Belarus is a country that has earned various nicknames in the past few years. Some of them being ‘’the last corner of the Soviet Union’’ and ‘’Europe’s last dictatorship”.
On our Belarus tour, we take you on a journey through this fascinating but overlooked country that has a wealth of fascinating experiences on offer. Whilst once closed off to the world due to its nightmarish visa process, Belarus is now visa-free for 30 days provided you fly into and out of Minsk airport.
From joyriding Soviet tanks and giant dump trucks to visiting some of the most sacred WW2 sites in the former Soviet Union and exploring the former workshop of a Lenin statue sculptor, Belarus promises a travel experience like no other.
During the world’s worst nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, Belarus, lying 16km from Chernobyl was hit brutally hard by the catastrophic fallout. 66% of the territory of Belarus was contaminated with cesium-137. In response, the Belarussian government set up an exclusion zone around their contaminated territory for decades. Only now, they have decided to open it to those holding permits and accompanied by a representative from the Belarussian government.
Inside the exclusion zone is a treasure trove of Soviet artefacts and relics, from abandoned boats and factories to watchtowers and propaganda centres, this is an area truly trapped in 1986.
Our Belarus tour can be combined with our Chernobyl & Transnistria Winter Tour to give you the opportunity to step foot into ground zero of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Make the most out of your visit to Eastern Europe and combine both tours!
Arrival into Minsk airport at your own leisure where you can enjoy visa-free entry.
Check into our luxury, refurbished Soviet-era hotel.
Meet up with your YPT guide and the rest of the group at 6:00pm to head out for some traditional Belarussian food and local beer
Overnight in Minsk
Saturday 20th February – Minsk
After breakfast, we’ll meet our driver and head to the town of Zhodino, home to the Belaz plant which makes the biggest dump trucks on earth and export them to a range of countries including North Korea.
Not only will you receive a rather bizarre state tour around the plant, but you’ll also be able to ride in one of the dump trucks around the training arena!
Visit the worker’s canteen and enjoy some Russian tea and cookies, baked in the shape of dump trucks of course!
We then return back to Minsk and set about exploring everything the capital has to offer.
We’ll head to the workshop of Ozgur. One of the most esteemed sculptors of the USSR, his workshop is full to the brim of monuments to Lenin, Soviet War heroes, and statues of other communist figures from Kim Il Sung to Fidel Castro.
After lunch, you’ll explore the house of the Soviets, the still-functioning KGB building, Lee Harvey Oswald’s apartment, the island of tears dedicated to the Soviet-Afghan war, and much more.
Head to what is arguably one of the best WW2 museums on earth: the museum of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk which details the devastating impact of the Second World War on Belarus where 1 in 4 of the population was killed.
We’ll then grab dinner at Tovarisch (comrade) which is a nostalgic restaurant designed to glorify the days of the Soviet Union. It is very much a place for nostalgic locals and not tourists. The waiters dress as Young Pioneers and the food is very good!
Overnight in Minsk
Sunday 21st February – Minsk – Brest
We’ll have breakfast and check out of the hotel before meeting our driver and transfer to the ‘Soviet Disneyland’ known as the Stalin Line. A series of Soviet Bunkers from WW2 and a mass of Cold War-era weaponry.
After exploring the bunker complexes we’ll ride a Soviet tank around a mock battlefield, fire a Soviet anti-aircraft gun and some machine guns, and then climb inside another Soviet tank to fire the cannon and blow up a German tank.
Visit the mound of glory, an incredible Soviet-era monument to WW2 that greets visitors on their way from the airport. In the past, it has been symbolically visited by high profile visitors to the country such as Fidel Castro.
We’ll then experience the Belarussian train system as we catch the afternoon train to Brest which should take around three hours and will take us right next to the Polish border.
Check into our nearby hotel on arrival and head out for dinner and a few beers at Traktor on the lake which is home to flights of vodka including a locally infamous horseradish variant.
Overnight in Brest.
Monday 22nd February – Brest – Minsk
Breakfast at the hotel, then our first stop will be at the Brest Fortress or Hero Fortress as it is often known. A 19th Century Russian Fortress, this spectacular example of Soviet architecture is now a war memorial commemorating the first battles of WWII featuring two of the most amazing Soviet monuments in the former USSR.
The complex features an array of tanks and WW2 museums inside which we’ll visit.
Here, you have the option to meet our friend who supplies local movies with weapons and uniforms of the second world war. He will provide you with the uniform of a Red Army General and be able to take some fairly epic photos in the surrounding area.
A quick stop at the train museum to see some enormous Soviet trains. We’ll then walk through downtown Brest taking in the Millennium monument and the unique feel of this quaint, very European old town.
We’ll see a monument to Lenin outside of the local functioning KGB headquarters before we catch the afternoon train back to Minsk and check back into our accommodation.
Dinner at a local Georgian restaurant where you’ll have the chance to try cuisine from the Caucasus which is growing massively in popularity across the former Soviet Union.
Overnight in Minsk.
Tuesday 23rd February – Minsk – Gomel
This day will be one that allows you to indulge in some independent exploration of Minsk with your YPT guide on hand to advise you on what to see, based on your specific interests. You may visit the Soviet-era Minsk tractor works that still operates and has a Lenin reaching out to an old Soviet tractor. You may visit the Minsk film studios where infamous Soviet movies such as Come And See were filmed, or even ride a train staffed by local children which is a relic from the Soviet times. Minsk has many attractions on offer, whatever your interests, your YPT guide will be able to advise you on where to go.
Evening meal before we check out of the hotel and board the night train to Gomel in Southern Belarus.
Overnight on the train.
Wednesday 24th February – Gomel – Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – Minsk
On arrival in Gomel, we will transfer to the Belorussian Exclusion Zone and after clearing the checkpoints with our permits we will enter the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, where we will enter the scientists research centre and learn about the real consequences of the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, you will be amazed by nature diversity caused by the absence of human intervention and will be able to examine the radiation background with an accompanying expert guide.
The main objective of our trip is to get acquainted with the activities of the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, to learn about radiation contamination issues with the scientific staff of the reserve, as well as to monitor the flora and fauna of the territories where human activity was almost completely terminated.
You will be surprised how quickly nature has recovered: for 30 years of human absence, the reserve’s territory was inhabited by the Przhevalsky horse, and the number of bison here is one of the highest in Belarus. Thanks to the ban on hunting in the exclusion zone, the number of wolves and other wild animals has also recovered.
Our route is built due to the lowest dosimeter indicators, which makes our stay at the territory of the reserve safe. We will visit the villages inhabited by those brave enough to return to the Exclusion Zone and live full time, the Pripyat river, whose shores are still littered with abandoned boats, Soviet relics, eerie abandoned cemeteries and Soviet industrial buildings.
We’ll visit former Soviet political propaganda centres full of Soviet relics and posters.
You will have the chance to visit many of the 96 abandoned Belorussian villages in the zone. Before the disaster, over 22,000 people lived throughout these settlements.
We’ll have the chance to climb a Soviet watchtower and get a birds eye view of the exclusion zone. On a clear day from here you can see Pripyat and the new dome over Reactor 4 inside the territory of Ukraine.
After exploring the zone and clearing radiation control, we’ll transfer back to Gomel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
We’ll then head to the train station for the night train back to Minsk.
● Twin share room at a hotel
● Breakfasts and lunch
● 24-hour services of a YPT guide and translator
● All transport to complete the itinerary
● All admission fees and additional fees such as tank driving etc.