Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia
1. One Week in Belarus – My Thoughts About the Country
Today is my last day of backpacking in Belarus. After publishing this blog post, I’ll cram all my belongings to my backpack once again and head to the Brest railway station. A few hours later, I’ll arrive to Warsaw, Poland.
“Why did you come to Belarus?” a group of young student girls asked me a week ago. It was my first night in Belarus and I had just arrived to my hostel in Minsk an hour or two earlier. We shared the same dorm room for one night, but we didn’t really share a language. Only two of them spoke a few words of English and my Russian is very rudimentary.
“Я не знаю”, I don’t know, I answered truthfully, laughing. The girls laughed as well.
Backpacking in Belarus
Indeed, why did I come to Belarus? Even if I had spoken more Russian, I couldn’t have given a much better answer. Just because it’s there: A huge mass of land that would stand out as an empty spot and taunt me if I’d ever draw a map of all the European countries I’ve visited.
Because it’s Belarus; because it’s something different.
”We don’t have the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China here” my friendly hostel manager, Juliya, said to me the following day. Juliya’s hostel, Hostel Trinity, is located in a beautiful spot right near next to the center of Minsk. The place opened just last year and is one of only few hostels in the city. Luckily, backpacker culture has recently started to get some foothold in the country.
Compared to many other Eastern European countries that I’ve covered on this travel blog, there’s little tourism in Belarus. Foreign travellers usually come from Russia, Ukraine or other former Soviet countries. Most of the locals don’t speak English, so the country can be a very challenging destination for Western travelers. And then there’s painstaking and expensive visa application process that is sure to alienate the casual voyagers.
Rumor has it that the Belarusian authorities might loosen the visa requirement for trips of no more than five days in the future. I truly hope this to be true.
(UPDATE: The rumor turned out to be true. Since February 2017, citizens of 80 different countries can travel to Belarus without a visa for a maximum stay of five days. However, the only allowed entry point is the Minsk National Airport. You can see more information here.)
A Country with a Reputation
It also doesn’t help that the international reputation of Belarus is not very good. Known as ”Europe’s last dictatorship”, the name of the country either rings no bells at all or the bells tend to clatter badly off-key.
Corruption, human rights violations, censorship. The reputation of the country is personified in the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who’s kept the country on a tight grip for over 20 years. ”I like to say he’s different”, my hostel manager said politely – after first describing the president in a bit more colorful terms.
Read More……… http://arimotravels.com
2. VISIT BELARUS – MY IMPRESSIONS
I didn’t have much expectations before I went to visit Belarus. Actually I had no expectations at all! Even if it’s a neighbour country of Poland and it takes only few hours to get there we don’t know all that much about it – all news that reach us are mostly on political level only. I didn’t have any image of Belarus in my head, didn’t read much before trip and, like it often is in such cases, the place just blown me away and this very trip turned out to be among my top 3!
How I had a chance to visit Belarus
In May 2014 Belarus hosted Hockey World Championships and everyone who had a ticket for any game could visit Belarus visa-free (the cheapest ticket was 10$!). Normally getting a visa can be pretty difficult and time-consuming with all the invitations, reservations and insurance. So when the opportunity like this occurred lots of Polish people, me and my friends included, used this chance to go to our neighbor country. Actually Poland was the 3rd country when it comes to the number of sold tickets – but we are terrible at hockey and didn’t play in the championships 😉
I’m very well aware that what I had seen might not be a real Belarus, it was probably polished in a way for the championships so foreign visitors could see how amazing and wealth the place is. But still I could have a proper look at the country and experience it in a way, talk to local people, try the food, observe the place and just enjoy it.
Belarus is so clean!
First of all Belarus is crazy clean! I’ve heard about that before but what I’ve seen just exceeded my expectations! Neither in pretty Grodno nor in Minsk I have seen a single paper kicking around, there were no illegal posters randomly stuck to the walls. The streets, squares and parks were extremely tidy and clean, the same goes for public buildings. I had no problems with sitting on the floor at the train station in Grodno as it looked like it was just cleaned (and it probably was). The same goes for public toilets, even if they were mostly squat they were very clean and not gross at all! But cities aren’t the only clean places in Belarus – so was the countryside! I traveled by day train from Minsk to Brest and every village and city we passed looked that neat too!
