Tyras (Τύρας) is said to have been founded about 600 BC, as a colony of the Greek city Miletus, some 10 km from the mouth of the Tiras River (Dniester). It was refounded in 1792 by Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov on behest of empress Catherine the Great, as a border fortress on conquered land from the Ottoman Empire. The city's central square features the equestrian statue of Suvorov. Tiraspol was the capital of the Moldavian ASSR from 1929 until 1940.
Tiraspol is landlocked, and largely closed off from the outside world, due to a lack of transcontinental infrastructure. There is neither an airport nor a seaport in Transnistria. The nearest international airport is in neighbouring Moldova.
The present city has relatively modern infrastructure. The state-run bus service is a simple, fairly accessible method of transportation operating at peak hours during the day, made up of trolleybuses and maxi taxis (the latter cost 3.95 rubles), you pay on board. Night-time operations were halted due to an increase in criminal drug trafficking, which became rampant on the bus system during the mid-1990s. Subsequent reforms by ex-President Smirnov and other officials enabled the bus system to remain open for at least the better part of the day, restoring a much needed public service to the Transnistrian population.
The local sewer system and electrical grid are state-of-the-art, adapted from models based in western Europe. The Transnistrian basic infrastructure was built in the mid-1990s with the profits gained after the war of independence in 1992.
As of September 2019 there were no issues with border officials for North American / European / Australasian passport holders, either upon entry or exit. A piece of paper is provided with details of your visa to keep with your passport, this will be required upon checking in to your hotel.
There are bus and maxi-taxi services from Chișinău every 30 min through most of the day. They leave from the northeast corner of the Chișinău Autogara (at Tighins St.). Buy your ticket at the Cada de Peron window on the platform, not inside the station. (2 hr 20 min, 46.00 Moldovan lei in Feb 2020).
The Tiraspol bus/train station does not have a luggage depot.
There is a bank/exchange office, which is closed on Sunday. And no, you cannot pay for the toilet in the station with Moldovan lei.
A daily train operated by Ukrainian Railways connects Tiraspol with Chisinau and Odesa. As of 2021, the schedule is as follows;
From Chisinau departure 7:09 - arrival Tiraspol 8:24, arrival Odesa 10:55
From Odesa departure 18:36 - arrival Tiraspol 21:07, arrival Chisinau 22:33
When starting in Ukraine the tickets can be reserved (but must be collected at the train station) through the Ukrainian Railways booking page[dead link]. There is only a Ukrainian border control at Kuchurgan station where you get your Ukrainian exit stamp. Your passport will not be stamped by Moldovan officials nor by Transnistria.
When boarding in Chisinau tickets can be purchased on the train itself after passing a quick passport inspection in the station hall.
Regardless of where you arrived from, when you get to Tiraspol you must go inside the station hall to the window and ask for registration - likely a border guard will have seen you disembark and point you there. The officer will ask for duration and address of your stay and provide a visa for that time period. This process is free.
You will mostly be happy to get around on foot.
Easyway journey planner helps to find routes and schedules.
Tiraspol has an efficient trolleybus system, which is shared with the nearby city Bender. Trolleybus no. 19 connects the two towns. They run at an interval of 15-20 minutes from 05:30 until 21:00, and cost 2.8 Transnistrian Rubles. Tickets are sold on the bus by a conductor.
Most bus stops are clearly recognisable and indicate the buses that stop there, along with their interval (how many minutes between two buses) and their operating hours.
Many of the trolleybuses are from the 60s or 70s Soviet era but are kept in perfectly working order, with a fresh coat of paint on the outside, and surprisingly comfortable spring-loaded leather benches on the inside. Some new partially low-floor trolleybuses are also gradually being introduced to the system.
Besides trolleybuses there are also marshrutkas (minivans) which have less comfort but are more frequent and go everywhere in the city the trolleybuses don't reach.
Marshrutka no. 20 between Tiraspol and Bender plies the same route as the trolleybus, if you want to trade comfort for speed.
You might enjoy a visit to the main street with its parliamentary building boasting a relatively new Lenin statue. Opposite, a T-34 tank from the Great Patriotic War era forms part of a monument which also contains soil from the pivotal battle of Stalingrad.
You can see most of what there is to see in Tiraspol by walking along 25 October, the main street. There are several nice parks in the city, including the Culture Park near the university. This has abundant trees and a mixture of abandoned and enthusiastically used amusement park rides, and is a good place for people-watching. Most of the big monuments are at the south end of the city, about 2 km from the Palace of Soviets. It is also worth taking a small detour off the Main Street and going down to the Dniester river, where locals tend to gather in the summer.
- 1 Suvorov Square (Площадь Суворова), The city center (between Red Alley and Shevchenko Street). The city's central square is named after Alexander Suvorov, the founder of Tiraspol. It is surrounded by the Memorial of Glory, the building of the Supreme Council of Transnistria, the Palace of children and teenagers, and monuments to Suvorov and Catherine the Great.
