Taxi from Railway Station to Airport
Recently arrived in Minsk at 0300 in the morning, and needed a taxi to the airport (Minsk 2). There were a few taxis waiting outside the front of the station. They didn't hassle me. My driver was extremely helpful and accepted Russian currency. Maybe this is obvious, but I didn't want to get involved changing currrency for only one thing in the railway station at 3 in the morning!
He charged me 1000 Roubles which seemed fair to me.
Train Moscow - Minsk
There are around 20 trains between Moscow and Minsk daily. All of them have sleeping coaches and travel time takes between 7,5 and 12 hours.
It is better to travel by trains organized by Belarus railways then Russian Railways, as they have better service, carriages are clean and meals/drinks are very cheap. Belarusian trains usually colored blue and Russians trains are green.
The best trains are 003/004, 001002, 007/008, 009/010, 013/014. Price depends on the train and season, but in general one-way ticket price for 1st class is 150 USD, 2nd class 60-100 USD, 3d class 30-45 USD, for real backpackers there is cheapest seating class for 17 USD :)
You can buy ticket in internet on Russian railways site www.rzd.ru, but remember that anyway you have to get original ticket in ticket machine in railway station or ticket sale point in Russia. It is not possible to buy ticket in the Belarusian railway site, but tickets in Belarus cost always cheaper, so if you don’t travel in peak dates (weekend, holidays) then it is better to buy tickets in Railways station in Minsk.
Walking in city
Walking in city centre of Minsk is quite simple. Main sights are in walkable distance, but only Belarusian National Library is a bit further. For sightseeing of most of soviet style buildings it is possible to walk Independence Avenue (Nezaleznosti prospekt).
The Metro in Minsk (Мінскае метро) was opened in '84 and it has 2 lines for a total of 23 stations.
The Moskovskaya line has 9 stations and goes from SW to NE.
The Avtozavodskaya Line has 14 stations and goes from NW to SE.
The 2 lines cross in the very centre of the city, at the Kupalauskaja/Kastrychnitskaja (Купалауская/Кастрычнiцкая) stations.
Yeah, the crossing station has different names depending on the line you are on... and that's not the only problem: there are different names in Belarusian and Russian languages! Officially all stations have the Belarusian (new) name and that's the name you read on trains, but in many stations there's still the old Soviet/Russian name, which sometimes can be totally different. And the people are more used to the old names... That can make a bit of confusion. The Kastrychnitskaja for example is better known as Oktyabrskaya.
To add more confusion the station by the Independence square was called Lenina (as the old square name), then Nezalezhnascy (like the actual square name) and now Lenina again...
BTW, once you get used to cyrillic alphabet and Russian/Belorusian names, going around with the metro in Minsk is rather easy and it helps a lot to move along the big spaces of the Belarusian capital.
There are no tickets, but tokens (Гетон) like in all Soviet metros. One Гетон costs 600 Roubles (about 20c€).
Stations can be very nice, expecially the old Soviet ones, with marble everywhere, nice lamps, hammers & sickles and paintings of proletarians. The new ones are more modern but usually with much less charme. Stations are usually very clean and trains too. I foun it 100% safe to travel on the metro at any time of the day and night. There's often police outside and indide the trains.
Trains and buses
Minsk central railway station is one of the most modern I've ever seen in my life. It's really brand new, glasses everywhere, extremely clean; maybe it's not an old romantic station, but surely it's a very good one and most of the time you will arrive or leave from here.
The station is very close to the Independence Square (Ploshchad Nezalezhnosti) and really not far from the main centre of the city. It's directly connected to the metro system through underground passages.
Beside the railway station there's also one of the main Bus Stations of Minsk: it's an older building from soviet times, not very big, with a couple of big parking lots for buses on both sides. Buses and marshrutkas going south leave from here.
Rip off taxi drivers
Athens, Belgrade, Bucharest, Kaunas, Kiev, Krakow, Minsk, Moscow, Prague, Riga, Rome, Sofia, Warsaw, Zagreb.
Something all of these places have in common is no shortage of taxi drivers who see it as a divine right to rip off tourists. In Bucharest, Minsk and Moscow in particular it is utterly outrageous and if there is an honest taxi driver anywhere in these cities then I am yet to find them.
