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The Danube Delta is a place full of life where the river embraces the sea, splitting into the numerous arms of a mysterious, surreally beautiful labyrinth. It suffices to pass through these places once and you irrecoverably fall in love with this wild nature corner, a paradise for flying creatures shooting up from nowhere. From the very first waves, you are taken over by the Delta’s vibe, by the welcoming people luring you with delicious fish dishes or by the tales told by the fire.

Here, in the fishing villages, man and nature live together in harmony and life gains a whole new meaning.  Away from the crowded traffic of the noisy villages and the restlessness of shopping centers, the Lippovans especially deal themselves with fishing.  Starting their day before sunrise, they take their empty boats and set out on water paths, from which they return loaded with fresh fish to cook delicious meals. Tourists are treated to a feast, the most popular dish being the fish soup.

Danube Delta


Danube Delta

The Water Paradise in the Danube Delta

Between its four arms -Tulcea, Chilia, Sulina and Sfantu Gherghe-, the Danube swings you on its canals, over clear or muddier lakes surrounded by solitary willows and poplar forests. The boats make room through the reeds, moving the small floating islands colored by white or yellow water lilies. The birds’ svelte silhouettes are mirrored in the water, as well as the treetops of the stately oaks and elms on the shore. The Delta quivers both at its depths and surface; stop the rowing and you will see the undulation of the fish which made this place famous. The beluga, the Delta carp, the sturgeon, the pike, the perch or the Black Sea shad populate the waters of the Danube. Birds reign over the crystal waters. The Delta is a true paradise for pelicans, cormorants, swans, shelducks, eagles, herons, storks, whose flight creates a natural performance.  Wild ducks also hide behind the reeds, frightened by the noise of the motor boats.

From Tulcea, the Danube calls you to discover its fascinating world, luring you with the smell of the sea and its fish.  From along its four arms, the river takes you to places ideal for relaxation, where you can charge your batteries from nature’s core. The only way to take advantage of all the Delta’s treasures is to explore it by boat. You can choose the classic passenger boats, from whose decks you will have a splendid view of the sights.  The length of the trip diminishes if you choose a speedboat, a catamaran or private motorboats. The last ones guarantee transportation to any location in the Delta. An unusual option would be the floating hotels, whose boarding space is on deck; you will thus be able to enjoy different sceneries every day, always heading for a new destination. We recommend you to check the departing schedule before you set out on a trip.

Up to Chilia, Sulina, Sfantu Gheorghe or Gura Portitei, the Delta unveils strips of land enclosed by canals, beaches of fine sand or long forgotten Roman fortresses. These are objectives worth including in your trip, in order to learn about the history of the place and the hidden treasures of the Delta.

Danube Delta


Gura Portitei

The Delta Monastery

If you are on the Chilia arm, don’t hesitate to visit the only monastery in the Danube Delta. Set on the Stipoc sand bank, the 'Saint Atanasie' skete offers lodgings in a welcoming place to those who want to spend a few quiet days there. The construction is recent and houses a few monks who will quench your thirst with the cold clear water from the fountain in the yard. Make a stopover and take shelter from the torridity of the Delta, then continue your itinerary to Maliuc, near which you can find Gorgova and Furtuna lakes.

Bluish Villages in the Delta

From Maliuc, on the Sulina arm, you get to a streetless village with dusty alleys, where access is done only on water. In Mila 23, the native village of the Romanian canoeist Ivan Patzaichin, every Lippovan has a back yard garage to park his boat in. All the houses here are painted in blue calcimine, a shade which keeps the mosquitoes away, according to the locals. Nearly 200 years ago, the Russians who refused to obey Tsar Peter and to accept the modifications of the religious canons settled on the Mila 23 hill. The Lippovans here are said to be the most skillful fishermen in the Delta. A lot of families here offer lodgings in their own homes and treat the guests to the most savory fish dishes. However, you can also go for trailer camps with reed roofed, wooden bungalows or tents.

Danube Delta


Bluish villages

Fine Sand at Sulina

Leaving Mila 23, the arm continues its course through Crisan up to Sulina. It is said that the harbor was built here in the 7th or 6th century BC, when the first colonies populated the shore of Euxinus Pontus. After 1000 years, it represented the border with the Roman Empire. More relevant data appeared in the 18th century, a period when the Turks headed to Constantinople on the only navigable arm back then, namely Sulina. A century later, it became an important city for the European fluvial traffic.

The symbol of the city is the lighthouse, the main navigation signal in the Delta. Built at the end of the 19th century on the Danube’s right shore, it has been set up as a museum. At Sulina, one can also find a most charming beach, rarely visited by the tourists. Those who know the area come here to enjoy the quietness of a virgin place and the very fine sand of an isolated place, ideal for relaxation.

Sulina lighthouse


Danube Delta

The Danube Delta, Pages of History

The first important stop on the Sfantul Gheorghe arm is Mahmudia, a location with wild sceneries and many places where you can set up a tent. One can find here the evidence of the Salsovia Roman fortification, a citadel which in the 3rd century functioned as a Roman castrum, later becoming an annex to the Roman military legions.

On the way to Murighiol one can pass by Lake Omonim, rich in salts and mineralized mud, which is used therapeutically. People also fish intensely here for the sunset feast consisting in fish borsch. 2 kilometers from Murighiol, on the highway heading to Dunavat, one can see the ruins of the Halmyris Roman fort, located in a place rich in natural resources and favorable for water transport. According to archeological research, the place has been inhabited starting with the 6th century BC. Some of the fortification walls have been rebuilt and most of the fort can be visited.

