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Even with great wines, ancient forests and old monasteries, the small, landlocked country of Moldova is still trying to find its way on to Europe's tourist map. Those who venture to this lovely country will find some of the friendliest people in the world. The best places to see by car are Milestii Mici, an underground roadway with the biggest wine collection in the world, and Orheiul Vechi, a cave monastery.
The capital of Chisinau is easy enough to drive around to see the sights. Outside the capital, however, roads are generally in poor condition, without proper signage or lighting.
Driving licences: a standard EU/UK driving licence can be used to drive here, as can an International Driving Permit.
Which side does Moldova drive on: the right.
Motorways: 56mph (90kph)
Built-up areas: 37mph (60kph)
Alcohol limits: a limit of 0.05 per cent is in force compared to the 0.08 per cent allowance in the UK. Random police checkpoints and breath testing are in place.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: compulsory for all occupants, if fitted; however, there are no specific laws pertaining to child restraints.
Mobile phones and GPS: Moldova is one of the few European countries that allow the use of mobile phones while driving. GPS can be used, although familiarity with special characters used in the Moldovan/Romanian language is needed.
Cost of fuel in Moldova: unleaded petrol is marginally more expensive here than in the UK, but diesel is considerably cheaper.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards are accepted by major car hire firms but cash payment is typically required at petrol stations.
Insurance: major car rental companies issue insurance as part of the quote but excess insurance should be taken out as an extra.
Traffic and parking: most major towns offer car parks and on-street parking.
A railway network operated by the Railway of Moldova runs through much of the country. It is a very cheap method of transport, however, keep in mind that the railway infrastructure is outdated and trains are slow.
Taxis are found everywhere but travellers are advised to agree on a price with the cab driver before getting in. Most drivers charge by time. In the capital short trips can cost between £1.50 and £3.00. It is best to ask a local to book you a taxi by phone in advance but cabs can also be hailed on most city streets. Travellers are advised to carry small change for fares as drivers can rarely give change for large banknotes.
Long-distance buses are the most cost-effective means of travel in the country. The capital, Chisinau, has three bus stations servicing cities throughout the country. There are large buses available but a more popular means of travel are minibuses, which fit around 15 people. These minibuses are operated by private entities. The same minibuses, along with regular city buses and trolleybuses, ply routes within cities and are a good cheap means to get around if you do not mind their crowdedness and unreliability. A typical one way trip within a city would cost around 15 pence.
The only international gateway to Moldova is Chisinau International Airport, located 13km from the capital, to the south east. Air Moldova and Moldavian Airlines have their bases here. Flights to and from various European cities include – London, Munich, Vienna, Moscow, Istanbul, Bucharest and Kiev.
The capital city of Chisinau is where most travellers begin their travels around Moldova. They can head to Cathedral Park, located in the city centre and home to the Nativity Cathedral, the city’s main place of worship. For history, travellers can visit Memorial Park, which is home to an eternal flame commemorating fallen WWII soldiers.
The Museum of Natural History as well as the National Museum of Fine Arts can also be found in Chisinau. Another prominent museum is the Pushkin Museum, housed in a property where the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin used to live.
The underground roadways of Milestii Mici, which extend for around 125 miles (200kms) and are located just outside the capital, store the largest wine collection in the world, with wine being what the country is best known for. Another underground winery is Cricova. However, it is the winery in Purcari that is the country's oldest and which is especially known for a dry red wine called Negru de Purcari.
Another well-known landmark in Moldova is Orheiul Vechi, a cave monastery dating back to the 13th century. It can be reached by car in less than an hour from the capital. Capriana Monastery, only 40kms from Chisinau, is another prominent monastery.
Moldova has a generally mild and sunny climate as it lies close to the Black Sea. The country experiences warm and long summers with temperatures averaging 20°C, while in its dry winters, temperatures average -4°C. The wettest months of the year are the first months of summer and October. Those travelling during these months should note that the country can experience heavy rains and thunderstorms.