Romania is a must-see destination, and what better way to unwind while you’re there than by visiting the Danube Delta? Boasting some of Europe’s most pristine nature reserves, it presents an unforgettable opportunity for outdoor adventurers. From spotting rare bird species to angling for your supper (with permit!), this UNESCO World Heritage Site guarantees relaxation like no other – because being at one with mother nature makes any weekend something truly special!
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Where is the Danube Delta?
The majority of the Danube Delta is in Romania, in Tulcea County. This is in the northern portion of Romania’s Black Sea coast. A small portion of the Delta (primarily the Chilia branch of the river) flows north into Ukraine (Odessa Oblast). The rough surface area is 4,152 km2, of which 3,446 km2 are in Romania.
How Do I Get to the Danube Delta?
Depending on where you are coming from, you may wish to spend more than a weekend at the Danube Delta. For us, coming from within Romania, a weekend was perfect. The area is fairly remote, so take travel time into account when planning your stay.
Tulcea is the closest large city to the Delta, and is easily accessed from various places within Romania by bus or train. The closest airport to the Danube Delta is Constanța (CND).
About the Danube Delta
The Danube Delta, most of which in Romania, is a vast area spanning 5,700 square kilometers of rivers, canals, marshes, lakes, and tiny islands where the Danube River meets the Black Sea. The Danube River, which originates in Germany over 2,800 kilometers away, is the second longest river in Europe and the most international river in the world, traversing nine European countries.
The area boasts an incredible amount of biodiversity – in fact, it holds the title as ‘Third Greatest Biodiversity Count in the World’. It loses out to the better-known Great Barrier Reef and Galapagos Islands. There are almost 6,000 species of wild plant and animal life!
Part of what makes this area so special is the fact that it isn’t overrun with tourists. Particularly outside of Europe, not many people even know about the Danube Delta’s existence. Given its remote location in the underbelly of Eastern Europe, it can be a challenge to reach, which probably contributes to its relative anonymity.
As it approaches its final destination at the Black Sea, the Danube splits into three separate branches: Chilia, Sulina, and the Sfântu Gheorghe branch. The Chilia branch is the youngest and much of it runs through Ukraine to the north. The Sulina branch is the middle branch of the Danube with many hidden canals interconnecting the three. The Sfântu Gheorghe branch is the southernmost, most visited branch. Along all three are tiny villages, most of which are only accessible by boat from Tulcea.
In 1991, the Danube Delta was inscribed with the prestigious title of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where to Stay the Weekend at the Danube Delta
Casa Lac de Verde
I have only stayed in one place during my time at the Danube Delta, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Honestly, when Szilard and I return, I probably won’t even bother looking for another place to stay – we were very pleased with our choice. I stumbled upon this gem on Airbnb, Casa Lac de Verde, and am so thrilled to share our experience of a weekend at the Danube Delta with you.
After spending a stressful few days on the underwhelming seaside town of Eforie Sud, I tried to not let my expectations for the Delta get the best of me. I was very pleasantly surprised with what awaited us in the village of Baltenii de Sus.
Tip: Skip Eforie Sud – go to Vama Veche instead!
Casa Lac de Verde is a small, stunning farm with sprawling gardens perched upon a hilltop overlooking the Danube. As soon as we pulled in the driveway, I knew that this experience would be vastly different than the one we’d just had in Eforie Sud.
I arranged our reservation via Airbnb with Octavian, though the property is his parents and he was not present. Despite the language barrier, the family’s hospitality and warmth were palpable. We were traveling with our two dogs, accustomed to city life. They absolutely adored the chance to run around the farm without a leash, especially when compared to being in our apartment in Cluj.
Eating in the Danube Delta
Many of the villages at the Danube Delta have maybe one restaurant, so finding a place with meals included is a huge advantage. At Casa Lac de Verde, we enjoyed home-cooked meals for daily breakfast and dinner. Lunch was also available upon request. Alongside the multi-course meals, we were offered homemade wine and țuică, as well as my personal favorite Romanian spirit, vișinată.
One thing I will mention about the food in the area – be sure to pack your own snacks and sandwiches if you don’t like fish!
Boat Excursions & Day Trips
Through Casa Lac de Verde, we were also able to go out on a day-long excursion to explore the area. We only did this one day, but the family runs frequent trips around the river. They were happy to accommodate special requests (within reason, of course).
I had hoped to see as much of the Delta as possible, including the three branches of the river. Baltenii de Sus is situated on the Sfântul Gheorghe branch, but I expressed to Octavian interest in also seeing the Sulina branch, which the family happily arranged. I didn’t want to overreach, so I didn’t mention the Chilia branch. But, this could possibly be arranged as well given how well-connected the different branches are to one another.
Also arranged for us was a lunch stop at a local restaurant, a safari tour to go off-roading for a bit, and passes to enter the protected area on safari.
The lodging itself at Casa Lac de Verde for three nights was approximately $40 USD per night in early June. Rates may change depending on the season. The total for the stay came to $145 USD with Airbnb fees included.
Breakfast was 20 lei per day and dinner was 50 lei per day, both per person. Breakfast for two (three times) came to 120 lei and dinner for two (three times) came to 300 lei, totaling 420 lei total for both of us, or just about $100 USD total for food.
The boat excursion was 150 lei per person, the Safari 30 lei per person, lunch at the restaurant 50 lei per person. The total came to 460 lei, or about $110 USD total for excursions.
So, essentially everything came to $355 USD for two people (and two dogs – who also came on the boat trip and safari!). What a steal!
Insider tips for a weekend at the Danube Delta
What to bring…
You’ll want to bring plenty of bug-spray, as the mosquitoes in the area are merciless and will stop at nothing. I bathed in the stuff every day and only came out with a few bites around my ankles.
Also make sure you bring sunscreen and layers, particularly if you are spending a lot of time on the water. Being on the boat can get quite chilly, even in the throes of summer.
A poncho is definitely a good idea, as are clothes or shoes you don’t care about getting muddy. A weekend at the Danube Delta is anything but a clean and dry experience (in the best way possible!).
Like I mentioned above, bring some sandwiches or snacks in case you don’t eat fish, or you might go hungry!
For birders, or anyone interested in some leisurely bird-watching, a set of binoculars is a must!
If you’re a Photographer…
Take your waterproof camera bag, and a telephoto lens for wildlife shots while out on the water.
If you happen to (somehow) forget your camera bag, as I did, take a couple of trash bags with you in case you need to suddenly protect your equipment from the elements.
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If you’re coming by car…
Be forewarned that many of the cazare or hotels along the Danube Delta are only accessible by boat from Tulcea. We definitely wanted to have our car with us, as we had a lot of things for the dogs and too much to take with us. We’d just spent the week prior at the seaside, so didn’t pack for just a weekend. Casa Lac de Verde is accessible by car, with parking right at the house.
FYI, I am not partnered or affiliated with Casa Lac de Verde in any way – it was just a wonderful experience!
I’ve marked some of the nice villages to visit in the area, the different branches of the Danube Delta, the location of Baltenii de Sus and Casa Lac de Verde, as well as where to shop for snacks if you do stay there.