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Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary: A Perfect 24 Hours


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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours of a perfect things to do in Moldova itinerary. This article is a first for me, Internet Stranger! I’ve never recommended that someone spend 24 hours in an entire country before.

But there’s a good reason I’ve called this piece “A Perfect 24 Hours: Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary”, and that’s because I don’t recommend spending your entire time there in the capital city Chisinau. The countryside is the most beautiful part of this underrated Eastern European nation.

things to do in moldova itinerary

So though I recommend that you use the capital, Chisinau, as a base for this A Perfect 24 Hours: Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary, you’re going to spend more time outside the nation’s capital than inside.

Believe me, this is a good thing, as the museums in Chisinau sometimes close abruptly and without warning. You’ll have much more fun exploring Moldovan nature and drinking Moldovan wine with me. Let’s go!

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary: A Perfect 24 Hours 2

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Where to Stay

Chisinau can seem large and overwhelming on your first visit, so it might be hard to know where to stay. That’s why I recommend the Bristol Central Park Hotel. It has a great location right near the famous statue of Stefan cel Mare, the price is just right, and it has great amenities like an airport shuttle, coffeemakers in the room, and a 24-hour staff, none of which is the case at every hotel in Chisinau.

If you’d like to book a room in this hotel, just click here. And if you’d rather explore hundreds of other hotel options in Chisinau for your best things to do in Moldova itinerary, click here.

things to do in Moldova itinerary

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Shopping List

  • A cell charger so that you’ll be able to keep taking photos of your things to do in Moldova itinerary
  • The best international travel adapter because if you’re American like I am, or British like I am not, you’ll need one to be able to plug in electronics in Europe
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
  • Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a winepress during your day of things to do in Moldova itinerary.
Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Morning: Old Orhei

Moldova is sometimes called the “least visited country in Europe”. So it takes a real connoisseur to spend 24 hours on a Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary. But one thing Moldova is famous for is its beautiful Orthodox churches and monasteries.

things to do in moldova itinerary

And one of the prettiest monasteries can be found in Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei), just an hour’s drive outside Chisinau. I engaged a tour company to take me around, and I suggest you do the same! Your guide will be able to show you some of the most beautiful parts of the countryside and teach you interesting facts about Moldovan history.

You can book this tour for yourself easily by clicking here. And once you’re there, you can find…

approximately top 5: Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Chisinau Market
1) bring lunch from central market

One of the big things to do in Chisinau (say it like kish-ee-now) is shopping at an open-air market. The most famous is Central Market, which sells all kinds of local food. And since it will be hard to pick up lunch at the monastery, I say we stop at the market before heading out in the morning and get our lunch.

The prices will be crazy cheap if you are from a country like the United States or the UK. The average salary in Moldova is about 250 Euros a month.

things to do in moldova itinerary

My favorite purchase at the market was this delicious heirloom tomato. It cost one dollar, but it would have cost me four dollars at least at the Whole Foods near my house. (I had to eat it like an apple, which was odd but worth it.) Many of the sellers at the market, like the Tomato Lady, won’t speak English. But they will want to take your money, so feel free to communicate with gestures.

things to do in moldova itinerary

If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to resist buying a local drink, even if you have absolutely no idea what’s in it. This tasted kind of like Sprite, but I still have no clue what it was. If you know, email me the answer at [email protected]

And now that we have our lunch, it’s time to head on the road! Our 24 hours of the best Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary continues apace!

things to do in moldova itinerary
2) cave monastery

Once you arrive at Orheiul Vechi, make a beeline for the famous cave monastery. Remember this is an Orthodox monastery, so they’ll expect you to dress modestly. If you are a woman, you’ll need to cover your hair. It’s okay if you don’t have your own head scarf because they have some you can borrow.

It’s incredible to realize that a group of 13th century monks actually dug this monastery out of the rocks themselves. An elderly monk still lives there, and he will be praying in silence when you visit. Feel free to leave a donation to support the monastery, but don’t try to provoke the monk into talking to you. He’s an Old Moldovan, not a Buckingham Palace guard.

things to do in moldova itinerary

My favorite thing about the cave monastery is the wishing wall in the back. People put coins in these tiny holes in the rock and make a wish. Supposedly if the coin stays, your wish comes true. I didn’t make a wish because I didn’t want to take the risk of the coin falling and my dreams all being shattered. It’s like my grandmother always said, “Never trust a Moldovan wishing wall.”

things to do in moldova itinerary
3) Biserica Sfânta Maria

The English name for this church is the Church of the Ascension of St. Mary. It’s a Moldovan Orthodox Church built in the early 20th century. Our guide told us that there isn’t really a separate Moldovan Orthodox Church because it’s underneath the Russian Orthodox Church.

