Moldova

Chisinau, Moldova – the most boring capital in Europe, yet still worth a visit

Visit Chisinau, Moldova
(Last Updated On: 21/06/2019)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I do count countries that I visit, it makes me so proud and excited when I see how much I’ve achieved and (literally) how far I got only with my hard work.

Moldova was second to the last country I yet had to visit in Europe but it didn’t look like I might get there anytime soon. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere and not many travelers seem to visit Chisinau or the whole country. But when my flights to the Balkans were canceled and I found myself with a free week in August I’ve thought this might be the time to finally go to Moldova!

Visit Chisinau, Moldova

On the way to visit Chisinau…

I left Chernivtsi, Ukraine – early in the morning. The distance looked fairly close on the map but the journey in the small bus (known also as marshrutka in Eastern Europe) was supposed to take 7,5 hours.

At times it felt like a nightmare – the bus was packed, I had the worst possible seat (behind the driver with very limited leg space) and the Russian tv shows played loudly from the tv installed inside this tiny machine. I was trying to focus on the landscape behind the window but it wasn’t easy. Moldova looked so sad, so poor and so uninteresting, I even dare to say boring.

It looked like the time has stopped there some 20 years ago and everyone has forgotten about this place. Until August I’ve thought that Hungary or Liechtenstein are the most boring countries in Europe, now I’ve changed my mind – it is Moldova. It was my very first impression from crossing most of the country by bus but I was still hoping I will change my mind when I visit Chisinau.

The air was heavy and dusty when I arrived. It was during the afternoon peak hours so walking for a couple of minutes to the apartment I’ve booked was a challenge and left me super tired. At first glimpse, Chisinau looked uninviting and harsh. All I could see around me were masses of concrete, everything in grey color. But to be honest I didn’t expect anything else.

My apartment was located at the 12th floor of the massive block of flats, so typical for this part of Europe. But while in other cities in nearby country (Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic or Poland) such buildings look fairly decent these days, those in Moldova looked like they’re about to fall apart anytime soon. At least I had a really great view over big part of Chisinau!

-> I definitely recommend staying at this apartment. The building might not look the best but the flat is really good, has everything you might need and the location is very convenient, in walking distance to the train station, the bus station, and all the attractions. Check out the prices and more details here! <-

What to see in Chisinau

Before I went to Chisinau I was hoping all the bad opinions I’ve heard from the very few people who made it to Moldova were not true. But the fact that most of the capital was destroyed during World War 2 didn’t put my hopes very high (after all, not every city can be as beautifully rebuilt as Warsaw was).

I spent the whole day trying to get to know the place and find best things to do in Chisinau but to be honest there were not many attractions worth attention and the majority of them was located along B-dul Ştefan cel Mare, the main avenue of Moldovan capital. It’s the heart of Chisinau, where people go for a walk or to gather and protest in front of the government buildings.

The avenue is far from being as impressive as main streets of Minsk or Kiev but it has some interesting Soviet architecture, such as National Opera and Ballet Theater, Parliament or Government National Palace. Across the street from the last one, there’s the Triumph Arch, constructed in 1841, now probably the most photographed building in the city. Behind it, people chill out or play chess in the Central Garden. Its central point is the Orthodox cathedral, pretty average from the outside yet really beautiful inside. There’s something about Orthodox churches that impress me every single time, the combination of rich ornaments, the smell of candles and the spiritual atmosphere always do the trick for me!

Even if the main avenue of Chisinau isn’t so great it takes only a few steps to the backstreets to find much nicer architecture (still mixed with some Soviet buildings here and there). There’re old houses resembling the style of 19th century Russia, some of them really beautiful. There’re also nice green spaces, full of people even in the middle of the weekday. And there’s also Tucano Coffee – a local version of Starbucks and a surprisingly nice spot. If I had spent more time in Chisinau that’s where you’d have found me for sure!

Abandoned Soviet Circus – my highlight when I visited Chisinau

My main goal for the day, however, was the abandoned Circus. Opened in 1981 it used to host up to 2,000 spectators per show but for past years it’s been disrepair. I’ve seen online pictures taken by people who managed to sneak in and I was really hoping to do the same!

When I arrived I started from the back of the building but it was all closed. Then I’ve noticed some guys working in the front and spotted open doors! I was nearly in, only a few steps separated me from getting in but one man has seen me… I asked nicely, just to peek inside but the answer was always no.

I gave up, being so close yet so far… I only looked curiously around, trying to see through the dirty windows what’s inside but there was no point in hanging around any longer. I’m not going to lie, I was really disappointed! And it seems like the circus might be reopened soon so my chances to see it abandoned are most likely gone…

So is it worth to visit Chisinau?

