Transnistria Travel Guide
Updated April 2021, The Transnistria Travel Guide was originally written in February 2018
I’ve now been to Transnistria twice. It’s a lot easier of a process to visit Transnistria than most people think (most of the time), and it’s easily done as a day trip from Chisinau, Moldova. The following Transnistria Travel Guide will help you plan your trip to the little-visited & fascinating region.
What is Transnistria?
Transnistria is a small and landlocked countri-tory (see what I did there?). The official name of Transnistria is the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, which translates out to ‘beyond the Dniester River’ in Russian. Moldova officially refers to Transnistria as Stinga Nistrului.
As far as the UN and most of the world is concerned it’s just an autonomous territorial unit of Moldova over yonder, on the other side of the Dniester River. But to Transnistria, it’s a nation all its own.
The only other governments who recognize Transnistria as its own country are other disputed regions: South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Republic Artsakh: formerly Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1990 Transnistria declared its independence from Moldova, shortly after Moldova declared its sovereignty from the USSR. Of course, this eventually leads to the Transnistrian War in November 1990, ending in a cease-fire in July 1992.
This is an extremly shortened and simplified explanation on Transnistria’s history. You can read up more on it here.
Planning to visit Moldova too? Check out my Moldova travel guide
Where is Transnistria?
Transnistria is in Eastern Europe, on the east bank of the Dniester River- sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine.
How to Visit Transnistria
The two easiest ways to visit Transnistria are to either go as a side trip from Moldova and return to Moldova or leaving Moldova and stopping in Transnistria on your way to Ukraine. You will not get an entrance stamp in your passport if you enter Transnistria from Ukraine, which may cause problems when departing Moldova from a point that has Moldovan immigration authorities as they may view you as having entered Moldova illegally.
How to get to Transnistria
You can arrive via marshrutka (minibus/shared taxi), taxi or private vehicle, or train.
I took a marshrutka from Chisinau over to Transnistria as a day trip in 2017 and it was quite simple. I missed the last marshrutka back to Chisinau from Tiraspol and managed to easily get a ride from some
Transnistrian Pridnestrovian friends I made that I think wanted an excuse to head to Chisinau for the evening anyway.
I did visit Transnistria in 2012 by train as a stopover from Chisinau to Odessa.
Marshrutka (minibus) leave from the bus station at Piata Centrala (Chisinau Central Bazaar) when full (they leave nearly every half hour typically between 7:00 and 18:00, and less frequently as early as 5:00 and as late as 22:00). A marshrutka should cost 37 MDL from Chisinau to Tiraspol. Look for minibusses with “Tiraspol” or “Тирасполь” written on the paper in the window, or just say ‘Tiraspol?‘ and usually, someone will point you to where they marshrutka is waiting.
The last marshrutka stop will be the Tiraspol Central Bus Station. The journey will typically take 2 hours between the two cities.
Prices from Tiraspol to Chisinau are 68 MDL.
Trains depart Chisinau at 7:09 am toward Odessa on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays stopping in Tiraspol. The last I had read it was still possible to get off in Tiraspol. I did this back in 2012. The train arrives in Odessa at 10:45 am, and there’s only one per day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Taxis will take you from Chisinau to Tiraspol and vice-versa for about 340-500 MDL each way. Try and negotiate.
Thinking about just booking a tour and not dealing with the logistics? Check out tours for sale here.
Getting a migration card
No visa is required for foreigners to visit Transnistria (however you may need a visa if you plan on traveling in Moldova!). But you do have to get a migration card on arrival.
If going via marshrutka or taxi..
The marshrutka will stop at the registration building on the way from Chisinau. Just walk in, hand over your passport, the border guard on post will ask you how long you intend to stay, fill in the paper given to you (it’s written in both Russian and English), and you’ll be handed a migration card back with your passport (unless you’re me and have some questionable visas in your passport to which they go in the back and check it for a lengthy time).
HOLD ONTO THE MIGRATION CARD! This will save you a headache and likely a bribe on the way out of Transnistria.
If arriving by train..
There is an immigration officer at the train station in Tiraspol as well as Bendery. It will be the same process as applying for the migration card when arriving by marshrutka or taxi.
Length of time
You will be asked how long you intend to stay in Transnistria when applying, I actually didn’t know how long I would stay (day-trip? Overnight? I hadn’t decided), I told them this at the migration checkpoint and was given a 24 hour Pass.
Migration officers will give up to 3-day migration cards, however, you will need to register with OVIR if you will stay more than 24 hours in Transnistria… good ol’ post-Soviet paranoia.
When do you need to register with OVIR?
If planning to visit Transnistria for more than 24 hours you will need to register with OVIR. It is located at 2 Kotovskogo ulica (street).
What if I wanna stay longer?
Go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ask for an extension. It is located at 45 Sverdlova ulica (street).
Transnistria has its very own currency.. pretty official for a not-real-in-the-world’s-eyes-country. It’s called the Transnistrian Ruble.
