SCIENCE & EDUCATION
To come to Belarus, all foreign visitors need visas. These can be obtained either from the Belarusian Embassy (Consulate) in your country or on arrival at the Minsk–2 International Airport in case there is no Belarusian diplomatic mission in your country. However, we recommend that you get your visa before leaving your home country because it is often easier and cheaper. We have three types of visas:
- A transit visa valid for up to two days, intended for those who only want to pass through Belarus.
- A short–term visa (also known as an 'ordinary' visa) which is valid for 90 days. It allows you to enter Belarus once within the 90 days stipulated on the visa.
- A multi–entry visa valid for up to one year and intended mainly for business travelers wanting to go in and out of the country a number of times.
Foreign citizens traveling through Belarus to other countries are required a transit visa for entering and leaving Belarus. You need to apply for a transit visa even if you have a Russian visa or a visa for another CIS country.
Traveling by Air
We recommend that you travel to Belarus by air because it is fast, convenient, and safe. Belarus has connections to Berlin, Beirut, Frankfurt, Larnaka, London, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, Shannon, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Warsaw, Zurich, and other cities. The approximate flight time from Minsk to London is 3 hours, to Frankfurt/M or Vienna 2 hours 25 minutes, to Moscow 1 hour 30 minutes, and to Zurich 2 hours 50 minutes.
You can use services of the Belarusian airline, Belavia, or those of other carriers (Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways or Lot).
Traveling by Train
Our trains are cheap compared to western standards. As most trains are in transit from Poland to Moscow, it is better to book tickets in advance. Make sure your passport and visa are valid. When the train crosses Polish, Ukrainian or Lithuanian border, the border guards will check your passports and visas. As for the Russia–Belarus border, it is transparent and no customs inspections are conducted.
Traveling by Bus
Long distance buses are also available. They are cheap, relatively quick and very safe.
The most popular international bus routes are between Minsk and Vilnius (Lithuania) and Minsk and Bialystok (Poland).
Traveling by Car
Tourists may drive their own cars or may hire cars from rental companies. Those entering by car should have their visas registered at the hotel, motel or campsite where they stay for the first night and are advised to insure their vehicle with a Belarusian insurance company.
The following are approximate road distances from Minsk: Moscow 690km (429 miles); St. Petersburg 900km (563 miles); and Kiev 650km (407 miles). Traffic drives on the right. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly forbidden. Speed limits are 60kph (37mph) in towns and cities and 90–100 kph (55–63mph) on country lanes.
As for city transport (buses, trams or trolleybuses), they are cheap, but often overcrowded and lack heating or cooling capabilities. Minsk has an underground system with two lines that cover central Minsk. Trains run between 06:00 and 01:00, while buses, trams and trolleybuses between 05:35 and 00:55. Tickets for buses, trams and trolleybuses can be purchased at newsstands or kiosks or from the driver, and are to be punched on board. Entry to the underground is by tokens, which are obtainable from stations. Taxi service is prompt and fares can vary but are lower than in Western countries.
When arriving in Belarus, you must fill in a custom form declaring your foreign currency and valuable goods such as cameras, computers, and radios. According to Belarusian laws, it is forbidden to export from Belarus more than US$ 10,000 in cash without special bank permission. If you import a sum that exceeds $10,000, you should state this in the declaration form, so that you can export it from Belarus without problems. Keep the declaration form for all the period of your stay in Belarus. As for cashless currency (traveler's checks, credit cards, etc.), there are no limits both in its exporting and importing.
Goods forbidden to be taken out of the country include antique samovars, icons and paintings, gold and silver items made before 1968, military medals, coins, and local currency. To prove that the thing is new and not antique, it should bear the Ministry of Culture's export stamp. So look for this stamp before you buy.
A number of large and comfortable hotels are available in Minsk. Foreign guests prefer to stay in the 5-star Crowne Plaza, Europe , Renaissance or Beijing hotels, 4-star Victoria or Minsk, and 3-star Hampton by Hilton, BonHotel, Belarus, Slavyanskaya, Monastyrski or Green City hotels. Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilev, and Vitebsk have many 2–and 3–star hotels.
Once in Belarus, you are obliged to register your visa at the local office of the Department of Visas and Registration (OVIR) within five days of your arrival in the country. If you are staying at a hotel, the hotel staff will do this automatically for you. If you are staying less than five days, you do not need to register.
Belarus is a country with temperate continental climate. Summer is warm but wet, while winter is gray and cold. Rains occur throughout the year, so travelers are advised to have waterproofs or umbrellas. Here is a current forecast of Weather in Belarus and its cities.
Food is cheap. You can generally expect cheese, fish, all sorts of meat, mushrooms, potato, cabbage, and red beet as the major components. If you know German or Polish cuisine, that would give you a hint of what Belarusian cuisine is. The local dishes worth trying are dracheny, a tasty potato dish with mushrooms, and draniki, potato pancakes.
Useful Phone Numbers
Visa Issues: +375 17 222 26 61
Minsk Airport Visa Office: +375 17 279 20 58, +375 17 279 28 72
Here are some useful addresses and phones of organizations in Belarus:
Emergency Phones (free calls)
Fire Department….… 101
Other Useful Phone Numbers
Taxi: 107; 135; 152; 157; 158
Long Distance Calls: 153
Phone Directory: 109, 185
Gas Danger: 104
Address Bureau: 190
Airport Inquiry Office: 106
Bus Station Inquiry Office: 114
Railway Station Inquiry Office: 105
Chemist Shops Inquiry Office: 169
Exact Time (Minsk): 188
Home Help Service Inquiry Office: 167
Telephone Code Inquiry Service: 153
Weather Forecast: 195