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Moldova Driving Guide

Moldova is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2021-07-30 · 15. min

Moldova is the home of the world’s largest wine cellar with close to two million bottles. This young country is not as famous as its neighboring countries, making the exploration of its treasure less crowded and meaningful. Well-preserved monasteries, churches, castles, and fortresses with different architectural designs will amaze you. Moldova also boasts rainforests that will excite those in forest conservation and bird enthusiasts.

Most attractions in Moldova can be traveled within two hours from its capital. Navigating through Moldovan roads is convenient as they are mostly in good condition. Get ready with some of your Romanian phrases that will be useful in greeting the locals. English might not be widely spoken, but people in business and tourism understand English.

How Can This Guide Help you?

With over 50 monasteries and 700 churches in the country, not to mention its ancient castles and fortresses, vineyards, wineries, and forest reserves, Moldova is not to miss out. Generally, the country is safe as visitors rarely report incidents of violence and crime. If you are looking for a less crowded country, then you can hop in and explore Moldova.

Plan your trip and discover more about Moldova through this guide. Read through the next chapter to know more about the things you need to consider when driving to Moldova. Remember to note the requirements to rent a car in the country and the top destinations you should not miss out on in Moldova. What is a better way to travel from one destination to another than having your own transportation?

General Information about Moldova

Despite being considered as one of the least visited countries in Europe, the landlocked country of Moldova does not lack exciting things tourists will be curious about. With various vineyards and wineries around the country, one cannot miss out on trying the world-class taste of wine products. It is also interesting that some ancient tools dating back 1.2 million years ago were found in some of the country’s archeological sites.

Geographic Location

Moldova is situated in the Eastern part of Europe. It is a landlocked country, roughly shaped like a semi-circle. Ukraine borders it to the north, east, and south and Romania to the west. Moldova is considered one of the most productive agricultural regions since ancient times. The country is regarded as a major supplier of agricultural products in southeastern Europe with vegetables, fruits, grains, grapes, and wine.

Languages Spoken

Romanian is Moldova's official language and is widely spoken by about 70% of its population. Other languages used include Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Gagauz. Gagauz is mostly spoken in the Autonomous Region of Gagauz and is classified by UNESCO as critically endangered. The English language is not commonly used but is taught at school from early years. Younger Moldovans and those in the tourism and hospitality industry use the English language.

Land Area

The country may be landlocked; however, it is close to the Black Seas. Its nearest point is separated from the Dniester Liman. Dniester Liman is one of the two rivers where the largest part of Moldova lies. Moldova is about 33,851 square kilometers big in terms of land area. The country is famous for its well-established wine industry. It has a vineyard area of 147,000 hectares owned by families passed on for generations now.

History

Most of Moldova’s territory was part of Moldavia’s Principality from the 14th century until 1812 after it ceded to the Russian Empire. In 1859, Moldava united with a historical and geographical region, Wallachia, to form Romania. It was only for a short time as the Russian rule was restored over the whole region in 1878. Moldova became the Moldovian Democratic Republic in the 1917 Russian Revolution as an autonomous state within the Russian Republic.

The Moldovian Democratic Republic declared independence in February 1918 and integrated into Romania. However, it was disputed by Soviet Russia, and a Moldovian autonomous republic (MASSR) was established. The country’s name was then again changed to Moldovian Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldovian SSR) after Romania was compelled to cede Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union.

On August 27, 1991, the Moldovian Soviet Socialist Republic declared independence and took the name Moldova after seeing the possibility of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. This is why Moldova is considered a young country. It’s as if changing the country’s name over the years was not enough; during a political deadlock in 2009, the Parliament of Moldova failed to elect a new president after Vladimir Voronin resigned. The country did not have a president until 2012.

Government

The country’s form of government is based on the 1994 Constitution of Moldova. The Republic of Moldova practices a unitary parliamentary representative democratic republic type of government where the President of Moldova is the head of state. The president appoints the prime minister. A prime minister is the one who heads the government and assembles a cabinet. Both the prime minister and its cabinet are subject to parliamentary approval.

Tourism

In 2021, Moldova has an estimated population of 4,024,019, based on the United Nations data. The country has experienced a bit of a decline in its yearly population. Moldova accommodated about 160,000 tourists in 2018, an increase from 2017’s 145,000 tourist arrivals. The country aims to attract more visitors as relaxed and visa-free programs have been implemented.

