The following sample 9 day itinerary for Transnistria marks what we would call our standard Transnistria Tour. This has us start and finish in Bucharest, although this can e swapped with Chisinau, or combined with one of our other Soviet Tours.
The following is simply an example of a private tour. Private tours can begin and end anywhere you like and can be combined with neighboring countries such as Ukraine.
- Arrival into Bucharest and meet up at Gara De Nord station for the Soviet-era night train to Moldova.
- Overnight on the sleeper train.
- Early morning arrival in Chisinau and transfer to our central hotel.
- Check-in and catch up on some much-needed rest
- City walking tour of Chisinau taking in the World War II Memorial and Military Museum.
- Central open-air market, a great place for kitsch souvenirs.
- Government buildings, parliament, Main Square.
- We’ll head to one of the many parks where we can hire boats out on the lake and take a zip line across the park.
- Dinner and drinks downtown
- Overnight in Chisinau
- We grab breakfast and meet our fixers who will take us into the war-torn, breakaway state of Transnistria.
- We transfer to Tiraspol, passing Russian border guards and KGB controls, then check into our Soviet-era hotel.
- After settling in we will head out and explore on a tour of Tiraspol.
- Pobedy Park (across the street from the hostel). A chance to ride the rides at the 50’s style amusement park!
- Walk down October 25th street (the main drag) which has a large billboard of former President Smirnoff (real name) standing with the Presidents of two other Soviet breakaway Republics of South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
- See the University of Tiraspol. October 25th St. to City Hall (government). It has a large bust of Lenin for great photos.
- Visit the Russian Orthodox Church of Tiraspol. Newly renovated with golden domes. Guests can buy inexpensive Russian Icons here. We will go inside – girls must wear a scarf on their heads and men must take their hats off.
- Statue of Russian General Suvorov.
- Old market, a perfect place to buy antiques, war relics and Soviet memorabilia at non-tourist, rock bottom prices.
- Visit the Eternal Flame Independence War Memorial.
- Visit Parliament, housing the biggest statue of Lenin outside Russia.
- Lunch at Andy’s Pizza, somewhat of a PMR icon of a restaurant.
- Convenient store in the city center with $3 for a bottle of one of the most prized Cognacs in Europe (outside France of course). During Soviet times, this was the brandy.
- Pobedy Park. There is a famous 24-hour beer and vodka stall here. A great place for people-watching.
- After lunch, we will cross the river on a Soviet barge to the isolated, war-torn villages of Kitskani. Here we will visit the stunning monastery, visit the bullet-riddled head of Lenin and the soviet house of culture, we will visit an old Soviet village store that has been left in time to pick up food and drinks.
- Head to the WW2 memorial riddled with bullet holes from the recent civil war, dedicated to the Las–Kishinev Operation, named after the two major cities, Iași and Chișinău, in the staging area, was a mass Soviet offensive against Nazi forces. Here we will toast to the fallen soldiers.
- Return to Tiraspol for dinner and drinks
- Overnight at Soviet hotel
- Head to Transnistrian’s second-biggest city, Bender.
- We stop in the center and see the cheapest outdoor market in Bender, complete with a full old-world meat and spices market. It’s a perfect opportunity to buy anything you want at old-world prices! We continue to the oldest church in Bender, where there are massive weddings every weekend. Right near the church, we view the City hall, still riddled with bullet holes from the Civil War! It was suppression fire against Transnistrian rebel snipers!
- We continue to the old Soviet Theater and Lenin Park! We can enter a fully refurbished Theater, now used for modern movies.
- We then visit the “Ghost Train Station”, after the Civil War almost no trains go there. However, they maintain it immaculately.
- Also, we view a real WW2 Soviet Train and war memorial and walk on a high walkway overlooking the entire station!
- Visit the old Soviet Amusement park on the riverwalk! It’s still functioning and we can ride the rides unchanged as they were in Soviet times.
- See the HQ of the Transnistria navy! Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds!
