- 3.6 million
- Moldovan leu
You could be forgiven for having no other reason for visiting Moldova than wine. Because even though you may never have heard of it before right now, this land-locked Eastern European nation easily has one of the best, or at least most interesting, industries on the continent. About 10 per cent of its vineyards, for instance, are planted with indigenous varieties, such as Fetească Albă, Plavai and the best-known, Rara Neagră. And it’s not just the process; the Guinness Book of World Records recognises the wine collections in Moldova’s underground cellars are the largest in the world. There are plenty of guided tours on offer and some of the smaller wineries also offer overnight stays.
Try to at least pretend you’ve come to experience other parts of Moldova’s culture, because it’s worth doing. Take a squiz at the Orheiul Vechi, a thirteenth-century monastery built into a cave that is still inhabited by monks (obviously not the same ones). While the city itself is not particularly attractive, there are several museums, as well as some brutal Soviet-era architecture, in the capital Chișinău to placate the culturally curious. In the countryside, take to bike or horseback to explore this off-the-beaten track destination, where the landscape is unspoiled and the people who live here are likely to welcome you into their homes. And there’s also wine.