Moldova and Russia have had a historically complex relationship. Even though the Moldovan language is basically the same as Romanian and Romanian and Moldovan history is similar in many respects, Moldova has recently been closer to Russia than Romania. In fact, Moldova was part of the USSR from the 1940s to the early 1990s when Moldova declared independence.

things to do in moldova itinerary

Of course during the Soviet period, religion was not permitted, so this church was shut down. I think that’s such a shame. Surely even someone who is not religious can appreciate such a stunning interior! Learn to enjoy life a little more, Soviets! Anyway, the church was reopened in the 90s, after Moldovan independence, so now anyone can visit as long as it’s not during a service.

things to do in moldova itinerary
4) views of moldova

You can’t spend 24 hours with the best Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary without taking in the gorgeous hills and peaceful nature. Our guide said this view of the hills with the stone cross in the background is the most famous view in all Moldova.

So basically this cross is Moldova’s answer to the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. You can’t come to Moldova without getting a picture of this beauty!

Just be careful when taking photos because there’s a river nearby, and most of the bathers were in the buff. I’m not interested in posting Moldovan porn on this website without the participants’ permission.

things to do in moldova itinerary

One other photobomber you’ll have to worry about are the cows. They are all over the Moldovan countryside and they do not give a what. One other girl in my tour group and I tried decided that these cows were concealing a truly passionate nature, and so we invented a very dramatic soap opera about the cows. Tragically, the cows seemed indifferent to our creativity.

things to do in moldova itinerary
5) Butuceni Village

Orheiul Vechi is located right next to Butuceni Village. In fact, you can stay in one of the hotels in Butuceni if you’d rather spend more time in this area than in Chisinau. But even if you want to return to the capital during your 24 hours in Moldova, don’t miss the chance to walk through here.

After all, how often are you going to get to walk through a small Moldovan village? And they are very used to tourists here, so you’ll probably meet some friendly locals who will sell you fruit from their garden.

Our guide said that most people in this village live off of agriculture, especially wine and sunflowers. That sounds so delightful! I wish the whole world could live off wine and sunflowers.

things to do in moldova itinerary

Don’t miss this small monument to locals who were killed during World War II. Remember that Moldova was part of the USSR, so it served on the Allies’ side during World War II. Its neighbor, Romania, was on the German side.

So even though there’s always talk about whether or not Moldova will merge with Romania and join the EU, remember that there are many important differences between the two countries. (Moldova also has a lot more native Russian speakers than Romania does, percentage-wise.)

things to do in moldova itinerary

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Alternate Morning: Milestii Mici Winery

If there’s one thing Moldova is famous for, it’s wine. As you drive around the countryside, you can see many Moldovan families have wine grapes growing in their backyard. Going to Moldova without trying the wine is just sick and wrong! And we’re in luck because we’re going to the most famous winery in Moldova, Milestii Mici.

I’m the first one to admit that it might not be possible to see both Milestii Mici and Old Orhei on the same day. If you’re more interested in wine than in Old Orhei, or better yet, if you have two full days in Moldova, book a wine tour instead of the Old Orhei tour. I recommend trying this one here.

On the tour, you’ll be escorted through the beautiful caverns of Milestii Mici. At the end you’ll be rewarded with wine! You’ll also be rewarded with…

three fun facts: milestii mici

things to do in moldova itinerary
1) what’s so special about milestii mici?

It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest wine collection in the world! I told you than Moldovans take wine seriously. Haven’t you ever wanted to see the largest wine collection in the world? Now you can! Sadly we’ll only be able to drink some of it.

I was even more excited about the fact that the Milestii Mici winery has its own underground waterfall. The water is entirely pure and you can drink from it on the tour. It will be some of the coldest and freshest water you’ll ever touch.

things to do in moldova itinerary
2) who buys Milestii Mici wine?

Moldova sometimes has trouble selling its products internationally because it’s not a member of the European Union. China is the biggest purchaser of Milestii Mici wine, but not all the wine here belongs to Milestii Mici. You can actually pay to have your wine stored in their caves, and many people do so. But this probably isn’t an option for the casual wine enthusiast. You need at least 50 bottles to store your booze here.

