What to see in Dobrogea, Romania on a 3-day road trip from Bucharest?
Wouldn’t you love waking up next to the blue Danube, inhaling the breezy air with a touch of fishy water of this ancient land?
Settlements by the Black Sea are some of the oldest in the world. Dobrogea has more ancient fortresses than one could visit in a 3-day trip from Bucharest. But if 3 days is all you have, here’s my 3-day road trip itinerary in Dobrogea.
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Day 1: Caves, monasteries and the countryside of Dobrogea
On the first day of the 3-day road trip itinerary in Dobrogea, I recommend visiting some lesser-known places, to try to disconnect from the urban chaos we’re so used to.
From Bucharest, you’ll need to take the A2 highway which has Constanta as the last stop. Exit the highway at Cernavoda. Make sure to admire the steel water bridge over the Danube.
The countryside of Dobrogea has a windy and salty feel, even if you are more than 100 km away from the Black Sea. That’s why you’ll witness hundreds of windmills turning the power of these natural winds into electricity.
The first stop was a cave I found by visually assessing the map of Dobrogea.
Adam’s Cave (Pestera lui Adam)
Probably, most locals won’t even know about this place and most blogs wouldn’t include it on the list of what to see in Dobrogea, Romania. But I like doing things not a lot of people do.
The location of this cave on Google Maps is somehow inaccurate.
You’ll need to park the car on the right side of the road after you have reached the destination according to Google Maps.
There is a wide space where a few cars can park, but don’t expect it to be a parking lot. It’s a wider flat area, on the dirt. It was almost empty when I was there, except for a family which was having a barbeque a couple of hundreds of meters away.
After you park the car, you will need to continue the journey on foot, for about 10 minutes, to the right. Follow the GPS and it will lead you to some big rocks on the side of the hill. That’s the entrance to the cave.
There’s some sort of a path through the vegetation left by those who visited the cave before.
Adam’s Cave is only 20 meters deep and high, and the light makes for a spectacular view from inside the cave.
There are also some bats on the backside of the cave, but you won’t see them unless they start flying around or climb to the very back of the cave and search for them. The ceiling of the cave has many bird nests, which are freely flying around.
Here’s a short video from this stop.
Take photos and then follow the same path back to the car.
What else to see around Adam’s Cave?
On the same side, after you reach the car, you can follow the dirt road on foot to explore other rock formations close by. According to Google Maps, there was supposed to be another cave nearby, the Bats’ Cave, but we couldn’t find it. Still, the walk through the small forests is worth the 20 minutes trip.
After you reach the car, walk to the other side of the road to admire the views from the hill and the bridge.
Tips: Bring mosquito repellant and wear long pants to protect your skin from the wild vegetation and insects.
Saint Casian Cave and Monastery
Not far away from the caves is a newly renovated monastery, Saint Casian Monastery.
I’m not religious, but Romanian monasteries are usually an interesting stop to add to your itinerary.
What makes this monastary so special is the fact that it guards the cave of Saint Casian, right on the rocky shore of Casian Lake.
I’m always curious to investigate such old retreats and the location of this cave is impressive. The monastery does not charge a fee for visiting the cave, although they put a lot of effort into maintaining the steep stairs and the cave.
As you enter the monastery yard, look to your right and the path that leads to the cave is right between the wooden church and the monastery’s store.
There’s a nun that takes care of the store. She was a bit pushy to make us buy a candle to light in the cave, for the saints. They sell many religious objects such as icons but are also proud of their own honey and wine production.
Cheile Dobrogei (Dobrogea Gorges)
The next stop in the beautiful 3-day road trip itinerary around Dobrogea is not precisely a stop, but a natural landscape that you can observe from the car.
These are the less famous Dobrogea Gorges, which aren’t exactly high, but they are a truly unexpected scenery around this area.
The rocky formations are said to be very old and in my opinion, unique in Romania. It doesn’t look like anything else I’ve seen in Romania.
The gorges aren’t too big, and I recommend stopping somewhere on the right, as you get in the middle of them and climb the hill to gasp a better view of this beautiful natural landscape.
The last stop of the day is in Tulcea, and you can walk around the lovely Tulcea’s Promenade as the sun gets down.
There’re a lot of restaurants and fisheries to choose from if you want to have dinner in the same area. I recommend Restaurant Santa Catalina, La Cherhana – Fish&Food and Taverna Lefkada.
Spend the night in Tulcea because the second day of the trip will be spent exploring some more of the city.
We choose a budget accommodation, right next to the promenade in Tulcea, called Vila Mara.
Day 2: Exploring Tulcea and the nearby villages
While not so many people know, Tulcea is home to some of the most interesting museums from this part of Romania. This is the place to be to explore more about the ancient ruins that brought the Turks, Tatars, Lipovans, Greeks and Roman Empire to this part of the world.
What to visit in Tulcea, Romania?
- Tulcea Aquarium
- The Historical and Archeological Museum
- Aegyssus settlement archaeological ruins
- Hero’s Monument (Ro: Monumentul Eroilor)
- Casa Avramide – Casa Colectiilor
- Saint Nicolae’s Cathedral
- The art museum
- Traditional fishing village open-air museum (entrance from DJ222C road, there is a sign, don’t follow the GPS if it drives you on a dirt road)
The aquarium in Tulcea is a cool thing to do for families, couples, children. I think most people will enjoy visiting the aquarium, which is at the -1 level of the building. That’s the last part of the museum. The first and second floors are more of a natural history museum and have lots of info about the Danube Delta.
