by Hanna Hrydziushka
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.
Minsk, the city centre. Photo by Vitali Brazouski
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.
Vitebsk city. Photo by Kseniya Zhitina
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.
Polatsk city. Photo by Kseniya Zhitina
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.
Nesvizh Castle. Photo by Siarhej Hlushtsou
This city looks a bit different from other Belarusian cities because it wasn’t damaged so much during WWII, and therefore many traditional buildings and narrow streets have been preserved. Take a note of the number of Catholic churches. Many of them were destroyed by the Soviet government after the war but restored later. Belarusians like to come here for a weekend and walk around, because Hrodna breathes the spirit of freedom and inspires for great things!
Hrodna city. Photo by Yurij Lichak
Go to Mir Castle to see another UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built in the early 16th century in the Gothic style, but then it came into the hands of the famous Radziwill family who extended and refitted the castle in the Renaissance style. Take a tour and learn about the complex and sad history of this place. Also, try out some delicious Belarusian drinks!
Mir Castle. Photo by HiFive Belarus
Brest city combines three different cultures, as it is located near the border with Poland and also quite close to Ukraine. Some say this city is more European than Minsk. For instance, on Saveckaja Street you can find many cute shops and coffee spots. If you are interested in World War II visit Brest Fortress, a very important place for the Soviet resistance. It was built in the middle of the 19th century and became a Hero Fortress for the courageous Soviet soldiers during the fight against the German army in 1941. Nazi’s planned to seize the fortress in 8 hours, but it stood firm for more than 30 days. A famous natural park Belovezhskaya Pushcha is not far from Brest.
Brest city. Photo by Frantsishak Kanabrotski
Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park
Discover the primaeval Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park. Here you can see very old oak trees dating back more than 500 years and around 250 different kinds of animals living in their natural surroundings. And the most famous inhabitants of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha are the largest animals in Europe – bisons, or ‘zubr’. You can meet them at a park zoo. During the winter you can even visit the home of our Santa Claus – Grand Farther Frost. A great way to impress your kids!
Zubr (bizon) in Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park. Photo by Aleksandr Kashtalian
Visit Stalin Line to get a truly amazing picture of how life was during the war. It’s an interactive experience where you can ride a military car, shoot guns, and have a ‘soldier’s’ meal in an atmospheric cafe. Also quite often some interesting events dedicated to World War II take place here. If you don’t speak Russian we would advise you to bring someone along who does to get the full experience. The complex is open every day from 10:00 to 18:00.
Stalin Line. Photo by Vitali Brazouski
Need some help in discovering these places? Check out our travel tours.