A unique land of Europe, where life takes new coordinates and people are simple spectators of a show that nature bestows with each moment and season. Through hidden canals and over lakes full of life, traveling in the Danube Delta of Romania is an experience that cannot be explained or reproduced. It is a carousel of emotions and feeling that amaze and fascinate, where each day and activity is tightly connected to the world of water. Surrounded by an incredible diversity of life and an environment that is entirely unique, the travelers that arrives in the delta has the constant sensation of discovering blessed places, where everything follows a special set of rules.
The newest land of Europe and one of the last sanctuaries of biodiversity, the Danube Delta of Romania is a strictly protected area, first as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, including an impressive number of natural reserves. In this area of surreal beauty have been identified over 360 species of birds, with millions arriving each spring from all corners of the Earth, while other living inside the delta throughout the year. There is also a grand variety of fish species, unique mammals and stunning landscapes. Another fascinating element of the delta are the human communities, with remote traditional villages following the rhythm of the unique environment. Along the centuries, various nationalities have passed through this amazing region, many of which have made their mark onto the cultural diversity that characterizes the Danube Delta.
After it passes through ten countries and sets a world record, the Danube flows into the Black Sea through the magnificent Danube Delta of Romania. Along its course of over 3000 km, the river gathers the waters of Central Europe and enters Romania at Baziaș, forming an impressive defile known as the Iron Gates. Romania makes of the most important stretch of the Danube, with about one third of its basin and length. The Danube Delta is a land apart, a low alluvial plain that is permanently expanding and transforming. It is made mostly of lakes, channels, marshes and islands mostly made of sand. With a total surface of over 4000 sq. km, of which over 3400 sq. km. are in Romania, the delta is one of the most important tourist destinations in this part of Europe. Added to this surface, the about 1000 sq. km. of the southern Razim-Sinoe lagoon complex is also included in the biosphere reserve. The Danube Delta of Romania starts near the settlement of Pătlăgeanca, where the river forks in two channels, Chilia to the north and Sfântu Gheorghe to the south. This channel also forks in two a little further, the middle channel being called Sulina. Between these branches, there is a unique micro-universe made of hundreds of lakes and channels of various sizes. South of the Sfântu Gheorghe branch, there are a series of lakes, including those formed through the sand barrier closing former gulfs of the Black Sea. The most important are the Razim-Sinoe lagoon complex.
The range of attractions and activities of the Danube Delta in Romania is truly impressive, including mainly boat trips to admire the unique landscapes, fauna and vegetation. Besides these, travelers can also visit the traditional villages, experience fishing and other water activities. Among the most interesting destinations of the Danube Delta there are the towns of Tulcea and Sulina, the village and forest of Letea, the fortresses of Histria, Enisala and Argamum, the Caraorman Forest, the beaches of Sulina, Sf. Gheorghe, Perișor or Gura Portiței, the Litcov Channel and more. Travelers that wish to discover the fascinating charm of this place can start exploring from the most important settlements in the delta that offer both accommodation and tourist activities options. The main destination of the Danube Delta includes Tulcea, Sulina, Sfântu Gheorghe, Murighiol, Mila 23, Letea, Crișan, Mahmudia, Sarichioi, Jurilovca and several others. Tulcea and the villages to the south can be reached easily by car, the nearest international airport being in Constanța, while Bucharest is just 4-5 hours away. Inside the delta, the transportation is almost exclusively by water, with regular public passenger boat routes, as well as private boats for hire. The main routes start from Tulcea and follow the three main channels, stopping in the most important villages along the way.
Boat Tours and Trips in the Danube Delta of Romania
The main travel activity in the Danube Delta of Romania that can be experienced in any season and from almost all settlements is exploring the delta lakes and channels on a boat ride. There are many companies and offers for trips with various destinations and lengths, during which travelers can discover beautiful places and the fascinating atmosphere of this place. In the Danube Delta there are thirty ecosystems, including channels, lakes, lagoons, reed areas, forests, meadows, sand dunes, beaches and more, resulting a unique diversity of landscapes. From the thousands of species of plants, the reed, the waterlilies, the willows and the oaks are the main highlights. The delta also features over 6000 species of fauna, with about 600 vertebrate species. Of these, the fame of the destination is determined by the great variety and number of birds, with 362 species discovered. It houses the great majority of Dalmatian and great white pelicans in Europe, over half of the world’s pygmy cormorant population and half of the total red-breasted goose population. Other bird species include the cormorant, great egret, heron, spoonbill, grebe, gull and others. Many of these can be admired along the channels and lakes of the delta, some habitats being strictly protected. There are also unique mammals, but these are more difficult to spot in the infinity of the delta. The boat tours and trips can be booked by contacting the various companies offering these services or through hotels and tourist agencies. Some might even be acquired right on the spot from locals. One important thing to know that strictly protected areas are off-limits for travelers.
