I was in Minsk last year. A taxi to downtown Minsk is about $45 USD one way. There is a bus I believe, and it is much less, but you would have to ask at the airport. The airport is about an hour drive to downtown Minsk. I am not sure where the Hilton is but assume it is near or in downtown.
You will find the prices for everything very reasonable, especially in the restaurants. The food is all very good.
I enjoyed my trip to Minsk very much and hope to go again soon.
I hope this helps.
Fondest memory: Minsk is a beautiful city. It is clean, safe and full of flowers. The restaurants are very reasonable and the food is excellent.
The Belarusian currency is called "rubel", though Russian variant of the name "ruble" can be (and is) used with relation to Belarusian money.
All Exchange offices and Banks are regulated by government in Belarus, so you can exchange your money really everywhere there you find exchange office, the maximum difference in exchange rates I have seen were 0,02%.
There are numerous currency exchange offices in Minsk to change foreign currency to Belarusian rubles and back. Normally there should be no problems with exchanging US dollars, euros and Russian rubles. You should remember that usually you can find exchange office in railways stations in Belarus, and even small villages have branch of Belarusian State bank.
Usually there is no problem to change USD, EURO and Russian Rubles. Exchange rates as of 01/05/2010 you can find in the attached picture.
If you manage to visit Vitsebsk in June, you will attend the traditional "Slav Bazaar" international song festival.
Fondest memory: visiting Vitsebsk and seeing Mark Shagal Museum and walking in the central park of the city.
If you imagined Belarus as a country of old Russian cars, fear and poverty, then you were wrong. If you heard stories about Belarus as the "last dictatorship in Europe", you should eliminate them from your memory. Belarus is the last oasis of FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE in Europe. It's a place where people don't accept "values" of the New World Order. They don't want to become another pro-NATO and pro-American marionette country with no freedom and dignity. They don't want to be a part of the so called European Union - a dungeon of human rights. What they want is strong union with Russia, but not with this pro-Western Russia, but with strong, independent, Orthodox and free Russia.
There are no foreign banks, foreign petrol-stations, billboards with half-naked women, multi-national companies in Belarus. That's how every normal country should look. They have their own pride and dignity, and don't care about all the threats and sanctions that come from the EU and the US. What I admire the most is a very high patriotic conscience of the people of Belarus.
Fondest memory: The bank of Svislosh near Nemiga Metro station is one of the most beautiful places in Minsk. Though you're in a city center you can see ducks and swans in the river, and young lovers walking by the river side. There is also a lovely Pushkin monument and the one dedicated to Belorussian soldiers who died in Afghanistan war in the 20th century. And five minutes walk from that place you can visit a small but charming Church of Mary Magdalene.
When I was leaving the Belarus in Brest it appeared that I had to pay a border fee. The border officer did not want to pass me through without it. I had to be back from the border to pay this fee. The fee costs 6750 roubles (app. 4 USD) and can be bought in the Belarussbank cash desk on the Brest train station. In Jan 2006 the fee was 7250 BYR,
However in Jan 2006 I had not to present the proof for paying this fee. Maybe they resigned ?
I have met them when I was walking by river Muhavets. I asked them if I could have a photo of them. They politely accepted that. I tried to talk with them about the war. They were so proud. They did not want to talk about themselves. I wanted to take their adresses to send them the photos. They rejected, with a honorable facial expression,like rejecting to be a subject of tourism.
Luckily, I tried to be as respectful as possible and I think I did no wrong to them, and maybe that's why they accepted my wish to take thier photos.
So, I really want you to be very sensitive against them. Keep in mind that 20 million Soviet citizens lost their lives in the war. They have fought for a country which does not exist anymore
Poles and EU citizens need a visa to get to Belarus.
Fee for a single entry visa for Poles is 6 USD for 2 entries 11 USD (all infos for Poles:
Embassy in Poland is located in Warsaw on 58 Wiertnicza Street.
Here is a link in English with a list of embassies:
Polish citizens are required to buy a special medical insurance in insurance company "Europa". The broker is located in a barracks next to embassy building on 60 Wiertnicza Street in Warsaw. The list of other "Europa" brokers are here (in Polish): http://www.tueuropa.pl/index.php?id=czE3OW1rMTk4YnA1MjY5
The fee for basic medical insurance for 9 days was 31 PLN (app. 9USD) in Dec 2005.
I read on another VT page about spending some time in a Belarus Village, well our friends live in a village called Gribino which is so small it wasn't even on my map! We spent 3 days in this village as the guests of our friends and had a fantastic time.
