Best Transnistria Day Trip 2024 1
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Best Transnistria Day Trip 2024

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Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a perfect 24 hours of a Transnistria day trip. In my last blog post about Moldova, I mentioned that it was the first time I had written a blog post about 24 hours in one country.

But today is really something special. This is the first time I am writing a blog post about a country that doesn’t actually exist. If you are spending 24 hours of a Transnistria day trip., you are getting so far off the beaten track that you won’t even be able to see the beaten track anymore.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Transnistria Day Trip

#1 TOP PICK

tiraspol war memorial

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
TRANSNISTRIA TOUR
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️ Private tour

#2 PICK

24 hours in transnistria tiraspol

HALF DAY TRANSNISTRIA TOUR
✔️ Private tour
✔️ Admission fees included

#3 PICK

Best Transnistria Day Trip 2024 2

ALL OTHER MOLDOVA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

24 hours transnistria travel

“But how can a country not exist?” you are asking. Allow me to give you the Cliffnotes explanation. Do you remember how I said that Moldova used to be part of the Soviet Union? Well, when Moldova proclaimed its independence, there were still a large number of Russian speakers who didn’t necessarily want to be in a majority Moldovan (Romanian) speaking country. These people live in a part of Moldova called Transnistria.

After a brief war between the Moldovans and Transnistrians, it was decided that Transnistria would be an autonomous unit within the country of Moldova. For a long time it was difficult to visit Transnistria, but in recent years the government has tried to encourage foreign tourism more. So we’re going to be lucky enough to enjoying 24 hours of a Transnistria day trip.. Follow me!

Transnistria day trip.
24 Hour Tip

Given the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the close relationship between Russia and Transnistria, I wouldn’t want to visit Transnistria independently at the moment. However, going with a guided tour as a day trip from Chisinau, Moldova should be an excellent experience of a Transnistria day trip..

I recommend this guided tour for lots of fun and adventure.

You can go ahead and book it easily by clicking here.

Transnistria Travel

Transnistria day trip

Morning: Bender

There are two major cities in Transnistria: Tiraspol and Bender. We’re going to begin our Transnistria day trip in the charming and historically important city of Bender. You will easily be able to see this beautiful city on your guided tour of Transnistria. You’ll also see Tiraspol, which is not as pretty, but just as interesting.

I can’t show you every beautiful place we experienced on our Transnistria day trip, but I can show you…

approximately top 5: bender

Bender Fortress
1) bender fortress

Bender Fortress is probably the most famous attraction in Transnistria. The name Bender actually comes from the Ottoman Turks. The Bender Fortress belonged to the Ottomans back when the town was under the Ottoman Empire.

Bender has witnessed fighting between the Ottomans, the Moldovans, the Russians, the Ukrainians, and even for some inexplicable reason the Swedes. I can see why Sweden went neutral if they were getting involved in wars over in Moldova.

Our local guide was especially proud to tell us that Bender had the first constitution in Europe. It was written by a Ukrainian cossack back in 1710, and there’s a monument to it at the fortress. As you can see, it predates the American constitution by decades.

Transnistria Travel
24 hour tip

The gift shop at the Bender Fortress is a hidden gem. I bought a vintage coral necklace there for four dollars. I don’t care if the necklace is actually made of plastic, that’s still a great deal. I can pretty much guarantee that this website is the only one out there recommending the Bender Fortress gift shop for jewelry.

Transnistria Travel
2) movie theater

You might be wondering why someone would visit a movie theater on a tour. We’re not going to waste two hours paying a guide to sit next us while we watch a movie in Russian, right? Well, no. This movie theater dates back to the Soviet period. It’s so fancy because movie theaters were supposed to be palaces for the people.

movie theater bender transnistria

See! There are even chandeliers inside!

lenin statue bender transnistria

You can tell that there’s still affection for the Soviet period in certain quarters in Transnistria. There’s even a statue of Lenin right across from the movie theater. And Transnistria still has the Soviet hammer and sickle on its money.

(The local money is not valid in any other country. I was told that Transnistria has to commission a company that makes toy money to make their currency.)

Transnistria Travel
3) bender train station

What a pretty building! Is it also a movie theater? No, Internet Stranger. This is the Bender Train Station. Nowadays there are no trains that come and go here. The station is more like a museum, but a museum that doesn’t sell tickets or have any exhibits.

bender train station transnistria

As you walk around the train station, you can see beautiful vintage trains and giant creepy heads impaled on metal spikes. Is this our kind of museum or what? I would enjoy an entire museum of creepy heads on spikes throughout history.

Transnistria Travel

There are also war memorials in the area. Remember Bender has seen a tragic amount of fighting in its history. One memorial is dedicated to the Soviet-sympathizing locals who were killed by the Romanian army back in 1919.

