Orheiul, Orheiul Vechi, Moldova, Butaceni, Trebujeni, Ascention of St Mary

10 Reasons to Visit Moldova

Updated December 2023, 10 Reasons to Visit Moldova was originally written in November 2015

I’ve now been back to Moldova a couple of times, and every visit I have an amazing time. Moldova still remains far off the European tourist trail, despite being listed as a top country to visit a few years back.

Moldova will always have a special little place in my heart, though the few that I meet that have made it don’t necessarily see the attraction. With that said, there are plenty of reasons to visit Moldova (and enjoy it).

Start planning your trip! Read the Ultimate Moldova Travel Guide

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Inside Orheiul Vechi, a cave monastery a short trip from Chisinau

1. Moldova Is Budget-Friendly!

I’d have to say Moldova is the most inexpensive place I’ve visited in Europe. The food was cheap, the wine was cheap, the trinkets to bring home were cheap, bar hopping was cheap, taxis are cheap and if you can figure out the marshrutkas- those are even cheaper.

Most meals I ate were under $3 ($1 USD = 17.91 Moldovan Lei). So if you’re on a budget, come to Moldova, where you can probably afford to have a good time.

2. The Wine

Moldova has an ancient history in the winemaking biz. They started crackin’ at it as far back as 3000 BC!

Moldova still produces some of the best wines in Europe, despite being so little known at all. Great places to visit for wine lovers are CricovaMilesti MiciPurcari, and Chateau Vartely.

Awesome Moldova Wine Tours

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Tank at the Trasnistrian War Memorial in Tiraspol

3. Step Back In Time To A Country That Doesn't Officially Exist

Wanna time warp back straight to the times of the USSR? Go to Pridnestrovie, or known to English speakers as Transnistria.

You can easily get to the de facto capital of Tiraspol from Chisinau. Transnistria is a pro-Russia separatist region that as far as the UN is concerned is still part of Moldova.

After my couple visits to Transnistria, I felt that the people seemed to lead fairly normal lives compared to most in Europe or North America, however just in a country that doesn't really exist. Transnistria does use its own currency and you will have to go through an immigration process to visit. Learn more about how you can travel to Transnistria.

Wanna go to Transnistria? Check out the Transnistria Travel Guide

Transnistria Tours

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Arc de Triomphe, Chisinau

4. Chisinau, The Capital City

And FYI it's not said cheese-now, it's pronounced Kish-now. A lovely city, in my opinion- but I also have a thing for brutalist Soviet architecture. Appreciate it for the Socialist-Realist city it is, but don't expect glitzy architecture.

Once you get past the not-so-lovely Soviet-style high-rise apartment buildings you'll probably find yourself in a nice green park drinking a cup of kvas and watching the locals pass by. Plus there are plenty of cafes and museums to keep you busy, and a lively night-scene to boot. Moldovans know how to party, you have been warned.

Check Out Chisinau Tours

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A brânză filled langos

5. Delicious Moldovan Cuisine

Is it just me that has a thing for Eastern-ish European cuisine? I love it! A few Moldovan dishes to give a whirl:

  • Mamaliga: a tasty porridge that you will usually find accompanied with some sour cream.
  • Branza: Brined cheese. Do I need to say more?
  • Sarma: Cabbage leaves stuffed with meat, or sometimes rice.
  • Coltunas: Little ravioli like noodles, stuffed with the above mentioned Branza and then covered in sour cream. Yum.
  • Placinte: Phyllo dough stuffed with just about anything. The sour cherries and of course branza are musts!
  • Langos: Very similar to Russian Piroshki. Fried dough with various fillings. My favorite is Langos with branza.

And this will be a nice transition to...

6. The Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Some of the better tasting plums, cherries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers I've ever eaten were here in Moldova. Plus it gives you an excuse to go roam around the Piata Centrala in Chisinau. In the Central Market, you can buy anything thing from underwear to produce to household supplies.

7. Cognac

Two Moldovans sitting in a grape vineyard, P-I-C-K-I-N-G, first comes grapes, then comes wine, then comes the cognac from a long distillation process...You get the picture.

Ok, making cognac is a little more complicated than an alcoholic nursery rhyme I just made up, but whatever. Moldova has cognac, decent cognac... But cognac isn't called cognac in Moldova, it's called divin. Kvint Distillery in Tiraspol is probably the most well-known, where you can arrange (in advance!) divin tastings.

8. The Lovely Moldovan People

Ok, so I found most the Moldovans I met to be warm and friendly. However this comes with a disclaimer: I couchsurfed while staying in Chisinau on my first visit and I did meet many people Moldovan, Russian and foreign through my host Inna.

At least once a day when wandering around in Chisinau I'd run into one of Inna's friends that would insist on going to coffee or lunch and we'd sit and talk all afternoon. On my second trip I again, found no problems making friends all over Moldova, as well as over in Transnistria.

