Travel Guide Europe Moldova Chisinau





© lavintur

Chişinău (pronounced as ki-shi-NEV), also known as Kishinev, is the capital of Moldova. Located in the central parts of the country along the Bic river, surrounded by green rolling hills, it is the biggest city in the country and also the cultural and economic heart. It is one of the greenest and smallest capitals in Europe with just over 600,000 people living in the city. You won't notice much of this along the central boulevard where the massive Moldovan government building and several other large buildings makes you feel small just like any other former communistic city does. The city itself isn't particularly beautiful but deserves at least a day to appreciate it and visit one of its museums and of course Chisinau's own replica of the Arc de Triomphe, although much smaller.



Sights and Activities

Milestii Mici

Visit the world's largest wine cellar and Europe's largest wine collection at Milestii Mici winery. Located only 20 kilometres south of Chisinau makes this sight an excellent day trip from the capital. The winery has an underground wine city made of limestone making the wine cellar stretch for 250 kilometres, although only 120 kilometres are currently in use. It is possible to travel in these tunnels by car or bike! And the best part is the tour ends with a wonderful tasting.

Other Sights and Activities

  • The Main Square of General National Meeting - Located on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard this square is the center for tourism in the capital. There are churches, two large parks, a museum of the city, a central market, a souvenir market and also a World War II memorial to explore in the area.
  • Stefan Cel Mare Monument (Monumentul lui Ștefan cel Mare). The monument to Stephen III of Moldovia who in the 15th century achieved European fame by resisting the Turkish advances. The monument is the gateway to the beautiful park of the same name.
  • Cathedral Park (Parkul Catedralei) (in the very centre) - The centre is adorned with the Nativity Cathedral, the main church for the city. To the Southwest is the Triumphal arch constructed in 1841 which is the center piece of the Great National Assembly Square. Across Stefan cel Mare Boulevard is the Government House. The city’s biggest flower market is on the north side of the park along Banulescu Bodoni street. At the intersection of Stefan cel Mare and Banulescu Bodoni is a statue of Stefan cel Mare.




Chisinau has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. Summertime is from June to September with temperatures averaging around 27 °C, while winters (December to February) are between zero and -8 °C on average. Absolute highs and lows are aroun 37 °C and -30 °C respectively. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year with some more rain in summer, when sometimes heavy showers and thunderstorms occur. May and September are very good months for a visit.

Avg Max0 °C1.6 °C7 °C15.7 °C21.7 °C24.9 °C26.3 °C26.3 °C22 °C15.3 °C7.9 °C2.6 °C
Avg Min-6 °C-4.3 °C-0.6 °C5.7 °C11.1 °C14.4 °C16 °C15.4 °C11.2 °C6 °C1.6 °C-2.8 °C
Rainfall40 mm38 mm35 mm42 mm51 mm76 mm69 mm45 mm46 mm27 mm40 mm38 mm
Rain Days121211101112108661112



Getting There

By Plane

Air Moldova is the national airline of the country and is based at Chişinău International Airport (KIV), near the capital. Destinations include Athens, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Paris, Milan, Rome and Vienna. Air Baltic flies to and from Riga and Vilnius and LOT Polish Airlines to and from Warsaw.

There are three taxi companies which operate at the airport. The fixed fares range from about 80 to 120 lei depending on which sector of the city you are going. While better than in the past, the taxi system is still not perfect and it is likely they will try to come up with a reason to charge you extra. It is cheaper to wait for a taxi dropping someone off at the airport and use that one to return to your destination. Always agree the price before entering the taxi.

The cheaper alternative is to take minibus № 165 which takes you through Botanica to the center, Izmail street. Tickets cost 3 lei; luggage will cost you another ticket. The minibuses are white vans leaving from the airport parking lot. If you leave the airport building from the arrivals area, turn right and walk towards the end of the building. The buses are marked with the number 165 on a sign behind the windshield and you can flag one down passing you, or walk up to the ones still parking. Don't open the sliding door even though you have luggage; for some reason they always use the co-drivers door to get on and off.

By Train

There is one Central Railway Station and a few suburban stations located at the city's ends. The trains depart to Europe through Romania and to the Community of Independent States, especially to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

From Western Europe the train is much cheaper than a flight. The downside is that they are slow, particularly when crossing the borders into the former Soviet Union, where they need to stop to have their wheels changed due to different rail gauge.

