Iaşi (pronounced yashy) is the second city of Romania after Bucharest, the national capital, both in terms of population and also in cultural, historical and academic terms. It is the second largest university centre in Romania.
It has a population of just under half a million people; swelling greatly when the town's several universities are in session.
Iaşi is situated in the northeastern Romania, and very close to the border with Republic of Moldova, from which Romania is divided by Prut River. The city is positioned on the Bahlui River, affluent of Jijia that flows into the Prut River, Iaşi is the "legendary city of the seven hills", namely Cetățuia, Galata, Copou, Bucium, Șorogari, Repedea and Breazu, just like so many cities around world, one such example being Rome. Some of these hills have conspicuous churches perched on top, each of which warrants a different view of the city.
Iaşi looks green from above in spite of the ubiquitous brick and concrete due to its boulevards and gardens. Ancient churches, old European style houses and communist apartment buildings compete for space in this crowded city, which is constantly expanding into the surrounding villages; the urban rush of communism replaced houses, pigs, chickens, and cherry trees with apartment buildings. The land was confiscated from the peasants and they received apartments as compensation in the newly created common living spots. Factories sprung around the intensive urban effort, organized together in the industrial zone, only to be abandoned two generations later with the fall of the regime which gave them and the nation purpose. Like all communities in the former Soviet block, Iaşi had to reinvent itself in 1989.
Tourism in the city takes place around its heritage of archaeological sites, memorial houses, museums and historical and architectural monuments. Moreover, the folkloric and ethnographic heritage, the nature protection areas, and natural mineral waters as well as the vineyards in the surrounding countryside remain to be discovered.
- Tourism Information Center Iaşi, e-mail: email@example.com. The staff there is knowledgeable about the city, with a wealth of information ready about monuments, places to visit, places to eat, accommodations, busses, and trains programs, etc.
The city is basically located at the border to Europe's poorest country and you may think that this location is shown off in the city. That is though wrong. Despite that the borough may be very poor and that you'll see horse carriage the outskirts of the city, the center is currently undergoing a renaissance. As of June 2012, there is extensive restoration as well as new constructions. A brand new mall is opened and side walks and houses are renovated. On top of that, the thriving student community puts a young and trendy atmosphere as in any other European student city.
Also known as the "city of great love stories", "city of new beginnings", "cultural center of Moldavia", "an open air museum", Iaşi is recognized since the 19th century as being the centre of the national spirit. Every corner of Iaşi evokes a personality, a unique event, a legend, a part of a myth, every stone talks about the past (as quoted by Topirceanu).
The first document that mentions Iaşi's existence was issued on 6 Octomber 1408 by the ruler Alexandru cel Bun. It was a commercial privilege elaborated by Alexandru cel Bun after some rounds of negotiation with merchants from Lviv.
Iasi was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 until 1859, when Moldavia united with Walachia to form the basis of the future modern Romanian state. The designation of the capital to Bucharest was met with a lot of grief by the local city dwellers. The Moldavian aristocracy moved massively to Bucharest, leaving the former capital devoid of some of its former shine and richness. Nevertheless, Iasi continued to be an important cultural center, providing the launching ramp of Romanian literature's most important 19 century figures. Part of the Kingdom of Romania, Iasi got to be again a capital between 1916-1918, as Bucharest was occupied by the German army. It's palaces and noblemen residences got to house in crisis conditions the state institutions necessary to command the country in times of war.
During World War II, Iasi suffered considerable destruction as it saw German and Russian forces fighting on its streets. The communist regime is responsible for the present street pattern and the bulk of its building fund. Newly formed neighbourhoods were providing housing for the working class brought from villages to work in factories. The 1977 earthquake brought another blow to the historical centre of Iasi, as the authorities at that time took advantage of the occasion to raze some of its former town housing (much of it made by the former multi-ethnic bourgeoisie). Nonetheless the key monuments were preserved as long as some patches of housing neighbourhoods mixed between socialist buildings.
After 1990, and the collapse of the obsolete heavy industry, Iasi is reinventing itself taking advantage of its universities which constitute the second higher education center in the country, it's smaller-sized industries, software companies, services, and commerce.
The local climate is continental with minimal rainfall and with large temperature differences between the seasons. Summer is hot and it lasts from the end of the month of May up to the half of September. Autumn is a short season, of transition. In the second half of November there is usually frost and snow. Winter is a freezing season with temperatures dropping to –20 °C.
Iaşi Airport (IAS) is one of the oldest accredited airports in Romania and even though it is small, it is served by several airlines such as Tarom (flying from Bucharest), and Austrian Airlines (flying from Vienna). There are also charter flights that depart/arrive from/in Iasi.
The airport is located 8 km (5.0 mi) northeast of the city center. A metered taxi to the center of Iaşi should cost no more than about 15–20 lei. Most city taxis have meters. You should pay attention if they use it or not—it's not unheard of for them to try and get away with charging upwards of €10. The metered rate is 2.5 lei per kilometre outside city limits and 2.2 lei per kilometre inside them. Usually the rate is written on the side of the car, but make sure to check with the device in the car. Taxi drivers are more correct and nicer than in the capital.
