Have you ever wanted to spend a wonderful vacation in a place that seems to be out of this world, with lots of animals and vegetation and locals inviting you to their feasts full of traditional food prepared exactly like our ancestors? Well, look no further. The Danube Delta offers all and even more.

After passing through several countries from its springs in Germany’s Black Forest and collecting the water from countless hydrological basins, the Danube empties into the Black Sea just south of the Ukrainian border. The Danube Delta (Delta Dunării), included in Unesco’s World Heritage list (from 1991), is one of Romania’s leading tourist attractions.

view fom Crisan village

Right after the Volga Delta, the Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe, and is the best preserved on the continent. In Romania (more precisely in Tulcea County), lies the greater part of the Danube Delta, while the rest of it, the northern part, is situated in Ukraine (Odessa Oblast).

At Tulcea, the river splits into three separate channels: Kilia (in the north), Sulina (in the middle) and St. Gheorghe (in the south) arms, creating a constantly evolving vast wetland of marshes, floating reed islets and sandbars.

a boat in the reeds on the danube delta

The region provides sanctuary for 300 species of bird and 160 species of fish. Among these, reeds form one of the largest single expanses in the world, Letea and Caraorman forests represent the northern limit for two rare species of oak. The delta is a haven for wildlife lovers, birdwatchers, fishers and anyone wanting to get away from it all for a few days. There are beautiful, hidden beaches at both Sulina and St. Gheorghe, and the fish and seafood that visitors can eat, particularly the fish soup, are the best in Romania.

Crisan geese

Without doubt, the impressive  range of habitats and species which occupy a relatively small area makes the Danube Delta a vital centre for biodiversity in Europe, and a natural genetic bank with incalculable value for global natural heritage. The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the world (over 5,500 flora and fauna species), exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador. Not surprisingly, more than half of the Delta Biosphere Reserve is virtually intact.

old roof

To get a full flavour of the local cuisine you can taste some Danube herring and grilled surgeon, together with Muscat or Merlot wines at one of the many restaurants nearby. Or you can try the local version of Russian borsch prepared fresh by fishermen in one of the nearby villages or the “saramura”, prepared from big chunks of carp broiled on the stove and served with polenta and garlic sauce.

the guid on the danube delta

Like a reviewer on TripAdvisor tells us, going to Danube Delta is “A special experience- Magnificent view, old ships delivering goods sailing slowly on the river, it’s a part of life there, people fishing their meals in the morning, night trips on the river, natural bird reserve.”

Written by Alexandra Mirela Bănică. Photography by: discoveromania.ro