My father’s family is from Romania, and I know the Romanians have a different perspective on the history of Transnistria specifically and Moldova in general. But when I visit a country, I try to listen to the locals’ perspective on their own history.

Transnistria Travel
4) frog fountain

But Bender isn’t all war memorials and giant sculpture of Soviet leaders. The cutest sight in Bender is this fountain with the little green and yellow frog statues. Apparently someone once tried to take them (perhaps to melt down the metal?) but the local citizens insisted they stay.

I like that idea! Every community needs a symbol.

Transnistria Travel
5) lunch at stolovka sssr

I’m sometimes prone to hyperbole, but believe me when I say that Stolovka SSSR is one of the most unusual places you will ever eat lunch. The staff speaks no English, only Russian, so you’ll need some Russian language skills or a guide to eat here.

For lunch here, I ate beet salad, soup, meatballs, and potatoes for less than the price of a coral necklace at the Bender gift shop. It was all really filling and tasty.

Transnistria Travel

But even wilder than the food is the walls. They are covered with memorabilia from Soviet times. Apparently people just started bringing in things they were finding around their house until the walls were covered.

I thought about how my parents used to hide under their desks during atomic bomb drills at school back in the United States. What would they have thought if they’d known I’d be in a place like this some day?

Transnistria Travel

Transnistria day trip

Afternoon: Tiraspol

Now that we’ve seen Bender, it’s time for the “big city” and capital, Tiraspol. But keep in mind that this still isn’t very big, so we still had strangers coming up to us asking to have our picture taken with them, just because they were so excited to meet foreigners.

Tiraspol is also where the hotel I stayed in, Hotel Russia, is located. Tiraspol is even more Soviet than Bender, so coming here can feel like traveling back in time. (I was really tempted to go up to people and ask “Where are your nuclear vessels?” but this seemed like a bad idea.)

Of course Tiraspol has more recent history as well, which you’ll see with…

approximately top 5: tiraspol

Transnistria Travel
1) suvorov monument

Suvorov Square is the main meeting point in Tiraspol. It was named after an 18th century Russian military hero named Alexander Suvorov. He founded Tiraspol back in 1792. Our guide said that Suvorov is facing a giant statue of Lenin.

During Soviet times people used to joke that Suvovrov was asking Lenin for food. Let it never be said that Russians don’t appreciate black comedy!

Transnistria Travel
2) Memorial complex

Just near Suvarov Square is the Memorial Complex. This area is dedicated to fallen soldiers from Transnistria. This includes the War of Transnistria in the early 90s, but also the Great Patriotic War. (That’s what Russians call World War II.)

Remember when you spend 24 hours in Transnistria that the war is still a fairly recent and sensitive subject. Our guide was too young to fight in the war, but both his father and his older brother had. The country is still divided in a lot of ways.

Even the name of the country is a complicated issue. Transnistria is the Romanian name for the area, and it means “Across the Dniester River”. But the Russian speakers call their country Pridnestrovie, which means…exactly the same thing.

The locals kept saying they want these conflicts resolved, as it’s very difficult for Transnistria to survive economically when its status is so uncertain. Many young people move to other countries like Russia or Ukraine for economic opportunity. Hopefully things will begin to change for the better.

Transnistria Travel
3) soviet house

The letters in the Cyrillic alphabet on the top of the building say DOMSOVETOV, which means House of Soviets. It used to be illegal to take photos of this building, but our guide said it’s fine now. I’m glad to hear it! As much as I love sharing my photos with you, it’s not worth getting put in jail in a country that doesn’t exist.

The House of Soviets looks really fancy, but it’s just a Soviet administrative building. Our guide said that the large number of columns meant that it was a really important building, not just in Tiraspol, but in the USSR in general.

I feel like if Tiraspol were so important, the Soviets could have made sure the citizens had enough food so they didn’t need to ask the statue of their founder for help. But maybe this is why I am not a professional Soviet.

Transnistria Travel
4) victory park

If you really want to feel like you are traveling back in time, stop at the Pobeda Park, aka Victory Park. Victory Parks are characteristic of former Soviet cities. I truly don’t believe any of the rides have been updated since Khrushchev was banging his shoes on the table.

I did not actually go on the rides because I didn’t want to disrupt all the fun the local Transnistrian children were having. I just slinked around the park pretending I was an American spy during the Cold War.

(PS. Don’t actually tell anyone you are an American spy. Again, you do not want to get arrested in Transnistria.)

Transnistria Travel
24 Hour Tip

Those are all the secrets of the tour I can share with you for now! You can go ahead and book this fantastic tour for yourself.

Check rates and availability by clicking here.

