Help Us Decide: Minsk Or Vilnius?

You guys always have great advice when it comes to anything travel related, so here it goes…

Andrew and I are soon taking a trip to Europe — we’re flying Air Italy from New York to Milan, and Condor from Frankfurt to Whitehorse, which we’re super excited about. Those are two airlines I haven’t yet reviewed, and I’m also really excited to visit Whitehorse (we’re actually spending some time there).

We’re just spending a few days in Europe, and would rather not spend our time in Milan or Frankfurt. So we’ve been trying to decide which European city to go to. Ideally it would be a place that neither of us has been to (I’d love to do a new country altogether), and also a destination with nonstop flights from both Milan and Frankfurt with a schedule that’s convenient for both of our existing flight arrivals and departures.

After digging through the destinations served nonstop from both airports and looking up schedules, we’ve come up with two cities that are most interesting and practical — Vilnius, Lithuania, and Minsk, Belarus.

I’ve been wanting to visit Minsk for years, especially now that it’s easier to visit. I’ve heard the city is fascinating and feels like a blast from the past. Furthermore, hotels are very reasonably priced, which is a plus (while the Marriott looks nicer, I think it’s better to stay at the Renaissance, as it seems to have a better location?).

I’d also love to eventually visit Lithuania. To be honest I haven’t heard a lot about Vilnius one way or another in terms of whether it’s an awesome destination, meh destination, or what. In Vilnius we’d probably stay at Hotel Pacai, which is a Starwood Design Hotels property that looks beautiful, though it’s a bit pricier than the properties in Minsk.

Those are the basics, though now we’d love to hear what you guys think — has anyone been to Minsk and/or Vilnius, and if so, which should we visit?

Comments

  1. Not advice – I’ll leave it to the more qualified people, but I’m always impressed by your travel schedule! How do you and the team adjust for time zones? Do you have a “set” timezone?

  2. i’ve visited about 90 countries in the world and last month i have visited Minsk and stayed at Marriott. Not impressed at all. There’s not much to see for me. I wish i have picked Riga or Vilnius instead but next time i’ll visit those two. So i don’t know about Vilnius but i supose it would be better.

  3. I lived a couple of months in Lithuania years ago and Vilnius is a very charming, laid back city. I don’t think there is a reason to spend more than 2 days there though as it’s quite small, so if you have more time than that you should probably hit both cities (I’ve never been to Minsk though ).

  4. I’ve been to Vilnius and loved it. It’s a beautiful city and the people are friendly. Go there.

  5. Did you decide to not finish your Italy & Greece trip report?? It’s been almost 2 weeks since that last review!

  6. Vilnius, no question. I stayed at Pacai last week. It’s very nice and worth the $. They are still working out a few things but definitely a good option if the Kempinski isn’t available.

  7. Vilnius is very nice. You will enjoy it. Vilnius and Minsk are pretty close to each other so, maybe, as others have advised, visit both.

    @childflyer. Absolutely loved Riga.

  8. Minsk, and not just because it’s the city I’m from. I’ve been to Vilnius, and while it’s lovely, I find it less interesting – it’s smaller, and I think has a little less variety. I just had a couple American friends visit in Minsk and they were so, so impressed – in addition to the beautiful architecture, I think you’d love the food, the green spaces, and the arts and culture.

    And yes, the Marriott is not in a great location – not central at all. To get a good location, you’d be best getting a boutique/non-chain hotel.

  9. Been to both. Like Minsk but adore Vilnius! My first visit to Vilnius was in 2001 and ever since I´ve been there several times, last visit was in December.

    The old town of Vilnius is wonderful, especially during summer. It´s not a big city so just a day/two/three will be enough for you.

    Last time at Vilnius airport started chatting with a quite young man who was wearing an ID badge. He turned out to be the airport CEO. Small airport, good chances of meeting interesting people 😀

  10. I went to both on the same trip (drove between the two) and there is a lot to like about both of them. Vilnius has a certain charm to it that Minsk doesn’t, but Minsk is a much bigger city with more to do. You need about 2 days in each to really see them, but if I had a choice to go back to one, it would be Vilnius. Rent a car and also drive to Trakai. Cool spot not far from Vilnius.

