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Authored by Roman Zhyvitski

A somewhat isolated country at the edge of Eastern Europe, you may not have heard of Belarus. A landlocked country bordered by Russia in the north and east, Ukraine in the south, Poland in the west and Lithuania and Latvia in the north, it’s a country with rich architecture and a lot of natural history to explore.

So even if it wasn’t on your radar before, or you had to use Google to find out where it was, it’s a country which should be on your radar now. Very few tourists visit this part of the world, but honestly, they’re missing out. Here are three places you need to visit in Belarus.

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Bialowieza Forest National Park

Belarus is a very green country, and forests occupy about 40% of its territory. Part of the forest territory are 5 huge and beautiful national parks, including the famous Bialowieza Forest on the border with Poland.

Not only is this the largest forest in Europe, but is also home to Europe’s largest mammal, the zubr (European bison). This is an endangered species living only on the territory of Belarus and Poland. It weighs on average 600 kilograms, and is 3 meters long and 2 meters tall.

The Bialowieza forest is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts, and a popular way to explore is by renting a bike on one of the numerous bike paths. You can visit the local lore museum and try the national cuisine. There is also the house of Father Frost (Belarusian Santa Claus), which is a great attraction for families, and accommodation which means you can stay overnight in the middle of the oldest forest in Europe.

A decaying log in the Białowieża oldgrowth reserve. The orange mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus) in front is edible and known as "chicken of the woods".

This is an endangered species living only on the territory of Belarus and Poland. It weighs on average 600 kilograms, and is 3 meters long and 2 meters tall.

Brest Hero-Fortress

Because of its location, Belarus has found itself stuck in the middle of numerous wars between feuding nations including Fascist Germany and Soviet Union. Many of its cities have been completely destroyed throughout history, and re-built time and time again.

Such cities include the capital city of Minsk, and the difficult and complex history of this tiny nation are reflected in its monuments and museums such as the recently built World War 2 Museum and the Brest Fortress.

Brest fortress is widely known in European countries for its heroic defence against German invaders. The local soldiers were defending the city of Brest for a whole month (remember, the whole Poland was occupied in just 2 weeks). You can still see the last words of those soldiers written on the fortress walls to this day. The most famous of them is “I’m dying, but I’m not giving up. Goodbye, Motherland!”

Entering the gates of the Brest fortress, you can hear the original announcement of the German fascist invasion. The experience makes you dive into the tragic, but heroic history of Belarus. Here, you can also visit the Museum of War and the 5th Fort Museum for a deeper history.

Kholmsky Gate - Brest Fortress - Brest - Belarus

Brest Fortress - Brest - Belarus

Hotels We Recommend in Minsk

Hotel Belarus Minsk

The hotel is an easy drive from Minsk Automobile Plant and provides free private parking on site. It has a gym, as well as a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi and water slides.

It is close to shops, dining and Minsk’s nightlife. National Opera and Ballet of Belarus and Minsk Sports Palace are within walking a distance, and the in-house restaurant, Panorama, is a popular spot to enjoy a meal.

Check availability & prices

Renaissance Minsk: A Marriott Luxury & Lifestyle Hotel

The hotel is within easy reach of Victory Square and Minsk Automobile Plant. It has a gym, as well as a sauna, free Wi-Fi and an indoor pool.

This modern hotel offers a number of amenities, such as a ballroom, a currency exchange and 24-hour room service. Staff are available 24/7 and can book tours and tickets.

Check availability & prices 

Volkovysk Chalk Quarries

The Volkovysk Chalk Quarries are a relatively new attraction in Belarus, however they have became very popular very fast. They attract a lot of local tourism, and it is a great spot to head for a picnic with your friends.

Chalk quarries, or ‘Belarusian Maldives’ how they are often called, are beautiful lakes with turquoise water, white sand and cliffs surrounding them. They are the result of the mining of chalk / limestone in the region of South-Western Belarus, and many people started coming after word spread of the incredible color of water and white sand.

But, it is a working mining area, and not a resort, which means that it is quite dangerous in some places. It is not recommended to swim in the water due to the chemical composition of it. Also, the cliffs are not very stable, so better to leave some distance between yourself and the edge!

Access is currently limited while the government creates a safer environment for tourists to visit without risk.

Volkovysk Chalk Quarries

LEARN MORE ABOUT BELARUS! CLICK BOOK TO LOOK INSIDE ↓

Belarus Amazon book

Russia & Belarus (Lonely Planet Travel Guides)

Belarus Amazon book

Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship

 

Belarus Amazon book

A History of Belarus by Lubov Bazan

 

INSPIRED?! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓

Born in Belarus, Roman is a traveler who has visited 30 countries, and loves exploring the globe. You can find his adventures on his travel blog romanroams.com as he roams around the world.

While traveling, he discovered that almost nobody knew about the existance of Belarus, despite the fact that it’s a country with a lot of great and unique attractions. So he created Visit-Belarus.com to promote tourism to his home country, and provide a useful resource for tourists and locals interested in travel here.

