Our beautiful Danube
The river’s great versatility, and what it provides for all of us in Vienna
Donaumonarchie, Donau-City, Donaustadt or Donauwelle – you can hear several designations which include the word Donau while staying in Vienna, as Vienna and the Danube are two terms that cannot be separated.
Although the river connects 10 different countries, Austria is certainly one of the most influenced by it. Countless destinations are connected to the term Donau. Even the most famous composition from the viennese musician Johann Strauss bears the name Donauwalzer. You can read more about its meaning in our blog post Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Vienna. There is no denying that the Danube is really one of the main characteristics of Vienna.
The river’s history and facts
Stretching over 2850 kilometres, the Danube is the second longest river in Europe, and flows through Austria for 350 kilometres. Since the Middle Ages, it has aligned some of the most important European trade routes with significant positions in Austria. Nowadays, it is also used for hydropower plants in order to generate power for the country. In addition, the Danube is the only river in Europe that flows from west to east, and where the source of the river is vague. What is clear is that it originates in the Schwarzwald and leads into the Black Sea.
The Donaukanal and what it provides
Over time, several places along the Danube have achieved cultural significance for Vienna. Since 1870, the Donaukanal is one of the few remaining sidestreams of the Danube. Although the 17.3 kilometre long Donaukanal was once a rather poor area, nowadays several high-end restaurants and bars benefit from their location at the Danube as it flows through Vienna’s historical center. Directly at Schwedenplatz is the Badeschiff, a popular boat now used as a restaurant. As the weather gets milder again, soon visitors can enjoy the outdoor upper deck with its lovely view and pretty atmosphere.
In addition, six DDSG Blue Danube ships offer tours to explore Vienna’s sights – including specialised tours with different mottos, such as the Heurigenfahrt mit Wiener Liedern or Brunch am Ostermontag. In case it is still cold in early spring, you can choose the City Cruise which is heated and runs all year.
The Old Danube and the New Danube
In the past, it was impossible to build stable bridges across the Danube because of its changing routes after floods. Floods occurred often, and endangered areas like Jedlesee, Floridsdorf and Stadlau. To ensure the prevention of damaging floods, the floodplain next to the main stream was replaced by the New Danube in the 1970s.
Nowadays, the Old Danube is famous for its Floridsdorfer Wasserpark, and it represents an ideal bathing area in the summer; the most popular bath is the Gänsehäufel. You can also take sailing- or surf-lessons at the Old Danube. When the weather gets warmer, you can hire a boat at one of 11 different boat rentals – most open in April. There are also many restaurants, bars and cafés along the shores at the Danube, such as the typical Austrian restaurant Zur Alten Kaisermühle, which offers delicacies such as grilled meat.
The best way to spend your leisure time has to be the Donauinsel, an area between the Old Danube and the New Danube. It is approximately 100 to 300 metres wide, and is not only a great relaxing oasis, but also the perfect meeting point for sports activities and adventure sports like waterskiing or wakeboarding. You will also find countless beach volleyball courts and street workout equipment. The routes along the Donauinsel are perfect for biking tours, skating, jogging and many other sporty activities. In spring, the island becomes more and more alive, and many visitors enjoy the mild temperature and beautiful landscape right next to Vienna’s skyscrapers. As you will see, the liveliness of the Donauinsel reaches its peak in the summer, when up to 190 000 guests per day benefit from the 42 kilometre long beach. It also provides many lovely places to wander off on your own, as the Donauinsel has 70 hectare meadows with 1.8 million trees and plants.
But as impressive as this numbers might be, the real highlight and peculiarity of the Donauinsel is the yearly Donauinselfest.
The unique and impressive Donauinselfest
The Donauinselfest, held in June, is the biggest open-air festival in Europe. Visitors can experience countless musicians and bands on 27 stages, and it is three full days long! Around 3 million people visit the festival these days; the record is 3, 3 million people in 2015. The festival is free and entertains teenagers and young adults, as well as children and elderly people. While many performers are Austrian bands, international celebrities such as Sean Paul, Amy Mcdonald, Anastacia or Milow have all performed. But next to musical entertainment, the culinary offerings are diverse and the stalls stretch as far as the eye can see.
This year, the Donauinselfest takes place from the 22nd to 24th of June 2018. The first acts are normally announced in April. Don’t miss it!
If you are interested in sporty activities in winter, you can also read about ice-skating on the Danube in our blog post Kickstart your year in Vienna.
Take your time exploring the Danube’s great versatility and enjoying the Spring time atmosphere in Vienna!