If arriving from another country, bear in mind that there are no currency exchange outlets at Iaşi airport. There is an ATM outside the building. Since taxi drivers accept lei, not euro or other currencies, you will need to be able to withdraw money from this ATM or arrive in Iaşi with lei.
Bus number 50 connects the airport to the centre. Here's its timetable. Note that the top left-hand side timetable shows buses from the airport to the centre. The other three timetables show the buses from different parts of the city back to the airport. Connections to other public transport lines are shown here. Tickets cost 2 lei.
|Antalya||Turkey||AYT||LTAI||Antalya Airport||Seasonal charter: Air Bucharest (resumes 27 May 2013), Corendon Airlines (resumes 13 June 2013)|
|Bologna||Italy||BLQ||LIPE||Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport||TAROM|
|London||United Kingdom||LHR||EGLL||London Heathrow Airport||TAROM|
|Rome||Italy||FCO||LIRF||Fiumicino-Leonardo da Vinci International Airport||TAROM|
|Turin||Italy||CUF||LIMZ||Cuneo International Airport||TAROM|
|Vienna||Austria||VIE||LOWW||Vienna International Airport||Austrian Airlines|
|Tel-Aviv||Israel||TLV||LLBG||Ben Gurion Airport||TAROM|
The connections to Iaşi from Bucharest, the national capital, and with other counties in Romania are good and reliable and can be seen online at the Trains Timetable (on this website you may also see the prices and the availability of the trains on the dates you wish to travel). You can also take direct trains from Budapest, which is well linked to Western Europe.
A train ticket from Iaşi to Bucharest costs around €20 when using the most expensive and luxurious option, the inter-city. You can check the schedule and price online at cfr.ro.
One of the landmarks of town, railway station, also known as the "Palace of Railway Station" will welcome you to Iaşi when arriving by train. The railway station building is 133 meters long and has 113 rooms, with a real palace in the centre, a partial replica of the loggia from the Doge’s Palace in Venice. The palace was built by an Austrian company lead by Victor von Ofenheim and is the biggest one in Moldavia.
The railway station is very close to the center of the town and to the Tourism Information Centre (10 minutes of walking).
Romania is criss-crossed by many mini buses, sometimes called maxi taxi. They are faster than the trains, and can be taken directly from the international airport in Bucharest.
In Iaşi, there are two main bus stations: West Station and Vama Veche Station. The latter one is situated in front of the railway station. From there, buses go all over Romania, as well as abroad.
There are regular bus connections with Chişinău in Moldovia. The bus departs from Gara De Sud (Bay 11?) in Chişinău ends in main bus station in Iaşi. The trip take appr 4–5 hours, including the stop at the tax free shop between the border controls. There are nine services a day, but watch out for the long break between the 7:45 service and the 10:10 service (140 Moldovan lei).
There are several possibilities to reach Iaşi from all over the country on national roads. Recently these roads have been improved and are not blocked by traffic jams. A drive from Bucharest usually takes five to six hours.
If you don’t have neither a map of Romania downloaded from the internet, nor a GPS, the best thing to do is to buy one from any gas station. Although the situation has been steadily improving, it is crucial to have a map in order to reach Iasi from Bucharest without having to stop and ask for directions. The locals know which turns to take — there aren't many, but they are not marked with large arrows as they are in the United States.
Iaşi is a rather large, densely packed town. You can walk from one end to another in a few hours. For the curious visitor, walking is the best way to get around.
Taxis are quite popular in Iaşi, and have recently switched to yellow universally. In Iaşi, locals sometimes take the taxi which they find most appealing, not necessarily the first in line, so if you really like some brand of car, you can opt to take that one. This practice is becoming less common, however.
Maxi taxis go pretty much everywhere you could go on public transportation. They are privately operated, smaller, usually white micro-buses. They have their endpoint destination written on a paper at the front and they follow a usual route. They do not accept foreign currency, and don't expect the maxi-taxi drivers to speak English well enough to tell you where to get off; you could write your destination on a piece of paper, point and ask.
By bus and tram
These methods of transportation were traditionally very important for getting around Iaşi, especially during the communist period and afterwards, before cars became commonplace. Public transportation is quite frequent and works from around 5a.m. to about 11p.m. However, during weekends and public holidays, their frequency decreases.
A ticket costs 2 lei, with a 2-trip ticket at 4 lei (two people can also make one journey with this ticket), a 90-minute ticket at 4 lei, and an all-day ticket at 8 lei. Strangely there can be problems if you try to use a ticket for a tram on a bus, etc. You can buy tickets from ticket offices at stops, but bear in mind that at minor stops these offices close around 5-6 p.m. Ticket machines have been recently installed throughout the city, also having an English interface.
There is a special tram that goes up and down Copou hill. It is reconditioned classical tram and it's a different style from the normal trams, resembling the San Francisco ones somewhat. In Iasi there aren't trolley busses anymore, like in Bucharest or in other cities in Romania.
The main reason to go in public transportation is to witness regular people going about their business. Everyone goes on the public transportation. This is a good place to see beggars performing. If you're on a bus, it's fairly likely that some group of little kids will get on and start singing. They are usually gypsies singing traditional Romanian songs, and some of them are rather gifted. They want you to give them money, of course. Also, look out for displays of faith. Romania is one of the most religious countries in Europe, and when passing a church or monastery you may see several passengers, from old women to teenagers in sneaks, doing the sign of the cross.
