Transnistria has its own currency, the ruble, essential in order to buy anything, and it can be exchanged or used only there. Since you can’t pay with credit cards, this is the first thing to do. You shouldn’t worry; you can find exchange offices everywhere in the city. Remember to trade your rubles before leaving – there is no way you will be able to do it afterwards.
As soon as you arrive in the city, you will immediately notice that it is filled with Soviet monuments back from the days of USSR; that’s why it is usually called an open-air museum or a Soviet theme park. Get ready for an exciting journey into the past, and take a stroll down Tiraspol’s main street to face the parliamentary building with the impressive Lenin statue. Take a look at the soviet-style banners and the armored Russian T-34 tank before visiting the war memorial, where you will also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, flanked by the eternal flame. Last but not least, do not miss the neo-classical House of Soviets at the eastern end of the boulevard. Just keep in mind that taking pictures of certain sites, including monuments and roads, is not allowed.
Although young people usually speak English or even German and French, it is a good idea to learn some words and phrases since everything from road signs to menus is written in Russian. It will also be highly appreciated by the friendly locals you may meet.
Even though you will find places to eat Western-style food at reasonable prices, it is always better to taste something local. Try La Placinte, a Moldovan chain with a branch in the city for some delicious traditional Moldovan dishes or Kumanek, where you will be served traditional Ukrainian fare by some peasant-dressed waitresses. Don’t forget to try the refreshing kvas, a weak alcoholic drink made from cereals and stale bread.
La Placinte: улица Каховская 1а, Tiraspol, +373 533 66 833
Kumanek: Strada Sverdlov 37, Tiraspol, +373 533 72 034
If you really want an in-depth history lesson, there’s a place you can’t miss: museums. Featuring an exhibition dedicated to poet Nikolay Zelinsky, the National United Museum is the closest thing you can find to a local history museum. Also pay a visit to the Museum of Local Lore near the parliament building.
National United Museum: Strada 25 Octombrie 42
Museum of Local Lore: Strada 25 Octombrie 46, +373 533 90 426
Dniester is the best place to relax after a busy day. Stroll along its sandy banks, drink a cool beer on the beach, hang a love lock with your significant other on the bridge, and take one the cheap boat tours. All you need to do is enter the boat and enjoy thirty minutes of amazing scenery.
Do not even think of leaving the city without a sample of Kvint. Being Transnistrian’s national treasure, Kvint factory produces the best cognac, extremely hard to be found elsewhere in Europe. Book a tasting tour at the Kvint wine and brandy distillery and visit the Kvint store just around the corner from its gates to buy some of its cheap yet excellent products.
KVINT Wine & Cognac Distillery: Lenin St 38, Tiraspol, +373 533 96 125
Close to the place marshrutkas, or taxis, from the Ukrainian border arrive, an ice rink is located. At Snezhinka, you will be able to practice your skating skills and have fun with your family and friends. Wear some appropriate clothes and enjoy one of the most picturesque winter activities.
Snezhinka: Лучевой пр. 3, Tiraspol, +373 533 95 614
With such a regular and cheap public transportation, it is a pity to miss the rest of Transnistrian beauties. Head into the countryside to discover old factories and abandoned train stations or take the trolleybus to explore nearby cities like Bender or Chițcani. You will be surprised by their spectacular attractions.
Due to its varied, exciting venues, it is highly recommended to spend the night in Tiraspol. In order to do this, you will need a temporary visa which can only be obtained upon your arrival at the Immigration Office. Do not worry though; the registration process is quick and easy. Be aware that you will be asked to provide the address of your stay in advance. In case you plan to stay less than ten hours, just indicate it on the migration card you will be provided for free at the border.