Step by Step Moldova Travel Guide

Moldova, a hidden gem in Eastern Europe, is a land of surprises. Often overlooked by travelers, this country boasts rocky hills, dense forests, and a historic wine region. With its rich history and unique attractions, Moldova offers an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Step by Step Moldova Travel Guidel

Moldova welcomes just over 300,000 visitors annually, making it one of Europe’s least-visited destinations. Despite its modest tourism numbers, the country offers captivating experiences for those willing to explore its charms.

Getting Started (Entry Requirements)

  • Visa: Check the latest Moldova visa requirements for your nationality.
  • Currency: Moldovan Leu (MDL) is the local currency.
  • Language: Romanian is the official language.

Best Time to Visit

  • Climate: Moldova experiences a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters.
  • Peak Season: Late spring to early autumn offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities.

Top 5 Must-See Attractions in Moldova

Each of these experiences captures the essence of Moldova's diversity, from its historical significance to its natural allure. Exploring these attractions promises a deeper understanding and appreciation for this often-overlooked European destination.

1. Chisinau Exploration

Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, is a vibrant hub of culture and history. Take time to wander through its streets adorned with classic Soviet and 1950s Brutalist architecture. Don't miss the impressive Nativity Cathedral, an architectural marvel designed by Abraham Melnikov. 

Dive into the city's past at the Triumphal Arch, symbolizing Russia's victory over the Ottoman Empire. Stefan cel Mare Central Park provides a serene escape, perfect for unwinding amidst nature.

2. Bender's Ottoman Fortress

An hour's drive from Chisinau lies Bender, known for its Ottoman Fortress. Despite being under the de-facto rule of Transnistria, the fortress stands as a testament to history, having witnessed various rulers over the centuries. 

Exploring this 16th-century relic unveils layers of Romanian, Russian, and Moldovan influence.

3. Moldovan Wine Sampling

Indulge in Moldova's world-renowned wine culture. With a quarter of the population connected to winemaking, Moldova boasts impressive vineyards and cellars. Regions like Balti, Codru, Purcari, and Cahul offer delightful winery tours. Savor the richness of Moldovan wine, deeply rooted in a tradition dating back to 3000 BCE.

4. Tiraspol and Transnistria Exploration

Tiraspol, the largest city in the breakaway Transnistrian republic, retains its Soviet-era charm. Marvel at Soviet monuments near the Palace of the Soviets and delve into the history commemorated at Suvorov Square. Venture further into Transnistria, discovering its unique culture, including the colorful Noul Neamt Monastery and experiencing a region with its own currency and leadership.

5. Discovering Naslavcea's Natural Beauty

Naslavcea, often referred to as the "Switzerland of Moldova," offers picturesque landscapes and serene vistas. Nestled along the Dniester River, this northern village invites nature enthusiasts with mountainous trails, caves, and breathtaking viewpoints. It's a haven for those seeking an escape into Moldova's pristine wilderness.

Other Things to See and Do in Moldova

Moldova is a treasure trove of diverse attractions, from historic fortresses to serene parks, each offering a unique experience.

>Other Things to See and Do in Moldova

1. Naslavcea - The "Switzerland of Moldova"

  • Location: Northernmost part of Moldova, on the banks of the Dniester River.
  • Highlights: Picturesque village with mountainous hiking trails, viewpoints, and caves.
  • Recommendation: Ideal for nature enthusiasts seeking a tranquil escape.

2. Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia

  • Location: Southern part of Moldova.
  • Insights: Learn about the Gagauz people, who comprise 70% of the population.
  • Must-Visit: Capital city Comrat, National Gagauz History Museum, and Ethnographic Museum.
  • Note: Currently in a truce with Moldova, offering a unique cultural experience.

3. Orheiul Vechi - Archaeological and Ecclesiastical Complex

  • Location: 60 kilometers north of Chisinau.
  • Attractions: Cave monastery, ruins, and cave paintings dating back over 2,000 years.
  • Respect: Dress modestly as it is a place of worship.

