Minsk, Belarus

Minsk, Belarus

city that Phoebe from Friends’ boyfriend David had to go to
for work (it’s actually in Belarus,
not Russia) makes for an affordable Eastern
European city break
that we bet you hadn’t considered. A less
popular destination than Prague or Budapest,
it’s just as enchanting but lacks the stag parties and study abroad
students jostling for space in the thermal baths. From the
19th-century architecture of Trinity Hill, the city’s oldest
district, to the Stalinist landmarks dispersed across the city,
it’s a mishmash of historical periods agglomerated around the
chilly Svislach River.

Don’t miss

For a morning that feels classically European, wander along
Independence Avenue, which stretches across 15 kilometres and
crosses through eight town squares. Café hop to sample babkas,
potato pancakes and blinis before settling into a corner booth to
warm up with some borscht and a shot of vodka. While a wander
through the city will be a whirlwind of soviet architecture in
itself, the Zair Azgur Memorial Museum is a goldmine for checking
out communist statues and busts. Catch an evening ballet at the
National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Theatre, which is also
worthwhile – the multifaceted building is also a must-see during
the day.

Who to take with you

Your sometimes smug friend who likes to do something a little
different with their holidays.

When to go

October and November for changing leaves and
roasted chestnuts.

Most likely to bump into

No one you know, that’s for sure.

Essentials to bring with you

Your warmest coat as armour against that Balkan chill.

How to get there

Belavia offers a direct flight from Gatwick to Minsk that will
get you there in under three hours.

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