In this post, I will tell you about our adventures during a weekend in Chisinau or Kishinev, the capital of Moldova. On a sunny day in May, we boarded a plane from London to Moldova with high expectations and longing for a holiday. Even though we just returned from the Maldives two weeks ago, these weeks at work were quite exhausting.
If you haven’t known, we both work full-time. Pepe is a software developer, and I’m a Digital Marketing Manager (though I work as a Commercial Specialist now, it’s a whole different story – not exciting at all). Nonetheless, we manage to travel at least once a month (mostly twice) and our travels are only limited by the number of vacation days and our salaries. If you want to know how to travel more with same holiday entitlement as everyone else – I have a post for you. Hope it helps!).
Most of our colleagues were surprised by our destination choice. Even though we travel to many non-touristy unusual destinations like Georgia (read the blog post about Tbilisi), Armenia (read a post here) and Balkans (we made a road trip through the entire Balkan Peninsula, people still ask why. To be honest, some of my favourite trips ever have been to the lesser known countries, so I genuinely don’t understand these questions. Moldova was on my list for a while, but it’s quite expensive to fly there from London (more about it in the next chapter), so I was postponing it for like forever.
Moldova was also supposed to be the 65th country I visited, and after Moldova, there were only two countries in Europe left that I have yet to visit: Andorra and Kosovo. Also, I knew that weather in Moldova in May would be very nice, so I was waiting for sunshine and short dresses.
Where to stay in Chisinau
We stayed in a lovely studio which we rented through Airbnb (if you don’t have Airbnb – use this link, you’ll get something like 20 euros credit for your first booking). However, if you prefer hotels, there are some to look at:
You can stay in this fabulous 5* hotel for less than £100 per night – Radisson Blu Leogrand Hotel.
Getting to Chisinau: looking for the cheapest flights to Chisinau
As I already mentioned, getting to Chisinau or Kishinev, the capital of Moldova is not as easy as it seems. Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine, two relatively big countries, so it’s easy to get there from there. Also, a massive chunk of the population of Moldova works in Russia, so there are regular cheap flights to and from Russia. But what about the UK? Yes, there are flights, but they are far from being super cheap. Ours were £150 return, and it was probably the highest high price I’ve ever paid for a low-cost airline (it was Wizz Air).
Weather in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova
Weather in Chisinau or Kishinev (how it’s called in Russian) is incredible from April to October, so it’s a perfect time to visit Moldova. We were visiting during the May bank holiday (later one, at the end of May), so Chisinau weather didn’t disappoint us – it was around 26-28 degrees and very sunny. Chisinau is a very green city, so we didn’t feel suffocated.
Prices in Chisinau
We were astonished by how cheap Chisinau was. Seriously. We went to some of the best restaurants, coffee places, used public transport and taxis to and from the airport, tried craft beer, went on a day trip to a surreal communist country called Transnistria (blog post coming soon) and spent £70 (for two people). So as you can see, prices in Moldova are extremely low.
Where to eat in Chisinau? Best restaurants in Kishinev
We have been to a couple of restaurants in Chisinau and would recommend some in a heartbeat. Try local craft beers and BBQ ribs in the Smokehouse restaurant in the city centre of Chisinau. For local and traditional foods, head to La Placinte – it’s a chain of restaurants and all of them are amazing. For nice brunches, you can go to KEKS that is close to the Main Bus station in Chisinau. Also, Tucan Coffee serves nice desserts and coffee.
What is food like in Moldova? Well, it’s a mix of Russian food (you can read about popular Russian dishes here) and Romanian food.
Our impressions of Moldova
We were a bit scared that we wouldn’t like Moldova at all given that it’s officially the poorest country in Europe. However, Moldova was nice and welcoming, people were amicable and the capital of Moldova, Chisinau, well, it didn’t have much to see, but it’s such a friendly, safe, green and well-taken care of city (in the city centre), that I was genuinely surprised. I liked it way more than Tirana, Albania (sorry, Tirana) or even Bucharest (sorry, Bucharest, but Chisinau impressed me more). Of course, you can see almost no brand stores and expensive things in Moldova, but is happiness really about buying expensive things?
If you’re wondering, which language to use in Moldova, you can use either Russian or Romanian. English is spoken (sometimes), so you won’t be lost, but don’t expect all the people to speak English. The official language in Moldova is Moldovan (Romanian), but Russian is also widely spoken (every single person I met spoke Russian perfectly).
Moldova… didn’t want to let me in?
What I didn’t like in Moldova was … the passport control. I’m a Russian citizen living and working in London; however, nowhere in the world, I had so many questions when entering the country as in Moldova. I was asked to show my hotel bookings, return flights, was asked 1000 question including the ones about my occupation and itinerary. I still quite don’t understand whether the lady (the border officer) thought that it’s suspicious for me to visit Moldova (because there is not much to do) or she genuinely thought that I want to be an illegal immigrant?). Given that 1/3 of Moldova works in Russia, I don’t think it’s a case. I guess I will never find out. But the aftertaste remained, and I’m quite unhappy about it. Pepe, who holds a Spanish passport, wasn’t asked a word when he was standing next to me.
5 best things to do in Chisinau
Finally, let’s see what you can do in Chisinau. My best bet was walking around the city and enjoying it, taking the photos of the best spots, however, if you prefer to have a more …defined itinerary (I don’t blame you :D), here are the visit-worthy spots in the capital of Moldova:
1. Cricova Winery – is one of the most prominent underground wineries in the works, but it only works from Monday to Friday and needs a reservation.
2. Nasterea Domnului Catherdral
3. The Ethnographic Museum
4. Pushkin Museum
5. The Parliament of Moldova
Liked this post about the weekend in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova? Share it on Social Media!