Belarus... for curious travellers
If you’re looking for an interesting country to visit, Belarus could be the ideal destination for you. It is a country full of culture, bursting with history and full of intriguing people and traditions.
Belarus is often overlooked in favour of more prominent European locations. However, as a country that looks toward the Soviet Union for influence rather than the European Union, it is a place worth a visit for the more adventurous and curious travellers.
Often called 'an enigma at the heart of Europe', Belarus was part of the Soviet Union until independence in 1991, and is still an interesting insight into what life was like at the height of communism. With cities full of interesting Soviet iconography, you'll find modern design interlaced with historical remnants; it's just one aspect that makes Belarus a fascinating place.
There is a real sense of isolation within the country, not only due to its location in far Eastern Europe, but also because of the lack of integration between Belarus and the rest of Europe. The difference is evident in the country's minimal advertising – an obvious sign that capitalism has not yet been embraced as it has done by its neighbours. Belarus is the perfect destination to get away from it all, especially when you consider that it is also a lesser-visited destination by tourists.
While it is true that Belarus poor country, it certainly doesn't feel poor. Many cities were hit by destruction during the second world war, and many of the buildings in the city only date back to the 1940s. This has created towns and cities that feel almost new, while older buildings that survived the war are cared for and kept in good condition.
Some of the most popular destinations in the country are its cities, with Minsk in particular being a must-see. The capital of the country is characterised by its neoclassical architecture and incredibly clean streets. Minsk has been through a lot but has come out stronger, prouder and with more stories to tell. Here you'll find a real sense of national pride as well as a great cosmopolitan and vibrant feel.
Another great city to visit in Belarus is Brest, which borders with Poland. This city has an abundance of charm and some fantastic historical sites. The lively location is said to be 'a world apart' from the rest of the country, although you'll have to see for yourself whether this is true. The city is the busiest rail and road border point in eastern Europe, making it an ideal place to visit if you want to experience a mix of cultures or simply enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life.
Of course, Belarus isn't just about the cities; beyond these are stunning and picturesque villages, beautiful natural landscapes, ancient forests, hundreds of lakes and historical castles. Venturing further than the cities will allow you to see some of the oldest untouched forests in Europe, which are protected by national parks, as well as some of the only remaining collective farms that are still operational.
The ancient castles and monasteries are the perfect destination for those with a love of history, while the haunting countryside of the country coupled with these historical landmarks will help to transport you back hundreds of years.
The further from the cities the you go, the more you can immerse yourself in Belarusian culture as you'll be unlikely to meet many other tourists. You'll also get to see a diverse mix of wildlife, including wild boar, elk, bear, lynx and beaver, adding to the ancient feel of the country.
Currently, a visa is needed to travel to Belarus; though despite the administration this might entail, if you are able to Belarus the time it deserves, you will find your trip incredibly rewarding.