Renting a Car In Moldova

The comfort and freedom you feel every time you travel at your own pace is such a worthwhile experience. Most curious travelers want to stay longer hours at a specific destination and explore the people, their customs, and traditions. And what better way to do it than driving your way through Moldovan roads with a car. It's a good idea to drive for more freedom than riding public transport. There are varied rental car options that you can choose from as you read further. Take note as well of the requirements on renting a car in Moldova.

Car Rental Companies

The best way to choose a vehicle to drive on foreign roads is to check your options first. Different car rental agencies in Moldova offer different packages for your car rental needs. One of the more popular car rentals in Moldova and is frequently suggested by other travelers is Sixt rent-a-car. Its headquarter is based in the country’s capital Chisinau, which is the most accessible place for visitors.

You can choose from its up-to-date compact cars and sedans, sports cars and convertibles, SUVs and vans. Some local car rental companies like Chirie and 4rent can choose from cheap rates if you opt to stay or rent longer. Europcar is another company with high-quality cars that you can book online. If you wish to start driving in Moldova airport, you can check those car rental agencies near the airport, so you don’t need to travel to pick up your car.

Documents Required

A valid driver’s license will be required from the renter, including a valid passport to rent a car in Moldova. Other driving licenses printed in a non-Roman Alphabet are required to have an international driver’s permit. You must provide a credit card as well, bearing the name of the main driver. The same requirements are needed for an additional driver, except for the credit card.

Vehicle Types

Car rental companies vary from cars they are renting out. It also depends on your travel needs; if you drive in Moldova with a group, get an SUV type of vehicle for a more comfortable drive. Common booked cars in Moldova are compact cars. There are also luxurious cars that you can rent from.

Car Rental Cost

Basic rental rates mostly include unlimited mileage, local taxes, legally required third-party insurance, and other add-ons. Emergency roadside assistance is usually in the cost of your rental to cover for any mechanical failure. There are extra charges for those who want to cross borders, drop off and pick up location, car seats, GPS, and winter tires for those traveling during winter.

Remember that you have to return the vehicle after driving in Moldova on the date agreed before the start of your drive. Car rental agencies typically charge the renter if the vehicle is not returned on schedule and if a period of 24 hours has elapsed without any heads up. You can check with your car rental regarding the terms of the agreement about the extra charges in case you fail to return the car on schedule after driving in Moldova.

Age Requirements

The minimum age requirement to drive in Moldova is 18 years old. The minimum age for tourists to rent a car is 21-23 years olds. If you are 21 years old, you must have held your driver’s license for a year to be allowed to rent a car. Meanwhile, for those aged 23 years old, you must have used your driver’s license for three years.

Car Insurance Cost

Insurance is essential when driving a car on foreign roads. Your rental contract includes third-party liability insurance fees. The rental agency will pay for any claims in case of an accident. It is mandatory in Moldova for a car rental company to have third-party liability insurance included on the basic rental services that the renter pays.

Car Insurance Policy

If you think you need additional coverage or protection while driving in Moldova, you may do so by asking the car rental agent. This includes the Collision and Damage Protection, which covers the cost of the damage to the vehicle. Theft Protection insurance limits your financial exposure for the loss of a car. Having roadside assistance covers expenses such as towing, fuel, and unlocking. Remember that you need to pay for additional charges on top of your basic rate.

Moldova Freeway Photo by Alex Kalinin

The Road Rules in Moldova

Driving on foreign roads is always a challenge no matter how good a driver you are in your home country. Road signs might be familiar to you, but some are new and unique in a country. It is better to familiarize the road rules in Moldova to avoid any unfortunate circumstances that could happen while driving in Moldova.

Important Regulations

Road rules in Moldova apply not just to locals but tourists as well when driving in Moldova. You have to be 18 to drive on Moldovan roads. Remember, those car rental companies require you to be at least 21 years old to rent a car and drive in Moldova if you are a tourist.

Drink Driving

There is zero tolerance for drink-driving in Moldova. The drink-drive limit is 0.00%. If you are caught drink-driving at a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%, you will be apprehended and a possibility of fines and imprisonment from three until five years. In 2017, Moldova was considered to be having the most alcohol consumption worldwide, with 17.4 liters per year per person.

Since the country is known for its wineries and vineyards, most families can make their wine products and sometimes exchange products. Drink-driving has also been one of the reasons for accidents in the country. Since then, authorities have implemented stricter alcohol limits and drink-driving laws to reduce drunk driving accidents.

Turning Signals at an Intersection

Whether it is a busy street or a quiet road in the countryside, you have to be a responsible driver. At junctions and intersections, you have to use signal lights to heads up oncoming drivers in case you want to change directions on your drive. This is crucial, especially on roads without traffic lights. After all, signaling ahead to other drivers is also a way of communication while maneuvering your vehicle.

