Life in Chisinau
Arts and Theater
The largest theater in Moldova is the national theater named after Mihai Eminescu. The theater was founded in 1920 and used to be called the National Theater in Chişinău. The plays staged here were mostly by French, Italian, Norwegian, Romanian, and Russian play writers.
There are several other theaters in Chişinău which deserve our attention. The Republican theater Luceafarul, Satiricus, Ion Luca Caragiale, the theater named after Eugene Ionescu, and the Ginta Latina theater, are all places where you can enjoy theater classics staged by Moldovan directors.
Sometimes the theaters invite guest performers and you can see plays by foreign troupes. It is worth noting that Ginta Latina has been very successful in making the plays original in several ways – here you can see the most unusual stage decorations, innovative acting styles and very interesting plays.
Theater Spălătorie – is a unique underground theater in Moldova. You go down a stair, go into this little room which should be a club and you almost want to live here. You will see the performance without clichés and ideological stereotypes, of young, but very talented actors. The staging is done in a rather contemporary style, which differs considerably from the classical understanding of theater.
Besides, it is an original place with a good music, where you can sit and have a good drink and spend your free time with awesome and friendly people, even if you don’t speak Romanian at all. If you want to have an unusual night with good people, go to Spălătorie.
When visiting art galleries in Chişinău you can not only contemplate the masterpieces of contemporary artists of our country, but also buy your favorite picture. If you want to learn more about this form of arts, then visit the Brancusi or Alexander galleries.
L’ Gallery located at the corner of Pushkin and Bucureşti streets, this small gallery offers an impressive, considering the small space, collection of paintings created by contemporary Moldovan artists, both famous and beginner ones. All the paintings are for sale; prices are reasonable. Inside the gallery there is also a small souvenir shop.
Art Gallery is a small trendy art-salon, located on Mitropolit Varlaam Street in the city center. Like the majority of art galleries in Chişinău, Artum Art specializes in contemporary arts. Currently on display there are over 100 paintings. The salon aspires to reveal a new wave in the contemporary art and simultaneously to support local artists.
If you choose to study at The American University of Moldova, you will have the best opportunity to visit a lot of historical places and towns.
Orheiul Vechi is an ancient settlement situated on the left bank of the river Raut, near the villages of Trebujeni and Butuceni in Orhei district (about 50 km northeast of Chişinău). In the Mid Ages, two medieval towns were set up here. Other vestiges discovered on the territory of the settlement: a mosque, two mausoleums, a caravan-seraglio and three bath houses. An orthodox cave monastery dated from XII century is still working nowadays and the English speaking monk will tell you some of its history. Down in Butuceni village there is a small peasant house preserved from the XXth century and transformed into a museum.
Saharna monastery complex is situated in one of the most picturesque gorges on the western bank of the river Nistru (Dniester), near Saharna village, some 8 km away from the district center of Rezina, and at approximately 110 km to the North from Chişinău. Covered with forests, the Saharna river canyon as long as 16 km, with a large number of more than 30 rapids and cascades, will pleasantly surprise even a sophisticated traveler, who is looking for a comparable experience outside Moldova. The largest cascade falls down from a height of 10 meters and it is as wide as 5 meters. It is Moldovan Niagara Falls most impressive in Winter, Spring and Autumn after the rains.
Soroca town is situated 160 km north of Chişinău on the western bank of the Dniester river. In the medieval times it had a particular importance for the defense system of Moldova against the invasions of tartars, polyaks, cossacks, ottomans and slavs from the East. Nowadays it's a small Moldovan town on the Dniester river bordering Ukraine and famous for its fortress, the largest Gipsy community in Moldova, sand stone rocks and the candle of gratitude, up on a mountain that opens to a traveler a very nice view of the town and surroundings.
Transnistria or Pridnestrovie is the name for the non-recognized republic on the eastern bank of Dniester river. Known by foreign travelers as the museum in the open-air of Communism and Soviet Union, with many Soviet relics on the main streets of its industrial towns and also for being a state that does not exist. Tiraspol and Bender towns are the 2 biggest in the republic, situated in the close proximity on different banks of the Dniester river. Nice and cozy towns, second biggest after Chişinău. In the center of Tiraspol, one can see 2 monuments to the father of communism Vladimir Lenin, streets with soviet names, House of Soviets, Memorial to 3 wars (WW-II, Afghan war and Civil war), nice parks and boulevards. Bender town is a much older town, being even older than Chişinău. There is a Medieval fortress in the center of the town, that is now served as the base of the Transnistrian army.