Old town of Iaşi is quite small, however. You could use the public transport to go around, but most of the interesting parts of the city are in the center, so walking is preferable. You need the bus only if you want to see stuff out of traditional center or because your accommodation is there.
- National Theatre "Vasile Alecsandri", with an exceptional interior designed by one of the most popular architects from Vienna at the beginning of the 19th century.
- Palace of Culture is one of those giant obvious monuments that the locals take for granted but which is striking to visitors. It houses several infrequently visited museums, including a musical instrument museum and a "village" museum with ethnic outfits. Currently closed for restoration.
- Casa Dosoftei. Next to the Palace of Culture is a little stone house named after the scholar and metropolite ("archbishop") of Moldavia Dosoftei (1624-1693). He was one of the first to use the Romanian language for poetry and in the church and the house contains a small museum showing early manuscripts, prints and printing presses (no English signs).
- Bulevardul Stefan Cel Mare (si Sfint) (Steven the Great ((and the Holy)) Boulevard) Along it you will find the Metropolitan Church, the Trei Ierarhi Church, the Palace of Culture and the National Theatre. If you go on this boulevard in the winter, you will find an impressive set of light decorations. During the weekends, the boulevard is closed to traffic and contains rollerbladers, bikers and strollarounders. On Sundays, the National Theatre park fills up with icons and naïve paintings,which one can buy for rather small prices.
- Bulevardul Copou (Copou Boulevard). Copou is a large hill in Iasi, which contains a university, a botanical garden and many old, fancy houses. Rose bushes line its sides, and there are many parks and old trees scattered between the buildings. It's a popular place to go for a walk, and for locals it is considered the rich area. Head onto the side streets for the quietest, serenest part of Iasi
- Copou Park. This tame, bench and rosebush laden park is a popular destination for youth in heat and the contemplative elderly. It's a pretty park, and you should not put your feet on the benches (you might get fined). There are several large bushes through which you can walk, and an extremely old linden tree held up by metal bars. Linden trees are well appreciated in Iasi, and this particular tree is the most famous because the beloved Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu allegedly wrote poems in its inspirational shade. In front of this linden tree, there are two large patches of bright blue forget-me-not flowers.
- Botanical Garden. The botanical garden is high up on Copou hill, and it's a popular summer getaway. In the fall, the walnut trees drop walnuts which you can eat, and some people go to the garden to find these.
- Sala Pasilor Pierduti (The Hall of the Lost Steps). The Al. I. Cuza university in Copou houses an exquisite hallway, in which you can get lost in poetic reverie. The hallway is empty, long and narrow, and its walls are covered with large paintings that allude to T.S.Eliot's Wasteland and have an intensely epic, allegorical and dreamy character. A lonely guardwatch protects the hallway, and the door is heavy, with small windows that let the light trickle in through dust. It is a lonely place, yet while school is in season it is tread by thousands of steps every day, which only make it lonelier. You might also want to explore the rest of the building. A piece of advice: freeing your mind from the confines of Euclidean geometry won't make it any easier to find your way through the place, but you will feel less frustrated when you find out you've changed floors just by crossing a seemingly level hallway. The classrooms use both the Arab and the Roman numbering system, which makes it hell when you're late for an exam, and learned men all agree that the third floor disappears during full moon. You have been warned.
- The Catacombs. This network of tunnels was built hundreds of years ago for military purposes, and connects several strategic points of Iaşi, including some monasteries. It is unknown to most visitors and indeed to many locals, but will soon be opened for tourism. The entrance will be in front of Hala Centrala (see entry under shopping), but as of April 2010, this is still a construction site. In the mean time, you may be able to get a glimpse of the old tunnels if you pay a visit to Casa Bolta Rece (see entry under eating).
- Ethnographic Museum of Moldavia (Muzeul Etnografic al Moldovei).
- Art Museum (Muzeul de Artă).
- History Museum of Moldavia (Muzeul de Istorie a Moldovei).
- "Ștefan Procopiu" Museum of Science and Technology (Muzeul Științei și Tehnicii "Ștefan Procopiu").
Churches and Monasteries
It is said that if you throw a rock in Iasi, you will break a church window. Despite the fact that Communism outlawed religion, Iasi is replete with churches and monasteries. The majority are of Eastern Orthodox denomination, richly decorated and sometimes surrounded by lush gardens. As you walk by, imagine the churches a hundred years ago as the centers of farming, peasant communities; the fruit bearing trees and domains around the church supported the clergy and nuns. In Iasi, the priests knock on every door at least once a year to bless your apartment for the new year in exchange for money. It is considered inappropriate not to open the door. When you enter a church, you can make the cross symbol on the doorstep; remove your hat, and don't wear any short skirts. On Sunday, sermon is sometimes held outside the church, broadcast by a loudspeaker, because inside there are few or no chairs. If you are extremely lucky, you will visit a church on the day of its 100 year anniversary. This is the only day in which women are allowed in the altar; Don't worry if you don't speak Romanian, you won't have to say anything. There are no easy ways of finding out when these anniversaries occur, so if you really want to do this look up the dates when churches were first built.