It might seem like Chisinau is the most boring capital you will ever encounter. Well, this kind of is true. You will not find beautiful architecture or exciting attractions there, there’s nothing really spectacular about the city. But still I really enjoyed my visit to Chisinau and I think it’s worth to spend at least a day there, just to feel the vibe of the place.

I don’t know any other capital in Europe like this one, from those I’ve ever been to it only reminded me of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. If you like Socialist-Realist architecture (I do, a lot!) there’re many gems you might enjoy in Chisinau. But the most I liked it for the old time charm, the atmosphere I vaguely remember from my early childhood in Soviet and post-Soviet Poland.

People shop at the big market in the center where you can get just about everything, from home-made meat and cheese to electronics, clothes, and furniture. There’re rows of old-fashioned phone-boots, people don’t rush like crazy and the best drink you can get on a summer day is kvas, bought from the barrel on the street. And if that’s not enough for you, Chisinau can serve as a perfect base for a day trip to the biggest wine cellars in the world or to Transnistria – the country that doesn’t exist.

Visit Chisinau, Moldova

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO CHISINAU

With over 15 years of independent traveling, I’ve learned which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust the following websites:

Flights – I search for the best deals on either Momondo or SkyScanner. Both search numerous sites to find the best offers. I also really like the “everywhere” option when searching for the flights as it often gives me the inspiration, if not for this trip then for the next time.

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation through Booking.com. They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if your plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs. I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use a few times. Check the best deals on accommodation in Chisinau here!

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road (I’ve learnt my lesson). I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me. Check the insurance options for your trip here!

Guide books – I do like reading a guide book before and during the trip. Depending on the destination I usually buy either Lonely Planet or Bradt. You can get your guidebook for Moldova here (there’s only Lonely Planet where Moldova is part of Eastern Europe book).

What next?

Now, that you've planned your trip to Chisinau you might be interested in other nearby destinations

Daytrip to Transnistria - a country that doesn't exist

5 reasons to visit Odessa, Ukraine

Stunning Chernivtsi - my best discovery in Ukraine

Is it worth to visit Bucharest, Romania?


For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:

  • Would you like to travel to Central/Eastern Europe or the Balkans? Let me help you with travel planning! Click here for more details!
  • If you don’t want to miss new posts and news from me click here to sign to my newsletter! You can also follow me on Bloglovin!
  • Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
  • I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Moldova too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!

LIKED IT? PIN THIS POST FOR LATER!

Chisinau, Moldova (1)       Chisinau, Moldova


love, kami 2

If you enjoyed that post why don't you share it with your friends? That would mean so much to me! Also be sure to join 27.000+ fellow travelers and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or Instagram for travel updates and even more pictures! If you don't want to miss new posts sign up to my newsletter or follow on Bloglovin!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  •  
    202
    Shares
  •  
  •  
  • 202
  •  

90 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan
    10/02/2016 at 23:48

    well if it is anything like bishkek, im going to enjoy the hell out of myself :)

    im looking forward to seeing the circus, too.

    and funny enough- i already have booked the same place you stayed. how was it? (just please say it is clean ha). anyways, great post and it is making me look forward to going there, even if it won’t be as thrilling as other places around europe!

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 09:44

      Thanks! I think it’s your kind of place so chances you will enjoy it are really high :) and the flat was really fine and clean so no worries about that!

  • Reply
    Magdalena Bodnari
    11/02/2016 at 19:27

    Kocham Kiszyniów, a Bielce jeszcze bardziej. W Bielcach jeszcze bardziej nic nie ma, ale ten sowiecki klimat, panie siedzące przed szwalniami z kubkami w rękach śmiejące się platynowymi zębami, żydowskie, jednopiętrowe dzielnice, stare, radzieckie mozaiki i inne dekoracje z tych czasów. No i diabelskie młyny widokowe.

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 09:46

      przejeżdżałam przez Bielce w drodze do Kiszyniowa i rzeczywiście wyglądało jakby nic tam nie było. Takie miejsca najlepsze! A diabelskie młyny mi się właśnie ze wschodem kojarzą!

  • Reply
    Nick @ concrete and kitsch
    11/02/2016 at 20:31

    I was hoping to get there this year, but it looks like it (and Poland, I’m afraid) are going to have to wait until 2017 at earliest. Either way, it looks like a place I’d enjoy!

    Thanks for the great write up! :)

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 09:48

      I’m sure Moldova won’t change much till next year! And this is definitely a place that everyone interested in post-Soviet atmosphere would enjoy so something for you too!

  • Reply
    Kinga
    11/02/2016 at 20:38

    the most boring country I have been to is definitely Luxembourg. People in business clothes everywhere from 8:30 until 17:00 and then Luxembourg becomes a ghost country. Or at least the Lux city, the capital, where they even shut down vending machines standing in the streets. In Moldova, they seem to have the buses Poland had maaaaaaaany years a go. But it’s just striking to see such a country is ALSO Europe and yet it is so poor..

