Europe’s last dictatorship is not known as a tourist destination, but perhaps that is its appeal. Few make it out here, and little has changed since the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a bit of a throwback in time to venture into this country.
Belarus is charming countryside, authentic villages, Soviet cities, thick forests, and warm hospitality. It’s firmly oriented to Russia and not to the west, and it stubbornly clings on to bygone days. Whether you walk around Soviet Minsk, or ramble through Brest Fortress or go seeking the European Bison in Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park, there is plenty to keep you occupied.
Winters are suitably cold, summers warm, and the vodka flows all year long. Brush up your (Bela)Russian as you make new friends in unexpected places. The nightlife in Minsk is not as bad as it sounds, and with all the police around it is probably the safest capital in Europe.
All in all, find the unexpected and visit Belarus!
Highlights from Belarus
- Minsk was levelled during the Second World War and rebuilt in Soviet style, but it has its charming sides and it has the best nightlife in Belarus
- Head into nature at Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park and see if you can spot the rare European Bison
- Brest Fortress is a Soviet War Memorial commemorating the heroic defenders that died at the start of the German invasion of Russia
- Hike, canoe, cruise, or go fishing in Pripyatsky National Park
- Visit Mir Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Learn all about Marc Chagall in Vitsebsk (aka Vitebsk) where there is a museum and you can visit the house he lived in as a child
- Enjoy the serenity at one of the many lakes in Braslavskiye Ozyora National Park
- Wander around Nesvizh with the Radziwill Palace Fortress as highlight
- Get religious at St. Anna Cathedral in the village of Mosar
- Walk around Gomel Palace and its park
Hints and Tips for Belarus
- Unless you come from one of the ex-Soviet Republics and a handful of other countries you will need a visa to enter Belarus.
- If you stay longer than 5 days you will need to register your visa, hotels will do this for you.
- Public transport is cheap and extensive, if crowded.
- Belarus isn’t particularly set up for budget travellers, hostels are thin on the ground, a hospitality service or cheap hotels might offer an alternative.