There are so many small villages in Belarus scattered between the big towns and life in them is very different to city life. They live a hard but happy life. The houses are made from wood or brick with a tin roof. There is no drainage and water comes from a well or a single tap. Electricity is normally available and in winter, a log burning furnace heats the home. There are no real luxuries. The toilet is a hole in the ground covered by a wooden shack. When the hole fills up a new one must be dug!
In the back yard, many villagers will have chickens and ducks. If you are lucky you will have your own cow too, so milk and eggs and chicken are in good supply and are fresh! Vegetables are self-grown too, especially potatoes ("bulba" in belorussian).
To keep all this going and to live requires hard work, but everyone is happy and the family all share the work.
Fondest memory: Our best memories are of the people. They welcome you into their home with a deep and sincere gratitude for making the effort to come and see them. They are so interested to know about people from the west and want to share experiences of their country with you. The children are allowed to grow up as children and are not spoilt by materialism and peer pressure. They are polite and respectful. They showed us lakes and forests, let us milk their cows, prepared many feasts for us at their table and we drank much vodka. They were so proud to tell the whole village that the English people are coming to stay! At night we sat outside under the inky black sky looking up at millions of stars and a glowing milky way. These people have so little yet in other ways have a simplicity of life that is worth so much.
We fell in love with the country and the warmth of the people who we will never forget.
Belarus Rouble is one of the smallest currencies in the world. Todays rate is about 1800 BYR for 1 USD, and it is permanently going down. You can notice long queques to the exchange offices in Minsk. That is how people try to save their poor salary. One guy told me that buying Euro and selling it at the end of the month one can add about 10% to the salry. ;-(
Fondest memory: At the very beginning (in 1992) local banknotes have pictures of different animals - hares, bears, squirrels, etc. Now it looks different, but people still call their money - Little Hares and Squirrels.
It is possible that in a couple of years local currency will be removed with Russian Roubles.
When I visited Belarus and in particular Minsk I was greeted with many different feelings. It is quite hard to imagine a lifestyle that provokes the feelings of yesteryear yet also the resemblance in some ways of an evolving western culture.
Fondest memory: Fondest memory of Belarus Minsk the capital city and the friendly nature of the people that I met during my stay. I should point out that only a few people and I mean very few people speak English in Belarus. You would find a higher probability that the children from age 10 - 18 would speak some English due to the Education Ciriuculum now supporting the teaching of English.
Favorite thing: My travel tips for Belarus are all limited to Minsk, the capital. Although I visited several other places, I only made day trips and so I simply do not have the experience to recommend anything anywhere other than Minsk. My Belarus travelogue is long because it includes those day trips; but if you are interested only in Minsk, I have excerpted the Minsk portions and placed them in their own travelogue on my Minsk page. Please take a look!
Favorite thing: Belarus is a paradise for nature lovers. The country lies in the woody middle of the Eastern Europe. From immemorial times, the forests stayed almost untouched. The landscape is rather flat. Deep straches in the land made by sliding South glaciers during the Glacier Period have turned into the long chains of lakes extending from North to South. Most of our lakes have forested shores, just like this one on the picture.
Favorite thing: I don't consider myself as a beer lover. But I think our beer is worth being mentioned. The most popular brands are Lidskoe, Alivarya, and Krinitsa. The brewery in small town Lida was built in the 1840th. Nowadays it produces the best beer in Belarus 'Nasha Marka' and 'Barkhatnoe'.
Favorite thing: The first point for a foreigner to visit is the capital of Belarus undoubtedly. History of Minsk began in 1067. A remote settlement in the beginning, it flourished as a commercial center in the medieval ages, suffered from numerous wars, invasions and demolitions. Each time it arose from ruins and continued developing its own way. Nowadays Minsk is a cosmopolitan city, home for about two million people. Unfortunately only a small ancient part of the city is left to give visitors a possibility to see how Minsk used to look hundreds of years ago. Take a stroll from the main square Nezalezhnasty along Skariny avenue, and you will get an overall idea about the city's modern architecture. If you turn to the left nearby the Circus, walk by the Svislotch river' bank for ten minutes, you will come to a picturesque quarter perched on the right embankment of the river. There are lots of cafes and shops scattered amongst the 17th century buildings. Honestly, this is my favorite part of Minsk, although it is not the only place where you can spend some time in a warm relaxing atmosphere.
Enjoy the nature around you!!! Belarus has always been known as a country of forests and lakes, there are over 10000 of lakes here and the forests still have their natural, unspoiled beauty.
Fondest memory: Blue lakes dozing quitely surronded by emerald green forests.
59, Pobediteley Ave, Minsk, 220035, Belarus
Good for: Families
For Soviet citizens it was always practically impossible to lodge in a hotel "Intourist". The best...more
13 Kirova str., Minsk, 220040, Belarus
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
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