Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk | Photo: Benny Reiter

When it comes to asking travellers about Belarusian cities they’ve heard about, quite often the only answer is Minsk. We’ve decided to compile a list of the best cities to visit in Belarus that are no less exciting than the capital.

Brest

Brest is the second largest city in Belarus. It played a crucial role in the Second World War. The Brest Fortress was used to defend the frontier stronghold during the war, when Nazi German troops invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The memorial has become a place of national pride and grief, and a popular tourist attraction. While on an excursion to Brest, visit the barracks, forts and other fortifications, a museum and monuments of the fortress.

If you would like to have a walk around the city to feel its atmosphere, then head to Savietskaya Street. This is the main pedestrian street and is usually is flooded with people in the evenings. There you can enjoy a cup of coffee or have a tasty dinner in one of the cafes. Wait until the sunset and you will see the famous lamplighter lighting kerosene lanterns – a moment worth waiting for. Besides that, there is an Avenue of Lanterns in Brest, and every lamp installed there is dedicated to a work by Gogol, the famous Russian writer.

Other places to visit in Brest are the Winter Garden with exotic plants, the beautiful St. Nicolas Brethren Church, the Museum of History of the City of Brest, the Natural History Museum, the Art Museum and Niemcevichi Manor. You can also listen to an organ concert at the Church of St. Cross. If you prefer recreational activities, then go to the Park of May 1st to meditate on the bench on a sunny day.

Those who would like to dive into Belarusian culture will find many places like Hruntounya and projects like Kryly Khalopa interesting – they organize cultural evenings, presentations, workshops, concerts and performances.

Don’t forget to have a walk in the oldest European forest – Białowieża Forest. There you can meet bison, watch the birds, and see trees of hundreds years old.

Nesvizh

During the 16th century, Nesvizh became an ancestral home for one of the richest and most significant families in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Radziwiłł. The Kings of Poland regularly paid visits to the castle. The Nesvizh castle occupies 90 hectares and is surrounded by a moat and a beautiful park. Enjoy the various architectural styles there like baroque, renaissance, modernism and neoclassicism. Learn the legends of this castle – they are truly impressive.

Polotsk

Polotsk can be rightly called the religious capital of Belarus. The key attraction here is the Saint Sophia Cathedral, due to which the city became a cultural mecca as well. This is the first church made of stone in Belarus. There you can take a walk through the cellars, see the fragments of the very first building, and listen to one of the best organs in the country.

See the Western Dvina and don’t miss the Boris stone, which, according to legends, grants wishes. All you need to do is to lean against the stone, make a wish, walk around the stone three times – and – voila – wait till your dream comes true. 

Nižnie-Pakroŭskaja street is the best street to go have a walk. Enjoy a fountain view and have a look at the monument to Francysk Skaryna in praspiekt Francysk Skaryna. More culture-inspired ways to spend a day here is to visit the Museum of the Belarusian Book-printing, Polotsk Art Gallery or the Museum of Traditional Manual Weaving of Poozerye.

Grodno

This is the only Belarusian city to have 2 castles, the New and the Old Grodno Castles. They can be easily found on Zamkavaja street.

In Grodno, you can find some historic buildings from the times when Grodno made part of Poland. While on an excursion to Grodno, you will also find many beautiful churches like Kaložskaja Church, Liuteranskaja kircha (Lutheran Church), Katedra Jezuitów św. Franciszka Ksawerego, Vialikaja Charaĺnaja Sinahoha (the Great Choral Synagogue) and many others.

Savieckaja street is paved with cobblestone and was one of the first streets in the country to become pedestrian. On Zamkavaja street, you can try to find Mona Lisa – look closely at the front part of the firehouse.

The twin towers Kasia and Basia host studios of Grodno artists. No one knows why they are called this way but they are definitely a must-see place.

Make sure to visit the Kryga gallery. The gallery hosts exhibitions of the Belarusian contemporary art. Visit the Museum of Smoothing Iron, the State Museum of Religion history, and the Museum of City Lifestyle for some interesting and unusual exhibitions.

To watch a play, head to Liaĺki theater, which was built in the 18th century, or the drama theatre to watch popular plays like Fahrenheit 451.