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 13:57

      Yes, Luxembourg isn’t very high on my list too! I was there only once, couple of hours in the capital but it was late afternoon, a gloomy November day and the city really felt abandoned. Not my fave place ever.
      Going to places like Moldova makes you realize how diverse Europe is, too bad it’s all about the money

  • Reply
    Travelability Blog
    11/02/2016 at 19:43

    I was in Chisinau last May at a festival, but I should agree with you, it IS boring :) Although if someone is nostalgic about the Soviet time – Chisinau is like a time machine. Also the wine is not bad at all.

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 14:02

      yes, wine is definitely one of the reasons to go there! even the most boring place gets better then :)

      • Reply
        Roman
        26/10/2017 at 20:48

        I would say wine is the ONLY reasons to visit Moldova.
        I tell you as a native Moldavian… And it gets only worse year by year.
        Why ? Corruption and no funding in culture for ages.

    • Reply
      Christina
      21/09/2018 at 06:06

      From your point of view, it may look very boring. But that is because you don’t know the country or any of the places. You only visited Chisinau, right?
      Moldova has other cities that are very beautiful. Chisinau is the city side, busy, cars, etc. For example, let’s take Soroca, another “city” in Moldova. Soroca would be considered a country side. In Soroca there are a lot of farms, animals, beautiful lands, gardens, becautiful lakes and very kind and generous people. If you visit a country, try to get a tourist or two. Let them show you the beautiful part of Moldova. Of course, people destroy the capital because they have nothing else to do.
      When you visit a country, try to stay for at least a week or two, get the vibe, compare the cultures and try to learn the language before going into that city.
      How I know all of this? I was born in Moldova and lived in there for 12 years. Afterwards, I moved to the U.S to continue my education. Nothing in the U.S can be compared to Moldova; from my point of view. I speak 5 languages. I have tried going to Spain which language I have not understood and I thought the city was very boring. Afterwards, I visited the country again in 2 years, with fluent Spanish and my thoughts and opinions completely changed.
      All I’m trying to say is: try to visit the beautiful places of a country. If you don’t know what and where those places are, ask someone or google it up!

      • Reply
        tony
        23/12/2018 at 12:37

        I liked Chisinau when I visited 4 years ago, and would like to go back. In addition I think it would be great to visit other cities in the country. I will take my time and enjoy myself for sure.

  • Reply
    Czekając Na Stopa
    11/02/2016 at 23:00

    jeszcze w tym miesiącu przekonam się na własnej skórze czy warto było jechać do Mołdawii ;)

  • Reply
    Clark Gillies
    12/02/2016 at 11:19

    Visited Chisinau in 2004 :-) was really looking forward to it for months (especially with news reports of old Soviet era nuclear war heads going “missing”)… took the over night bus from Lviv to Chisinau which was extreme (especially being woken up at the border at 3am and getting full interrogation as guard could not believe anyone was mad enough to travel to Moldova from Ukraine by bus!)…. met my mate from Germany there and we went to a bar…. had countless bottles of beer and wine (plus champagne) a 3 course meal (that included a steak the size of the cows leg!)… asked for bill which waitress brought across…. suddenly my mate has a look of fear on his face….asks waitress for the bill for the whole table, not just him…. she replies “that is the whole table!”… came to something like 5 Euros each :-o

    • Reply
      Radu
      12/12/2016 at 20:14

      5 euros is about 100 lei. you had countless bottles of beer and wine (plus champagne to be accurate) and a 3-course meal which of course included half a cow. mate all these for 100 lei is really hard to believe, you were either off your face and you can’t remember how much you paid or you got robbed and that evened the bill.

      • Reply
        Anastasia
        12/02/2017 at 00:08

        the prices were different in 2004, so i dont think you can compare with current currency

  • Reply
    TravelingRockhopper Maja
    14/02/2016 at 12:27

    nawet jeśli coś nie jest najpiękniejsze, czy znane i tak warto odwiedzić i samemu ocenić :)

  • Reply
    Karol Werner
    14/02/2016 at 18:06

    Ah te sowieckie konstrukcje <3. Miód na moje rządne architektonicznych doznań oczy :D

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 14:05

      sowieckie budownictwo najlepsze! uwielbiam dość!

  • Reply
    balkanyrudej
    14/02/2016 at 18:11

    Moldova is still somewhere on my travel list. We thought about this country last year, when we were visiting Romania. But than we realised that we don’t have enough time to do so. Maybe in the future we will get there. Who knows ;)
    Chisinau on Your photos looks not boring, but for me interesting. Maybe it’s beacuse of this soviet architecture? But still it’s not the most spectacular capital in the world.

