Vienna for Water Lovers
One exceptional side of Vienna is its easy access to beaches and lakes
Vienna has loads to offer in summer: festivals, parties, a huge cultural program – but one exceptional side of Vienna is its easy access to beaches, lakes and pools. Vienna is undoubtedly in the open air, and when the heat sits heavy on the city, the beautiful Danube, open-air swimming pools and lakes are a very attractive break from the sightseeing tours around the city. In general, Vienna’s locals use their pools from mid-Mai until the middle of September.
On top of the pools and swimming areas, innumerous restaurants, bars and lounges on the Danube Canal offer a great place to relax and alleviate the heat of some really hot summer nights. Here are some of the best places to go:
Vienna’s “Riviera” feeling: Vienna is full of sandy beaches, cocktail bars and lounges along the Danube Canal – the city has built many artificial beaches along the Danube in the past decade that offer melodic music, fine sand, refreshing cocktails and delicious food to the Viennese and visitors. Undoubtedly, one of the most popular and cool one is Strandbar Herrmann, characterized by lots of sand, hammocks, deckchairs, big screens to project sport matches and delicious brunches during the weekends. A little further upstream, you’ll find the Badeschiff (Pool Boat), which offers the fanciest and coolest way to go swimming in the heart of Vienna: a 30 meters long pool on top of an elegant boat. This pool is usually open until 10 pm and swimmers get the chance to have a bite at the restaurant or a cocktail on the top deck in between dips in the pool – very chic! Another great suggestion that will give you the pure “beach feeling” is a day at the biggest beach club in the city: the “Vienna City Beach Club” (VCBC), located on the Heumarkt. This is just the perfect place to go if you want to enjoy the shade of palm trees, play some volleyball or pump iron at the fitness center. Don’t forget to try some delicious food at one of its many food and BBQ stands here – all fresh and organic. The ambience along with a few drinks during the warm summer nights is really something!
Vienna has also a variety of places where you can go just for a dive or a swim, right in the heart of the city… Some of the most popular pools by locals are the Neuwaldegger Pool, which is an idyllically pleasant pool resembling some characteristics of the pools from the 1920s, and many trees. OUR INSIDER TIP: make sure to look out for the buffet offering food cooked directly by the pool owner herself.
Of course, also the area around the Prater offers some of the biggest pool complexes in Vienna. The Stadium Pool is a conglomerate of 7 different pools, that are a perfect place for those who like to go crazy when swimming! Another famous and grand pool is the Schönbrunner one, which used to be the location of the imperial swimming school at the beginning of the 20th century. Apart from the lawns, peaceful oasis and pools, this place offers also a fitness & wellness area and a restaurant.
Vienna boasts spectacular pools located on the hills outside the city, in the midst of beautiful headlands – they make the summer experience even more spectacular – they are called “pools with a view”: such as the Schafberg Pool, the Döblinger Pool and the Krapfenwald Pool. All these places are great places to go with the whole family with big green lawns, where you can nap under the shades of birches for a few hours. But the best by far is the Krapfenwald Pool, located right at the edge of the woods surrounding Vienna, is the one that offers the most breathtaking view over the city and it still evinces the nostalgic flair of the beginning of the 20th century.
With 42 kilometers of sand, the Danube Island offers true and pure beach pleasure to all those who cannot go without a dive during summer! All over the Danube Island you will find free beaches, barbeques, sport facilities, bars and restaurants. This can easily be the best place to go beaching while visiting Vienna! However, Danube Island isn’t the locals’ favorite and most popular recreation area during summer just for its beaches: the Danube Island Festival is the biggest open air festival in Europe, with over 3 million visitors every year and it always increases the summertime enjoyment! The Danube Island truly offers it all: swimming bays, promenades, skating tracks, boats to rent, surfboards to hire, cafés, restaurants… and on top of all this, the artificial island is reachable in just a few minutes from the city center, with the underground line U1.
Parallel to the Danube Island, you will find the Old Danube: a stream of water from the Danube River that has been redirected and closed by two dikes in order to provide swimmers with fresh and clean waters to swim in during summer. The Old Danube offers romantic banks, docks and lidos where you can tan, relax or jump in the water as well as row boats, electric and paddle boats rental points and some occasional restaurant terraces, such as Strandcafé: definitely the most beloved and famous ribs place in Vienna: for about 17 euros you can get a huge plate of ribs, with delicious home-made chips and garlic sauces; all this while looking at the silky and calm Old Danube waters.
Otherwise there is the Strandbad Gänsehäufel. The Strandbad Gänsehäufel is one of the largest open-air pools in Europe, offering many pools, 2 kilometers of beach and covering about 300.000 square meters. However, you can also just bring you own towel and a snack and lay down on the lawns along the canal without having to pay any entrance fees anywhere. And here you will meet the locals: in their very own leisurely oasis, only a few subway stops away from the heart of Vienna.
OUR INSIDER TIP: spend some romantic time with your sweet half on a “Full Moon Trip” by boat during one of the four full moon summer nights on the Old Danube. You can rent boats on the Old Danube until 11 pm. Or go on an organized cruise with the DDSG cruises!
Spend the day outside Vienna at the Lake Neusiedl! There are many excursions you can do outside the city, but this lake is a unique area that lies in the easternmost province of Austria. The region itself is characterized by steppe and over 2000 hours of sunlight throughout the year. The area offers an incredibly scenic nature, wine, delicious local food and even a UNESCO World Heritage area - it has all the most perfect ingredients for a day outside the city.
Viennese sport lovers go to Lake Neusiedl for cycling, windsurfing, hiking or golfing. But it also hosts festivals to enjoy some opera, operetta or music concerts, especially on the weekends (check out our event section). No less important are the culinaric highlights here: Viennese come here for the regional delicacies guarantee you an exceptional gastronomic experience. One of the favorite restaurants here is “Mole West”: this is an incredibly romantic and trendy place to eat. With their glass walls, you can enjoy memorable sunsets in a fine casual dining setting. Try their “Wildschnizel”, it’s one of their best main courses!
Another great place where to stop for a bite, is “Seewirt”. This restaurant is located right next to the lake, and it allows you to rest under refreshing arcades. You definitely shouldn’t leave here without having tried their spicy melon salad: refreshing melon with a little bit of chili, cashews and some sprinkled bacon – delicious! The extraordinary climate and the special soils around the lake also provide optimal conditions for the cultivation of wine, so don’t forget to order a glass (or a bottle) of one of the house wines.
This is it in a nutshell… Cooling down in Vienna during summer is easy, fun and a great alternative to sightseeing. Weather you choose to go for a boat ride, for a dive or for a promenade walk along the canals: Vienna has it all!