To Minsk over Baku summary

Belarus was the last country in Europe I didn’t visit yet. I had plans in the last few years but with the Ukaine-Russia war that was suddenly complicated. From Europe getting there would mean obtaining a visa at an embassy in Vienna, Austria. That would mean additional costs and complications. Also, entering the country overland from Poland or Baltic countries could mean problems. But if I flew to/from Minsk visa was not necessary. But again all flights from Europe are cancelled. So flight should be over some city in Asia (Baku, Batumi, Dubai, Tashkent, …). One morning with a hangover I just said to myself lets finish this in 2023 and bought tickets over Baku. Below you can find detailed daily reviews, and other information from this trip. Enjoy reading!

Belarus coat of arms
Belarus coat of arms

Daily review

Transport

Flight

Because there are no flights from Europe to Belarus I flew over Baku. With Wizzair from Budapest to Baku (2.600 km, 3.5h) and Baku to Minsk with Azerbaijan Airlines (2.200 km, 3h). If I bought tickets out of season and upfront it would cost.400 €. But last minute in the new year season it was 600 €.

Wizzair flight was on seats with minimal space, and flight attendants were not too kind. The Azerbaijan Airlines flight was ok, with enough space, average food, old airplane, I had to delete pics from the airplane?

Budapest airport is middle-sized, but not much to do at Skycourt in the morning hours. The flight was from Terminal 2B. Parked on the furthest parking lot, 47 € for 8 days. Baku airport is smaller, If you land at Terminal 2 you should walk to nicer Terminal 1 to buy a SIM card. To the city, I went by bus 1.3 AZM, not on the schedule. Minsk airport is also not too big, and passport control can last longer. I moved to bus to city 5.9 BLR.

Train and metro

On a train, I got from Minsk to Brest and back. 4.5 hours one way. One way was 7 € in a good compartment for myself. Back it was 5 € for not that good ride.

Metro ride in Baku is 0.21 €, 0.4 AZM you need Baki card for public transport, 1 €.

To Minsk over Baku summary 1

Metro in Minsk is 0.25 €, 0.9 BLR, you buy tokens at a station or use a public transportation card.

On the road

Taxi

In Minsk I paid 9 BLR, 2.5 €. In Baku the pickup taxi from the airport was 20 $, 34 AZN, and twice in the city 2-3 €.

Bus (marshrutka)

To Minsk over Baku summary 2

I took a bus from/to the airport in Baku for 1.3 AZM, 0.7 €. Once I got it right away and twice waited for almost 1 hour even though it is scheduled every 30 minutes. So keep that in mind and arrive early at the station.

Also in Minsk, I used the bus 300 E one way and Marshutka 1460-TK on return to the airport, 5.9 BLR one way. The bus is not scheduled between midnight and 2am.

On tour from Baku to Shahdag resort in van for 70 $, 3 hours one way.

Car

I drove from Zagreb to Budapest Airport at the beginning of the trip. And from the airport back home. Pit stops 100 € for 900 km, vignette 14.5 e, parking at the airport 47 € for 8 days.

twingo renault 2001
twingo renault 2001

Walking

As my preferred way of city touring I walked quite a bit, 100 km in 8 days (average 12.5, min 5 km, max 20 km). But that was not a problem, I enjoy walking. Problems were stairs and walking uphill. On the second day, I visited the old town in Baku, the steep stairs in Maiden Tower, and the palace, also most neighborhoods are uphill. From that day on, a big part was walking upward or downward which didn’t agree with me well. Also, Minsk had many stairs while crossing many underpasses over big avenues.

Accommodation

The first night I was driving a car and flying to Baku, so no sleep except for 15 minutes on the plane. The next two nights I spent in City Inn Nizami Boutique Hotel, in a good central area of Nizami, 42 € for 2 nights, but not 4 stars, stairs to 2nd floor, rooms similar to privates in a hostel, breakfast. Shortly OK for that price in the holiday season. Again it was one night on an airplane/airport/station. In Minsk I took Boutique Hotel Buta, 5 star, for two nights 116 €, central location, all services as expected in this range of hotels, I even went to the spa one morning and found it on Expedia, Booking showed no vacancy for Minsk. Also OK. Again on return spent the night on an airplane/airport/station. Last night in Baku I spent in Eminera Hostels Baku, 9 €, good location, new, clean, and empty, and the owner prepared me breakfast.