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 14:07

      it’s definitely not the most spectacular capital in the world but it has its moments and can be a nice place if you visit it with the right approach. I hope you will get there soon, I think you might like it there!

  • Reply
    piotrek
    14/02/2016 at 23:28

    It’s very interesting and usefull essay. The most boring capital I have ever seen was the Vilinus. However I have not seen many of them :)

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 14:07

      Thanks. I actually like Vilnius but you are right, it can get boring after 2 days ;)

  • Reply
    Asia/ Lisy w drodze
    15/02/2016 at 09:38

    Eastern Europe isn’t on my top list right now and the most boring capital I was – was:) San Jose in Costa Rica (for me nothing spectacular).

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 14:10

      can’t say as I haven’t been to Costa Rica yet but I still would love to check it out!

  • Reply
    Mirøslav Hristøff
    15/02/2016 at 11:25

    In Bulgaria we have the same shi**y buses (marshrutka). But instead of Russian TV shows your ears have the possibility the ‘enjoy’ on a music with harsh oriental rhythms (chalga). Your description about the concrete, the ruined buildings and so on is valid for every city and town in Bulgaria. I must admit I laughed a lot even it is not funny at all.

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 14:13

      I still think Bulgaria is not THAT bad in comparison to Moldova but I agree besides the touristic places it’s not so bright there. But Moldova is another level of post-Soviet past, it’s kind of depressing actually

      • Reply
        Roman
        26/10/2017 at 20:57

        Depressing is the right word about Moldova.
        We are the most depressed people since our entire live is a nostalgia for the past.
        Each ears living in this country gets harder to endure, everything is fake and rude. Corruption levels increase, mafia in everywhere from medicine to education, from logistics to religion. Year to year less money is invested in culture, price grow, investments decrease, people are not starving only because in each Moldova family there is a person working in Europe or Russia and sending money on a regular basis.
        Still want to visit Moldova?

  • Reply
    Połącz Kropki
    17/02/2016 at 09:50

    Opuszczona miejscówka? Mega pomysł, weszłabym tam nawet oknem jakby było trzeba.
    Myślę, że jest to dość stare miasto, gdzie czas zatrzymał się kilkanaście lat temu i dlatego warto je odwiedzić.

    • Reply
      kami
      23/02/2016 at 14:14

      no własnie wszystkie okna były pozamykane, sprawdzałam ;)
      czas się tam zdecydowanie zatrzymał, ale chyba dlatego mi się tam podobało, trochę taka Polska jak z wczesnego dzieciństwa pamiętam.

  • Reply
    Miriam
    21/03/2016 at 14:45

    Hi Kami,
    I just found your blog and have been looking through your posts from Eastern Europe. Your travels are really inspiring, especially the ones from Ukraine. I’m thinking about going there on a solo trip in May, and your post on safety gave me some peace of mind!

    • Reply
      kami
      22/03/2016 at 13:28

      Thanks Miriam! You definitely should visit Ukraine, it’s such a beautiful country (and so cheap these days!). I’m most likely going there again next week :) Where do you think of going there?

  • Reply
    Vio
    08/04/2016 at 13:37

    Short movie for people who wants to visit Moldova: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MU_7YJijgPc

    • Reply
      kami
      13/04/2016 at 09:02

      thank you for the link, really pretty!

  • Reply
    Mark
    18/10/2016 at 04:10

    I lived in Chisinau for a year. The natural foods, all organic, their fragrances and sweetness…sold by people on the street, for pennies. A layer of snow on all of the buildings made everything romantic. As was seeing the faces of little kids, popping up everyplace when the snow melts and the spring arrives. Boredom? Boredom has its pluses. Time stands still. You see more. Language there is extremely important. Few speak English, and frankly few even care. Romanian is the national language but Russian is the language of the economy. Transdniestra is the most natural and Grigoriopol can give you a glimpse of pre-WWII Soviet schools, roads, etc. Kind of like small towns in America before being changed by so many cars and commercial billboards, and liter. Off limits to Americans, so I went with people who had “connections”.

    • Reply
      kami
      24/10/2016 at 22:04

      Thank you for this interesting and valuable comment Mark! You’re right, boredom definitely has its pluses. Even if Chisinau (and Moldova) aren’t the most exciting places ever I still would like to spend more time there

  • Reply
    Omosami Moses
    17/11/2016 at 17:54

    I wish to say this a great information here.
    But however, I need you to advise me if it is advisable for me to em back a journey to Moldova to soonest
    Can I have I good job in Moldova?
    I apply for the visa, please give me an advice if I should travel down there for permanent stay…

    • Reply
      kami
      20/11/2016 at 18:56

      I’m sorry but I can’t give you any advise on the work situation in Moldova. I can imagine it’s not the best but I’m not a good source of information here. This is a travel article only. Good luck.

