Vienna from the Water

Boat trips in the Danube

 Bow from the boat

Austria is not really known as a shipping nation, yet up until World War I the Austro-Hungarian imperial navy was the world’s sixth-largest fleet. Nothing remains of the ships of the imperial capital that sailed the high seas in those days, but a boat trip on the various arms of the Danube still offers interesting perspectives on Vienna.

“Danube so blue, so bright and blue, through vale and field you flow so calm, our Vienna greets you.” Lyrics to “The Blue Danube Waltz” by Franz Von Gernerth, 1889.

At Schwedenplatz

Immediately adjacent to the old town the Twin-City-Liner embarks, taking its passengers to Vienna’s sister-city Bratislava in 75 minutes. The voyage starts from the newly-constructed pier at Schwedenplatz. From the Donaukanal (Danube Canal), a centre of the city’s nightlife with its beach bars and party boats, it passes Vienna’s UNESCO-listed city centre on the one side and the modern buildings of Leopoldstadt on the other, before shortly later revealing pretty views of the green Prater park. At the harbour at Freudenau the ferry sails from the Danube Canal into the Danube, and lets it carry her all the way to Bratislava.

If you’d prefer to take the wheel yourself you can take a trip with a pedal-boat or a rowboat on the Alte Donau (Old Danube), beyond the main stream of the Danube. The scenery is stunning: beyond the water, the trees and the sailboats, the modern towers of “Transdanubien” rise high into the heavens

 Ships on the Danube

 Water with forest

 Danube Canal harbor

In summer it’s even more romantic: when there’s a full-moon you can rent a boat – picnic-basket included – for an idyllic moonlight voyage.

You can get a feel for the old imperial days

when Austria was a world power on a sightseeing trip with the tradition-steeped Danube Steamship Company (DDSG). Or how about a cruise on board the oldest ship still sailing on the Austrian Danube, the MS Ana? Or on the icebreaker MS Arthur Kaspar, built in 1955 and recently fully restored? When you’re slowly chugging along the Danube, Vienna reveals itself from a completely different viewpoint.

Text: Kornelia Kopf, Fotos: Christine Wurnig