To Minsk over Baku summary 3
spa in hotel

Together were 167 € (21 € per night) but this meant no sleep in bed 3 times, 1 night hostel, 2 nights in not great hotel, and 2 nights in luxury.

Food and drinks

On this trip, it was mainly fast food on my menu. In Baku, I ate sandwiches (1.5 €, 3 €, 10 €), kebab 3 €, KFC 6 €; some biscuits water, and bananas from the shop (5 €).

KFC Baku
KFC Baku

In Minsk 3 € at the shop and 6 € for Burger King. Dinner with beer 6 € in a self-service restaurant. Finger food and Belgian beer in a hipster place for 10 €. 2+2 € shop again. 3.5 € kebab with coke. Fancy tourist dinner with three courses and 0.5l of wine for 23 €. Pastry from bakery 0.6 €.

To Minsk over Baku summary 4

Beer in Baku was from 1.5 € for local beer in a bar, 3€ at the airport, and Shahdag to 7 € for Heineken in the nightclub. Cigarettes from 1 € to 5 € for Marlboro. In many kiosk you can buy single cigarette. A few times I drank tea for free.

beer in baku
beer in baku

In Minsk, beer and coke were 3.5 € from the mini-bar in the hotel, and beer was from 1.7 to 2.5 € in bars, and in shops 0.5 €. Gin tonic in fancy place 9 €. Cigarettes were around 1.3 €. A few times I drank tea for free.

To Minsk over Baku summary 5

Sights

I was already this year in Azerbaijan on my Caucasus adventure. Besides the capital city Baku, I visited close by Yanar Dag, Ateshgah, and Gobustan. In the western part of the country Diri Baba mausoleum, Shamakhi, Sheki, Kish, and Ganja. This time I was again in Baku, mostly in a walled old town (Maiden Tower, Palace of the Shirvanshahs; UNESCO), city center, and graveyard. Also one day trip to Shahdag resort.

In Belarus, I was mainly in the capital city Minsk (Independence Avenue-Праспект Незалежнасці, with many large government buildings, Lenin statue, Church of Saints Simon and Helena; old town with Revolution Street and churches; parks and Svislach river; National library, suburbs, …). One day I went to Brest by train but stayed there just half an hour.

Weather

Driving to Budapest was the worst weather; from fog to rain and snow, temperatures were around 0. On the way back it was better.

In Baku, it was 15 during the day and 5 degrees during the night, but it was very windy and felt much colder. In Shadag during the day around 0, when the sun got behind peak it was below zero.

In Minsk, it was most of the time around 0, some rain and snow. But again it was windy and felt much colder. Still, it was warm for December.

Budget

I spent 170 € for accommodation. All transports were around 910 € (600 € flights, 160 € car, 70 € tour, 12 € train, 20 € taxi, 20 € public transport). Two visas for Azerbaijan 50 €. SIM cards 30 €. Food and drinks 200 €. Misc 60 €. Together around 1500 €.

But it could be much cheaper, 200 € less on flights with some planning, 100 € less for accommodation if it were only hostels, 100 € less for getting to Budapest and back, 100 € less for drinks. No SIM cards and misc were necessary. A truly budget option can be done for 900 €.

In Azebaijan they have currency Manat (AZN). 1 € is approximately 1.9 AZN. You can pay with card (Maestro/Visa), get cash from ATM (extra charge/fee), exchange €/$, even pay some things in $.

In Belarus currency is Rubelj (BYN/BLR). 1 € is approximately 3.5 BYN. You can pay with card (Maestro/Visa), get cash from ATM (extra charge/fee), exchange €/$.

To Minsk over Baku summary 6

Visa/telecommucation

A visa for Azerbaijan can be obtained online, for 26 $. But it is only possible to get a Single entry, so I needed two. The second one I ordered when I was at the airport in Baku before my flight to Minsk.

SIM card I bought at the airport, close to the exit at Terminal 1. They complicate with payment, you need to pay in a bank close to the office. Also with one phone, you can buy just one SIM card? I got 6 GB for 1 month, 23 €. There are cheaper options but I choose the easiest.

A visa for Belarus is necessary if you cross it overland. That is why I flew over Azerbaijan. You need insurance foe 10.000 $ and 25 $ for each day you stay. At passport control, I was put aside and had additional explaining to do because there were not many people from Europe there, but they let me go after 15 minutes.

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