Enisala, the only medieval fortress in Dobrogea, stands on the tall promontory between Babadag and Razim Lakes. Built in the 18th or 19th century by the Genevieve colonies, Enisala was under Wallachia’s jurisdiction for a while, but later became a garrison of The Otoman Empire. Abandoned by the Turks, the fortress turned to ruins in time. However, you can still visit it, as there is an access path leading to the entrance gate.   

On the Tulcea arm, there is yet another historical evidence: the Greco-Roman fortress Arganum, founded by the Greeks in Asia Minor in the 7th century BC. The ruins are at about 7 km from Jurilovca, on the shore of Lake Razelm. The fortress represents the first ancient settlement in Romania mentioned in a written source in the Antiquity. The research carried out here has revealed monuments specific to the organization of the Greek funerary space, a network of alleys and streets, gateways and a Paleochristian basilica.

Danube Delta


Danube Delta

Sfantul Gheorghe, the Place Where the Danube and the Black Sea Meet

At the end of the arm, where the Danube meets the Black Sea, there spreads a nonconventional place to say the least, one as from another time. Sfantul Gheorghe is a small, end of the world village, with sand covered alleys and welcoming locals who offer lodgings. You get to the beach either by minicar, which leaves from the center of the village or on foot.  The Delta has hidden the most beautiful virgin beach on the shoreline here. The fine sand forms small dunes among dwarfing plants here and there, and the only sounds belong to the sea and the birds. A surprising presence is that of the cows, left by the locals to walk freely and drink from the sea.

Not far from the Sfantul Gheorghe arm, Sacalin Island has formed on the Black Sea, a bastion of absolute wilderness. Declared a biosphere reserve, it is the main area where hundreds of migrating birds from all over the world nest, feed and winter. Among them – colonies of sandwich terns and dalmatian pelicans. The waters shelter rare species of fish (sturgeons) and plants, like the sea kale and the water mudwort. To keep the beauty of the island unaltered, tourist access is absolutely forbidden, but you can still enjoy the views by taking a boat ride on the nearby waters.

Uninitiated tourists can easily get lost in this enigmatic labyrinth of canals, packed with wild vegetation. One is quickly lured by the beauty of the lakes, the birds' flight and the colors of an idyllic landscape, forgetting where one has started the journey or the destination place. If you are staying with one of the locals, they will usually take you for a ride with their own boat. Hence, we recommend a few routes, marking Delta’s must see objectives.

Danube Delta


Danube Delta

Tulcea - Mila 35 Canal - Garla Sireasa - Garla Sontea - Olguta Canal - Dunarea Veche - Mila 23 - Crisan - Maliuc - Tulcea Route. You will see many different ecosystems, very narrow lakes and canals, almost impracticable during certain periods of the year.

Tulcea - Litcov Canal - Crisan Canal - Caraorman - Maliuc - Tulcea Route. On this route you can find the Caraorman forest, with the most developed sand dunes in the Delta, reaching heights of up to 10 meters. Tourists are attracted to 'the kneeling oak', an over 400 years tree whose branches reach the ground. Under its shade there is the Hunters' Fountain and a reproduction after The Table of Silence, together creating a space propitious for a few moments' rest. Locals can be reliable tourist guides; don’t hesitate to ask them for information or explanations.

Tulcea - Maliuc - Crisan Canal - Caraorman - Puiu Lake - Lacul Rosu - Imputita - Busurca Canal - Sulina - Tulcea Route. Make a stop at the Rosu tourist base, where you can relax fishing, admiring the gracious birds and the water lilies.

Murighiol - Dunavat Canal - Dranov Canal - Holbina Golf - Razim Lake - Gura Portitei Route. The Razim-Sinoe lagoon complex on this itinerary is part of the Danube Delta biosphere reserve. The alluvions carried by the Danube and the drift of the seashore currents contributed to the formation of this complex. Histria Fortress, the oldest city in Romania, is situated on the shore of Lake Sinoe. It was founded in the 7th century BC by the colonizers from Milet and torn down by the Avaro-Slavs ten centuries later. Archeological digging brought up 'the sacred area', with temples dedicated to Zeus and Aphrodite, a street network dating from imperial times and many other monuments from the Roman-Byzantine epoch: basilicas, public squares, stores, neighborhoods, sculptures and ceramics.    

Jurilovca - Gura Portitei Route. At Gura Portitei, another small Lippovan village with white-bluish houses, there is a wonderful beach to be enjoyed with the entire family. It is set up with chaise longues and reed roofed umbrellas, it has a playground for children, a small pool and a tennis court. 

Dunarea Veche - Eracle Canal - Garla Lopatna - Lopatna Canal - Trei Iezere Lake Route. In the Letea forest, a bit further from Dunarea Veche, the wild horses reign over the territory. They are only disturbed by the wild-tailed eagle, an endangered species which make a good couple with the lordly horses in this landscape.

Dunarea Veche - Magearu Canal - Dunarea Veche - Sulina Arm Route. Upstream from Sulina, at the connection with Dunarea Veche there is an area often frequented by tourists and recreational fishermen, who camp here.  

Fish soup

Discover the Danube Delta

There are no worries, agglomeration or high tech in the Delta, only welcoming people willing to give advice and the wild nature, of an overwhelming beauty. The lianas sway in the wind, birds nest in reeds and rush, water lilies float around, coloring the glitter of the water. The splendor of the place surrounds you from all sides – islets, sand banks, lagoons, floating reed islets, the buzz and murmur of the creatures. The fishermen’s boats stir the Delta from sunrise to sunset.

The place where the Danube meets the Sea, where fierce storms always leave a rainbow behind, where the sunrises and the sunsets make up a unique image – this is the Danube Delta. Feel the genuine relaxation on the fine sand beaches, for you will never find a more liberating feeling than swimming in the waters of the Danube as they flow into the Black Sea.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]