  11. Agree with Anastasia, Minsk offers more to do for a few days. Unfortunately, without Belarus visa you can’t visit both cities – for visa free visit to Belarus you have to go in and out of MSQ.

    Vilnius is great to visit, but Minsk changes way faster than Minsk. If you want to see what USSR looked like – you don’t have much time.

    Take a look at Double Tree – great location, recently built. Hampton Inn is a bit out of the way (not much though) and only 10K points. Let me know if you need help with HH points or Minsk pointers 🙂

  12. Artem above made me realize I forgot to mention visas: if you stay for less than 5 days in Belarus (which it sounds like you will), you don’t need a visa – they just instituted a new visa-free offer for visits under five days. My friends just did this and had no problem.

    Totally forgot about the Doubletree (it’s relatively new) but yes, it is a pretty good location!

  13. KRAKOW. POLAND. KRAKOW. POLAND. KRAKOW. POLAND.
    Amazing city, better than Prague AND Budapest combined.

  14. Vilnius over Minsk, eight days a week. Belarus is the last dictatorship in Europe. Period.

    I would suggest Tallinn or Bratislava, or Ljubljana, if possible. I would love to see a review of Adria Airways sometime soon!

  15. I do so love atmospheric cities (think Prague) and I did so love Vilnius. I have visited it and highly recommend it along with Riga (in Latvia), Odessa (in Ukraine) and Ashgabat ( Turkmenistan, yes not in Europe). Not been to Belarus so cannot provide a point of comparison.

  16. I went to both Vilnius and Minsk a few months ago. Vilnius is a lovely city with a vibrant artist community. Minsk is a big sprawling Soviet planned city with some of the ugliest buildings in the world. VNO-MSQ is a quick flight, so I’d do both if you have time.

    If you don’t have time for both, just do Vilnius.

  17. @Evan. Yeah, don’t visit Minsk :)) “The last dictatorship in Europe” is what makes it so great. Good old-fashioned values compared to the rotten Western Europe and US, beautiful women without a hint of feminism or other bs, low prices, local organic products. Please don’t go there, nor to Russia 🙂

  18. I haven’t been to Minsk, so I can’t compare the two, but I very much enjoyed my two days in Vilnius. The old town is quite lovely and filled with nice restaurants, bars and shops. There are several interesting sights from medieval and modern historical perspectives, especially dating from the ‘90’s independence. It’s all easily walkable too. Enjoy!

  19. Why not both?

    Belavia has one daily nonstop flight from Minsk to Vilnius. 35 minutes flight and cost about 50$ one-way in Y.

    Depends how many a few days are of course.

  20. I vote for Vilnius. Minsk is a great big city, but has not too much to offer for travelers. Have not been in Minsk for a long time, but if nothing has changes, then the language might be a barrier as well.

  21. A couple of more thoughts on hotels.
    If you are willing to go non-SPG/Marriott, the best hotel in Minsk, imho, is the newly opened DoubleTree. The location can’t be beaten, and the recognition is fantastic (it doesn’t have a lounge, though).
    http://www.cariverga.com/review-doubletree-by-hilton-minsk/

    In Vilnius, location-wise the best option is Kempinski (member of GHA). Overlooking the cathedral square. It’s pricey, though.
    If you have some more days, i’d strongly recommend IDW Esperanza Resort. It’s outside of Vilnius, in a fantastically tranquil location in the woods. Perfect for relaxation. You don’t even need a car, since they provide free limousine from airport/railway station. The hotel is part of Small Luxury Hotels, and one of the most impressive SLH properties i’ve been to. Here’s my review (in English):
    http://www.cariverga.com/review-idw-esperanza-resort-trakai-lithuania-en/

    Haven’t stayed at Pacai yet, but will visit in a couple of weeks. They had great opening rates (50% off bookable directly on the Design Hotels website, but not on SPG).

  22. We were in Vilnius (and Riga) last month on holiday. Stayed at the Kempinski. Great hotel. Very charming town. English spoken everywhere. Very welcoming to travelers. 2-3 days is the max I would spend there. Going to Minsk next year, but not expecting it to live up to Vilnius. My vote would be Vilnius.

