Vienna is one of the great cities on the Danube river. So no surprise to find a few boat tours and excursions available to visitors.
- Local trips take in the Danube and its city centre arm
- Direct connection to Bratislava by ship
- Wetland tours also available
- Many services are seasonal
- Most leave from a very central location
- Book a river experience* in Vienna
- See also:
(The Danube close to where it leaves the city)
Since one of Europe’s longest rivers passes through it, you’d imagine Vienna full of local boat tours and river trips. That’s not quite the case.
The fault lies with geography, I suspect. The Danube actually flows to one side, away from the city centre where most of the visitor action takes place.
European river cruises, of course, stop off for shore excursions, but many local boat experiences involve a more central stretch of river known as the Donaukanal.
This channel breaks off from the Danube where the latter enters Vienna, curves along the edge of the old town, then rejoins the main river on the other side of the city.
With that in mind, here some popular alternatives for enjoying trips on the water in Vienna…
Danube & Donaukanal
(One of the DDSG boats)
The DDSG Blue Danube service has various options on good-sized ships with onboard catering. The choice at any one time depends on the season. Examples include:
- Simple trips around the Donaukanal
- Longer options that also take in the Danube in Vienna
- Special day trips outside of Vienna to locations such as Dürnstein (where England’s King Richard I once languished in prison)
- Themed excursions such as the Heurigen Cruise with live Viennese music
Most of the shorter DDSG services depart from the main landing stage on the Donaukanal opposite Schwedenplatz at the edge of the old town (Franz-Josefs-Kai 2), but boarding locations depend on the trip.
More info: Website
Bratislava & back
(The landing stage is clearly marked!)
The Twin City Liner catamaran has regular scheduled services that travel out to Bratislava along the Danube and back again. The capital of Slovakia is only about 55km from Vienna as the crow flies.
The journey takes about 75 minutes with on-board drinks, snacks and meals available. The service runs throughout the year, but operates a reduced timetable in the colder seasons.
In the summer months, a day tour* out to Bratislava actually uses the catamaran to return to Vienna.
The ship also leaves from the main Donaukanal landing stage at Schwedenplatz.
More info: Website
The Lobau wetlands
(Boarding point and boat for local wetland tours)
The protected Lobau wetlands area is part of the Donau-Auen National Park that lies on the northern side of the Danube and spans the city border. As you might imagine, the park provides a rich habitat for plant and animals (including beavers).
Municipal bus lines get you close enough to walk into the area, which has a visitor centre open on selected days during the warmer seasons at Dechantweg 8 in the 22nd district. But the city also has a waterborne alternative.
The Vienna National Park boat offers half-day excursions that take you out to the Lobau for a guided walking tour, then return you to the city centre afterwards.
Note that these trips only run on selected days from late spring to autumn. I’m not sure how much English is involved, as this is more of a service for locals. You book a place by telephone.
The boat leaves from the Donaukanal, close to the Salztorbrücke bridge and not far from the Schwedenplatz jetty.
More info: Website (German)
Bonus: the Alte Donau
(Boat hire facilities on the Alte Donau lake)
Surprisingly, Vienna also has its very own giant lake: the Alte Donau (a part of the Danube that became isolated after water regulation measures).
The “Old Danube” has riverside walks, restaurants, public bathing areas, and (drum roll) various watersport facilities that include boat hire, sailing courses, paddleboard rental, and similar.