Tucked away on the edge of eastern Romania, the Danube Delta is the ideal place to reconnect with nature, get away from everything and reset your inner balance. Life is slow and untroubled, though you must see it with your eyes and experience everything the Danube Delta offers. The pieces of information found on the internet are quite elusive; therefore, I put together a complete guide to the Danube Delta, and I hope I’ll give you a glimpse of this gorgeous place. Following this article, you’ll be able to put together an excellent itinerary.
Table of Contents
Facts About the Danube Delta
The Danube River is the second-largest river in Europe and reaches nine countries until it meets the Black Sea in Romania, right after forming the second-largest Delta in Europe. The confluence point of the Danube Delta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991 and a paradise for fish and birds.
There are more than 300 resident and migratory species of birds in the Danube Delta. The region has the third-largest biodiversity globally; more than 60% of the area is unspoiled by human touch.
This unique place covers more than 5,000 square kilometers and has three main channels: Sfantu Gheorghe(St George) in the south, Sulina in the middle and Chilia in the north.
One city, Sulina, and 28 villages in the Donau Delta are reached only by water.
Places to Visit For a Complete Guide to The Danube Delta
There are many places to visit and things to do in the Danube Delta; therefore, it’s hard to choose from. Some locations can be reached by car, while others can only be reached by water. With the help of this complete guide to the Danube Delta, I hope you can plan your trip to this part of the world effortlessly.
The old town of Tulcea is the main entry gate into the Danube Delta and is also an important industrial port town. You can reach the city by car, from Constanta in almost 2 hours (130 kilometers) or Bucuresti in 3 hours and 30 minutes (300 kilometers).
Many choose Tulcea as a base for day trips to the Danube Delta. If you wish to visit Tulcea, you will need no more than a half-day, but if you are short on time, skip this part.
Danube Delta Musem
One of the best places to visit in Tulcea is the Danube Delta Museum, an exciting and informative site for adults and children. You can find out more about the Danube Delta’s flora and fauna from the aquarium on the ground floor and the exhibition of stuffed wild birds and animals on the upper floor. You will need no more than 2 hours to visit this small museum.
Address: 14 Noiembrie Street, No.1
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00, closed on Mondays.
The Azizyie Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Romania and a vital prayer place for the region’s Muslim community. What makes this place unique is the beautiful prayer room and the height of the minaret.
Address: 14 Noiembrie Street, only 200m away from the Donau Delta Museum.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
St.Nicholas Cathedral is a beautiful and imposing monument built over a century in Byzantine style on the sites of older churches. It is worth a quick stop for a moment of silence.
It is not something to include in this complete guide to the Danube Delta, but if you’ve made it to Tulcea, head to the Danube Promenade. Go for a walk along the promenade and pass the old churches, the Heroes Monument, and the old buildings dating back to the communist era.
Getting from Tulcea to Sulina
Take the speed boat or ferry from Tulcea to Sulina, where the Danube River flows into the Black Sea. You can stay for a couple of hours in Sulina, spend some time in the sun, and return later in the afternoon. Or you can stay for more days in Sulina and take day trips into the Delta from there.
Tulcea – Sulina, by speed boat, only 1 hour 15 minutes, 60Ron/adult. For reservations, departing hours, and prices, read more here.
Tulcea – Sulina, by ferry, almost 4 hours. For reservations and departing hours, read more here.
The ferry is a great option for travel between Tulcea and Sulina, but it takes longer than the speed boat.
The small village of Crisan is 7 kilometers long, with only four guesthouses. It is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the silence and the views. Situated on the Sulina Branch, it can be reached only by water.
Due to its excellent location, you can spend a few nights in Crisan and go on day boat trips to explore Sulina and Sf. Gheorghe branches. Cross the Danube Delta’s lakes and canals and visit the small villages of Mila 23 and Caraorman.
The Danube Delta joins the Black Sea at Sulina, Romania’s easternmost point. Once a famous meeting point for adventurers and traders, it is now a dozy city. With a population of less than 4.000, The port town can only be reached by water.
There is not much going on here, but you can choose Sulina as a base for day trips. Find a nice and cozy accommodation, explore the Danube Delta, lay in the sun at the Black Sea, and indulge in some traditional cuisine.
