Transnistria Tourism; How to Travel to Transnistria
Transnistria tourism. Is there even such a thing? Well, Transnistria is a tiny ‘country’ wedged into the East of Moldova, bordering Ukraine. It has it’s own currency, it’s own flag and its own Government, but for some reason, no one has really heard of it. Despite that travel to Transnistria from Moldova is actually pretty simple.
Transnistria declared their independence from Moldova in 1990 and fought a war to establish their independence until 1992. 99% of official countries around the world refuse to recognize their independence but they remain close chums with Russia. So it’s not considered an official country of the world. But it sits in that weird space of an ‘almost-a-country’ much like Abkhazia (where I went last year), Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.
Regardless of all that, taking a tour to Transnistria is a super interesting thing to do when you’re in eastern Europe and traveling around Moldova.
Where is Transnistria (Map)
You can see on the google map below where Transnistria is. Google, however, also doesn’t recognise Transnistria, so there are no borders separating Transnistria from Moldova on the google map.
If you want to see where Transnistria is in terms of the borders in relation to Moldova and Ukraine, see the Transnistria Map below here:
How to visit Transnistria
Most people enter from Chisinau, Moldova (like me), but it’s possible from both Moldova and Ukraine.
Most people travelling to Transnistria from Moldova will do so from Chisinau. It’s only 75km, or an hour or so drive. You can take a taxi from Chisinau to the ‘Bender border’ for 150 Moldovan Lei ($8). From there, after ‘immigration’ you can hop in a taxi for the last 15 minutes to Tiraspol for peanuts.
When you enter Transnistria from Moldova you WON’T be stamped out of Moldova.
NOTE: You can go Moldova to Transnistria and then on to Ukraine (Or back to Moldova too of course).
Most people travelling to Transnistria from Moldova will do so from Odessa. It’s only 100km, or an hour and a half drive. You can take a marshrutka (minibus) from Odessa to the ‘Kuchurgan border’ for about $15. From there, after ‘immigration’ you can hop in a taxi for the last 30 minutes to Tiraspol for peanuts.
NOTE: When you leave Ukraine, you’ll be stamped out of Ukraine but when you enter Transnistria you WON’T be stamped into Moldova. So then if you travel through Moldova and leave Moldovoa you won’t have an entry stamp into Moldova. That can be a problem So if you enter Transnistria from Ukraine, it’s better to reenter Ukraine the same way.
You don’t need to secure a visa for Transnistria in advance. You can enter Transnistria from both Moldova and Ukraine. Most people enter from Chisinau (like me). The Transnistrian officials will ask for bribes. Don’t worry, it’s normal. You can be firm and not pay, and wait a while. Or you can pay $2 to $5 in local currency and move on. No drama.
When you enter Transnistria you give your passport to the Transnistrian officials. They will issue you with a piece of paper. The paper (not your passport) is stamped. They keep half that paper, and you keep half until you leave again.
Things to do in Transnistria
Ok, so when on your Transnistria tour, here are the top things to see concerning transnistria tourism:
The capital, Tiraspol, is the main tourist draw (if that exists here) and it’s only a 90-minute bus journey from Chisinau ($3). As you cross the border, you may have to bribe the officials ($4 should do the trick), it’s common for them to give you a story about visas/stamps etc, it’s quicker and easier to pay them off and carry on! The architecture is amazing, all 100% soviet. Don’t miss all the things to do in Tiraspol that I’ve listed below. Also, the House of Soviets and the Yuri Gagarin monument are worth a couple of quick pics too.
T-34 Tank Monument
The icon of the city, complete with soil from the battle of Stalingrad!
The city centre
A Government building with a certain Comrade Lenin perched in front.
Cognac Tasting at The Kvint factory
You can go cognac tasting, it’s found on Lenina st, and prices start at $15, up to $80 depending on how much booze you wanna taste.
Gift Shopping at The Kvint store
It’s on October 25th street. Here you can buy vodka, cognac and wine starting at 1 euro per bottle!! Up to $50+ for 15 year cognac etc. But if you’re backpacking and you need a cheap fix, this is your spot!
Wandering down October 25th Street
Effectively the centre of the entire country, and of transnistria tourism. You’ll find countless monuments and tributes to the former Soviet Union. The street is around 2km long, so prime your camera and get snapping. There are restaurants on the street too so it’s a nice place to grab some food. Other than that it’s just about walking around and soaking up the atmosphere of Europe’s last Soviet bastion. It’s really interesting to visit and certainly worth the effort.
Bender Fortress, Bendery
Probably Transnistria’s main ‘tourist attraction’ is in the second town, Bendery. Just 15 minutes from Tiraspol. A 16th Century Ottoman fort on the river. Don’t miss the brutal torture instruments inside! The Church outside is beautiful too.
Transnistria Currency and Flag
The Transnistria currency is the Transnistrian ruble. You can change currencies at the bus station in Chisanau, Moldovoa, or with banks and black-market dealers in Tiraspol.
Transnistria has its own flag.
Final thoughts on Transnistria tourism
Transnistria tourism needs more people!A day trip to Transnistria is enough. It’s a small place, so no need to spend a few nights. But a tour to Tranistria is a fascinating way to spend a day. Not too many people make it here! So swing into Tiraspol, hit up the main sites, take a tour of the Kvint factory, fill your bag with cognac and leave. And then go check out Abkhazia, Western Sahara, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kurdistan and Somaliland to complete the list of almost-countries!
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