Belarus — The Basics
An underrated tourist destination, Belarus is the best of Europe at a fraction of the price. Seriously. Belarus is so inexpensive! The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” does not apply in this dazzling place. A European vacation can often be cost-prohibitive. If you want to see Europe without having to save up, then Belarus is one of the best places to travel. Everyone should see Belarus at least once in their lives. Captivating castles, fanciful forests, charming churches, and marvelous monuments await all visitors to this glorious country!
Sights and Attractions
You know how Europe is known for its amazing architecture and breathtaking buildings? Well, Belarus is like the rest of the continent dialed up to 11. There are over ten amazing castles all across the country. Almost all of these castles are in pristine conditions, and you won’t want to miss these castle tours. They seem big on the outside, but just wait until you’re inside.
Consider yourself a monument maven? Belarus is the place to get that grand-monument fix. Statues of Lenin, Kalinin, and Kupala still stand to this day. The Minsk Victory Obelisk , erected in 1954, celebrates the Soviet triumph over the axis powers. The National Library and the National Art Museum in Minsk are both impressive feats of engineering.
If you want to catch a buzz, then you have to try Belarusian vodka. Unlike the vodka drank in the Americas, Belarusian vodka has a rick, enjoyable flavor. It doesn’t just taste like icky rubbing alcohol. What’s more is that the liquor here is as cheap as water, and boy does it flow!
For those who like nightlife and partying, Belarus is the right place. Some people don’t want a hangover on their journey, and that’s alright. When it comes to things to do in Minsk and Belarus, drinking is just a drop in the bucket. Between the beautiful forests of the countryside and the grand, bustling urban centers, Belarus is a destination for all types.
Belarus Travel Tips
Belarus Currency Considerations
The Belarus currency is called the Belarusian ruble. Belarusian rubles are not accepted outside of Belarus. With that in mind, don’t exchange for more rubles than you need. You can always get more Belarusian rubles if you’re anywhere near a bank or tourist destination. As Belarus is by far the cheapest place to travel in Europe, you won’t need to break the bank on your European vacation. Belarus is one of the best places to travel, especially for budget-minded adventurers.
Back home, your bank of choice should be able to provide Belarusian rubles, although it may take a few weeks. While your branch probably won’t have the rubles on hand, they can surely order some. Banks tend to offer better rates than tourist destinations.
If you exchange money in Belarus, be sure that you are exchanging fresh, crisp bills. Businesses are wary of counterfeits, so any damaged or blemished bills will not be accepted. Plan ahead and order Belarusian rubles in your home country. You’ll be able to stretch your budget even further and have an unforgettable European vacation.
Hotels and hostels are super inexpensive. Belarus really is the cheapest place to travel. Hotels, hostels, and guest houses can be found in any major town or city. Call ahead or check their website to ensure that there are English-speaking staff members on hand. You will have to register with your hotel if your stay is beyond five days. Don’t forget it!
Flights and Transportation
If you’re flying to Belarus, you’re most likely to land in the capital, Minsk. The staff members at the Minsk international airport speak English, so you can approach them with any questions. The metro system is pretty fast and efficient, and a trip around Minsk is very inexpensive.
Business-class trains are your best option to get around the country quickly. They don’t cost much more than the slower passenger-trains, and they’re usually more comfortable.
The native language of Belarus is Belarusian. English is not widely known in Belarus. About 12 percent of Belarusians can speak varying degrees of English. With that in mind, it is a good idea to learn some Russian or Belarusian.
Furthermore, not many signs are written in the Latin alphabet, so learning the Cyrillic alphabet is very helpful. If you know some Russian or Belarusian, the cheapest place to travel can be even cheaper. Russian and Belarusian-language hotels and services tend to cost less than similar English-language services. In Belarus, a few words can save a few rubles.
Don’t let the language barrier deter you, though. Belarus is one of the best places to travel in the world. If you look hard enough, you can find someone who speaks English to help you along. Many younger people can speak English to some degree. Major cities, airports, and some rail terminals have English speaking staff. These places also employ the Latin Alphabet alongside their alphabet, so you’ll get around just fine.
The Don'ts of Belarus
Belarus isn’t Russia. Belarusians aren’t Russian. Although Belarus and Russia have close ties, Belarusians are still unique. They liked to be acknowledged as Belarusian, and they celebrate their vibrant culture. Don’t call Belarus “Belorussia.” That was a Russian name, meaning white-Russia, so you can see why they aren’t excited about that name.
Don’t photograph train stations and civil offices. The government is not excited about that, and arrests have been made. They claim that it’s for public safety. While tourists are unlikely to get in much trouble, it’s best to avoid making anyone angry.
Don’t drink in public. Belarus may be known for their great vodka, but they don’t want you drinking on the streets. Keep it in the hotel, in the bar, or in another legal drinking establishment. A fine and legal trouble isn’t worth the thrill of stumbling around Minsk wasted.
Also, don’t expect to get on the metro if you’re visibly drunk. The police often stop drunk people from getting on the train because they don’t want a public nuisance. Consider this when planning your day’s activities.
It’s best not to express an opinion about the Soviet Union. Many people from Belarus look back fondly on the days of the USSR. If you say something negative about it, they are likely to be offended. Likewise, don’t just assume that any Belarusian is a fan of the old Soviet Union. Like anywhere, people have differing opinions on sensitive topics. Such topics should generally be avoided. Aggravating the locals is not conducive to harmonious travel.
If you’re going to stay in the country for more than five days, make sure that you register with your hotel. They may not do it automatically, so it’s best to speak to a member of the hotel staff. Not doing so could result in stiff fines and penalties for each extra day you stay over. They’re likely to find you out if you cross a border, so beware.
Belarus is a fantastic place. Consider your Belarus currency options and put together an awesome itinerary. Belarus is one of the few countries in the world that is so enjoyable yet so affordable. If you’re on the fence, just do it. Life is short, and it’s meant to be enjoyed. Don’t worry; you won’t regret this remarkable European vacation.
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