The appeal of Belarus lies in its isolation. Alternative values may separate it from its geographical neighbours, with a wealth of Soviet iconography displayed across the big cities, but this allows the chance to visit a cleaner, alternative Europe. In Minsk, a cosmopolitan vibe melds with a national pride. Trendy bistros, cozy cafés and art galleries compete for your attention by day, while busy bars and nightclubs provide the entertainment at night. Beyond the capital, a landscape of cornflower fields, forests and pretty villages awaits. Venture south to discover Mir Castle, a 16th-century citadel that overlooks a picturesque lake, or head west for the UNESCO-listed Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, a primeval forest where bison, wild boar, elk and wild horses roam free. Tucked away in Belarus’s southwestern corner, the charming city of Brest is also worth seeing. The main sight is Brest Fortress, where a famous battle was fought at the beginning of WWII, and the poignant memorial which now stands alongside it can be seen. Belarus offers most types of accommodation, from modest B&Bs to high-end hotels. There are also plenty of self-catering cottages and lodges in the more remote areas.