Vitebsk

Vitebsk is often referred to as a small capital of the Renaissance. It is also called the mecca of Belarusian artists and is the birthplace of such outstanding people as Ossip Zadkine and Marc Chagall. 

If you want to explore this wonderful city on foot, then start your journey at Tysiacheletya Square. There you can catch the reconstruction of the Blagovestchenie Cathedral, the first building made of stone in Vitebsk. Don’t forget to go to the Tolstoy street to see the late 19th – early 20th centuries buildings. There you will find a house of a famous doctor Gibental who proved that plaster can be used for medical purposes.

Some churches worth visiting while on an excursion to Vitebsk are Uspenskiy Cathedral, Sviatoj Varvary Church, Voskresenskaya Church, and the Bazilian monastery – they have a long and interesting history so make sure to learn more about them. If you’re a tombstone enthusiast, head to the Staroobryadcheskoye and Starosemenovskoe cemeteries. At Staro-Ulanovichskoe cemetery there are graves of many famous Belarusians.

If you are more interested in the cultural aspect, head to Yakub Kolas theater which is located near the Dvina River. At National Academic theater and the Lialka will give you nothing but pleasure.

Don’t forget to visit Marc Chagall Art Center, Vitebsk musical College, regional natural history museum, Art Museum on Lenina street, a center of contemporary art, and a private gallery Stena – these places will provide you with emotional charge and inspiration. 

Gomel

It feels like Gomel was built for relaxation. There you can enjoy walks the streets with long bridges and beautiful architecture. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Pieramohi Parkway, which is nice and cozy to walk on a sunny day.

Another cool place to see is the Park of Gomel which is located along the Sož river and gained fame for its unique plant collection.

The Palace of Rumiancavy-Paškievičy will let you learn how Russian aristocracy lived and feel the atmosphere of those times.

At the Gomel Palace & Park Ensemble, you will find a swan pond, a cathedral, a winter garden, an amusement park, a watchtower, and the family vault of the Paškievičy.

At the Gramyka Park also known as Pijanierski Skver you will meet characters from famous fairy tales. There is a puppet theater behind the park. 

Those who lead an active lifestyle can go skating at an Ice Palace or Solnechny ice rink. 

Art lovers can choose among the Drama Theater, The Youth Theater, and the Puppet Theater. If you’re a cinemagoer, then head to one of the three cinemas: Oktyabr, Kalinina or Mir. At Vaschenko Art Gallery you can enjoy over hundreds of works of Belarusian artists – you won’t regret visiting it.

Feeling this is not enough? Pay a visit to one of the museums and enjoy a brief excursion into history. Choose which you like best: the Museum of Military Glory, Vietka Museum, the Museum of Criminal Science , or the Museum of History of the City of Gomel.

Mogilev

Whether on an excursion or on a business trip, you’ll never get bored in Mogilev. The key squares with bustling city life are: Lenina, Zvyozdnaja and Slavy. They are united by the Lenina street – the key pedestrian street in the city, sometimes referred to as Mogilev Broadway. In the morning the street is full with workers and students rushing to work or studies while in the evening it turns into the city’s key happening place. It is very popular among street musicians.
To see the city from above climb up to the observation deck. Go to the Square of Glory and enjoy the view that opens to the Dnieper river or simply go downstairs to take a closer look at the river and take a selfie with Mogilev lions.

If you are looking for cultural enlightenment, head to History Museum of Mogilev, Mogilev Regional Museum of Local Lore, and Mogilev Museum of Ethnography. They are located very close to each other so you can visit all of them on the same day. If you prefer art over history then visit the Maslenikaŭ and Białynicki-Birula art museums.

Mogilev has a developed cinema culture – pick one of the five cinemas and enjoy new films on a big screen.

If you are a theatergoer, you will be pleasantly surprised by the Drama Theater and the Puppet Theater. The latter one will break down the common prejudice that puppet theaters are meant only for children.

Don’t want to waste time booking hotels and tickets? We have a ready-made offer for you! G4Tour provides customized tours for travelers who want to dive into Belarusian culture and history and feel themselves like locals for a few days. Learn more about our tours of Belarus.