Belarus relaxed the entry requirements for nationals from 80 countries in February 2017 (read more here) and I have tried to incorporate the country to my travel plans ever since.
I was in Amsterdam last week and decided to fly to Minsk for the weekend. Belavia offers direct flights between the cities but can be somewhat difficult to find OTAs willing to ticket.
I thought that the Visa waiver experience could be cumbersome because it was just introduced bit more than 12 months but it couldn’t have been easier. There are ZERO forms to fill – neither for immigration nor for customs.
There is place to buy the required insurance in the arrivals hall. I have insurance through Amex but decided to buy one nevertheless as it only cots 2 euros for 2 days and the immigration agent might have had some trouble understanding the Amex leaflet in Finnish.
You can pay the insurance in euros and I received the change back in euro coins.
You just present your passport and the purchased health insurance for the immigration agent. The lady only asked how many days I was going to stay and if I was going to be just in Minsk. I was not asked to present onward ticket (I would have had on my phone).
They really go through your passport carefully and with small magnifying glass as well. Hadn’t seen anything like this recently at any other immigration.
Here’s the Belarus information about the Visa free travel (access their page here):
The experience was really smooth. I wish that most of the countries would move away from those filled immigration and customs forms.
There is Uber in Belarus that works perfectly from the airport and within the city as well. I didn’t use regular taxis at all.
DoubleTree hotel has fantastic location just right in the city center and is more convenient for exploring the sights than the Marriott where I also stayed at.
Weekend is just about right to see the sights of Minsk. Most of the city was destroyed during the second world war, so there is not much old left.