Parking

Paid parking is found in most areas in cities and towns, mostly operated by municipalities or enterprising locals. Parking meters and street ticket machines are available as most parking spaces are in garages and organized lots. When parking your car, make sure to place it properly, and it should not obstruct traffic; police will tow your vehicle if you park inconsiderately. You have to redeem your car and pay towing fees from the car pound.

Make sure to park your car in well-lit areas not so far from where you are headed. Petty crimes are rarely reported in Moldova; however, it is better to be safe than sorry. Meanwhile, for disabled parking, the EU disability badge is not honored in Moldova. Still, you likely get some help finding a convenient parking space if you present it at a parking place and ask for assistance.

Ensure you and your vehicle is in good condition before driving

Make sure you choose legit car rental companies to ensure vehicles are registered. Never use unregistered vehicles in Moldova. Your rented car must be in good condition. Check if everything is functional and ensure to inspect if there are scratches before setting. If there are, immediately give a heads-up to the car rental company. You might end up paying for those after you returned the vehicle. You sure do not want to get charged for things you have not done.

Also, make sure car doors, side windows, mirrors, and number plates are clean. Some cars have built-in GPS. But if you are the traditional one, when you are driving in Moldova, a map will come in handy for you. Remember to bring your emergency kits and other warning signals if you might need them on the road.

Seat Belt Laws

The driver and the passengers in the vehicle must use seat belts while traveling in Moldova. Children twelve years of age are not allowed to sit in the front seat. Meanwhile, children below seven years must be provided with car seats. Take note of these seat belt laws as on-the-spot fines are implemented in Moldova. Once you are caught, you have to settle your violation immediately.

General Standards of Driving in Moldova

Rules on the road are imposed to prevent any accidents from happening both to locals and tourists. You must follow general standards while driving in Moldova. Your focus must be on the road and not on anything else. It must neither be on your phone while driving in Moldova nor your map while checking if you are in the right direction. Road signs will guide you on your drive in Moldova so pay attention to them.

Speed Limits

You are allowed to drive at a maximum speed of 80 KPH on open roads and urban areas; meanwhile, in provincial and rural areas, your car speed must not be more than 50 KPH. There are freeways in Moldova with a speed limit of 110 KPH. Fixed cameras are not very common in Moldova, but you are likely to encounter speed traps. If you are caught overspeeding through the fixed cameras, you will be ticketed, and you will have to pay specific penalties.

Driving Directions

Like any other cities and capital in countries, Moldova’s key cities tend to be very jammed during rush hour, so you better schedule your trip when you are in areas where people flock. Moldova’s highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads, some often lack signage, so you have to pay attention to the road. You also have to pay attention to cyclists, pedestrians, horse carriages, and even other animals crossing the street in most rural areas.

There will be instances that drivers will sometimes make four lanes out of two intersections to cut drivers off. Overtaking slow cars is frequent in some Moldovan roads, even in rural areas, so you should be mindful of them. Approach intersections with care, and if you think you are driving slowly, you can choose to pull over and let those behind overtake you.

Road Signs

For first-timers driving in Moldova, there is no significant difference in traffic signs from most mainland Europe. Nevertheless, it is always better to familiarize traffic signs placed at the side of the road. These are some of the road signs you might encounter while driving in Moldova.

Warning road signs are signs posted on the roadside to warn drivers of a potentially dangerous traffic situation. Here are some of the warning signs you see while driving in Moldova.



  • Level Crossing (multiple tracks)
  • Two-way traffic ahead
  • Roundabout ahead
  • Traffic signals ahead
  • Road narrows on both sides
  • Stop ahead
  • Give Way ahead
  • Traffic queues likely ahead

The list below includes priority signs that influence the priority rules on the road. They normally command who has the priority and must give priority.

  • Give Way/ Yield
  • Stop
  • Priority Road
  • End of Priority Road
  • Give Way to oncoming traffic
  • Priority over oncoming vehicles

The purpose of posting Mandatory signs on the road is to carry out specific tasks, and drivers should adhere to these signs. Below are some signs you will see while driving on Moldovan roads.



  • Straight ahead only
  • Proceed right only
  • Turn right ahead only
  • Proceed straight or turn right only
  • Pedestrians only
  • Bicycles only
  • Roundabout
  • Pass on this side
  • Pass on either side

Right of Way

Traffic from the right usually have priority at crossroads and junctions. If you are about to turn left at an intersection, you must give way to oncoming vehicles. All drivers and cars must prioritize emergency vehicles with blue flashing lights, even if there is no warning signal heard. For buses and school buses, they are the priority when leaving stops. Vehicles also must give way when a bus has signaled its intention to move on.

