The Danube river, the longest in the European Union and second longest on the entire continent at  2,888 kilometers, passes through 16 countries. This navigable river, which changes its name depending on the country through which it flows, has countless islands, some of them natural and others man-made. Throughout history, some have disappeared or been created due to the actions of man, and others have become genuine centers of tourism and leisure.

Among the islands which have disappeared or have been on the verge of doing so, there is, for example, Ada Kaleh, a small island settled by the Turks, which was submerged during the construction of the Iron Gate hydroelectric power station, on the border between Romania and Serbia. There is also Șimian island, in Romania, which was saved from the same flood because it was the location of the Turkish fortress on Ada Kaleh.

Others have become natural protection centers, such as Bird Island, in Slovakia, which was built by man and forms part of the aquatic bird protection center of Dunajské luhy. Or Ciocănești islet, in Romania, Kožara island, in Serbia, completely covered with forest and several wetlands, Wörth Island, in Austria, with various forests and ponds, and Ostrovul Mare in Romania. Although the best known are the Hungarian Szigetköz, the largest in the country, a nature reserve which houses the Szigetköz National Park, and Szentendre Island, the second largest, with several cities, which contains the Danubio-Ipoly National Park.

On some, the main activity is agriculture. This is the case with Balta Ialomiței, in Romania, originally covered with swamps, forests, lakes and ponds, which underwent a regeneration process for agriculture in 1960. Or the Great Brăila Island (Romania), 60 kilometers in length and 20 wide, heavily focused on agriculture, with two small towns. Although the most important is Žitný ostrov, in Slovakia, the largest in Europe. With several cities, it is an important potable water reserve and a great agricultural region.

Others have had political objectives. In the case of the 9,559-hectare Pequeña Brăila Island (Romania), 6,566 hectares of which are made up of forests, which was known for the construction of the Egreta chalet, created to serve as the hunting destination of ex-president Ceausescu. Another such case is Maican Island, in Ukraine, which is located in the Romanian city of Chilia and Vylkove in Ukraine, whose countries remain locked in dispute over its administration. Although the most important are the Serbian islands of Šarengrad and Vikovar, which have similar issues: they were part of Croatia during the existence of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, they went on to be occupied by Serbia in Croatian territory and, although Serbia later withdrew its forces, the Croats cannot currently approach their possessions on the islands, as they remain under Serbian police control.

But the best known are those which have been populated and constitute an attraction for visitors from certain cities.

Csepel Island (Hungary)

Its stretched shape spanning 48 kilometers divides the river into two parts, from the south of the city of Budapest to the north of the counties of Pest, Bács-Kiskun and Fejér. The most populated zone is that located in the north, in the so-called Danube Bend, a favorite royal residence for monarchs and an ideal spot for leisure and practicing all kinds of sports, especially aquatic sports and, above all, fishing.  The hiking paths which fill its forests allow for an enormous variety of excursions. Furthermore, the bend is a very popular spot for swimming. In addition to the Danube itself, you can also enjoy a swim in the open-air pools on the island.

Donauinsel (Austria)

This is an artificial island, 21 kilometers long and only 70 to 210 meters wide. It is known as a recreation zone with bars, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as for being the perfect place to practice sports such as roller skating, cycling, swimming and caneoing.

Gänsehäufel (Austria)

A wooded and sandy river island in the city of Vienna, used as a recreation center. It has a nudist beach, sports areas and various leisure establishments.

Margaret Island (Hungary)

An island with a length of 2.5 km, located in the 13th district of Budapest, right in the middle of the river. It is a leisure zone full of parks and with some notable monuments, very popular among tourists and locals alike.

Óbuda Island (Hungary)

Located in Budapest, to the north of Margaret Island, Óbuda includes the tranquil 9 May Park and hosts the Aziget Festival each year.

from our blog Passport To...

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