- 2 Supreme Soviet (Parliament of Transnistria), 45, Strada 25 Octombrie. An impressive government building like not many others from the Soviet era. The building can be found on the back of the 50-rouble note of Transnistria.
- 3 Lenin Monument. A statue of Comrade Lenin in front of the parliament building.
- 4 T-34 Tank Monument (Memorial of Glory). Like many former Soviet cities, also Tiraspol has a tank on display—a Russian depiction of Soviet Power and symbol for the halt of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.
- 5 House of Soviets (Каса Советелор). City Hall in an impressive Soviet-era building with a bust of Lenin in front.
- 6 The Christmas Cathedral (Church of the Nativity) (just east of the central produce market). A beautiful Russian-Orthodox church. Nice interior with colorful paintings.
- 7 Yuriy Gagarin Monument.
- 8 Mig-19 Monument (Monument to Aviators). Erected in 1975 and surrounded by beautiful pine trees.
- 9 Noul Neamț Monastery (from 25th October Street in Tiraspol cross the river, where minibuses leave approximately every half an hour, take 10 min/7 km to the monastery (take the second stop), and cost 4 lei each way). Daylight hours. A beautiful monastery complex just south of Tiraspol with a number of sizeable churches to explore. If you have concluded your visit to Tiraspol, take the bus back or hitch west towards Bendery, where you can catch a bus back to Chișinău. Free entry, though the tower may only be accessible if visiting as part of a tour.
- Visit the Soviet monuments that remain in Tiraspol. You may also want to visit the local drama theatre and local museums (closed Mondays) near the centre of the city. There are cheap boat tours on the Dniester which take about 30 minutes; just board the boat, the guide will collect the money after the ship departs (25 rubles).
- Iceskating - near where the mashrutkas from the Ukrainian border arrive is an ice rink. 65 rubles.
- Sheriff Casino - inside the Russia Hotel
- A point of interest is that although there are no foreign embassies in Transnistria, both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have representative offices in Tiraspol and Russia itself has a consulate.
- The information office on the Main Street has friendly, English-speaking staff. It also doubles as what is apparently the state's only souvenir shop, offering a range of postcards, shot glasses and other goods.
- Watch football: FC Sheriff Tiraspol play soccer in Divizia Națională, Moldova's top tier. They often do well and qualify for European tournaments. The Sheriff Stadium (capacity 12,700) is 3 km west of city centre.
In order to purchase goods, services or souvenirs in Tiraspol, or in any Transnistrian locale you must exchange your outside currency into Transnistrian rubles. The Transnistrian central bank sets their own exchange rate and prints their own money, so the number of rubles you will get on any given day for your euros or U.S. dollars varies significantly from week to week. Currency exchanges are everywhere, including inside many popular stores, and will change most local and major currencies. Some exchange booths will ask for your passport.
In November 2019, some travellers reported that they paid with Visa credit card in the Bendery Fortress Cafe and the CityClub Hotel without a problem. The charge was in Transnistrian rubles at time of payment but the card was actually charged in Russian rubles.
- 1 Piața centrală (Green Market Center). A great and central produce market where you can buy everything like walnuts, honey, poppy seeds, meat and much more.
- Shopping centre Intercentre Lux, 25 October St., 97 a (on the central street, opposite the cafe "7 Fridays"), ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-19:00. Multi-brand store of women's and men's clothing, where you can buy jackets, raincoats, coats and down jackets of the local manufacturer Intercentre Lux.
- 1 Столовка СССР Тирасполь, Strada Rosa Luxemburg 66.
- 2 Классная Шаурма, Lenin St 12.
- 3 Fast-Food Like . Tiraspol, Strada Sverdlov 36.
- 4 Bottle Museum, Kotovsky St 22. Tourist complex where you can taste wines and brandies produced in Moldova and the Moldovan sample dishes of national cuisine, decorated in the Moldovan national style.
- 5 La Placinte, Strada Sverdlov 75 (Ul. Svedlova at its east end). Another Moldovan chain with a branch in Tiraspol. Provides traditional Moldovan food at reasonable prices and free Wi-Fi. Menu in Russian but with pictures.
- 6 7 Пятницъ (7 Fridays), 25. October Street 112, ☏ . Western-style restaurant on the main street. Very modern and clean, with some English-speaking staff and a comprehensive menu with various international dishes of high quality including a wide selection of sushi, but no local specialities except for the local cognac (Tiras). Free Wi-Fi. There is another branch on maxi taxi routes 2 and 3, behind Sheriff Supermarket/Andy's Pizza, whose menu has a picture of every dish on offer. An average meal with salad and main course costs about 80 Transnistrian rubles, 50 cl beer c. 17 rubles and 5 cl cognac 9 rubles.
- 7 Снова в СССР (Back in the USSR), Strada Sverdlov 54а.
