Eastern European City Breaks – Discover Belarus
Looking for something different? Belarus could be the place for you on your next short break.
In recent years, we have become much more adventurous with our holiday decisions and with such a vast choice of flights and hotels on offer these days, travel addicts can afford to get their fix and take a few more breaks during the year. City breaks are big business these days and we’re rapidly making our way through most of the Europe’s more prominent cities.
However, a recent trend has shown that as much as we all love, Paris, Venice, Rome and all the other most popular hotspots, but where do you go once you’ve ticked off all the obvious ones? Eastern Europe is open for business and you might be surprised where your next city break might take you. This week, we get the lowdown on a trip to Belarus – what to do, where to stay and places to see.
What’s Belarus like?
Still relatively new to the tourism scene, Belarus is arguably one of eastern Europe’s best kept secrets. This former Soviet state is emerging from the shadows of the past and becoming a rather cool place to visit. This is especially true for visitors who want to explore a country with a story to tell and one that hasn’t yet been trashed by mass tourism.
Formerly known as Belorussia, some might argue that Belarus falls into the ‘dark tourism’ category and has often been referred to as Europe’s last dictatorship.
Much of Minsk, the capital of Belarus, was destroyed in the war and rebuilt in the 1950s so a lot of the buildings are relatively new. Despite a turbulent history, many of the country’s architectural treasures still stand and apparently, some of the oldest buildings in Belarus actually date back to the Middle Ages. That said, there are still some striking sights and landmarks to see. Out with Minsk, Belarus is still largely rural, made up of forests, lakes and national parks that surround some pretty villages.
Overall, Belarus will appeal to lovers of military history and anyone with an interest in the country’s Soviet period. It is also a happening place as far as culture is concerned and visitors can experience theatre, dance and opera as well as soaking up the history of the place in Minsk’s museums.
Top Places to visit in Belarus
Belarus’s capital is probably the best place to go, especially if it’s your first time. The city is packed with things to do. It’ll come as no surprise that lots of places of interest in Belarus centre around WWII and/or the country’s back links to the former Soviet Union.
If you like history, a must-see attraction is the Great Patriotic War Museum . There’s also some interesting spots on Independence Square such as Minsk City Hall and the Church of St Simon and St Helen.
Gorky Park is another highlight. The park is named after the famous writer Maxim Gorky and there’s an amusement park, a skating rink and a planetarium within the observatory. Plus, for great views of the city, you can take a ride on the park’s Ferris wheel.
If you fancy taking in the city sights on foot visitors can join a small group walking tour. These usually last about an hour or two and led by a local guide.
One of Belarus’s most popular tourist attractions is Nesvizh Castle.
This architectural beauty and UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Belarus’s most popular attractions and the town of Nesvizh itself is worth a look so be sure to leave enough time on your excursion to take in the Benedictine Monastery, the market square and Nesvizh Church of the Jesuits.
Nesvizh is roughly 2-3 hours journey time from Minsk and there are organised day trips available.
Where to stay in Minsk
If you’re wondering what to do at night in Minsk, some good nightlife is on offer at some of the city’s hotspots. Here’s a few of the top clubs in Minsk where you can let your hair down: –
Rich Cat Open Thu-Sun 23:00-0600
Dozaru Club Open Weds- Sun 22:00- 0600
Black House Open Weds-Sun 21:00 -0500
Fashion Open Weekends 22:00 -0600
Max Show Daily 22:00-0600
How to get to Belarus
Fly direct to Minsk International Airport from London Gatwick with Belavia, the Belarusian airline or indirect from UK regional airports via Frankfurt with Lufthansa or via Amsterdam with KLM.
(flight info based on searches at time of publishing)
Important information for travel to Belarus
Check current entry requirements and travel information for British passport holders here. For any other nationalities, please check with your consulate before travelling. More information can also be found on the official website of Belarus. It’s worth noting that you will have to be in possession of valid medical insurance which you must provide evidence of upon arrival at the airport.