The city where most adventures in the Danube Delta start, Tulcea is located on seven small hills on the shore of the Sfântu Gheorghe Channel, at the edge of the delta. Established by the Dacians in the 7th century BC and known as Aegyssyus, the city offers a few interesting sights that are worth visiting before traveling into the actual delta. There are few traces of the old fortress on a hill in the eastern side of town where today is the Museum of History and Archaeology. It presents the multi-millennial past of the region through various exhibits (archaeological finds, coins, old documents and more). In the center of the city there a few other museums, including the Danube Delta Ecotourist Museum Center, a sort of natural history museum that features elements of the impressive biodiversity of the area, including an aquarium with dozens of species. Two nearby buildings house the Museum of Art and the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, the first one including a rich collection of icons and Romanian paintings. Other tourist attractions of Tulcea include the St. Nicholas Church, the Azzizie Mosque and the Danube promenade.
One of the most interesting and quaint places in Romania, the little town of Sulina is the easternmost point of the country, surrounded by the unique charm of the delta and the endlessness of the sea. Once it was one of the most important towns along the river, a free port where the European Danube Commission was established and a great number of commercial fleets used to be based. Along its history, Sulina was always a multi-cultural place, with dozens of nationalities and various religions. Almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, the town is a just a shadow of its past, although there are still some traces left, including a truly special and bohemian atmosphere. Besides the trips inside the channels of the Danube and the wild beach that can be visited outside the town, it still has several attractions, including the former palace of the Danube Commission, the old lighthouse, the Water Tower and the multi-ethnic cemetery.
Letea Village and Forest
A village lost in the middle of the delta, surrounded by channels and sand dunes, where the small houses painted in blue glisten in the sun. The village and forest of Letea have become one of the most popular destination in the Danube Delta of Romania and the main attractions are the authentic charm of the village, the uniqueness of the forest and the wild horses roaming freely through it. The traveler arriving in this charming place first see the small church, the reed roofs of the tiny houses, the boats of the locals and the animals grazing on the shores of the channel. With the development of tourism in the village, it now offers a few accommodation spaces and several traditional restaurants that are usually open during the warm season. The nearby Letea Forest is a strictly protected natural reserve, yet part of it is open for guided visits, with locals driving carriages and modified vehicles to transport tourists. This is the oldest protected area of Romania and represents the northernmost subtropical forest in Europe, with rare species of trees and vegetation, as well as rich wildlife. Besides the ancient oak trees and the peculiar vines, the forest also houses hundreds of wild horses that have remained in the area after being released by villagers decades ago.
Another interesting destination of the delta is the village of Caraorman and the forest by the same name, located south of the Sulina channel. Located on an extensive sand island like Letea, the village still preserves its authentic charm, with lanes covered in fine sand and low houses painted in the traditional blue of the Lipovan people. Although travelers can also reach the Caraorman forest on foot, locals offer transportation in their modified cars. This mixed oak forest includes subtropical species and is sometimes partially flooded, offering an impressive contrast to the nearby desert landscape with sand dunes.
Among the most interesting tourist attractions located close to the Danube Delta, the fortress of Enisala rises on a rocky hill on the edge of Razim Lake, a short distance from the village of Enisala. The picturesque location in a splendid landscape and the long history of this monument increases its magnificence. It is the only fortress established by the Genoese in Romania, being built during the 14th century to defend the commercial roads and sea routes. During those times, the lakes in front were a gulf of the Black Sea. Also known as Heracleea or Yeni-Sale, Enisala Fortress still keeps part of its defensive walls and towers, with heights between 5 and 10 meters. From inside the fortress, there is a beautiful panorama over the surrounding area.
