Moldova is a small country in Eastern Europe bordered by Romania and Ukraine. The post-Soviet state has suffered from low GDP, unemployment, and slow growth in tourism. Yet, it has much to offer to travelers who want to get off the beaten path and enjoy historic monasteries, scenic national parks, and good food and wine.

Americans do not require a visa to enter Moldova (even though it’s not part of the European Union). You can rent a car and easily navigate the modern highways or take readily available public transportation.

Moldova is also one of the safest and most affordable countries in Europe.

Cheapest European Capital

Locals walking near by an amazing public garden through the trees in a blue sky in Chisinau, the capital of Moldavia

Most travelers arrive at Chișinău International Airport, in the capital city. Here you can find a range of accommodations from boutique hotels and B&B’s starting at $30 to 5-star hotels for less than $130/night.

Walking through the streets of Chișinău, you can see the Romanian, Turkish, and Soviet architectural influences in the concrete buildings, 15th-century churches, and plain apartment blocks. Like most European cities, people sit outdoors at cafes, pick up fresh flowers at the market, and stroll along one of the many parks.

Family-Friendly Festivals

wine festival in moldova

Image via Sucheta Rawal

There are always music, food, and cultural festivals taking place in Chișinău. Catch a performance at the Opera and Ballet Theater or The National Philharmonic. Tickets to the best shows cost an average of $11-30.

There’s DescOpera in summer and Ethno Jazz festival in the fall. National Wine Day in October draws over 150,000 visitors to Chișinău. Festivities include dance, music, crafts, and lots of food and drink outlets. Winemakers offer a taste of their young wines and you can buy a bottle for as little as $1.50!

Free Historic Sites

Orheiul Vechi Monastary

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Moldova is home to many cave monasteries, churches, and fortresses that are free to visitors. Tipova is the oldest monastery dating back to the 5th century and offers great views of the surrounding hills and the Nistru River.

Saharna Monastery is the most important pilgrimage site in Moldova where you can see relics of St. Cuvios Macarie. Orheiul Vechi is another Orthodox cave monastery still inhabited by monks. Archaeological excavations in the area revealed artifacts from different civilizations dating as far back as the 6th century BC.

Eclectic Cuisine

food stalls at tulburel festival in Moldova

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Moldovan food is rich in flavors and variety, having been influenced by the cuisines of Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, and Russia. Most of the produce is local and fresh. Local specialties include noodle soups (zeama), steamed dumplings, rolled and stuffed sarmale, grilled kebabs and homemade brandy (called divin) and local wines. A sit-down dinner with wine at a nice restaurant costs $10-15 per person in Moldova.

No meal is complete without the national dish — plăcintă, which is a delicious fried pastry stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, eggs, or mashed pumpkins.

Vast Wine Country

Castel Mimi in Moldova

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Moldova is one of the largest wine producers in the world, so there are plenty of options for wine lovers to visit wineries and even to stay on a vineyard. Wine tours cost about $8 and the most exclusive wine tasting with 10 kinds of wines would come to only $60.

The tourism complex at Chateau Vartely offers an open-air wine museum and Moldovan restaurant with sweeping views of the valley. Castel Mimi is a luxury resort, winery, garden, and event facility with excellent quality dry red and white wines.

milestii mici, moldova

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The most famous cellar is Milestii Mici, a Guinness World Record holder. With over 2 million bottles, it is the largest underground winery in the world and you can actually drive through some of its 200km-long tunnels. It is the most popular tourist destination in Moldova, with underground galleries, tasting halls, and guided tours. You can also participate in a 10k underground wine run every August.

Unspoiled Wilderness & Unlimited Hospitality

wilderness in moldova

One of the best things about Moldova is the unspoiled countryside, nature reserves, and forests. Valleys and ravines in the Codru Natural Reservation make it an ideal place for hiking, biking, river rafting, and camping. Here you can also see Moldova’s wildlife, including 145 species of birds, 43 species of mammals, and over 1,000 kinds of protected plants.

Emil Racovita Cave is the third-largest gypsum cave in the world. Thrill seekers can go caving through the network of galleries spanning more than 89,000 meters.

countryside restaurant in moldova

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Stop at one of the villages for lunch and you will find homestyle restaurants where ladies cook traditional food and serve it with genuine hospitality.

Moldova is a relatively small country, but there is much too see and do. Plan to spend at least 5-7 days if you want to relax and enjoy its nature, culture, music, and food on your next Eastern European vacation.

The author of this post has either a relationship with or received other compensation from the product or service providers that are featured in this writing.

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About The Author

Sucheta is an award winning food and travel writer who has traveled to 70+ countries and is on a mission to see the entire world. She is also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give, which promotes cultural awareness through food, travel and volunteering. Sucheta is the author of a series of children's books on travel, "Beato Goes To" that teach kids about different countries and cultures.