Belarus Vacation & Tour Packages
We'll make no bones about it, Belarus is a totalitarian state and the last dictatorship in Europe. President Lukashenko took office in July 1994 when he was just 40 years old and has not faced opposition since. The government of Belarus recently brought in a 5-day visa waiver program to expand tourism. This applies only if you arrive and depart by air from Minsk International Airport. This makes it much easier to visit this fascinating country. So what could be fascinating about a dictatorship?
Europe’s Last DictatorshipWe have many former communist countries on our map. But for us and anyone who has already visited those countries, Belarus still provides a unique opportunity. Rather than being a “time warp” like Transnistria in Moldova, Belarus represents an alternate reality. It's a “what if” for all those countries around it that fought either physically or politically for freedom and democracy. Belarus had a window of opportunity after declaring independence from the USSR in 1990. In the presidential elections in 1994 a large majority voted for Lukashenko, a manipulative and authoritarian populist. From then on he cemented his position with various moves such as seizing parliamentary power and replacing representatives with his own picks.
It’s Very Clean...Visiting Belarus nowadays, you'll notice a few things. Firstly it's very clean. It seems that litter is either not tolerated, or is tidied up very quickly. Secondly, you'll notice that everyone in Belarus seems to have a good word to say about the President and the government. In public at least. This deference and the presence of large-brimmed military hats can give the impression that stepping out of line is frowned upon. Personal safety in Belarus is definitely not a concern. The locals range from being a little cold to being friendly and curious as to why you're visiting their country.
Belarus Beyond MinskBeyond Minsk you'll find flat, green countryside and a number of castles that make for great day trips. For a long time Belarus was a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Around 1800 it became part of the Russian Empire.
Suggested CombinationsMany expect the Belarusian government to soon expand the visa waiver program to cover other border crossings. Until then, it is still easier to arrive in Belarus by air. There are direct trains from Vilnius to Minsk if you don't mind the administrative hassle of applying for a visa. Belarus makes for an interesting combination with its neighbors: Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. Many other countries in the region have direct flight links to Minsk too.
"Our experience was truly outstanding--it was a pleasure to plan with your staff, and your creativity and thoughtfulness really resulted in a wonderful trip. We will remember the people you connected us with even more than the terrific locations."