- Trei Ierarhi Church This church is completely covered in carvings. The church was once covered in gold, which was burned away to be stolen. Trei Ierarhi is frequently under construction. The atmosphere inside is musky, typical of East Orthodox churches. It contains several chandeliers with decorative ostrich eggs.
- Metropolitan Church Be careful not to wear short skirts in this church. The elderly are quite protective of in-church propriety. If you go in the summer, you'll enjoy vast rose bushes all around the grounds of the church. If you're thirsty, there is a water fountain at one end of the courtyard. There are always beggars at the entrance of this church, which is one of the most profitable for beggars in Iasi. Locally, this church is called "Metropolia". Metropolia contains the remains of "Saint Paraschiva", an important local saint. If you like chaos and celebrations, go to Iasi from 12-16 of October of any year. The city floods with peasants and religious pilgrims from Romania and abroad. The city completely changes during this period, and the Stefan cel Mare boulevard is almost impossible to walk through.
- Golia Monastery This monastery is surrounded with thick fat walls and has a prominent tower; you can climb to the summit; It is in "Targul Cucului" = "the Coockoo's market", which is right in the middle of the city in a very busy intersection. The contrasting serenity within the walls is almost unbelievable.
- Sfântul Nicolae Domnesc This small but beautiful church is located right next to the Palace of Culture. It was built by Stephen the Great in 1491-1492 making it the oldest standing religious building in Iaşi today, and later renovated around the year 1900. It is well worth a visit to admire the paintings, and perhaps take a break for a little peace of mind.
- Frumoasa Monastery This monastery is in Nicolina, farther form downtown and amidst communist buildings; You can recognise the monastery by the metal roof.
- Armenian Church of St. Maria (Biserca Armeana Sf. Maria) (on Armenian Street (Armeneasca).). Well over 500 year old Armenian Church in the heart of Iasi.
Off the beaten path
- Releu - an ancient sea bed "Releu" refers to a large antenna in general, but in Iasi there is a particular one which you'll be directed to if you ask locals. The Releu is a popular picnic spot, and offers a gorgeous view of the city. It is in a strange area, which is half village half French Riviera; This means that peasants, cows, chickens and dogs still live here, but that some of the properties are being bought by rich Europeans and converted into villas. The two ways to get to the Releu are by maxi-taxi and by taxi. The taxi or maxi-taxi will leave you at the edge of the street, and you'll probably feel like you're in full blown countryside. Look for the giant antenna, and go to its base. You'll have to walk on dirt roads, but it's pretty. From the antenna, look around, and you should be able to find a crevasse (it's really rather large, like a semicircular cut in the hillside). You can see some caverns dug into the side of the hill. Go down into the semicircular cut (it's an easy walk) and go up to the wall. You can see many shells and remains of a calcarous ancient sea bed which used to cover the entire area. If you're adventurous, you can find caves in the area, some of which are quite large. There are ancient legends that tell of the locals running away from invaders in these caves and sheltering their riches. Most of the locals believe the caves to be fictitious, but they do really exist.
- Up the Bucium hill there is a lookout point with a really good view towards the city. Some people drive there at night to take a look at the panorama, while the car windows get steamy.
- Check the Jewish cemetery Hidden behind communist buildings in the Păcurari neighbourhood lays the Jewish cemetery, a trace of the once thriving Jewish community of Iasi (up to a third of the population of Iasi used to be Jewish before World War Two). It is now guarded by a family who lives there, but you should be allowed to enter during decent day-hours.
- Explore Abandoned Communist Factories - Iasi was a burgeoning industrial center of the communist era. The communist ideal revolved around self-sufficiency, so everything (except for oil and the like) that needed to be used in Iasi was made in Iasi. The city's outskirts are dominated by an immense industrial zone, in which more than 90 percent of the factories have become abandoned. When the communist regime fell, these factories closed one by one, succumbing to foreign competition and internal political chaos. What is left are hundreds of factories, buildings, warehouses and fields which are completely abandoned, overrun with shrubbery, begging for exploration. It is unique, amazing and wild, and will not last long. With the European Union's accelerating economic involvement in Romania and the increasing price of land in the city, the industrial wasteland will soon be cleaned up and taken under control by the overzealous and bored Romanian policemen. You can get there by asking which way is the "zona industriala". If you are in "Podu Ros" walk towards "Tesatura", away from downtown. As you walk you will pass the electrical power plant. You can also take tram number 1 from Podu Ros and get off at the very end (make sure it's NOT going towards Copou). At the end of the tram line, walk around, because you have entered the largest communist wasteland around Iasi. There are other abandoned factories, but this is the largest concentration. Another extremely large abandoned factory is C.U.G., and used to produce large industrial equipment. It is at the end of bus lines 9 and 41, next to "Frumoasa". If you take the train to come into Iasi, you'll probably go by this factory for a very long time. C.U.G. is not completely abandoned, so you should be careful, but it also probably has the most impressive warehouses and heavy machinery. Try to imagine how 30 years ago these places were the workplaces of most of the inhabitants of Iasi. Many people moved from the countryside to the city to work in these factories.
- Visit ANY power plant you are allowed to Admission has been denied, but the situation changes frequently. If you're lucky, you could visit the clothing and shoe-making factory (at the Tesatura intersection, next to Podu Ros towards the industrial zone), the sewage treatment plant, the bread and pasta factory (the pasta more or less drips from a balcony onto an assembly line below).
- Go swim in the locals' dippin' spots In the summer, Iasi experiences extreme droughts and relentless heat, so the locals escape to swimming holes. The most popular one was the "Ştrand", which was an outdoor swimming pool in the middle of the city. The pool has been relocated as a big real estate project called Palas started to be built in the area. Some people also swim in the Ciric and Venetia lakes and river which lie north of the city. These are lakes, not swimming pools; there is no lifeguard, but there also are no rules. Check the bottom depth before taking a plunge. Also, the water is full of strange microorganisms and who knows what else... the local kids seem to be all right, but two-headed fish have been seen in the Ciric lake more than once. You can also swim in the botanical garden, in the pool at the bottom of the hill. There is a new "Ştrand" on the "Cicoarei" street (just ask the locals for it). It is well fitted and quite a popular place for summer bathing. There are also some hotels which have smaller swimming pools available to the public (Hotel Capitol, Motel Bucium, etc.). The lakes mentioned above are not really safe. A few people get drowned every year and some get eye or skin conditions from the dirty water.
- Aerial sightseeing, Airport, ☎ +40 752 040214. From sunrise to sunset. Spectacular and memorable experiences. With the qualified and experienced pilots you can get a bird's-eye view of Iasi city and the area's beautiful hills and lakes or if you always dreamed of being in the cockpit, start flight training.
As Romanians don't have a history of being able to learn a lot of foreign language, it might be hard to find many people speaking English and as such, most companies will not hire anyone who does not speak Romanian. Also, there is no legislation as per part-time jobs so nobody will probably hire a foreign under these circumstances.
Luckily, given that this is a big university center, a lot of multinational companies have arrived and especially in the IT sector, you will be able to get a job in the call-center sector: XL World.
ITO Sector: Capgemini, SCC.
Also IT professionals will have a lot to choose from as many companies have a strong presence in the Iasi economic sector and also factories: Endava, Amazon, Comodo, Redpoint, Pentalog, Mind, Continental, Delphi and many more. Most of these companies have more than 50+ employees (most have over 200) and they will recruit pretty much all year around as attrition in this sector is very high.
All of these companies have websites in more than 1 international language so you can check them out. Some will require an IT degree, some will not. It is a good place to start with if you plan on staying for long, until you get your stuff sorted out.
Most supermarkets will probably hire people to work for product handling in the warehouse, so that is a good place to look as well: Metro cash&carry, Carrefour, Selgros, Kaufland, Lidl, Billa and also Bricostore, Mr Bricolage, Praktiker, Dedeman. IT Retailers: Domo, Altex, Media Galaxy.
Besides this, if you have special skills (dancing step or tango) or are a yoga instructor (there is none in Iasi!) you can probably work your way as self-employed professional. There are also a lot of niches you can go into as a professional, different photograph opportunities, DJ gigs and so on.
- Go shopping in the numerous second-hand shops around the city As the economic crisis hit Iasi, the number of second-hand clothing shops has skyrocketed, as one of the few profitable businesses in times of economic hardship. You'll find really good bargains for some hippy clothes, antiquities, sport equipment. A lot of young locals prefer them to shopping malls, because you may find really quality stuff at affordable prices. Most of these clothes come in big shipments from western countries. You'll be surprised maybe to find items your parents would be wearing in their youth.
- Check the traditional open markets ("Piaţa Nicolina", "Piaţa Alexandru", "Piaţa Păcurari"). They are open daily. You'll find fresh local products, healthier than the ones in supermarkets, and usually at better prices too. You may find peculiar the offer of the sellers from the neighbouring Republic of Moldova, who bring their products there.
- the Bazar! This is a purchasing junkyard, curiously popular with the locals. Most of the stuff sold here is reminiscent of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and is probably produced in the same Chinese factories. The Bazar is underneath the land bridge which connects Podu Ros to Nicolina. You can find jeans, sneakers, plastic toys and trinkets of all varieties here.
- The area near Piaţa Unirii is a general shopping area with the usual selection of stores.
- If you are looking for something to read, there are two bookstores in Piata Unirii, in the center. Junimea has several books in French, while Libreria Humanitas has some books in English.
- Go to "the Mall"! (Iulius Mall, close to Podu Ros, along the Bahlui river). This mall is rather elegant, and houses several eateries which are European-priced and far from traditional Romanian food, but if you're out to spend money this is as good a place as any. It is also the place to go to the movies, with the exception of kids movies, foreign movies are usually shown subtitled with original audio.
- Carrefour / Felicia . The Felicia Mall is smaller and less elegant than Iulius and offers little in the way of dining. However, it contains a Carrefour "hypermarket" which is convenient if you're looking for a one-stop shop for electronics, clothes, food and everything else. It is about as Romanian as a McDonalds, but nicely illustrates the near-future total westernization of the Romanian economy. Ask the taxi driver to go to "Carrefour".
- Era Shopping Park (Carrefour Era Pacurari), Pacurari str, no. 121 (west side of the town). Similar to Felicia. Contains lots of boutiques of all sorts, a Carrefour supermarket, an electronics shop, a little food court, etc. Outside there is a carting track.
- The "old malls". Moldova Mall and Hala Centrala are in the center close to the Cultural Palace. They are not as big or modern as "the mall" (Iulius), but may be a bit cheaper. They both date back to communist times, but have been heavily renovated. One feature typical of the era is the open circular subterrain marketplace in front of Hala Centrala, where you can still buy local food from the producers. Other marketplaces exist around town, but this is the easiest to find. On various holidays and other occasions, tent stalls pop up outside Hala Centrala selling goods or acting as bars.
- Palas Iasi. This is a new multi-functional building project that opened in May 2012. It houses 3 residential buildings, 3 office buildings, 1 retail mall, a shopping street, underground parking, public garden (with a small lake and amphitheater) and an IMAX cinemaplex. It is right behind the "Palace of Culture", so it's hard to miss.
- Pizza Pazzo, Bd. Tudor Vladimirescu. Nice atmosphere and Italian cuisine located in the student district of Tudor Vladimirescu. Reservation might be necessary as the place is vivid and full of customers almost every evening. Occasionally you might get lucky to try their lasagna, although a parmigiana plate is also a good choice beside pizza. Serve with draught beer and be there with friends.
- Phenicia, Str. Sulfinei, nr. 13. Lebanese restaurant with moderate prices. This would be the place you'd want to make a nice impression by getting out to an exotic cuisine, though Lebanese might not be that rich in options.
- La Gara, Iasi, Main Train Station. There are few small shops that sell cheap fast food for after-party snacks. They will fill in your empty stomach and you'll be ready to continue partying in one of the bars in the center.
- Warda, Strada Sfântul Teodor. A traditional Lebanese Kebab Shop, located close to the "Gr.T.Popa" University of Medicine and Farmaceutics. It is a famous kebab place in town with a very friendly staff.
- Cucina Casalinga, Costache Negri nr.60. Italian restaurant with very good pastas and pizzas, located behind Moldova Mall shopping center. Prices are mid-range to splurge. No credit cards.
- Aad's Place, Bd Carol 48. Restaurant and fast food with Dutch specific, located in the Super Copou complex close to M. Eminescu Park. They serve good Dutch pancakes either salted or sweet and are non-smokers friendly.
- Belvedere, Sos. Bucium 103A. Small cozy restaurant with a lovely terrace on the exit to Vaslui. Food is good and prices are budget to mid-range. Occasionally you will be disappointed that the kitchen is closed. No credit cards.
- Restaurant Bar Baron - Str. Sfantu Lazar 52. It's beyond the Culture Palace. You have to walk for a while, but the pub is very nice and they serve good beer and good food for reasonable prices. You may want to give this place a miss unless you want to be in the company of some very dodgy local characters. There are plenty of decent nosheries in the center of the town, no need to stray this far for utterly forgettable food and bad company.
- Restaurant Monte Carlo - Fd. Codrescu 5, near the Al. I. Cuza University. A quiet, not very well-known restaurant with a lovely ambiance, serving both international and traditional food for reasonable prices.
- Casa Bolta Rece, Str. Rece 10 (taxi drivers know the place), ☎ +40 232 212 255. This very old restaurant (est. 1789) offers classical Romanian food of good quality in a historical location. It is named after its cool cellar (bolta rece) where the famous poet Mihai Eminescu and other artists and intellectuals hung out when Iaşi was the center of the Romanian awakening. Today you have the choice between the cellar, the ground floor and an outdoor half-covered terrace. You may find traditional live musicians working the restaurant. If you are interested in a unique glimpse of the catacombs beneath the building, the staff may show you if you ask. The staff may know very little English. Prices are mid- to high range.
Iaşi is famous for its nightlife. If you go towards the University you will find a lot of students wondering around or having a beer. There are a lot of bars, coffee shops and pubs where you cand chill, have a drink, or watch a game. Most popular discos and clubs are full until morning during during University periods. Check out the discos "Skye", "Skin", "Master", "Code" and "Viper" even though there are much more that are popular. You can find a lot of bars in front of the "Copou Park", as there are a lot of student housing there and is only natural there are a lot of leisure places. These bars usually are mainstream with popular music you can hear on the radio. Sometimes they have karaoke nights during the week.
There are bars almost every where, but most of them are places you won't have a nice experience as they are only for extremely loyal locals and such they have not invested much into the decoration or the experience. You will need to go to more central or student areas to get a more enjoyable experience. Also, if you just need to get a quick drink, you can always get into the many pizza restaurants you will definitely see, as the prices are the same.
Most of these bars will have a Facebook page so feel free to add them and check out what they have planned for the future days. You can also get contact details there and friendly staff that will answer to any of your questions. You can also make reservations.
- Sage is a place you don't want to miss. It is in the old "Mihai Eminescu Library" building and it has lots of tea sortiments from all over the world. There's also newspapers and books you can read, a piano and social games that you can borrow for free. The personnel also speaks English and, when the owner is in, people have been known to get freebies. Very nice atmosphere.
