Places for kids to learn, to walk, to dine
It’s the middle of summer vacation, and the seasonal break from school is in full swing. However, by now, the kids are probably bored with the nearest “ploshadka” (playground) and sandpit. So, the reporters of TUT came to the rescue!
Here is a list of some of the most interesting places fun walks, educational exploration, kid’s entertainment, and children’s dining in the city of Minsk.
Places to Learn
The “za-ah-park,” as your kid is apt to call it in Russian, has a the most exotic collection of animals and rare species of fauna in Belarus. Founded in 1984 by members of the nearby Minsk Automobile Plant, it has even an outdoor classroom called “Horses and Ponies” that provides lessons in riding skills. There is also a petting area where children can interact with the animals.
But there’s a catch: the attractions that attract the most children in the summer tend to captivate very large crowds, especially the exhibits of rare birds and lions.
The Nemo Dolphinarium can be found on the zoo grounds, and it serves as a modern year-round educational entertainment center. For an additional fee, visitors can swim with the four Pacific dolphins (Hercules, Vita, Mika, and Hugo, all of whom accompany the sea lion Nicholas in shows, cost is 500,000-1 million BYR) and get a commemorative photo with them (100,000 BYR with your own camera),
Location: Tashkentskaya Street 40 (cross Ubarevicha Street)
Metro: Autazavodskaya (Autobus 16, 21, 22, Trolleybus 16, 17, 26, 92, distance 1.5 kilometers south)
Zoo Admission: 30,000 BYR (Children under age 5 get in free)
Dolphinarium Admission: 105,000-140,000 BYR, depending on show (Children under 5, orphans, and disabled people get in free)
Hours: Zoo is open all days, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Dolphinarium shows are on Tuesday-Friday at noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m., and on weekends at noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. (closed Monday).
A tour of this children’s public educational center will take you on a journey around the world to the Earth’s four oceans (five if you include the Mediterranean Sea among them). Children first step into the zone covering the environment of the Atlantic Ocean, then move on to the world’s largest ocean, the Pacific, and then onward to the Indian Ocean. Along with plunging into the depths to view the sea life, exhibits describe the cultures of countries whose shores are washed by the ocean, allowing them a better understanding of the people who depend on them. The Center for Oceanography is constructed in such a way that it clearly connects the everything into one cozy little planet.
Location: Brylyewskaya Street 3 (near the Railwaymen’s Palace of Culture)
Metro: Instytut Kultury (600 meters to the south)
Admission: 25,000 BYR for adults, 20,000 BYR for children
Hours: Every day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
During the summer months, the Minsk Planetarium arranges cycles of multimedia educational programs for primary school children. Among the titles are “Starry Tale” (“Zvezdnaya Skazka”), “Visiting the Sun and Moon” (“V gostyakh u Solntsa i Luny”), among others. The planetarium has been the first in Belarus to show spherical panorama movies (IMAX, etc.), which are shown on a dome covering 360 degrees of projection. The view sits back under the dome and watches the movie all around. Secondary school-aged children will likely find “Two Glasses, Amazing Telescope” (“Dva steklyshka. Udivitelny Teleskop”) interesting.
Location: Frunze Street 2 (near the Maxim Gorky Central Children’s Park)
Metro: Ploscha Pieramohi (2 blocks away)
Admission: 22,000 BYR for adults, 15,000-18,000 BYR for children
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday. Times vary, but shows start typically between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Visit their website for more exact showtimes.
The Minsk Botanical Gardens is one of the largest in Europe with an area of 153 hectares (378 acres). The collection includes more than 9,000 different plant species. In the greenhouse maintained by the National Academy of Sciences, exotic tropical and subtropical plants are on display, including bamboo,, figs, orchids, eucalyptus, and laurel (entrance is separate from the gardens, at a cost off 15,000 BYR, no matter the age). Tours can be booked, but visitors can also walk the grounds on their own.
Location: Central Entrance is off Ploshcha Kalinina (Kalinin Square) on Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi.
Metro: Park Chaliuskintsau (back towards the city center)
Admission: 30,000 BYR for adults, 15,000 BYR for children, students, and senior citizens
Hours: Wednesday – Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Republican Center contains a large number of activities that are designed to get young people into environmental science, and encourage protection of the country’s ecology. Individual entry includes tours of the “Urban Jungle” Greenhouse, the aquarium, area wildlife displays, and access to the ecological and biological complexes. A guided tour through the greenhouse lasts 40 minutes and introduces individuals to the plants found there. A comprehensive tour of the center includes a visit to the petting zoo, the mini zoo, the aquarium, the garden room, and the Nature and Art gallery.
Location: 8 Makayonka Street (off the east side of Park Chaliuskintsau)
Metro: Park Chaliuskintsau (600 meters away, across the park)
Admission: 5,100 BYR for any individual entry. 28,900 BYR for a 40 minute excursion of the greenhouse, 60,200 for a 1-hour tour of the center, per person. (Tours held only in Russian.)
