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New VISA-FREE sight in Belarus: Augustow Canal

Visa-free entry to the Augustow Canal was introduced by Decree No. 318 “Concerning the introduction of the visa-free entry and departure for foreigners” signed on 23 August.

The document allows visa-free stay in the tourism and recreation park Augustow Canal and adjacent territories for a period of up to five days.

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This regulation applies to foreign citizens crossing the Belarusian-Polish border at the border checkpoints Lesnaya (Rudawka) and Bruzgi (Kuznica Bialostocka), and the Belarusian-Lithuanian border at the border checkpoints Privalka (Svendubre) and Privalka (Raigardas).

According to the management of the park, the draft decree included proposals on allowing visa-free entry of foreigners to a considerable number of Grodno region sights, including the city itself, agritourism complexes, villages along the Neman river. More details on the exact borders of the visa-free territory will be announced soon.

The decree will enter into force in two months after its official publication. It will be in force till 31 December 2017 and can be prolonged for an indefinite period.

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The Canal is a second Belarusian sight that has been made visa free. Last year visa-free regime was introduced in the national park Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Foreign citizens may stay there for up to three days.

The Augustow Canal is a cross-border canal built in the 19th century in the present-day Podlaskie Voivodeship of northeastern Poland and the Grodno Region of north-western Belarus. From the time it was first built, the canal was described by experts as a technological marvel, with numerous sluices contributing to its aesthetic appeal.

Starting in the late 1920s the canal became a tourist attraction for the first time. It was a picturesque tourist route providing excellent sporting opportunities for canoeists, sailors and boaters.

Currently the canal offers numerous sightseeing and tourist attractions. Its unsurpassed beauty comes from the natural qualities of the landscape with coniferous forests and lakes, especially around the Biebrza and Netta Rivers, and it runs through the Augustów Primeval Forest from west to east.