About Belarus (BY)
The former Soviet republic of Belarus (BY) is located on the edge of Eastern Europe and bordered by Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Russia, with whom it shares the closest political and economic ties among former republics.
Indeed, Belarus is almost exclusively dependent on Russia for sustenance, both in the form of finance and tourism. Although Belarus is quite welcoming of Western visitors, its social atmosphere is tightly controlled and foreigners are regarded with a certain amount of suspicion. The capital of Minsk is the most cosmopolitan and developed of Belarusian cities, and the primary gateway for international travelers.
The western city of Brest is home to a number of notable historic and architectural attractions, but otherwise, Belarus offers little in the way of recreation and leisure activity. Although home to a handful of World Heritage Sites (c.g. the Mir Castle Complex), Belarus is dominated by industrial manufacturing, and a generally unremarkable flat, marshy woodland terrain.
Visitors will have far more independence and convenience when they rent a car in Belarus from one of the major brands.
All attractions and destinations are accessible by a network of roads in fair to excellent condition, with the best roads found near the capital of Minsk. For the most part, Belarusian transport is up to Central European standards, with familiar traffic controls and well marked routes. Your primary concern will be contending with local drivers, who have little regard for safety (and generally up there with the less experienced drivers in all of Europe).
Defensive driving skills are a recommended for navigating roads in Belarus, but there’s really nothing you can do about the local driving habits which at times are reckless. The best bet is to keep both hands on the steering wheel and both eyes on the road. On the bright side, Belarus is exceedingly flat, so you won’t be dealing with any mountain passes in the dead of winter.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Belarus are available from Sixt, Europcar, National, Thrifty, Avis, and Hertz. Select from minicars, compact and economy cars, intermediate and full-size 4-door sedans, premium, luxury, and specialty vehicles, estate wagons, SUVs, and 7-12 seater minivans.
Tips and advice
Animal hazards are common outside of cities, where forests dominate the landscape.
Driving at night isn’t completely off the table, but stick to the major highways and you should be OK.
Thanks to government subsidies, fuel is relatively cheap in Belarus. Unfortunately, service stations aren’t terribly common in rural areas.
Have a chat with your Belarus car hire provider if you plan to take the car out of the country. And be advised that travel into Russia will require the appropriate visa.
Most of the major motorways in Belarus are toll roads, and your car hire should be equipped with a BeToll transponder. Cash is not accepted for toll roads.
Road signs are in Cyrillic and Roman characters but English is not widely spoken in Belarus.