Bicycle tours in Minsk, Belarus: every inch of the road is thought out

All-inclusive: 3 cycling routes in Belarus

It’s a good idea to get out of Minsk to remember (or find out) that beyond the ring begins untouched nature, welcoming people and historical relics. Many of them can be easily reached by bicycle. And now you can do it with comfort. We are happy to advise you and Biketours.by, the first swallow of organized bicycle tourism in Belarus, how you can comfortably ride your bicycle across the country and give you 3 proved routes. If you want, you may pack your tent and ride it by yourself, or you may gather a team of your friends and book a tour tailored for you and put all your worries out of your mind.

How do bicycle tours work?

Fully supported bike tours are a new type of bicycle tourism for Belarus. There are always enthusiasts who plan the route themselves and can ride their bikes through any swamp. Bicycle tours are useful when you want to have a rest, not to plan the operation “Spin the pedals” and keep in mind the retreat plan. You can set off on your own, gather your colleagues for a coproutine, or entertain your guests while you yourself are busy working. It’s simple: you choose the route, and the rest will be done for you. Tour organizers will find a suitable bike, good food and decent accommodation, and do not forget to bring spare parts, and tell about the places you will pass through. Bicycle tours around the world have already explored the Mekong Delta and Angkor Wat, crossed the United States and followed Napoleon’s road from France to Russia – the cost of such tours can be up to several thousand euros. In Belarus, Biketours.by is very good at it. They will take you for a ride with all conveniences for BYN 400 – 600.

What exactly is included in the price?

The tour organizers provide you with a bike suitable for such trips (they can repair it right on the way if needed), comfortable accommodation in a hotel or a hostel, transportation of your luggage to your next stop, meals in local cafes and even tickets to museums and public transportation en route.

Do you have to be an athlete?

The short answer is that you don’t have to. And in more detail, the tours can be of varying degrees of complexity. Some are designed for a relaxing weekend trip, others are many hundreds of kilometers through the mountains in Asia. To drive a tour in Belarus, you won’t need special skills. You just need to know how to drive a bike and have some stamina. You can practice on the bicycle paths in Minsk.

Why in Belarus?

Belarus is a great place for cycling: there aren’t many cars yet, the fields and forests aren’t privately owned, which means you can safely ride around, enjoying the nature, small villages with colorful houses and storks’ nests on every tree, while exploring all the sights. On the other hand, infrastructure issues still leave a lot to be desired: not all trails through the fields are marked on maps, and with a place to sleep and eat can be a problem. This can be a problem if you plan the route yourself – and it will be solved for you by the tour organizers.

To prove the compatibility of Belarus and cycling, here are three routes from the Biketours.by arsenal.

Route 1. Minsk – Molodechno – Vileika – Vileika reservoir

Molodechno

Get from Minsk to Molodechno by train and dedicate at least half a day to this place: it’s one of the few towns in Belarus where you’ll ride along the streets named after Ignat Buinitsky, Yazep Drozdovich and Konstantin Ostrozhsky (instead of Lenin, Dzerzhinsky and Komsomolskaya). Take a ride down Veliky Gostinets Street, linger on Central Square with its fountain and frank sculpture. By the way, once upon a time there was a railroad track through this square, built in 1944 to bypass the tracks, which were destroyed by bombing raids. The railroad no longer exists, but you can still find a bas-relief with railroad symbols – toothed wheel and crescent wrench – on one of the buildings (Pritytskogo St., 67).

It’s also worth visiting Victory Park with its artificial ponds, which appeared in the park thanks to “Dozhinki 2011” – they were arranged on the site of a nameless stream, a tributary of the Usha River. Here you can also see an alley with coats of arms of Belarusian cities.

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You can also visit the church of St. Casimir (Velikiy Gostinets Street), which was twice converted into the church of different confessions and the monument “Stalag 342” (Zamkovaya Street), which was built during the Second World War. You can stay overnight in the main city hotel right on the central square – “Molodechno” (Central Square, 3). A single room costs € 20, a double room costs € 27. The most beautiful view of the city!

