Solo Travel in Moldova
What type of Girl about the Globe? Adventurous GatG, Cultural GatG, Wine GatG
Moldova is definitely for the cultural or adventurous solo that's why we've given it 3 out of 5 stars. Travelling around the country is safe but if you decide to go completely solo, you’ll need a few phrases of Romanian to get by.
It’s not uncommon to see gypsies begging outside of monasteries but as hard as it may seem, resist giving them any money. When entering Orthodox churches women have to have their heads covered so wear a hood or take a scarf with you.
There is a police presence in Moldova and you can get fined for jaywalking or stopped and asked to show your passport. Taxi drivers can be a challenge so be prepared to navigate and don't expect them to be able to find the address. If you can’t speak the language and prefer your trip to be more comfortable I definitely recommend taking a tour around the country for ease.
- Solo Travel in Moldova
- Places to Visit in Moldova
- Accommodation in Moldova
- Moldova Tours
- Travelling Around Moldova
- Moldova Itinerary
- Best Time To Go To Moldova
- From Chisinau Airport
- Border Crossings
- Map of Moldova
- Plan a Trip to Moldova
Places to Visit in Moldova
Situated in Eastern Europe, Moldova is a land-locked country which sits between Romania and Ukraine. Formerly part of the USSR, the country declared independence in 1991. Moldova has a charm about it, and a history of traditions making it perfect for the cultural traveller.
Located on the River Bîc, Chișinău is the country’s capital which was rebuilt in a Soviet style after it suffered an earthquake in 1940. As capital cities go, it may not be the prettiest but it does offer lots of history. There is a war memorial (in Soviet style), and eternal flame which sit as reminders of the war between 1941 to 1945, as well as a Jewish cemetery and old synagogue.
Walk around the city to see old Orthodox churches, the Triumphal arch, and Stefan cel Mare Central Park before stopping for a coffee in Tucano Coffee, the country’s very own coffee shop brand, before delving into the country’s past at the National Museum of History.
Chișinău is surprisingly good for shopping with a giant shopping centre called MallDova to lose yourself in (with a clever spin on the country’s name). But don’t expect prices to be low here as the shops are relatively expensive compared to the cost of the rest of the country.
Wineries in Moldova
Mostly known for its wine, you’ll find the country’s vineyards in the south of the country and its finest wineries near its capital. Cricova winery is the largest underground wine city in the world, with each underground street named after a different wine. Originally a limestone mine, Cricova has 60 years experience in producing some of the finest wines in Moldova and hold a marathon WINE Run every year in January.
Then there’s Milestii Mici, which holds the Guinness World Record as the largest wine cellar in the world. You’ll find nearly two million bottles within its wine cellar located 18km from Chișinău.
One of the country’s biggest charms is its traditions including its carpet weaving tradition. Just one hour from Chișinău is the Rustic Art Craft Centre where you can learn more about the processes and watch the ladies work their magic or even participate in a carpet weaving masterclass. They organise a festival in July dedicated to the traditional Moldovan costume called “IA MANIA.”
Just outside of the capital (about 60kms) is one of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. Old Orhei is one of the oldest settlements in Europe and considered an “open air museum.”
This quaint village is home to traditional Moldavian-style houses and feels like a step back in time. Because of its natural landscape this area is fast-becoming known for its opera with an open-air opera called DescOPERA held here on the 1st weekend of June. It’s also perfect for the outdoors or culinary solo with opportunities to hike, bike, camp and take part in cooking masterclasses.
One of the highlights of Old Orhei is the cave monastery. This monastery is 500 years old and the views from outside the small door are simply breathtaking. Step inside its cave walls with a candle to light your way and if you’re lucky you may even see the monk going about his monastery duties during your visit.
Outside of Chișinău you will also find one of Moldova’s wooden churches dating back 200 years.
Nearby is Curchi Monastery, which is thought to be one of the beautiful. Founded in 1773, the monastery sits in the Vatic valley alongside the river. Curchi Monastery still has both of its monasteries – the small one for winter and the larger one for summer. Around one hundred monks Iive within the peaceful grounds.
Head north to Soroca, the famous gypsy capital, to spot sight of the gypsy king. This city is home to the Moldovan Roma who have created their own gypsy kingdom high on a hilltop. If you’ve ever wanted to see replicas of the U.S. Capital Building or St Peter’s Basilica, they are all here, as homes for the gypsy community. It’s definitely a unique area to visit.
Soroca also has a fortress. The Soroca Fortress is one of the most historical places in Moldova. Although it is quite small in size, this fortress still has the wow factor. As one of the four fortresses along the Nistru River, this round fortress helped to protect the country’s borders. Visit the fortress in the summer for the outdoor market and to buy locally-made souvenirs.
