What can be better than a vacation in the countryside? Belarus has wonderful facilities for it. If you are tired of hustle and bustle of a noisy city and enjoy quietness – welcome to Belarusian farmsteads.
Rural tourism is a relatively new type of tourism for Belarus, although the country has already succeeded in it. Today over 1,800 farmsteads in the most picturesque corners of Belarus are open to foreign guests. You may either stay in a cottage house with a fireplace, bathhouse and billiards or you may be given a small room in a country house and live together with the hosts. The options may vary, but certain things remain the same – tasty and clean food, fresh air and sincere hospitality of the hosts.
Belarusians are well-known for their hospitality. At a Belarusian farmstead you will enjoy delicious meals and get familiar with local traditions.
Belarusians still celebrate ancient holidays such as Midsummer and Shrovetide. The magic charm of the Midsummer Night will fascinate you. Young people make bonfires and jump over it cleansing their bodies and shielding themselves from evil spirits.
Shrovetide is celebrated in late winter. It symbolizes the victory of the God of Sun over evil witch Morana, lady of cold and darkness. Usually people burn a Morana effigy and make pancakes symbolizing sun.
Even if you did not manage to come to Belarus during these holidays, you will have good time in a Belarusian village anyway. You can go fishing. Belarus is often called a “blue-eyed” country due to numerous lakes and rivers. There are about 10,000 lakes and nearly 20,000 rivers teeming with tenches, pikes, catfish, eels, pike-perches, and eel-pots.
The Belarusian countryside is an ideal place for wildlife photography. All farmsteads are located in most picturesque places. There you can find shady groves, bondless meadows full of blue cornflowers, riverbanks covered with reed, transparent springs running through the woods, green hills with pasturing horses, etc.
You may also go picking berries and mushrooms, which are in abundance in Belarus. Here you can find boletuses, chanterelles, russules, milk mushrooms, and orange-cup boletuses. Crispy and salty milk mushrooms with onion and oil is a real finger-licking goodness.
You can also practise horse-riding at certain farmsteads. A ride on a horse is an unforgettable experience. You can take a couple of horse-riding lessons and surprise your friends afterwards.
In winter skiing is, of course, the most popular pastime. You can also imagine that you are a landowner and enjoy a drive in a sleigh. The ride will undoubtedly give you wonderful moments of sparkling joy.
On returning back to the farmstead you can take a steam bath and try the herbal tea made by the hostess. The Belarusian cuisine is another reason to come to a village.
Belarusians have developed fascination with potatoes. Potato meals are a distinctive feature of the national cuisine, which has more than 1,000 potato meals. The two most famous Belarusian meals are “draniki” (potato pancakes) and trickled pastries. Draniki are baked in an oven and are served with sour cream or mushroom sauce. Trickled pastries are boiled and then fried potato balls. They can be served either with or without sauce.
The Belarusian cuisine also features a lot of pork meals. In pagan Belarus pigs were sacrificed on winter holidays. Since then Belarusians have been slaughtering pigs in winter and salting lard as well as making sausages and dried tenderloin.
Belarusians cannot do without mushrooms, which are pickled or stewed with meat and served as snacks.
Among traditional Belarusian beverages are kvass, krupnik (a liqueur based on grain spirit and honey) and krambambula (a strong beverage on spices). There is a “men’s” version of krupnik (more alcohol) and a “women’s” one (honey and herbal potion prevail). Kvass is a soft drink, sometimes made of birch sap with bread crusts.
Belarusians are excellent masters of wood carving, leather working, and pottery, so you can get a unique souvenir that will remind you about your trip to Belarus.
The interior of a Belarusian house is traditionally decorated with “rushnik” – an embroidered linen towel. At weddings the newly married couple steps on an embroidered towel. It is believed that they will a long and happy life together.
Children like toys made of straw. You can get straw toys of various sizes in a Belarusian village.
However, souvenirs are not the major goal of rural tourism. Urban residents may entertain themselves in other ways. One can milk a cow, feed chickens or shear sheep. You may go even further and become a shepherd spending a whole day in a field with a herd.
You can grow flowers or vegetables. The life in a village will make you feel you origins and inspirit your. You will undoubtedly have wondering reminiscences about the time you spent in the Belarusian countryside.