The Danube does not flow through the city like the Thames in London or the Seine in Paris. You might be disappointed if you expected that. Nevertheless, you can cross the river in the city several times.
The Danube is the second longest river in Europe (only Volga in Russia is longer). It originates in Schwarzwald in Germany and flows into the Black Sea in Rumania and Ukraine. In the area of today’s Vienna, it spread with many branches. Flooded areas and islands dominated the landscape and made it difficult for people to settle down permanently.
Vindobona, the roman military camp, which existed until the 5th Century, was built on the higher right bank of one of the branches of the river, today’s Danube Canal. Frequent floodings and the expansion of the city of Vienna in the 19th Century obliged the authorities to regulate the waters. A lock was built at Nussdorf. The branch was supposed to become a winter port, but it was never used as such. Nowadays, the Danube Canal is a favourite spot for the young Viennese generation to hang out and do sports.
Another big regulation project on the Danube started in the 1970s, when along the left bank digging took place. The shuffle was mounted up and so in the middle of the main stream an island immerged. The Danube Island (Donauinsel) and the New Danube (Entlastungsgerinne Neue Donau) are parts of the 2nd and the 21st districts of Vienna. The Danube Island is 22 kilometres long, best for cycling, jogging, swimming, picnicking, festivals, parties and other events. It is one of the favourite recreation areas of the Viennese.
There is also the Old Danube (Alte Donau), remains from the regulation of the river, but not connected with the main stream. Supplied with ground water it is a beautiful place for swimming and sailing.
– Metro Line U1: station Vorgartenstrasse (right bank and port at Reichsbrücke); station Donauinsel (Danube Island, the area with bars, bicycle rentals, entertainment); station Kaisermühlen VIC (left bank, Vienna International Centre and DC tower); station Alte Donau (Old Danube, beaches and boat rentals).
– Metro Line U2: stations Donaumarina (right bank, view over Vienna’s skyline) and Donausstadtbrücke (left bank, bars and water skiing).
– Metro Line U6: Stations Handelskai (right bank) and Neue Donau (left bank and Old Danube, beaches and boat rentals).
– The Danube Canal is closest to the city centre; for example, at Schwedenplatz, 10 min on foot from St. Stephen’s cathedral.
Watching the sunset on the river can be part of my Vienna by night tour!
Enjoy your stay in Vienna!