Belarus Belarus

Ultimate Minsk

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

First mentioned in the 11th century, a couple of centuries later Minsk became part of Lithuania and, in the 16th century, of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Annexed by Russia in the 18th century, Minsk became a provincial center and, after the formation of the Soviet Union, the capital of the Belarusian Soviet Republic.

Following the Nazi invasion in June 1941, Minsk was heavily bombed and occupied a few days later. Under Nazi control, half of Minsk’s population perished and the town became the site of one of the largest ghettos in Europe, believed to have housed some 100,000 Jews. In the final months of the Second World War, in the fights between the Nazi and the Soviet armies, the city was virtually reduced to rubble.

After being recaptured by the Red Army, Minsk’s historic center was gradually rebuilt with Stalinist-style monumental public buildings, wide boulevards and square.

For custom luxury travel and tours to Minsk and Belarus, please contact one of our travel experts.

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Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Arrival in Minsk. You will be met by your private driver who will be waiting for you just outside of customs, after you pick up your luggage. The cost of the flight is not included in your trip. Flight details are TBA.

You will transfer to your deluxe and centrally-located hotel.

This afternoon, your guide and driver will meet you in the hotel lobby for an overview tour of the Belarusian capital city and its Soviet architecture. You will transfer to Independence Square, which some locals still call Lenin Square because of the former Soviet leader’s statue still standing there, to see the imposing Belarusian Government building.

Not far away, you will later see the Red Roman Catholic Church. Actually called the Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena, this beautiful temple was built in the early 1900s, only to be closed by the Soviet authorities a couple of decades later. It has been recently renovated and is again functioning as a religious center.

Continuing along Independence Avenue, you will also see the former KGB building, a yellow Neo-classical structure with imposing colonnade. In the part across the street, one of the few remaining in the former Soviet Union busts of Felix Dzerzhinsky – the founder of the secret service which was the predecessor of the KGB, can still be seen.

You will transfer further north to visit Victory Square with its grey obelisk and the eternal flame honoring the heroes of World War II. Also here, you will see the recently rebuilt Minsk City Hall which again stands on the same spot it was erected back in the 16th century.

Just steps away, St. Mary’s Cathedral was built in the 1700s as part of a Jesuit Monastery. After Minsk became part of the Russian Empire the Jesuit order was banned and the cathedral became part of the local diocese. Under the Soviet regime, the cathedral was closed and fell into disrepair. Recently, the cathedral has been restored and now houses religious services once again.

You will return to your hotel where the rest of the evening will be at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer, Half Day with Guide, Car & Driver 
Hotel: Crowne Plaza

Day 2
Minsk | Minsk

This morning your guide will meet you again in the hotel lobby for a full-day tour of the city’s main sights with private car and driver.

First, you will cross the Svislach River to visit the small Troitskoe Predmestye neighborhood, which was once Minsk’s Old Town. Rebuilt in the style of the 17th-18th century, it is now dotted with small cafes, restaurants and craft shops, and is a great area to explore on foot. Also here, you can see some of the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches and cathedrals which have miraculously survived the Second World War.

Nearby, you will also see the Island of Tears – a monument dedicated to the victims of all wars. It is designed in the form of a chapel decorated with statues of mourning women. Also on the bank of the Svislach River, your guide will point out the apartment building in which Lee Harvey Oswald – a former Marine who defected to the Soviet Union, lived for a couple of years in the 1960s. He even married and had a child before returning to the United States for the alleged assassination of President John Kennedy.

Continuing your tour, you will make a stop at the scenic Yanka Kupala Park with its famous fountain and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. The museum was opened shortly after Minsk was reclaimed from the Nazi army, but before the official end of the Second World War in May 1945, making it the first of its kind. The museum’s impressive collections of over 80,000 items include art, photographs, military uniforms and banners, as well as military equipment and soldiers’ personal effects.

If you are interested, your guide and driver will also take you to the National Art Gallery, which features collections of icons, sculptures and applied art, including pieces by famous Russian painters like Vasnetsov, Repin, Levitan and Makovsky. Western European (French, Italian, Dutch and Flemish) and Oriental art is also well presented.

You will transfer back to your hotel for an evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Full Day with Guide, Car & Driver 
Hotel: Crowne Plaza

Day 3
Minsk – Pleschenitsy | Minsk – Pleschenitsy – Minsk

Early this morning, after meeting with your guide and driver, you will transfer north of Minsk and to the town of Pleschenitsy (Plyeshchanitsy).

First mentioned in the late 15th century as a small village in the Lithuanian Principality, Pleschenitsy was incorporated in the Russian Empire after the partition of Poland a couple of centuries later. In 1812, parts of the retreating army of Napoleon Bonaparte were defeated here by the Russian troops – a crucial victory sometimes referred to as ‘the Russian Waterloo’. In the middle of the 19th century, the village already had a church, a synagogue, a school, a theater, shops and hosted a regional fair twice a year.

During the Second Word War, the village was again the scene of fierce battles between the Red Army, the local resistance movement and the invading Nazi army. Pleschenitsy was almost completely destroyed by the Nazi occupators who also massacred some 2,000 of the population. Nowadays, Pleschenitsy’s population is about 8,000, most of which are engaged in agriculture and food production.

You will enjoy a tour of Pleschenitsy with your guide. Several monuments, small museums and memorial cemeteries are dedicated to the civilian victims, soldiers and resistance fighters who lost their lives in the Second World War. It is believed that the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas first allowed Jews to settle in the area in the early 15th century. Before the Second World War, the town had several synagogues, only one of which survives today and houses a local children’s art center.

Later today, you will transfer back to Minsk and your hotel for an evening at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Full Day with Guide, Car & Driver 
Hotel: Crowne Plaza

Day 4
Departure | Departure

This morning, your driver will meet you in the hotel lobby for a private transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Exeter Services: Transfer Only

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