Minsk 2019: Come for the sport, stay for so much more

6 May 2019

For sports fans planning to travel to Minsk for the second edition of the European Games this 21-30 June, be prepared to be wowed inside and outside of the sports venues.

The performances of Europe’s best athletes in 15 Olympic and non-Olympic sports are sure to impress, and so too will the Belarusian capital.

Contrary to popular belief, Minsk is not the Soviet-era throwback many people mistakenly believe it to be. Founded over 900 years ago, the city has plenty of old-world charm, but it also possesses a youthful vibrancy that rivals any of the continent’s more famous metropolises.

Just as the European Games will be highly compact, with all venues within a 30-minute drive of the Athletes’ Village, most of Minsk’s historical and cultural landmarks are also centrally located, including the Minsk Gates, Independence Square, and the Upper (old) City.

For a bird’s eye view of the city skyline, head up to the 23rd floor of the National Library of Belarus, whose futuristic architecture makes it one of the shining symbols of modern Belarus. While there, grab a coffee and read a book, or simply marvel at the work of art that architects Viktor Kramarenko and Mikhail Vinogradov created.

Another must-see is the Museum of the Great Patriotic War located at Victory Park. Equal parts somber and illuminating, the museum details the devastation wrought upon the country under Nazi occupation during World War II, known locally as the Great Patriotic War, during which 2.3 million people lost their lives. It is an experience that will stay with you long after your visit.

Got a few hours to spare in between sports events? You can take a walk along the Svislach river promenade or explore the old city, where you can grab a bite to eat or quench your thirst at one of the many cafes, bars and restaurants that dot the cobblestone streets.

Don’t forget to try the local cuisine, in particular draniki (potato pancakes) and machanka (pork stew), which you can wash down with some excellent local tipple.

Hankering for something from home instead? You will find plenty of culinary options, from Italian restaurants to French cafes to Japanese sushi joints and everything in between. One thing is for certain: You will not go hungry while in Minsk.

As steeped in sport as Minsk is, it goes without saying that the city’s professional ice hockey, football and basketball teams, among others, all benefit from playing in glistening new sports facilities, many of which will be used at this summer’s European Games.

First-time visitors to Europe’s 11th biggest city by population are often taken aback by how clean, green and welcoming it is. At any time of the day, locals can be found practicing sport outdoors in the city’s many parks, river promenades and boulevards, especially in the summer.

You can join them using a fleet of new electric bicycles that will be available for rent during the Games or jog the length of the city on any one of a number of bike and walking lanes.

Making things even easier for foreign visitors to the European Games, a new procedure now allows citizens from 98 countries to enter and stay in Belarus without a visa for 30 days. For those coming to Minsk by car, meanwhile, the road tolls have been waived for the duration of the European Games (10 June-10July).

So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets for Minsk 2019 and we’ll see you, along with Europe’s best athletes, this 21-30 June in Belarus!

For more information on the 2nd European Games, check out the Minsk 2019 website or download the Minsk 2019 app for Android or iOS.

For more information on Minsk and Belarus, please click here.