Belarus is situated on the East of Europe, between Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and Ukraine. It is a great country for its natural beauty and interesting for rich, but difficult history. Belarus is a very underrated country. Not many tourists visit it, because not many people know about it. Belarus is a green and safe country with hospitable and friendly people, for whom meeting a foreigner is a big event. There are many places in Belarus that will positively surprise even an experienced traveler with its uniqueness and beauty.
WHEN TO go
Best time to visit Belarus is between May and September, when it is warm and raining less. Another great time for visiting is winter, between November and January, when you have an opportunity to go skiing to one of the Belarusian Ski Resorts, where the mountains are not high, which is good for beginners, and the prices are quite low, or watch a hockey game of Dinamo Minsk in the Minsk-Arena, 4th largest ice arena in Europe.
WHERE TO GO
The capital of Belarus has a lot of attractions for its visitors. Minsk is a very green and clean city with numerous parks, and interesting and unusual museums. The best is just to stroll along the Svisloch river in the city center passing by the alternative cafes in the Upper Town, crossing the river to the tiny colorful houses of Trinity suburb, buying some souvenirs there and enjoying the play in National Opera and Ballet theatre just nearby.
Brest is mostly interesting for tourists with its fortress. Famous Brest fortress gathers thousands of tourists interested in history every year. City itself also has some interesting places and legends, like the famous lamplighter, who lights the city kerosene laterns making the pedestrian Sovetskaya street a very romantic place to spend an evening.
Grodno is the city in Belarus that preserved the most historical buildings and monuments despite the destructive wars on the territory of the country. It has 2 castles just in the city, also numerous beautiful churches of various religions and many other interesting places.
Other cities like Polotsk, Gomel, Pinsk and Novogrudok are also interesting, but if you have a limited time, better visit the above listed cities, because other famous Belarusian attractions are situated not far from them.
Most popular places to enjoy nature are some of the 5 national parks, like Bialowieza Forest, which is the largest and oldest forest in Europe with many attractions and things to do for any age any interests, numerous lakes and rivers, like the Braslav lake group on the north of the country.
Another interesting attraction are Belarusian castles, like Mir and Nesvizh castle, both in the UNESCO World Heritage Sights list, and other castles, most of which are situated close to each other, so you can visit all of them in one day.
To dive into the history of Belarus, you can visit the famous Brest Fortress, where the Belarusian soldiers were defending the western border of the USSR from German invaders. Other places include the recently built WW2 museum and history museum in Minsk, Stalin line with new and old military vehicles and tragic places like Hatyn village, which was burned down with locals by the Fascists, or Maly Trostenets extermination camp.
Where to stay
Most tourists stay in a hotel in Minsk, as it is situated in the center of Belarus, making it easy to visit any other place in Belarus within a day. There are also many great apartments in the city, where you can stay at a low price. A more alternative accommodation, but a popular one in Belarus, would be to stay in a farm house. There are many of them in Belarus. It is the place, where you can feel the real Belarusian culture and try traditional recipes.
Kronon Park Hotel ⇒ Read Reviews on Trip Advisor or check prices on Expedia
Country House v Kleynikach, Brest
Agrousadba Domik Na Vyhodnye, near Gomel
What to Eat
Belarusian cuisine is similar to other Slavic cuisines, some of the local dishes you can try in Russia or Poland, and some of the Ukranian or Russian dishes you can try in Belarus.
Main ingredient in the Belarusian cuisine is potato. There are more than 300 different dishes out of potatoes. Most often, this product is used in the grated form. For potato pancakes ‘draniki’ and potato pie with meat and mushrooms ‘babka’.
There are also many meat dishes in Belarusian cuisine. Local spices include garlic, dill and parsley.
Belarusian food contains many vegetables and cereals, so it is rather healthy, but as many other Slavic cuisines, it is fat.
Belarusians widely use different dairy products like cheese, sour cream, milk, cottage cheese and others.
(Photos CC2.0 via Flickr by Jürg Vollmer and Mark Hillary)
What to drink
Most popular Belarusian drink is probably beer. There are several sorts of it that won medals in international competitions. Another similar drink is ‘kvas’, it is made in a similar way as beer, but it almost doesn’t contain alcohol and is sweet, so even children drink it.
Among strong alcohol vodka is popular. There are several companies producing it, most popular is Kryshtal. Another strong alcoholic drink that is produced only in Belarus is ‘krambambula’, it is a home-made vodka drink made with honey and spices. So, you can buy a good local souvenir for your friends here.
Roman is the creator of RomanRoams.com, a travel blog about adventurous trips and traveling on a budget.