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Useful tips for traveling to Belarus in 2022

tourism in Belarus

As you may know, tourism in Belarus is kind of in an embryonic stage.

For some reason we don’t know – but probably related to Belarus being a dictatorial regime – Belarussian authorities have never shown any interest in promoting their country as a tourist destination, and proof of that is that getting a visa has always been a tedious, complicated process.

Things, however, are changing and, since they started to liberalize their visa regime at the beginning of 2019, more travelers are deciding who each and every day decide to discover the wonders of White Russia each and every day.

With more than 11,000 lakes and 40% of its territory composed of misty forest, Belarus is a beautiful country to travel to, home to dreamy castles – some of them part of UNESCO – and a majestic capital named Minsk, besides all its WWII-related history.

Moreover, if you are interested in the history of the Soviet Union, you will have a lot to do in Belarus, because nowhere else is as Soviet, not even Transnistria, as the country is filled with endless memorials and symbols that pay tribute to the former Communist regime.

Having said that, this Belarus travel guide contains tips and everything you need to know to travel to Belarus, from visas to top experiences and much, much more!

I also recommend you read: 7 very weird things to do in Belarus

travel to belarus

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Visa for traveling to Belarus

Belarus is the only European country that presents certain difficulties when it comes to getting a visa. There are 3 types of tourist visas:

1 – Belarus Visa on arrival (VOA)

Up to 80 nationalities can get a VOA valid for 30 days.

Here you can see the updated list of countries.

However, keep in mind:

The VOA is only available for those who enter and exit through Minsk International Airport

This means that if you wish to travel to Belarus overland, the VOA won’t be available, so you will have to get it the old-fashioned way, at the embassy which, apparently, is a pain in the ass.

Belarus visa requirements (for VOA)

  • Proof of funds and, typically, they require what they call 2 base amounts per day, which is 51BYR (around $20).
  • Travel Insurance with a minimum medical coverage of 10,000€. Read here how to find the right travel insurance.

Sometimes they ask for these things, sometimes they don’t.

They did ask for my travel insurance but didn’t ask for proof of funds.

Can you travel to Belarus with a Russian visa? No, you can’t. This is something they wanted to implement but it’s been on hold for ages.

2 – How to get a tourist visa for Belarus at the embassy

Remember that you should only use this option if:

To give you some idea, what the embassy usually asks for is:

  • Passport photo
  • Form correctly filled in
  • Travel insurance
  • Invitation letter
  • Hotel booking (and they don’t accept Booking.com confirmations)

Requirements may vary slightly from embassy to embassy, so I recommend you contact your nearest one for more details. On average, the visa costs 60€ and takes 5 working days.

3 – VOA in Brest and Grodno

Brest and Grodno are two border cities with Poland and they have the peculiarity that they can be visited without a visa as long as:

  • You travel to Belarus overland through Poland and use their respective border entries
  • You don’t leave the respective region. For example, if you travel to Brest from Poland, this visa is only valid for the Brest region, so you can’t visit Minsk or any other place in the country.
  • You don’t spend more than 10 days

To get your visa, you will have to fill a form and you can find more details here

Registering in Belarus

Something that sucks about traveling to Belarus is that you need to register at the police every 5 days. This means that, if you plan to spend 30 days in the country, you will have to register 6 times.

It is an old, nonsense, Soviet rule.

The first time you can easily do it through this link, for free, but then you will have to go to the Department of Citizenship and Migration in Minsk – if you are not in Minsk, ask your hotel – and pay the equivalent of 15€.

It’s a tedious, unnecessary process.

Some hotels – just the good ones – can do it for you.

What happens if you don’t register or miss the deadline?

Welcome to my world.

We missed the second registration deadline, after 10 days, so when we came back to Minsk, we went to the immigration office and the only thing that happened was that we had to pay a fine of just 1 base amount (the Soviet concept) for each day we missed the deadline, so 51 rubles (25.5 + 25.5).

But, what happens if you leave the country without registering?

I don’t really know but at the customs, they do ask for it, so you could miss your flight. My advice is that you should register.

visa for Belarus
My entry stamps (pink ones) along with my Ukrainian & Moldovan stamps

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How to travel to Belarus

Traveling to Belarus by land

As long as you have a valid visa, you can enter Belarus from the following countries, both by train and bus, but the train will always be more epic.

You can’t travel from Russia to Belarus – It’s a bit weird but apparently, between Russia and Belarus there is a treatment similar to the EU, so there are no borders. Russians and Belarussians can cross it freely but, since there is no passport control, foreigners are not allowed to use it.

Traveling to Belarus by plane

You can fly to Minsk from many European cities but flights are expensive.

Belavia is the airline with the most direct flights. If you can’t get a direct flight, Vilnius is a popular stopover.

I personally flew directly from Odesa in Ukraine and left through Vilnius.

In Belarus they have an obsession with tanks and even this tray from Belavia was featuring something about tanks

Tourism in Belarus: Top 5 experiences

1 – Visiting Soviet Minsk

The most Soviet city in the world is filled with Stalinist buildings and loads of Communist-related stuff. Read my Minsk guide.

2 – Checking out the Stalin Line

What used to be the border between USSR and Europe is today an epic open-air museum where you can see all types of weapons, tanks, and many other surprises.

3 – Wandering around dreamy Belarussian castles

Belarus is also home to dreamy castles, today UNESCO World Heritage sites.

I recommend you visit Mir and Nesvizh castles.

Nesvizh castle and beautiful autumn colors

4 – Learning from all the World War II Heritage

From a village burnt by the Nazis to the defensive line of Brest, Belarus suffered greatly in the German invasion and today, the country is filled with many interesting memorials and museums.

5 – Exploring the endless forest and lakes

40% of Belarus is covered by forest and it is home to more than 11,000 lakes, most of them being concentrated in Braslav.

And don’t forget to read the most bizarre attractions to see in Belarus

Tourism in Belarus

Belarus, the last European dictatorship

Belarus is today living the most intense protests in the country’s history. Massive demonstrations against dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who is answering a peaceful movement with repression and more repression.

Probably, a travel blog isn’t the right place to talk about politics, but I also believe that having a little knowledge about the political situation in a certain country will help you understand what’s going on when you travel there.

Anyways.

Not sure if you know that Belarus is considered an authoritarian regime, the last dictatorship in Europe and the country with the most long-lasting President.

No press freedom, fraudulent elections, no real separation of powers and the only European country that keeps the death penalty.

visit Belarus
Minsk city center features a big Lenin statue

Obviously, Belarus isn’t as repressive as China, Turkmenistan or Eritrea, not even close, but in comparison with Europe, it is, and, because of that, it has been always heavily criticized by the West, especially because Belarus prefers Russia as a partner, and depends on Russia for 20% of its exports, , plus all its natural resources.

A very Soviet former Soviet country

Another fact and, in fact, something that makes visiting Belarus particularly appealing, is that it still is a very Soviet country, more than any other former republic.

Actually, the President grew up in a very rural area of Belarus named Mogilev, so he had a strong Soviet education, the reason why, even now, he is very nostalgic and decorates the country with images of Lenin and hammer & sickle logos.