4. National Archaeology & History Museum

  • Established: 1983.
  • Collection: Over 263,000 items, including a 2,000-year-old Sarmatian urn and Soviet-era artifacts.
  • Admission: 10 MDL; free on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month.

5. Piata Central - Open-Air Market in Chisinau

  • Location: Heart of Chisinau.
  • Offers: Fresh produce, clothing, souvenirs, and local products.
  • Tip: Prices are negotiable, so don't hesitate to barter.
  • Operating Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 7 am-6:30 pm.

6. Bendery Fortress

  • Built: 16th century during the Ottoman era.
  • Purpose: Protection against invading Russian forces.
  • Exploration: Walk the ramparts, explore narrow tunnels, and enjoy spectacular views.
  • Admission:25 MDL; tours start at 75 MDL.

7. Moldova’s Little Prince Statue

  • Inspiration: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book Le Petit Prince.
  • Location: Valea Morilor Park by the lake.
  • Challenge: Small statue (less than 4 inches tall) representing planets from the novel.

8. Stefan cel Mare Central Park

  • Oldest Park: Established in the 19th century.
  • Features: Central fountain, manicured shrubs, monuments to historical figures.
  • Size: Spans 17 acres; a blend of history and natural beauty.

9. Soroca Fortress

  • Historical Significance: Built in 1499 by Stephen the Great.
  • Design: Western European style with four massive stone towers.
  • Purpose: Defense against Ottomans and later Russians.
  • Current Status: Closed for renovations.

10. Military Museum

  • Location: In the capital.
  • Exhibition: Insightful display on Soviet repression during the occupation.
  • Content: Videos, photos, dioramas, and articles.
  • Admission: 10 MDL; Closed on Mondays.

11. Triumphal Arch - Holy Gate

  • Monument: Commemorates Russia’s victory over the Ottoman Empire.
  • Height: 13 meters; reminiscent of a mini Arc de Triomphe.
  • Location: Center of Chisinau; a historical landmark.

Explore Moldova beyond its mainstream attractions for a diverse and enriching travel experience.

Accommodation Costs in Moldova

Accommodation options in Moldova cater to various budgets: Moldova, with its diverse accommodation options and affordable culinary delights, offers a budget-friendly travel experience.

Accommodation Costs in Moldova


  • Price Range: Starting at approximately 250 MDL per night for dorms with 10-20 beds.
  • Facilities: Commonly include free Wi-Fi, kitchen access, and some offer complimentary breakfast.
  • Availability Note: Limited hostel options, advisable to book early due to limited capacity.

Budget Hotels

  • Cost: Beginning at around 700 MDL per night.
  • Facilities: Generally comfortable, but might have slightly dated decor. Amenities often include TV, coffee/tea, and free breakfast.


  • Locations: Mostly available in Chisinau, Tiraspol, and a few spots in Balti.
  • Pricing: Private rooms start at 600 MDL per night, averaging 800-1,000 MDL. Entire homes/apartments start at a minimum of 770-1,300 MDL per night, potentially reaching 2,000 MDL or more, especially without early booking.


  • Wild Camping: Free and safe on public land, advisable to exercise common sense.
  • Campgrounds: Basic plot without electricity costs around 150-200 MDL per night.

Food Expenses in Moldova

From budget hotels to wild camping and a blend of local and international cuisine, exploring Moldova can be both economical and enriching.

Food Expenses in Moldova

Local Cuisine

  • Cost: Affordable local meals start at about 120 MDL.
  • Common Foods: Beef, pork, potatoes, cabbage, Mamaliga (cornmeal porridge), ghiveci (lamb/goat stew), branza (brined cheese).

Fast Food

  • Availability: Mostly found in the capital.
  • Price Range: Combo meals around 100 MDL, while sandwiches cost about 60 MDL.

International Cuisine

  • Options: Limited availability outside the capital.
  • Costs: Asian cuisine (Chinese, Thai) around 80-110 MDL, with pizza priced at 90-100 MDL in some larger cities.