In a city with few malls, Malldova is definitely the best in the city. Malldova is a multistorey shopping mall, modern, comfortable, clean, and new. Many shops to choose from and representing those purveyors you would see in the rest of the world, as well as a few boutique businesses. On the top level there are several restaurants to choose from to eat in, whilst having a few coffee shops dotted around the levels. It has 6 cinema rooms, bowling, billiard, electronic games, some funny places for kids, etc. It's the only place in MD you can find a KFC. Please do not expect to see any cheap prices here, they are all retail and comparable to what you’d pay for items in your own country. A nice place to go if you have a few hours to spare.
Moldova is one of the last places in Europe that has not been restricted by legislation to control its fruits and vegetables production like the EU countries have. The food in Moldova tastes amazing is all natural and the Central Market, also called the bazar, is the best place to find it. Central Market is many things altogether: a central bus station, a hyperactive living network of streets full of stores, shops of all kinds, but also a market place in which, every day, farmers come from the countryside to sell their products, directly to us and absolutely fresh. If you have a few hours to spend, it is a lot of fun to walk around enjoying the atmosphere of the kind of bustling marketplace that is slowly disappearing in many parts of the world.
Bars and Pubs
513 – is a brand new club, very original design. Nice atmosphere, good music, tasty and not expensive food coupled with very affordable drinks. Club 513 often hosts diverse music bands and organizes various live performances. It is a fantastic place to spend your time, have a beer, listen to some good music, meet new people or have a great evening with good friends.
Carlsberg or Bierplatz – both are places for those who cannot survive without a good beer. Both venues are made in the best beer lover tradition – smell of beer, half dark atmosphere, and very noisy.
Eli Pili – is a cozy terrace-type bar. It is located just in the heart of the city. People usually come here to have a beer, chat, meet others. The public coming is very international, workers of different international missions, tourists, NGOs, banks. Everyone speaks English. Even though you could think that this sort of public is not for you, you will shortly understand that the way how they spend the time after work is absolutely different from how they are during work hours. The prices are a bit higher than usual however they do not bite.
If you are looking for a select pub where to have an expensive dinner and to taste a good cognac, we would suggest you to explore Robin Pub or Dublin.
Muzeul Zemstvey – this is a fantastic place. It is not actually a pub, it is more of a place where people gather and have fun. This place is an old building which was taken over by group of young people and transformed into a meeting place for alternative minds. The usual public coming is in proportion of 50% foreigners and the rest locals, all involved in all sorts of creative work – singers, producers, artists, screen writers, sculptors and so on. Unfortunately parties are not organized every day, but if they do organize one, better be here. There is not entry fee and the drinks are very cheap.
Cocos Prive – is one of the most popular clubs in Chişinău. The music and atmosphere is amazing, and very posh. The prices are a bit high, but decent for foreigners.
Studio Club – is a good disco club where people come mainly to dance. The music and atmosphere is very good, and the place is very safe. This one is also a bit away from the city center.
Drive Night Club is a pretty stylish club, with good music and nice atmosphere. The club organizes many events so it will be hard to miss at least one of them. It is located a bit far from the center but there is plenty of public transportation which can take you there.
Tipografia 5 - the best underground club in whole Moldova, even if it is on the 5th floor. You need to know where it is, because it’s very hidden, but if you go through the door in the dark area, you step in to another world of Chişinău.
The Albion Territory – is one of the best clubs where you could find all kinds of people, just drinking, dancing, chatting, having fun with friends, listening to live music. The club combines dancing space with performances. They also organize many events.
Kira's Club often hosts live music bands and provides an amazing atmosphere.
Karaoke Club Vivaldi is one of the best karaoke clubs in the city. It is open all night long so you will have plenty of chances to sing what you like the most. You could also explore the best of European and Japanese cuisines.
Chişinău is the capital of the Republic of Moldova, a very modern green and cozy town in the center of our country. It is considered the greenest capital of Europe. And it is true: in the city there are a lot of parks, trees along roads, lakes and recreation areas. The city is more than 500 years old, but on its architecture it is possible to tell that it is absolutely young. The uniqueness of our capital is in such monuments of history, culture and art as The Nativity Cathedral, Arch of Triumph, City Hall, Organ Hall, the Church of St. Panthelemon, the Museum of Ethnography, History Museum Central Market, market of souvenirs, WW-II memorial and others.