The most popular route is from Bucharest, daily overnight trains leave Gara de Nord station at 17:10 and arrive at 08:50. The 'couchette' - shared sleeper cabin, cost approximately 120 Romanian Lei purchased the day of in Bucharest.

Another useful route is from Warsaw, departing every second day taking two nights (38 hr). Chişinău is served by three routes from Russia, one from Moscow via Kiev, one from Saint Petersburg and one from Rostov-on-Don. Several cities in Ukraine also have daily connections.

A daily direct train from Odessa have now starting running leaving Odessa late afternoon and arriving around 22:00 the same evening. This train also crosses the unrecognised breakaway state of Transnistria and makes a quick stop-over in its capital, Tiraspol meaning that depending on the political situation the service might be interrupted.

By Car

Note that the quality of the roads in Moldova is quite bad. The road leading from Chişinău to Leuseni is pretty nice. You are likely to be sharing the road with trucks, cars, and livestock, all moving at various speeds without a lot of regard for safety.

As the driving and quality of the roads in Moldova is different to what you as a Westerner will probably be used to, it is thus better to rely on public transport, which is very cheap and (mostly) reliable.

By Bus

Note that Chişinău has three bus stations - the central one (serving mainly in-country destinations), Gara de Nord (for in-country destinations on the northern part of the country like Sorocca, Rezina, Ocnita, for travel to Odessa, Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine) and the larger Gara de Sud (for in-country destinations in the southern part of the country like Comrat, Cahul and for journeys to Romania). You can reach Gara de Sud from central Chişinău on rutiera (microbus) number 120, 124, 180 or 192 for 3 lei. Gara Nord is served by rutiera 163 and trolleybus #9, along with a bunch of others.

There are several buses throughout the day from Bucharest, Odessa, Iasi, Chernivtsi, and Lviv. The journey to/from Odessa takes around five hours and costs around US$10. Most Odessa-bound buses go through southern Moldova, avoiding the Transnistrian region - these will be marked as going through Palanka or Causeni. The journey to Iasi is three and a half hours long, with travel on to Brasov (price to Iasi: 140 lei). There are many buses and maxi-taxis headed to Bender and Tiraspol in Transnistria, about one every forty minutes (36.50 lei for a 90-minute journey).



Getting Around

There are 40 taxi services operating throughout the city and its suburbs. Call 14222, 14333, 14444, 14747, 14448 or other 14xxx numbers to get a taxi. Taxi service 14700 frequently has an English speaking person though this is not guaranteed. It is highly recommendable as a non-Russian or Romanian-speaking person, to have a local person/hotel or restaurant call your taxi, as few taxi drivers speak English. In case you need a receipt for your travel, you need to ask for this specifically when ordering. Also payment by credit card is impossible. Please remember to bring small cash, as sometimes they will not be "able" to give back on anything larger than 50 lei bills, but this is rare. Average prices vary across company/individual taxi driver, and it is fairly inconsistent. Expect prices between 30-60 lei for shorter rides and 50-150 lei for longer rides. From Malldova to Airport the prices vary and should be expected to be around 80-130 lei.

Pay good attention to the traffic as a pedestrian, as the driving skills are rather poor combined with the fact that no one really follows normal traffic laws. Accidents are often occurring, and pedestrians should be very careful in terms of crossing streets and especially avoid the Maxi-taxis

For budget travelers, just do like the locals do: ride the trolley-bus (24 lines through the city), bus or maxi-taxis. A trolley-bus ride costs 2 lei while a bus ride costs 3 lei, collected by a conductor who walks up and down the bus after each stop. Maxi-taxis cost 3 lei, which is paid to the driver upon entry. There are few set stops for maxi-taxis: and it is usually OK to just tell the driver when you want to get off, although new rules mean that drivers may not do this so much anymore but will stop on street corners, etc. Flag him down with your hand (just like you would with a taxi) when the vehicle approaches you on the street.




Chişinău is a good place for food lovers. There are plenty of good places to eat all over Chişinău. The cheap, tasty food that is very popular with the locals is served in most places. For better service and more diverse food selection, there are a lot of small restaurants and cafes. Some restaurants have prices comparable to Europe, although if you eat only in those you may find yourself being ripped off. For a quick lunch, try fast food stores and pizzerias, these can be found on nearly every corner. Beef is often under the veal part of the menu.