Photo credits: Featured header image by my Life, the Universe and EverythingBiałowieża National Park by Frank Vassen. European Bison by wer mei. Kholmsky Gate – Brest Fortress by Adam Jones. Brest fortress by Marco Fieber. Chalk quarries by Aliaksandr Palanetski. Pinterest images by my Life, the Universe and Everything and Marco Fieber

    24 Comments

  1. If the country has a 40% forest cover, I HAVE TO GO! the pics of the Bialowieza forest , just so dreamy and Father Frost’s house got back memories of Russian fairy tales:D The Brest fortress looks majestic in red, what a tragic story behind it though. I am sold seeing the blue waters of Volkovysk Chalk Quarries. All three aspects of Belarus are so unique Meg! Thanks for sharing details about this offbeat destination! :)

    • Bialowieza forest is a dreamy place for sure, if you’re a fan of nature this is definitely a place to explore. So glad we could collaborate with Roman to introduce you to Belarus – sounds like a fab destination for you!

  2. Wow 40% forest coverage, incredible! The sculpture looks unreal and the color of the water in your last photo is spectacular. What an interesting country. Thank you for putting it on my radar!

    • I’m glad that we could introduce you! Hope you have the chance to include Belarus on an Eastern Europe trip soon!

  3. So many armies, not just Russian or German have marched through Belarus. I remember the famous graphic of Napoleon’s, where the thickness of the line was a measure of the army size. As the line moves east, it shrinks steadily, with occasional massive shifts from decisive battles. Eventually, the line turns back west but never stops shrinking (except where it regions a legion left in St Petersburg).

    In this graphic, it shows the massive loss of life associated with fighting in Belarus. That’s such a juxtaposition with the beautiful greens of the forest and deep blues of the chalk mines. Beautiful peace.

    • Wow, I had no idea Jen – I haven’t seen the graphic you’re referring to, so will see if I can pull it up online. The country has born the brunt of so much tragedy – more than any country should have to bear.

  4. Lately Belarus has been in many blogs and I am slowly acquiring some knowledge on it. The scope for different kinds of tourism interests me and my first choice would be to visit the museum and forts and get to know its history.

    • I think tourism is starting to slowly take off, and will only continue to rise as more and more people hear about the beauty of Belarus. Definitely a lot of history here too – I would say travel before the rest of the world finds out! :D

  5. Wow, this is the first time that I’ve heard of this country! And to know that forests occupy 40% of its territory, then I’d love to go! This country seems to have a lot of things waiting to be discovered. The last photo is beautiful!!

    • I’m glad we could partner with Roman to introduce you Trisha :) Yes, if you’re a nature lover this is a great opportunity to visit one of the greenest countries on earth – I hope you have the chance to visit soon!

  6. Belarus is certainly on my radar now! I’m sorry I missed this country the last time we traveled through Eastern Europe. Bialowieza Forest National Park looks like something out of a fairy tale, I’d love top spend some time exploring that NP and hopefully spot a Zubr. The Volkovysk Chalk Quarries looks spectacular as well. I’m interested to see what type of access is created by the government so tourists can better enjoy this natural wonder. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Admittedly Eastern Europe has a LOT of hidden gems, but I’m glad we could inspire your interest in Belarus for maybe your next trip.

      Hopefully as tourism takes off over the next few years more and more infrastructure will start to pop up, it will be nice to have unlimited access to Volkovysk Chalk Quarries after the government sets it up to be totally safe :)

  7. The chalk quarry is the thing on this list that looks the most amazing to me! I love the color of that water. I hope that I can get here when I’m in eastern Europe next year!

    • Volkovysk Chalk Quarries are incredible aren’t they! Definitely plan some time for Belarus when putting together your trip :)

  8. Belarus has been on our radar because we have a goal to visit every European country, though I hadn’t researched yet and have no idea what to actually do there. I had no idea Belarus was home to bison. That’s pretty cool, though I’m sure they are quite difficult to see if they are endangered. With all that forested area, perhaps an outdoorsy hiking trip is the way to go!

    • What an awesome goal Jennifer! At some stage then, you’ll definitely be in Belarus – glad we could offer a couple of ideas on things to do.

      A hiking trip through the National Park is a great way to explore the outdoors for sure :) All the best as you make your way through the rest of the countries on your list!

  9. I am currently in the process of trying to figure out where to go in September…I heard of Belarus before but not to this level of detail. I think I might consider this :) The Brest Hero-Fortress is interesting and the writing on the wall saying “I’m dying, but I’m not giving up. Goodbye, Motherland!” Gave me serious chills. I still have goosebumps as I write this. Wow.
    That Bialowieza Forest really is green, I keep expecting to see some Hobbit to come out from inside the trees…lol

    • I’m glad we could expand upon your knowledge of the country Christopher … and hopefully convince you towards Belarus for your upcoming trip!

      Between the fortress and the National Park / forest, there are a lot of interesting things to do :) Feel free to shoot Roman a message or check out his website if you’re looking for more info on Belarus.

  10. Belarus is indeed a relatively lesser known destination. I never knew that 40% of the country was forests, that is really green to the core. I also was pretty interested to read about the zubr, its looks massive. The Brest Fortress looks intriguing and the fact that the announcement of the Fascist invasion is played makes the visit fascinating.

    • It sounds like you would really enjoy a trip to Belarus – the zubr is definitely a big animal, really fascinating if you’re a wildlife enthusiast :) And between the forest and the fortress there are lots of other fascinating things to do too :)

  11. Hi, Very nice post, you shared a very nice information for what I am looking for.

    • I’m glad we could help Hailey. Hope you have a wonderful time in Belarus.

  12. Brest Fortress – even abroad everyone knows about it. Visited the tour here, the place is very strong. I specially booked here a tour through Vetliva, highly recommended to go here, to feel the spirit.

    • Glad to hear you had a fabulous time in Belarus Spott. I can’t wait to visit myself at some stage after having published Roman’s post :)

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