  • Reply
    Doina Danu
    21/01/2017 at 05:34

    Moldova is my native country. After living in the US for 5 months, I can say: Yes, it is not the best looking country, with skyscrapers and shining buildings as other developed countries, but for its people it is valuable. It has a rich culture and beautiful traditions. If you would get to know the people, you would fall in love with it. Beautiful landscapes, tasty, unique cuisine, rich history, people with big hearts…
    For those who haven’t been there yet, I’d say: give it a chance. It is worth discovering Moldova!

    • Reply
      kami
      28/01/2017 at 22:14

      I agree! Capital that can’t be called beautiful is not the most important thing! It’s people that matter! And Moldova has some of the most hospitable people ever!

    • Reply
      Roman
      26/10/2017 at 21:06

      Doina, you are nostalgic because you’ve spent much time in a different country. Try again leaving in Moldova a year or so, in Chisinau in particular, you’ll want to run away very soon.
      Moldova people are nice ? Seriously ? You will not find a single smiling face during a day trip.
      How could non-smiling, tide and poor people turn out to be nice and valuable from spiritual perspective. Moldova people, the majority acts on streets like hungry dogs, shouting on each other, vulgar and aggressive, lack of education went below African lvl past decade here.

      • Reply
        Krasimira
        24/10/2018 at 17:29

        You know, Roman, a friend of mine actually came back to Moldova after living several years in Chicago, USA. She got a decent and well paid job without any “corruption” methods and the main thing she is so much happier there, than in USA. So I think it’s not about the country it’s about the person’s attitude to life. For people that are used to seek disadvantages everywhere even the best place in the world will seem miserable and even the nicest people will seem worse than animals. So just start from yourself.

    • Reply
      Liuda
      13/09/2018 at 14:57

      Doina, i agree with you. Even though Moldova has its negative characteristics, i am proud to say where i am from and will never deny it. Do i live there now? No. I have been in the US for 10 years but my whole family is there. I visit all the time. and there are plenty of things to do in Chisinau. Just google things to do in Chisinau and a whole list of stuff will show up in the first search. People are not that miserable. Everyone struggles, but its just the sad part of our society. We still have amazing food that i dont think can equal to too many others out there and i am a food lover. I tried every food you can think of. Still miss our tradutional and naturally prepared dishes. Its sad to read articles like these. Moldova has brought up many amazing people, who are successful and famous. Always living with the hope that things will change for the generations to come.

  • Reply
    CAMILO DE LELIS
    27/01/2017 at 05:23

    After visiting Belmopan, Belize’s capital, in Central America, I found I am able to stand any other boring capital in the world! By the looks of your photos, Chisinau might be much better than Belmopan!

    • Reply
      kami
      28/01/2017 at 22:15

      I’m not the one to judge as I haven’t been to Belize but if you decided to visit Chisinau don’t have your hopes too high. But it’s interesting in its own way!

      • Reply
        Cristy
        03/04/2019 at 21:40

        Don’t ever compare. Been in both cities. Moldova is GOLD! You still have to travel around this beautiful world and will better understand how nice Chisinau is )

        • Reply
          kami
          05/04/2019 at 21:12

          but I’ve never said it is not nice! I enjoyed it, a lot, it is just not the most exciting city you will ever visit. as a matter of fact I was checking flights today to go back to Chisinau :)

  • Reply
    Martin
    24/02/2017 at 02:35

    A very interesting read as always. I was hoping you would eventually mention some amazing attraction or cobblestoned street full of cafes and bars, but it wasn’t to be! It certainly doesn’t sound like the most exciting city but I’m still intrigued and would like to visit. Just a shame it’s not the easiest place to get to, that doesn’t help matters.

    • Reply
      kami
      24/02/2017 at 12:12

      No, no such places in Chisinau ;) but it is still a nice city to visit and I’d recommend it for more adventurous and curious travelers. I saw cheap flights with Wizzair from Berlin to Chisinau so it’s definitely slowly opening up to the world! Or you can get to Odessa, Ukraine and from there it’s an each journey to Chisinau!

      • Reply
        Martin
        24/02/2017 at 16:11

        I did look on Skyscanner afterwards like you suggested and was surprised how many connections there are e.g.from London too. Odessa does sound like a better overland option, your long journey from Chernivsti didn’t sound like fun! Hopefully I’ll get to visit this year as I like these still non-touristy places.

        • Reply
          kami
          27/02/2017 at 16:15

          I took the train from Chisinau to Odessa, it was around 5 hours but not too bad, definitely better than the packed bus from Chernivtsi! I really hope you will get a chance to go there too!