  23. Do note when visiting Belarus, you can stay 5 days visa free when both ARRIVING and DEPARTING from MSQ. Going in or out from a land border or train, or if coming in or going to Russia even if by air requires a visa.

  24. Totally different cities. As mentioned above, fly in and out of MSQ for visa-free entry (you need to buy “health insurance” but it’s like 1 euro a day and takes 2 seconds to get when you arrive). Vilnius is a pleasant quaint old town, with very nice people and almost universal English, but you won’t be surprised by anything if you’ve been to Riga or Tallinn. Minsk was totally rebuilt after WW2 in a crazy monumental style, and I loved just walking down the streets, though the parks, etc. Both the Renn and the Marriott are in bad locations: the Double Tree or the old “luxury” Soviet hotel Hotel President are much better. Nightlife on the weekends in on the go in Minsk. I would suggest a couple days in each, taking the flight in/out of MSQ.

  25. I’d do Budapest, but in your case, if you have the time then both. If not then Minsk. Should be ‘interesting’

  26. Vilnius. By far. Vilnius.

    Wonderful, vibrant city that has only recently been “discovered”. Fabulous walking city, especially if one hires a guide (ridiculously inexpensive) knowledgeable of Vilnius’ rich history.

    Go now before it becomes another Prague.

  27. You can do both just make sure you fly in and out MSQ. The last dictatorship of Eastern block introduced Visa-free but only applied to air travel, and IIRC, excluding flights to/from Russia as those are considered Domestic flights even though Russia is a different country for decades now.

    On the hotel front, nobody mentions the Radisson group – it has at least 2 Radisson hotels in Vilnius, one in the center of old town and the other one on the other side of the river, overlooking the vast green river bank where many locals used for recreation. Hot air balloons also take off from the river bank just under the Radisson Blu Lietuva which is a conference hotel that has some office buildings in the same complex as well as a Casino across the hotel front parking.
    When we stayed there 2 years ago on points, they gave us a big junior suite on high floor overlooking the river. On Saturday evening the hot air balloons launched right on the river bank – it was quite amazing seeing the colorful balloons flew across our windows as they rose up.
    We were also given complementary breakfast – as a rule, all Radisson hotels in the Baltics have great breakfasts. Very fresh ingredients, many of them organic. Would be right up to any breakfast offered by HHonors in Western Europe in my opinion.
    Despite it is on the other side of the river the transportation is very convenient due to there are bus stops right in front or just a 5 min walk. Trams also available. Very easy to get to old town, or to the nicest boulevards in Vilnius, and the little hill with castle.

    Oh, the SkyBar of this Radisson has the best view of Vilnius. One of the amenities they gave us was drinks at the SkyBar

  28. I just visited Vilnius last week and just left Minsk today, I’d say Vilnius is a more charming city, and much prettier and much better to just walk around and take in the vibe of the city. Minsk is definitely a blast from the past, and you are absolutely right, do not stay at Marriott! While it is a nice hotel, it’s just too inconvenient. I’d say Minsk is better if you’re interested in Soviet history and architecture, but the city itself isn’t very charming. Also, no one in Minsk speaks English, not a word, I went to a high-end restaurant and only one person could speak English, so don’t expect anyone but hotel employees to be able to speak English, knowing a couple Russian words is absolutely necessary if you’re visiting Minsk. I don’t know what the situation is, but If you can, I would definitely visit Riga instead, the old town is just as charming as Vilnius, and the city is much bigger, and also has a much better vibe to it imo. Riga is the perfect city to just walk around, in fact, there are also a few soviet looking buildings, so it could be a good compromise. Either way, Riga is my favorite of the Baltic capitals, and it’s probably one of my favorite cities in Europe, so I really suggest you visit!

  29. Forget to mention, the shopping “mall” next to the casino at the Radisson Blu Lietuva, has a very good Asian restaurant with main focus on Japanese foods, called Manami. They make great tempura with big pawns and lots of veggies, for less than 12 euro. After we discovered the brand at another location (in the shopping center that is 1 bus stop from the hotel), and later found the same brand was just across the hotel parking, we had our next 2 dinners at this restaurant. Very pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the foods and the extremely reasonable prices.

