The Danube Delta: The Birds’ Paradise from Romania

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer. You can find Diana on LinkedIn

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Often described as a birds’ paradise, the Danube Delta is one of the biggest wetlands in the world and a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site. It’s the best-conserved delta in Europe and a must-see destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers.


Sunset in the Danube Delta

When the Danube creates a wonderland

The genesis of the Danube Delta extends over 10,000 years and is still in the making with the Danube River as the main actor. One of the youngest lands of the Old Continent, the delta extends with 40 square meters every year. Only 10% of its entire surface, almost 5,800 square km, is dry land. The rest is a lush universe of floating reed islands, tree-fringed lakes, and narrow canals covered in water lilies and bordered by willows.

Danube Delta

Great egret flying in the Danube Delta

The forests of Caraorman and Letea are amazing exceptions with their sand dunes, lianas, and old oak trees. In fact, the forest of Letea is the most northern subtropical forest in the world. It’s also the second protected area in Romania, since 1938, after the Retezat Mountains.

The only delta in the world declared a Biosphere Reserve, this wonderful place has nearly 5,500 species of flora and fauna. Over 330 species of birds live in the Danube Delta which is also a major halting-place for migratory birds. Almost the entire world population of the red-breasted goose stays here during winter, along with large groups of swans, ducks, and geese.

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron in the Danube Delta

Cormorants, including the rare pygmy cormorants, the iconic pelicans, egrets, and predator birds also live in the Danube Delta. The biggest bird in Europe,  the Dalmatian pelican with wings spread of over three meters, and the smallest, ‘pânțărașul’, that weighs only 10 grams, live here.

Over 130 species of fish swim in the waters of the Danube Delta, and fishing is still the locals’ main occupation. If this is your passion, do it responsibly. Respect the prohibition calendar, the protected species, and areas.


Traditional fishing in the Danube Delta

Danube Delta holidays

The Danube rushes across Dobrogea to the Black Sea along three major canals: Chilia, Sulina, and Sfantu Gheorghe. A labyrinth of smaller canals, grinds, lakes, and islands exists around them. The only way to explore this universe is by boat, preferably a small and silent one that doesn’t scare or disturb the birds. Kayaking is another great option if you want to burn the calories from all the mouth-watering fish dishes you will eat.


Danube Delta forest

The itinerary of your Danube Delta holidays will depend a lot on where you’re staying. Villages like Mila 23 and Crisan are great options but consider Sfantu Gheorghe as well, especially for its beautiful beach.

If you reach Sulina, don’t miss a boat trip to the lighthouse or a visit to the maritime cemetery. This is the best symbol of this small town’s cosmopolitan days in the 19th century.

The people of the Delta

The Delta is the home of almost 16,000 people, a cultural mix of Romanians, Lipovans, and Ukrainians who live mostly isolated and dependent on fishing and tourism. If you’re impressed by their way of life, consider that many live on the edge of poverty as there are limited jobs in the delta.

You can help protect nature and local communities by buying only local products and services during your Danube Delta tour.


Fishermen boat at sunrise

Where to stay

Only a few guest houses meet that balance between good services, great food, and respect for the environment. We recommend Doi Capitani, Egreta Hidrotourism, Casa Blumarin, and Vila Delta Travel.

Travel tips

Late spring and early autumn are great times to observe migratory birds.

Boats depart from Tulcea and Murighiol. Unless you book a private boat transfer, the main option is Navrom.

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