Meanwhile, vehicles on the roundabout always have the right of way unless otherwise indicated. Drivers must also signal before leaving the roundabout, but they must not do it upon entering. In most key cities, traffic is expected; you must remember not to join at an intersection with heavy traffic unless their exit is clear. This still applies even if you have the priority or the light is green.

If you are a local and are at least 18 years old, you can drive in Moldova. Ensure that you have a valid driver’s license as not having this document will prohibit you from driving even if you are already at the legal age. For tourists who plan to drive in Moldova, you have to be at least 21 years old with complete travel documents and identification.

Law About Overtaking

There is no specific law about overtaking in Moldova. Know that Moldovan drivers tend to overtake if they find you driving slowly. If this case happens, you can always pull over safely and let them pass through first. You cannot compete with these locals as they are more familiar with the roads in Moldova. Take note of no-overtaking road signs to avoid any accidents and other untoward incidents.

Driving Side

You are to drive on the right-hand side of the road when in Moldova. Most countries implement the same rule as Moldova, so you will not have to worry about being familiar with this road rule. You have to be mindful when driving on foreign roads and pay attention to things that may affect your driving, like vehicles overtaking, pedestrians and animals on the roadside, or crossing the streets.

Driving Etiquette in Moldova

Unfortunate events can happen wherever you are, especially if you are not familiar with driving in a foreign country. These things can’t be avoided, from flat tires to possible minor accidents running out of petrol while driving. Being kind and polite when in foreign countries is also one you have to possess, as some circumstances will require you to ask for help from the locals.

Car Breakdown

You need to steer clear of your vehicle first as far out as possible from the travel lane to avoid obstruction of other passing cars on the road. You can call for police or a responder to help you fix your broken-down vehicle. This is where your warning triangle comes in. Place it at the back of your car, so drivers driving next to you will be alerted of a broken-down car. Additional visibility is needed when this happens at night; you can use your beam deflectors in this case.

Police Stops

The possibility of police stopping you is high if you are not following the road rules in Moldova. If this happens, do not just speed away; you have to slow down and acknowledge the police’s presence stopping you. You can pull over to a safe place, not blocking any other motorists from driving. Talk politely to the authorities and verify the reason why they stopped you. If you indeed violated a traffic rule, you will mostly be ticketed, and you need to settle it quickly.

In cases like this, there is a possibility for an on-the-spot fine. Instead of arguing, ask for a ticket with details of where to pay for it. If they insist on you paying on the spot, you need to ask for an official receipt. To avoid any other untoward incidents like this, make sure to follow traffic laws in Moldova.

Asking Directions

Moldovans are friendly, so you will not have problems asking for help or directions from them. English is not widely spoken here, but people from tourism and hospitality, including the younger people, can understand and speak the language. Like in any country, you have to be polite and reach out to them for help. Raising your voice or sounding authoritative when speaking is not recommended.

Just to be sure, here are some phrases you might need when you want to make friends with the locals or simply just want to greet and be nice to them. You never know; you can even build a rapport by using their language.

  • "Vă rog" - Please (formally)
  • "Scuze!" - Sorry!
  • "Scuzați-mă" - Excuse me (formally)
  • "Mulțumesc" - Thank you.
  • "Cu plăcere" - You're welcome.
  • "Salut" - Hello
  • "Bună ziua" - Good day
  • "Ce faci?" - How are you?
  • "Mă numesc..." - My name is...
  • "Încântat de cunoștință" - Nice to meet you
  • "Unde este un bancomat prin apropiere?" - Where is an ATM around here?
  • "Unde este toaleta?" - Where is the toilet?
  • "Cât" - How many or How much.

Checkpoints

Checkpoints typically happen on a country's borders. Authorities usually check for travel documents to verify that you are driving legally in their territory. You just have to be careful on some checkpoints, as some are done illegally. When approaching a checkpoint, you need to slow down and present your passport, IDP, driver’s license if authorities ask you.

What to Do In Case of Accidents?

One of the things that you must do when you get involved in an accident is not to leave the scene except if you need to get treated at the hospital for injuries. Make sure you have your warning devices with you so you can place them to signal motorists of an accident. Don’t forget to call the nearest police station and other emergency responders if there are injuries.