Jurilovca and Gura Portiței
Established by the Russian Lipovan people during the 19th century, the village of Jurilovca is known for its fishermen community, developing as a tourist destination for its authentic charm, but also because it is the main way to reach the remote seaside resort of Gura Portiței. Lipovan traditions are still kept inside the village and the unique architecture of the houses is quite interesting. Gura Portiței on the other hand is a leisure destination, developed on a long belt of sand between the lake and the Black Sea, providing a laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches. Travelers can find boats in the port of Jurilovca that offer transfer to Gura Portiței and other destinations.
Doloșman Cape and Argamum Fortress
North of the village of Jurilovca, on a small rocky peninsula there are the ruins of the one of the oldest settlements attested in Romania (6th century BC). The fortress of Argamum or Argamon was established by Greek colonists who settled the coast of the Black Sea, then being under Roman rule. It flourished for several centuries and the ruins speak of a powerful town with important buildings. The fortress is located right on the edge of the rocky promontory that once overlooked the sea. Still mostly undiscovered, the fortress of Argamum is less known by travelers, yet it is truly impressive through its expansion and location. The small peninsula that houses the ruins is known as Doloșman Cape and is a natural reserve as the only rocky sea cliff on the Romanian coast. With a length of about 3 km and a height of over 50 meters, it offers an impressive panorama over the Razim-Sinoe lagoon complex, especially with the fortress ruins in the foreground.
Once located in a gulf of the Black Sea, the great ancient fortress of Histria is now located on a small land outcrop between the lakes of Sinoe and Histria. The fortress was established by Greek colonists from the city of Milet in 7th century BC and is the oldest Greek colony on the western coast of the Black Sea. Throughout about 13 centuries, Histria continuously developed and flourished, being one of the most influential in the area and the first town to mint its own coins in Romania. A marvelous city during the Greek, Roman and Byzantine rule, the fortress used to have strong defensive walls with many towers, long water pipes and cobblestone streets. Among the most important buildings discovered inside the archaeological site, there are the temples of Zeus and Aphrodite, the forum and the market, Christian basilicas from the 6th century and many others. The Museum of Archaeology located nearby houses fascinating exhibits discovered during the digs inside the fortress.
Other Tourist Activities in the Danube Delta
Another important experience to try inside the Danube Delta is leisure fishing and it can be practiced by anyone, following certain important regulations, including the acquiring a fishing permit from the Biosphere Reserve Administration, but also respecting the maximum quota and dimensions of fish. Among the most common fish in the delta, there are pikes, catfish, perch, zander, carp and others. Photography and birdwatching are two fascinating activities that are a perfect match for this destination, while other options include sunbathing, swimming and kayaking. Another unique aspect of the Danube Delta of Romania is the traditional food, with exceptional fish specialties. Besides a great variety of grilled, fried and cooked fish recipes, travelers have to sample the delicious fish soups, prepared from various types of fish that are boiled with vegetables. For dessert, there is a delicious cheese pie.
Best Accommodation in the Danube Delta
9.5 Rating from 586 Reviews!
Located in the village of Crișan, in the middle of the delta, this exquisite complex includes a 5 star hotel that features outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa and wellness center, two restaurants, playgrounds and activities!
9.6 Rating from 69 Reviews!
This beautiful guesthouse in located on the banks of the Danube in the town of Sulina, offering excellent rooms with air conditioning, an outdoor swimming pools, free wireless internet and easy access to many outdoor activities!
9.9 Rating from 201 Reviews!
This splendid guesthouse is located in the village of Murighiol, with easy access to many activities in the Danube Delta, including boat tours. The traditional house is beautifully designed to offer an authentic atmosphere!
8.7 Rating from 1093 Reviews!
This hotel is located in the city of Tulcea, on a small island, also featuring a traditional restaurant with Romanian food. It also features nice rooms with private bathrooms, a bar, a swimming pool and a playground!
9.1 Rating from 105 Reviews!
Located in a beautiful natural area in the village of Mahmudia, this amazing resort features a traditional restaurant, rooms with air conditioning and bathrooms, swimming pool, bar and a lot of activities available!
9.8 Rating from 25 Reviews!
This authentic guesthouse is located in the village of Jurilovca and features two bedrooms and one bathroom, fully-equipped kitchen and a terrace with beautiful views of the lake, a garden and barbecue facilities!