How to plan your trip to Danube DeltaPosted in Adventure / Hiking, Culinary, Inspiration, Nature / Sightseeing
What is Danube Delta?
Your dream trip to Romania must definitely include a visit to the Danube Delta. Located in the SE part of the country, the region offers a safe travel environment, with plenty of distancing due to its natural landscape. But what makes it so special after all?
There are numerous ways to describe the Danube Delta. Geographically, it is the newest land in Europe, formed by the Danube River before emptying into the Black Sea. It is a UNESCO heritage site and a Biosphere Reserve which has the third-largest biodiversity on Earth (following the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador).
Touristically, Danube Delta offers endless stretches of water, abundant vegetation, and impressive bird and fish species. It's the perfect environment if you plan a trip away from civilization.
If this sounds attractive to you, see below how you can get there and what activities are available.
When to visit it
Although some of the accommodation facilities in Danube Delta are operated throughout the entire year, the best season to visit the Delta is during the springtime (months May - June). During this period most of the migrating bird species would have arrived already, laid their eggs, and have their chicks. Besides this, vegetation would be of beautiful green color and temperatures should not be too high.
The only season when I would avoid visiting Danube Delta is winter. As most of the access is by boat, when the canals are frozen you simply can not travel unless you are a real adventurer!
How to get there
The main entering gate for Danube Delta is the city of Tulcea and you can get there either by car or by train from Bucharest (about 4 hrs driving). From Tulcea, the access is entirely by boat and tourists have two options:
- Public riverboats, which have once-a-day rides on the three main canals towards either Periprava, Sulina, or Sfantu Gheorghe.
- Private transfers, which are usually provided by the owners of the hotels where you book your accommodation.
Where to stay in Danube Delta
Spending a few nights in the Danube Delta will charge your batteries and help you get rid of all your stress gathered at work. I must say though, that there aren't too many options when it comes to accommodation facilities. Actually, there are two...or maybe three, if you like camping, types of properties you can choose from:
- The luxury resorts (4 and 5 stars). There aren't so many and the prices are a bit more expensive, especially during the high season (May - September). However, they offer great accommodation and restaurant facilities. They have thorough cleanliness standards in place, large rooms and you know exactly what you get for your money.
- Guesthouses (pensiuni - as we call them in Romania) can be a good option if you want to get to know the locals and their customs more closely. Unfortunately, not all of them are of good taste when it comes to the architecture of the building, rooms furnishing, or bathroom facilities. I am not saying that all of them are bad. A good example of great restoration of an old local house is Casa Filip from Sarichioi village. Although it is located on the continental part of the delta, staying here will get you a real taste of Dobrogean traditions.
As such, my suggestion is to go for a guesthouse only if this was previously recommended to you by a friend or a local tour guide.
Top activities in Danube Delta
If you choose Danube Delta as a trip destination, you would generally expect a quiet place where you can relax and enjoy nature. And this is mainly what you get in the delta. However, there are a series of other attractive activities which you can do.
Taking a trip to Danube Delta without a boat tour on its infinite canals and lakes simply doesn't count! You can choose from powerful comfortable motorboats to canoes, depending on your preferences. If you are not familiar with the area, my suggestion is to go for a guided boat tour. The skipper/driver/guide will know exactly which canals are more spectacular and will also tell you more about the countless bird species around. Choose sunsets - they are really spectacular in the delta!
There is an endless number of destinations where you can head on your boat tour. Below I will only mention a couple of them, which are more popular:
- Mila 23 - a remote village in the middle of the Delta. The place is also known as the home-village of Ivan Patzaichin, 4-times winner of the Gold medal at the Olympic Games. Also, you can still see here traditional houses, with light blue woodwork and reeds roofs.
- Letea forest - a natural gem of Danube Delta. It offers a rare landscape in Romania, with subtropical forest and sand dunes. The forest is also home to a numerous population of wild horses, which are really spectacular to see.
- Sulina - is a small fishing port to Danube Delta and the Black Sea. As strange as it may sound, its cemetery is unique in Europe, being the resting place for people of 21 nationalities, princesses, businessmen, and other important figures. Sulina offers also a large virgin beach, far less crowded than any other in Romania.
Danube Delta is home to more than 300 bird species. Most of them are nestling here during springtime and leave in the autumn, offering enhancing experiences. A trip to Danube Delta becomes a delight not only for the passionate ornithologists but also for photographers or simple nature lovers.
Delicious local cuisine
Initially, I was skeptical about including eating in the TOP activities sections, but then I realized that eating is a TOP ACTIVITY in Danube Delta. Countless fish species cooked in as many dishes will delight you. Local recipes are generally simple but very flavorous, transforming every meal of the day into a celebration of taste.
Besides fried or grilled fish, the locals are preparing a delicious fish soup, called borsh. It is commonly known that the best borsh is made with Danube water, but of course, this is just a saying. It refers to that fact here it is only cooked with fresh fish, just taken out of the water.