Parties involved will most likely claim for damages made to the vehicles. For a damage claim to be valid, most car rental companies should come with documentation from the police or a police report, apart from the personal information needed. So it is best to stay on the scene and wait for the officer to document the incident.

Driving Conditions in Moldova

Driving in Moldova can be a bit of a challenge for starters. Some drivers are not following rules and safety measures. This may not be the case for every tourist visiting Moldova; still, it pays to be disciplined enough to follow directions when driving.

Accident Statistics

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Moldova has recorded 366 deaths in 2018 from road traffic accidents. The most common causes of road casualties in the country are overspeeding and drunk driving. In 2019, however, it decreased to 274 fatalities, as per WHO data, with vehicles and pedestrians having more involvement with accidents.

Common Vehicles

With over 500,000 registered vehicles in 2017, you can get to your destination efficiently in Moldova. The country has available kinds of transportation of your choice. Taxis, buses, and rental cars are available in Moldova for you to choose from. Most Moldovans use compact cars and SUVs, one of the top vehicles picked by tourists when you visit the country.

Toll Roads

There are no toll roads when you visit Moldova; instead, they have vignettes or road tax. In Moldova, vignettes are mandatory for the use of all the roads in the country. It is a pre-paid sticker that you attach to your car widescreen. This will serve as proof that you have paid the toll-road fee.

A vignette is a road charge imposed on vehicles traveling to Moldova but not registered in the country. Motorists are obliged to pay and are confirmed by a certificate valid for a specific time. It can be processed online with rates starting from €4 for a 7-day stay in Moldova. The rates increase depending on the length of your stay.

Road Situation

Traffic jams are mostly experienced in the capital and some other cities and towns in Moldova. You can expect a higher number of vehicles during rush hour, so better plan your trip if you drive to the city. Most Moldovan roads only have two lanes, so be mindful when overtaking and make sure there is enough space for you to overtake to avoid accidents.

Roads in Moldova vary from paved to potholed. Most public roads in the central towns and cities are in good condition. However, as you make your way to rural areas of Moldova, you will encounter potholes that are hard to see, especially during the night. The worst roads in Moldova are usually in these areas. There are freeways in the country that you can use to travel from one destination to the other. Road signs are also available as you drive along. And if you are lost, you can always ask the locals for directions.

Driving Culture

You need to be mindful of erratic drivers because of traffic congestion and drivers who are in a hurry to get past you. There can be impatient and aggressive drivers you might encounter while in Moldova. Some might overtake you if they see an opportunity, and there will be drivers who opt not to follow road rules in Moldova, so you have to be careful with those. As a foreign driver, you have to be attentive to road signs and make it a habit to follow them even if the others choose not to.

What Is the Unit Used to Measure Speed?

Like most countries, Moldova uses the kilometers per hour (KPH) unit to measure speed. Make sure to be familiar with speed limits as speed cameras are being placed everywhere in the country. Failure to abide by the desired speed limits can cause you penalties. You can usually find these speed limits on the road to guide you while driving in Moldova.

Is It Safe to Drive at Night?

If you don’t have any other option but to drive at night, it is recommended to take extra caution. Some roads in Moldova are not well-lighted and are not well conditioned with the presence of potholes. In rural areas, horses, livestock, and other hazards are common and difficult to see at night. If you could stay overnight and wait for sunrise before driving again, that would be an option to avoid any accidents when driving.

Things to Do in Moldova

Fewer people mean a more comfortable exploration. With Moldova considered one of the least visited countries in Europe, you can expect a greater room for you, a comfortable room to discover this landlocked country in Europe. If you are a tourist who prefers less crowded destinations, history, and architectural designs, you can visit and even work in Moldova.

Drive as a Tourist

You are allowed to drive in Moldova as a tourist. Ensure that you are of legal age. Before driving in Moldova, your visa, driver’s license, international driver’s permit, passport, and other travel documents should be with you all the time. Carrying them while driving in the country will assure you of proper identification, especially during checkpoints.

Work as a Driver

First, you need to have a Moldovan employer to get started. The employment contract from your employer is one of the requirements in securing a work permit or visa. Apart from not having your driver’s license, driving in Moldova without a visa is not allowed if you wish to work in the country. You can secure your work permit from the National Agency for Employment of the Ministry of Economy.

It is an advantage if you speak Romanian or Russian or both to communicate with the locals easily. Having the knowledge and proficiency in the English language will have higher chances of being employed in specific industries in Moldova. Apart from driving in Moldova with a permanent visa, remember you need to have a Moldovan driving license to work and drive in the country.

