Belarus Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Belarus
Shopaholics shouldn't venture to Belarus in search of a fix; it is lacking in choice and many of the items that are available are hugely overpriced. That said, Belarus isn't the shopping desert it is often believed to be, and it does have a large selection of indigenous products that make great souvenirs.
Scarina Avenue is the Minsk's main shopping street, where it is possible to buy most of the things that would be available in their Western European equivalents. Podzemka is a bohemian fusion of art gallery and art and craft shop, and is great for souvenirs.
Possible souvenirs include the classic Russian Matryoska Dolls, original samovars, wooden jewellery boxes and spoons. Straw items, decorative plates and other handicraft items are also good buys. Linen items are in abundance, usually in the form of table cloths and tea towels. If nothing else stands out the chocolate made by Belarus' two main producers Kommunarka and Spartak, will – it's delicious. Milavitsa products (quality women's underwear) which were famed throughout the ex -Soviet Union, are also available in a number of western style department stores.
Only Belarusian rubles are accepted, so don't expect to give your plastic a workout. However, nearly every shop has a currency exchange counter. Some shops are closed on Sunday, but tourist shops are usually open every day. Kiosks are still to be found on the street, where light refreshments, tobacco and souvenirs can be purchased.
Antiquities, valuables, works of art and manuscripts other than those offered for sale in souvenir shops require an export licence.
Mon-Sat 0900-2000. In big cities shops are open daily and many open 24 hours a day. In the smaller towns and villages opening times are more random as is product choice.
Nightlife in Belarus
If you're looking for a wild night out there are a good selection of bars, music venues and clubs in the larger cities. In Minsk, the following shine brighter than the rest: West World Club is one of the biggest, combining a disco with a casino. U Ratushi is a very popular bar and restaurant in the centre of Minsk – reserve a table as it gets very busy. Alcatraz is a popular dance club with some of the cheapest beer in town. Max Show is an old fashioned disco, in need of redecorating and likely to run out of beer half way through the night, but still good fun, and Reaktor is another big club in the city holding regular concerts. Note that whether you want it or not many venues will put on an erotic show – but usually after the kitchen has closed.
For something a little more sedate there is a thriving cultural scene with opera, ballet, theatre, circus and puppet theatre to be found in Minsk. Brest also has a renowned puppet theatre. Tickets can be bought in advance at underground stations or at the Central Theatre Ticket Office. Same-day tickets are only available at the venue in question.