  30. Minsk is the capital of a dictatorship, so you can expect Soviet-era experiences. Think monumental architecture (designed to impress upon citizens the power of the State), streets poorly laid out for walking (except main avenues for military parades), almost everything in Russian (and some Belarusian; English is not understood almost everywhere), and no one smiling (too much happiness is viewed as untrustworthy, even unhealthy). It is like stepping back in time; specifically, to Russia in the ‘80s. Some people will find it different and “exotic” (for example, the ridiculous rhombicuboctahedron-shaped National Library), but interesting sights are few and far between.

    Vilnius has a well-run Tourist Office that can give you information and materials (in English and more) on tons of different things to do. The Baroque and Renaissance architecture in the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town is stunning. There are any number of cafes and bars depending on your tastes. Some people and venues will speak at least some English, especially younger people. It is a great city for walking and safe for wandering. There are no visa issues to consider (if you have a U.S. passport) and, if you have time, you could easily visit the second largest city, Kaunas, only 100 km away.

    Vilnius is also the only city in the world that has a statue (bust) of Frank Zappa in a public square. That has to say something! In all seriousness, the three small Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) each maintained their unique cultures and identities even in Soviet times. They are just more interesting.

    For people concerned about LGBT rights in Lithuania and Belarus: being gay is legal in both; equal marriage for gays is constitutionally banned in both; gays are allowed to serve in the military in Lithuania only; and anti-gay discrimination is banned in Lithuania only. Neither is exactly a haven of gay rights, however. Belarus is majority Russian Orthodox and Lithuania is majority Catholic. Two people of the same sex traveling together, sharing a room together, etc. is unlikely to raise eyebrows, but public displays of affection are definitely not advisable for your safety.

    You might check out inyourpocket.com for its free, downloadable guides on both cities. (I find their reviews concise and accurate.) The Vilnius one is up to date through Summer 2018. The Minsk one was last updated in 2014. The free app also has information on Vilnius, but Minsk is not even listed. Also, definitely check out http://www.vilnius-tourism.lt/en/ for details on what to do and to help make your decision.

  31. Minsk is amazing city. Stay at the city center. Doubletree is there or mercure which is right onthe center, not renaissance.

  32. I would recommend Croatia or Albania in the summer.
    You loved Montenegro and they will not disappoint you

  33. 100% go to Minsk. It’s the cleanest city you’ll ever visit. Truly incredible. Also, one of the few places in the world where you can take your picture with a statue of Lenin (and if you go to the mall underneath it, you might be able to buy a bobblehead statue of Vladimir Putin, which is well worth doing).

  34. Do Minsk just because I wanna see a Belavia trip report because they look very interesting

  35. I’d recommend Minsk but both hotels you are looking at there are not very conveniently located. Stay at the Doubletree and ask for a river view room.
    Someone suggested you take a train between Vilnius and Minsk. While this is convenient, you need a visa to cross the Belarusian border overland. You must arrive and leave via MSQ to qualify for visa free entry.

  36. A big +1 to the comment made by @WAE.

    Others have mentioned Vilnius’ charm. I concur that Vilnius is, indeed, charming. But there’s a sharp edge to that charm. One of Vilnius’ more fascinating aspects is its robust artistic community which gives the city a strong bohemian vibe. So many other “charming” cities have all the life of a museum relic in a Disney World attraction . But not Vilnius; it’s a city with a palatable and enthusiastic buzz.

    Minsk? It has the buzz of a funeral dirge.

  37. Lucky, is this a serious question? Come on dude, Belarus is Europe’s last dictatorship, with an awful human rights record.

  38. I know you don’t care much about politics, but anyway: For that sake, I’m for Vilnius. You can even pay with Euros there!

    If “Eastern” Europe should be the choice, then why not choose Prague, Czech Republic? There’s so much beautiful culture and architecture to discover there that Prague was also very popular with Western tourists even before the Iron Curtain fell.

    Another convenient idea may be Bratislava, Slovakia – but a little less interesting for tourists. You can take a one-hour speedboat ride on the Danube from there to get to Vienna and fly to Frankfurt from there – and why not review a speedboat instead of an airline for once…?

