“Another alternative would be to fly into Minsk from one of those cities. I just read on Lonely Planet that they have relaxed their visa requirements for US, EU and some other citizens who fly into the capital and stay for five days or less (or perhaps it is fewer than five days?). Either way, if you’re in the area, it’s now easier than ever to check off another “off-the-beaten-track” country. Safe travels.”
After reading that comment by MFK, Ric Garrido of Loyalty Traveler was kind enough to provide this link to the news which corroborated with the information provided by MFK.
Belarus the Latest Country to Relax Visa Requirements — But There are Catches…
The relaxed visa requirements become effective as of Sunday, February 12, 2017 and not before then
You can enter Belarus for up to a maximum of five days
You must enter and exit from the Republic of Belarus only through the border checkpoint controlled by the state at Minsk National Airport — meaning that you can only arrive via airplane at that airport
The visa-free entry does not apply to foreigners paying official visits to Belarus
Arrival and departure is not permitted for flights to and from the Russian Federation
You must have the following documents with you when entering Belarus:
A valid passport or similar official document for traveling abroad;
Financial means: at least 25 Euro — or equal amount in dollars or Belarusian rubles — for each day of stay; and
Medical insurance with coverage for at least 10,000 Euros which is valid within the territory of Belarus
As I am considering the suggestion offered by MFK, I had thought about arriving by train from Vilnius in Lithuania — there is daily service at least three times per day — but then, that would not meet the requirements for visa-free entry into Belarus. The train ride would have been as few as two hours and 30 minutes and cost as low as 29.52 Belarusian rubles; or approximately $14.84 via Belarusian Railway.
Instead, I am forced to consider paying $47.10 one way as a passenger aboard an airplane operated by Belavia — approximately three times the price — and if I read the information correctly, I must also leave Belarus via airplane through the border checkpoint controlled by the state at Minsk National Airport.
I have long asserted that if a country wants to increase tourism, it needs to relax its reciprocity fees or visa requirements — and Belarus is doing just that in what seems to be an effort to increase tourism. Chile did it — as well as Argentina as two examples. Let visitors and tourists spend that money on local businesses within the country instead — the government will still collect taxes through the businesses.