Located on a hill on the outskirts of Soroca, the Candle of Gratitude (or the Thanksgiving Candle) is one of the most significant monuments in Moldova’s modern-day history. Climb the 600 or so steps to look inside the small chapel and admire the views of the river and countryside below.
The south of Moldova is where you’ll find the vineyards and Gagauzia – an autonomous region of Moldova which declared its independence in 1991. Technically this is still part of Moldova and is home to the Gagauz people who descended from the Turks. This is the poorest region in the country and where locals produce their own wine. If you do get as far south as this region, visit the Gagauz National Museum of History and Ethnography to learn more about its interesting past.
Another area of Moldova which has proclaimed independence is Transnistria, a piece of land between the river Dniester and the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine. Transnistria describes itself as an open-air Soviet museum with its Soviet character fully intact. There’s evidence of Russia everywhere from a giant bust of Lenin which sits outside a disused cultural centre in Kitscani to the soviet tank proudly on display at Main Parade Square.
Interesting and incredibly unique, it’s definitely recommended to cross the ‘border’ and visit Transnistria for a day or two. Don’t forget to visit the Kyint Brandy Factory or the monastery where monks brew their own wine.
Moldova is definitely an adventure. Whenever you choose to visit, as they say in the country “You come as a guest and leave as a family member”.
Accommodation in Moldova
Booking.com offers hotels and apartments and includes dorm rooms in hostels if you're travelling on a budget. Moldova does have hostels but don’t expect them to be the same standard as those in Western Europe but they do have heating and helpful staff.
Plus there’s Airbnb which connects you to unique travel experiences and isn’t just limited to staying in a local’s spare room. You can save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
Homestay is an alternative to Airbnb. They connect you to hosts in over 160 countries and give a real homestay experience instead of just handing over keys. You can even video call your host family before you go to find the perfect host.
All of the accommodation below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with a Solo Female Friendly endorsement.
Although this hostel can be hard to find (it’s in a residential building which can be dark at night), it is in a good location just a few streets from an ATM and shops. The staff are really friendly and helpful which helps when you are travelling solo. The hostel was really warm and they give you plastic slippers to wear. It is a small hostel and only has one bathroom (similar to others in Chișinău), but it’s fine for the price and worth taking a private room for your own space. Choose from a 4 or 6 bed mixed dorm or a private room.
- Prices start from £4 for a bed in a 6-bed dorm
- To book, check prices or availability for Retro Moldova
If you enjoy staying in historical places then why not stay in the capital’s oldest hotel? This old Soviet-style grand hotel was built in the 1950’s and is located in the city centre, just 10 minutes from the train station. Although certain fixtures are now just for decoration (such as the fridge), and you have to wait a long time for hot water, it is definitely an experience. Choose from a standard or comfort single room, a double room or suite.
- Prices start from £20 for a standard single room per night
- To book, check prices or availability for Chisinau Hotel
This lovely guest house is in Trebujeni village near Old Orhei. If you are looking for a true local experience, this family-run guest house offers master cooking lessons and true Moldovan hospitality. Immerse yourself in nature in the beautiful grounds, take one of the bikes and explore the area or visit the nearby ruins of a former Turkish bath. Choose from a dormitory-style room or your own private room with a traditional breakfast included. Bathrooms are shared and there is also a BBQ.
- Prices start from £20 for a single room including breakfast
- To book, check prices or availability for Vila Roz
If you ever wondered what spending a night in an old Soviet apartment block is like, try Tiraspol Hostel. Tim’s place is a great experience but you do need to have a sense of adventure to stay here. It’s not a hostel as such and is in a residential part of the capital.
- Prices start from £15 for a dorm bed per night.
- To book or check availability for Tiraspol Hostel
Intrepid Travel – Intrepid travel are a responsible tour company which are popular with solo travellers. They offer a comfortable style of accommodation sharing with someone of the same gender (or you can pay extra for your room). Instead of offering Moldova as a separate destination, they combine the country on an overland trip with Ukraine and Romania for a 13 day adventure from $2,530. If you have 22 days to spare, the Eastern Europe in Depth tour includes Hungary on your itinerary for $4,100 for the 3 weeks.
Go Adventure Moldova – This company is just great! I personally used them during my stay in Moldova and they were really informative and friendly and felt more like friends by the end of each tour. Specialising in adventure and culture travel you can have any type of experience from kayaking and biking to visiting an art centre and taking part in a traditional workshop. Plus you get someone to enjoy your meals with whilst learning more about the local culture.
