Moldova is a country located in Eastern Europe. As the area has no coastal regions, the country is landlocked, bordering Romania (west) and Ukraine (east, north, and south). As a result, the country has a deep cultural heritage, including influences from Ukraine, Romania, and Russia. Since the 90s, Moldova has attempted to increase its market economy after it gained independence from the Soviet Union. Moldova’s landscapes are unique to the location, filled mostly with beautiful rolling hills and fertile plains, which is why it’s well-known for its wine production. It’s also home to several religious sites.
Moldova is known for its massive wine industry. It holds seven world records, two of which (largest wine collection and largest underground wine cellar) are connected to viticulture. Moldova also takes pride in its majestic forests, breathtaking landscapes, and successful tourism programs. It is a place where nature’s beauty perfectly blends with urbanization.
Cultivating Grapes Since 2800 BCE
Moldova has a long history and tradition of making wine, which dates back to 2800 BCE. Just by looking around Moldova, you’ll realize how important the wine industry is for them. There are several wineries and 128,000 hectares of land dedicated to cultivating grapes, and you’ll notice families growing their own grapes and making wine in their backyards. Moldova’s wineries use different varieties of grapes like Pinot Noir, Malbec, Merlot, and Chardonnay. But you might want to try their wines made of Moldova’s local and traditional grape varietals for a more authentic experience. Through the years, Moldova’s wines have won hundreds of international awards, including the Best Red Wine in the World in 2022.
The Strange Country
One of the most interesting places you can visit while traveling around Moldova is the nation of Transnistria. It’s a location with its own currency and political leanings and has broken off from the rest of Moldova. The location is fiercely protective of its independence, and you’ll have to present your passport as they still have border patrol. Transnistria is not recognized by other countries as a separate nation, making a trip to Transnistria a strange, surreal experience. It’s a country that essentially does not exist, but it’s undoubtedly a country the moment you set foot on its border.
A City of Two Halves
There’s no denying that Chisinau is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Moldova for the first time. The capital city has much to offer tourists, as tourism is a top priority for the country. That said, Chisinau is a city of two halves. Having been a part of the Soviet Union, you’ll find the strong, almost brutal architecture of the Soviets almost everywhere you go. But, at the same time, you’ll also find beautiful Parisian structures and modern architecture as the country attempts to separate itself from the old Soviet lifestyle.
A Rural Heritage
While the capital city of Chisinau showcases the modern sensibilities of Moldova as a whole, it doesn’t change the fact that the country is still fully steeped in tradition. It has a rural heritage; all you have to do is travel around Moldova’s many villages to see how the traditional folk live. If you’re looking for a different adventure that takes you back in time, you’ll want to visit the traditional villages of Moldova. Seeing how the rural folk live can be an eye-opening experience.
Captivating Cave Systems
Moldova has a habit of surprising tourists with the sheer variety of locations and activities. For example, there is a long expanse of cave systems known as the Cave of Surprises. Scientists surmise that the cave system was formed about 11 million years ago. The surprising thing about the cave system was that it was only discovered in the 1970s. There is a surreal and almost haunting air about these cave systems, making the Cave of Surprises a must-visit for first-time tourists.
A Surprisingly Low Number of Tourists
Similar to how Moldova is often neglected in terms of wine production despite having some of the best wines in the world, the number of tourists each year showcases just how underrated Moldova can be. While a popular tourist destination for those in the know, the country has surprisingly few tourists, at about 11,000 yearly. It makes Moldova a top destination for those looking to enjoy an unorthodox yet fulfilling trip. If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of busy tourist hotspots, Moldova is the perfect choice.
The Odd Language of Moldovan
There is a surprising amount of animosity regarding what is considered the official language of Moldova. While the country’s unique language is Moldovan, the official language is still Romanian. This is because in the 1991 Moldovan Declaration of Independence, where the country separated itself from the Soviet Union, Romanian was written as the national language. In the 1994 constitution, however, Moldovan is considered. Eventually, the Constitutional Court decided that the original declaration was a higher legally binding force. Such is why Romanian is still considered the official language.
Beautiful Cave Monasteries
When a structure is carved into a cliffside, it creates a beautiful and picturesque vista that most people can’t help but stare at for minutes at a time. In the case of Moldova, there are beautiful cave monasteries you can visit, carved into the rock formations such as the Orheiul Vechi and Saharna. For many people, it’s like being transported into another world, as there isn’t anything quite like the cave monasteries of Moldova. So ensure that it’s a part of your travel itinerary when you visit.
Known as the royal forest of Moldova, the Padurea Domneasca is the largest nature reserve in the country. Bordered on one side by Romania, Padurea Domneasca is like something out of a fairy tale. The tranquility is wonderful, and you can fully immerse yourself in nature, surrounded by beautiful wildlife. There are comfortable cabins and hiking trails to discover, which means you can spend most of your trip in the largest nature reserve in Moldova if you wish. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
The Perfect Middle Ground for Tourists on a Budget
One of the great things about Moldova as a tourist destination is it never gets too expensive. Even the most luxurious establishments in Moldova are still reasonably priced, making it an excellent middle ground for tourists who want to get away without spending too much. Depending on where you stay, you can save a significant amount of money while still experiencing everything Moldova has to offer. It’s undoubtedly one of the top tourist destinations as it provides the most bang for the buck.
The Hundred Hills
There are some locations that make people scratch their heads due to how it somehow defies the laws of physics—or at least how it doesn’t seem to match everything else. For example, in Moldova, there is the expanse of land known as the hundred hills. The way these hills flow into each other can make it feel like the expanse of land was man-made. However, no one knows why the hundred hills look the way they do. Traditional lore states that it could have been the site of many bloody battles, with the mounds acting as ritual graves.
Incredible Folk Art
Moldova is a country deeply connected to its traditional roots, which is why its cuisine is often lauded for its homemade and hearty qualities. Due to the traditional nature of Moldova, you can expect an incredible folk art scene. Many villages still practice the same traditional folk art they’ve enjoyed for years, including pottery, weaving, wood carving, and more. Many tourists prefer to immerse themselves in the culture, and the folk art of Moldova is a great way to do so.
Archaeological Treasure Troves
One of the more underrated reasons to visit Moldova is its treasure trove of archaeological sites. Many of the sites are considered extremely important in the world of archaeology, specifically the fortress of Soroca and the prehistoric settlements of the Old Orhei. Moldova is a surprising mix of metropolitan sights and sounds and locations for those looking to experience ancient history. Alongside the historical architecture of the capital city, there are plenty of archaeological sites to experience for those looking for a different adventure.
Diversity in Wildlife
There is something tranquil and lovely about a country that immerses itself in nature, especially concerning wildlife. Those who visit Moldova will find plenty of diversity in wildlife, including deer, wolves, bears, and a surprising variety of bird species. While there are many things Moldova is known for, one of the more underrated aspects is how the wildlife maintains a balance between metropolitan and natural settings. The presence of such animals can be quite peaceful, making it a premier location for those looking to get away for a while.
A Hearty, Wonderful Cuisine
There’s just something about home-cooked meals that give them an almost otherworldly charm. The cuisine of Moldova centers around the charm of hearty, home-cooked meals. The country focuses on traditional meals to attract tourists from all over the world, and there’s definitely a charm to it. You can go your whole trip to Moldova eating nothing but recipes you’ve never tried. That said, there’s always a comforting quality to the food in Moldova that will have you craving its recipes and planning another trip.