Some thing else each of these cities have in common is a well developed public transport system based on any of metro / tram / trolley bus. The public transport systems are simple, efficient, quick and inexpensive and provide a welcome alternative to the inevitable taxi driver rip off.
Minsk Underground (map in Russian/English)
Minsk wanted to build Underground in the 60`s. But, because during that time the population was less than a million, the construction could not begin. It was an unspoken rule: Only city with million or more denizens can have a metro.
So, it`s said that Minsk government came up with the plan to increase the population - encouraging rural population to move into Minsk by offering them favourable terms.
And, the 1 000 000`s citizen was born in 1972 and the Undergound`s construction began in 1977.
1) It`s the fastest in FSU countries: trains speed is up to 80km/hour (~49 miles/hour).
2) Minsk underground has only 2 lines: Moskovskaya and Avtozavodskaya lines.
3) The intersection station is 'Oktyabr`skaya'/'Kupalovskaya' station in the very center of Minsk.
4) The total length of metro`s 23 stations is 27,6 km (~17.1 miles).
5) First train goes at 5.32 am, last one - at 1.02 am.
6) Platforms are 100 meters long and 10 meters wide.
7) Trains run every 3-4 min during rush hours and every 5-10 the rest of the day.
Getting to/from Minsk from/to airport 'Minsk-2'
Minsk airport is 40km (25 miles) from the city.
When arrived to 'Minsk-2' international airport, you have a choice how to get to the downtown area: via taxi ($35), via public bus (4000 bel rubles, which is $2) or via mini bus (~$2).
Here is a PUBLIC BUS schedule leaving from 2 main Minsk bus stations: 'Central' (next to rail-way station on Bobryjskaya Street, 6) and 'Moscow'.
-From 'Central' Bus Station to Airport 'Minsk-2' (every day). Duration is anywhere from 1h to 1h 20min:
5:25am(arrival to airport - 6:35am);
-From 'Moscow' Bus Station to Airport 'Minsk-2' (every day):
5:45am (arrival to airport 'Minsk-2' - 6.35am);
PUBLIC BUS schedule from Airport 'Minsk-2' to 'Central' Bus Station (every day):
7.10am (arrival to 'Central' Bus Station - 8.30am);
From 'Central' Bus Station you can also take MINI bus to get to the airport.
Departure from Airport back to the 'Central' Bus Station is irregular - depends on when the mini bus is full and ready to go.
- Budget Travel
Minsk Airport is quite far from the city center. About 40 km.
Airport shuttles run between Raiway Station and the gate for the arrivals. It takes about 1 hour to reach to the city center.
It costs 3920 Belarus Rubles (about 2 Euros)
Metro in Minsk
In my point of vew, the most convenient way to get around is Minsk metro.It has just 2 lines, and they cross each other only in one spot, so any station could be easely found.Mostly this lines go through the center of the city.The price is the same as for other public transport, but it's faster and goes often.
metro its great
metro is safe and clean if you use buses try and use the little bus,s the larger ones are ok but when its busy get ready for a shock when to say they like to get as many on as possible is a understament all transport is cheap
The Minsk' subway is not only a way to get arround the city. It's something more. Minsk' subway is the 'monument' of great architecture. Every station was built in unique style more than 20 years and now it still looks pretty good. And by the way it is one of the cleanest subways in Europe - you will hardly find any rubbish there and the trains are always clean and look rather good.
There are two lines of subways in Minsk city. According to the Starlin urban plan, when a city reaches a population of 1 million people, a subway has to be built. The Minsk subway was, of course, built after WWII. It is not that fancy as that in Moscow, but it is bright and spacial. A ticket for one trip costs 250 Byr, about 10 cents according to current rates.
- Budget Travel
Introducing the Minsk subway
There is a wonderful introduction to the Minsk subway available at an English language website: http://www.metropla.net/eu/min/minsk.htm. The fare is minimal, 60 Belarussian rubles (about 4 cents, in November 2001).
We used a taxi driven by Dima for three days. He is a safe driver and his mercedes was well maintained. He did not wait at the taxi ranks drinking from a bottle of beer as we saw frequently!.. Dima speaks a little english and some german. We would recommend him and his car as safe and reliable.
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