Vileika

Vileika was first mentioned in chronicles in 1460. Here go to Lenin Square to see the beautiful Church of the Exaltation of the Cross (with neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic features) from 1906, the Church of St. Mary of Egypt (built in 1865, note the clock and the round window) and the monument to Lenin. Multiculturalism in action! There is also a more unusual monument in Vileika – a machine for delivery of gas cylinders near the building of “Raigaz”. It is worth seeing the Polish military cemetery from 1920 and appreciating the building of the railway station and the water tower next to it. It was built in 1915 and the railroad itself ran through the town in 1907: it was on the route between St. Petersburg and Warsaw.

Vileika reservoir

The Vileika reservoir is the largest artificial reservoir in Belarus, which was created to provide water for the growing Minsk (for this purpose nine villages had to be moved out and several thousand graves moved). Together with the reservoir a water canal was also built, which connected the Vilija and the Svisloch. People come here for fishing, to go sailing, or just to sit on the shore, looking at the waves. And the Vilija River, the largest tributary of the Neman, continues to flow on to Vilnius and Kaunas (though it changes its name to Neris in Lithuania). Drive around the reservoir to find your best place to meditate.

Route 2. Smorgonj – Žodiški – Soly – Herviaty – Dubok – Župrany

Smorgon

In Smorgon, it is advisable to see the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, which was built in 1606 – 1612 as a Calvinist temple on the funds of Juri Zenovich. It is an original monument of Renaissance architecture. The descendants of Zenovich converted to Catholicism and the temple was given to the Catholics, and in 1858 it was restored – the frescoes inside were painted by the artist from Galicia Ilapovich. After the uprising in 1863, the church was given to the Orthodox, and after the WWI it was returned to the Catholics, with the dome painted by the Belarusian painter Piotr Sergievich. During Soviet times it was used as a store and a store, and only in 1990 the church was turned back to the Catholics again.

Župrany

In this small town you can admire the most beautiful neo-Gothic church of Saints Peter and Paul. It was built in the XIX century (more precisely in 1854 – 1875), and the wooden church on its site existed in 1550. At the end of the XVI century Zhuprany belonged to the Radziwills, many of whom were Calvinists – then the temple was used accordingly. In the 19th century the place was taken over by the Chapskys, who started building a stone church. However, the case was interrupted by the uprising of 1863: the construction had to be postponed. It was finished only by 1875. You can make a pilgrimage to František Bogusević’s grave at the cemetery near the church – he was buried in the church in 1900.

Soly

The main point in Soly is unusual Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Art Nouveau style. It was built in the 1930s and inside there are unusual frescoes “Defense of Czestochowa” and “Miracle over the Vistula”. After your visit to the church, you can visit the Jewish cemetery or admire the scenery on the banks of the Oszmyanka River.

Gerviaty

Many people think the church of St. Trinity in Geryviaty is the most beautiful church in Belarus, and it is difficult to argue with them: this miracle of Neogothic should be seen with your own eyes. The church was erected in the early XX century on the place of the old church, which had stood there since the XVI century. For the construction of the church, a brick factory was built behind Gervati, the lime was made from stones taken from the nearby river Loše, and the tiles were brought from Germany. All the expenses were worth it: with a height of 61 meters the church is the highest in Belarus and is built according to all the Gothic canons. It is also worth a walk through the neat park around and take a look at the old water mill in the “half-timbered” style. It is believed to have been built in 1875. The mill produced electricity until the 1930s and was in working order until World War II. The building was restored in the 1980s, and now it looks as good as new – and you can have coffee inside.

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Dubki

On the outskirts of the village you will find a preserved example of wooden and stone sacral architecture – a chapel, a moss-covered brama, and a chapel-shrine, built in 1928.

Žodiški

Here you can see the austere Church of the Holy Trinity (Pervomayskaya ul. 2). It was built in the XVII century, and was rebuilt in the early XIX century. The austerity and simplicity of lines have their explanation – the temple was built according to ascetic Calvinist principles. Note the beautiful entrance fence. In Žodišky you can also visit a distillery of the end of the XIX century, a water mill, and an old Catholic cemetery.

