Getting there & away
The central bus station (Autogara Iaşi Vest; 214 720), completely hidden behind the Auto Centre building, has become busier in recent years with all the private maxitaxi firms opening, so it has started to expand – in chaos. Buses, microbuses and maxitaxis leave from the main lot, but some companies have started using the Billa supermarket parking lot, a kilometre away. Innumerable daily buses or maxitaxis leave for Târgu Neamţ (€2.85), Suceava (€5.15), Bucharest (€11.40), Bacău (€4.60) and Piatra Neamţ (€4.30). Occasional maxitaxis to Târgu Neamţ depart from Billa and a mishmash fleet of regional maxitaxis leaves at whim from a parking lot directly across from the train station – ask any of the touts on hand for details.
Maxitaxis to Chişinău leave from outside the Billa supermarket five times daily, while up to six daily buses (much slower) to Chişinău (€5.70) depart from the bus station. If you don’t acquire a Moldovan visa in advance, have a completed visa application (www.travisa.com/Moldova/moldova_visa.pdf) ready at the border or risk being left behind by an impatient bus driver.
Tickets for the daily bus to Istanbul (€80, 24 hours), which departs from Billa, are sold at Ortadoğu Tur (257 000; Str Arcu) across the street.
If you prefer to drive yourself, Icar Tours (216 319; www.icartours.com/servicii/contact/Iasi/; Str. Anastasie Panu nr. 29) have a branch in Iasi, with a large fleet of hire cars at reasonable prices.
Characters from a Kafka novel must have devised Iaşi’s train station system. Nearly all trains arrive and depart from the Gară Centrală train station (Str Garii), which is also called Gară Mare and Gară du Nord. Trains to Chişinău, however, depart from the Gară Niculina (also called Gară International) on B-dul Nicolae Iorga, even though tickets for the trip must be bought from the so-called Gară Mică (the one with the sign saying ‘Niculina’ on it), 500m south on Aleea Nicolina. The Agenţie de Voiaj CFR (242 620; Piaţa Unirii 10; 7.30am-8.30pm Mon-Fri) sells advance tickets, while the train station only sells tickets one hour before departure.
There are six daily trains to Bucharest (€14.50, seven hours), one to Galaţi and Mangalia and three slow, crowded trains to Timişoara (16 hours), affectionately known as ‘Horror Trains’ by locals. Trains throughout the day go to Ungheni, a border town just 21km away. Do not take this train unless you already have a visa for Moldova, as there are no visa processing facilities at this crossing.
If you are planning to visit the monasteries in Southern Bucovina, take a train to Suceava (two hours) then change trains, or take a train bound for Oradea and get off at the Gura Humorului stop. To get to Târgu Neamţ from Iaşi you have to change at Paşcani.
Tarom (267 768; www.tarom.ro; Str Arcu 3-5; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri) has daily flights to Bucharest. Carpatair (215 295; www.carpatair.ro; Str Cuza Voda 2;9am-6pm Mon-Fri) has flights to Timişoara and onwards from Monday to Saturday.