Long regarded by travellers as little more than a curiosity, Belarus has suddenly emerged as one of Europe’s ‘it’ destinations. Fuelling that rise are relaxed visa requirements, a sneaky-good art and cafe scene, and hospitable locals. While political dissent remains muted, the country seems to be having fun again.
Minsk is where you must arrive and depart to take advantage of a new 30-day visa-free regime. The capital has a pulsing nightlife, excellent museums and an impressive ensemble of Stalin-era architecture. Minsk has also become a hub for global summits and sporting events such as the 2019 European Games. Elsewhere, the western cities of Brest and Hrodna are Europeanised nooks, while around the Belarusian heartland you’ll turn up ancient castles and national parks where rare zubr (European bison) roam.