Work as a Travel Guide

Moldova is one of the largest wine producers in the world, attracting curious travelers and wine enthusiasts. Tourism is one key element in the country’s economy, bringing in visitors from across Eastern Europe and others outside the continent. If you want to become a guide in Moldova, you must secure a license from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism after passing their respective state exam. You also need at least a basic knowledge of tourism principles, culture, history, and language of Moldova.

Apply for Residency

There are two types of residencies being honored to foreigners in Moldova. Temporary residence is valid for five years, and the permanent residency where you can entirely relocate and be a Moldovan citizen. Depending on your preference, you need to secure either temporary or permanent residency permits and a work permit. These permits will allow you to be a resident of the Republic of Moldova. You also have to exchange your local driver’s license for a Moldovan license to continue driving on Moldovan roads.

Other Things to do

You can bring your car to Moldova; however, you must consider the documents you need to get and other licenses you need to present to authorities. Consider these things below before driving in Moldova in your car.

The Top Road Trip Destinations in Moldova

Moldova is home to hundreds of monasteries, churches, and fine wine cellars. The vast array of endangered species being conserved here are a must-visit as well. This small European country is undoubtedly your destination for your international road trip. If you are flying out of your home country, you can start driving in Moldova from the airport located in its capital. Start driving in Moldova now and explore this small country’s wonders.

Chișinău Photo by Dorin Seremet

Chișinău

Before heading to other cities and towns in Moldova, you can do a quick drive in Chisinau. The city’s leading industrial and commercial center has central parks and other historical landmarks showing Moldova’s history. You can also stock some things you need in the capital before heading out to other destinations away from the city.

  1. From Chisinau Airport, you need to travel for 18 minutes to reach the city’s park.
  2. Follow Strada Aeroportului to Bulevardul Dacia/R2
  3. Turn left onto Bulevardul Dacia/R2
  4. Turn right
  5. Follow Muncesti Hwy
  6. Turn right

The capital of Moldova is famous for its Soviet-style architecture and other historical landmarks like the Nativity Cathedral. Here are some places to visit and activities to do in the county’s capital.

  1. Stroll along Stefan cel Mare Central Park

    Formerly called Pushkin Park, this is considered the main park in central Chisinau and the oldest park in Moldova. It covers about seven hectares of land in Chisinau that contains 50 species of trees, with mulberries and acacias being 130 and 180 years old. You can also check the city’s Triumphal Arch and Cathedral Park.
  2. Visit the National Museum Of Ethnography And Natural History

    The museum was founded in October 1889, bringing the name of being the oldest museum in Moldova. The interior is divided into two unique sections - the first section presents the country’s flora and fauna and the transformations over the years. The other area exhibits Moldovan people and their traditions, making people glimpse the Moldovan ethnicity’s evolution.
  3. Discover various plant species at Chisinau Botanical Garden

    The garden covers about seventy hectares, housing different kinds of plants and preserving them. If you are not into plants and just want to unwind from the bustling city, you can relax and have a picnic here. The Russian Academy of Science founded the botanical garden, and since then, there have been trees here that are protected by the state. Chance upon some Japanese sakura if you visit here every May.
  4. Relax by the lake at Valea Morilor Park

    Valea Morilor is another park in Chisinau where most people visit. This park has gorgeous cascade stairs renovated in 2016. Enjoy the fairyland ambiance as you go down the stairs with all the plants surrounding the park to the lake. There is a summer theater inside the park, and you might chance upon performances here. If none, you can just enjoy yourself here sitting on green benches.
  5. Play some recreational activities at Dendrarium Park

    Apart from the restful gardens that many parks offer, Dendrarium Park has large play spaces and extended picnic areas within the walled sanctuary. The park is even famous for parties and local weddings. There are numerous sports fields for friendly and competitive games. Explore the ponds with water lilies or be more active by flying a kite inside the park.

Orheiul Vechi

This is an archeological and historical site located in Trebujeni, Moldova. Orheiul Vechi is a well-preserved historical site that contains traces of settlements, including remains of the earthen and wooden fortresses in the 6th - 1st centuries BC. Considered one of Moldova’s incredible sights, it features ancient monuments and buildings set in the valley shaped by the Raut River.

  1. Orheiul Vechi is about an hour away from Chisinau.
  2. Take Strada Albişoara to Bulevardul Grigore Vieru/E584
  3. Take M2 to R23 în Raionul Orhei
  4. Continue on R23 to your destination.

You can explore the whole complex for a period of three to four hours. With its size, there are several things you can do here. Check out some of them on the list below.