- Now we move on to a Tank Monument to the Civil War with Moldova and after this, we have lunch at the Old Soviet themed Communal Cafe.
- Visit an ancient Bulgarian village in PMR. Boasting a beautiful WW 2 monument and Soviet Cultural Center with a fantastic Silver Lenin!
- Afterward, we head to the old Soviet Red Army bunkers which go on for hundreds of Kilometers, they have never been mapped!
- Visit a former Kolhoz (Soviet Communal Farm) that is now lying abandoned and perfect for Urbex.
- Return to Tiraspol
- Overnight in Tiraspol
- We stop in Grigoriopol to view their Silver Lenin and Monument of Soviet Sorrow, plus we are the only tour group allowed to enter their old Soviet Library and take all the photos we wish. Right after Grigoriopol, we stop at a massive Tank Monument on a large hill overlooking the battlefields of W.W.2, with an old Soviet T-34 tank that was found in the Dniester River after the war.
- We then go onto Transnistria’s third-largest city Dubasari, where we visit a surreal place: A HydroElectric Dam controlled by the Russian Army, with a Russian Tank at the front! Right beside it is a beautiful beach where locals sunbathe and we will enjoy a cold beer and discreetly take photos of the dam and the Soldiers/Tank. If time and conditions permit we will also cross into a very isolated enclave that is still a part of Moldova. We must pass the Russian Soldiers to accomplish this! Only our groups have permission! (Also lunch at a traditional Russian kebab Restaurant.)
- Visit the central monument to WW2 and the very isolated forgotten Soviet Music College that is still in Operation! It has one of the largest Lenin’s in the world and a perfectly intact giant Soviet Emblem. We are given a full tour by the Director himself and listen to private student concerts just for us!
- Dinner and overnight in Dubasari.
- After breakfast, we head to Rîbnița and the very isolated Soviet Nuclear War Survival Bunker! Only 3 were built in the entire world! We will stop in the isolated village of Toshlick to view their intact Soviet Cultural center and monument, with a map of the front line as it was in 1943.
- We stop at a fantastic overlook of the Dniester River, including one of the few small islands, with many local fishermen and locals having BBQ parties.
- Now we are on our way to Rybnitsa, the third-largest city in Transnistria.
- We stop and see the Memorial of Soviet Fame Rybnitsa, which is overlooking the biggest Russian Orthodox Church in Rybnitsa. We enter the church and view their relics.
- We have lunch in Rybnitsa center before heading to the Lenin and Cultural Center, including a fantastic Soviet Mural. Then we walk through the Old Ribnita Soviet Park.
- We then head to the tour highlight. The isolated old Soviet Nuclear War Survival Bunker (2 of them! Going 13 floors underground).
- First, we must cross the massive Ribnita Bridge, protected by Russian Soldiers. We must pass through their checkpoints and into the Moldova DMZ.
- Now we move on into the forest and very isolated wasteland. (This is exactly why the Soviets built the Bunker here)
- We will pass very isolated villages time forgot, and we are free to stop anywhere along the way for photos. Then we reach our objective and start a drive down a military road built into the deep forest! After some kilometers of difficult driving, we reach a non-assuming flat area. This is a deception meant to fool enemies.
- We then spend a few hours exploring the 2 Bunkers. We must be careful because the structure is deteriorating.
- Overnight in Soroca, the gypsy capital of Transnistria.
- After breakfast, we do a tour of Soroca.
- Tour of Gypsy Hill filled with some of the craziest looking gypsy mansions you will ever see!
- We’ll see Soroca Fortress, a historic medieval fortress dating from the days of Ștefan cel Mare.
- The Thanksgiving Candle is a hilltop monument and chapel with an amazing view of all of Soroca.
- A symbolic walk up the many stairs is an acknowledgment of these lands that suffered under many invaders. They fought bravely and managed to keep their language, culture, and traditions.
- Return to Chisinau for the afternoon train back to Bucharest.
- Overnight on the train
- 6:30am arrival in Bucharest
- End of tour.