Don’t be shocked if you see a few cars in Sulina; most are used as a taxi, driving tourists between the beach and the promenade, which is a reasonably 2.5-kilometer ride.
The speed boat takes you directly to Sulina’s promenade, a colorful and vibrant part of the town. You will find many day trip proposals along the promenade, so find one that suits you and go on an adventure. Or relax at one of the many terraces and spoil yourself with a traditional Romanian meal.
The Old Lighthouse
The old Lighthouse, built in 1870, was once situated right near the confluence of the Danube into the Black Sea. The building is a small museum now, far away from the river, proof of the vast land advance.
On the way to Sulina Beach, you will bump into Sulina Cemetery. Although an exciting place, the cemetery is in poor condition. It is a mix of cultures; that’s why you will find Orthodox, Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish funeral stones.
Once you get to the beach, you will find an organized area with lounges, umbrellas, beach bars, and restaurants. If you prefer a wild stretch of beach, walk further, and you will find an empty beach. What better way to relax than laying out in the sun with a good book in your hand, listening to the waves crashing, and watching the seagulls playing around?
Sfantu Gheorghe (St. George)
The village of Sfantu Gheorghe, where the Danube river meets the Black Sea, is only accessible by boat. It is a fishing village with a population of almost 800 people. You can choose Sfantu Gheorghe as a base for your day trips in the Danube Delta, riding down the canals and exploring the sites.
Or spend a perfect holiday on an empty beach, with no one around you, only some begging seagulls. I would highly recommend staying at Green Village, a beautiful resort designed with attention to detail. If you ask me, Sfantu Gheorghe is a place you can’t miss from a complete guide to the Danube Delta.
The empty beach of Sfantu Gheorghe: such a beautiful place!
Murighiol is a beautiful small village with beautiful Slavic motifs on most houses. The name translates as “Violet Lake,” coming from the lovely reflection of Murighiol’s lake in the evening. Once a Turkish community, it is now a tourism hub of the Danube Delta.
While many choose Tulcea, Sulina, or Sfantu Gheorghe as a gateway to the Danube Delta, I highly recommend choosing Murighiol. The best part is that you can reach Murighiol by car or by boat. If you wish to kick almost everything from this guide to the Danube Delta, Murighiol is the place to start.
There is plenty of accommodation and plenty of boat trips to choose from. It is also connected to the Sfantu Gheorghe branch, canals, and lakes. From Murighiol, you can blend adventure and wildlife with relaxation and comfort.
Situated on a hill and close to Murighiol, the village of Uzlina was home to a Lipovan fishing community for more than 200 years. Nowadays, besides fishing, Lipovans also deal with tourism. You can enjoy the silence and explore the wonders of the Danube Delta from one of the fancy accommodations. Remember, Uzlina can only be reached by boat.
Home to the Olympic canoe champion Ivan Patzaichin, Mila 23 is one of the most visited villages in the Danube Delta. Reached only by boat, you can spend a couple of days at Mila 23 and take boat trips from here.
A visit to Mila 23 takes no more than one hour. But first, take a walk around the village and admire the colorful houses, alleys, old boats, and fishing nets. The first thing you’ll bump into as soon as you get out of the boat is an honor panel of the Olympic achievements of men and women born and raised in Mila 23.
After strolling around the village, relax at one of the terraces and enjoy a cold drink away from the burning sun.
Caraorman, or “Black Forest,” is an old fishermen’s village, also reachable by boat. Ceausescu planned to build a glass company on this sandy establishment, but this never occurred after the revolution in 1989. So, instead, you will witness abandoned residential buildings constructed for the employees.
Now, the only inhabitants of the buildings are the donkeys, who go upstairs searching for coolness in the summer months. Don’t be afraid of them; they will pose in your selfies in exchange for some treats. Don’t worry: you won’t miss the donkeys! They will be greeting you as soon as you disembark the boat.
If your time allows you, you can tour the Caraorman Forest. The four-wheel drive must be prearranged in advance, so let your boatman or accommodation know. In the forest, you can spot 400-year-old oaks that are growing from sand.
