9 Things to Do in Moldova. I Dare You to Try Number 7.

December 18, 2017

Moldova

The Republic of Moldova is a fairly unfamiliar landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It has a long history of land fragmentation, including stints at being part of the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Romania, and the Ukrainian SSR.

Per capita, Moldova has the poorest economy in Europe and is also the least visited country in Europe. Should that stop you from visiting? Heck, no! On a continent suffering from over-exploration, the world is beginning to submit to the allure of this culturally unique, affordable, off-the-grid destination.

Moldova has a rich history dating back to discovery of 1.2 million year old Paleolithic era Oldowan flint tools. Middle Age influencers included the Roman and Byzantine Empires, Goths, Huns, Avars, Bulgarians, Mongols and Tatars. Today, Moldova is a unitary parliamentary representative democratic republic, a combination of Slavic and Latin culture, but with a remnant of the past Russian influence.

We enjoyed a comprehensive tour of Chisinau, the lively capital with JayWay Travel. The city offers tourists a plethora of both peculiar and interesting sights, within the city limits as well as a short drive away, including the incredibly quirky time-warp Transnistria.  [more about Chisinau in Unfamiliar Destinations].

1. Take a walking tour of the city

Moldova

The best way to get around the former Soviet city is by foot. The main avenue is Bulevardul Ștefan cel Mare, the heart of Chisinau, and a good base for touring the city.

Moldova

The Parliament Building with “Moldova” carved into the greenery is the most photographed site, but plenty of beautiful architecture still remains along with the utilitarian communist-era buildings.

Moldova

2. Sit on a giant bench

Moldova

The city is not without whimsical touches. We stumbled upon a giant bench in the midst of a block of utilitarian communist block architecture. We could not resist the urge to ham it up with a bunch of photos. Can you blame us?

3. Find the former KGB headquarters

Moldova

How can you help but be intrigued by the place where planning and interrogations were carried out? If you don’t have a local guide to point it out, you probably would not guess that this particular building was one of the former KGB headquarters. The brightly flowered landscaping in front of the building’s façade belies the strategies that were once planned inside. Unfortunately, the building is now privately owned and indoor exploration was frowned upon by that establishment, so we were unable to enter.

4. Check out the rooftop views

Moldova

As sunset approached, we climbed (okay, took the elevator) to the top of one of the city buildings. As luck would have it, there was a rooftop bar, so we each ordered a different local cocktail.

MoldovaI sipped on a delicious “Passion Kiss” – grapefruit vodka, passion fruit cordial, sparkling wine, raspberry powder and egg white – and sat back on plushy cushions to watch the sun go down on the crowded city.

5. Visit Cricova Winery

Moldova has a well-established wine industry, most of which is exported. One of the most interesting operations is the Cricova vineyards and winery. Overland are acres and acres of vineyards and endless views.

Moldova

Photo by Petra Voráčková

But once you enter the frigid cold underground labyrinth, you’re whisked by an open-air trolley through miles of tunnels leading to storage cellars containing old and valuable wines, and the bottling facilities.

Moldova

The tour ends in one of several themed tasting rooms.

Moldova

6. Sample the local cuisine

Moldova

The fare in Moldova is quite delicious, made even better when enjoyed in one of the traditional courtyard restaurants. My favorite was Gok-Oguz, an open-air Bulgarian/Turkish eatery. The cozy individual booths were fitted out with colorful tapestries, cushions, rugs, and pillows.

Moldova

Although the servers spoke no English, they were really friendly and looked gorgeous in traditional dress.

Moldova

Photo by Kerwin McKensie

Pork and lamb are popular, and the flavorful marinated kabobs are mouth-stuffing addictive. The meat is served with side dishes of dumplings, polenta, and roasted vegetables.

Moldova

For a snack, lunch or a lighter meal, my recommendation would be a savory cheese pastry called plăcintă cu brânză.

Moldova

I loved the favorite local desert is called papanași, small handmade donuts smothered in berries and heaped with fresh cream.

7. Try some cannabis coffee

Moldova

Upon request, Tucano’s coffee comes with a dusting of hemp powder. It’s more hype than high, so don’t expect to…get high, that is. In ancient times, hemp was used in cooking, as an appetite enhancer (not so ancient, you say?), a source of vegetable oil and as a remedy. Great fun and a must-do photo op in Chisinau.

8. Relax in the green space

Moldova

Chisinau is considered one of the greenest cities in Europe, boasting more than a dozen parks. Stefan cel Mare Park is one of the oldest parks in the city, founded in 1818. The park has seven entries, a large fountain, and the majestic monument of Moldova’s greatest ruler Stefan the Great, for whom the park is named.

Moldova

Nearby Cathedral Park, in the center of the city, is where you can get the best views and photos of Nativity Cathedral, the city’s main church, and the Triumph Arch located across from the government house.

Moldova

Moldova

9. Visit Transnistria

Just a short drive from Chisinau is Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria. Sometimes referred to as “the country that doesn’t exist,” this tiny Soviet-era time-warp territory self-declared its independence from Moldova in 1991, but is unrecognized by the United Nations or any other sovereign nation.

Moldova

This quirky “country” has its own government, parliament, and military. It is a large caviar producer and lays claim to the Kvint distillery, whose award-winning cognac is well-known throughout Europe. And where else could you possibly see a Soviet tank juxtaposed as if shooting a church?

Click on image to PIN so you can find again!

moldova

Want more Baby Boomer inspiration? Check out these Baby Boomer Travel Trends!

Disclosure: The author was honored to be the guest of JayWay Travel during her stay in Moldova, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own.

8 comments

  1. Comment by Heinz

    Heinz Reply November 16, 2018 at 10:27 am

    and what do you propose for the evenings

  2. Comment by alison abbott

    alison abbott Reply December 22, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    We have a small restaurant featuring Moldova that I recently visited and the food was delicious. I tried the cheese pie, but they didn’t offer cannabis coffee!? Naturally I wanted to learn more after eating there and the photos I saw were beautiful. Sounds like an interesting off the beaten path destination I’d love

  3. Comment by Doreen Pendgracs

    Doreen Pendgracs Reply December 18, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Thx for this interesting post on Moldova. I’ve never read anything about it before. Definitely looks like a country filled with flavour and style.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply December 21, 2017 at 7:47 am

      Moldova is still under the radar, but who knows for how long?

  4. Comment by Kerwin McKenzie (@loyaltytravels)

    Kerwin McKenzie (@loyaltytravels) Reply December 18, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I didn’t try number 7, but I had an amazing time hanging out with you :-).

    I love the city; want to go back and chill for a little longer :-).

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply December 21, 2017 at 7:48 am

      Haha! We did have an amazing time in Moldova!

  5. Comment by Cindy

    Cindy Reply December 18, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I can’t say I’ve ever given a lot of thought to Moldova, but it looks interesting. The wine tour looks especially interesting (with lots of samples I hope) and the food looks wonderful. And maybe it isn’t completely over-run with tourists yet!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply December 21, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Moldova wasn’t really on my radar either, but I’m so glad I got the chance to visit!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Go top