  • Reply
    Kathrine Thomsen
    01/04/2017 at 13:34

    Loved to read your blog about Moldova as I lived there some 17 years ago. My husband got stationed there for just over a year. It’s a funny ‘never has been’ kind of a place. We really enjoyed our stay even if there isn’t much going on, I suspect it hasn’t changed much. Surprizingly, there were a number of very good restaurants that we frequented often ( I won’t list them as they might not be there anymore ;-) ). We saw a bit of the countryside as well and got fairly close to some people. But just seeing how other people live in other countries is worth maybe much more than some grand attractions, at least that is my experience. We also lived on the other side of the border in Romania a few years later for a few months with three young kids (in Piatre Neamt). That was also a great adventure :-). Regarding Luxembourg, we lived there for 10 years and I have to disagree that it is boring ;-). We loved living there and they have the greatest density of medieval fortresses and lots of nature but you have to get out of town. In my opinion a hidden gem :-). Anyway thers’s alway a huge difference between living in a place and going there for a few days. Really happy to have stumbled onto your travelblog!!

    • Reply
      kami
      17/04/2017 at 19:38

      I completely agree with you that it’s a whole different story to live and travel to the place. I think if I have more time for Luxembourg I could enjoy it. But I’m willing to give it another chance! As for Moldova I bet not much has changed there since the time you’ve lived there. Even if tourist-wise it’s not the most interesting country I still think it’s worth to visit, to see the real life outside of tourist destinations.

      • Reply
        Roman
        26/10/2017 at 21:11

        Moldova is interesting to visit from the perspective of studding the behavior of locals, people leaving below the lvl of poverty and the way they act, from psychological perspective, I guess… And yes, a bottle of wine is your friend, drink as much as your organism can endure, things will look better, I guess..

  • Reply
    jens
    11/04/2017 at 13:08

    Hello, I think we are pretty similar. I also like “ticking off” countries. It also makes me proud. And just like you, I don’t care if a city or a country is beautiful as Long as it has some sort of character. Some of the most beautiful cities of the worl (Barcelona, Paris) are definitely not my favourites, whereas some of the most chaotic and in parts also run-down capitals Count amoung my absolute favs (e.g. Istanbul, Lisbon). The Feelings you describe about Chisinau I also know very well from places like Bishkek, Albania, etc. – Well, so this Friday I’m going to Chisinau and really looking Forward to it. And just like for you, it’s the second last country in Europe missing in my travel list. :P

    • Reply
      kami
      17/04/2017 at 21:14

      I hope you had a great time in Chisinau! It’s a weird yet interesting city, isn’t it? ;)

  • Reply
    Max
    04/05/2017 at 16:06

    Hi Kami,
    What impression did you get of the Moldovan people? Were they friendly? Did anyone try to scam you? Was there much English spoken?

    • Reply
      kami
      27/05/2017 at 21:23

      People were fine, not too friendly but also not too reserved and definitely willing to help a tourist. English wasn’t very much spoken, only in the most popular restaurants and cafe. And fortunately no one tried to scam me!

    • Reply
      Roman
      26/10/2017 at 21:14

      If you ask me, a local, people are unfriendly, lack culture, very few speak English, they never smile on streets, they never ask “how are you” and if you ask them, you’ll receive a honest answer, like – so-so , there were better days, not so good, hungry :).
      In public transport people get particular aggressive.

  • Reply
    Yes Scotland
    09/05/2017 at 22:44

    Your blog brings back memories of my trip to Moldova in 2015. I flew in from Bucharest on a small TAROM propeller plane and even from the air I could tell when I had reached Moldova. The landscape changed suddenly from poor (in comparison to Western Europe) rural Romanian farmland to very poor farmland. The people I met though were very proud and welcoming. I remember the border guards in the airport being very interested in the passport stamps I had and wondering why I had come to Moldova. I was the only non Moldovan or Romanian on the plane and they were a bit surprised to see my passport! I liked Chisinau. As for most boring capital in Europe…no I don’t think so. Vaduz is not much more exciting, neither is Berne or San Marino. That’s not to say those cities are boring either, but Chisinau has a certain edge to it which I enjoyed. Wandering the streets really does take you back in time. I was there for 1 night then went to Odessa, which was a huge step forward in time! I went to buy my train ticket and the lady in Chisnau said “Good luck” to me when I paid for it!

    I wanted to visit Transnistria too, but all I managed was a train journey through the “country”. It looked very interesting, but it’s an awkward place to visit. The trains from Chisinau to Odessa pass through but not for long enough or frequently enough to make a visit for anything less than one night, which is annoying as I really didn’t want to spend a whole night in Tiraspol!

    On my way back from Odessa I took a bus to Chisinau because of the border issue with Transnistria. If you enter or leave Moldova via Transnistria then you might face problems leaving again because the Moldovan authorities do not control the Transnistria/Ukraine border. The bus was cheaper but not much longer than the train, the biggest delay is at the border where we stopped for an hour for no apparent reason. Still, I now have 2 entry stamps from Moldova and one exit stamp! There really is not much to see when traveling through Moldova. A few little delipidated villages with animals working in the fields and old cars is about it, but the people seem to manage. They may be poor but they don’t appear miserable. It reminded me very much of rural Bulgaria or Albania. Soviet times left a lot of ruins in Moldova and they have been slower than others to fix them up or replace them. They will get there eventually. Moldova, I think, has a bright future.

