Minsk Travel Guide
In decades past, Belarus was mostly closed off to Western visitors. However, with the Cold War long over, this once secretive country has been slowly opening itself up. Should you decide to visit Belarus, Minsk will be your first destination.
As the capital of Belarus, Minsk is home to many museums and other cultural attractions. As such, dedicate at least four days to discovering all its wonders.
Come check out our Minsk travel guide as we cover the best things to do on Minsk, Belarus.
Begin your visit to Minsk by visiting the Great Patriotic War Museum. The exterior of this institution is an attraction in itself. Created in the postmodernist style, it will impress fans of Soviet architecture.
Inside, 24 galleries cover the history of Belarus under Nazi Occupation, as well as the battle to liberate it. as you walk through its galleries, the role of Belarusians in the Red Army, how Belarusian Jews suffered under the Nazis, and other topics related to the war.
In all, there are over 140,000 objects in this museum’s collection. Do not be intimidated by the fact that most captions are in Russian/Belarusian. At the front desk, you can rent English audio guides that explain each of the galleries in detail.
Next, make your way over to the Belarusian National Arts Museum. Before the Second World War, it contained an extensive collection of art from across Europe. Sadly, German invaders pillaged the entire library. After the war, they only recovered a small portion of their original catalogue.
By the 1960s, curators restored the collection to pre-war levels. Today, this institution is an excellent resource for not just Belarusian, but Russian and other Eastern European art. Exploring its paintings, ceramics, and sculptures is a great way to spend a few hours in Minsk. Admission is set at four Euros, with extra Euro surcharge for photographers.
During your visit to Minsk, take in a performing arts show at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus. Its exterior is an interesting one, with a mix of old European and modernist styles.
Once you step inside, though, your experience will be one of pure elegance. Its chandeliers, carpeting, and acoustics are all on par with Europe’s top opera houses. The National Belarusian opera and ballet company is known worldwide for its productions, including The Grey Legend, by Dmitry Smolsky.
If you opt to see a show in this theatre, note that there is a strict dress code. Before departing for Minsk, pack a jacket and tie in your luggage. This way, you will avoid embarrassment when ushers turn you away at the front door.
Want to get a fuller idea of Belarus is like, but don’t have the time to experience its countryside? If so, make time to check out Strana Mini. Evgeny Danilik founded this museum in 2016, which is an exhibition of miniatures that show off Belarus’ top attractions.
This museum covers top sites (including the Brest Fortress), as well as common structures like churches and castles. Museum staff do speak some English, however, English audio guides are available.
Fans of 21st-century post-modernist architecture will want to check out the National Library of Belarus while in Minsk. Unless you are able to read Belarusian, the contents of this building aren’t important. Its appearance is – the main structure is a glass trapezoid that is lit by LEDs every night. As such, photographers will want to come back after dark to catch their dazzling display.
Just about every war waged on Afghanistan in the twentieth century has ended in horrific disaster. Allied with the Soviet Union, Belarusian soldiers suffered mightily during the 1980s. Many never returned home, as they fell victim to a land that wasn’t theirs.
To honour their tremendous sacrifice, find the Island of Tears Memorial during your time in Minsk. Situated on an island in the Svisloch River, a poignant statue of a crying angel mourns the passing of over 800 Belarusian soldiers. You’ll only need five minutes to check out this Memorial, so stop here before leaving town.
Want to check out local Belarusians as they go about their daily business? Spend an hour or two exploring Komarovsky Market during your visit to Minsk. Before authorities completed an extensive renovation, it operated in much the same fashion as it had centuries ago.
However, things are different now. For one, they now store food in refrigerators, rather than out in the open. while some claim this deprived this attraction of its “authentic” charm, Minsk residents have gained a food market that is more hygienic. Regardless of these changes, you will still get to see everyday people as they shop for food, and socialize with each other.
End your visit to the Belarusian capital by taking in a hockey game or concert at the Minsk Arena. In 2014, Belarus hosted the 2014 IIHF world hockey championships. It was here where the championship game was held, and today, the HC Dinamo Minsk of the KHL plays their home games here.