The Danube is one one of Romania’s most beautiful natural assets. It flows across the whole southern part of Romania and creates the wonderful Danube Delta just before reaching the Black Sea. Right after entering Romania, it creates the stunning Danube Gorges, which are a very popular tourist destination. The whole are a is worth a visit, as the Danube carves some spectacular sights through its flow. And the good news is: it’s quite close to Timisoara!
A trip to the Danube Gorges – how to get there
From Timisoara, it will take you a three-hour drive to reach the Danube Gorges. There are actually two ways of travelling there, but the best one (as far as the road itself is concerned) goes from Timisoara to Lugoj and then through Caransebes.
If you want to road trip through Romania to see as much as possible, you choose one way to reach your destination and the second one to get back to Timisoara.
Accomodation near the Danube Gorges
While you can choose to see the Danube Gorges during a one-day trip, this is also an excellent destination for a weekend trip. Whether you just want to sunbathe or relax, or enjoy some hiking, this destination has plenty to offer.
What we locals call the “clisura Dunarii” (the Danube Gorges) stretches from the “Cazanele Dunarii” (the best-known area) to the Nera River. Along the length of this area, you can find many locations willing to host travelers. The most popular towns, which are located on the banks of the Danube, are: Dubova, Berzasca and Eselnita.
If you would like to sunbathe and take a bath, you can choose a hotel that hosts its own pool – there are plenty of choices. Swimming in the Danube isn’t really advisable – the Danube can pull you in if you aren’t careful.
Things to do around the Danube Gorges
So, you’ve decided that this is a trip you want to take. What shouldn’t you miss? Here is our brief list of things to do when visiting the Danube Gorges:
1. Enjoy the fresh (fish) food
If you are a foodie and fish is in the menu, you will be able to enjoy fresh fish in this area. Most of the hotels and restaurants in the are serve various kinds of fish – all of it cought fresh from the Danube. One of the local’s specialty is “ciorba de peste” – which is basically fish sour soup.
2. See (and take pictures of) Cazanele Dunarii
“Cazanele Mici” and “Cazanele Mari” are the two places where the Danube “squeezes” through the mountain, creatic a dramatic view. The name “cazane” could be roughly translated to a “big pot” – an object uses especially in the countryside to boil things in.
In the same are you can also find a large statue (55 metres high) of the dacian king Decebal. This was a private investment by Romanian businessman Iosif Constantin Dragan. The sculpture was created between 1994-2004 and has since attracted many tourists, as it is indeed impressive.
Also in the same area, you can visit the Mraconia monastery, which lays impressively on the banks of the Danube. The original monastery was built back in the 16th century, but was destroyed by the communist regime only to be rebuilt after the falling of the regime.
3. Go for a boat trip on “cazanele Dunarii”
Especially in the “cazane” area, you will find many local businesses willing to take you for a boat ride. This will be an entertaining ride, as it will allow you to really feel how impressive the Danube is.
If you decide to go for a boat ride, you can also stop to visit two caves that are only accessible via the Danube: Ponicova and the Veterans’ Cave. Just negociate with your boat driver to see if they can also take you to visit the caves. Different kinds of tours will include different stops, but things are negociable.
4. Go hiking up the Cazane
If you are afraid you might get seasick, maybe seeing the wonderful views from above is a better choice. Or you could try seeing both views. There are hiking trails in the area, though the trails are not always marked perfectly. Our advice is to research the trip a bit before heading out or to take a guide with you, just in case.
The area is home to a species of poisonous viper that is very dangerous to humans. If you decide to go hiking in the area, please wear long trousers, appropriate shoes and watch your step. The viper is a shy creature, but it will attack if it feels threaten.
6. Visit St. Ana monastery and enjoy its views
St. Ana monastary is located on Dealul Mosului, in (and above) the city of Orsova. The monastery overlooks both the city, and the Danube, offering a stunning view of the whole area.
The monastery was built in the 60s, but was used as a restaurant during the communist regime. It was restored in the 90s and now attract many tourist, thanks to both its location and its beauty.