- 8 Royal Club Veranda Restaurant, Strada Karl Liebknecht 306, ☏ . High-end restaurant with Japanese and Italian cuisine.
The famous Transnistrian 'Kvint' vodka and cognac can be purchased at several liquor stores throughout the city, as well as the Kvint factory (the latter being an attraction in itself). The vodka is approximately US$3/litre.
There are many shops and markets to purchase local food, drink and their famous Transnistrian brandy, Kvint. Kvint's factory is at ul. Lenin, 38 (+373 533 9-61-70), and it has several shops around town. Transnistria is also known for a vodka drink commonly referred to as a "smirnovka" - appropriately named after president Igor Smirnov.
Further along the river in the city centre are a handful of bars and restaurants which usually are open until about midnight.
There are several large and modern discos in the centre. They are usually open until late, seven days a week. Tourists are rare and the few English-speakers that might be around are often very happy to communicate with foreigners.
In some hotels hot water and showers are not standard. They often cost extra on top of the price of a basic room, although often no more than a few dollars on top of the base price.
- Hotel Russia, Svedlova, 67 (down the street from the Parliament building, a 15-min walk from the train/bus station), ☏ . A modern business hotel with restaurant, terrace, casino. Breakfast 95 rubles. From €50 without breakfast.
- Lenin Street Hostel, Lenina 28, ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00-20:00, check-out: 08:00-11:00. Free WiFi, free breakfast, hot water, shower/toilet, cosy well equipped kitchen, mini laundry, souvenirs.
- Tiraspol Hostel, Mira 36 (opposite the Pobedi Park), ☏ , email@example.com. There are a number of bars within walking distance, with centre reachable by public transport, or just a few dollars in a taxi. (As of June 2015 the owner was running homestays for 200 rubles per night per person. He meets guests at the bus/train stations and takes them to the accommodation).
- Hotel Aist, Naberezhnyi 3. Soviet museum of a hotel but is well located near the main square and overlooks the river. Do not expect the comfort of a decent hostel or even hotel. The showers are barely dripping and there is no laundry service, etc. The "luxury" rooms are equipped with a TV set and a fridge. There's a bar on the second floor with a terrace that overlooks the river Dniestr. Do not expect anybody to speak English. A two-room en suite twin without hot water costs 250 rubles, 400 with hot water.
- Hotel Timoty, 395A, Karl Libknecht str. Rooms at Hotel Timoty with standard western amenities are available for around US$50, depending on the size of the room, the date of your reservation, and your nationality. Note that many hotel rooms at cheaper hotels may not havd a private bathroom. And even if you have a private bathroom, hot water is not guaranteed. Ask in advance.
A cheaper alternative to staying in a hotel is to rent a private apartment.
Orange Moldova gives around 2 bars of 3G signal in most of Tiraspol as it's still relatively close to Moldova proper, however the further away you go and inside buildings the signal can become weaker or entirely nonexistent. Don't rely on this.
Many restaurants now have free password-protected wifi available, ask the staff and they will gladly help you out.
There are public wifi hotspots at various central locations in Tiraspol operated by Interdnestrcom called IDC Wi-Fi however it's limited to 30 minutes per day at slow speed, and the premium packages cannot be purchased with international payment cards.
- Chișinău – The last bus leaves at 18:35 from the main bus/train station. The bus timetable can be found at this website: [dead link] by selecting "AB тирасполь" from the drop-down menu, choosing the departure date, and looking at the times for "Тирасполь - Кишинев". A taxi from the city centre to there costs 50 rubles (39 if you speak Russian without an accent). Bus tickets to Chișinău have to be bought inside the bus station, and not from the driver. There is an exchange office at the station. If you miss the last bus, you can take a taxi to anywhere in Chișinău for US$30.
- Kyiv – A bus leaves around 16:30. After that, there is no scheduled transport to Ukraine; you might get lucky with a maxi-taxi, but do not count on it.
- Odesa – A train leaves in the morning at 08:27. There is also a bus to Odesa which leaves about 14:00. It should be booked earlier in the day if possible as it will only take as many passengers as can be seated and, as it starts from Bendery, it can already be quite full when it arrives at the train-station in Tiraspol. Tickets for the bus can be booked in the train-station, and the bus leaves from outside it.
- Or head to the Ukraine border first with any bus and continue from there. If you get to the bus/train station too late, a taxi to Odesa will cost about US$50: a lot in local terms, but 125 km for US$50 is a bargain by western standards, and is a lot less hassle than finding a place to sleep and getting an extension on your visa. Or just head to Chișinău, stay there and leave for Ukraine the next day.
- Ukraine border – You could catch the Kyiv bus and ask the driver nicely if he lets you get out at the Ukrainian border where you can catch another onwards bus. You may also go to the Ukraine border by the bus that goes to Pervomajsk—it has no railway station, but has a bus station near the Park of Victory [park Pobedy in Russian] and swimming pool. Cross the border and take another bus in the direction you need. Besides, it's a bit cheaper.