  1. Explore the Cave Monastery

    You will spot the monastery through the bell tower and a cross on the rocks when visiting this archeological complex. This impressive monastery is built inside a cliff high above the Raut River. The Orthodox dug and built the monastery in the 13th century and inhabited here. Inside the monastery, you will see a wide array of historical artifacts and some old church Slavonic inscriptions dating from the 1690s.
  2. Visit the Church of Ascension of St. Mary

    This Orthodox church was built in 1905 and was just recently restored. During the Soviet era, the church was closed in 1944 and was abandoned throughout the communist regime. The monks also maintain the church for the local villagers. You can knock from the church entrance, and some staff members will let you in. feast your eyes with the murals as you explore the interiors of the church.
  3. See some archeological artifacts through the Orheiul Vechi Exhibition Centre.

    The complex sits in the village of Butuceni. There are paths from the top of the hill leading down into Butuceni town. Here lies Orheiul Vechi Exhibition Centre, a modest building that houses a museum with artifacts recovered during the archeological explorations around Orheiul Vechi.
  4. Get to know the inhabitants of the complex through the Ethnographic Museum.

    The museum sits at house number 15 at the village proper. This small museum presents an excursion into the history of the region and the life of the Moldovan peasants and the country's ethnography, from photographs, household items, books, and musical instruments. The museum is always open for visitors. You can just ask the villagers, “Where is the house-museum of Borshevich” and they will lead you there.
  5. Stay in traditional style mini-hotels

    The villages of Trebujeni and Butuceni are on the territory of the Orheiul Vechi complex. They are known to be centers for agricultural and ethnic tourism. Enjoy the view of the 150-year-old buildings and pretty landscapes here while staying at traditional-style mini-hotels. While you are, experience and feast with their local cuisine.

Gagauzia

The Gagauzia region has three towns and 27 villages. It is an autonomous non-contiguous stretch of land where Turkey primarily influences culture and heritage. People here are mostly Christians, but their ancestors are Muslim refugees fleeing from war and looking for a place to live. They were permitted to stay in the region only if they converted. While this region might not be as famous as the others, you can hop in and explore this place if you are curious.

  1. You need to drive for 1 hour and 56 minutes to reach your destination from Moldova’s capital.
  2. Follow Bulevardul Decebal and Bulevardul Traian to Strada Grenoble/M3
  3. Follow M3 to L'580 în Raionul Cimișlia
  4. Continue straight onto L580.
  5. Continue on E584 to Congaz
  6. Turn left

Exciting discoveries await you in the Gagauzia region. Refer to the list below for things you can do in the region.

  1. Explore Comrat Regional History Museum.

    It is a small museum in the region's capital, Comrat. However, it never lacks exhibitions of the history of the region. There are thousands of exhibits here recreating the history of Gagauzia from the 3rd to 4th centuries AD. The first floor of the museum presents the culture and history of the nomadic people and the language. The second one will take you to the First and Second World Wars, including the great famine in 1946-1947.
  2. Get a glimpse of the windmill in Besalma village.

    History says that there are about 2,600 windmills in Moldova at the start of the 19th century. The wooden mill was built in the highest area of Besalma village and became energy for flour production. However, during and after the Soviet rule, the wooden mill was never used anymore. Out of the thousands, only four have survived, and one of them is in Besalma.
  3. Visit the National Gagauz Museum of History and Ethnography.

    While you are already in the Besalma village, check out the National Gagauz Museum of History and Ethnography. Learn the culture and lifestyle of the Gagauz people from their colorful wedding ceremonies, customs, and traditions. You can also discover more about the Gagauz language, which is considered a critically endangered language by UNESCO. Maybe you can learn some phrases from the museum.
  4. Get to know the famous people from Gagauzia through the Alley of Glory.

    Along the alley are installed busts of important people of the region. These include personalities in science, historians, and poets. Names are indicated of every figure for proper identification, especially for visitors. The busts on the left side of the alley are prominent politicians of the region, while on the right are personalities in culture.
  5. Try some wine in Gagauzia.

    Moldova is one of the largest producers of wine in the world, so tasting wine in Gagauzia is a good thing to end your tour here. Most people in the region make their wine, making it cheap and of excellent quality. You can choose from white, red, rose, or sparkling wine.

Pădurea Domnească Natural Reserve

This natural reserve is considered the largest reserve in Moldova, with an area of 6,032 hectares. It is bordered by Romania and sits on the banks of the Prut River. Founded in 1993, the natural reserve is home to a diverse range of plants, trees, animals, and birds. Here lies one of the oldest oak trees at 450 years old. The reserve’s primary purpose is to preserve the bottomland forests and the conservation of some rare species of plants and animals.

