Minsk is the capital and biggest city of Belarus. It is situated on the Svislach and Niamiha rivers. From 1919-1991 it was the capital of the Former Byelorussian SSR. It is also the capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The city was 80% destroyed during World War II and as such was rebuilt in the 1950s to the liking of Stalin. Large Soviet-Bloc style buildings make up a large portion of the city. For this reason Minsk is a wonderful place to visit for those interested in the Soviet Union and are interested in seeing it almost alive.
English is not really spoken, and tourism is not a priority in Minsk. It would be wise to learn some key phrases in Belorussian and Russian.
Note: The width of the train tracks is different in Poland and in Belarus, so if you choose to arrive by train please be prepared for long wheel changing.
There is an almost daily train leaving from Lichtenberg station. It leaves at 13:49 and arrives the next morning at 9:30 or so. Note: This is the train en route to Russia.
Second Class, €69, 3 people per compartment - men and women separate.
First Class, €109, 2 people per compartment - not gender separated.
The trip is about 10 hours. There is one train a day that departs from Central Station at 20:35 which arrives in Minsk around 8:00.
There are several bus routes from Vilnius central bus station to "Avtovokzal Vostochniy" bus station in Minsk. The Minsk bus station is not very close to downtown, however you can have a taxi ride with 10000 roubles (less than €4). The bus also drops passengers off outside the railway station (look out for two Stalinist towers) in the centre of Minsk before proceeding to the Vostochniy (Eastern) station. The bus service takes up to 5 hours and costs around 36 litas (be prepared to spend more than 1.5 hours at the border). Due to the bad quality of the train service, bus ride should be preferred.
There are flights from Frankfurt but they are quite pricey, 500$ or so. There are also flights from Tallinn, Estonia by Estonian airlines , from Riga, Latvia by airBaltic. If you wish to have budget price (80 €) tickets book flight tickets a few months before hand.
Belavia has codeshare flights with many other airlines. Travelling by plane is much easier for getting a Visa as well (price for visa at airport 100 $--> 65€). If your agency organises your travel with a Belarussian Agency everything will be planned for you. Airport personel will meet you just as you come out. They will guide you to the Visa office(Just after exit from plane), they will help you fill out the form required and pay the Visa fee. And yes they do speak very good English.
Gomelavia have inland flights to all the major cities and major Western-Russian cities.
August 2008 sees Etihad Airways to be the first Gulf airline to have started twice weekly flights from its home-base in Abu Dhabi. Etihad operates one of its new Airbus A319 aircraft on the twice-weekly Minsk service, configured to carry 104 passengers with 20 in business class and 84 in economy class. The service operates every Tuesday and Thursday. A third weekly flight will be added every Saturday from October 2008.
Driving in, while possible, requires knowledge of the border system. This is a border of European Union, so control is very strict. Crossing it can take 2 hours. They may check your bags. Without knowledge of Russian, Belarusian or Polish, this can be very hard. There is a very long line of cars at every border crossing. However, if you have passport, VISA and car registration papers prepared, act honest and helpful and arrives as a tourist in a personal car the border crossing can go very smoothly and be over within 45 minutes.
Get around by using bus, tram, or subway or rent a car. First three are cheap and reliable. The subway is noted for being clean and safe. Additionally, each subway station is decorated uniquely. For instance, the station at Oktober Square is decorated in the theme of the Communist Revolution. The station at Victory square is decorated in a victory theme, and the Lenin Station includes a bust of Lenin and a host of Hammer/Sickle reliefs.
A panoramic English-language map of the centre of Minsk that shows every building individually is widely available from bookshops and kiosks for 5,000 roubles. It also has a conventional map showing more of Minsk and some tourist information. It's worth buying a copy as early on in your visit as you can because it makes getting around on foot easy and fun.
The Subway (Minsk Metro) is the most reliable Transport around Minsk. A train every 3 minutes and never late. You can buy tokens at a window inside the station. One ride costs 600BYR, if you don't know any Russian like me just give 6000BYR and stick 10 fingers up. Make sure you hold on, because it goes real fast.
Taxis are cheap as well. All Taxis have a base rate of 6000BYR and thats from 0-6km distance. That is the minimal pay. You will notice 6000BYR will already be on the meter.
You may also rent a car to travel around the country. Rates depend on period of hire and start from 20US/day. There are offices of Europcar, Avis, SIXT and other rental companies. You may browse a list of cars and rental companies here 
Regional Trains from the Central Station are also cheap. A trip from Minsk to Gomel (5 hours) with a cabin for 4 cost 20000($10US)and Usually never full.
- Former Residence of Lee Harvey Oswald, Vulitsa Kamunistychnaja 4 (the bottom left apartment). Lee arrived in the Soviet Union in December 1959 wanting to denounce his US citizenship and was sent to Minsk. He changed his name to Alek and married a native woman, Marina Prusakova, with whom he had a child. The young family left for the United States on June 1, 1962.
- St Mary Magdeline Church (Tsarkva Svyati Mary Magdaleny), Vulitsa Kisjaleva 42. Metro: Njamiha. It was built in 1847 in the Orthodox style - with a pointed octagonal bell tower over the entrance.
- Saint Peter & Saint Paul Church, Vulitsa Rakovskaja 4. Metro: Njamiha. Built in 1613 and restored in 1871, it is the oldest church in Minsk. It is worthwhile to go inside.
- Belarus National Museum of History & Culture, Vulitsa Karla Marxa 12. Admission 7,000BYR. Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 11am to 7pm. There is plenty to see here, sadly there is only Belarusian explanation panels.
