There are no domestic flights within Belarus.
Belarus' flat landscape and generally good-quality roads make it perfect for cyclists, although it's not a common mode of transport for locals. Bicycle rental is readily available in Minsk and Brest.
There are no internal boat connections in Belarus.
Bus & Marshrutka
Bus services cover much of Belarus and are generally a reliable, if crowded, means of transport. Buses are a bit cheaper than trains, but can be slower. You can always buy tickets on the day of travel at the bus-station ticket desk. As in Russia, normal bus services are supplemented by marshrutky (fixed-route minivans); they are less comfortable but generally faster than buses or trains.
Car & Motorcycle
Hiring a car is recommended for exploring around Minsk, with car hire widely available.
Most of the big international car-hire chains are represented at the airport or the Minsk city centre. You'll save money using a local rental service, but remember to look your car over carefully and check the spare tyre before you drive off.
When you rent a car in Belarus, you are not subject to the tolls that foreign-registered cars are subject to on major highways.
Road Conditions, Hazards & Rules
- Roads in Belarus are generally in a very good state, with good driving on the part of the law-abiding locals.
- The M1 is an excellent, divided four-lane freeway that traverses the country from Brest to the Russian border east of Orsha.
- Signage is excellent throughout the country, although usually only in Cyrillic script.
- Watch out for ubiquitous speed cameras on the highways and in urban centres, as they will nab you for going even a little over the speed limit.
- You will be instructed by signs to slow down when approaching GAI (ГАИ; road police) stations, and not doing so is a sure-fire way to get a substantial fine.
- Have all your documents in order in case you are stopped by police.
- Cars drive in the right-hand lane, children aged 12 and under must sit in a rear seat and your blood-alcohol level should be 0%.
- Fuel is easy to find, with petrol stations all over the country.
You can drive in Belarus with an international driver's permit or your home driving licenses for three months.
The Belarusian train network is excellent. Trains are dirt cheap and punctual to a fault. For train schedules and prices, see www.rw.by/en. You can purchase tickets in advance at www.poezd.rw.by/en.
The popular business-class express trains are by far the quickest and most convenient way to travel between Minsk and major provincial centres like Brest. Slower pasazhyrsky (passenger) trains often provide an overnight option.
Another advantage of train travel is that it's an excellent way to meet locals, with whom you'll share a compartment. Bring along some food to offer around and you'll make friends in no time.
Practical Tip: Decoding Train Symbols
Learning how to decode different train symbols will help you save time and money.
- The green closed-tulip symbol denotes an economy class interregional train. These are standard Soviet pasazhyrsky (passenger) trains with platskart (3rd-class, open-carriage sleeper), kupe (2nd-class, compartmentalised carriage sleeper) and sometimes obshchy (4th-class, bench-style) seating. These tend to be much slower than business-class trains, and thus better for overnight trips as they allow more sleeping time.
- The green open-tulip symbol is for a business-class express train. These are sidyachiy (sit-down) trains with airplane-style seating. They are comfortable, seldom stop and are the best way to get quickly from point A to B.
- The yellow flower symbol denotes an international train. These are usually of the standard Soviet variety with platskart and kupe sleepers.
- The blue flower denotes a prihorodny (suburban) train. These are cheap and have less-comfortable, often bench-style seating.