveling to Belarus, Minsk

Vierchni Horad

The Upper Town is where you’ll feel the 18- and 19-century atmosphere of Minsk. You can find many interesting museums, restaurants, bars, street vendors, and street musicians (when the weather is nice). Check the buildings of City Hall, the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Minsk Horse Tram Museum, Wańkowicz’s House.

Traveling to Belarus, Minsk

Holy Spirit Cathedral

Holly Spirit Cathedral is one of the most important orthodox churches in Belarus. If you wish to enter inside and enjoy it, be mindful of your clothing – cover your shoulders and knees. There’s a wonderful viewing platform facing the cathedral to the right. Don’t forget to snap a photo in the horse carriage in the square right next to the cathedral.

Traveling to Belarus, Minsk

Zybitskaya street

Zybitskaya street is known as the party street of Minsk. It is also true that in whatever part of the day you visit, you’ll easily find your bar, restaurant, cafe. In the past, the street was a shopping street, then it was just an outbuilding of the nearby monastery, at times it was full of remains and trash, so today’s face is probably one of the nicest.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

National Opera and Ballet of Belarus

Situated in one of the many parks of Minsk, on Trinity hill, the National Opera and Ballet of Belarus is a spectacular building and you can enjoy the view and freshness of the fountains in front of it or just chill on the white stairs. Next time in Minsk, we’ll definitely attend a performance.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Kastryčnickaja square

October Square is home to two emblematic buildings in Minsk – the Palace of Republic and the Labor Union Palace of Culture. This spacious square is just a huge space where you can hang out, pass by, or join an event.

Traveling to Belarus, Minsk

Prospekt Nezavisimosti (праспект Незалежнасці)

A wide and straight street, one of the longest and definitely the most beautiful, Prospekt Nezavisimosti is a street that you’ll at least cross or pass on any Minsk city tour. You’ll recognize it by its remarkable beauty, the street lights, and the massive architecture since Stalin’s times. Don’t bother to remember the name of the street (which means Independence Avenue by the way) – it was changed 14 times so it might change again soon.

Minsk Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens are often the spot where locals and visitors of the capital head to take a walk, have a picnic or read, or do some work on their laptops. There’s a pond in the center and many exotic and local flowers and trees for your relaxing time.

Lenin Square

Independence Square was called Lenin Square during BSSR times but it’s still referred to as Lenin because of the huge monument of Vladimir Lenin on it. There are the massive buildings of the Supreme Council of Belarus and Minsk City Hall. There’s a huge underground shopping center, just under Lenin Square.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Saint Simon and Saint Helena Church

Saint Simon and Saint Helena Church a.k.a. the Red church is a Roman Catholic church right on Lenin Square. It attracts with its red bricks exterior. Mass is celebrated in Belarusian, Polish, Lithuanian, and Latin languages.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Gates of Minsk and the Central Railway Station

If you arrive in Minsk by train, you’ll be greeted by the magnificent railway station building and the symmetrical high towers called the Gates of Minsk. If you don’t arrive by train, make sure to include seeing the Stalin-classism-style twins in your itinerary.

Where to stay in Minsk

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Trinity hostel

If you want to stay at one of the best places to stay in Minsk, and especially for first-time visitors, we highly recommend Trinity hostel on Trinity hill. They have dorm rooms, as well as private rooms, but you might need to book way in advance, as the place is quite popular with visitors to the city. The hostel organizes tours in Minsk and in Belarus which are great if you don’t have your own transport or want to meet new friends.

Minsk, Belarus souvenirs

Apartment at Kozlova

If you want a decent apartment in a living neighborhood yet close to the center and with access to a kitchen, we recommend this apartment at Kozlova street. Especially if you’re staying in Minsk for longer.

Planeta hotel

If you want a quirky intro to Minsk and Belarus, stay at the traditional Planeta hotel. You’ll get the views towards the lit-up city and old-school yet impeccable service. It’s like you traveled back in time but in a good way.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Eating and drinking out in Minsk

You’ll be spoiled for options at Minsk’s food and drinks scene. Here we’ve collected our favorite restaurants, bars, and cafes in Minsk. We’ve visited all of the places below and none of them left us with anything but a positive impression.

Draniki - things to eat in Minsk, Belarus

Restaurants/pubs

U Franziska (У Франциска) was one of the first places we stumbled upon – it’s a small restaurant a bit underground with tasty local and European dishes and cozy interior. Rakovskiy Brovar (Раковский бровар) was recommended by a local and it did live up to the expectations – home-brewed beer and delicious meals totally helped for that. If you want to savor the cuisine of Belarus and the region on a budget – Vasiliki restaurants (mostly located inside shopping malls) are your place. And one tip I discovered just inside the Great Patriotic War Museum – its canteen. It’s more than affordable, it has the old but gold Soviet-style and taste.

Starovilenskaya Korchma on Trinity Hill, facing the Svislach river is a good place to enjoy local and international cuisine. And here’s another tip from a local – the Pirania. It’s something between a pub, a restaurant, and a disco (or all three of them, to be precise). It has a neat tapas-like menu and it’s super cheap so be careful with the amount of beer there.

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Cafes/bars

We stumbled upon La Crete d’Or on Lenin street in search of something for our sweet teeth. And that’s the perfect place to enjoy cake with a coffee or tea. Brioche is a little French bakery just behind Trinity Hill. I licked my fingers too many times to count… Graf Kafe (Граф кафе) combines some delicious bites with the view from the top of the National Library.

Khoroshiy God (Хороший год) – it means a good year in Russian – is a lovely place to taste a diversity of wines from all over the world. Other gems of the lively Zybitskaya are the gastropub Bernardin with an international choice for beer, as well as the underground reggae bar Zhevanyy krot.

La Caffe was the best coffee and dessert place in the neighborhood of our Kozlova street apartment and one of the most recommended cafes in Minsk. To finish the list, we must add the Union cafe at Galileo shopping center for your weekend brunch (and the epic view towards the Gates of Minsk) and Balkon cafe for cocktails and Asian bites (and the similar epic view as it’s also located in Galileo mall).

Things to do in Minsk, Belarus

Those were our favorite things to do in Minsk, the bustling capital of Belarus. Do you have a favorite place, cafe, restaurant, or thing to do to add to this list?

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