Discover the North of Moldova, a region bursting with incredible nature, a rich history, a diverse cultural mix, architectural monuments and some of the best Divine, or brandy, around.
North of Moldova
For nature-lovers and adventurers, some of the best places to visit in Northern Moldova include Balanesti Hill with the highest point in Moldova, Suta de Movile with the mystery of its thousands of hills, Naslavea with its incredible views over the Dniester River, and Criva Caves, one of the world’s largest caves. History and culture lovers will enjoy visiting the old manor houses and churches in Drochia and Bocancia, as well as the beautifully landscaped Taul Park.
And for a completely different experience with a lot of fun, go to Soroca, known as the Roma capital. You’ll not only have a chance to see the impressive Soroca Fortress built by Stephen the Great in 1499, but you can visit the Roma quarter, known as Gypsy Hill, with its mansions on a hill overlooking downtown Soroca. Maybe you’ll have a chance to meet the Roma baron himself or get offered a snack made by the baroness herself. Anything is possible in northern Moldova.
No matter where you go in northern Moldova, be sure to visit the local food markets in villages and get a taste of local food products. The freshness, taste and flavors will astound you. Now you know the secret as to why Moldovan food is so tasty. North Moldova is also one of the best places to taste divine, the local brandy, as several of the stops on the Divine Route are in this region.
This northern Moldova travel guide includes all the details on the best places to visit in northern Moldova, including a map highlighting all the top things to see and where they are located. We also share information on where to stay and family-run guesthouses in northern Moldova, as well as local festivals and events. If you prefer to explore on foot, be sure to check out the new hiking trail that goes to Balanesti Hill.
Explore locations in the North of Moldova
Although it is called the Valley of the Hundred Hills, the rolling landscape near Braniste actually contains more than 3,000 undulations. It is such an unusual formation that you are unlikely to see anything like it elsewhere.
Legend has it that the mounds are the graves of Getae, an ancient tribal people who lived along the lower Danube River and nearby plains. The story goes that the tribe posted sentinels on the hills to warn of enemies’ approach.
Those who say the legend is untrue contend that only God could have created such a stunning, geologically symmetric arrangement.
With a population of 125,000, Balti is Moldova’s second-largest city. Its homes, public buildings, churches and schools are a mix of architectural styles, including early 19th Century Romanian, Soviet and neo-Romanian. Balti’s streets are quieter than Chisinau’s bustling thoroughfares.
But it isn’t boring, and it offers a few mysteries. For example, why is a tank sitting in the main square, and why does the city have two airports instead of one? To clear up those conundrums, you’ll have to come see the city yourself.
The Barza Alba Divin Distillery is a Moldovan treasure. Over the years it has won 150 medals in international spirits competitions, including 50 golds. By the way, Moldovans call their brandy Divin – for “devine.” Those who visit the distillery will see the entire production process plus the rooms where the brandy is aged in oak barrels. As part of your tour, you can taste up to 10 types of divin as well as hard apple cider.
Over the eons the Duruitoarea River in northern Moldova carved out a deep gorge in the underlying limestone. In places where limestone and water combine, there are often caves, and this area has a famous one. The Duruitoarea Veche Cave was a Stone Age people’s settlement, archaeologists say. Evidence of early human life was found in its three sections, whose total length is 49 meters, or about 150 feet. Excitement swept through the area when someone made an exciting discovery near the cave years ago. It was the partial skeleton of a female mammoth with tusks three meters – or nine feet – long.
Moldova’s largest manmade green area is Taul Park, which sprawls over 49 hectares, or 120 acres. Russian financier Ivan Pommer hired famed Odessa landscape architect Hippolyte Vladislav–Padalko to create the park around Pommer’s mansion. Completed after three years of work in 1904, the park includes 150 species of trees, shrubs, vines and flowers, including more than 100 exotic varieties. The imports include Japanese cherry trees and Douglas firs from Canada. There is no entrance fee to the park. You can explore it to your heart’s content, walking along an astounding 12 ½ kilometers of trails. Many visitors say the park’s most enchanting feature is the lake in its center. Its grounds include a number of historic buildings.
