Belarus is still a rather closed state and not too many tourists outside of the former USSR countries visit the country, but people in Belarus are very friendly and welcoming and they generally like foreigners. Belarus is truly a cheap country, even by Eastern European standards, and food, transportation, and accommodation are not expensive; even budget travelers can afford many things that are luxurious in other countries, such as eating out, taking a cab, and staying in a more “expensive” hostel. Prices of hostels in Belarus are not an exception and you can get a nice Belarus hostel for a few euros in the big cities. Belarus also has a great location for traveling to the neighboring countries. From Minsk, you can reach Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia just in a few hours.
Unfortunately, hostels in Belarus are a rarity, and there are only a few cities in the entire country that have Belarus hostels. In fact, hostels in Belarus are a rather new phenomenon and it is likely that the situation will improve in the next years. Even cities which have more than a hundred thousand people people often do not have a single Belarus hostel.
There is a nice exception, though. Minsk already attracts a good number of foreign tourists and the Belarus hostel market here is quite competitive, as prices are reasonably low; conditions in some Belarus hostels here are often good; and you can choose your location according to your preferences, starting from the train station to the city center. Minsk is a nice European capital with good public transport and clean streets and parks -- it is often ranked among the cleanest cities in Europe and is an easy city get around. Moreover, it is definitely one of the cheapest capitals in Europe. It is also a city hero with a lot of monuments to commemorate World War II.
Another city hero is Brest, on the border with Poland. The city is famous for the Brest Fortress. The city is very close to the Polish border, and it has good and very cheap Belarus hostels. There are more and more people visiting the city so it is getting the second-most visited city after Minsk.
Grodno is another city to check; you can visit the Pharmacy Museum; Sovetskaya Street; the Water Towers Kasia and Basia; and, of course, Grodno Castle. Gomel’s main attraction is the palace and park ensemble Rumyantsev-Paskevich. The city has also a large park where you can go for a nice walk. In Mogilev, you can visit the Buinichi memorial complex, the Polykovichskaya Krynica, the Ethnographic Belarusian village, and others. Vitebsk is also a nice city to visit, with its House-Museum of Chagall, Old Town, Repin's Estate Museum, and others. You can also go to some of the forests if you like nature. Good choices are the Augustów Primeval Forest, Naliboki, Kurapaty, Białowieża, Sarmatic, and others.
Although the entire population is bilingual, most people prefer to speak Russian to Belorussian. It is also good to know that both languages use the Cyrillic alphabet and all signs are written only in Cyrillic and just the largest cities in Belarus have signs in Latin, as well. Finding people who speak even basic English is hard and nearly impossible outside large cities. Even Belarus hostel personnel could have limited English skills, so if you ask for directions or things to do in the city, things could be difficult.
Hi, I'm George Traveller,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Belarus hostels. Welcome.