If you’d like to purchase some Milestii Mici wine of your very own, go right ahead! There’s a store ready to serve you. Just keep in mind that the staff will probably not speak English and almost definitely won’t answer your questions. The Milestii Mici winery is owned by the state, so it’s basically the Moldovan wine equivalent of the DMV, especially in terms of service. I bought a bottle of sweet wine for less than five dollars, which I think is a steal.

things to do in moldova itinerary
3) can you drink the wine?

Of course! At the end, the guide will present you with little snacks as well as three carafes of wine: one white, one red, and one dessert. This is also the only time in my life when a guide at a wine tasting has presented me with wine and then said, “OK, get drunk now!” Our guide was quite the character in general, as any time she’d make a joke, she’d turn to the group and say in a deadpan tone, “Is joke. You laugh now.”

The wine tasting and food is also accompanied by local musicians. They ask where you are from so they can play a song from your country. Most of my group was Aussies, and they didn’t know a single song from Australia, even “Waltzing Matilda”. However, they did play “Hava Nagila” for the Israelis.

They also played a song for the Americans, but not a single person in our group could identify it. So apparently Moldovans know more about American music than I do.

things to do in moldova itinerary

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Late Afternoon: Stefan cel Mare Park

Once you head back to Chisinau, you’re going to want to walk off some of that wine. So I suggest taking a stroll in Stefan cel Mare Park, if the weather is nice. Stefan cel Mare, which means Stephen the Great, is the national hero of Moldova.

Our guide told us that he was a great king and saint at the height of the Moldovan kingdom back in the 15th century. (Stefan cel Mare was also voted the greatest Romanian of all time back in 2006, just to show you how closely Moldova and Romania are related.)

things to do in moldova itinerary

There’s even a bust of poet Mihai Eminescu. They also have his statue prominently on display in Bucharest, the capital of Romania.

things to do in moldova itinerary

Historical controversies aside, Stefan cel Mare is the oldest park in Moldova, and it’s one of the prettiest places in the city. If you only see one thing in Chisinau, let it be this park.

things to do in moldova itinerary

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

Evening: Dinner at Vatra Neamului

I live in New York City, and it seems like every day a new cuisine is becoming popular. One day it’s Vietnamese and the next day it’s Georgian. But Moldovan cuisine has yet to become a big thing. That’s why you shouldn’t waste the chance to dine on traditional Moldovan food at Vatra Neamului. Best of all, they’ll serve all the Moldovan wine you can shake a stick at.

For my first course, I had a light beet salad. I was very excited about the heirloom tomato I’d had for lunch, so I wanted to get my hands on some more of that sweet Moldovan produce.

things to do in moldova itinerary

Then I decided I’d done my healthy eating for the day, so I feasted on rich pork knuckle with a plethora of carby dumplings. I hadn’t realized pork knuckle was a traditional Moldovan dish. I always thought it was German.

But as we’ve established, I pretty much know nothing about Moldovan food. The restaurant could have presented me with spaghetti bolognese, told me it was a traditional Moldovan dish, and I would have believed them.

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary: A Perfect 24 Hours 3

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

How to Get There

By Plane: If you are coming to your day of things to do in Moldova itinerary from most other countries in the world, with the possible exception of neighboring countries like Romania, it’s best to take a plane. Most of my readers come from the United States or the UK, so you’ll definitely need a flight!

Chisinau does have an airport where international flights come in. I didn’t use it myself because I was coming from Romania, not my home in the United States. But Moldova is eager to connect with the rest of Europe and the world, so I’m sure no matter where you are coming from, you can get a connecting flight into Moldova.

I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights. I’d also suggest booking an airport transfer here to Chisinau if you do use the airport to make things easier for yourself.

things to do in Moldova itinerary

By Car: I don’t drive, but you will absolutely need access to a car to get to some of the places on this itinerary. I just booked tours, and that’s why I recommend doing too. If you want to hire a driver to take you from a nearby city in Romania to Chisinau, I suggest using the company My Day Trip. They’ll show you some gorgeous sights along the way.

Train or Bus: Again, if you’re coming from Romania, you can take a train or a bus to your things to do in Moldova itinerary. Check the bus schedules here and the train schedules here.

Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary: A Perfect 24 Hours 4

That’s a Perfect 24 Hours: Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary

What would you do with a best Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary? Is Stefan cel Mare more Moldovan or more Romanian? (Trying to start a really obscure flamewar.) And what should the cow soap opera be called? General Moo-spital? One Life to Moo? Please leave your thoughts below!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours with a Things to Do in Moldova Itinerary. If you’d like to add 24 hours in Transnistria, a breakaway country inside Moldova, click here.

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