    To be honest Chisinau has everything you would want from a city. It has shops, nice restaurants, bars and cafes, a few parks, monuments and places to walk. It may not be on the same grand scale as London, Paris or Geneva, but it’s got it’s own way of life and I for one would visit again in a heartbeat.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/06/2017 at 07:53

      Thank you for your nice comment and for sharing your memories of Moldova. Recently my friends have been there and I couldn’t recognize Chisinau from their pictures and descriptions, the city is definitely improving which is really good! I really hope to return to Moldova as I feel there is much more to the country than we’ve seen.
      Happy travels!

  • Reply
    Red
    03/07/2017 at 13:44

    I completely agree with you regarding the architecture and it is sad that the old buildings have been destroyed during the soviet time. Even now, they prefer to build some new buildings that do not fit. However, I think it is unfair to call a country boring if you visited only Chisinau and Transnistria. There is much more than that and it is quite superficial. I agree that you good organization skills, ask around people for their favourite places and search on internet, but “boring” is a powerful comment.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 21:11

      Even if I’ve been only to those places I’ve crossed a big part of the country and it didn’t look very appealing unfortunately, the landscape was too flat for me. But I’m hoping to give Moldova another chance next year as I feel there must be some gems hidden. Any recommendations?

  • Reply
    Alina
    15/08/2017 at 05:41

    I was born In Moldova and spent my childhood there. That Circus opening was the highlight of my childhood memories. I remember getting a tour, i remember petting lions there and special way it looked inside.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 21:12

      Ah, that sounds so great! The circus is such a beautiful piece of architecture! I really wish I could have gone inside too!

  • Reply
    Steven Primrose-Smith
    05/09/2017 at 21:41

    Between 2011 and 2013 I cycled to every European capital, bar Reykjavik and Moscow. Chisinau was interesting but a bit ordinary, but Moldova’s countryside was lovely. The country can do villages and small towns much better than cities (Balti wasn’t up to much either). But what was best – even though I assume it was down to poverty – was that every garden was growing masses of fruit and vegetables. The whole country was like an allotment, all green and fertile. I really enjoyed my time there although the road quality was awful (but not as bad as Ukraine’s).

    And I agree about Liechtenstein and Vaduz – dullest place in Europe (and possibly the universe).

    • Reply
      kami
      05/10/2017 at 13:34

      I had a very similar impressions of Moldova when I traveled by bus across the country! It has so much better countryside than the cities. This sounds like such an amazing trip you had!

  • Reply
    Roman
    26/10/2017 at 21:18

    If you still plan to visit Moldova on your own AND you are not interested in wine tours, avoid it.. My advice as a local.
    Boring? ho ho, it’s not accurate enough.
    Depressive – that a better description of this place.
    The only way to get away from this state (depression) is drinking Moldova’s wine, which is very good value

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 18:04

      Even if I found Moldova to be slightly boring I still would like to go back and see some more. It can’t be that bad! Plus there is wine!

  • Reply
    Joy @MyTravelingJoys
    30/10/2017 at 19:19

    Hi Kami! This post pulled up as I was doing some research for our trip to Sofia-Bucharest and had thought about adding on Chisinau (or at least hubby wanted to). But after reading your report, I’m sure if taking a day out to visit Chisinau is worth it. ;) (Although a friend said the Moldovian? wine is good, but probably not as fun in December.) So I think we might rearrange our planning to include Budapest so we can see some friends there and then carry on. As always thanks for your honest feedback!
    Cheers, Joy

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 18:06

      I’m pretty late with my answer but yes, I don’t think Moldova in December is a good idea! In the summer time or better during some wine festival it can be pretty fun and I’d definitely recommend going then. The wine is worth the trip there! :)

  • Reply
    Tom
    12/11/2017 at 23:14

    Chisinau is not the most boring capital city in Europe – Podgorica is! Having been to both, I felt that there was plenty to fill my time in Chisinau!

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 18:06

      Now, after visiting Podgorica, I have to agree with you!

  • Reply
    David Jones
    08/12/2017 at 00:52

    I was in Moldova in July 2017. I absolutely loved it. Chisinau is a small friendly city with some great places to see. I met some wonderful people. I also got to see the circus, which I also found a little disappointing. I took a day trip on a public bus to Sorocca and the fortress, absolutely awesome place with stunning views across the river to Ukraine. Then went on for 4 nights in Tiraspol Transnistria which was nothing like I imagined. It is a fully developed nation with everything you would expect in any developed city. My advice is head to Moldova and get lost in it’s magic.

