Compared to most other Slavic capitals, Chişinău isn’t as flourishing and as thriving. Poor economic infrastructure, general poverty, political uncertainty, lack of sufficient energy resources and an overall decline in export goods have really damaged Moldova since the USSR broke up in 1991. Thus, tourism isn’t Moldova’s forte, but there are ways to entertain yourself if you happen to go to Chişinău.
Relax at the city parks
Contrary to the predominant Soviet architecture and the rather dull skyline, Chişinău can be quite appealing when it comes to a relaxing stroll or a laid-back afternoon, as long as you know where to go. With colorful gardens, waterfalls, fountains, splendid gazebos and even a lake (in the Rose Valley park), Chişinău’s city parks are heavenly all year round. Whether you’re looking for a peace of mind away from crowds, some fresh air or just a few hours of respite, you won’t be disappointed.
Stroll down the National Museum of History
Moldova has been to hell and back over the course of the past few centuries. Its colorful past is locked away in the National Museum of History in Chişinău. Hundreds of thousands of exponents, thematic exhibits, archeological treasures and countless fractions of Moldovan history are hidden in every corner of the museum. History buffs would be pleased to know that they can purchase replicas of some of the exhibits, such as a zoomorphic vessel dating back from the 2nd century AD and other similar souvenirs.
Attend a wine tasting
Chişinău is notoriously famous for its wine. Specialized wine shops and bars, a celebratory Wine Festival, the famous Moldova National Wine Day and the old Cricova winery offer a plethora of opportunities to taste the refined local wine. Moldova has a 500-year old winemaking history, so it should come to no surprise that the capital city and its municipality aren’t shy of praising it.
Explore the Village Museum
Small, but kitschy, the Village Museum is an outdoor museum that houses several structures with cultural significance – the Wooden Church of Hirișeni and other monuments of folk architecture with ethnographic value. It’s closed on Mondays and Sundays, but if you go any other day of the week, you’ll find that it doesn’t fall back from larger open-air ethnographic museums in other countries.
Mingle with locals at the colorful bazaars
A trip to Chişinău won’t be complete without checking out the city’s bazaars and their chatty merchants. Locals and tourists alike love getting swept in their madness every single day of the week, including on weekends. Exotic goods, fresh food, colorful crafts, clothes and fabrics, herbs and spices, household items, antiques… the list goes on and on! Go mingle with the locals and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Try the local dishes
We, Slavs, are famous for our hearty cuisine and Moldovans aren’t an exception to this rule. Delicious stews and soups, satiating meat pies, Ottoman-inspired desserts, brined cheese appetizers and a vast selection of authentic Moldovan wines are always on the menu. There’s no need to search for a famed fancy restaurant because tiny pubs and eateries located off the beaten path will treat you to the top of your bent.
Don’t forget to take a picture of the Triumphal Arch
Most capitals on the planet have triumphal arches. Chişinău’s “Arcul de Triumf” was constructed back in 1840 and overlooks the Nativity Cathedral, the local Government House and the Great National Assembly Square. The arch’s purpose was commemorating the crucial moment the Russian Empire won the Russo-Turkish Wars of 1828-1829. Regardless of its small size, the arch marks a focal point in Slavic history. Make sure you stop by it before leaving Chişinău.