Based in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, explore this tiny country on a series of guided excursions. Discover the remarkable Orheiul Vechi cave monastery, carved into a limestone cliff and undoubtedly Moldova’s most impressive sight. Meet local bee keepers and traditional handicraft makers in rural villages. Visit Purcari Winery, Et Cetera and Cricova Wine Cellars to enjoy a tasting of the finest wines in Moldova – a country once known as the vineyard of the Soviet Union. Spend a day in the breakaway communist republic of Transdniestr and tour its capital Tiraspol, before sampling high quality cognac at Kvint distillery.
Arrive Chisinau. Transfer to the Hotel Bristol Central Park and check in for 7 nights. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a typical Moldovan restaurant while serenaded with traditional musical performances. (D)
Embark upon a morning walking tour of Moldova’s capital. Discover shops and restaurants lining Chisinau’s main street, Stefan cel Mare, stop at Central Cathedral, admire the Parliament building, and spend time in Stefan cel Mare Park, where granite sculptures of Romanian literary figures can be found along the Alley of Classics. Transfer to Orheiul Vechi, a 13th century cave monastery, created by Orthodox monks, carved into a limestone cliff in this remote location. Visit a museum showing the traditional life of Moldovan farmers in the 19th century. Lunch will be at a traditional restaurant. Continue to Cricova Wine Cellars, one of Moldova’s most popular wineries, housing a huge collection of exclusive wines. The tasting halls are really quite impressive, Vladimir Putin celebrated his 50th birthday here, and there is even a story about a tipsy Yuri Gagarin getting lost and missing his exit. (B,L)
This morning visit Capriana Monastery which is located some 30 miles west of Chisinau. Founded in 1439 it was closed and fell into dilapidation then reopened again in 1989, becoming a symbol of national revival. Continue to Casa Parinteasca Crafts Centre, located in the village of Palanca and meet Tatiana Popa. She is the heart of this rural household and will show you some of the traditional handicrafts she makes. Feast on local home-made food including some delicious jam and tea made from flowers collected from the garden. Afterwards head to the village of Raciula village to meet the Stegarescu family and become acquainted with Moldovan apiculture. Here discover a small bee kingdom complete with a garden full of bee hives and their family home which pays homage to nature’s sweet treat. Taste some honey with pollen, nuts, homemade wine and traditional mead transfer back to Chisinau. (B,L)
Drive to the south of the country and explore the Gagauzia region, an area of three towns and more than 20 villages scattered throughout the three districts of Comrat, Cedar-Linga and Vulcanesti. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of the capital Gagauzia - Comrat and enjoy a traditional lunch with local wine. In the afternoon visit the National Gagauz History and Ethnographic Museum. Here meet with the director Lyudmila Marin-Karachoban, whose late father founded the museum in 1966. He was a Gagauz poet, artist and teacher who dedicated most of his life to the rediscovery of the traditions of this nation within a nation. Lyudmila tells the story of the museum with anecdotes of her father’s life, a revered person throughout the region. Late afternoon return to Chisinau. (B,L)
This morning travel to the village of Clisova Noua and visit the Moldavian Museum of Handicrafts and Carpets ‘Arta Rustica’. The traditional carpet weaving craftsmanship in Moldova and Romania was included by UNESCO, in 2016, on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, something which they are very proud of. In the village, there will be the opportunity to participate in a master class in handicrafts and carpets. Return to Chisinau for a free afternoon. (B)
Visit the capital of Transnistria, a self proclaimed independent republic with its own currency, police force and border guards. Located 40 miles southeast of Chisinau in the Nistru Valley, Tiraspol is considered to be a living museum of Soviet culture. With a population of 200,000, the city has its share of Lenin statues and monuments such as a T-34 tank on a pedestal. Whilst here, tour the Historical Museum and visit the Kvint brandy factory to sample some high quality cognac before embarking upon a sightseeing tour of Tiraspol. Return to Chisinau in the evening. (B,L)
Travel to Causeni to visit a wonderfully preserved 15th century church from the Tatar-Mongolia era. Visit Et Cetera Winery and discover how wine maker Alexandru Luchianov established this modern winery in 2003 with his family. Continue to Purcari Winery – the oldest wine estate in Moldova. Established in 1827 and completely renovated a decade ago, Purcari Winery is located in the southwest of Moldova where the soil and climate provide the perfect environment for the production of red wines. Whilst here, enjoy a tour of the cellars followed by a wine tasting. Sample varieties such as Rosu de Purcari and Negru de Purcari, thought to be a favourite of Queen Elizabeth II. Head back to Chisinau late in the afternoon for a lively farewell dinner at a traditional Moldova restaurant. (B,L,D)
Our local guide and driver were outstanding. The guide was very informative, clear in her delivery, extremely organised and caring, but also very approachable and friendly. The driver drove extremely well and safely, had a friendly, helpful styles and manner and was always around to assist. Altogether I had an excellent tour.