Restaurant Dining

  • Three-Course Meal: Approximately 225 MDL at eateries serving traditional cuisine.
  • Local Delicacy: Try placinte, a cheese-filled pastry available at various bakeries and cafes.


  • Beer/Cappuccino: Priced between 25-40 MDL at bars and cafes.
  • Wine: A bottle costs around 70 MDL.

Grocery Shopping

  • Expense: Expect to spend around 400 MDL for a week's groceries, covering staples like meat, pasta, rice, and seasonal produce.

These estimations provide a general idea of the costs you might encounter while traveling through Moldova. Prices may vary based on locations, seasons, and personal preferences.

Backpacking Moldova: Suggested Budgets

When planning your backpacking adventure in Moldova, understanding your budget is crucial. Here are suggested budgets based on different travel styles to help you plan your expenses effectively.

Backpacking Moldova: Suggested Budgets

Daily Budgets in Moldovan Leu (MDL)

Backpacker Budget (700 MDL/day)

  • Accommodation: Hostel dorm
  • Meals: Cooking some meals, occasional eating out
  • Transport: Public transportation
  • Activities: Mostly free activities like hiking
  • Estimated Daily Cost: 700 MDL

Mid-Range Budget (1,800 MDL/day)

  • Accommodation: Private Airbnb
  • Meals: Eating out at budget-friendly restaurants
  • Transport: Occasional taxi rides
  • Activities: Visiting museums, wine tours, etc.
  • Estimated Daily Cost: 1,800 MDL

Luxury Budget (2,900+ MDL/day)

  • Accommodation: Higher-end lodging options
  • Meals: Dining at various restaurants
  • Transport: Renting a car for convenience
  • Activities: Premium tours and activities
  • Estimated Daily Cost: 2,900+ MDL

Important Notes

  • Daily Averages: These are approximate daily averages; your spending may vary.
  • Flexible Spending: You might spend less on certain days, adjusting your budget accordingly.
  • General Guidance: Use these budget outlines as a starting point for planning your expenses while allowing for variations based on your preferences and activities.

Budgeting Chart (Daily Averages)

  • Backpacker: 700 MDL/day
  • Mid-Range: 1,800 MDL/day
  • Luxury: 2,900+ MDL/day

Understanding your budget helps in planning a rewarding and financially feasible trip. Moldova offers various options catering to different budgets, ensuring travelers can explore this hidden European gem while managing expenses according to their preferences and resources.

Moldova Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Implementing these money-saving tips while exploring Moldova will not only help you stick to your budget but also enhance your experience by allowing you to delve deeper into the local culture and natural beauty without breaking the bank.

Free Walking Tours

  • Chisinau & Tiraspol: Join local-led free walking tours to explore the city's history and culture. Remember to tip your guide as a courtesy.

Wild Camping

  • Legal and Safe: Take advantage of Moldova's legality for wild camping on public land as a budget-friendly accommodation option.

Self-Catering Accommodation

  • Cooking Option: Book accommodations with kitchens to prepare your meals. Buying groceries might not be fancy, but it's cost-effective.


  • Stay Locally: Consider Couchsurfing to stay with locals, gaining insights and saving on accommodation costs. Availability might be limited outside the capital.

Walking Instead of Transport

  • Walkable Cities: Major Moldovan cities are pedestrian-friendly, making walking a convenient and money-saving mode of transport.

Utilize Free Spaces

  • Parks & Hiking Trails: Explore free parks and hiking trails across Moldova for budget-friendly outdoor experiences.

Carry a Reusable Water Bottle

  • Safe Tap Water: Enjoy safe tap water by carrying a reusable water bottle, saving money and reducing plastic waste. Consider using brands like LifeStraw for filtered bottles.

