Last updated on December 8th, 2018
In this post, I will tell you about our adventures during a weekend in Chisinau or Kishinev, the capital of Moldova. Read this post to find out why
If you’re new here, you probably don’t know that 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). 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!).
Why weekend in Moldova?
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 (Dec 2018 Update – Andorra ticked). Also, I knew that
Where to stay in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova
Here are some hotels to look at in Moldova:
You can stay in this fabulous 5* hotel for less than £100 per night – Radisson Blu Leogrand Hotel.
How to get from London to Moldova?
As I already mentioned, getting from London to Chisinau is not as easy as it seems. Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine, two relatively big countries, so it’s easy to travel to Moldova from either of those. 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 to Moldova? Yes, there are flights from London to Chisina, 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 in May / rest of the year
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 with lots of parks, so we didn’t feel suffocated like in London sometimes.
Prices in Chisinau. How expensive is Moldova?
So how expensive is Moldova? Is Moldova cheap or expensive?
We were astonished by how cheap Chisinau and Moldova were. 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 around £80 (for two people) in 2 days. So as you can see, prices in Moldova are extremely low.
If you’re a budget traveller, Moldova is a great destination, as it’s the country where you can actually afford luxury for less. Prices in Chisinau are low, quality of food is high and the accommodation, well, depends on your budget but it’s also generally cheap.
As I mentioned before, the only expensive thing about Moldova is getting there, however, if you have enough holidays, you can fly to either Romania or Ukraine and get to Chisinau by bus or train from there.
Where to eat in Chisinau? Best restaurants in Chisinau
Another important question to cover: where to eat in Chisinau? 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. Language in 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).
If you’re wondering, which language to use in Moldova, you can use either Russian or Romanian if you know any of those languages. 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. 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, but maybe that’s because the border officers didn’t speak English.
5 best things to do in Chisinau
Finally, let’s see what you can do in Chisinau. What are the best things to 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 best things to do in Moldova during a weekend:
- 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.
- Nasterea Domnului Catherdral
- The Ethnographic Museum
- The Pushkin Museum
- The Parliament of Moldova
- A day trip to PMR or Transnistria – an independent country in Europe that is not recognized by anyone
Liked this post about the best things to do in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova? I hope it inspired you to visit Moldova.