Where: Flows throughout central to Eastern Europe, at its most romantic in Vienna
Happenings: Everything from wind surfing to ice skating and nudist bathing
The Danube is the longest international river in Europe. It flows through 10 countries from the Black Forest in Germany to the mouth of the Black Sea, and most of its 2000 miles length is navigable. The Danube is in the centre of the European network of navigable inland waterways. After the Main-Danube connection was created, Danube became a part of the trans-European waterway linking seaports at the North Sea (Rotterdam, Amsterdam) and at the Black Sea (Constanca). The Rhine and the Danube were attempted to be connected as early as 793AD by Emperor Charlemagne, but the idea only came to fruition in the 19th century. Nowhere but Austria, and especially Vienna, is the concept of the glorious flowing Blue Danube of 19th century romanticism and of course the famous Blue Danube waltz by Strauss shown.
The River Danube in Vienna has now been divided into 4 separate waterways of varying sizes in Vienna, to stop flooding. The one that you see in the city centre is the Danube Canal. Few visitors to Vienna take the time out to visit the Danube as its main body flows through the outer suburbs, but those who do discover a fantastic chill out and seaside culture escape from the city.
Furthest away from the city centre is the Alte Donau or Old Danube. This is a section of the original river that is no longer attached to the new Danube. It is now a lake that is used in summer for boating and swimming. It is very picturesque, surrounded by trees and quaint ‘beach’ houses – you could almost think you were a million miles away from the city if it weren’t for the stark contrast of the skyscrapers of the UN buildings soaring up in the distance. There are plenty of sunbathing areas and restaurants on the waterfront and the whole area is a haven for swimmers, rowers, sailors and wind-surfers in summer and for ice-skaters in winter. There are sailing and windsurfing schools, 13 boat hire facilities and 11 lidos.
The Gansehaufel has 2 kilometers of beach, a wave pool, playgrounds, cafes and a nudist area. Something that you may notice is that certain areas of beach are divided up according to profession – there is a policeman’s bathing area and tram drivers’ bathing area!