Cricova and Milestii Mici wine cellars are recognized to be the biggest underground wine cellars in Europe.
Milestii Mici is a wine factory and wine collection of Moldova situated 20 km south of Chişinău near a village with a similar name. Its underground wine city in limestone is stretching for 250 km of which 120 km are currently in use. Milestii Mici cellar complex is recognized to be the largest in the world. Tunnel streets, named "Cabernet", "Shardonait", "Feteasca", "Sauvignon" etc. form a transport web of the wine city. One needs a car to drive from one part of the winery to the other, and it's not rare to see its employees traveling from one workshop to another by bicycle.
The "Golden Collection" of Milestii Mici holds nearly 2 million bottles and was recently recognized as Europe's largest wine collection by Guinness World Records.
Visit to the famous Cricova cellar, situated in the vicinity of Chişinău. Cricova is a unique wine cellar, having no analogues in the whole world. This is an entire underground city, situated at a depth of 50-80 m. Avenues, streets like in a town and only their names are unusual: Feteasca avenue, Caberne str., Aligote str., Riesling str., etc. The length of these streets is about 60 km. Famous Cricova’s wine collection is permanently increasing. It contains valuable old wines from the whole world. Only here you can realize and understand what real wine is. Moreover, a walk along the winery street provokes healthy appetite, and highly qualified cooks offer to taste dishes of delicious Moldavian cuisine.
Cojuşna wine cellar is a smaller cellar in the close proximity of Chişinău town. It is located in the village Cojuşna, in Straseni district. Its factory is situated above the ground and it has a wine collection with 2 nice tasting rooms underground. They have very friendly and hospitable English speaking guides and can organize excursions for one person only. It should be booked in advance. No need of a car and the tour is a little cheaper.
Football is the most popular sport in Moldova. Moldavians are big football fans and Chişinău has two stadiums to prove it. Zimbru Stadium is a multi-use stadium in Chişinău, built in May, 2006 with a capacity of 10,500 people, corresponds to all norms required by UEFA and FIFA for the national and international matches. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home stadium of FC Zimbru Chişinău and Moldova national football team. Dinamo Stadium is a multi-use stadium in Chişinău. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home ground of FC Politehnica Chişinău. The stadium holds 2,888 people and is located in the north part of the center on Bucuresti street.
Moldova has an increasingly successful team at the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries. There, Team Moldova won two silver medals until today (2008 and 2012).
The most prestigious cycling race is the Moldova President's Cup, which was first run in 2004.
Rugby union is popular as well. Registered players have doubled, and almost 10,000 spectators turn up at every European Nations Cup match.
WrestlingTrânta (a form of wrestling) is the national sport in Moldova.
Food and Atmosphere
The two most popular diner networks in Moldova are Andy’s Pizza and La Plăcinte. Both places are made in standard diner style. Be prepared to spend around 100-150 lei for dinner.
The Andy’s Pizza menu offers you a wide variety of standard European courses. The average price for a full meal could vary between 7 to 10€.
La Plăcinte is a chain of diners where you could explore the traditional Moldovan cuisine. The venue is in Moldovan-style tradition, probably a curious place for those in Moldova on a rush, who do not have time to discover it for longer. The price you could spend (for a hungry man) is around 8€.
The genuine pizzerias in Moldova are: Celentano and Pizza de Italia.
Kebabs - this is the type of place that you grab a kebab and eat it on the street. Nothing fancy. The average price for a kebab varies between 2-3€.
In case you want to have a good home-made style meal which would include a soup, salad, and a main course dish, and you are not pretentious to the interior style, we would recommend you to explore Galbenus. These places are canteen-styled venues where people come just for a good meal and nothing else. The average price for a full meal is about 4€.
Moldovans are in love with different types of places where they could sit and have a coffee with a piece of cake. That is why Chişinău is flooded with all sorts of cafeterias. We would recommend you definitely to explore one of the following:
Tucano Coffee has a nice relaxing style interior, where you could just grab your coffee and spend the time reading or chatting with friends. The prices are standard for Moldova, a coffee starts from 2€.
Coffee Beans is a great place to have a good coffee. They are spear around the city center in a couple of places conveniently located. One of them is located just in the center behind the Patria cinema house. The address is: 103/2, Stefan cel Mare si Sfint blvd.
Pana Cotta or Crème de la Crème are an ideal place where you could just come for a short coffee and a good cake. Both of them are situated in center of Chişinău near the pedestrian street. The atmosphere is good and relaxing.