Last Updated on January 24th, 2020
Trying to find out what to do in Minsk on your travels? I would love to share my favorite activities that will make a visit to this beautiful city really special.
The Belarusian capital has so many wonders and surprises, but unless you know where to go, you may end up thinking that there is not much to see in Minsk. In reality, it is.
My list of unique things to do in Minsk is meant to help you see all the main sights and visit some iconic locations. For more information on Belarus and Minsk travel, check my destination page. I am adding more posts on this beautiful city and Belarus as a country in general.
1. Walk Independence Avenue
Independence (or Nezavisimosti) Avenue is the central and main street in Minsk. Even if you don’t know where you are, you can easily recognize it by how wide the sidewalks are, how busy it seems to be and how many sights are along the way.
The avenue starts near the Railway Station not far from the famous “city gates” – two symmetrically built eleven-story towers in front of the station. It is very long, about 15 kilometers and crosses the city from the center to the northeast, becoming the M-2 highway near Voyennyy Gorodok. However, all main attractions are on the stretch between Lenin Square and National Library.
It took us around 6 hours to walk this distance (with a final stop at the library.) But it wasn’t spent just on a walk. We made a bunch of stops to drink coffee, eat lunch, take hundreds of pictures, check out a few stores, buildings and parks.
If you have time in Minsk, walk at least some parts of Independence Avenue. If you get tired, just hop on a bus or metro to cover the rest or return.
The main sights to see are Independence Square with the statue of Lenin and Saint Simon Church, GUM (main department store,) Kastrycnickaya Square, Janki Kupaly Park, Victory Square with the Eternal Flame and granite obelisk in the center – the 40 meters high Victory Monument dedicated to the Great Patriotic War. Jakuba Kolasa Square with the monument of the writer, TSUM (another department store,) National Philharmonic and Kalinin Square are all there too.
Our favorite spot along Independence Avenue is the area near Victory Square.
To the left and to the right from it there are two beautiful parks and a peaceful walking path along the river. If you like historical moments, take a look at the building where President Kennedy’s killer lived. Coordinates are here.
For a really good cappuccino and sweets, check out art coffee shop “Belyy Chemodan”. It is located not far from a famous coffee shop “Mesto”. Across the street, there is another one cafe “Zerno” which is super mega-popular among locals and foreigners.
If you are a tea person, stop for a cup of tea in the only Tea Room in Minsk “Chaynaya Pochta.” This place is simply amazing. With an incredibly large selection of teas, great atmosphere and some of the best service in Minsk this place feels special.
3. Go For a Drink to One of the Coolest Bars in Minsk
From our experience, there are not that many first-class bars in Minsk where you can find the right type of cocktails, world-class wines, and craft beers. There are not many but they exist. And those places are pretty cool. They are scattered throughout the city, however, most of them are located right in the center which makes it easy to get to them.
I personally don’t like going to bars. But in Minsk Mark and I went to meet with one of my readers who lives there. She took us on a tour around the city showing all cool spots, eateries, pubs, and clubs. So, every place I mention below was recommended by a local.
Banki-Butylki Bar (6 Zybitskaya Str.) – dozens of tinctures made from currants, buckwheat, and various berries. A must-try drink is a sorrel cocktail.
BeerKeller (12 Zavulak-Vajskovy) which means a “beer cellar”. It is a cozy corner of Germany in the quiet center of Minsk. Here you can try 8 varieties of draft beer. And bar’s signature beer is Pschorr KellerBier from Munich.
ID BAR (19 Zakharova Str.)- a place with a truly unique atmosphere. Besides a wide variety of alcohol drinks ID bar offers homemade pasta and bread of its own production, steaks, and desserts.
Honky Tonk Piano Bar (25A Internacyjanalnaja Str.) – food here is off the charts amazing, service is outstanding, the drink selection is big and the live music in the creates a very special atmosphere. Make sure to make reservations in advance, without them it’s almost impossible to get a table.
Beercap (10 Hercena Str.) – a shop-bar with the largest selection of craft beers where you can sit on a very nice terrace and on many days listen to live music.
ENZO (23 Kastrychnitskaya Str.) – The girl who showed us around Minsk mentioned that the best burgers in the entire city are here. With breakfasts on the menu all day long, steaks and inexpensive tasty business lunches, beer from local breweries, wines and strong alcohol, ENZO is one of the most popular bars in Minsk among locals.
El Pushka (12 Hercena Str.) – a place in Latin America style with rivers of tequila, classical drinks “Daiquiri” and “Margarita”, signature cocktails and a few snacks. On Fridays and Saturdays nights this bar gets packed with locals, so get ready there will be too little room inside. But based on how many people come here I can definitely make a conclusion that this place is pretty good.
Pinky Bandinsky (13A Komsomol’skaya Str.) – a bar with stylish interior, an extensive menu of food, alcoholic beverages, and cocktails. There are German lager and British ale.
Pub Club Mixx (12 Krasnaya Str.) – the main focus of the bar is wine and whiskey. There are about 20 varieties of whiskey and around the same number of varieties of wine.
