Moldova travel guide

Moldova is a largely overlooked destination, as yet untouched by the budget airline brigade. But it shouldn't be. In this land-locked Eastern European country, you can wander round vast monasteries, trek through ancient forests, or sample the local wines. Rich with history and fertile soils that produce abundant vineyards, Moldova is a special country despite its lack of fame, and one well worth getting to know.

Despite remaining one of the poorest countries in Europe, the people are friendly and welcoming, and the main hubs, such as the capital Chişinău, have everything a visitor could need. Although few outsiders have heard about it as a viable city break destination, Chişinău has plenty going on. There's a buzzing cafe-bar and restaurant scene, while its cathedrals, monuments and museums have survived despite the city taking a serious pounding from aerial bombardments during World War II. One such survivor not to miss is the house where the writer Pushkin spent his days in exile penning some of his most famous works.

The most obvious selling point of Moldova is probably that it's almost the least known spot in Europe. With only a few thousand visiting the country in every year – even neighbouring Romania and Ukraine see far higher foreign footfall – it's mainly favoured by intrepid backpacking completists. But there's much more to the country than this.

A largely unspoilt, natural hinterland with plenty in the way of traditional culture and village life still going, Moldova can feel like a fragment of old Europe, at least if you get beyond the cities. Cross the Dniestr River, and you'll find yourself in the beguiling separatist Russian-speaking province of Transdniestr, all Soviet architecture and Lenin busts.

Then there's the wine. The Moldovan grape's slowly fermenting fame means that the wine tourism industry is just beginning to emerge. The upshot? You can try one of Europe's best, most unique wines in a hidden land that will surely have more than its fair of tourists in the years to come.