It’s going to be huge in 2018.
When we’re planning a getaway there are a couple of things we look for. Beautiful scenery, delicious food and wine, and a lack of crowds. We’re sick of jostling for sidewalk space in Paris and New York. Give us land, lots of land, under starry skies above, don’t fence us in.
Which is why this destination – which has been named one of Intrepid Travel’s best places to visit in 2018 – just shot to the top of our bucket list. Moldova, the tiny eastern European country nestled between Romania and the Ukraine, is one of the least-visited countries in the world. (It’s up there with another one of our travel favourites, San Marino).
So it fits the no tourists bill – only about 120,000 people pass through the country every year – but does it satisfy our other criteria of good nature and great wine? You better believe it.
Moldova is actually one of the world’s foremost wine producers, with an incredibly high-quality collection in its cellar doors that is just crying out to be enjoyed. But unlike other famous wine regions, like Tuscany in Italy or Bordeaux in France – or even closer to home, places like the Adelaide Hills or Marlborough in New Zealand’s South Island – it has remained largely untouched and unvisited.
Which means all the more wine for you. And we really mean all the more wine: the Milestii Mici wine cellar in Moldova holds the record for the largest collection of the good stuff, with nearly two million bottles in its basement reserve.
And the Moldovans really love their vino. They’re the second booziest nation in the world, bested only by Belarus. Moldovans drink something like 16.8 litres of alcohol every year, compared to the 12.2 litres that we Aussies put away.
When it comes to that nature, Moldova really exceeds expectations. It has all the lush greenery of those landlocked Eastern European nations, bracketed by serene blue lakes and rolling hills. There’s also the Moldovans desire to champion the iconic architecture of their neighbouring nations, which means that towns like Soroca have become unlikely tourist destinations for their miniature renditions of famous buildings like Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre and St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. (Yes, really).
If you’re planning a visit, might we suggest this exact date next year? That’s when Moldova holds its annual National Wine Day, a celebration of all things booze, with free shuttle busses to ferry you from winery to winery. How thoughtful.