The current (April 2021) exchange rate of the Transnistrian Ruble (PRB) is:
- 1 USD = 16.10 PRB
- 1 Euro = 19.16 PRB
- 1 MDL = 0.88 PRB
- 1 UAH = 0.58 PRB
You can also check the official PRB rate here.
For reference, since many prices given in this post are in Moldovan Leu, here is exchange rate of the Leu:
- 1 USD = 17.79 MDL
- 1 Euro = 21.26 MDL
- 1 UAH = 0.64MDL
There are several currency exchange shops around Tiraspol, so bring crisp and new USD and Euro preferably. The Transnistrian Ruble is not recognized as an official currency outside of Transnistria, so make sure to spend them all or exchange any leftover before you leave (aside from a few souvenir notes of course).
Transnistria is not part of the international banking system, however, there is an ATM on 25 October Street that dispenses USD and Rusian Rubles (though I was recommended not to use it). In 2014 Transnistria started using composite plastic coins.
What To See In Transnistria
Transnistria can be seen in a relatively short amount of time. The highlights of Tiraspol can easily be seen on a day trip from Chisinau as most of the monuments and attractions are all on or near October 25th Street. There is a new tourist office in Tiraspol located at 135 Sovetskaia Ulica (street) that opened in May 2017, can pick up maps here, only open on weekdays.
A few of the things to see in Tiraspol include:
House of Soviets- Now Tiraspol’s City Hall, with an angry-looking bust of Lenin out front. It’s not much a tourist attraction in itself, but if you stick around past dark it’s nicely lit up.
Victory Park- A good place to relax for locals. Small defunct super Soviet-style carnival inside.
Kirov Park- A park near to the train station with a new orthodox church.
Tiraspol National Museum- Local history museum, with lots of info on Nikolai Zelinsky. 25 PRB admission.
October 25th Street- The main street through Tiraspol where many attractions lie on.
Dniester River Bridge– Nice views of Tiraspol from atop. You can also see the beach on the river below.
Eternal Flame & Transnistrian War Memorial- Memorial to the 1990-92 Transnistrian War. An armored Transnistrian tank with Transnistria flag, just behind it is the eternal flame and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier dominates the memorial. There’s also a small orthodox cathedral on the grounds.
Kvint Distillery- Kvint is Moldova’s finest cognac, which can be purchased here for as little as 30 PRB. Tasting tours including food can be arranged but must be booked in advance, 180 PRB per person. Phone: + 373 533 96170.
Lenin Statue & Government of Transnistria- Your typical government building. Giant Lenin statue in front. Not an attraction itself per se, but interesting for those who haven’t traveled many ex-USSR countries yet.
Suvorov Monument- Monument to the Russian military leader Alexander Suvorov who founded Tiraspol.
Church of Nativity- A Russian Orthodox church built in 1999. It’s the biggest cathedral in Tiraspol and one of the more impressive ones.
Green Market- Daily farmer’s market.
Bendery Fortress- An Ottoman Fortress located just outside the center of Bendery.
Tighina War Memorial- Eternal flame and memorial dedicated to war victims of the 1990-92 Transnistrian War.
Church of Joaquim- Beautiful blue and white church in Bendery.
Beyond Tiraspol & Bendery
Noul Neamt Monastery- Beautiful monastery located in Chiţcani (also seen spelled as Кицканы). Just across the Dniester River from Tiraspol.
Sanatorii Dniester- Soviet style spa located in Camenca, 2.5 hours north of Tiraspol.
Accommodation In Transnistria
For those of you that want to spend the night (or a couple) in Transnistria, there are a few accommodations on offer in Tiraspol and Bendery. Check out hotels and apartments in Tiraspol here, and Bendery here. There is even a hostel in Tiraspol.
Knowledge of Russian and the ability to read the Cyrillic alphabet are most definitely helpful for anyone planning to visit Transnistria. If you don’t speak any Russian or Moldovan it’s not impossible to get by, it’ll just be more challenging. Many of the youth do have an interest in learning English, so you will surely be able to find someone to help you with a translation if you need it.
Transnistria Travel As A Solo Female
I had no issue with either of my 2012 or 2017 visits to Transnistria. There was a huge soccer match on the day of my visit in 2017 so all the other passengers got off at the stadium and I was the only person getting off at the Tiraspol station, so the marshrutka driver invited me for a coffee in front of a small kiosk in the parking lot. We talked back in forth in Russian for a bit and soon the table next to us joined in and before long we were all cheersing pivo (beer) together.
Two of the guys that joined us, Sasha and Alex, ended up taking me on a full-blown tour of Tiraspol, introduced me to several of their friends, and even ended up giving me a lift back to Chisinau (I think they were looking for an excuse to hit up the Chisinau nightlife scene anyways). So, solo female travel, and well, solo travel in general when I visited Transnistria was a piece of cake. In general, I’d say Transnistria is a pretty safe country/territory to visit.
Want posts about Moldova, Transnistria’s neighbor-ish?
Here are a few posts about Moldova:
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Have Any Questions Not Answered In This Transnistria Travel Guide?
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