The Danube Delta in Romania is the second largest river delta in Europe and the best preserved on the continent. A Unesco World Heritage Site, The Danube Delta is a place that should definitely be on every traveler’s list.
Be it birdwatching, fishing, experiencing the fisherman’s traditional way of life or discovering their unique architecture and tasting the specific local food, there are just so many things to uncover here that you’ll need at least a couple of days to take it all in. So prepare for a slow travel type of tour and read on to find more.
The region – Beautiful Dobrogea
The Danube Delta is in Dobrogea Area, Romania, formed where the Danube River flows into the Black Sea.
Dobrogea area alternates mountains and plains, but the landscape is nowhere near similar with the Carpathians. The mountains here are the oldest in the country, arid and rocky. You could easily say that Dobrogea is completely different from the rest of Romania in all of its aspects: the food, its people ethnic diversity, architecture, and biodiversity.
Before heading for the amazing Danube Delta, a stop at Dobrogea Gorges is a must. And don’t forget to keep your camera close to capture all those beautiful creatures that inhabit this place: foxes, hares, tortoise, and the cutest of them all, the ground squirrels.
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The Danube Delta – interesting facts
It might be the second largest delta in Europe, but it is continuously growing due to the millions of alluvia that are deposited every year by the river. More than half of its territory is intact and hasn’t been touched by man-made constructions.
If you’ve never been to a delta before, expect a landscape of water canals, islands, lagoons and lush vegetation. The Delta has formed around three main channels of the Danube or distributaries. These channels are named after their respective ports: Chilia, Sulina, and Sfantu Gheorghe. They function as on water highways, the main means of transportation here being boats.
Due to the fragmentation of the land, car access is limited and this also contributes not only to the quietness of the area but also to the quality of the air. Other popular means of transportation are horse-driven carriages.
Dobrogea and the Danube Delta are the driest and sunniest region of Romania. Shade is hard to encounter and mosquitos are in their element. But with proper clothing and some bug repellant lotion, you should be just fine.
The people of Dobrogea
There are 27 villages and one city, Sulina, in the Danube Delta. Approximately 15,000 people are living here making it the least inhabited region not only in Romania but also in Europe. The main occupations are fishing and tourism.
The ethnic background of the people living here is also very diverse. Besides Romanians that are the majority, there are Ukrainians, Greeks, Turks, Gypsies, and Bulgarians. An ethnic minority that can be found only here are the Lipoveni that come from Russia.
The fisherman way of life influenced heavily the architecture and aspect of the inhabited areas. The houses have a unique aspect, painted in white and bright blue with colored flower motifs. Everywhere you look you can see fishing nets and fishing equipment displayed. To say a typical Danube Delta village is beautiful is an understatement.
The delta is home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, and mammals having the third largest biodiversity in the world. The Danube Delta Bio Reserve is famous for The Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus Crispus), world’s biggest freshwater bird.
The sand dunes are filled with tortoises, lizards and snakes.
Among the mammals, you can spot the Enot Dog (wild dogs with a ratoon type of look), wild boars, foxes, hares and wild horses. The last can be seen in Letea Forest Reserve, famous for trees more than 500 years old.
Danube Delta – the finger licking good food
If you love fish based dishes then you’re in luck. Fresh fish and derivates are the main ingredients in any meal in the Danube Delta. But that doesn’t mean you’ll eat the same thing twice. The fish is made into the famous fish soup, grilled, fried, baked, made into meatballs, stuffed into peppers and so much more.
Make sure to taste Saramura de peste (fish brine), a local specialty consisting of grilled fish that is then put in a brine with lots of salt, condiments and is served with rich polenta.
The deserts are savory and sugary: sugar powdered doughnuts and sweet bread.
To do in the Danube Delta
Bird Watching is probably the first thing that comes to mind when speaking about attractions of the Danube Delta. Here you can spot more than 300 species of birds: eagles, egrets, ibises, cormorants, pelicans and many more.
Fishing is another activity available in the area but be aware that you need a permit for it.
Other pleasant activities are discovering the surroundings by boat, sunbathing and visiting the sand dunes and Letea Forest.
In Tulcea, a nearby town, you can visit an Aquarium and a Museum to learn more about the different species of fish and animals living in the Danube Delta and also about its inhabitants.
Best way to discover the Danube Delta
While extremely enjoyable, a trip in the Danube Delta is somewhat complicated to organize by yourself. There are permits to be obtained, boat rides to be found and there are restrictions regarding some of the activities in order to preserve the environment. The best way to discover this magical land is with a local guide that knows all the ins and outs of the area, knows the best places to stay and eat and also can facilitate the best means of transportation.
Our team of certified tourist guides is always happy to share stories about Romania and our aim is to make sure you have the vacation of your dreams. Just see what other travelers are saying about us.
You can find out more about us in the contact section and see all our predefined tours. But keep in mind that we can customize any tour to suit your needs and interests. Just drop us a line and we’ll start planning your dream vacation together.