Probably the friendliest city in Romania, Iași has risen from its ashes in the past 10 years. Once the capital of Romania, Iași suffered in the post-communist period from lack of investment. However, in the last 10 years, Iași has managed to improve its human capital and attract big players in the IT world: Amazon, Oracle, Continental.
Having the oldest university in Romania, Iași is a young city, with a lot of room to grow and be the economic engine of Romania. Even though it might be considered small compared to Bucharest, it offers the same range of activities, from sports, to restaurants and clubs, without the traffic, pollution and general rush.
Overview: city dynamics
Romania’s history is deeply connected to the city of Iași. When Bucharest was invaded during the First World War, Romania’s capital moved to Iași, a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. In 2018, Iași was declared the Historical Capital of Romania, given that it hosts the country’s oldest university and oldest museum. Iași has always been Moldova’s capital, attracting talent from the entire region. It was and continues to be the region’s economic growth engine, attracting international investment (Amazon has a development center in the region) and being the third biggest entrepreneurship hub in the country.
Iași has always been a student city, housing Romania’s first university. Currently, Iași houses a population of 60,000 students enrolled in one of the 8 local universities. Iași’s universities attract some of the country’s best talent in medicine, engineering, and IT. 90% of the inhabitants of Iași are happy to live there, compared to 80% in Bucharest.
In 2005, Amazon opened in Iași the first R&D facility in Eastern Europe, proving how innovative the city is. Since then, it has grown tenfold and plans to continue to do so. As Amazon says, the city of Iași is “large enough to have anything you need and small enough to get anywhere fast”.
Quality of life
According to the Urban Barometer created by the World Bank (in 2020), 90% of Iași’s inhabitants are happy to live in the city, compared to 80% in Bucharest. 71% of Iași’s population is content with the city’s public infrastructure and public meeting places, such as parks, markets, car-free areas.
Iași is well connected to the entire region of Moldova, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. One can reach Cernauti (Ukraine) by car in 3 hours and a half and Chisinau in 2 hours and a half. There are also multiple trains and buses connecting these cities.
Iași is also close to other beautiful Romanian cities, such as Piatra Neamt (2 hours), Suceava (2 hours and 30 minutes), Bacau (2 hours). Iași is Moldova’s biggest train destination, so all these cities and Bucharest and Constanta can be reached by train. The authorities recently started working on a motorway crossing Moldova, which will reduce immensely the time to reach Bucharest.
Iași has the third largest airport in Romania, Iași International Airport. One can fly from Iași directly to Belgium, Denmark, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom. All of these destinations are served by low-cost companies and national airline companies.
The public transportation system is managed by the City Hall, through a bus-and-tram system. The transportation system covers the entire city, as well as nearby suburbs. There are also frequent buses connecting the city to the airport.
In Iași there are 42 kilometers of bike lanes and is currently developing a municipal bike-sharing system. There are many local clubs for biking enthusiasts - such as Iași Club de Biciclete Team - that meets weekly for bike rides and organizes biking trips in nearby villages. Public transportation is preferred by local inhabitants, with 44% of the population using it almost daily.
Iași is #156 in the traffic index rating done by Numbeo, ahead of Bucharest, Stuttgart, Athens.
Iași is also well served by international ride-sharing companies. Uber and Bolt have been present in the city for a couple of years, together with micromobility options with Bolt and Lime.
There are two main shopping destinations in Iași: Palas Mall Iași, Iulius Iași. All of them are within 6 kilometers from the city center: Palas Mall Iași is in the center of the city, next to the Palace of Culture. Clients can find most international shops in Iași, such as H&M, Bershka, Levi’s. There are also higher-end shops such as Bigotti, Guess, Mango, Nissa, Tommy Hilfiger, US Polo ASSN.
Iași is also served by smaller boutiques, found in the Old City Centre. Altex, Flanco, and iStyle Apple Premium Reseller offer a large choice of electronics. Emag and PCGarage also offer fast delivery in Iași.
