This Travel Tramp guide will show you how to travel from Chisinau to Kiev.
I travelled from Chisinau, Moldova to Kiev, Ukraine, a long journey and one made all the more longer by the ridiculous number of border checks.
Here’s my guide on how to travel from Chisinau to Kiev, on the long over land route. Just the way travel should be.
Note that this information is valid for the journey from Chisinau to Kiev. The same process applies in reverse, except I have not taken the route personally, and times may be different.
The Long Bus Route
Buses depart and arrive in Chisinau at the Gara de Nord, which is unfortunately on the outskirts of town. It took me around 40 minutes to walk there with a backpack from central Chisinau. There are plenty of trolley buses and minibuses running to the station, although people are always rammed in like sardines, so perhaps not the wisest move if you have luggage. Just get on the main road, Strada Ismail, which heads straight out to the station and hail down anything travelling that way. It will cost 2 Moldovan Lei for this trip.
Location of Gara De Nord in Chisinau
At Chisinau’s bus station, don’t go to the small booths, as these only sell tickets to the domestic destinations in the minibuses. Instead, head into the bigger building on the left hand side as you enter the complex. There’s a departures board, but everything is in Cyrillic.
Just ask for Kiev and you should be okay from there.
When I visited in December 2015, there were 2 buses running per day. Although online I found countless rumours of further buses which due to a lack of foreign language skills on my part I couldn’t verify.
There was a departure at either 07.30 am or at 19.00 pm from Chisinau to Kiev. The cost was around 15 Euros, or 300 Moldovan Lei, each way. The journey time was approx 12 hours. I took the overnight bus, and got into Kiev at 07.30 am the following morning.
The other way, buses depart Kiev in the evening, at 19.00 pm and 20.30 pm.
In Kiev, the bus arrives and departs from Vydubychi Station, which is a long way out from the city centre. There’s a convenient metro line just outside the station, Vydubychi stop, which runs on Line 3- the green line. Take this as far as the stop named Teatralna where you can transfer to Metro Line 1- the red line- to get to the centre, namely to Kreschatiyk Street or Independence Square. For the metro in Kiev you purchase a token for 4 UAH at the booth and slot it into the turnstile. This is valid for one journey, with as many changes as you like.
Location of Kiev Vydubychi Station
Chisinau North Train Station is an interesting place. There’s toilets and a few snack stands. The real show though was stolen by the drunk driver who attempted to pull of a mad handbrake turn in the bus bay before wiping out into a line of parked mini buses.
Once you make it onto the bus, it will inevitably travel through Transnistria. This means that despite the fact you are technically only travelling between 2 countries- Moldova and Ukraine- in reality you are in fact travelling through a third country, albeit one which isn’t internationally recognised. This won’t be a problem for most passport holders, it just means there’s an extra border check.
Technically you won’t be stamped out of Moldova either. I don’t know if this is a real issue, as I didn’t go back and find out. In Transnistria the border guards give you an entrance card, which they take away again about 30 minutes later when you exit Transnistrian territory into Ukraine! The Ukrainian border check was the longest, as Transnistria has a reputation for gun running and drug smuggling and checks were stringent. My British passport incidentally got very curious looks at every crossing. It’s mostly locals travelling these routes. Many carry onwards to Russia even.
The bus stopped a few times in the night to let everyone off for a toilet break, mostly just in the bushes.
The Long Train Route
The train is the longer, more expensive option, but arguably more comfortable. Kiev is a stop on the Chisinau-Moscow route, so this train can get very busy and you may need advance bookings.
Chisinau station is an elegant affair and within walking distance of the centre.
Location of Chisinau Central Station
There are 2 trains daily, and these will probably be labelled Moscow. In the grand, Soviet style terminal, there’s a booth where you can purchase tickets. English will be pretty much none existent, so get times written down for confirmation.
The first train departs at 11.37 am, arriving to Kiev at 01.58 am that same night/really early morning, so not the most ideal!
The second train departs at 23.00 pm, arriving the next afternoon at 12.20 pm.
The cost for a standard sleeper was 750 Moldovan Lei, around 40 Euros, so considerably more expensive than the bus route.
The other way, from Kiev there are 2 daily trains as well, stopping on the way from Moscow again, one leaving around 2am, arriving into Chisinau at 20.00 pm and the other departing at 9.00 am and arriving at midnight.
Kiev’s central station is closer to the centre than the bus station, but you’ll still need to take a metro. There’s a metro stop at the station itself, Vokzalna Station, just jump on the red line.
Location of Kiev Pasazhyrskyi Station
Decent Hostels To Stay In
In Chisinau there isn’t much of a hostel scene. You might well be the only tourist there. One great place is the Chisinau Chill Hostel, not far from the train station in the centre of the city. It’s cheap, clean and the guys that work there speak great English. You can find their website HERE.
In Kiev I can recommend TIU Kreschatyk. It’s on the main road in the centre, by Independence Square and is more home than hostel. At 5 Euros a night you can’t go wrong. The guys even throw a few dinner parties for everyone and keep the fridge stocked with beer. You can find their website HERE.
So now you know how to travel from Chisinau to Kiev by bus or train!