- Palats Mastatsva (Art Palace), Vulitsa Kazlova 3. Admission Free. Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 7pm. Several exhibition spaces showing modern art, second hand books and antiques stalls.
- Mastatsky Salon, Praspekt Francyska Skaryny 12. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 8pm. An art gallery with local artists exhibitions and some overpriced souvenirs.
- Minskoe More (Minsk Sea) is an artificial reservoir 5km north of the city centre. There's a free public beach, and pedal-boat and catamaran rental. Buses leave the central bus station regularly. To get there by car, head north along the P28 and lookout for signs after Ratomka village.
- Ice Skating Rink infront of the Palats Respubliki. In Winter there are crowds of people ice skating here. It is open from 8am until 10pm and a pair of skates should cost between 3,000-5,000BYR to rent.
Local goods are usually bad quality, but there are several things that are worth buying. Some wool and linen clothes - you can get very good stuff for little money. Linen in all forms is a special bargain. Typical is a woven patterned linen tablecloth, excellent quality, 150cm x 300cm (about 5 ft x 10 ft), for 34,280 Belarus rubles, approximately $16.25 US (10.30 euro, 8.25 GB pound) (as of May 2008). Womens underwear "Milavitsa", is widely known across former USSR. This good quality, and cheap as well. Various types of cosmetics - firstly brand-name, are called "O2". Vodka produced by Brest spirit factory, is probably the best in the world. This easily outperforms Stolichnaya, Absolut and Smirnoff. Generally, the Minsk Airport has a very reliable duty free shop with rich choice of fragrances, spirits and souvenirs. There is no sense to get international brands- usually it costs 20-50% more than European average.
- Podzemka, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 43. An underground bookshop-cum-art gallery.
- Suveniraja Lavka, Vulitsa Maxima Bahdanovicha 9. A souvenir type shop with straw crafts, wooden boxes, embroidered linen & Belorussian alcohol.
- Tsentralnaja Kniharnya, Praspekt Nezalezhnasti 19. A bookshop with posters of Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko.
Belorussian cuisine is similar to that of the rest of Eastern Europe but particularly Russian and Ukrainian. Generally it features heavy-fat potato dishes, mushrooms, soups and baked meat.
The quality of Western European cuisine (Italian, French...) is not amazing. The average level of cafes and restaurants is low but there are several good places in the center of the city. The price of a meal at these places should cost between 20,000BYR and 40,000BYR.
- Pechki-Lavochki, Main Ave. Is a great Belarusian restaurant.
- Beze, Main ave. Viennese style café with a great bakery and light snacks.
- Gourman, close to Grand Opera Theater. Styled as an Italian trattoria. It serves Belarusian and European cuisine. Excellent quality and affordable prices.
- Freskee Cafe, Niezaležnaści Square. Café with a large choice of main dishes.
- Taj, Vulista Brilevskaja 2. Wonderful North Indian restaurant. Vegetarians will find heaven. There should be an English menu available also. Vegetarian dishes start from around BR6,000 and Mains from BR12,000. Open Noon-Midnight.
- Chomolungme, Vulitsa Gikalo 17. Huge menu with an array of cuisines: Nepalese, Tibetan, Sushi & Indian. Vegetarians and Vegans should also be able to find something here. Mains from BR8,000 to BR30,000.
- National Food, Trinity Suburb. Not the restaurant's real name but this place has "National Food" on the front in big English letters so should be easy to find. It has a large menu of traditional food available in English, including a couple of vegetarian options. Mains BR20,000 to BR30,000. The food really sticks to your ribs. They also sell honey-flavoured kvass.
Typical belarusian drink is "Kefir", which is a sort of sour milk, similar to yogurt.
- 40 Let Pobedy(40 Years of Victory), Azgura 3, Minsk 220088. checkin: 12; checkout: 12. Nice rooms, decent location. No internet, few English speaking receptionists.$45/shared room.
- Hotel Belarus, 220002, Minsk, street Storozhevskaja, 15-201, ☎ (017) 209 75 37, . checkin: 12; checkout: 12. Great location, clean Soviet hotel with very old school interior. Great indoor pool/hot tub and a gym, cost $10 extra. Free wifi in lobby.35 Euros/single.
- Hotel Orbita Praspekt Pushkina 39. A clean 208 Room Hotel with friendly but boring staff. There is a supermarket next door and Cash Exchange in the hotel lobby. The airport and Train terminal are about 6km away. It is in the western part of Minsk not far from the Republican Exhibition Centre. Website
- Minsk Vacation Apartments  Vacation apartment for rent in central Minsk. Near major railway stations. 1-3 room flats. Rates: 50-200 EUR.
There is also a good rental service provided by www.belarusrent.com . They rent rooms in good quality in the center of Minsk. They also provide assistance for Visas.
You might receive a call to your hotel room late at night offering a "massage". To avoid being woken up it is worth unplugging your phone.
Hotel Planeta i would say is the best Hotel in Minsk.(2008) 31 Pobediteley avenue, 220126 Minsk, Belarus ph: (+375 17) 203 85 87 website: www.hotelplaneta.by They have great services all within the Hotel. Internet Cafe is open till 8pm. Casino is open 24hrs.
- Hotel “Europe”(Отель«Европа»), 28, Internatsionalnaya st., Mins, ☎ (+375 17) 229-83-33, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Exclusive five-star Hotel Europe is situated in the historical and cultural heart of Minsk, at the intersection of Lenin Street and Internatsionalnaya Street. The beautiful 7-storey atrium-type building is carried out in Modern Style of early XX century. Late departure (till 11 p.m. (24.00) is charged with 50% of the room rate. from 265 EUR.