Route 3. Ivacevichi – Kosovo – Ruzhany – Voronilovichi

Ivatsevichi

Start the route in Ivatsevichi, where you can get by train. The next point is Kossovo, but still on the road (1 km north of the city, to the right of the highway to Kossovo), you can look at an interesting object: the point of the Struve Geodetic Arc. The Struve Arc is the largest instrument for measuring the Earth (2820 km), and a true monument of scientific and technological thought in the 19th century. This geodetic instrument was created under the supervision of astronomer and mathematician, the first director of Pulkovo Observatory, Vasily Yakovlevich Struve, during almost 40 years. It had 265 triangulation points in 10 countries of Europe. In Belarus, the greatest number of Struve Arc sites has survived – 19 (and they are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites).

Kossovo

Here you can admire the Puslowski Palace – it’s a real neo-Gothic castle. The powerful building has 12 towers, each responsible for one month of the year. “Summer” towers in the center – are responsible for the period from May to August. Two days a year, the sun fully illuminates one room – in the days of the Puslowskis, “room days” were held there during the “sunny period.” As in many travels in Belarus, here you’ll have to turn on your imagination: the palace’s interior decoration has not survived. Imagine the Black Hall, where cards were played, the White Marble Hall, where balls were held, the Pink Hall, which was intended for concerts; the glass floor, under which bright fish were swimming and the underground tunnels, through which a carriage could pass. After the palace, be sure to visit Kosciuszko’s manor house, you can also see the Trinity Church of 1877, where Kosciuszko was baptized.

Różany

Once the Ruzhan palace was the “Belarusian Versailles”: at the beginning of the XVII century the castle was laid there – Leo Sapega, Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, took part in the construction. Three defensive towers were added to make it strong. Important state matters were discussed in Ruzhany, receptions were held, the Sapieha archives were kept here, and the state treasury was stored in the cellar. After the defeat of the uprising in 1831, the Sapiegas left the residence and a weaving factory was organized in the palace. During World War I a fire broke out in the palace, and World War II put the finishing touches to it, leaving only majestic ruins. Now you can go to the museum (15a Urbanovicha Street) and learn the whole history of the place – there are 4 rooms and a fascinating tour. Also look at the Church of the Holy Trinity (Pervomaiskaya str, 12 ), built in 1617 in the Baroque style (which after reconstruction turned into Classicism) and Peter and Paul Church (17 September) – also baroque, but already 1778.

After such a rich cultural and historical program you can have a picnic on the shore of the lake Papernya and the river Zelvyanka, and passing Voronilovichi you can have a look at the church of St. Vladimir. Further your way through the forests, fields, small rivers and villages Zapolje and Goshchevo takes you back to Ivatsevichi.

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If you want to find the perfect combination of adventure and comfort – go on a trip with Biketours.by: they are avid bikers who are sincerely in love with Belarus and will take you to proven places to eat and sleep, offer great bikes, technical support in case something breaks while riding, and can even do the tour on demand (great idea for a corporate party). And if you ride in a group, there’s a chance to hang out with foreigners and brush up on your English. Take advantage of it!

Belarus in 5 Days! A guide for those who want to go to Belarus =)

This time I want to share about our trip to Belarus. In this post I will try to tell you briefly and concisely how in 5 days you can see the whole country (I exaggerate, of course, but you can see really much). I think this entry will help someone to plan their trip to this wonderful country.

So, taking into account the holiday in Russia, two days of vacation and two days off, we had a whole 5 days to spend on vacation. Since the weather during these days was good and sunny, there was a mood to go somewhere carefree summer. We thought of going to Karelia – but we refused the idea, as it was just these days cool and rainy there – some other time… Having discussed all pros and cons, we decided to go to Belarus.

– Time en route – 5 days – Route (Moscow – Smolensk – Minsk – Mir – Nesvizh – Nekhachevo – Kossovo – Brest – Belovezhskaya Pushcha – Minsk – Vyazma – Moscow) – 2400 km – Visited 3 major cities: Smolensk, Minsk, Brest – Passed a couple dozen small towns – We looked 4 medieval castles: Mirsky castle, Nesvizhsky castle, Palace of Puslowski, Ruzhansky palace – Visited 10 museums – Visited the legendary and heroic Brest fortress – Drove to the border with Poland – Rode 45 km on bikes in the national reserve “Belovezhskaya Pushcha” – Competed in speed with a stork – Estimated a herd of bison – Ate fifty potato flies – Destroyed 2 million mosquitoes and flies =)

We left Moscow about 12 pm, and in half an hour we were on the Minsk highway. I have never driven on this road further than Naro-Fominsk. In general, I can say that the road is not bad, the surface is flat. To tell the truth, I thought the lanes were a little narrow, and the dividing line was mostly posts with cables. Can’t say it bothered us much.

