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Even though Belarus is a landlocked country, it is very different from its neighbours. It has set itself apart from other former members of the Eastern bloc by not embracing capitalism in the same way and it has not made the move to integrate with the rest of Europe. Visiting Belarus is not for the faint-hearted – there are stringent visa requirements that have to be met – but it is a fascinating country for those who are interested in the Soviet era.
Belarus has not yet made it to the top ten of most people’s place to visit as it is far from the main tourist trail. However, those who do choose to visit will find a very refreshing country. It is almost completely free of the usual features of materialism such as advertising and litter. Belarus has not changed much over the last 20 years, mainly due to a lack of investment.
During your visit to Belarus it is a good idea to venture beyond the capital city of Minsk. You will find an array of small towns and villages that still have some very medieval traditions. In addition there are plenty of lakes and forests for you to see and explore. If you enjoy the outdoor lifestyle then head to the Vitebsk region of the country. Here you will find trails set up for tourists who like to go hiking, cycling and boating. You can also enjoy some great fishing in the region. Those who prefer to relax during their visit can hire a car and head towards one of the health spas.
You should also take the time to enjoy some of the local cuisine during your stay. The traditional dishes are similar to those you would find in neighbouring countries. Most dishes have a basis of meat and vegetables but there is a growing trend for Chinese and Italian cuisine in Belarus. The locals are also very fond of mushroom-based dishes. Specialities include the Belarusian version of borscht and a dish called ‘dracheny’, made from potatoes and mushrooms.
It should be noted that the quality of restaurants and their service standards vary a great deal so if you are making the most of Belarus car rental to venture outside Minsk be prepared for this. You also need to know that many bars and restaurants close much earlier than you might expect but in the city many stay open until the early hours in the morning.