Moldova is a small country in Eastern Europe that shares borders with Romania and Ukraine. Its history as one of the Soviet Socialist Republics, as well as violent conflicts in the past, has left Moldova one of the poorest countries in Europe. However, its status may be changing—now it is a democratic, independent country, a member of the United Nations, and the Moldova tourism industry is growing.
Those who visit the country on will find it to be remarkably diverse, with ethnic groups from Ukraine, Russia, and many other countries, in addition to the native Moldovan population, and both Romanian and Russian are commonly spoken. Moldova has rich historical sites and abundant opportunities to learn about its heritage, from its status as the Moldova Principality in the fourteenth century to its past as part of Tsarist Russia and a dramatic history in the twentieth century, with several wars and the rise and fall of the USSR. In addition, visitors will find that Moldova travel is often dominated by an emphasis on excellent local wines, and many locals grow and press their own grapes. Along with great wines, the country is also an excellent destination for foodies, and travelers on a trip to Moldova can take a wine tour and sample many local delicacies along the way.
Chisinau is the capital of Moldova, and it is almost always the first stop for Moldova tourism. Chisinau International Airport offers connections to many European destinations, and the city is more affluent and cosmopolitan than much of the rest of the country. Chisinau is known for being one of the best culinary destinations to add to Moldova travel itineraries, with excellent local food available at the city's eateries at extremely affordable prices. (For instance, try the Symposium Wine Bar for excellent meals paired with delicious local wines.) Cognac and beer are also deservedly famous in Chisinau. Exploring the open-air markets is a fun activity and a variety of fresh produce is sold there.
Visitors may also want to visit the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History, the oldest museum in Moldova. The museum contains a large number of exhibits that demonstrate Moldova's contributions to paleontology, zoology, and archaeology, among other topics. There is also a beautiful botanical garden on the grounds of the museum that is definitely worth a stroll around. The Holly Gates are another famous historical monument in Chisinau and a must-see attraction for Moldova tourism. These gates date from 1846 and were meant to house a large metal bell cast from Turkish cannons. These square white stone gates feature Corinthian columns as well as a commemorative tablet dating from the time of the USSR.
About 35 miles northeast of Chisinau you will come to one of the most spectacular gems in the crown of Moldova travel. Old Orhei, also known as Orheiul Vechi, is a complex of ancient monuments ranging from early Christian monasteries carved into the natural limestone, an ancient fortress dating from the third century BC, and the amazing remains of a fortress dating from the 1200s that was built by the Golden Horde of Mongolian Tatars that conquered and occupied the area. You can learn more about the Tatars at the Old Orhei Museum. Near the historical site, tourists can also visit the small and charming village of Orhei. Here you can feast to your heart's content on local food as well as homemade wines. The archaeological complex of Old Orhei is also situated in a stunning natural setting, in a valley of a tributary of the Dniestr-Raut River, and the landscape features impressive limestone promontories. With such unique and breathtaking sights, a visit to Old Orhei alone is worth the trip to Moldova.