Eastern Europe’s outcast, Belarus (Беларус) lies at the edge of the region and seems determined to avoid integration with the rest of the continent at all costs. Taking its lead from the Soviet Union rather than the European Union, this little-visited dictatorship may seem like a strange choice for travellers, but its isolation is at the heart of its appeal.
While the rest of Eastern Europe has charged headlong into capitalism, Belarus allows the chance to visit a Europe with minimal advertising and no litter or graffiti. Outside the monumental Stalinist capital of Minsk, Belarus offers a simple yet pleasing landscape of cornflower fields, thick forests and picturesque villages. The country also offers two excellent national parks and is home to Europe’s largest mammal, the zoobr (or European bison). While travellers will always be subject to curiosity, they’ll also be on the receiving end of warm hospitality and genuine welcome.