  39. I recommend Minsk. It has a unique combination of modern and soviet style and feel. And it’s very cheap. Renaissance is good (nice executive lounge, spa, gym and swimming pool), but Hilton Double Tree is much better in terms of location and the view from the top floors is amazing!

  40. Another for Vilnius too. If you have a couple of days then a side trip to Klaipeda and the Curonian Spit are worth a visit in the summertime. This was all formerly East Prussia, so lots of German history to explore too.

  41. I’d be more interested to read about your visit to Minsk than Vilnius. Minsk is a little more exotic in my view.

  42. Minsk for sure. Vilnius is boring. But not best hotel options – Marriott is new, but usually deserted and in the middle of nowhere. Renessaince is a dump inside. Double Tree is (arguably) the best hotel in the city. Right in the center of Minsk, amazing suite upgrades (from less than 30k Hilton points standard award redemption) superb breakfast and the rooftop bar that is really it place.

  43. If you actually go to Minsk, Renaissance is highly recommended.

    1) It’s managed by a Danish guy, not the locals.
    2) It’s the only place in Belarus that employs people with Down syndrome https://imenamag.by/posts/zingy-vasilyok

    If you fly in and out of MSQ you get 5 Visa free days. So you can fly MXP-MSQ-VNO and test both short and ‘long’haul belavia experience (‘long’haul is done by 20yo 737s and catering is well quite interesting).

    There are some other interesting destinations from MSQ, e.g. MSQ-OZH on An 140

  44. Cariverga – Old fashioned, backwards and lacking in rights? What an amazing picture you present – I can’t wait to visit…

  45. I just finished a work assignment in Minsk that had me there the majority of the past three years. While English is certainly not widespread, all major hotels have staff that speak a number of languages. Most locals under 30 have no qualms about trying out their English, especially if you try 5-10 words in Russian.The city is extraordinarily safe, clean and in my opinion, interesting. Locals are reserved at first, but I found nearly all willing to help and proud of their country. I agree with comments about The Doubletree being best for location. I believe their management and staff is top notch too. Please do not miss The Great Patriotic War (WW2) Museum. All signs are in English/Belarusian. You will walk away with new information and perspectives, for sure. Yes, Belarus has issues, but they are in no way going to make things difficult if you.

    Vilnius is a great smaller city too. You can’t really go wrong. Other comments have mentioned Riga. A truly great city to visit! Big enough for amazing food and culture, but small enough to walk nearly everywhere. Plus, the seaside is a 30 min train ride away and easily doable for a side trip.

  46. Been to Vilnius 3x in the past 15 years, and Minsk once about 8 years ago. Go with Minsk. It’s going to change a lot more in the next 10 years than Vilnius, so you’ll miss out if you don’t go now. Vilnius already had that change, as part of joining the EU, NATO, and the Euro. They’re kind of “regular” Europe now.

    Another commenter mentioned the In Your Pocket guides, which are great for any city in Eastern Europe. A few years ago, in their Minsk guide, they started it off by saying the city is as “crazy as a bag of bent hammers”. So true, and that is what makes it worth a visit.

  47. I can’t speak on behalf of Minsk but I have visited Vilnius and it is by far my favorite baltic country. Great culinary scene, historic downtown, and art. The is a great night life as well. It is modernized and people are warm and friendly.

  48. Thanks to the link posted by deWeb

    https://500px.com/photo/217950417/vilnius-lithuania-hot-air-balloons-showcase-by-david-shvartsman

    The building in the picture is the Radisson Blu I mentioned in my comment upthread. The name of the excellent Asian restaurant, Manami, is visible on the wall of the lower building across.

    During our stay, these hot air balloons flew by our windows – the junior suite is huge, with the side facing the river bank is wall to wall windows.

    I also second others suggest of Poland. We spent 12 days in Poland – Gdnsk (tri-cities), Krakaw, Warsaw, then Vilnius, followed by Tallinn because we had to cross over to Helsinki for our flight to Toronto. (We visited Riga and Tallinn in previous trip, so this trip added Vilnius so we completed the Baltic capitals.)

    If you visit Vilnius, be sure to spend an evening at the Skybar at the Radisson Blu even if you choose not to stay there – it has the best view for the city. Though personally I would pick this Radisson than the one in the old town center.

