Belarus Explorer

Belarus

Culture

Soviet echoes, folkloric traditions & pristine nature

10 days £1,995 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Discover the simple beauty of Belarus as you journey across this peaceful land. Travel from the urban capital of Minsk to traditional Belarusian villages and rural farmsteads in Disna. Explore the fairy-tale facade of Mir Castle, admire the aristocratic architecture of Neswizh and spot bison in the primeval Belovezhskaya Pushcha national park. Finally, explore Khatyn village and the impressive Brest Fortress, and see for yourself how Belarus is emerging from its tragic past as a progressive and curious country.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Historical centre of Minsk
  • Rich diversity of Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park
  • UNESCO-listed Brest Fortress
  • Ancient architecture of Grodno
  • The famous Lida Castle
  • Disna, Belarus' smallest city
  • Traditional cuisine at Dostatok Farmstead
  • Symbol of tragedy, Khatyn Village
  • Art & culture in Vitebsk

Places Visited

Minsk - Mir and Mir Castle - Neswizh and Neswizh Palace - Brest - Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park - Grodno - Lida - Khatyn village - Disna - Polotsk - Vitebsk

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Domestic flights (if relevant - refer to itinerary)
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Minsk

Arrive at Minsk airport, where you will be met by a Travel the Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight stay in Minsk. 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Minsk

Go on a sightseeing tour of Minsk to see the main avenues and monuments, including the Victory Monument and the National Library, among others. Visit the Museum of Belarusian Statehood, where you can learn more about the modern history of Belarus. Sample Soviet delicacies at the local Komarovka market. Overnight in Minsk. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

As the capital city of Belarus, Minsk has steadily progressed from the image of grand-scale Soviet planning into a modern political and cultural centre of the country. With expansive boulevards, lush parks and a well-developed infrastructure, it showcases a wealth of dynamic cosmopolitan features. It is also rich in history with a number of outstanding ancient sights, though sadly many buildings were lost in the destruction of World War II.

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Day 3 : Minsk - Mir

Learn the history behind village life in Belarus at the open-air Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life. Travel on to Ganka Farmstead, where you will listen to local music, taste home-made samogon and tour the manor. Continue on to Mir for overnight stay. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The open-air Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life focuses on the historical and authentic character of 19th and 20th century Belarusian settlements, from rural villages to homesteads. Folk architecture from different ethnic regions is showcased in carefully reconstructed models, including wooden churches, schools, public barns and smithies. The museum also exhibits a wide collection of various household, trade and handicraft items.

Situated on the edge of the picturesque Epimahi village, Ganka Farmstead is a peaceful refuge surrounded by beautiful gardens and endless fields. Anatoly Ganet's hospitable family arranges tours around the 2-storey manor, which is a former mid-19th-century inn, and its surrounding grounds. All ingredients used in the delicious food cooked by Anatoly's wife are grown on the estate and extra activities can be arranged, such as a Slavonic dance masterclass or a visit to the local apiary for honey tasting.

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Day 4 : Mir - Neswizh - Brest

Visit the town of Mir to explore the UNESCO-listed Mir Castle. Travel on to Brest, stopping to take a tour of Neswizh Palace and its garden en route. Overnight in Brest. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Mir is a small town located southwest of Minsk that is most famous for its fairy-tale Mir Castle, often referred to as the 'medieval flower'. It displays impressive architecture using a unique combination of styles, first built at the end of the 15th century in the Gothic style, before being extended and reconstructed in the Renaissance and then Baroque styles. This UNESCO-listed monument has an impressive residential history of aristocratic families, many of whom have left their mark in the history of Mir and Belarus as a whole.

The charming town of Neswizh is one of the oldest in Belarus. It is most famous for the magnificent Neswizh Palace, the former residence of the aristocratic Radzivili family. The estate showcases one of Europe's largest landscaped gardens as well as a 16th-century Farny Roman-Catholic Church. A blend of architectural styles is used within the palace, which once had around 170 rooms with a series of underground passages connecting it to the town's monasteries. After the family's expulsion in 1939 by the invading Red Army, the palace was used as a sanatorium and steadily fell into decline. After much restoration, the UNESCO-listed building is now open to the public, with more than 30 exhibition halls.

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Day 5 : Brest - Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Take a city tour of Brest where you will see the famous sights of Sovetskaya Street and Brest Fortress. Visit the UNESCO-listed Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park for a tour and a stop at the Museum of Nature. Overnight stay in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The traditional 'western gate' of Belarus, Brest is a calm city with a long and complex history. Owned by different countries throughout several periods, it finally became a part of modern Belarus following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. As a result, its culture has strong influences from central and eastern Europe. The famous Sovetskaya Street and its boulevards are perfect for promenading, whilst the city’s main attraction is the Brest fortress

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is one of the largest remaining parts of an immense primeval forest which once stretched across the European Plain. After suffering the effects of the Napoleonic and world wars, the land was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. It is famous for ancient oak trees, some of which are more than 500 years old. In fact, the park recently celebrated its 600th anniversary! The park's flora and fauna is incredibly diverse, with almost 900 species of trees and flowers and around 200 bird species, including the eagle owl and white stork. There are also around 60 mammal species of mammals, including lynx, roaming elk and the European bison, a symbol of Belarus.

The 19th-century UNESCO-listed Brest Fortress defended the country against the Nazis in WWII. Only a handful of men survived the attacks, but the heroism of the defenders inspired citizens all over the USSR. In 1965, the fortress gained the title of 'Hero-Fortress'. Today it is a war memorial complex and a great place of national grief and pride.