”Maryland Bar” (4 Zybitskaya Str.) – the place where you can find all possible types of Bloody Mary cocktails along with hearty breakfasts which are served until late night.
|| RELATED POST ||
3. Explore Minsk by Bike
What a surprise it was to see how many biking trails are all over Minsk. And how many people are choosing bicycles over cars and public transportation to move around the city or commute. It will not come as a surprise for most of the European countries but in Minsk, it’s still a relatively new thing.
For instance, Kyiv in nearby Ukraine is not really bike-friendly. Minsk, on the contrary, is more adapted for cyclists. The number of cycling paths is small yet, however it’s enough for a traveler who wants to get a different feel of a city.
There are many bike rentals around Minsk, therefore renting a bike will not be a problem. You can put “bike rental’ on google maps to find a few places. But honestly, there might be one in your area too since many businesses are not on Google. So, just look around your neighborhood.
We rented bikes for the first time from a guy who was right next to the Minsk-Arena on Pobeditelei Avenue. Prices at his place are lower and bikes are of high quality. If you are in that area too, I highly recommend it. Otherwise, there are plenty of other shops to rent from.
The best way to see Minsk by bike would be on one of two routes. The first option is to start in the center along Svislach River, for example, near the Janki Kupaly Park or on the stretch between Sports Palace and Nemiga metro station and bike all the way to the Drazdy Reservoir.
This part of the route is suitable for a leisurely, relaxed trip. Some parts of the path are shared with pedestrians, so you will need to go slower. Although with great views around, river, cascades, and trees you won’t have a desire to speed up anyway. You’ll just want to make multiple stops, take pictures and enjoy.
The second option would be to start in the center too (or perhaps near the Victory Park) and bike to Losycki Park. Take some snacks or even lunch with you to eat in the park.
4. Get Closer to Nature in Drazdy Forest Park or at the Sea
Minsk has many beautiful parks and green spaces. But some of them, like Drazdy Forest Park, for instance, do not see many visitors. The reason for that is probably the location, although getting here is not really a problem. This is why mainly residents of the surrounding districts come to relax here.
To reach it, you need to come to Minsk-Arena by public transport and walk along Tikhaya Street. On the right side of the street, there is Viasiolkavy neighborhood with gorgeous mansions of rich and famous (which also makes a great walkthrough.) On the left side, you’ll see the Drazdy Reservoir. It will lead to the park.
During the summers many local people come here to swim and sunbathe. There is also an area with some outside exercise equipment, playground for children and a biking path.
Mark and I loved coming here to relax, watch the sunset and jog around the reservoir. The area is incredibly peaceful and quiet and shows you Minsk from a totally different angle.
If you decide to rent a bike, it’s really worth biking all the way here.
Minsk Sea or as it’s also called the Zaslavsky Reservoir is another spot for all residents of the capital of Belarus. However, tourists usually don’t come this way and I am not sure why. It’s so calm and gorgeous.
Usually, people come to the Minsk Sea for different purposes. Some want to swim and barbecue, others come to the party (local bars throw disco parties often) while others choose to fish.
To get here, if coming from the center, hop on the train at the Central Railway Station and in 40 minutes you will be by the sea. If walking in Drazdy Forest Park, return back to Pobeditelei Avenue and get on a bus.
The main thing to remember – weekday is probably the best day for a visit. It seems that half of Minsk flocks here on weekends which takes all fun away.
5. See Minsk From Above
If you are one of those people who love getting a bird’s eye view of a new city, here are some tips for you on how to see Minsk from above. The best way would be through a trip to the restaurant or Gorky Park.
Travelers who visit Minsk for a day or two, should definitely come and see the entire city from a Ferris Wheel in Gorky Park. The view is spectacular and you get 360 degrees panorama. There are various rides nearby if you feel like going on one.
Since the park is located in the very center of Minsk, it’s very easy to get there following a path along the river. On the outskirts of the park the Svisloch River flows and in the center there is a small pond with ducks where you can relax on the bench. Also, the park is great for cycling, the path is going right through it. Not far from the main entrance is a monument to a Soviet writer Maxim Gorky.
Another option is to go to a panoramic restaurant.
Restaurants in Minsk that offer some of the best views are “The View”, “Graf Cafe” and “Panorama”.
“The View” is located on the 28th floor in the city center (7A Pobediteley Str.) It is considered to be the best restaurant with a view of Minsk. From there you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the Trinity Hill, which gives you a complete picture of the scale and beauty of the Belarusian capital.
”Graf Cafe” is a cafe on the 22nd floor of the National Library of Belarus located on 116 Independence Avenue. From the windows you get to see a stunning view of parks and urban landscapes. People come here to indulge in well-brewed coffee with homemade pastries, eat local snacks and hot dishes of Belarusian cuisine.
“Panorama” is located on the 22nd floor of the building on 15 Storozhevaya Str. During the warm weather, an open terrace on the roof of the building offers even more mind-blowing views.