With gas stations, coffee, minor traffic jams, etc., we arrived in Smolensk by 4 pm. Smolensk is the first sightseeing stop. It is a very beautiful ancient Russian city, the city-hero. There are many places of interest. We looked at the Assumption Cathedral, Smolensk Fortress, went to a museum in one of the towers of the fortress, saw an exhibition of military equipment in the central square, waited out the downpour and went to lunch at the restaurant “Temnitsa”, which is located directly in the fortress wall. There is a very wide choice of game dishes (wild boar, elk, poultry) and a great view of the Dnieper River, and importantly, there is parking. So I recommend it =).

After having lunch and having washed numerous traces of insects off the glass, we went further in the direction of Belarus. To the border from Smolensk is about 65 km. On the way we have stopped near the Katyn memorial complex. It is a sad and known place, so we couldn’t pass by, we stopped, went for a walk in those places. And we have thought once again, how many things the Russian people have gone through on the way of the history.

We drove on. In about half an hour we have been at the border of Russia and Belarus. Actually, there is no border – you can just drive by yourself, and they don’t stop you, don’t check you. It’s very nice that it is so. To understand that you are traveling in the territory of another country, you can only by a symbolic obelisk, signs, and that’s all. Everything else is the same, the same signs, the same roads, everything is the same as in our country.

On-board navigator, by the way, warned that we entered the territory of Belarus, and gave an alert with the allowed speeds, which are in force in this country. And in this respect, the Belarusians are good – the allowed speed on the highways is higher =) Let’s move on. Roads are great, there were not a lot of cars – only trucks, there were almost no cars. Had the impression that we were the only ones going to Minsk. Traffic of local cars is virtually absent. I do not know. Maybe because it was a weekday. But, looking ahead, I say that throughout the rest of the trip it was the same. There were very few cars traveling between the cities.

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No hotels were booked in advance. We did everything on the road and on the go, it allowed us to be mobile, not to rush anywhere, and not to look at the clock. On the way to Minsk, my wife booked an apartment in the city center, opposite the KGB building. The apartment is decent, the price is reasonable – 2500 rubles. Nearby is a good little restaurant “Cornflowers”. The cuisine is a separate topic for a story. I will say one thing, the Belarusian cuisine – it is very delicious. Draniki, pickles, mushrooms, sausages, meat. All very cool – had a gastronomic orgasm from this trip =).

The next morning, we had breakfast in the same restaurant “Vasilki”, and went to see Minsk. If you can describe Minsk in one word – it is a very spacious city. Wide avenues and streets. Everywhere is clean, well-groomed. And in general, in general, you can say about the whole Belarus. I haven’t seen a single abandoned field during the whole trip. All fields are cultivated, the roads are good, even in the deep periphery. You can see that the country has a Landlord. There are no traffic jams. In Minsk, first we went to the bank to change money. We were surprised that banks are open from 10am to 6pm, and do not work on weekends. I can’t tell if all banks have the same mode of operation, but there you go. By the way, about the money. One Belarusian ruble is about 32 Russian rubles. So we quite quickly adapted to the local price tags – you multiply by 30, like a dollar in the good old days =) When withdrawing cash, we did not know that almost everywhere you can easily pay with cards and phone – this is very cool! But cash, of course, is better to have for small things like strawberries, water, etc. After the bank, we went to a mobile phone shop and bought a local SIM card with the Internet. We paid about 450 rubles for a week of unlimited communication and traffic. We went for a walk in the center of the city, in the Victory Park, on the Svisloch quay, and went on from the city.

Our next point of visit was Mir Castle. It is a medieval castle built in the 16th century. A beautiful building. Restored and renovated completely. Inside, there is a museum, we took a personal guide there, who told and showed us for two hours the whole history of the castle. Pretty interesting – I recommend it. Nearby there is a pond, in which it is better not to swim (according to legend the pond is cursed, and people drown in it to this day).