  49. I took the train between Vilnius and Minsk once. My friend had convinced me that we didn’t need visas – we did.

    We got thrown off the train by the most attractive border guard you could imagine – red hair, blue eyes and a uniform that made Britney Spears’ schoolgirl look like Angela Merkel. We managed to get visas in Vilnius the next morning, and made it back the next day.

    Vilnius was great, but Minsk was a lot more interesting – visit while it is still different.

  50. I went to Minsk laat year. Stayed at Doubletree and it was great. It is a nice lovely city. Not much tourism though but the city is wonderful.

  51. I suggest you first watch “Rochelle, Rochelle”, a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.

  52. Visited Vilnius years ago, it’s a very charming town. The old town is apparently a UNESCO world heritage site due to its baroque architecture. Lithuanians are very warm and friendly, weather was warm but not too hot in the summer, lots of green scenery outside the old town. I can’t speak for Minsk.

  53. Being a Lithuanian, I am for sure biased, but it really depends what you want to see. If you are into seeing how Soviet Union looked and felt – Minsk is for you. I spent a weekend there last summer (I was also taking advantage of the visa free access via MSQ) and it was really quite depressing and dull. I guess worth seeing once in a lifetime. Kiev is much more comparable to Minsk than Vilnius, and it has much more soul and has way more to offer. When it comes to Vilnius, it’s a small, but charming city with a lovely old town and people who are much more open minded and welcoming than in Minsk. Whatever you do, remember that you must enter and exit Belarus via Minsk airport to be eligible for a visa-free stay and make sure you have a return/onward ticket when you enter.

  54. Haven’t been to Minsk….but no desire to. Went to Vilnius in the mid 90s and even then things were being spruced up. Lovely architecture. Visited a fascinating KGB museum(assume its still there) a small Jewish museum, and had a fascinating interview with a young rabbi from Brooklyn who was working on revitalizing perhaps the only, and lovely still standing but devasted, synagogue left in Vilnius. Also visited (easy less than day trip) Holocaust sites outside Kaunas. I’m not Jewish, but found so much interesting and tragic history. Beauty and history. Very compact. Big vote for Vilnius, although my information is dated. I’m looking forward to a late summer trip to Talinn.

  55. Hotel Pacai has a special “Design Hotels Community Welcome Rate” available until August 31. It’s bookable via the Design Hotels website but you need to be logged in. I stayed last week for €110 per night (there were smaller rooms for €100, or bigger ones for more).

  56. Lucky – just did five days in Minsk a couple weeks ago, thanks to the new visa-free regime for Americans. Flew Belavia up from Ukraine, which was fantastic – lunch service in Y on a 60 minute flight!

    It’s a fascinating city that reveals its charms slowly, but it left a serious impression on me and I actually found myself wanting to return.

    It’s a city made for walking, with greenspace everywhere. Take in the Stalinist architecture at the City Gates, Victory Plaza, and Lenin Square, see the views from the massive central library, go to the apartment building where Lee Harvey Oswald lived before killing Kennedy, ride the massive Ferris Wheel at Gorky Park and check out the hipster beer bars on Oktyabriskaya Street. The free walking tours offered every morning at 11 a.m. are fantastic.

    Anyway, I found a lot of joy in just chatting with young Belorussians at bars and after tours, all of whom are eager to practice English and appreciative that you came to their city. Many also had a lot to say about their hopes for a different, more European future – though it may feel like a long way off.

    Go to Minsk. Vilnius will always be there.

  57. Hello Lucky,

    In my opinion, Vilnius is much nicer than Minsk, lot of things to see and enjoy. If you have never been to Kaunas and have enough time, I’d also suggest taking 1.5 hours train from Vilnius to Kaunas and explore area there.

    Minsk is really a huge overcrowded village with high rise buildings and people sad and disappointed because of never ending economic difficulties.

  58. Vilnius without a doubt!

    Some of the best baroque architecture in Europe. And it’s the real thing. The city was thankfully spared significant destruction in WW2. Given the small-ish size, perfect for a long weekend too.

    Whatever you decide, enjoy the trip!