For groceries, there are small shops all over. Some are even located right in front of the apartment blocks just a few steps away from their entrances. For harder-to-find items, head to a supermarket. You will frequently also see markets or even one or two random people selling fruit and vegetables, and sometimes other products such as honey or "brinza" (type of cheese). The majority of these are fresh and perfectly safe to eat and frequently better than what is found in a supermarket.

For fresh fruits and vegetables, open-air markets are the best option. 'Piata Centrala' - 'Central Market' is - as the name implies - in the center of the city and runs more than two whole city blocks. Other districts/neighborhoods such as Ciocana also have large markets. Most of the items for sale are locally-produced, but there are a lot of sellers who sell imports; mostly oranges, bananas and other tropical fruits/vegetables. Some say that it is best to buy meat and dairy products from supermarkets or shops because they think the quality is much better than in the market for nearly the same prices.

However, the vendors at the market will let you taste the cheese prior to your purchase so you can decide if it is something that you want to eat. When you first walk into the 'cheese halls', it may look like all of the vendors standing next to each other are selling the same product For hard cheese which tend to be re-sold from larger distributors, it may be the same. However, for cheeses that are locally-made, there are slight variations that arise from even slight differences in technique, variations in the level of salt for curing, differences in feed. 'Oi' means sheep, so this will have a slightly different flavor than cow 'vaca' or goat 'capra' cheeses. 'Cas' is a softer cheese, that is not aged like some of the other 'branza' which tends to be harder and saltier and recommended for Mamaliga - corn polenta. If you are uncertain about how to communicate the quantity you want, you can start by giving the vendor 20Lei or 40Lei depending on if you want a smaller or larger piece. Or, when they suggest a certain piece that might look too large, you can say 'jumatate' which means 'half', and then they will weigh it and tell you the price. You can ask them to write it down if you need by showing a pen and paper.

A classic 'fast-food' is the 'langos' which are fried dough with either 'cartofi' - potatoes, 'branza' - cheese, 'varza' - cabbage, or 'ficat' - liver. These are all made in the bakery in the second story of one of the buildings near the market and are sold by different vendors in identical glass wheel carts in different parts of 'Piata Centrala'.

A quick meal can also be put together with the marinated or pickled dishes that are sold at 'Piata Centrala'. Depending on the vendors, you might find marinated eggplant with onions, marinated shredded carrot, squash or mushrooms. There are also re-hydrated sea grasses (they said from the Black Sea) in white or green curly varieties in whole bunches, or smoother grasses that are more shredded. I didn't catch the names, but again, they will give you samples.




Drinks such as vodka are served on their own. So don't be surprised if your vodka sprite is served as a 2 separate drinks.

Moldavan wines, cognac, liquor and juice are all on par with the best of Eastern Europe. For one thing, manufacturers tend to use only organic products. Secondly, these products are made in the traditional way. Restaurants tend to sell only local wines, but only those of the highest standard.

Moldovan beer is one of the best in Europe. A very famous is named "Bere Chişinău". It was awarded with the Nr.1 Gold Medal at the Nuremberg beer competition in 2007, beating German, Czech and others. It can be found in all the bars on every street in Chişinău, so finding a place for a drink is not a problem. However, good bars and restaurants with a pleasant atmosphere can be difficult to find. So watch where you stop.





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Keep Connected


Moldova has one of the best wired Internet connections in the world as well as one of the cheapest in terms of price per Mbit. The overall infrastructure is well developed which allows many users to experience good quality services throughout the country. However, despite high speed availability and cheap prices, the penetration level is quite low when compared with many EU or CIS countries. Still, in the main cities and tourist places, you will be able to find an internet café or (free) wifi without too much problems.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Moldova's international telephone code is 373.

Local payphones are cheap and plentiful. They work by phonecards available at kiosks. Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone operators. Coverage is generally good all over the country. The mobile telephone market of Moldova is divided between two GSM carriers - Orange Moldova and Moldcell, and two CDMA carriers - Unité and Interdnestrcom. They both offer prepaid packages as well. Be sure to use wifi only to avoid high roaming charges when going on the internet.


The Moldovan Postal Service is generally quite efficient, reliable and cheap. Post offices are open from 9:00 am to 8:00pm, although shorter hours are kept in small towns and rural areas. For sending a package it might be better to use an international courier company like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx, as they offer fast services against not too high prices as well.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 47.016717
  • Longitude: 28.849742

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