Travel to Moldova

Moldova National Library

I had a chance to travel to Moldova for just one day on the way from Bucharest, Romania to Kiev, Ukraine in 2018. At the time, I was trying to visit as many different countries as possible. Therefore, I decided to make a short stop in the capital, Chisinau. No one I knew had ever been to Moldova before and I was curious to explore. All I knew was that it had been part of Romania at some point, but is now an independent country. In fact, the main language Moldovan is very similar to Romanian. And luckily this meant I was able to use GoogleTranslate for Romanian to English.

This is a very short guide on travel to Chisinau, Moldova based on my one day of exploring the city. It is an interesting place to visit if you are in the area. There were not many tourists around and I think it’s a place less visited than Romania and the Ukraine, which surround the country.

Chisinau City Hall
Chisinau City Hall
Decrepit Building in Chisinau
Decrepit Building in Chisinau
Ciuflea Monastery, Chisinau
Ciuflea Monastery, Chisinau

Highlights

  • Walking around the city to see a mix of new and old (Soviet style) architecture
  • Metropolitan cathedral and Bell tower
  • The Triumphal arch
  • Stephen the Great Monument
  • Colourful blue church of Teodora de la Sihla
  • Ciuflea monastery
  • Moldova National Library
  • Valea Morilor Park and Garden
  • Dendrarium Park
  • Piata centrale market
  • National Museum of History Moldova– I saw an exhibit about Bessarabia territory
  • There are many other museums which I did not get a chance to see because they are closed on Mondays. The exteriors were beautiful though! These include the National Art Museum and National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History
  • Pushkin house museum but unfortunately it’s closed on Mondays so I missed it
  • Moldova National Opera Ballet

Before you go

  • Visas are not required for stays under 90 days. Immigration at the airport was quick and easy, no questions asked
  • It’s good to have a translation app such as GoogleTranslate available as many people do not speak English. Also the menu at the restaurant I went to had no English on the menus
  • The official language is Moldovan which is very similar to Romanian. Luckily, translating to Romanian seemed to work for communication since Moldovan was not available
  • Many museums are closed on Mondays. I visited the National Museum of History, which was open. It was almost empty and the staff were friendly and helpful even if we did not speak the same language
  • Watch where you are walking because some stairs and walkways were crumbling
  • Food is generally quite cheap and portion sizes are usually generous
Chisinau Central plaza and market
Chisinau Central plaza and market
Bus in Chisinau
Bus in Chisinau
Tunnel with graffiti in Chisinau
Tunnel with graffiti in Chisinau

Transport

  • From Bucharest I flew Tarom airlines to Chisinau. Tarom is part of the SkyTeam Alliance including Air France, so I was lucky to be able to use the lounge. The flight is very quick, just over an hour. Chisinau airport is small and efficient.
  • Trolley bus 30 leaves from the airport and heads to the city centre, and the journey was about 35 minutes and cost 2 leu, or 10 pence
  • The city centre is walkable and I travelled everywhere on foot
  • On the way to the airport, I took a taxi and it cost 90 leu plus 10 leu tip, so 50 times more than the bus! It still was not expensive in UK prices, less than five pounds

Accommodation

  • Since I had no idea where to stay, I relied on Booking.com to select an apartment. I read through the reviews to ensure the location was safe and central
  • I stayed at the Suisse Guest House and it was very centrally-located. The outside looked a bit run down but inside was quite new and clean. I had a very comfortable stay and the hosts were friendly and helpful. Also it was great value for money! I am not sure if this guest house is still open but I would recommend the general area around Stephen the Great Central Park.

Currency

In 2018 the exchange rate was 22 leu to one British pound. Twenty-five pounds in cash was enough for my one day of sightseeing and eating. As of January 2022, there are 24.5 leu to one pound.

I recommend to check the currency conversion just before you leave as this fluctuates

Moldovan Leu
Moldovan Leu
Cathedral Bell tower, Chisinau
Cathedral Bell tower, Chisinau
La Mamuca bakery, Chisinau
La Mamuca bakery, Chisinau
Triumphal Arch Moldova
Triumphal Arch Moldova
Potato pies and meat dumplings at La Placinthe
Potato pies and meat dumplings at La Placinthe
Radish and egg salad at La Placinthe
Radish and egg salad at La Placinthe

Food

The La Mamuca bakery had a big queue outside so I figured it must be popular with the locals. There are a few locations around the city. Prices were very reasonable. I had a pretzel and cheese pastry and both were delicious snacks!

For dinner, I ate at La Placinthe to try some local Moldavan food. The radish salad, potato pie and mini dumplings with meat and sour cream sauce were all delicious and filling. They also had a Moldovan rose wine on the menu. It was a satisfying meal and I had a couple of dumplings left to take home. All of that food and wine cost less than 9 euros.

At the supermarket I found some Moldovan chocolates after much searching. In general, I did not find very many Moldovan goods and most foods came from Romania or other neighbouring countries.

FAQs

Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: No, not for the city centre as it is easy to walk around.

Q: Do people speak English?

A: Most people I met did not speak much English, but the aparthotel host spoke English well. I used GoogleTranslate for Romanian and that seemed to work.

Q: Can I travel solo?

A: Yes for a visit to Chisinau it is easy to travel solo.

Q: How easy is it to send postcards? It was easy to find postcards and stamps at the post office in Chisinau. When I arrived, there was a guy buying specialty stamps in the shop but he kindly let me buy my stuff quickly.

A: See Sending Postcards from Abroad for details on cost and the time it took to reach the USA.

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