And if you’re spending the night in Transnistria, read on to find more things to enjoy in Tiraspol so you can get the most out of your Transnistria day trip

kvint distillery Tiraspol
5) kvint distillery

If Bender Fortress is the main attraction in Bender, the Kvint Distillery is certainly the most exciting place in Tiraspol. Kvint is famous for their cognac-like products.

They are not actually allowed to call them cognac because they are not made in France, so they call the spirit divin. But it’s made using the same method as cognac. Kvint has been given as a gift to the Pope, and it’s also been sent to the moon with astronauts.

You need to book a tour in advance on the website, and they don’t do tours for solo travelers. However, it might be possible to join a tour with a larger group. It doesn’t hurt to ask! In any case, it’s very easy to buy Kvint in Tiraspol even if you can’t make a tour.

We tasted five divins, including one that was made for women, one that was a little rougher and made for men, and one special one called Surprise that was made for Soviet leaders. (Was the surprise finding out whether or not the Soviet leaders were displeased and if they were going to jail you for making bad cognac?)

I bought the cognac for men, Doina, as a gift for my dad. The Kvint guide told me that Doina is a woman’s name, and I should tell my father that they marketed the drink by saying, “You can take Doina to bed with you.” I really don’t even know where to begin with that suggestion.

transnistria travel

Transnistria day trip

Late Afternoon: Dniester River Cruise

Our guides had ended the tour back at the House of Soviets, and we had seen the Victory Park and Kvint Distillery on our own. But they told us that we could meet them later for a cruise down the famous Dniester River.

There would be live music from a woman they said was the best jazz singer in Moldova. My mother is from New Orleans, so the phrase “best jazz singer in Moldova” sounded weird to me. But after all, Louis Armstrong had a hit with the Russian folk song Dark Eyes, so why can’t Russian speakers sing jazz?

The River Cruise got off to a rocky start at first. The boat people (not our guides) had overbooked the cruise, so there weren’t enough seats for everyone. But once the Moldovan wine started flowing and the singing began, we all had a grand time.

transnistria travel

There was a large sing-along component to the concert, so I sang along with “Happy” and one member of my group was a big hit with “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. I don’t think either of these songs is jazz, but maybe jazz means something else in Moldova.

There was even a camera in the corner of the boat recording the whole thing for local television. So I just assume that I am famous in Transnistria now.

kumanek tiraspol transnistria

Transnistria day trip

Evening: Dinner Out

I’m not sure that there’s such a thing as Transnistrian food. It seems like a combination of Moldovan, Ukrainian, and Russian food. So I suggest ending our Transnistria day trip with some Ukrainian chow at Kumanek, which is one of the best reviewed restaurants in Tiraspol.

(According to TripAdvisor, there are 38 restaurants in Tiraspol. Kumanek is temporarily closed, so you might want to try La Placinte instead.)

I started my meal with Ukrainian borscht. I’m not 100 percent sure what makes it Ukrainian, but there was meat inside, which I had never seen in a borscht before.

transnistria travel

The Romanian in me was craving cornmeal porridge, which is called mamaliga in Romanian. In Ukrainian it’s called banosh, and you mix in different ingredients like cheese, sour cream, and meat. It’s extremely filling and delicious! I think this dish should catch on in the US because it’s a clever way of reusing leftovers.

transnistria travel

I grew up in New York City where many of our best foods came from Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. My favorite dessert growing up, after the Sicilian cannoli, were blintzes, crepes filled with sweet cheese and different fruits.

So I was excited to see these sugary babies available on the menu. At Kumanek they are called “blinchiki”, not blintzes. But it’s basically the same thing. How nice to find a taste of home in such a far away place!

24 hours transnistria travel

Transnistria day trip

Where to Stay?

When I experienced a Transnistria day trip, I went with a group tour and spent the night in Tiraspol, a city in Transnistria. However, as I mentioned earlier, I now suggest spending the night in Chisinau and taking a day trip to Transnistria. 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 Transnistria day trip, click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay for your Transnistria day trip. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

transnistria travel

That’s a Perfect Transnistria day trip

What would you do with a Transnistria day trip? Have you ever visited a country that doesn’t exist? And how famous am I in Transnistria? Email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Transnistria Day Trip

#1 TOP PICK

tiraspol war memorial

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
TRANSNISTRIA TOUR
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️ Private tour

#2 PICK

24 hours in transnistria tiraspol

HALF DAY TRANSNISTRIA TOUR
✔️ Private tour
✔️ Admission fees included

#3 PICK

Best Transnistria Day Trip 2024 2

ALL OTHER MOLDOVA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

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 have 24 hours of a Transnistria day trip.

Enjoy the best things to do in Moldova itinerary. You can try the best things to do in Sinaia Romania. Add on the best Brasov castles tour.

Best Transnistria Day Trip 2024 4

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