One of the best things you can’t miss from a complete guide to the Danube Delta is a trip to Padurea Letea. Dating back to 1938, It is the oldest nature reserve in the country. Completely underwater once, now Letea Forest is Europe’s northernmost subtropical forest. It is one of the few places in Europe where you can witness wild horses.
The small town of Babadag can be reached by car. There is not much going on, but you can incorporate it into your itinerary if you have plenty of time.
Mosque “Gazi Ali Paşa”
Gazi Ali Pasa is an old Turkish mosque dated around the 16 century. Although restored and beautiful, there is not much information around, so there is nothing more to do here besides taking some pictures.
Address: Geamiei Street, Babadag
Sari Saltuk Baba Dede Memorial
The memorial was built in 1484 in honor of Sari Saltuk Baba Dede, the Babadag town’s founder. Around the 12 century, Sari Saltuk asked permission from the Emperor to settle in the area together with the 10,000 Turkish families he was leading.
Address: Macin Street, Babadag
Accessible by car, The old village of Dobrudja is the place to be if you want to get away from everything and my favorite place from this complete guide to the Danube Delta.
Enisala Safari Village
Enisala Safari Village is a beautiful and quiet place to indulge in the beauty of the Danube Delta. if you want a Dobudjan country experience, that’s the place to be.
We spent a few nights at Enisala Safari Village, a place where we could reconnect to nature. We woke up early in the rooster crow and enjoyed a delicious homemade breakfast and a coffee with a fortress view. What we loved the most here were the locals running this accommodation: always kind, with a smile on their faces, ready to help us, give bits of advice and make us feel at home!
Enisala Homestead Museum
If you want to learn more about the Dobrudjan country life, pay a visit to the Enisala Homestead Museum. The beautiful small museum includes a house with two rooms, a porch, and a few annexes for animals, utensils, and a kitchen. You will love the blue color of the facade and the traditional Danube Delta reed thatched roof.
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The medieval fortress of Enisala was built between the 13th and 14th centuries on a hill at an altitude of 116 meters. The fort played a commercial and political role, being one of the Black Sea’s best Genovese communities.
It’s worth a visit for its position on top of the hill, which offers lovely views over the valley, Babadag town, and Razim Lake.
TIP. For the best sunset in this complete guide to the Danube Delta, head to Enisala Fortress, as the panorama around this time of the day is gorgeous.
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 20:00
Address: 2 kilometers outside the village. You can’t miss it since you will spot it from a distance.
The nearby Razim Lake, named after a Cossack leader, is the largest in the country, with a surface area of 415 square kilometers. It has a maximum measurement of 3,5 meters and small depths of 1,5 – 2 meters. The lake is an essential sweet water reservoir for irrigation and fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. A visit to the lake and the nearby area is something you shouldn’t skip.
The beautiful village on Razim Lake is another excellent option when it comes to experiencing the Dobrudjan lifestyle. The place is quiet, laid down, easy to reach by car, and still far from the unleased world. Walk around the sleepy village and cherish the houses painted in blue.
Once here, head to the lakeshore and admire the typical small wooden boats called “Lotca.” Take a moment to indulge in the beauty of the place before walking to the nearby Russian Orthodox church. You will be amazed by the gold domes and the blue exterior, which is very different from other churches in Romania. The village is home to a large community of Lipovans, so if you want to admire their costumes, head to the church for the Sunday morning service.
If you want to stay in Sarichioi, I highly recommend Casa Filip, which is a few steps from Lake Razim. For a memorable and authentic stay, it is definitely a go-to!
Another hidden gem of the Danube Delta is the Gura Portitei village, where the Danube meets the Black Sea. It’s a little piece of heaven, great for relaxation, sunbathing, and taking long walks on the shore.
To reach Gura Portitei, you’ll have to drive to the small village of Jurilovca. From here, embark on a speed boat, and in no more than 30 minutes, you will reach this beautiful place on earth.