The Criva Cave is an awe-inspiring reminder of nature’s handiwork, starting with its length of 89,000 meters — or more than 55 miles – on several levels. It is the world’s third-largest cave carved out of gypsum, a sulfite mineral, and the world’s 26th-largest cave over-all. Its chambers range from five to 50 meters – or 150 feet – deep. Another amazing feature is the cave’s 20 underground lakes. The cave’s walls come in many colors, and it boasts stunning stalagmites and stalactites. It was discovered by accident in 1959 when quarry workers were using explosives to dislodge chunks of gypsum, which is used for construction and in fertilizer.
Naslavcea, on Moldova’s northern border, offers the country’s most spectacular views of the Dniester River. The best vantage points are the tops of steep emerald hills rising from the riverbank. The area contains what Moldovans call the Heart of the Dniester — an island in the river shaped like a heart. Nature is incredible away from the river, too. In fact many people call this location Moldova’s Switzerland. So be sure to explore the village’s surroundings, which include the Nagoryan Caves, where locals hid when the Tatars invaded. You’ll also find manmade gems in the area, such as a centuries-old water mill.
In Vadul-Rascov village one could find the House – Museum of the poet and playwright Dumitru Matcovschi. The Author created more than 50 volumes of poetry, prose and theatre plays. The house-museum preserves the authentic architecture alongside with the household that has always been known as a well-groomed one. The Dniester River runs next to the garden of the House-Museum, which creates a picturesque atmosphere, as if taken from the fairy tales.
The Jewish Cemetery of Vadul Rascov is a representative monument of Jewish community. People say that the Jewish cemetery here is the largest in the Republic of Moldova and one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the Southeast Europe. Currently, there is not a single Jewish family living here, however the history of many families has left its imprint on the culture of the village.
Would you like to go back to the 15th century and see the magnificent fortress that lived through countless battles?
If the answer is yes, then the Soroca Fortress is just the place for you. Built firstly as a wooden fortress by our greatest ruler, Stefan cel Mare, and then rebuilt in stone by his son, Petru Rares. The Soroca Fortress is the only medieval monument left in Moldova. The fortress is located on the Arcașii lui Ștefan cel Mare nr 5 street in the town of Soroca, right near the Nistru river. If you’re interested in visiting this breathtaking sight, you can get there by car or using public transport. The Soroca Fortress is open starting Wednesday until Sunday from 9:00 till 18:00. The price for adults is 15 MDL, for children aged 7 to 16 – 7 MDL, and kids under 7 can enter for free. What are you waiting for? The Soroca Fortress is ready to take you back in time and captivate you with its awesome stories.
Guesthouses in the North of Moldova
Vila DoraSee on map
Vila Dora is a country inn with old wooden floors, huge traditional carpets and rustic furnishings near the Dniester River. The food the owners serve is not only authentic Moldovan, but as fresh as can be. The inn located in an enchanting region, both in terms of nature and spirituality. Two nearby landmarks are the Japca Monastery and Moldova’s largest Jewish cemetery in the village of Vadul-Rascov. Vila Dora is also close to the medieval fortress at Soroca and the 30-meter-tall Candle of Gratitude Monument. The writer Ion Durta came up with the idea of creating a monument to honor those who have made special efforts to preserve Moldovan culture. It was erected in 2004.
Tourist guest house La NistruSee on map
La Nistru guest house is located in Molovata Nouă, a special location, on the Left Bank of the Nistru River, in Codru vine and wine area. It all started back in 1970, when the location was known as the summer camp on the Dniester River. It was here that children rested during their summer holidays. Its history takes on a different scale in 2019, when at the initiative of the proprietors, the construction of an agro-tourist guest house was launched, which currently offers accommodation, restaurant, terrace, patio and playground for children. The business is also proud of its bakery that provides the camp and the guest house with fresh goodies all year around.
Hanul lui HanganuSee on map
A good time to visit the Hanul lui Hanganu guest house is — well, anytime. Take a virtual tour of the guest house to see for yourself. In summer you can take boat rides on the Nistru and hike to Tipova monastery or take a horse-drawn carriage through the villages along the river. In winter, you can skate on the frozen Nistru River. The Tipova waterfall is also frozen then, and what a sight! It looks like an ice kingdom from a movie. After you’ve traipsed around outside for a while, your cottage stove will warm you right up. Don’t leave Hanul lui Hanganu without tasting the house specialty, miniature sarmale.