Forgotten Europe: Chisinau

Discover a touristically unexplored part of Europe through the eyes of our writer

Calvin Breakwell
15th March 2022
Image: Calvin Breakwell
In a list of European destinations, I can’t imagine many people have Moldova at the top. It is indeed Europe’s least visited and poorest country but behind that there is a country rich in culture and history which is worth exploring in its own right. When I visited Chisinau, I was really excited to see what this fascinating and seemingly distant part of Europe would fare against such destinations as Budapest or Barcelona but it really didn’t disappoint.

Upon on first arriving in Chisinau, it first looks pretty rundown, the roads aren’t great and the buildings are falling down. But don’t let this dishearten you! The centre of the city has some great examples of soviet architecture, especially the Centre of Culture and Parliament Square. It was also surprising to learn that Chisinau is one of the greenest (the colour) cities in Europe. There is a plethora of parks to enjoy and explore, even one with places to barbeque some food and drink vodka by a lake; it is a tradition when one returns to Moldova after a trip that they drink vodka here.

After taking a walk around the city centre and seeing all the old and new buildings, it’s great to sit down and grab some Kvass (a beer like soft-drink homemade and sold on the street) and watch the world go by or go and grab some lunch from a local traditional bakery in the form of a Moldovan layered pie. There is also an amazing yet unique mix of food, from Russia, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia as Chisinau was a very international city during the USSR and before.

Image: Calvin Breakwell

Just outside the city is the complex of Mileștii Mici, which is the world’s biggest wine cellar! With over 2 million bottles of wine inside the cellar. You can go on a tour which takes you in cars around the 55km of tunnels which join the different wine cellars together. At the end, you can even pick up a bottle or two at a price which would seem alien to us in the UK. Moldovan wine is definitely worth trying and is one of biggest hidden gems of this beautiful country.

All in all, if you want an experience that will truly leave you breathless and surprised then go to Moldova and experience something totally different!

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