The Danube River will pass through ten countries and four continents before it empties into the Black Sea. It is one of the longest rivers in Europe and the second-largest, most well-preserved river delta in Europe. This is The Danube Delta Romania.
People are starting to realise how beautiful Romania is, and the cost of travel in Romania is also very appealing – it’s not surprising Romania’s pristine wilderness areas like Transylvania and the Danube Delta are becoming more popular with visitors to Europe.
The Danube Delta Europes Best Kept Secret
Planning to visit Romania and want to include something different? A few days cruising the Danube Delta or staying in a Danube Delta floating hotel is one of the most welcome reprieves from the world one could ask for.
We had no idea we even needed some time out until we arrived. A tranquil stillness washes over you and the relaxed; nothing is a problem attitude of the locals is infectious.
The Delta is A Special and Unique Experience
We felt ourselves exhale and allowed ourselves to be led by a man who spoke less English than we Romanian.
Regardless of the language barrier, for three days he and his wife shared the delta with us in a way, we could have never experienced on an organised tour. This was one of those unexpected encounters that will stay with us, especially our own private Danube Delta cruise.
The Best Time to Visit the Danube Delta
Danube Delta Bird Migrations
The Danube Delta comes alive in late spring and early summer when countless bird species visit the delta to breed. This is also one of the best times to visit Europe if planning a wider itinerary. It is during this breeding time that the bird’s colours are at their most brilliant and flocks can be in the thousands.
Fishing Season on the Danube Delta
With over 160 species of fish, fishing in the Danube Delta is a mecca for fresh and saltwater anglers. The Danube Delta fishing season is open April and July to October.
If you are looking for other things to do in the Danube Delta, summer also offers plenty of local celebrations, carnivals and festivals.
About The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve
There is a natural calm on the Danube Delta. Time seems to slow to suit the surroundings, a pace that allows you to appreciate this unique wilderness fully.
Included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is one of Romania’s biggest tourist attractions. Comparatively, very few seem to visit even though there are plenty of Danube Delta boat cruises and tours.
Only around 20,000 people live in the delta region, and even so, they are mostly grouped in 27 or so small towns and the larger city of Sulina. With an average of two inhabitants per km², the Danube Delta is still considered a “wild” place.
How the Danube Delta Forms
Thanks to millions of tonnes of river deposits, the delta grows over 40 meters each year. A landscape that will forever be forming, the Danube Delta is described as Europe’s newest land.
How Big is the Danube Delta?
The Danube Delta is made up of over 2,200 square miles of continually evolving rivers, canals, wetland marshes, reed islands and tree-lined lakes. This unique setting, where nature still takes its course, is a naturalist’s paradise. The Delta is an untouched land.
Danube Delta Wildlife and Fauna
Recognised as being in the top three most diverse delta ecosystems in the world, the Danube Delta is a sanctuary to over 300 species of bird and 160 fish species.
Altogether, nearly 3,500 species of animal and 1,700 species of plant can be found in the Biosphere Reserve. Danube Delta bird watching would be the highlight of any keen twitchers birding career.
Bird Watching on the Danube Delta
Even the most novice of twitchers will delight in the variety of birdlife. Millions of Egyptian white pelicans arrive each spring to breed and raise their young.
Large numbers of Arctic geese come to escape the northern European winters as well as a vast variety of migratory birds from all over the world. Some come from as far away as Africa and China. The delta has one of the highest concentrations of bird colonies in Europe. A rare and beautiful sight.
The Danube Delta is an Ideal getaway for Nature Lovers
This is the ideal place to get away from it all for a few days and truly appreciate nature. Cruise the river systems surrounded by a sea of lush green, followed by the constant call of the cuckoo.
Fishing shacks hidden behind trees and up the tiniest of streams reveal a quiet world of industry. Fishermen tend to their daily chores without the sense of urgency of the modern world. Nature sets the pace on the Danube Delta.
How to Visit The Danube Delta
If you plan on visiting the Danube Delta as part of your Romania itinerary, we recommend setting aside at least two full days for the experience.
It is possible to do day trips to the Danube Delta from Bucharest for those who are short on time. However, if you are relying on a tour to get to this magnificent wilderness, at least try to go on a one night / two day tour.
If travelling to the Delta independently, it is easy enough to get to. Allow yourself a few days to explore and enjoy the laid-back, friendly hospitality of the people who live on the Danube Delta.
Where is the Danube Delta and How to Get There
- Tulcea is 174 miles south of Bucharest.
- Trains and buses run daily. Expect travel times of up to 6 hours. Check Tourism Romania for up to date information on transport.
- From Tulcea, you will find ferry and regional bus services.
- Take a Danube Delta Tour from Bucharest – See below in Danube Delta Tours for more tours.
Where to Stay on The Danube Delta
Depending on what you enjoy; whether it’s fishing, photography or twitching, you could spend a few days on the delta, or even a couple of weeks.
On the Delta
On the delta, you will find guest houses and even the occasional Danube Delta floating hotel giving you easy access to The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve.
A Small Town Within The Bio Reserve
We chose to stay in the small town of Murighiol which was the perfect base for us to spend two days exploring the delta.
The City of Tulcea
On the western edge of the reserve is the city of Tulcea, the gateway to the delta. With a population of 92,000, it is a comparatively large tourist city. Unless you need the services of a large city, a stay on the delta or in one of the small towns within the delta reserve is much more conducive to the Danube Delta experience.
Accommodation on The Danube Delta
Tulcea has many large hotels and resorts to suit any price range. You can check current rates here.
If you want to venture beyond Tulcea and into the delta area, you will find many guesthouses, small resorts and various hotels such as floating hotels.
We chose to stay in a delightful guesthouse in Murighiol, a nice ensuite room in this lovely property cost around €30/night.
You will find prices starting as low as €15/night in a basic villa. Expect as high as €65+/night for boutique resorts on the delta waterfront.
Danube Delta Tours
There are many types of tour available on the delta catering to all interests. Cruises catering specifically to photography, bird watching or fishing. Or, simply to explore the delta and visit secluded beaches or villages. There are also options for boat hire.
Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Permit
Be aware, visitors to the delta require a permit to enter the Biosphere Reserve. If you are on a tour, these will be included in your tour price. If you are visiting the reserve independently, they can be purchased at travel agencies and hotels or from the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Administration. The current fee is 10 RON (~€2.20)
Delta Tours from Tulcea
There are many tour operators leaving from Tulcea. Expect ~250 RON per person (~€55 pp) for a full day tour from Tulcea, on a shared charter of approx 12 people.
Small Group or Private Tours
We opted to go with the tours offered by our accommodation house. 320RON (~€70) for a private charter of 4 hours. We took two 4 hour cruises over two days.
While this cost us, as a couple 140 RON (~€30) more than the same time cruising as the Tulcea option, we had the boat to ourselves, were not limited by a preset itinerary and were able to split our time on the delta over two, less tiring days.
A small private boat charter would also be a much cheaper option for groups or families. So depending on the experience you are looking for, it would be wise to shop around.