- Curtea Berarilor/Baza/Underground/Taverna/The Gate/Hand/ - Bulevardul Stefan cel Mare si Sfant nr. 10, bl. B1-B2, la CUB (Catacombe) - are all student bars in the city center, next to the green "cube" (modern statue). They are perfect for a bar crawl (ar at least some, depending on music taste) since they are literally next door to each other. They all stand out in the Iasi night scene as they only play modern rock music - indie - dubstep - alternative rock and heavy metal (the first bar mostly pop-rock and folk and the last one heavy metal, the rest something in between). During the week they have a lot of concerts from local bands or karaoke nights, during the weekends everybody just dances. These bars are a favorite hang-out for Erasmus students as they offer a diverse music genre and are very cultural friendly. Beer - 4-5 lei, cocktails 10 lei, shots 30ml 5-6 lei.
- Mojo - Iasi, Str. Cuza Voda, Nr. 30-32 - close to the National Theatre, indie and alternative rock music, they sometimes host LGBT parties for the local community. It's sign is the "tree of life", be careful as there is only a door with stairs going downwards, easy to miss. Check the website for a more detailed map.
- Acaju - Str. Sf.Sava, nr 15 - from the National Theatre, make a right and when you get to the parking lot make a left. Walk for 2 minutes and you will find this bar (a couple of more houses far from the other bars you will find on the way). This is a very friendly bar with all sorts of music, from jazz to dubstep. They have a strong community along with some of the local NGO's that occasionally will have different activities as: "Slow food" (home cooked food served to everyone), "Papergirl" (customers will be invited to draw on paper) and so on. This is a neighborhood made of houses or small buildings, it might look deserted and unfriendly but it's very safe to go to this bar. If you feel like wondering around afterwards, just go back where you came to the big boulevards where there's more people. Nothing can happen to you, just nasty beggars that will not leave you alone. Beer - 4-5 lei, cocktails 10-15 lei
- Brain, Iasi, Str. Gandu 6 - from "Union Plaza" ("Piața Unirii"), if you walk towards the train station, take the first left and you will find this modernist bar that will appeal to electro-music fans. Everything from electro to IDM and a lot of concerts with crazy visuals. They also have a non-smoking room upstairs where they will mostly have project documentaries or live concerts from different bands. Beer 5 lei, glass wine 5 lei.
- Kaze - door to door with Brain bar, the only bar where you will find non-stop reggae music. Beer - 4-5 lei, cocktails 10 lei.
- London pub - Str. Piata Unirii nr.1 - situated in the Astoria Hotel in the city center, this is a theme pub that is a favorite hang out for watching a football match if you feel like it. It's mostly addressed for business men and morning coffees as there will be no dancing usually here, but it's a nice place to enjoy one of their specialties. A 50cl Tuborg is around 6.5-7 lei.
- Clubul Presei (The Press Club) is situated in the basement of the Gulliver Block (first tall building on the Stefan cel Mare boulevard starting from Piata Unirii), on the side opposite to the main street. Look for the yellow door with the ramp leading to it. Though not exactly a metal bar, it's a meeting point for metalheads and other alternative types, since it serves some of the best mulled wine in Iasi. You might want to stick to the small serving, though. It can make you much tipsier than you'd think. If you want to play it safe, go for their special, brandy-and-whipped cream hot chocolate. Oh, and try to avoid the toilets. If you've lived in, or traveled extensively through Eastern Europe you've seen much worse, but there's still no need to subject yourself to that mess.
- Iulius Mall is actually a retail mall, but if you want a decent shopping experience with trying some of the more extravagant bars in Iasi, you will need to get here. Everything from Italian gelateries that will give you ice-creams and espressos to oriental themed restaurants. Obviously, there is a big "food-court" as well, with plenty of international fast-food chains. Prices will range, but only because most of this bars will only serve you import beer (for example) that you won't find anywhere else so you will get a reasonable bargain if this is what you want. Everyone will know where this mall is, from people on the street to taxis, it's located in the student housing center of "Tudor Vladimirescu". It's best to get a taxi or a bus, as it might be a long walk, depending where you are from.
- Max - Found in the living heart of Tudor Vladimirescu Campus. Cheap drinks and totally a place to be if you want to taste the life as a student engineer.
- Hotel Continental, Strada Cuza Voda. Simple, modestly furnished rooms at affordable prices. Single room with bath is 110 lei. Central location.
- Hotel Turistic Casa Bucovineana, fax: 0232 222913. ** - Str. Cuza Voda 30. Tel./. It's a cheap hostel, compared to the standards of Iaşi. The rooms are announced as "single room" for 70 lei/night while a "double room" is 100 lei/night, all with a shared toilet, BUT, the single room is for 1-2 people and the double is 3-4 people. For some strange reason they count the number of beds as single or double. The place gets nicer the higher up you are - the rooms on the top floor are the newest and least used and smoke contaminated. You can also feel the vibrations of the tram passing on the main street - especially in the rooms facing the street, but you are in the very center of the city and in each room you have TV and a DVD player. Room 11 and 12 are the best situated and freshest.
- Hotel Sport - Str. Sf. Lazar 76. Double room with shower 101 lei/night, no singles. A bit dodgy, but not altogether dismal. TV in each room. Located up a little alleyway next to the Sala Polivalenta sport complex, take bus number 41 or 28 and get off at Sala Sporturilor.
