Belarus remains a blank spot on the map for even the most die-hard Europhiles.
Snuggly surrounded by Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine and Russia, the land-locked country only drew 137,000 tourists in 2013, according to the United Nation's World Tourism Organization.
Part of this lack of interest stemmed from the severe visa requirements. For a long time, Belarus was on the list of countries that are hardest for Americans to visit. Visas could cost up to $420 for U.S. citizens.
Then, in 2005, Belarus again came into public eye when former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labelled it 'Europe's last dictatorship' thanks to Alexander Lukashenko's reign as president since 1994.
However, starting on February 12, 2017, citizens of 80 countries can go to Belarus visa-free for up to five days if traveling by air.
Now the question has shift from 'Can I visit Belarus?' to 'Should I visit Belarus?'
If the only thing you know about Belarus' capital of Minsk is from Phoebe's scientist boyfriend David from 'Friends,' then you'll want to read on before before considering putting the last frontier European nation on your bucket list.
The country's destruction during WWII and subsequent rebuilding under Soviet rule is visible in the architecture. Lenin Street, KGB headquarters and Red Square in Minsk offer a preserved look at its time prior to 1991. Countless eye-catching domed cathedrals and soaring church spirals pierce the blue skies in Minsk and across the country.
The National Library of Belarus is among the most curious in the world. Shaped like a rhombicuboctahedron, the building glows at night and is perched along the river bank, offering an observation deck overlooking Minsk.
Belarus is deeply connected to its tragic past during WWII when, as the territory between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, every citizen was affected. Monuments to the troubling times are erected throughout Minsk, including the granite Victory Monument, honoring soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Belarus. Another notable military tribute is the Island of Tears, a statue of weeping women and angels commemorating those lost in the 1979–89 war with Afghanistan.
Traveling outside of the main city will lead you to medieval palaces. Mir Castle is a World Heritage Site since 2000, but it is not just a pretty building. During WWII, the 15th century complex was used as a ghetto for the Jewish population. The Nyasvizh Castle is also considered one of the most beautiful places in Belarus, with ornamental lakes and lush, richly landscaped gardens.
For those interested in Belarus' pre-WWII past, consider planning a trip around a medieval festival. Belarusians celebrate their ancestors' pasts with knights' tournaments throughout the year with some of the most famous occurring May through September. Watch armored men battle 'Game of Thrones' style or don traditional garb and dance to folk music.
Then, when you feeling peckish, indulge in the hearty, rustic Belarusian food. Eat a meal of thick potato pancakes, stewed short ribs, pork and mushrooms and then chase it down with rye beer or, the national favorite, vodka.
So if you are a WWII buff, an architecture aficionado, want a glimpse at village life in Europe or just want to be the trailblazer among friends, consider Belarus for your next trip aboard.