Note. Prices for the speed boat at Jurilovca tend to be lower when booked in advance. Ask your host to assist you with booking one. We booked in advance and paid 60 Ron for a return ticket/person. Otherwise, a boatman will approach you, who will charge you more for a return ticket/person. The difference is not huge, so don’t go crazy if you can’t schedule it before. Another thing to keep in mind: you’ll have to let your boatman know the return hour. In case you change your mind about the return hour, ask for his phone number and call him one hour before the scheduled time.
Once you get to Gura Portitei, you’ll bump into the restaurant area. Head to the beach and leave behind the organized beach area.
Overlooking the sea, take it to the right, leave the tent area behind and walk a little bit further. You’ll have an empty beach all to yourselves. Relax, lay in the sun, swim, and do nothing! You will definitely forget about everything here. If you get hungry, return to the restaurant and have a delicious traditional fish dish.
Things to Do for a Complete Guide to The Danube Delta
Taking boat rides in the Danube Delta
The number one purpose for visiting the Danube Delta is to take at least one boat tour. You can arrange it through your accommodation, search online and try to find a private guide, or head to the harbor and find a boatman.
The boat will take you through narrow channels and many lakes, and you’ll have the chance to get a glimpse of what this part of the world has to offer. Bring your binoculars and discover life in its most beautiful form.
We arranged it through our accommodation, which I think is the best option, but finding someone willing to take you on a required route is hard to find. We had some struggles with our boatman at first, but as soon as he realized what we were looking for, everything went perfectly. As we came prepared with a map, we could explain what we would like to see and where we would like to go. With some suggestions from his side, we planned two beautiful day trips in the Danube Delta.
Note. We used Murighiol as a starting point for our two-day boat trips. Each boat trip took almost 10 hours; as a group of four, we paid €250 for the boat. It might sound expensive, but it was all worthwhile as we discovered many beautiful hidden gems and covered more than 150km in almost 10 hours per day.
Bring your binoculars and discover life in its most beautiful form.
Fishing in the Danube Delta
The second purpose of visiting the Danube Delta is fishing, which is practiced all year round (except the 60-day prohibition period). The Danube Delta is home to more than 160 species of fresh and saltwater fishes. There are 30 areas where fishing is allowed in the Danube Delta, and the best places are the Crisan Channel, Vatafu Channel, Olguta Channel, and Fortuna Lake.
Touring a winery while in the Daube Delta area
No visit to the Danube Delta is complete without touring one of the few wineries of the region: Macin, Niculitel, or La Sapata. The Dobrudja region is characterized by a lot of sunshine and low rainfall. Try some autochthonous wine varieties such as Fetească Alba, Feteasca Neagra, or Feteasca Regala.
Hiking the Macin Mountains
Hiking the oldest mountains in Romania, a mix of forest and grassland, should be something you can’t miss from this complete guide to the Danube Delta. You will be impressed by a large number of flowers and medicinal plants. While roaming around, you might bump into some turtles, a common thing in Macin Mountains.
Discovering the Community of Lippovan Russians
Lippovan Russians are descendants of the main Russian Orthodox Church, fled from religious persecution in the 18th century, and settled in Dobrudja and Eastern Muntenia.
If you want to meet them and see their colorful traditional costumes, head to the church for the Sunday morning service.
On our last night at Enisala Village, our host surprised us by inviting some Lipovan Russians from Sarichioi to entertain us. It was a pleasant surprise since we had never listened to this kind of music.
A Complete Guide to The Danube Delta – Our Itinerary
Day 1. Touring Enisala, Sarichioi and Babadag
We woke up late on our first day in the Danube Delta as the weather didn’t seem promising. Our base camp was Enisala Safari Village, a beautiful, quiet place. After pampering ourselves with a delicious homemade breakfast, we wrote down some ideas. With the help of a good cup of coffee, the four of us made a pretty good plan for the days to come.
We started our day with a visit to the Enisala Fortress and enjoyed the views from above.
Another highlight of Enisala was Enisala Homestead Musem, a real surprise as we didn’t expect to see so many exhibits.
For lunch, we headed to Babadag. The town doesn’t offer much, but a good meal was more than welcome. We made a quick stop at the Mosque “Gazi Ali Paşa” and “Sari Saltuk” memorial.
After that, we drove to Sarichioi and spent some time on the shore of Razim Lake.
