Welcome to Minsk, Belarus!
Although Minsk is not one of Europe’s most tourist-centric destinations, it is slowly becoming a little more recognized as a place for vacationers to visit. The city is the 11th most populous in Europe and is the capital of Belarus. Located between Poland and Russia, Minsk is a quirky and unique place that is a little unlike anywhere else in Europe. A worldwide local knows that these off-the-beaten-path places are usually filled with cool and new things to discover.
In Minsk, time seems to have been standing still, and the city might make a visitor think that the USSR never collapsed. The city is filled with Soviet architecture and there’s even a statue of Lenin outside the Government House Building. Minsk is a unique mix of 1950s Soviet kitsch and the encroachment of modern life. This is truly a place unlike it anywhere else in Europe and we’re here to help guide you through it.
Worldwide Local Tip: The main languages spoken here are Belarussian and Russian. English is rarely spoken here, and if someone does understand it, they usually know just a few simple words and phrases. Brush up on some Russian before you come, as it will come in handy. Also note that the local currency is the Belarussian Ruble (BLR).
Begin in Independence Square
Minsk suffered great losses during the Second World War with the city losing most of its population. When the city was being rebuilt in the 1950s, large expansive squares were erected throughout the city, and Independence Square was created. Starting your journey here is the best way to get a feel for Minsk, and it is one of the largest public squares in Europe. Locals come here to meet and hang out. There are a lot of landmarks nearby, such as the Church of St Simon and the Minsk City Hall. There’s also an Irish pub here if you’re looking to grab a pint and be sure to check out the giant Lenin statue.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’ve ever traveled to a former Soviet city, you’ll notice that they are big on public transportation and Minsk is no different. Buses, trolleys, and the metro are all very affordable and reliable. Taking the metro is in itself an experience, as each station is uniquely decorated. Moreover taking the metro will bring you around to most landmarks.
For the WWII History Buff
World War II has an important mythos on the culture of Minsk. Locals are aware of the numerous monuments and museums dedicated to Belarusian soldiers fighting against the Nazis but for a worldwide local, it is important to understand the culture of a city by visiting its important sites. The Great Patriotic War Museum is unique, because it was built in 1944 while the war was still going on. There is also Victory Square with its monument built in 1954.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re looking to check out something interesting near Victory Square, Lee Harvey Oswald’s former apartment is nearby. He lived there from December 1959 to June 1962 with his young family, after marrying a local woman.
Enjoy the Minsk Weather Outdoors
If you need a break from the city and the bustle of everyday life, head to the lush and leafy Gorky Park. Sharing a name with one of Moscow’s biggest parks, Gorky Park was established in the 1800’s and was just a simple garden before the area grew bigger and more people wanted more green space. The park is named after the famous Soviet writer Maxim Gorky. There is also a small amusement park on site where you can hop on the Ferris wheel to get some great views of the city.
Worldwide Local Tip: There’s also an observatory in the park that offers amazing planetarium exhibitions, and during the winter months there is a large skating rink on site as well. Skates can be rented for a low price and it is a cool way to spend the day amongst locals.
Have a Fantastic Time in Minsk, Belarus!
Minsk may not be on everyone’s radar when they’re visiting Europe, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. If you can find a deal on cheap flights to Minsk Airport, you should take it. This is one of the most unique cities in Europe in one of the most unique countries, and a worldwide local knows that unique cities always have something different to offer.