The Archeological Museum was also surprising, especially the new building, which displays lots of new treasures of the recent on-site archaeological digging.
The traditional fishing village is an open-air museum and the walking paths are build to represent the main three branches as the Danube Delta in Romania. Along with them, you will find a traditional house from the main villages. Even the interior of the houses is furnished. It’s a great place to take photos of traditional houses from Dobrogea.
Bordering the Danube Delta, there are a few villages that are reachable by car and are preferred by those who don’t have the time to go more deep in the delta. By complete accident, I discovered Sarichioi village, which is a medium size village, with a rather famous fishery that overlooks the village’s small harbour.
What to see in Sarichioi village?
Walk around the shore of Razim Lake, admire nature, eat at the local fishery and relax.
If you want to make sure there’s enough room, make sure to call ahead of time and reserve a table, especially if you plan to go there during the weekend. It doesn’t look like much, and the menu is rather short, but everything is fresh.
If you want to spend the night in the Sarichioi village or the nearby villages, make sure to reserve your accommodation before you get there, especially if you are planning a weekend stay. There aren’t a lot of accommodations and they all get booked during the weekends.
If you can’t find any accommodation, you can always return to Tulcea and book a last-minute room, where you will find many hotel options and lower prices.
Day 3: Medieval Fortresses
The last day of this 3-day road trip in Dobrogea, Romania by exploring some of the most remarkable fortresses and their ruins. What to see in Dobrogea, Romania? No road trip around the area should exclude the ancient citadels.
Enisala Fortress (Cetatea Enisala)
The first stop of the day is Enisala Fortress, which stands high on a rocky hill, overseeing Razim Lake.
The archaeological explorations have revealed coins belonging to the Byzantine Empire, Republic of Genoa, Tatars, Moldovans, Wallachia and Turks, and this discovery stands to confirm that the fortress had a military, political, administrative and economical role.
There were also found Dacian tombs and tools dating back to the 4th century BC. The ceramics and mammoth bones indicated that the area was populated since prehistoric times.
The walls of the fortress were probably first built by the Byzantine Empire 10th-11th century and the Republic of Genoa between the 13th and 14th century. There are similar fortresses along the coastline of the Black Sea in Bulgaria and Turkey.
The name of the fortress comes from the Turkish words Yeni Sale, which translate to Good News (Ro: Noua Vestire).
Check out the Fortress’ website for info about tickets and visiting options.
Don’t miss the traditional house museum from the village. There is a combo ticket to visit both the fortress and the museum.
If you do plan to visit the traditional house museum in the village, be aware that there is no space to park in front of it. I recommend parking in front of the church, which is about 100m down from the house, which has about 4 parking spots in front.
Argamum Citadel and Doloșman Cape
What to see in Dobrogea, Romania? Visit at least one ancient citadel. To the East of the Jurilovca village, you’ll find the extraordinary Greek citadel of Argamum.
Argamum is one of the oldest settlements on the Romanian territory.
According to ancient scriptures, it exists since the beginning of the 6 century BC. It was a Greek settlement by the Black Sea. In those times, the citadel had an open way to the Black Sea. Today, the golf is a lake, and it is separated by a thin strip of land from the Black Sea.
During the 1st century AC, Argamum is conquered by the Roman Empire. It was a stopover on the route Bizant-Tyras. For the next 5 centuries, the citadel continues to evolve.
After the citadel became enclosed in the golf, the locals moved more to the South, to Histria, Tomis, Callatis and Constantinople.
Argamum is the Latin name. In Greek, it is called Orgamè.
The ruins of the citadel were discovered in 1916. Many undated treasures have been discovered, such as ancient coins and treasury items. You can see these at the Archeological Museum in Tulcea. A large area of the citadel is still unearthed.
Doloșman Cape is a natural reservation, known for its flora and fauna. The name, Doloșman, has Ottoman roots. Dolaș means obstacle and dolașma translates to passing way.
Histria Citadel (Cetatea Histria)
Histria was a Greek settlement on the West of the Black Sea.
The name Histria translates to On the Danube, Located on the Danube. It was the first settlement on the Romanian territory, and it dates back to the 7 century BC (around 657 BC). Histria was under Roman occupation between the 1st and the 3rd century AC. It was abandoned in the 7th century AC, when it was invaded.
This settlement was an important Black Sea port at the time when it wasn’t enclosed in the golf.
This is the first place on the current Romanian territory where coins have been made. The citadel was discovered in 1868 and the first archaeological works started in 1914.
Histria is a must-see destination and of the top answers to What to see in Dobrogea, Romania? Today, tourists can see the walls, towers, ruins of the Greek temples, streets and one of the oldest churches from this region, dating from the 6th century AD.
The next stop is Constanta, the main Romanian city from the Black Sea coastline. You shouldn’t miss the old centre and the port area.
I have an entire blog post about the places to visit in Constanta, Romania.
I hope you have enjoyed this 3-day road trip itinerary in Dobrogea, Romania. You can find the entire 3-day Dobrogea road trip itinerary on this Google Map.
There are even more ancient settlements and natural wonders to be discovered in Dobrogea, Romania, but I’ll leave that for the next trip. Safe travels!