Winerist – Is a trusted international platform which offer tours to Moldova’s best wineries. You can’t come all the way here and not sample the Moldovan wine.
Tiraspol Hostel – Tim at Tiraspol Hostel shows you the best of Transnistria. Anything you want to do here he’ll help you to arrange it. From hidden Soviet villages and abandoned Soviet factories to tours of the autonomous republic of Gagauzia.
Travelling Around Moldova
The most common way to get around the country is by bus. You can hire a car but some of the roads aren’t that great and you can get stopped by police and fined for no reason. The capital is the main hub for the buses but don’t expect it to look like a bus station you may be used to. If the bus has a yellow sign it is a public bus.
If you are heading to Transnistria there are buses which leave regularly. You may find yourself sharing a car to go across the ‘border’ between Moldova and Transnistria instead of a bus if you go with a man calling “Transnistria.” There is also a tram within the capital called a trolleybus where you pay onboard.
Taxi drivers aren’t the best and may not know where the address is so be prepared if you take a taxi. Use Rome2Rio to find your way around.
A week is a good amount of time to see Moldova. The following is a week itinerary of where to stay to see the country’s must-see sites. Alternatively you can choose to base yourself in the capital and do day tours from here instead.
Chișinău – 3 nights, Old Orhei – 1 night, Soroca – 1 night, Tiraspol – 2 nights.
Best Time To Go To Moldova
There isn’t a particular season to visit Moldova although you may feel more comfortable visiting in the spring or the autumn. The winter is still a great time to sightsee although some of the outdoor activities may be limited. It can get warm in the summer months so the most ideal months to visit are April and May.
This chart shows the average maximum day temperatures for Chișinău (from January to December).
From Chisinau Airport
There are taxis at the airport but sometimes the taxi drivers can’t locate your address and they will try and rip you off. Expect to pay at least €15. Pre-book a transfer with your accommodation if you can or through Go Adventure Moldova. Their airport transfers cost €20 and will take you to your accommodation in Chișinău.
Border Crossings – (check visas before you travel)
If you are travelling south through Moldova to Transnistria you go through a border crossing. Write down the name and address of the place you are staying at. The bus takes 1 hour 20 minutes and departs every 30 minutes from Chișinău. The bus costs 25 Leu or you can ask for a shared car at the bus station for 50 Leu which takes you to the train station in Tiraspol.
Moldova to Ukraine
From Chișinău there is an overnight train to Kiev which takes nearly 12 hours and appears to run daily. Check here for timetables.
From Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria you can travel to Odessa by old Soviet train. Trains cost £6.00 and leave at 09.44 arriving in Odessa at 12.27. Book through the Tutu site.
Moldova to Romania
To travel to Romania there is a nice train to Bucharest. You can’t book your train online so buy direct to the station. Check rail.cc for timetables.
Where can I go from here?
Russia (Moscow) – 1 hour 40 mins
Greece (Athens) – 2 hours
Italy (Rome) – 2.5 hours
- Can I drink the water? Yes?
- Is tipping expected? No it isn’t required but being a poor country is good practice to leave 10%
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price
- Any ATMs? Yes in the towns.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? The capital does have some vegetarian restaurants. The traditional food does include maize and cheese so the local villages may not great for vegans.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No
Map of Moldova
Plan a Trip to Moldova
If you are ready to plan a trip to Moldova here are some useful links to help you plan your trip including airlines which fly there, where you can volunteer and eco accommodation.
Budget – £20 a day (more if you decide to do tours)
Capital – Chișinău
Population – 3.552 million
Language spoken – Romanian
Did you know? Moldova is the poorest country in Europe
Eco-Resort Butuceni is a really unique property. The beds are called “lejanca” and have clay walls which are heated with fire inside. There’s also a swimming pool and sauna for when you want to unwind, as well as homemade wine and pie. All rooms come with breakfast included. Choose from a single or double room. Prices start from £25 per night.
Teach English in a Moldovan school or help at a health care provider in the country. Find projects through GO Overseas.
Learn traditional carpet weaving skills at the Rustic Art Centre and other cultural experiences through Go Adventure Moldova.
La Strada is an organisation in Moldova which works for the prevention of human trafficking and the prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Click here to learn more.
Mind Body & Soul
They don’t seem to have meditation or yoga retreats in Moldova but you can treat yourself at one of the spas. Lotus Spa Health & Beauty Centre offers massages, and plenty more body treatments to help you unwind on your trip.
Issues in the Country
Moldova is a source country for human trafficking. As one of the poorest countries in Europe, women are trafficked to countries such as those in the Middle East, and Turkey and Russia. Children living in rural areas are mostly at risk. Read more here…