Iași was the European Capital of Sport in 2012 and provides a lot of possibilities for those that want to lead an active life. The city houses one of the top five football teams in Romania - FC Politehnica Iași and a rugby team. Iași has a football stadium hosting matches in the National League and a Polyvalent Hall.
There are tens of sports available in Iași. One can find gyms, offering a large option of activities, tennis courts, football courts, swimming pools etc. 7card, the biggest sport discount card in the country, has partnerships with over 40 establishments in Iași.
For those that want to wind down after an intensive workout, Iași has five large spas: Calypso Spa Center, Unirea Hotel & Spa, Pleiada Boutique Hotel & Spa.
According to the Urban Barometer, 70% of the people living in Iași are happy with their healthcare services, the biggest number in the country.
Overall, there are 15 public hospitals in Iași and 2 private hospitals. The three biggest public hospitals are Emergency County Hospital Iași “Sf. Spiridon”, Emergency Children Hospital “Sf. Maria”, and Emergency Military Hospital “Dr. I Czihac” - all of these three hospitals are some of the best in the country.
In terms of private healthcare, there are two hospitals treating all areas of medicine: Elytis Hospital and Arcadia Hospital. In the city, there are also private clinics from Regina Maria (the biggest private healthcare network in the country) and Sanador.
Cost of living
Quality of life, by comparison
Purchases and going out
Family and kids
Iași is considered to be Romania’s Rome, given that it is built on 7 hills, all of them offering great views of the city. The surrounding areas also provide a wide variety of activities: a fishing trip to Chirita Lake, visit Lord Sturdza’s domains, or one of the large vineyards in the area.
Iași is crossed by Bahlui River, perfect for those passionate about rowing or jogging around its banks. The biggest park in Iași is Copou Park. It has playgrounds for children and it houses Romania’s oldest tree (500 years). Copou Park inspired the creativity of many Romanian writers, including Mihai Eminescu and Caragiale.
There are plenty of options for a weekend getaway without the kids at one of the wineries in Iași’s neighbouring areas: Cotnari Wineries, Husi Wineries, and Domeniile Averesti Wineries are accessible with less than a three-hour drive. For the more adventurous, Cricova Wineries, housing the world’s largest underground wineries, can be reached in two hours after crossing the border to the Republic of Moldova.
Iași has one of the best high schools in Romania, with long traditions. Among them: National College, Alexandru Ioan Cuza High School, and Costache Negruzzi National College.
Iași also houses 3 international schools:
Iași’s IT community has developed a lot in the past years, spurred by young innovation from “Gheorghe T. Asachi” University. The foreign-owned companies that opened research centers in Iași are also supporting the growth of the local IT community.
Top tech communities in Iași:
The IT professionals of Iași also organize monthly meetings and annual events with national importance. Some examples can be found below:
The startups in Iași have access to national VC funding and programs:
Given that the city’s continuous development, any real estate investment in Iași is a safe bet. The city’s real estate value grew by 45% since 2012. The price per square meter is on average 1390 Euro. Iași has a large offer of real estate, from city lofts to 3 or 4 room apartments to city villas. Given that Iași is well connected and traffic is not a problem, a family could easily choose to move to the suburbs, to enjoy a closer life to nature.
Going out: restaurants
In the central area, in and around the Old City, there are plenty of shops, as well as restaurants and cafes. Among the most famous restaurants, we have:
There are also vegetarian and vegan restaurants, such as Cuib. For those that want to enjoy their meals at home, there are three food delivery services available: Takeaway, Tazz by emag and Food Panda.
Going out: cafes
Iași joined the other Romanian cities in building a local specialty coffee culture
Going out: pubs & clubs
With over 40,000 students, Iași offers a large range of locations for going out
There are many festivals organized each year in Iași:
Iași offers a lot of tourist attractions, that bring in every year tens of thousands of visitors:
The area of Iași and surrounding counties also has a lot of tourist attractions: