I am traveling in Europe in May. I found cheap flights RT Warsaw to Minsk. Also, at this time, if you fly to/from Minsk, you don't need a visa. I think this would be a great cultural experience. However, wandering if this sidetrip is advisable due to the political climate with Russia. Any words of wisdom or advise? I appreciate any input and thanks!!!
There are no US State Department warnings about travel there.
Send an email with your question to the US Embassy and see what they say
I've done this in the past asking for example about Cuba and someone usually reponds.
I think it's one of those opportunities that should not be missed, especially if the price is right. Been there a couple of years ago - and it was a really interesting experience.
As to political climate - are you worried about Russia vs US or Belarus vs Russia aspect of it?
I am concerned about Russia invading Belarus and Minsk. Right now I plan on going but I'll see what the political climate is in April. What is the chance if Russia does invade of getting my airfare back?
Why don't you just go to Lviv instead, or see more of Poland? If the plane ticket is cheap, why worry about some event for which no one can tell you the probability of occurrence?
Greg, That makes sense to decide about Minsk closer to April. How long will you be in Poland and where are you planning to go?
Becky, I plan on visiting Warsaw, Krakow, and maybe Zakophane. I really wanted to visit Villanus, Lithuania but there are no train connections.
We only went to Krakow in Poland. It is very beautiful and interesting. I'd love to go back to Poland some day.
Give Gdansk a try too (with a side trip to Malbork, a fascinating Teutonic Castle). Also Wroclaw is easy to get to by train or bus (Polski Bus is a cheap alternative to trains).
I understand your concerns, but the chances of anybody here on the forum providing you with a meaningful insight on potential political developments are pretty much close to zero, so any advice you might get basically boils down to personal preferences and biases.
Again, if it were my decision to make - I would jump at the opportunity. Minsk is very different from both rural and urban Poland or Lviv. I'm not saying you will necessarily thoroughly enjoy it, but you will likely remember your trip for quite some time.
I don't know what guidebooks are out there for Minsk, but here's a good resource (see link below). I agree, it doesn't look like Poland in any way (at least judging from the photos - except for one major Stalinist building right in central Warsaw)...it definitely seems like an interesting place to visit.
(* there may be other cities you'll be visiting, like Sarajevo, that are also covered by the InYourPocket guides - just look under "downloads")
Excellent download - concise and to the point. Thanks!
I researched it a bit for a trip next year. I was looking for that one thing that would draw me in, but I just couldn't find it. But that doesn't rule it out. I have never regretted a trip to a destination in Eastern Europe. Nothing about general safety looked worrysome. If it were me I would be inclined to make another city like Kyiv my main destination then count on a round-trip discount carrier to get to Minsk. That way no matter what happens you have options. I think there is also a chance that the visa free status will be revoked under pressure from Moscow.
greg9542, I would also look for a holiday if your dates aren't locked in. Most destinations shine when they are celebrating something. Given what is going on right now I would suspect that March 15th would be a great time to be there. November 7, maybe not so good. We spent time in Kyiv on their 20 anniversary of independence and it was both emotionally moving and spectacular; particularly because of the ongoing war.
James, what a small world! We were also in Kiev on those same dates back in 2011 - great experience (but we were blissfully unaware of any hostilities going on at the time).
Completely agree with visiting on national or local holidays, if possible - but the two dates you used in your example seem a little strange. Given a choice, I would probably shoot for the Day of the City (some time in September in Minsk) or Victory Day (May 9).
Perilofp; Oh, I just picked a few holidays off the internet at random. March 15 is constitution day which I believe is tied to their independence from Russia which might make it a lively event under current circumstances.
November 7 celebrates the Russian Revolution of 1917 which might not be such a good thing under the current circumstances.
Victory Day was a big deal in Ukraine until things turned sour with Russia. This past year it didn't get a very good turnout. The same may or may not be true in Belarus.
But with some googling, especially look at pictures, you can get a feel for what celebration is going to be good and what not so good.
Last year Kyiv was celebrating 20 years and supporting the troops at the front lines. It was a magnificent old Soviet style military parade with the tanks and the rocket launchers and thousands of soldiers with automatic weapons. So many of the units are neighborhood militias, and the neighbors or the citizens of the towns from which they came, stood and cheered and yelled out to their loved ones. Simply an amazing experience and I found the people to generally warm and welcoming.
This article on the architecture in Minsk seemed interesting:
The Fossilized Soviet Architecture of Belarus, in Photos
If it doesn't open for you, copy the title to Google. , ,,