On the Shores of the New and Old Danube
For decades, the Viennese literally “overlooked” the Danube. After the river was regulated in 1875, removing the constant threat of flood, Vienna became somewhat removed from its artery. Not until the 1970s when flood protection was improved through construction of the “relief channel”– a parallel branch of the Danube along the entire city course of the river – Vienna again returned to the Danube. To the surprise of politicians, the Viennese greeted the 21-kilometer artificial island in the middle of the city with open arms. Today the banks of the Danube Island – a total of 42 kilometers of urban beach – are a sensation for which Vienna is envied by every international city in the world, with the exception of Rio maybe. It is only a six-minute ride on the underground from downtown Stephansplatz to a place to bathe, take a leisurely stroll, or enjoy a bit of seaside flair at one of the riverfront bars in the evenings. The Danube Island can be reached by the U1 (Donauinsel), U6 (Neue Donau) and U2 (Donaumarina and Donaustadtbrücke) underground lines. The Donauinsel U1 underground station is surrounded by bars, restaurants and clubs.
If you are more into surfing online than on the water, you can now access the internet via the free wien.at public wireless network at various locations including on the Danube Island and at the Gänsehäufel lido. On the Danube Island, the service is available between the Floridsdorfer Brücke and Reichsbrücke bridges, except in the quiet area between the Brigittenauer Brücke bridge and the Donauturm tower. Users receive a password to access the internet after registering with their mobile phone number. Alternatively, to find out what’s happening where on the Danube Island, visitors can call in to the Inselinfo information center (next to the water playground, about 50 meters downstream from the Reichsbrücke; open May-September, Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from midday to 6 p.m., tel. +43 (0)1 4000 96500, [email protected]).
Watersports, Cycling & Jogging
The Danube Island is also a home from home for sailors and windsurfers. The wind that blasts between Vienna’s local hills and along the river is everything but a breeze – in both senses of the word. This is also confirmed by everyone who learns the art of setting sail on the Old Danube, a picturesque former branch of the Danube. There are also pedalos, rowboats and electric boats on this stretch of water. And on the more easily navigable New Danube there is a wakeboard lift (www.wakeboardlift.at). The introduction of a 250-meter-long wild water rapids on the section of the Danube Island near the Steinspornbrücke bridge has been supplying adrenaline junkies with a fix for a number of years. Strict safety measures are assured along the length of the kayak, tube, and raft stretch, which is only open to proficient swimmers aged 12 or over.
Krapfenwaldbad offers one of the loveliest views over Vienna. There’s only one little minus: It’s takes quite a long time to get there. The fin-de-siècle bath is located in the midst of Viennas extensive vineyards in the North-West of the city.
Das Gänsehäufl ist eine wunderschöne Insel in der Alten Donau und eines der ältesten öffentlichen Bäder Wiens. Viele Schwule findet man im FKK Bereich, das auch mit einem kleinen Buffet, Sauna, Massageülätzen ausgerüstet ist. Die meisten Schwulen versammeln sich in der kleinen Bucht auf der nördlichen Seite.
Toter Grund is on the Danube Island on the New Danube side in the area reserved for nude bathing. It’s a beautiful nature reserve with some endangered species. There are small cool ponds on the islands - even in the midst of the summer heat and some restaurants are around. Getting there takes you rather long, as you have to walk relatively long. This place is very cruisey.
Schönbrunnerbad is the place to be in summer, where the young and restless tan their muscular shaped bodies. When it’s getting too hot, just plunge into the pool and cool off. Or get some sunscreen and relax, where emperor Franz Josef I himself learned swimming.