- Pensiunea Sans Rival, Blv. Metalurgiei Nr 3. (From the centre take tram 3 to the end of its line, then bus 11), ☎ +40753759638. Clean, basic double rooms with fan and TV (in Romanian). Shared toilet and shower in corridor. 80 lei.
- Iasi Accommodation Apartments (Iasi Apartments), I C Bratianu 30 (Just besides National Theatre), ☎ +40746067979, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 11.30. Accommodation in Iasi : Apartment short-rental services right in the city centre, fully furnished and fully equipped, AC, WIFI, etc 22€ - 40€ / night.
- Hotel Unirea, Piata Unirii. Based in a high rise imposing building that dates back to socialist times, but now fairly modern hotel offering 3 star service and accommodation and some excellent panoramic views over the city.
- Hotel Astoria - Str. Lapusneanu 1, next to Piata Uniri. A simpler business class alternative adjacent to the more upscale Traian. One double room is 250 lei/night.
- Grand Hotel TRAIAN. Unirii Square. This is "the" posh hotel in town. It is in a recently refurbished building of 19th century, an architectural masterpiece of French architect Gustave Eiffel that was inaugurated in 1882 as the "Traian Grand" Hotel. Prices are moderate compared to the luxury you get, ranging from €80 for a double to €350 for the royal suite.
- Hotel Select - Piata 14 Decembrie 1989. Another centrally located boutique mansion hotel. It offers single/double rooms presented to 4 star level and a personable level of service.
In general, the city of Iaşi is as safe as any other urban area in Europe and there is really no need for any special precautions.
Pickpockets are a problem in Iasi. Pickpockets don't advertise their strategies, but you should keep your money in a travel pouch tied around your neck and on the inside of a shirt if you want to be confident of its safety. Pickpockets are mainly around the main train station area, and target mostly people with lots of luggage, especially when trams/busses are full.
The best strategy is always check for suspicious groups of persons around you and just move if you see them surrounding you. Don't argue with them or start a fight if you find them with a hand in your pocket. Don't call someone out on their pickpocketing; chances are that you will not get the crowd rallied in your favor and you might cause an unnecessary aggravation for yourself. Simply leave.
Do not go to the train station area at night if you want to avoid visible hints of prostitution.
Beggars can be persistent; remember, just because someone is begging doesn't necessarily mean the person is truthfully poor or as disabled as it appears. Judge for yourself. If a gipsy approaches you trying to read your palm, guess your fate in a shell, etc., don't be surprised if you encounter hostility. Don't worry, you will probably not be attacked.
In Iasi, dogs run wild and in these abandoned regions they are out of control. It is not uncommon to see 10 or more dogs together in packs. Do not bother them. If they bother you, be aggressive. DO NOT RUN away from dogs (although you should by any means run away from security guards). You can carry a stick around if you're really afraid of dogs.
Don't antagonize packs of stray dogs. If you are being followed by dogs, don't be aggressive; they're probably doing their own thing; however, if you find yourself threatened, do not run away. Instead, yell, throw rocks, try to kick, etc., but don't take away their food.
In Iasi, the police are rather unpredictable. Someone may try to arrest you or fine you for putting your feet up on a bench in a park. If you get caught doing anything, be courteous, friendly, extremely apologetic etc. You may asked to pay a bribe (fine) know paying or receiving a bribe is illegal. The best way to distinguish a bribe from a fine is official written documentation that should be given to you. If you are asked to pay a bribe, politely refuse and do not pay. Paying bribes can make the situation worse for yourself and continues the problem for others. If this fails, it also is suggested to keep contact details for your embassy on you and insist on speaking to them.
If you're going to go exploring abandoned factories, you always run the risk of being caught by a leftover security guard. You never know. Be quiet, be subtle, bring a camera, don't carry weapons and don't threaten anybody. A girl might help. Do not ask for permission to visit any place, you won't be let in and you'll increase vigilance. Unless you're prepared to pay, it's unlikely that a security guard would break the rules to allow you to do something which you might find fun. If you want to go in a factory or building, walk around it first to see if there are any security guards; if there are, you're better off going to another factory.
If you are exploring abandoned urban area then be careful where you step. In some places there are water tunnels with murky waters which are more than 2 meters deep (couldn't find a bigger stick to check), which are populated by turtles and frogs. It is common for local kids to catch frogs in these basins. You probably could go scuba diving them if you were really really really insane. Because these are industrial waters, it would be best not to touch them. Also be careful of broken floors. It goes without saying that buildings which have been abandoned can't be as easily trusted as maintained ones. tread carefully. bring a flashlight, water and food. You'll most likely want to spend the entire day exploring, so you'll be far away from convenience stores.
A coach service leave for Bucharest 5 times a day for 70 lei and the trip takes appr 6 hours. The first service leave at 5:50 am and the last at 9:30 pm. The buses are air-conditioned and stops for food half way.
There are 13 mini bus/maxi taxi services a day to Chisinau in Moldova, from bay 5 in the main bus station (opposite the train station), 35 lei. Services run between 6:45 and 17:30, with a rush of departures around 9:00. Private drivers outside the nearby Billa supermarket will aggressively hassle travellers to make the same journey for €20, but some travellers may appreciate the hassle and paying a little more for a quicker service.