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 18:08

      Some of my friends visited Moldova this year too and what I could see on their pictures and what I heared from them looked so much better than what I experienced two years ago. I really would love to go back to Moldova and see it now, it seems like it’s changing for better!

  • Reply
    Rajan
    21/01/2018 at 11:46

    Thanks for giving a vivid picture about Chisinau, Moldova. It can be said that as all human races are different, so are the capital cities of many nations. Thanks God there are people and different cultures , but Human nature same everywhere, good, bad, better and best…

    • Reply
      kami
      29/03/2018 at 20:16

      agree!

  • Reply
    Roman
    13/03/2018 at 22:51

    Well, Moldova’s wine became much better in recent few years, it’s a fact.
    The rest is same…

    • Reply
      kami
      29/03/2018 at 20:16

      then I need to return to try more wine!

  • Reply
    Russ
    29/07/2018 at 21:42

    I was born in Moldova. Let’s get real, it is like a huge village. The people are alright, people are just people getting on with their lives. The place lacks clean water (got to buy imported clean water), services and the overall feel of Chisinau is gloomy. There is lots of alienation going on between Russian & Romanian speakers. Visiting Moldova is one thing but living there is another! The place lacks opportunities and the universities are quite weak. I have seen the whole country except Comrat. I would never go back to live! Maybe to visit, it is aaaaalright.

    • Reply
      kami
      11/08/2018 at 13:06

      I can imagine living is much more difficult than visiting – I could feel that too and I was just a traveler with no roots in the country. But it’s still an interesting place to visit and hopefully it will get more tourists!

  • Reply
    Kris
    27/10/2018 at 20:21

    Nice and helpful posts on both Chisinau and Tiraspol, for which many thanks. Will definitely keep on hand during an up-coming visit. Couple of quick ones. First, on the discussion that followed re “boring” places. There are no boring countries or cities. By definition, how entities made of thousands upon thousands of people organise themselves and get on with their lives is not – cannot be – boring. There is no shortage, however, of ignorant, boringly clichéd or, worse, prejudiced visitors to those places.
    Second, I take issue with the casual suggestion that “after all not every city can be as beautifully rebuilt as Warsaw was”. I’m a big admirer of Poland: the resilience of the people, the modern economic transformation, the lot. I fancy Warsaw, for a host of reasons. Beautiful rebuilding is not among them, however. What was done in the Warsaw Old Town is fine, certainly. But we are talking about an area of 25 hectares, one quarter of a square kilometre. It in no way justifies a sweeping characterisation suggesting that Warsaw was beautifully rebuilt. A simple visit to the observation deck of the Palace of Culture and Science effectively strips one of any such notion.

    • Reply
      kami
      07/11/2018 at 16:23

      Thank you for your interesting comment Kris. I mostly agree with it. But then it’s different to live in a city and to visit it as a tourist. It might be interesting for locals and boring for tourists and the other way around. It is never the same. As for Warsaw – I used this example since it’s the closest to my heart but that’s not the only city that was badly destroyed and rebuilt in a beautiful way on a bigger area than Warsaw’s old town. This was just an example.

  • Reply
    Nore
    18/12/2018 at 20:37

    Moldova is really famous for its wines. Why didn’t you swing by Krikova, just 20 minutes from Chisinau? It is the largest wine cellar in the world(!) with hundreds of kilometres of underground tunnels. The tours go by trains in the endless tunnels. Putin apparently had his 60th birthday party in there. It is really worth a visit, the tour was great. And I don’t even drink alcohol =) Otherwise, I agree, there is not much to do. I only go to visit my girlfriend’s relatives.

    • Reply
      kami
      27/01/2019 at 14:12

      That’s in my plan for next visit in Moldova which I hope will happen soon, I’m really willing to give the country another chance!

  • Reply
    Rob
    04/04/2019 at 08:52

    After Andorra this weekend I will fly from Barcelona to Chisinau, my country nr 70. On the topic of ‘boring cities’: unbore those yourself! There is fun to be found everywhere. Even in Liechtenstein (-;

    • Reply
      kami
      05/04/2019 at 21:11

      I know I should give Chisinau another chance (although it wasn’t as boring as I expected! I actually really liked it!). As a matter of fact I was checking flights to Moldova today ;) Have a good time there!

  • Reply
    Dave Mishan
    18/06/2019 at 11:22

    Hello,
    Thanks for great blog on Chisnau. We will be driving there from UK this summer. We then want to take the train to Odessa for a few days. Do you know if there are any secure or guarded car parks in Chisnau where we can leave our camper -van?

    Thanks, Dave.

Leave a Reply

Let’s become friends!

Join me on Facebook for even more travel updates!