Brest, Брэст, Brześć, and Берестя – A beloved child has many names. Welcome to a pretty big city with almost 350.000 inhabitants and the border to Poland.
Brest is a very old city and first mentioned in 1019, and the name Brest may have its origin from the old Slavic word beresta or berest or even the Lithuanian word brasta. The meaning differs but could be translated to for example birch, bark, elm, and ford.
The history of Brest is dramatic since both Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, German, Swedish and Russian forces have been here through the ages.
Today’s Brest is a calm middle-sized city with except Belarusians, have a lot of Polish visitors. There is both a chocolate and clothing factory inside city limits which attracts visitors from far away. People living in Minsk use to go to Brest for buying clothes to half the prices.
Brest is okay to visit all around the year. Summer’s are warm and winter usually around zero degrees. I would recommend summer because much of the sights in Brest are located outdoors. Especially if you plan to visit the Brest fortress – It’s a huge area and going there during cold winter rain is not optimal.
Arriving at Brest is simple. Most people use cars or train and from Minsk, both choices take around 4 hours. If you go via Poland, you now can enter Belarus without a visa if you enter at the Brest border checkpoint. You are allowed to stay up to 10 days in some larger area then Brest Oblast. This is applied to citizens in 77 countries.
Sights and attractions in Brest
The Brest fortress is the most well-known sight in Brest and is a great mix of both old fortifications and an example of huge Soviet monuments. Worth to mention is that the original town of Brest was located where the fortress stands today. The old Brest was demolished to make space for the fortress and was rebuilt 2 km eastwards.
Brest have a few museums worth a visit. Except for the fortress museum, there is an archeological museum, another war museum, a small museum of saved artifacts and one place I really appreciated – The Brest Railway Museum.
The Railway Museum is an outdoor museum with a lot of different trains and wagons, especially from the Soviet era. Some of the trains you can enter. The railway museum is located close to the Brest fortress and could easily be combined with each other.
Brest also has a one-hundred-year-old city park and a Lenin monument in the city center.
For shopping and eating out, you can walk at Вулица Савецкая. On this street, you will also find the Monument of the Millennium of Brest.
If you like open-air markets you can visit Рынок ЦУМ (Rynok Tsum). It’s open daily between 9 am – 6 pm. The address is праспект Машэрава 17. Have a close look at the quality if you planning to buy anything.
Eating in Brest wasn’t any problem for me. I like potatoes and meat, and with this preference the range is wide. I found a traditional Belarusian canteen where I could eat a lot almost for free. But if you looking for Michelin-starred restaurants, Brest won’t be your top choice.
Brest is possible to cover in 1-2 days, and there are several opportunities to do day tours further into Belarus from Brest.