Transport in Moldova: How to Get Around Safely

There are a few transport options for getting around Moldova. Find out the pros and cons of each method, from minibuses to taxis.

A cracked pathway beside a road in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova Photo © Getty Images/Rem Parabin / EyeEm

There are a few options for getting around Moldova, from cars to public transportation or using the footpath. You should plan ahead and research the types of transport in Moldova, and also find out which methods of getting around are the safest.

How to drive safely in Moldova

Driving yourself around Moldova means you can go wherever your rental vehicle will take you. But before grabbing those car keys, there are some things to consider.

First, Moldova's roads aren't the best. They are mostly two-lane and often don't have cautionary signs or lights. Some roadways aren't maintained, which can lead to troublesome driving conditions. In addition to other cars and pedestrians, you may see cyclists, horse carriages and animals in the road – the latter is more likely on rural roadways.

In winter, you are required to have winter tires on your car from December to March, and also use dipped headlights from November to March. It is also the law to drive using dipped headlights during the day for safety.

Depending on what you're used to back home, you might consider Moldovan drivers to be quite angry – and unfortunately drunk drivers are common. The problem of boozing while driving became so problematic that the country now enforces a maximum blood alcohol content of just 0.03%. This is low compared to many countries, including the United States.

Hectic and exciting are just two ways to describe driving in Moldova. One former expat said drivers will sometimes make four lanes out of two at intersections to cut other drivers off. Running red lights is common, as well as overtaking slow cars – even in residential areas. To be on the safe side, approach intersections with caution, and if you're driving slowly just pull over (where it's safe to do so) to let others overtake you safely.

Of you are driving your own car or a rental car across borders into Moldova, border guards might interrogate you, or even solicit bribes. Having Western registration might make the experience even worse. Do not ever pay bribes.

If you aren't from the European Union or UK, you will need an international driving permit in addition to your drivers license.

Driving while using a cell phone is also illegal, unless you are connected to bluetooth.

If you're thinking renting a car in Moldova is the way to go, carefully check the rental vehicle for damages or parts that are not working before driving off. One traveler wound up having to drive without fully-functioning headlights at night on the poorly-lit Moldovan roads.

Safety while walking around Moldova

Walking is a great way to see Moldova. But there are a few dangers to keep in mind for pedestrians here.

Walking the streets at night isn't recommended as roads are often not well lit, which makes tripping or getting hit by a car a very real scenario. If you must walk at night, carry a torch or flashlight with you (or use your phone light).

Be aware of open manholes and damaged gratings on streets – which might at first look safe to walk on, but will actually be a long drop to the bottom if you fell in. Travelers have also reported seeing holes on the sidewalks and in underground pedestrian crossings, so just keep your eyes peeled while you walk in Moldova.

Moldovan public transport

Trolley buses and buses are an easy and cheap way to get around the capital, Chisniau. Fares can be paid once you're onboard.

The overall system is fairly efficient, with regular routes and services from early in the morning until midnight. At peak hours, transportation departs every 15 minutes or so.

Beyond the capital, there are many buses which service other regional towns and villages in Moldova. The interurban buses leave from three main bus terminals in Chisinau, and it is wise to check out which terminal you need to leave from to get to a specific destination, as each terminal doesn't service all destinations. You can purchase your bus ticket once you are at the terminal.

Similar to trams, trolley buses are powered by overhead electric lines.

There are also regular minibus services that criss-cross Chisinau. They stop when asked to, so give the driver enough warning before you get to your stop. These fit about 15 passengers inside, and are also known as marshrutka.

Taxis are easily found in the capital, Chisinau but not all will stop when hailed. Look for taxis marked with company signage and hail a taxi from a busy area such as street corners or shops to increase your chances of getting one. Not all taxis have a meter let alone a functional meter. You can also pre-arrange taxis through your hotel or even from bars and restaurants.

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1 Comment

  • Ray Moon said

    Thanks, this is very informative and so important. A fall into a hole can ruin a vacation easily, more so than getting over it.

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