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Day 6 : Belovezhskaya Pushcha - Kossovo - Grodno

Journey on to Grodno, stopping at Kossovo Palace en route. Later, take a city tour of Grodno where you will see key sights, including Jesuit Farny Cathedral and the Great Choral Synagogue. Overnight in Grodno. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Grondo lies in western Belarus. As one of the best preserved cities in the country, it is home to many historic examples of architecture - including the striking Old Grondo Castle along with the ancient St. Boris and Gleb Church, which dates back to the 12th century. 

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Day 7 : Grodno - Lida - Minsk

Make your way back to Minsk, stopping to visit the town of Lida to see its famous castle. You will have free time later in the day to spend at your leisure. Overnight in Minsk. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Lida is famous for its castle, built on sand in the early 14th century by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It has withstood 7 centuries of battles and occupations of the surrounding land, though the castle’s towers were permanently damaged by the Swedes in the Great Northern War. The castle also withstood the great fire of Lida in 1891, during which stones from the castle’s south-western tower and parts of the western wall were used to repair fire-damaged houses.

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Day 8 : Minsk - Khatyn - Disna

Drive to Disna, stopping at Khatyn to learn the history of the famous war memorial village. Continue on to Balye Rosy farmstead and take a tour of the city of Disna. Enjoy a cooking class at the farmstead and learn to make traditional Belarusian 'Hvorost' cookies. Overnight at farmstead.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Khatyn Village is a symbol of tragedy within Belarus. In 1943, after the killing of a German soldier nearby, the entire population of the village was rounded up into a barn and set on fire by the Nazis. Only one man, Joseph Kaminsky, survived the attack. The story of Khatyn reflects the brutality of World War II, during which the inhabitants of 628 Belarus villages were burned alive by the Nazis. 186 of the villages were never rebuilt, including Khatyn, which is now a memorial to all those who died throughout the country.

Located on the Daugava River, Disna is the smallest city in Belarus. It has had a turbulent history, previously being a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, whilst also being occupied by the Russian Empire and by the Soviet Union. 

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Day 9 : Disna - Polotsk - Vitebsk - Minsk

After breakfast at the farmstead, drive to Polotsk for a city tour. You will get the chance to enter the St. Sophia Cathedral and the Convent of St. Ephrosinia. Next, make your way to Vitebsk to see the Marc Chagall Art Centre and other noteworthy sites. In the evening, transfer back to Minsk. Overnight in Minsk. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Founded in 862, Polotsk is one of the oldest towns in Belarus and the whole Slavic region. It had tight Viking connections and gained maximum prosperity under the reign of the Prince Vseslav Charodey from 1044 to 1101, during which the impressive St. Sophia Cathedral was constructed. Polotsk’s outstanding historical and cultural heritage made it the first Belarusian town to be named Belarus’ Capital of Culture.

Vitebsk is the fourth largest city in Belarus. Founded in 974, Vitebsk holds a long cultural history that sees it referred to as the 'Cultural Capital' of Belarus. It remains an important centre of arts within the country, being home to the museum of famous painter, Marc Chagall and the National Academic Dramatic Theatre, named after Yakub Kolas. It also holds many cultural events, including the international festival of modern choreography and the Slaviansky Bazaar music festival. 

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Day 10 : Minsk

Transfer to the airport at an appropriate time for your flight home or onward destination. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Hotel Minsk

Hotel Minsk is near to many of the cities sights, including the Belarusian National Arts Museum. The hotel has been decorated in a contemporary style. The spacious bedrooms are fitted with modern amenities to allow for a comfortable stay. The hotel has 2 restaurants that serve a combination of local, national and international dishes. Other faciitilites include a fitness suite, spa and hotel bar. 

Visit hotel's site
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Hotel Mir Zamak

The iconic Mir Castle in Belarus provides a unique form of accommodation for visitors to the region. The elegant interior matches the 16th Century architecture of the castle complex. Each bedroom is equipped with modern fixtures and fittings that includes air-conditioning, television and access to wifi. The restaurant, Princely Court, can be found in the dungeons of the castle. Guests can enjoy its medieval charm as they taste a variety of Belarusian dishes. 

Visit hotel's site
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Hermitage Hotel

Hermitage Hotel is situated in the heart of Brest. The bedrooms are decorated in classical Belarusian style, with Slavic ceiling paintings and authentic furniture. Guests are invited to use the hotel facilities, which includes a spa, fitness centre and restaurant. 

Visit hotel's site
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Hotel Kamenjuki

Hotel Kamenjuki can be found in the Belovezhskaya Puscha National Park. The hotel provides the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding lakes, valleys and forest land. The style of the building, along with the interior decor, reflects this natural setting. Guests can enjoy a relaxing stay in comfortable ensuite bedrooms.

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Hotel Semashko

Hotel Semashko is just outside of the historic centre of Grodno town. The hotel has a simple, yet contemporary decor. The spacious bedrooms are equipped with modern fixtures and fittings. The restaurant served a combination of local and international dishes, which can be enjoyed whilst listening to live music. Other facilities include a swimming pool and sauna. 

Visit hotel's site
Extensions

Along Soviet Fringes (14 days)

Delve into the diversity of Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova

Belarus Explorer (10 days)

Soviet echoes, folkloric traditions & pristine nature