  1. You can reach your destination in 2 hours and 26 minutes from Chisinau.
  2. Take Strada Albişoara to Bulevardul Grigore Vieru/E584
  3. Follow M14 and E583/R16 to R57 în Raionul Fălești
  4. Follow R57 and G58 to R57 in Glodeni

Imagine just having some time with nature and participating in nature activities in this natural reserve. Here are some things you can do at the Pădurea Domnească Natural Reserve.

  1. Spot herons in the “Land of Herons.”

    Venerable oaks occupy an area of 120 hectares, and here lie many birds like the herons. They usually nest on the trees near the Prut River. Over a thousand herons in reserve have their nests, not on the bushes but gigantic oak trees.
  2. Walkthrough the “One Hundred Hills”

    The origin of these hills just near the Prut Riverbanks is still being debated. This landscape consists of a lot of hills with a height between 15-60 meters. The highest is the “Gypsy Hill” with 60 meters. You can also witness the sunrise and sunset from the highest hill.
  3. Stay in the cabins at the reserve.

    To perfectly experience life with nature, you can stay overnight in the cabins provided inside the national park. It can be very peaceful and quiet at night with only the sound of some insects in the forest. There are bonfire pits and firewood provided for you for a full camping experience.
  4. Go hiking in the morning.

    Hiking trails in Pădurea Domnească Natural Reserve are safe, friendly, and easily marked. It is perfect for a morning exercise while trying to spot some martens, deer, swans, wild cats, or herons that come to rest at the lake. Before your hike, make sure to witness the sunrise from your cabin.
  5. Visit the Bison’s Refuge.
    The reserves pride themselves on the presence of the bison that have been acclimatized here. Bisons used to live in the Moldovan territories, but they disappeared during the 10th century. Some call this the bison farm, where you will see a small herd of bison. They are considered the toughest wild terrestrial mammal in Europe.

Mileștii Mici

Mileștii Mici was registered in the Guinness World Records as the world’s biggest wine collection in 2005. The complex houses about two million bottles of wine made from crops of various years starting from 1969. Grapes here include Pinot, Traminer, Muscat, Riesling, Codru, and Negru de Purcari, to name a few.

  1. The winery is just 26 minutes away from Chisinau via car.
  2. Head southwest toward Muncesti Hwy
  3. Follow Bulevardul Decebal, Strada Trandafirilor and Strada Hristo Botev to Strada Tudor Strișcă
  4. Take Strada Petru Ungureanu to Strada Grenoble/M3
  5. Turn right onto Strada Grenoble/M3
  6. Continue on Strada Costiujeni to your destination în Raionul Ialoveni

As huge as the many vineyards in Moldova, you will get curious about how it is made and how their wine tastes. Read through to see some activities while you are in a winery in Moldova.

  1. Tour the “Golden Collection.”

    The cellars are so big that you have to have a car to tour the place. The cellars cover 55 kilometers of tunnels and 200 kilometers of natural limestone galleries. It can get chilly and dark underground during the tour, so you better bring a jacket with you. The “golden collection” is where the two million bottles are placed, where the most valuable items are placed. Most wines here are made from crops of different years, starting from 1969.
  2. Discover some secrets of wine production.

    While you are here and on tour, you need to have a guide. The guide will be the ones to explain to you the history of cellars and ways of wine production. It may not be that after the wine tour, you will build a winery at home; still, it pays to have some background of how Moldovans do their wine. You may be able to get some tips from your guide on storing the bottles correctly to preserve their original flavor.
  3. Participate in wine tasting.

    Wine tours will never be complete without tasting its products. At the course of your tour, you will head to the tasting room for the wine tasting. The tasting room is complete with food, well-decorated Moldovan style ambiance, and music from the traditional Moldovan band “Lautari.” Your guide will also introduce each bottle with its corresponding flavors.
  4. Buy some wine in the shop.

    Inside the complex is a wine store where you can shop for bottles of wine of your preference. Prices vary and will depend on the kind of wine you will purchase. Most wine prices start at $30 and above. There are also tour packages where you can score some high-quality wines as souvenirs.
  5. Join the National Wine Day.

    It is not only Mileștii Mici, but about sixty wine producers gather in a two-day event in October to recognize wine-making and viticulture’s significance. Yearly participants grow as the wine industry in Moldova continues to produce world-class wines. The largest event is held in Chisinau, presenting colorful fairs, wine tastings, performances, and some wear Moldova’s national clothing to honor its cultural traditions.

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