  59. I’ve been to both within the last 2 years and recommend Vilnius over Minsk, which felt like it was still a few years away from developing basic tourist infrastructure. Vilnius is my favorite Baltic capital for a short visit — much more laid back to Riga and Tallinn, but still incredibly rich in culture and history.

  60. I am now in Minsk visiting. The city itself is interesting more like having a Soviet feel. Very few people speak English and there are no English signs. I visited the 2 castles Mir and Nesvizh and I find them to be more beautiful than some castles in Europe. I would prefer Minsk because it just opened itself to the world in terms of tourism.

    I had been to Vilnius 3 years ago as part of my trip to Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia. I had only been to the Old Town and I prefer Riga and Tallinn altho Vilnius’s Old Town looks much bigger.

    Actually its easy to make both trips to Minsk and Vilnius because its near each other but why not visit Minsk first because it is easier to go to Vilnius later.

  61. Minsk,first. More close to E.U. style, but still with much russian baltic character. It might be translated into the culture atmosphere between Russia and Ukraine. Go first Minsk, then Vilnus. You will find much interesting parts from these two. Nice trips!

  62. Nobody has mentioned how appalling the service is in restaurants in Minsk.
    The only reason to go to Minsk is to understand some of the problems we will have in ever reintegrating the population to civilization.
    It was completely flattened in 1939-44.

    Vilnius is a pretty and delightful city, be it small.
    The Church of Sts Peter and Paul is quite stunning.

  63. I would love you to visit Tallinn – would be happy to show you around.
    And the airport was nominated the Best.

    However out of these two – I would go for Vilnius

  64. Milan to Minsk? Can’t wait for the trip report of this strange, erotic journey.

  65. Never been in Minsk, but hundreds in Vilnius that is so little charming city, u will enjoy peaceful atmosphere, one of most better conservative historical centre, so many different churches that even for an atheo can’t be noticed, beautiful parks crossed by river, and even a Republic in Republic, close Vilnius centre u will find Uzupis Republic or well known as Republic of happiness but better walking in and discover by yourself.
    Vilnius also hosting so many good restaurant for any kind of food from gourmet to local, for Hotel if u going 5 stars no way to choose Kempinski settled in heart of city, or alternatively good choice is Novotel on Gedemino that is most busy street heading to Cathedral, last but not least altough out theme Lithuania has one of most density of beautiful and charming girls of world, sometimes while by street u can find yr self as on high fashion stages:):).
    pls no miss:

    1) Midas, most ancient liquor of world
    2)Zeppelin, most famous Lithuanian dish altough not so light one
    3) Lithuanian beer, can have a lot of any kind, all so tasty and favorable
    4) Concert at philharmonic
    5) Ballon tour, Vilnius is only city where is possible during spring and summer have a tour over city.

    Enjoy Vilnius

    Labas (bye in Lt)

  66. If few days mean = 2 then Vilnius as you would be able to better explore it and due to size you can more enjoy it. Thought as others stated Minsk is also nice city, but I would say it requires a bit more than just 2 days.
    ALso near Vilnius you have some attractions within 1h ride + Kaunas ( second biggest city ) is also an Hour away

    But honestly whichever you choose they are both great destinations so just pick one that have better schedule as you will wanna come back for the other one 🙂

  67. I would to go Minsk. The whole behind the iron curtain fascinates me. Also, its not always I would get a chance to go to less popular places like Minsk. They might also restrict visa at a later date.

  68. While I would recommend Vilnius since it’s probably the more interesting city for a visitor, as a reader I would rather read about Belavia and the 5 day Belarus visa when you fly in and out of MSQ. (Then again, I’d also be curious to read your review of Wizz Air MXP-VNO).

    I’d also second the commenter that mentioned Minsk will be changing more in the next few years. Vilnius is an amazing place, but also very comfortably European for a traveler.

    Many others have mentioned Riga, which also has direct connections to MXP and FRA. One great thing about that is you can try out the airBaltic version of the Bombardier CS300/Airbus 220.

  69. I went to Vilnius 10 months ago and would visit again in a heartbeat! Beautiful town with old world charm and a boho artistic vibe.. delicious food (had the best eel ever) and comfy hotels.. we stayed at kempinski (amazing view, convenient location and excellent service all the way). You will fall in love with the town

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