Transnistria one of the least understood, but most fascinating countries, or rather unrecognized countries in the world. So, what is their story? Formerly an integral part of the Moldovan SSR )Soviet Socialist Republic) as the USSR began to disintegrate tensions began as to whether the area (which is predominantly Russian) would become part of an independent Moldova, or go its own way. They choose the later and ended up in a bitter civil war/ war of independence, which whilst unrecognized was achieved after much bloodshed, and looked after by Russian peacekeepers.
After known as “the last of the USSR”, the place that “didn’t get the memo the cold war ended” and other such drivel. The facts on the ground are somewhat different, and we have been pioneering travel to Transnitsria for over 10 years.
Check out one of our Transnistria Tours here
Traveling to Transnistria might seem scary to some, but we are happy to not only arrange group travel here, but also independent tours.
Independent Travel to Transnistria
Advancing in strides since the aftermath of their brutal civil war, Transnistria is arguably the least visited part of Europe’s least visited country. Located in Moldova, the Russian backed rebel republic offers a whole host of opportunities for the most adventurous travellers. A part of the brotherhood of breakaway nations, it is one of the few places in the world to see the embassies of Caucasus breakaway states South Ossetia and Abkhazia. From a vast amount of Communist relics and a Soviet way of life, there is arguably nowhere else like Transnistria on earth.
Transnistria has always been a YPT favourite since the early days of the company, we are one of the longest running adventure travel companies continually lead the way in Transnistria tourism and our innovative tours to the republic are constantly expanding. On our many journeys there we have learned many lessons about life in the country, YPT’s number one even lived there! Transnistria defines adventure travel for the imaginative traveller, so come and join us in the last stronghold of the USSR, the land of bullet riddled Lenin statues and abandoned Soviet nuclear bunkers!
Tour guides in Transnistria
Our team of Tiraspol based fixers in Transnistria have worked with YPT for a number of years and can arrange absolutely anything inside the country. From arranging photography tours and Russian language learning trips to meeting Russian special forces units and hidden winery adventures, nothing is impossible!
Hotels in Transnistria
In the capital Tiraspol, there are two main options. The luxury and overpriced Sheriff owned hotel or the classic Soviet relic, Aist, which is not for the faint hearted but is also an experience you will never forget. For those on a budget, YPT’s partners own a small hostel in the city for around $10 a night. Across the rest of the country, hotels vary as small towns and villages are usually motels or homestays whilst other less visited cities such as Dubasari have very affordable and comfortable options available.
Specialist Private Tours to the Transnistria
For those with a specialist interest in Soviet history and the republic of Transnistria, we can arrange private tours for whichever period or length of time you wish. Reachable from Bucharest, Chisinau or Odessa we can get you inside the republic from any route. You will be joined by a YPT representative and accompanied by our local contact in Transnistria focusing on specific areas of your interest. We can arrange trips across the entire country, even into the untouched North with abandoned nuclear bunkers, tanks, Russian army defended dams and gypsy towns.
Join a Group Tour to Transnistria
Each year, Young Pioneer Tours operate a minimum of five Transnistria group tours throughout the year at a bargain price. Beginning in either Kiev or Bucharest and taking in all the main sights of the republic including many hidden spots, meeting locals and getting an in depth view of this fascinating breakaway state.
Read more here about our experiences of travel in Transnistria
For an in depth FAQ sheet about Transnistria, click here.
What are you waiting for?
Get in contact with us today to begin planning your dream trip to Transnistria.
For film projects inside the republic, check out Pioneer Media, who can assist you with a variety of on-set services.
Sample Transnistria Itinerary:
- Own arrival at any time into Bucharest and check into our hotel.
- Pre- tour meeting at the hotel at 6pm.
- Dinner at Care Cu Bare; easily one of YPT’s favourite restaurants on the planet.
- Drinks and a pub-crawl in Bucharest’s old town.
- A day tour of Ceausescu’s Bucharest! No trip to Romania would be worth its salt unless we went and looked at everything and anything Ceausescu related, the don of Eastern Bloc extreme. We will do a local walking tour, seeing all the must see sites from “revolutionary” times such as the monstrous Palace of the Parliament which is one of the biggest buildings on earth, see churches which were literally placed on wheels and moved across the capital to avoid destruction, see where the revolution raged on the bullet riddled surroundings of Revolution Square.
- We’ll then enjoy some free time in the capital before meeting up back at the hotel in the evening.
- We’ll stock up on supplies for the Soviet era night train and head to Chisinau, Moldova.
- Overnight on the train.
- Early morning arrival in Chisinau and transfer to our centrally located Soviet 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 cities many parks were 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.
- University of Tiraspol. October 25th St. to City Hall (government). It has a large bust of Lenin for great photos.
- Visit 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 head 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 Lasi–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
- We grab breakfast in a traditional Ukrainian restaurant.
- Head to Transnistria’s second biggest city, Bender.
- We stopped 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 toured 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! Still functioning 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!
- Afterwards, we head to the old Soviet Red Army bunkers which go on for hundreds of Kilometers, they have never been mapped!
- 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 Russia 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.
- 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!
- If time and conditions permit we will also cross into a very isolated enclave that is still a part of Moldova. There is only one way in and one way out and we must pass another Russian army outpost to accomplish this! Only our groups have permission!
- The village boasts a hulking Soviet WW2 monument, buildings still bullet riddled from the civil war and an awesome local bar that is true Soviet Wasteland style!
- 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 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 centre 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 kilometres 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 if very complicated and deteriorating.
- Return to Tiraspol. Celebrate being among the first to ever explore the bunker at 7 Fridays Restaurant!
- 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 acknowledgement of these lands that suffered under many invaders. They fought bravely and managed to keep their language, their 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.