Hours: Every day, tours operate between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Places to Relax
The Aircraft Museum at Baravaya was put together by the flying club at the Northeast Minsk Aerodrome, just off the MKAD motorway ring road on the Lahoysk highway. The collection of aircraft here includes many impressive examples of rare aviation technology, with 23 fixed wing planes and 6 helicopters. Visitors can not only see the aircraft, but they can go inside and try things like altitude-compensation suits and oxygen masks. A must for anyone planning to grow up to be a pilot.
Location: Northeast Minsk Aerodrome, Baravaya Village (H9031 exit on the M3 heading toward Lahoysk)
Metro: Uruchcha (Autobus routes 113c, 145c, 30 minutes)
Admission: 20,000 BYR for adults, 10,000 BYR for children 5 and up (children under 5 get in free).
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Closed Mondays)
Despite the name, adults are ever-present to supervise the teenagers who take on various professional railway roles, as seen in Belarusian Railway trains. They ensure correct and safe operation of the diesel locomotive, they maintain and fix the rolling stock, they oversee the stations, and they are, of course, passengers. But the teens learn how to interact with rail customers on this unique training experience, and usually quite well. The only real difference between the Children’s Railroad and the Belarusian Railway is the gauge of the track and the length of the line, the latter of which is only 4-1/2 kilometers.
Location: Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 86 (location of the Zaslonova Station on the railway).
Metro: Park Chaliuskintsau
Admission: 20,000 BYR for simple rides, 25,000 BYR if with an entertainment program.
Hours: Wednesday, 11:30 to 2:40 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays), trains operate every 38-40 minutes.
Hippotherapy, or the use of horses to heal, has been around since the time of Hippocrates, who advocated riding horses for the ill and injured. Its modern form took shape at the end of the 19th century, and is somewhat reminiscent of dolphin therapy, where the creature’s positive energy is applied to a troubled human soul. The Horses that Heal (“Loshadka kotoraya lechit”) charity maintains an open farm in the northern Minsk suburb village of Balshevik, where visitors may spend time with the horses, ride them with a saddle or bareback, or take lessons on how to ride. Photos may be taken, particularly if celebrating a child’s holiday. Most services are rendered for free, but with the understanding that there will be a donation to the organization.
Location: Lyasnaya Street, Balshevik Village (H9037 exit off the R58 motor route heading toward Lake Narach)
Metro: Beyond system. Stolichny Transport Buses 248B and 267 depart from Karastoyanovoy Bus Station near Bangalore Square.
Admission: Suitable donation.
Hours: By appointment with Yelena Titovets, +375-29-878-1257.
This is a bird sanctuary set in the center of Minsk. During the summer, Island of Birds (“Vostrau Ptushak”) is home to more than three dozen rare birds, some of which are listed in the Red Book of Endangered Species. In order to protect the natural habitat while encouraging visitors to view birds at the park, an above-the-ground path was constructed. Indeed, while walking on these trails, it feels to visitors like they are walking up in the air. Taking children out to the island affords an excellent chance to enjoy wildlife and bird watching.
Location: Komsomol Lake (“Kamsamolskoye Vozero”) in Victory Park (“Park Pieramohi”)
Metro: Ploshcha Lyenina (Autobus routes 1 and 69, 16-17 minutes)
Hours: Weekdays, noon to 10 p.m.; Weekends, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sliapianskaya Waterway System, Zialiony Luh Forest Park
The Zialony Luh Forest Park, situated just inside the MKAD motorway ring road, is considered the most environmentally-friendly area of Minsk. Just south of its greenery is located the Sliapianskaya Waterway System. Closer to an “emerald necklace” than a traditional park, the scenery here is more the creation of nature than a work of human hands. As a result, many people flock to this area of the city to enjoy nature and fresh air without the inconvenience of leaving town.
Location: Between Uskhod-2 and Zialiony Luh neighborhoods in the city’s east
Metro: Uskhod (waterway starts about 400 meters northwest)
Hours: Open all the time (but best enjoyed in the daytime).
The Park of Boulders in Uruchcha
The Park of Boulders is also called the Museum of Boulders (“Muzey Valunou”), in part because it is here that boulders were collected from around the country. There are now more than 2,000 pieces in the collection. They are laid out within a perimeter set in the shape of Belarus, with stones providing the locations of the country’s larger cities. The highest hills represent the locations of Dzyarzhynskaya Hara (“Mount Dzherzhinsk,” west of Minsk) and Lisaya Hara (“Bald Mountain”), the country’s two highest points. Footpaths set next to planted spruce rows depict the locations of its main rivers. Regional capitals are set in low bushes. Among the more interesting facts of the park is that the stones were placed within the areas on the map from which they were taken.
Location: Southern part of the Uruchcha neighborhood, off Academician Kuprevich Street (extension of Rusianava Street)
Metro: Uruchcha (Catch Autobus 27 on Rusianava Street, southbound 3 minutes, or walk the 800 meters)
Hours: Open all the time (but best enjoyed in the daytime).
