Brest

Brest is the western gate to Belarus. The town stays on the geographic line between Moscow and Warsaw and unites to East and West of Europe. Brest is a cosy place with long history. From the touristic point of view it is quite a place to discover. Though you one should not expect perfect service in hotels, a lot of English in the streets. But the people, who live in Brest can make you trip interesting and unforgettable.

  • Geographical size: 150 km²;
  • Population: 330 934 (2014);
There are two rivers: Mikhavets and the Western Bug. The latter flows from Ukraine and make the natural boarder between Belarus and Poland. Unfortunately both rivers are not well-developed for navigation.

History

The first time, when the town appears in chronicles goes back to 1019. Thus it is the 4th oldest town in Belarus after Polotsk (862), Vitebsk (974) and Turov (980). It has always been a boarder place. Today Brest has a triangle of countries: Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. It has certain cultural and economical impact on daily life.

Location

Between Minks (the capital of Belarus) and Brest there are 320 kilometers. The places are linked with trains, buses and the main highway of the country M1 or E30. The territory of the town and its region is quite flat. The highest point is 123 meters. There are a lot of lakes and forests in the area. One of the most interesting places from ecological point of view is Barbastella. This the fortification when lives the biggest number of bats in Belarus.

Transport

There is an airport in Brest. But it doesn’t operate on the regular bases. The schedule of flights changes a lot, because mostly private jets and charters are despatched from it. Though sometimes they offer flights from Brest to Minks, to Moscow and even to Kaliningrad. The most popular way of traveling to Brest is train. Local railway station was built in the 19th century and links hundreds of villages, towns and cities. Travelers coming to Belarus usually come by trains from Poland. The most popular destination is Warsaw - Brest. If we speak of destinations from Brest: 4 hours and you are in Minks. 16 hours and you are in Moscow. To travel in Brest you can use taxi, UBER is not available, trams and buses. But the most popular is a private minibus. They are fast, more comfortable than public means of transport, but more expansive.

What to see

For travelers with no Eastern Europe experience Brest will be a blast. Believe me, you haven’t seen anything like that in Europe, Asia of the USA. Here comes very unique atmosphere of post-soviet country with ambitions and desires to look like a modern European town. Therefore even old blocks of flats will bring you a lot of joy. Among the official attraction are: Sovietskaya Street, Brest Fortress, central railway station, several museum, central park, rowing canal, Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Where to eat

A lot of new cafes and restaurants have recently been opened in Brest. Among them I can name cafe Paragraph, grill-bar Korova, Italian restaurant Venezia. What concerns traditional Belarusian cuisine, you should visit restaurant U Ozera (By the Lake) in central park. It is a good place for a dinner.

Hotels / Hostel / Apartments

Hotels in Brest like in other places of Belarus are quite hardcore. They charge a lot, but the service, furniture and breakfasts are very old school. Again, it is something that you won’t find in other countries. To feel the real local service look for the following hotels:
  • Belarus;
  • Inturist;
  • Vesta;
  • Bug.
Hostels in Brest are not very common and due to strict laws and bureaucracy it is hard to launch such a project. Apartments can also be quite a tricky thing, because not all the people speak good English. Therefore I would recommend booking a hotel.

Money exchange

If you travel to Belarus, bring Euros and American Dollars. There are only official bank exchanges, where you can convert the currency into local money. The rates are always on the boards. They don’t charge you any commission or cheat. But mind, that in Brest or any other Belarusian city you absolutely avoid changing money in the streets.

My visits to Belarus and Brest after I moved to Prague became rear, but very memorable. This year after a New Year celebration in Rome and long journey to Singapore I decided to share my travel experience with parents...