Stop #5 – Farny Corpus Christi Church

After the tour of the Mirsky castle we went to the town of Nesvizh. It is not so far to go. Upon arrival, we immediately went to see the Church of the Body of the Lord. This Catholic first Jesuit church in the territory of Rzeczpospolita has survived all the wars and troubles since it was built in 1584. The temple inside is very richly and beautifully painted.

On the opposite shore of the lake is another steep castle with a moat and rampart – Nesvizh Castle. Inside there are many halls with various decorations. The castle has been completely restored. We did not take a tour. As the theme is the same as in the Mirsky Castle, and the owners of the castle are basically the same – the Radziwill family, once owned those lands.

Having seen enough castles, we went to a local restaurant, located opposite the entrance to the Nesvizh castle, called “Khata something there…”. Again insanely delicious food … After that we went further in the direction of Brest. On the way we chose the hotel “Gostiny Dvor Nehachevo”. If you have a chance to be there – you will be very surprised: in the middle of the fields, villages, villages, near the railroad and the highway, there is an old post office from the times of the Russian Empire. It is the object of cultural heritage of Byelorussia, in which there is a great colorful hotel with a chic restaurant, excellent filling, a courtyard and a quite good bar. There is even a bowling alley. We spent the night there with pleasure, had a good breakfast in the morning and went on our way.

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The Nehachevo post station was built in the 1840s during the reign of Nicholas I. It was part of the Moscow-Varshavskoye Highway. It is a cultural heritage site.

On the way we were shocked by…storks. There are oooooo many of them in this region. In every roadside village we passed, practically every house has a nest of storks on a pole in front of it. It’s a funny sight.

The next point of visit is another castle, probably the most beautiful of all, and located in the most fortunate place, in my opinion. This is the Palace of the Puslowskis. The castle itself is under restoration, the facade part is ready. There is a museum there too, but we did not visit it, because it was open from 11, and we had no time to wait. We went further.

The Puslovskih palace in Kossovo. Very beautiful castle. Now it is under reconstruction. I think that the restoration will not last long. The position of this castle is in the most beautiful place. From the windows of the castle you have a very beautiful view of the surroundings

This courtyard was once a very cool architectural structure. Currently, it is slowly being restored. The front part has been restored completely and the right front of the buildings is being restored slowly. There is a museum here too, we had a look, it was interesting. After that we went further in the direction of Brest.

Brest Fortress. A place of must-see. The place where in 1918 the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty was signed, which essentially took Russia out of the First World War. Here, during the first days of World War II, heroic defenders defended for a month and a day. Hitler planned to take the fortress in one day, but did not take even a month. A place steeped in patriotism, heroism and blood. When you look at the ruins of the fortress, with horror you imagine what happened here in 1941.

Now it is a sacred place for Russians and Belarusians. Oaths are taken here, diplomas and state awards are presented. We took a guide who told us for 3 hours about the events that took place here, we saw the museum and walked around the fortress. It was very interesting. Once again, if you go to Belarus – you should definitely come here!

After Brest Fortress, we stopped at the restaurant “near the lake” nearby. Nice place, good cuisine. The Belarusian dishes were again a pleasant gastronomic experience. After lunch we went to Brest, walked in the center. The city with a thousand years of history. It is very beautiful, clean and quiet. After seeing the main sites, we decided to move on.

Our next destination was the famous Belovezhskaya Pushcha. It is the national nature park of Belarus. It is a protected nature reserve. For more than 600 years, this place has been a protected area. There is a really untouched nature. The centuries-old forests, animals, clean air. We stayed at a hotel right in the forest, we stayed overnight well. Service at the level, a good restaurant. You can try bison, venison and other game from the local hunting grounds. The hotel complex has a swimming pool, gym, restaurant, bicycle rental. Nearby there are pens with wild animals of local fauna. In the morning we had breakfast, rented bikes, and went for a ride =). There are several biking trails, you can choose a suitable distance and attractions. We were not attached to the routes, and just rode through the woods at our pleasure. We reached the frontier post at the border with Poland, went to the residence of the Belarusian Santa Claus, and on the way we saw a wild deer, crossing the road. In total we have traveled 45 kilometers. It was an active and interesting vacation. We decided for myself that we will definitely come back here =).

One of the numerous natural landscapes of Belovezhskaya Pushcha which we saw on the bicycle route

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