Getting Around Moldova

Moldova offers various transportation options for travelers to explore its landscapes and attractions. Here's a detailed guide on navigating the country:

Getting Around Moldova

Bus Travel

  • Bus Stations: Chisinau houses three bus stations connecting cities and regions.
  • Minibusses vs. Coach Buses: Minibusses are faster but smaller; coach buses are safer.
  • Ticket Costs: Chisinau to Tiraspol around 50 MDL; other city connections under 150 MDL.

Train Travel

  • Reliability: Trains are safe but mostly older Soviet-era trains.
  • Usage: Suitable for neighboring countries.
  • Bucharest Route: 9-hour overnight trip costing 510 MDL, offering cabins with beds.


  • Domestic Flights: Not available within Moldova.

Car Rental

  • Cost: Rentals as low as 500 MDL per day for multi-day options.
  • Requirements: International Driver’s Permit (IDP) and proper insurance due to road conditions.


  • Common Practice: Widely accepted; locals often hitchhike.
  • Tips: Consider signage, maintain a presentable appearance.

Remember to verify current schedules, costs, and travel details before planning your trip within Moldova.

When to Go to Moldova

Moldova experiences diverse weather conditions throughout the year, offering varied experiences based on the season. Here's a breakdown of the best times to visit:

Spring (April - May)

  • Weather: Pleasant temperatures ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50-59°F).
  • Nature: Ideal for hiking and exploring nature as flora blooms and leaves change colors.
  • Vineyards: Witness grape harvesting in autumn.
  • Crowd: Fewer tourists compared to the peak season.

Summer (June - August)

  • High Season: July and August are the busiest months.
  • Weather: Warmer temperatures with highs between 20°C and 27°C (68-81°F).
  • Tourist Activity: Increased tourist presence; attractions might be busier.
  • Outdoor Activities: Ideal for outdoor pursuits and sightseeing.

Autumn (September - October)

  • Weather: Mild temperatures, similar to spring, making it suitable for exploration.
  • Nature: Beautiful scenery with changing colors and pleasant temperatures.
  • Vineyards: Another opportunity to witness grape harvesting.

Winter (November - March)

  • Weather: Cold temperatures averaging around -4°C (23°F).
  • Tourist Flow: Minimal tourist visits; cities may appear bleak, especially Soviet-era areas.
  • Advisory: Not recommended for travel due to cold weather and lack of tourist activities.

Best Times for Specific Activities

  • Hiking and Nature Exploration: April-May, September-October.
  • Vineyard Visits: Autumn months for grape harvesting.
  • City Sightseeing: Summer months for warmer weather and active city life.

Note: Consider avoiding winter visits due to harsh weather conditions and limited tourist activities. For a vibrant and enjoyable experience, plan your trip during spring, summer, or autumn for comfortable weather and diverse activities.

Staying Safe in Moldova

Moldova generally boasts low violent crime rates against tourists, but petty crimes like scams and pick-pocketing are prevalent, especially in urban areas like Chisinau. Here's how to stay safe:

Avoiding Scams and Pick-Pocketing

  • Be Vigilant: Stay cautious in high-traffic areas where scams and pick-pocketing are common, especially around bus stations.
  • Distractions: Be wary of individuals initiating conversations or young children approaching you, as they might be distractions for accomplices attempting to steal your belongings.
  • ATM Safety: Use ATMs within banks rather than street ATMs to minimize the risk of scams.

Protecting Valuables

  • Keep Valuables Concealed: Avoid displaying valuable items in public, especially in crowded places like buses and trains.
  • Car Safety: If renting a car, ensure no valuables are left inside overnight to prevent potential break-ins.

Dealing with Emergencies

  • Emergency Numbers: Dial 903 for an ambulance and 902 for police assistance in case of an emergency or requiring immediate help.

Travel Insurance

  • Essential Protection: Purchase comprehensive travel insurance to safeguard against illness, injury, theft, or trip cancellations. It offers extensive coverage in unforeseen circumstances.


By staying vigilant, concealing valuables, and being cautious in public spaces, visitors can navigate Moldova safely. Prioritizing personal safety measures and obtaining travel insurance ensures a secure and worry-free travel experience in this lesser-explored European destination.

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