If ever a swathe of land could be called ‘wine country,’ Moldova would be one of the most deserving to wear the label. Situated between Ukraine and Romania, the country is abstractly shaped like a cluster of grapes. And from neighborhood winemakers of the hobbyist sort, to sumptuous, state-run operations, quality Moldovan wine can be enjoyed seemingly everywhere.
Moldova is often dubbed one of the least-visited nations in Europe, but with its friendly folk, pretty countryside, and untouched culture, I found Moldova to be among the most ‘authentic’ countries I have visited.
Below, you’ll find my clickable Moldova index, as well as destination-specific tips, accommodation, and transportation resources.
Click the index button below to see all my posts from Moldova.
Table of Contents
- Savor a glass or two while taking in the soothing scenery surrounding the delightful, family-run Et Cetera Winery.
- Closer to Chișinău, rest at the Château Vartely wine resort, and explore the vast subterranean network of roadways and cellars at the Cricova Winery.
- Finally, you needn’t go far to sample Moldovan wine. If you’re in the countryside, simply seek out vin signs in front of homes, and inquire within.
- Watch the world go by near the city’s landmark Arcul de Triumf (Triumphant Arch). We spotted a wedding party, as well as locals playing with gargantuan chess pieces.
- Admire the golden-domed, blue splendor of the St. Theodor Tiron Convent.
- Take a day trip to the opulent and historic Curchi Monastery, about a one-hour drive from Chișinău.
The Countryside (Old Orhei, Cahul, etc.)
- Admire the mystical splendor of the country’s most famous site – the Old Orhei (Orheiul Vechi) monastery and archaeological complex.
- Mingle with locals in quiet villages. Near the town of Cahul, we were invited to help pick a family’s grapes, and then partake in a lunch celebrating the successful harvest.
- Relish even the smallest of village details, including gingerbread-like details on homes, and functional, yet charming, water wells.
In total, we spent about three weeks in Moldova: a few nights in capital Chișinău; two weeks in Roșu, a village near Cahul; one night at a wine resort; and a handful of days near the Ukrainian border.
A listing of properties we would happily revisit follows. (Some are affiliate links.)
- Cahul (in the village of Roșu) – For about two weeks, we stayed at the Costel Hostel, actually a family home run like a bed & breakfast by a young man named Constantin. The experience proved to be just what we’d hoped. Constantin arranged for us to help harvest his neighbor’s grapes, and also visit an elementary school. One day, he accompanied us into the larger town of Cahul, walking us through the fresh market, and showing some of the town’s main attractions. He was eager to share his passion for gardening and permaculture, as well as his desire to help others in his community.
- Château Vartely Wine Resort – Our ‘home away from home’ for one night was the Château Vartely, a wine resort complex which opened in the city of Orhei about one decade ago. From fluffy white robes in our cottage-like accommodation, to the convenience of having wine-tasting and dining facilities just footsteps away, we had a relaxing stay. We were lucky that our September visit coincided with the grape harvest, allowing us to watch as red grapes were pressed just around the corner from our room.
- Chișinău – Wanting a genuine experience in the capital city, we stayed at Marisha’s Flat in the Ciocana district of Chișinău. The lodging was basic and clean, and situated inside a Soviet-style block building, offering a fascinating look into what life might have been like behind the Iron Curtain. The apartment was within walking distance from a modern supermarket, but I wouldn’t advise taking the elevator. (Because it seemed as though it hadn’t been serviced in a while, Shawn and I exclusively opted for several flights of stairs instead. On our last morning there, we spotted a man trapped inside the elevator. Our Moldovan acquaintance called the authorities; here’s hoping someone had the elevator promptly serviced thereafter.)
- Et Cetera Winery – Back in 2014 when we spent a few days enjoying the Et Cetera Winery, the family articulated their dream of someday opening an on-site guest house. Since they could not yet offer lodging on the Et Cetera premises, they arranged for us to stay at the apartment of a family friend. As of 2017, I’m delighted to see that their dream has been realized and that they now offer accommodation on the grounds of their winery.
- Bus – To get from city to city by bus, we referenced this online Moldovan bus schedule. The site is in Romanian, but we translated it via Google Translate.
- Train – We took an overnight train from Chișinău to Ukraine, ultimately heading to Lviv. Since we could not find reliable timetables online, we purchased our train tickets in person at Chișinău’s main railway station.