We walked a little bit through the village, visited the nearby church, and got a sneak peek inside the “Casa Filip” homestay. Although not a place to visit, we got permission to get inside and see the interior. We even got up in the tower to snap a pic of the village from above.
We ended our first day embraced by silence and washing down a delicious fish and “mamaliga” dish accompanied by a glass of red wine of Dobrudja, witnessing the most beautiful sunset!
Day 2. Boat Trip: Murighiol – Uzlina – Isac Lake – Litcov Chanel -Ciamurlia Chanel – Crisan – Sulina Branch – Sulina – Murighiol
We woke up early this morning, and the host was kind enough to pack some sandwiches for us. After a 45-minute drive, we reached Murighiol, where we met our boatman. After a quick brainstorming session, we left the shore soon after. We spent the day on the boat looking around, admiring nature, birdwatching, exclaiming every time we saw cormorants, pelicans, egrets, swans, bitterns, and many more.
We spotted many pelicans on Lake Isac and cruised through the Danube Delta channels until we reached the Sulina Branch and, last, Sulina village. After so many hours spent on the boat, the walk to the beach was more than welcome. We had a delicious lunch at one of the terraces along the promenade. After the little retrain, we got to the boat and returned from Sulina straight to Murighiol.
Day 3. Leisure Time at Gura Portitei
Our third day was a day spent at the beach. We prearranged a boat to take us to Gura Portitei from Jurilovca in the morning, and in no more than 30 minutes, we reached the shore. We left behind the assigned area for umbrellas and lounges, passed by the few tents, and found a secluded spot only for the four of us. It was truly incredible to find a beautiful private beach away from everything. We picked up shelves, swam, and relaxed all day long. Before our embarking time, we pampered ourselves with a delicious fish meal and a cold drink.
Picking up shells and relaxing all day long at Gura Portitei beach.
Once at Enisala, we hiked to Ensiala Fortress to witness the sunset over the valley.
Beautiful views over the valley at sunset from Enisala Fortress.
Day 4. Boat Trip: Murighiol – Isac Lake – Obretinu Mic Lake – Crisan – Dunarea Veche – Mila 23 – Caraorman Chanel – Caraorman – Puiu Lake – Erenciuc Lake – Caraorman Chanel – Caraorman – Sfantu Gheorghe – Sfantu Gheorghe Branch – Murighiol
We woke up early once again and drove to Murighiol to meet our boatman. This day was sunnier and warmer, so we couldn’t wait to navigate different channels, see new places, and recognize more birds.
The boatman guided the boat through many narrow channels and passed various lakes, and we had the chance to see many pelicans, swans, marsh harriers, and many more.
We toured Mila 23 and embraced the beauty of the village. After that, we visited Caraorman village and took plenty of photos with the donkeys.
Our last stop was at Sfantu Gheorghe village, the oldest inhabited area in the Danube Delta. The beach was mostly deserted, so we had a beach all to ourselves.
Day 5. Visiting Tulcea and spending some time at the beach in Sulina
On our fifth day, we decided to drive to Tulcea and spend some time here. The town didn’t have much to offer, but still enough to cover a few hours of our spare time. After that, we embarked on a speed boat to Sulina, where we spent some leisure time at the beach.
A Complete Guide to The Danube Delta. Conclusions
Spring is the best time to visit the Danube Delta if you want to see the water lilies blooming.
Summertime is perfect if you love the sun and the heat; however, that is when mosquitos are the most aggressive.
Early autumn is excellent for birdwatching, taking boat trips, and discovering new places.
Remember to purchase a visitor’s permit upon discovering the Delta by boat. There are plenty of mosquitos, so bring insect repellent and wear long sleeves. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and SPF protection, especially in summer.
Most hotels, restaurants, and activities run only from May to September.
Getting places can be tricky, and the area takes life at a slower pace, but that is the beauty of the Danube Delta.
If you’re heading to this part of Romania, make sure to visit as many places as possible from this complete guide to the Danube Delta.
A Complete Guide to The Danube Delta. Interactive Map – Points of Interest
Underneath, you’ll find a customized map that includes the locations you will visit during this hike. Just open up this article on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. The Google Maps app will open, and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!
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