Visit Belarus – country of millionaires
It’s so easy to be a millionaire in Belarus! Their currency, Belorussian Ruble, has a lot of zeros – for example 10$ = 100.000BYR. Everyone was constantly confused with money, we felt we are so rich but as it quickly turned out we weren’t. Before every payment we were counting and counting and still couldn’t find the right amount of money. To make everything more complicated there’re no coins in Belarus and the lowest bill was 50 BYR. In a grocery shop in Grodno a cashier felt sorry for my friend and so she organized her whole pocket! The other friend had to deal with the anger of toilet lady when she paid 250BYR instead of 2500BYR. But then on our first night out in Minsk we got a bill for over 1.000.000BYR (for 10 people), that was really exciting. Well, usually you first need to earn the first million, we just spent it!
Belarus is safe!
I also felt extremely safe in Belarus! We took a night train from Grodno to Minsk in the cheapest class (~20PLN / 7$ / 5€ for the ticket) and even if there were no compartments, just beds on one side of the carriage and corridor on the other, it was a very smooth ride and I slept like a baby. The fact that each carriage was looked after (in ours there was a young yet kind of scary girl) definitely helped! The train we took from Minsk to Brest was constantly watched by the police too – two guys were walking around every half an hour or so. Cities were totally fine too! In the evening they were really empty and looked kind of spooky but still safe. I walked quite much around Minsk at night and even if there were not many people around I felt really good. That’s something I don’t think I would do in many other cities yet in Belarus I had no problems with late night walks. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever heard from fellow travelers of any safety accident there!
Read More……………. www.mywanderlust.pl
3. TOP 5 BELARUS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Hello, dear travel enthusiasts!
Make yourself comfortable, today we will tell you about Top 5 Belarus Tourist Attractions, which are worth a visit!
This post will not be filled with boring information and a bunch of dates and numbers. In this article, we will tell only useful and interesting facts, as well as features of some of the attractions of Belarus. So, about everything in detail, let’s go!
Tourist Attraction 1. Chalk Pits
We will start with such a great landmark as chalk quarries, or as they are often called ‘Belarusian Maldives‘. After seeing this place, you’ll want to stay here forever!
The azure water, beautiful landscapes and a very special atmosphere that will not leave you indifferent.
Interesting fact: nobody knows exactly, what is the depth of chalk quarries. So, there is a legend about a drowned crane that can be seen at the bottom of one of the quarries in a sunny, calm weather.
This greatest Belarus tourist attraction is situated close to Volkovysk, near the town of Krasnoselsky. The quarries gained its feature, as you might have guessed, from the soil. Namely, from chalk, which gives the water such an unusual color (from azure-turquoise — to emerald green). The edges are framed by high slopes of white color, as well as wild vegetation that descends directly into the water.
How to get there?
The best way to get to the chalk pits near Volkovysk is by car. You can also get to Volkovysk by train or bus, and then by bus to the Krasnoselsky village.
At the end of the article, you can find a map with Volkovysk chalk pits and other Belarus tourist attactions mentioned in this article.
Tourist Attraction 2. Nesvizh and Nesvizh Castle
Nesvizh Castle is one of the most popular Belarus tourist attractions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The majestic and diverse architecture of the palace, magnificent landscape parks, ponds, the river — all this makes the Nesvizh ensemble a unique place of pilgrimage for the majority of tourists coming to our country.
Book the best tour in Belarus here:
In the architecture of the palace and its interior decoration, you will find such styles of architecture as Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism, Neo-Gothic, Modernism. You can find out more about palaces and castles of Belarus in the corresponding article.
Interesting fact: there is an unusual legend about the Black Lady of Nesvizh, who has been living in the castle for more than 400 years. She always appears in a black dress as a sign of mourning for her ruined love.
For those, who like not only watching but also participating, there are various options and activities that will help you to plunge into the atmosphere of the Middle Ages!
Read More…………. www.visit-belarus.com
4. How To Spend Your 30 Visa Free Days In Belarus
From now on tourists from 74 countries can stay in Belarus without a visa for 30 days. What are you waiting for? Book your tickets, pack your bags and use this small guide on what to do here for almost a month.
Make the most of your long Belarusian vacation.
1. Start your journey with exploring Belarus’s capital on foot. Print and use our four self-guided walking tours around the city’s must-see attractions.
The maps and short tips will help you learn about Minsk in ancient times, in the dark years of WWII, during the Soviet era, and get a glimpse of the city’s everyday life.
