Moldova is a small but charming country in Eastern Europe. It has a troubling history and struggled to obtain its independence. Conflicts have occurred as recently as 1992, but the country is now peaceful and incredibly welcoming. If you plan on traveling to Moldova anytime soon, we recommend that you do so via the Romanian borders. Crossing through Ukraine is much more complicated.
Before you start planning your trip to Moldova, you must first inquire about the entry requirements. It is true that most nationalities, 103 to be specific, can enter Moldova without a visa as long as their stay does not exceed 90 days; but you may not be among them. In that case, you can apply online for an electronic visa, which is available for the citizens of all countries requiring a visa.
Nevertheless, please remember that if you are not visa-exempt and you plan to stay in Moldova for more than 90 days, you are required to go to the Moldovan embassy in your country of residence and apply for a standard visa. At the same time, certain nationalities are required to hold a letter of invitation. You should consult Moldova’s visa policy to see if your nationality is on that list.
The official language in Moldova is Romanian. It used to be Moldovan up until 2013. However, Russian is also widely spoken, both as a first and second language. Some people speak Ukrainian as well. French and English are taught in schools, but the people of Moldova do not really use those. So, if you plan on traveling to Moldova, it would be best if you learned some basic phrases in Romanian or Russian. They are more common than English.
The best time to visit Moldova is during the spring and autumn. Moldova’s climate is unforgiving during the summer when the temperatures often exceed 30 degrees Celsius. During the winter, it can be freezing, especially in January and February, when the temperatures can reach well below 0C, even during the day.
Do you know why most tourists go to Moldova? For their excellent wine. Moldova is famous for its fine wines. If you go in the fall, you will be able to experience the entire winemaking process, which can be both fun and informative. You should go to Milestii Mici, which holds the Guinness World Record for most significant wine collection in the world. Plus, the place is truly fantastic. Believe it or not, you will find 125 miles of underground roadways. If you do want to visit, it would be best if you booked a tour with an agency. You will need a vehicle to explore the entire vineyard and roadways.
Similar to Milestii Mici is Cricova. It is the second-largest wine cellar, with 75 miles of underground roadways. Tourists actually prefer this one because it is only 15 minutes away from Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city. Here too you can take a tour, taste the best wine, and have some fun.
Another wine cellar you should visit is Purcari. This one is actually quite famous. Not only for being one of the oldest wineries in Moldova, but also because Russian Emperor Nicolai the 2nd, the English king George the 5th, and Queen Victoria all used to drink Purcari wines. What you must try when you go there is a wine called Negru de Purcari. It is likely one of the best wines you will ever drink. You can purchase wines from all of these wineries. They make excellent gifts for your friends and family at home. Plus, they are incredibly cheap compared to other exceptional European wines. It seems the Moldovan wines, while incredible, are not as well known because of political reasons.
If you are looking for something to do while in Moldova, you should know that many tourists choose to explore the country by bike or motorcycle. The sights are amazing, especially if you travel on the European road from Chisinau toward the western border with Romania. There are picturesque landscapes all over, plus the lovely villages and monasteries. The hills with the vineyards are stunning during the fall, but there is something to see each season. When in Moldova, you also have the option to go caving. Moldova has a few caves that are open to the public. One of them is the Cave of Surprises. It is located about 30 miles from Chisinau, near Criuleni. The Emil Racovita cave is near Criva village, a bit farther from Chisinau (about 165 miles). Both caves are worth seeing. Just please remember that visitors are required to bring their own equipment since you will not find any to rent at the location.
There are many other fun activities available in Moldova. You can go horseback riding, kayaking, and skydiving. The latter is available at Vadul lui Voda airstrip, and you can book a single or tandem jump during the weekends. Of course, the weather must be on your side.
The people in Moldova are lovely. They are welcoming to tourists, and they are willing to show you a great time. If you visit in autumn, you may notice that many of them grow their own grapes and press their own wine. Believe it or not, many people in Moldova produce thousands of liters of wine per year for their personal consumption. Some of them sell the grapes or the wine as soon as it is ready to be bottled.
The food in Moldova is delicious. You should try a few restaurants in Chisinau, the capital city. This is definitely a place for foodies. Accommodation is easy to find, although you will see that the prices are quite high.
As far as safety is concerned, you have nothing to worry about. You will come across many drunks during the night, but most of them are harmless. Just walk away, and you should be just fine. You may want to drink bottled water because some banned pesticides such as DDT were used and contaminated the soil.
What you should learn about before traveling to Moldova is their complicated relationship with Romania. Some Moldovans identify as Romanians, while others do not. You need to study your host and find out which way they identify. It is a sensitive subject, and it would be best if you just avoided it as much as possible.
The bottom line is that Moldova is worth the visit. The picturesque landscapes, the vineyards, and the tasty food make Moldova a welcoming location for tourists.