This page explains how to travel by train from the UK via Munich and Bucharest to Chisinau in Moldova.

Train times, fares & how to buy tickets...

  London to Chisinau train times, fares, how to buy tickets

  What's Moldova like?

  Useful country information

  Hotels in Moldova


Useful country information

Train operator in Moldova:

CFM (Calea Ferata din Moldova), www.railway.md.  To check train times in Moldova & from Moldova to other ex-Soviet states, see www.poezda.net Eurostar times & fares.  All European train times: http://bahn.hafas.de

 

 

Time zone & :

GMT+2 (GMT+3 last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+373

Currency:

£1 = approx 18 Leu.  $1 = approx 12 Leu.   Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.moldova.org   What's Moldova like?   Hotels in Moldova   Tripadvisor   Guidebooks

Visas:

From 1 January 2007, UK, EU & US citizens no longer need any visa to enter Moldova.  UK & EU citizens do not need a visa to enter Romania.

Page last updated:

7 November 2014.


London to Chişinău (Kishinev)

You can travel to Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, via Bucharest.

London, Paris, Munich, Bucharest ► Chişinău

Chişinău ► Bucharest, Munich, Paris, London

The Bucharest to Moldova train arrived at Chisinau/Kishinev   A 2-berth 1st class sleeper on the train to Chisinau (Kishinev)

The train from Bucharest arrived at Chişinău...  Photo courtesy of Malcolm B

 

A 1st class 2-berth compartment on the PrieteniaPhoto courtesy of Malcolm B.

The 'Pretenia' train from Bucharest to Chisinau   The 'Pretenia' train from Bucharest to Chisinau, having its wheelsets changed

The Prietenia sleeper train from Bucharest to Chişinău.  Photos above and right are courtesy of Pieter Beelen.

 

At the Romania-Moldovan frontier each sleeping-car is lifted on hydraulic jacks to have the bogies changed.  You remain on board.

Travellers' reports:  On the train to Moldova...

Traveller Robert hall reports (2013):  "The Romanian boarder was reached at 0400ish where our passports were taken away and scanned.  The Moldovan’s are much more efficient and had a portable passport reading machine, although a second inspection resulted in ours being taken away again – I guess this is because our passports had a fair number of stamps and visa’s in them and they wanted to check them a bit more!  The train was comfortable enough and bedding was provided. A pillow case, basic towel and two sheets were supplied in a plastic bag.  In the space that went over the corridor from our compartment was a choice of either blankets or duvets.  We had to make up the beds ourselves – no seats had to be taken apart. Whilst the gauge change itself at Ungheli went without issue/notice some of the shunting does not encourage sleep!"

Traveller and group organiser Neil McDonald describes his party of sixty kilted Scotsmen knocking back the Moldovan champagne on the Prietenia "I would describe the comfort as typical Soviet type comfort, although I enjoyed my journey on this service and indeed I intend using this service again.  There were comments about bugs in some of the carriages but I never had any problems with my carriage.  The Staff were a mixture of personalities, and with a party of 65 people spread over 6 carriages I got mixed reports about the stewards.  Some (well most) were extremely friendly towards my group (almost all Kilted Scotsman) however some were grumpy and one steward seemed on the take.  Most were very good with dealing with lost documentation and some of my group ended up sleeping in completely the wrong carriage without any problems.  The train buffet was a very cheap and cheerful effort.  I managed a small plate of chicken from the train buffet for the grand sum of 70p (it was soon sold out as word spread of the price through the train) and we discovered bottles of Moldovan Champagne going for £2.50 (have a guess how long that lasted too).  Other items were going cheap as well."

The 'Pretenia' train from Bucharest to Chisinau   The 'Pretenia' train from Bucharest to Chisinau, having its wheelsets changed

Above:  The sleeper corridor on board the PrieteniaPhoto courtesy of Jon Ethridge.

 

Above:  Chişinău railway station, Moldova.   Photo courtesy of Jon Ethridge.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...


  Seats on the Chisinau to Odessa train
 

On board the Chisinau to Odessa train.  Photo courtesy of Railbookers.com

London to Moldova via Berlin, Warsaw, Kiev & Odessa...

There's another option.  Why not travel from London via Berlin and Warsaw to Kiev, sleeper to Odessa, then use the daily Odessa to Chisinau train?


What's Moldova like?

Travel David Keating reports from a visit in summer 2006, still interesting although much has changed since then:  "I cannot foresee Chisinau becoming a tourist hotspot.  It was from what one can see from old photographs once a very attractive city, but it was mostly flattened in WW2.  There are one or two individual buildings of note still left, including a fine old station recently restored.  It is a very green city with plenty of trees and parks.  The central market is an excellent old fashioned food and general market which no longer exists in places like Poland.  No one hassles you in Moldova, it's cheap to eat and drink though accommodation can be more pricey.  At Orhei Vecchi there is an UNESCO heritage site comprising an unusual limestone cliff exposed by river erosion in which over the centuries mankind has burrowed, with many interesting remains.  There are also half a dozen attractive monasteries.  There is no where really to stay outside the capital, but the country can be reached usually on appalling roads in a day trip.  The countryside is unspectacular otherwise, rolling landscape, greatly impoverished villages.  There is a village by the river near Orhei, Trebushen, where an enterprising family provide pleasant accommodation with all meals and local wine at €30 per day per person.  People do stay from all over the world, for example stray Japanese, Scandinavians, Italians and French.  The village is not spoilt by modern buildings, there is walking to be done and otherwise pottering about. Some venture on the river.  The family arrange collection of guests from Chisinau, which is about 40 km away.  The place is desperately poor, and with the embargo placed on all imports by Russia the situation can only get worse.  Over 80% of agricultural produce, wine etc was exported to Russia.  Putin is putting the squeeze on to prevent Moldova following in the track of Ukraine.  Transnistria, the breakaway enclave supported by Putin is a difficult place to visit.  Tales come through of tourists having to pay for so-called visas etc.  The rail link from Ukraine and Russia passes through Transnistria, as does the Russian gas supply, and the main power station providing over 80% of the electricity comes from there.  When Stalin carved up the Romanian territory of Moldavia, he cut some off and gave it to Ukraine, in particular its coastal territory  and took a piece of Ukraine and stuck it on. The heavy industry, military base, power stations were located on the other side of the Dniestr river in what had not been part of Romania. It is that chunk which holds many assets which together with a slice seized on the Romanian side of the river that comprises the breakaway enclave. The EU has declared it illegal and none of its henchmen can visit or pass through EU territory. It is a major conduit of arms made there, drugs, people trafficking, etc.  This autumn the Russian embargo will really start to bite harder. More than a third of the population has left for greener pastures mostly as illegal workers in Portugal, Spain, Italy, the UK of course and here in Ireland.  The ones that go are the young fit ones.  In rural Moldova 80% of women between the ages of 16 and 36 are missing most of them forcibly taken into prostitution. It is a major scandal."

Hotels & accommodation in Moldova


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe/Maps--Atlases/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.


Recommended guidebooks

Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at AmazonLonely Planet Romania & Moldova - buy online at AmazonYou should take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both series are excellent.  The Lonely Planet range offers an in-depth guide for Romania and Moldova or a guide covering all the countries in Eastern Europe.  You won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy at Amazon...

 

 


Find hotels in Moldova...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


Back to 'Rail travel to Europe' general page

Back to home page