Belarus has a lot of transport. You can choose any type of it as you like.
It is super-fast, clean, and impressive. Locals love the metro and you will feel the love most during rush hours. The metro has 2 lines – a red and a blue, which will bring you pretty much everywhere in the city. Your metro ticket is a little red token that you buy for a single metro ride in Minsk. Inside every metro station, you can buy these single way tokens for 0.65 BYN (around €0.30). This token makes a great souvenir: it is unique, it screams history with its worn outlook, and you can probably use it as play money, or as a replacement coin for a shopping trolley.
Some historical facts: During the Soviet period there was an unwritten law that only a city with over 1 million residents could start building a metro. The city of Minsk did its best to attract people from villages and created favourable conditions for their resettlement. Finally, in 1972 the millionth Minsker was born, and by 1984 the first eight metro stations were finished.
The best way to get a taxi is to order it by phone. The only problem is that dispatchers, as well as drivers, usually do not speak English. There are different companies that offer services from standard to VIP. Here are the taxi numbers we usually use: 135, 7788, 157. The average price is €3-4 for 8-10 km. You can always check the tariff on the taxi’s service websites. It is the law to turn on a counter before the trip starts and give a receipt at the end. You can catch a taxi but again make sure that a driver turns his or her counter on and make sure you negotiate the price in advance. Tipping taxi drivers is not customary or expected. Uber also works in Minsk and you pay around €5 for a ride from one end of the city to another.
The national transportation system is somewhat similar to the national humour — every country has it, but there are always “gotchas” waiting for a foreigner.
City buses run all over the city and many suburban areas. See all the routes here. Mainly they are signed with numbers only, but that’s not the rule. Letter “C” in vehicle’s number (e.g. 3-c) marks rapidness: it means the bus on its standard route skips several certain stops. Letter “Э” (e.g. 115-э) is for express buses: those ones are the fastest and you need a special, a bit more expensive ticket to hop on them.
Note the bus line №1: it goes straight through the city centre (from Central Railway station to Minsk Arena) and offers free audio guidance during the trip. You pay just for the ordinary bus ticket. The bus №100 also takes you along the majority of mainstream city sights of Minsk.
Trolleys are as widespread in Minsk as the buses are. You can easily tell them from the steal “horns” connected to transmission lines above the road. Here you can find all the lines. Just recently, some the vehicles on some routes have been replaced by electrobuses.
There’re 8 tram lines in Minsk. Basically, they connect the Northwest corner of the city with its south-eastern part and the South-West with the North-eastern part. All the routes of the tram lines check there.
City rail train
The urban train connects the station Minsk Pasažyrski (on Central Railway station) with Ždanovičy and the Minsk Sea. It runs around 30 times per day. The ticket price depends on the extension, but the whole way costs about € 0,40 (0,90 BYN). Buy and validate your ticket already on the train.
Private minibuses serve as route taxis (“marshrutka”). Passengers pay the fare (about € 0,65) as they get on. The price is fixed no matter what is the distance of a trip. Route taxis run according to the individual schedule from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. To make a minibus stop you should notice it beforehand and sign the driver with your hand like if you’re going to hitch-hike.
How to find a stop
Most of the public transport stops have benches and awnings. Sometimes there’s also a kiosk. You can also estimate the crowd hanging out by the road as a marker of a bus stop.
How to Pay
- Buy a ticket for 1 ride
Tickets are sold in special kiosks on the stops as well as in the kiosks near the entrance to the subway. They are valid for any kind of on-ground public transport and for any distance, but just for a single ride on the vehicle where they’re punched. A ticket (“talon”) costs € 0.25 (0.60 BYN).
In case there won’t be any kiosk on your bus station, you can buy a ticket from the driver (but only during the stops) in tram, bus, and trolley. The price will be a bit higher: € 0.30 (0.65 BYN).
2. Buy a swipe card for several trips
You can also choose to get yourself a smart card on which you upload a certain amount of rides that you can use for metro, bus, and tram and trolleybus trips. This is especially handy for people that want to use public transportation quite often during their stay in Minsk. Don’t forget to check-in by holding your card to the check-in machine, there are regular controls and we cannot promise that the tourist excuse will work for not getting a €6 fine, which you have to pay on the spot. Just as for the subway, there are different types of transport passes. You can pick either the card with the number of trips paid (10, 20, 30, 40, 50 trips available during 60 days or 60 or 100 trips available for 80 days) or the other, that doesn’t limit the number of trips during a certain period (e.g. 10 days, 15 days, 30 or 90 days).
Who’s allowed to ride for free?
Some groups of passengers can use public transport gratis.
- all children up to 7 years;
- children with disabilities (under the age of 18);
- orphans (under the age of 18);
- children deprived of parental care (under the age of 18);
- people with disabilities (groups I and II);
- persons accompanying a passenger with disability (a child or a passenger with the I group of disability).
Travelling by railroad is one of the most comfortable and reliable options. Railroads inside the country can get you to over 2,100 destinations.
Belarusian Railways offers a convenient format of passenger transportation:
- Urban lines – within limits of Minsk or an oblast capital and up to stations in satellite towns;
- Regional lines – within limits of an oblast or up to the nearest oblast subordination city in a neighbouring region;
- Interregional lines – between Minsk and oblast capitals, between oblast capitals;
- International lines – connect Belarus and other countries.
Depending on the speed of trains, the time spent at stops in populated communities regional and interregional lines is divided into business class and economy class.
The cost of travel along Belarusian railways is not high and depends on the line, class, and category of the railway car. For instance, a ticket from Brest to Vitebsk – virtually across the entire breadth of the country – on an interregional line train costs:
- reserved seat – about Br13,8 (USD7-8)
- compartment – about Br19,1 (USD11-12)
Commercial and free services are rendered in trains of Belarusian Railways.
For free you can:
- get bed linen delivered and taken away, get your bed prepared if you need aid (you have to pay to use bed linen unless the cost is covered by the ticket);
- get table games;
- get first medical aid;
- get safety belts;
- get helpful information;
Smoking is not allowed in railcars except for international trains, which have dedicated smoking areas.
Belarus is a comparatively small country; therefore there are no regular domestic air flights. The National Airport Minsk welcomes international flights that connect the Belarusian capital with many countries across the globe.
Existing airports in oblast capitals welcome charter flights, cargo aircraft, and airliners that need an emergency landing. Apart from that, airports in Gomel, Grodno, and Brest offer regular flights to the Russian city of Kaliningrad.
Car & Motorcycle
Hiring a car is recommended for exploring around Minsk, with car hire widely available.
Most of the big international car-hire chains are represented at the airport or the Minsk city centre. You’ll save money using a local rental service, but remember to look your car over carefully and check the spare tyre before you drive off.
There are local transport companies in every region of Belarus. The service Ticketbus.by will help you get all the necessary information (including routes and schedule) and buy tickets online (but the website itself is pretty complicated and available in Russian only, so you may need some help from your local friends).