2. Visit Grodno. Feel like you’ve already seen everything Minsk has to offer and want a wider perspective? We suggest looking westwards to Grodno.
Dive deep into rich history of one of the most ancient cities in Belarus, walk along Belarusian Broadway and take a photo with a local lamplighter.
5. You like sightseeing, but historical and literary museums seem too boring? Well, these seven unusual museums won’t leave you indifferent.
Still not impressed? Well, try to bake your own perfect loaf of bread at the Belarusian museum of bread and taste it right off the stove.
6. See an experimental Soviet wind turbine, explore an upside down house, visit the only felt boots factory in the country and a village of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania times in one day.
Sounds impossible? Creators of this offbeat zubr shaped route think otherwise.
7. Go straight to the city centre to take a walk along the newly designed pedestrain street.
8. Or travel off the beaten land tracks and swim through Minsk. Svislach river canoe route will undoubtedly bring you serenity and unforgettable memories.
Meanwhile, beer lovers cannot but love our hopped guide to Oktoberfest pubs and bars.
11. Visit Centralny shop to admire Soviet-style interior and unique blend of visitors, from local intellectuals to marginals.
You’ll maybe even dare to taste some coffee and pastries there. FYI, not far from it, there’s a spot where one can taste an alcohol infused ice cream.
12. Take a bite at Pesochnitsa or Sandbox, the hippest place with street food trucks in the city (so far).
14. See the entire country without leaving its capital.
Drop by Strana mini museum with interactive architectural models of Belarusian attractions, workshop and souvenirs.
Read More………….. http://belarusfeed.com
5. Top-10 Best Places To Visit In Belarus
Belarus is a unique and mysterious country in the middle of Europe that will surprise you with its contrasts and amazing hospitable people! If you don’t know where exactly to start exploring Belarus (known also as ‘White Russia’), we made for you a list of 10 best places to visit in the country.
Minsk is a beautiful and undiscovered city with a unique mixture of post-Soviet and modern European atmosphere, full of interesting places to see and fascinating things to do. Take a walk along Niezaleznasci avenue and look at its famous Socialist Classicism architecture, also referred to as Stalinist Empire style or Stalinist architecture. Do some shopping at the Soviet warehouse GUM where you can find all sorts of goods made in Belarus. Go to Niamiha and walk around Medieval style Trinity Hill and Upper Town with its churches and the Town Hall. Have a drink at one or few of many bars at Zybickaja and Revaliucyjnaja streets in Niamiha area. And don’t forget to visit our ‘diamond’ – the National Library of Belarus. You can also check out or our tours around Minsk.
Locals call Vitebsk the ‘cultural capital’ of Belarus for two main reasons. Every summer (June-July) it hosts an international music festival called Slavianskiy Bazar with numerous concerts of famous artists and a competition for young singers and songwriters. Also, both Marc Chagall and his teacher Yehuda Pen were born in Vitebsk! It’s a nice city with many churches and the beautiful big Western Dvina River.
Visit Polatsk if you want to see a city that oozes history. Founded in 862, Polatsk is the oldest city in Belarus. It was once part of the Duchy of Polatsk! One of the main sights to see is Saint Sophia Cathedral – one of four churches in the world dedicated to Saint Sophia. Also, visit the beautiful monastery of Saint Euphrosine and see a copy of the world famous cross made for her order with pieces of the Holy Cross and other relics inside.
BRASLAW LAKES NATIONAL PARK
Go to Braslaw Lakes National Park to see why Belarus is famous for its beautiful lakes. Keep in mind, that this place is too fascinating and too far to be visited just for a day, so you need to have at least 3 days to enjoy the nature here. Book a house or a room at the recreation centre and relax!
Visit this castle and its stunning park, that is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It once belonged to the Radziwill family – a local aristocratic family that can trace their lineage back to the Princes of the Duchy of Lithuania. Originally built in the 16th century, throughout the years the place has been reconstructed, restored and renovated. So today it’s a mixture of architectural styles (Renaissance, Classicism, Baroque, and Rococo, to name a few). As any real castle, the Nesvizh castle is surrounded by legends and ghosts. For example, the ghost of Barbara Radziwill, ‘the black lady of Nesvizh’, who presumably was poisoned and now haunts in the castle… So you definitely should come and check it out. Our Castle Tour might be helpful. The castle is about 120 km away from Minsk, so it is ideal for a day trip.