Lego blocks, and the larger Duplo blocks, offer a wide range of options in which children can design the structures of their dreams. The L-Club offers the chance for children of all ages to build skyscrapers, robots, and castles without their parents investing in large numbers of blocks (and dealing with them getting underfoot later). There are even rubber cubes for the youngest visitors, along with a wide variety of puzzles, mazes, and toy trains. Three locations.
Locations: Surhanava Street 57B (cross Yakuba Kolosa Street) in the Novaya Europa shopping center, Haretskaha Street 2 (Maskouski District) in the Hippo shopping center, Prospect Dzyarzhynskaha 91 (motor route R1) in the Almy shopping center.
Metro: Akademiya Navuk (for the Novaya Europa location, Autobus routes 89E and 76E, and Trolleybus route 33), Mikhalova (for the Hippo location, Trolleybus route 39), Malinauka (for the Almy location)
Admission: 45,000 BYR for the first hour, 30,000 BYR for the second hour, and 20,000 BYR for the third and fourth hour
Hours: At the Novaya Europa location, open weekdays 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., weekends 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; at the other locations, open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Places to Eat
Not to be confused with its smaller sister on Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi, this Lido location has a huge windmill. This near-institution in local cuisine offers a huge buffet of Belarusian dishes, where customers pay for each dish they order. The Kulman location, which is actually part of the renowned Kamarouski Market, has its own children’s area, with children’s tables, coloring books, toys, and a large television that plays cartoons. There are plenty of items that appeal to kids on the menu as well. Every Sunday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. is a Children’s Holiday, with activities such as bubble shows, games, and even a children’s disco to socialize and work off their sugar highs together.
Location: Kulman Street 5a (Kamarouski Square near the Kamarouski Market)
Metro: Yakuba Kolasa (200 meters west on Veri Kharuzhai Street)
Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Both restaurants are attached to Vitalur store locations. It’s a good place to share your family vacation stories with your friends. The children’s room has karaoke, drawing, easels, toys, and even a small maze with a slide and a ball pit. There is also a children’s menu, and the space in the café is organized so that children can run and dance without running into sharp edges. There are even high chairs for the smallest visitors.
Locations: Rafiyeva Street 56 (Malinauka neighborhood, southwestern part of city), Iosifa Zhynovicha Street 7 (Dambrouka neighborhood, western part of city)
Metro: Mikhalova (for the Rafiyeva Street location, Trolleybus route 63 to Lyubimava Praspekt stop, 17 minutes), Kuntsevshchina (for the Zhynovicha Street location, Autobus routes 29, 101, 116, 121 to Harazhi stop, 5 minutes)
Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
This restaurant chain has its own children’s menu, with dishes that kids will find interesting and appetizing. In general, this is one of the most child-friendly restaurant chains in Minsk. They provide crayons for coloring while waiting for meals, but also the décor also works well for a family meal in the city.
Locations: Yakuba Kolasa Street 37 (cross Surhanava Street in the Aysberg Shopping Center), Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 16 (across from the KGB Building), and 89 (on Kalinin Square, across from the Botanical Garden entrance), Babruyska Street 6 (inside the Galileo Shopping Center above the Central Bus Station), and Piatra Hliebki Street 5 (inside the Skala shopping center)
Metro: Akademiya Navuk (for the Yakuba Kolasa/Aysberg location, 400 meters west on Surhanava), Kastrychnitskaya (for Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 16), Park Chaliuskintsau (for Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 89, back toward the city center), Ploshcha Lyenina (for the Babruyska Street/Galileo Shopping Center location), Spartyunaya (for the Hliebki Street location, 400 meters west, off Prytytskaha Street)
Hours: For the Yakuba Kolosa/Aysberg location, Sunday thru Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; for the Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 16 location, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; for the Praspekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 89 location, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; for the Galileo Shopping Center location, Sunday thru Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; for the Hliebki/Skala location, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Calabria is best known for its pizzas, but this place is also known among parents for its great children’s room with nanny in attendance. The children’s menu offers gourmet belly-pizza dishes “Three Fat Men” (“Tri tolstyaka”), “Señor Pomidor”, “Marvelous Miracle” (“Divo-Divnoye”), “Tower of Terem” (“Terem-Teremok”), among others. The children’s room offers painting, play-doh, drawing, reading, and cartoon-watching. During school holidays, the room plays host to themed parties, and for Sept. 1 (First Day of School, or the “Day of Knowledge” – “Den Znany”), the pizzeria traditionally organizes a really large party. In the summertime, the Calabria has a very cozy terrace for outdoor dining.
Location: Kalinouskaha Street 99
Metro: Uskhod (about a kilometer away along the Sliapianskaya waterway system)
Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Gorky Park, the traditional center of outdoor children’s activities in Minsk, features a cute café called the Family Club (the name is in English). The spot hosts family evenings, and arranges children’s holidays and birthdays. As with everything in the park, the Family Club is customized for children, including seats for kids, coloring before meals, and even changing tables for the youngest guests.
Location: Pyershamayskaya Street 3a, within the Maxim Gorky Central Children’s Park.
Metro: Ploscha Pieramohi (toward the Svisloch River)
Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
By Tatyana Kuchinskaya