I did meet a number of strangers all on my own in Moldova as well. I had read a few posts and guides on visiting Moldova that had said that Moldovans were unfriendly and rude. In that manner, I found them similar to many Eastern Europeans (not constantly smiling for no reason and a little standoff-ish at first), but this is just a cultural difference I think you just have to get used to (especially if you're from somewhere like the US).

It didn't bother me much, because I am a little standoff-ish at first, and I've been told I have one hell of a resting-bitch-face. But hey, once you get to know a Moldovan they're good people.

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Ciuflea Monastery

9. Beautiful Churches and Monasteries

There are countless beautiful churches and monasteries scattered throughout Moldova thanks to its orthodox history. My favorite would definitely have to be Ciuflea Monastery, but other interesting cathedrals and monasteries include Noul Neamt Monastery, the cave monastery at Orheiul Vechi, Chapel of St. George the Victorius (small cathedral at the Transnistrian War monument in Tiraspol), and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ's Nativity (cathedral inside of the Chisinau Cathedral Park.

Want to visit Moldova's coolest cave monastery? How to get to Orheiul Vechi

Day Trips To Moldovan Monasteries

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Underground Cellar at Cricova

10. Humongous Underground Cellars At Cricova & Milesti Mici

A visit to Moldova just wouldn't be complete without a visit to one of both of these wineries! Milesti Mici houses the Guinness World Record for the largest wine collection and has a humongous underground cellar. Then of course there is Cricova, which is well known in Moldova for it's prized wines and its sparkling wines made in the classic French method. You can take tours of both wine cellars as well.

10 Reasons To Visit Moldova

So if you find yourself delving further and further east on the European continent, make a stop by Moldova, Europe's little secret. Or if you're like me, you were thinking about it for a while and then you went and bought a ticket to Moldova, and then planned a trip around that. And a bonus reason to visit Moldova: You will hardly run into another tourist, no crowds! Bonus 2: Epic Sax Guy is from Tiraspol (if you even know who that is haha).

Where To Stay In Moldova


Hostel City Center
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Hotel Chisinau
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Hotel Cosmos
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Radisson Blu Leogrande Chisinau
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5 thoughts on “10 Reasons To Visit Moldova”

  1. Am a retired U. S. college prof and had several Moldovan students over a period of 30+ years. Most were wonderful people and I’m sad I did not keep in touch with them. Now, retired, I would love to visit Moldova and especially visit universities in Moldova. Ideas and/or suggestion on good ways to do this?
    Thank you.

    1. My husband is Moldovan and our family lives in raspopeni. If you need a place to stay email Mihail Belibov [email protected] I’m sure they would love to have you. I read your article and it is spot on but you need to go stay in the village for the true Moldovan experience. My father in law will show you how to make your own vodka and take you to his small cellar under the house where you will find barrels of wine and bottles of vodka and food storage of all kinds. He can take you around the block where you will have at least 5 dinners from neighbors calling you in to eat. The one word you need to know is Noroc (nor-roke). It means cheers but it’s in Russian I think. They interchange a lot of Romanian and Russian words because of the USSR era. There is so much history just within their small village. Our wedding lasted over a week. There is a different cultural holiday almost every week. I once had a guy throw corn on me and start chanting something (I’m not fluent😬) my husband said it’s the day of the blah blah blah …… I gave him a look and he explained he was wishing me a bountiful harvest. I have so much love for Moldova I can’t put it in words. It’s the feeling you get when you watch the fields of sunflowers chase the sun all day and come back to a warm home (done by wood stove things that then ventilate though double layered cement walls that therefore heats the house). There is Malliga waiting for you where you eat with your hands if your from the village and share conversation, wine, and vodka with the people that love you most. Misha (Mihail) my husband would love to hear from you. One other thing that will blow most Americans minds. Cows are smart so if you were on the edge of being a vegetarian this will push you over. So there is always one guy that rotates with others to be responsible for everyone’s livestock in the morning to lead them down to the grass fields. When the sun goes down all the cows magically find their way home and moo at the gate for their owners to open it for them (like a dog). So at the end of everyday when the sun goes down you hear this choir of mooing. I could go on forever about the monasteries, the people, and just their way of life. The way they view their fellow man is with respect responsibility and above all love. The people when you know them have far more love for their neighbor then Americans could possibly understand.

  2. Having lived in Moldova, I enjoyed reading this and seeing the familiar pictures. I visited the Cricova wine cave, as well as a couple of very funky (secret) ones! The summer fruits are wonderful!

    1. Oh the summer fruit is the best! I was back this summer but only for a couple days, but definitely ate everything in sight at Piata Centrala, can’t wait to go back again and visit more wine cellars!

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