Point, Vienna, News
Cool off your hot feet in beautiful sparkling water!
- Places to swim
- Bodies of water
- Dogs allowed
- Plant life
- Picnic places
- Places for sports + games
1220 Vienna, 296 Wagramer Straße
Coordinates: 48°16'36.62"N, 16°29'12.46"E
Dechantlacke and Upper Lobau
1220 Vienna, Dechantweg (footpath!)
Coordinates: 48°11'30.52"N, 16°28'30.22"E
1100 Vienna, 91 Triester Straße
Coordinates: 48° 9'44.97"N, 16°20'50.56"E
It can get uncomfortably hot in the city. When the asphalt is threatening to melt and there isn't a breath of air, that's when it's time for the Urbs to switch their walking legs to swimming mode. For an inland city, Vienna has a lot of places to swim – thanks to the Danube – more in fact than most other metropolises. You can slip into the cool refreshing water at Greifenstein, Kritzendorf, and the lakeside swimming facilities at Alte Donau, Donauinsel and the Donau-Auen National Park. The considerable number of public swimming baths are an alternative refuge from the heat, for people who don't suffer from agoraphobia. But this time we were yearning for a pond.
This pond has clear and refreshing water from the many nearby gravel quarries. Lawns and shade surround the banks of the lake, as does a wild area of vegetation on the south side. A little way to the east of the pond, there is also another – somewhat larger – pond, which is dedicated to fishing, but where you can also surf. Unfortunately the ponds are under threat from a planned housing development. This will leave only a small part of the banks open to the public.
DECHANTLACKE AND UPPER LOBAU
Dechantlacke is in the middle of the Auwald woods in an area called the Lobau, and is a good sized lake. This means the water quality is refreshingly good throughout the whole summer. Bathing suits are not absolutely necessary, as most swimmers here are supporters of naturist ideas. The lake offers lots of shady trees, a nice lawn for sunbathing and a gently sloped bank. There is one drawback to swimming here though, the mosquitoes can get annoying on humid afternoons!
Dechantlacke's sister is Panozzalacke, which is also in the Lobau, but has a totally different character. The woods don't reach around the entire lake any more, and the water is much shallower. The water can get particularly warm in summer. There is a huge lawn for sunbathing and playing, and refreshments and snacks can be bought from the ‘Knusperhäuschen’ [gingerbread house]. There aren't even as many annoying mosquitoes at this lake either.
Another public, and wonderful swimming area in the national park is the Donau-Oder-Kanal Becken. The name may not sound very inviting, but the swimming at the second reach (DOK 2) is exceptional. There is also a lawn for sunbathing at the north end. The canal, which is divided into four reaches, is not just a very peaceful place, but the water quality is also very attractive. This 1.6km long segment was built as part of a plan to connect the Oder and the Danube, but the project was never completed.
Admittedly, Wienerbergteich can't really be compared with a beautiful lake in the mountains, it was after all a clay extraction site for a long time. This is also what gives the water its greyish, yellow colour. The city authorities confirm there is nothing to worry about with the water quality though, even when the water level is low in long hot summers. There are places to easily get into the water, lawns for sunbathing and benches around the whole lake. Wienerberg is also a nature reserve, so don't be alarmed if a turtle goes by while you're swimming.
Apart from medieval bath houses, until the 19th century, the Viennese always preferred the dry cleanliness of dabbling one's feet. They only began to reconsider when illness and epidemics started to strike the city, one after another. Tröpferlbäder [drip-drop baths], usually a kind of shower facility, were then built for the entire population. They got their name because shortages in the water supply meant the water was often just drips and drops, rather than a proper flow. By the first world war, there were 19 of these facilities. During the ‘Red Vienna’ period 1918-1934, construction was begun again, and continued on into the 60s – when the introduction of bathrooms to homes led to a decline in the need for Tröpferlbäder. It wasn't until bathing began to be considered a recreational activity, rather than a hygienic necessity, that bathing facilities were given a new lease of life. Open-air bathing also took off around 1900, and fun and recreation were the driving forces.
SKINNY DIPPING – A SUCCESSFUL REVOLUTION?
Trailblazer, Florian Berndl – who frequented the Gänsehäufel public lake swimming facilities in 1900 – was unsuccessful in popularising his idea about ‘bathing close to nature’, as were other free thinkers of the time. The first authorisation for this kind of activity was received from socialist city authorities in 1927, by the ‘Bund freier Menschen’ [Association of Free People], who also received a site in the Lobau for their use. The club later changed its name to the ‘Sport- und Geselligkeitsverein’ [Sport and Social Club], and was able to survive Nazi times, as the Nazis had nothing against nakedness – as long as it wasn't Jewish. Post-war Austria saw the introduction of more restrictive laws, that curtailed naked swimming. These were not finally broken until 1968. Now there is only one problem, and that lies deeply buried in our subconscious: because we only really approve of naked swimming for slim, tanned, young swimmers.
Upper Lobau Places to Swim:
1220 Vienna, Lobau (91 A > Ölhafen stop, then an approximately 3km hike)
1220 Vienna, Lobau (91A > Roter Hiasl/Raffineriestraße stop, then 1km on foot)
1220 Vienna, Lobau (91A > Lobgrundstraße stop, then 800m on foot)
Other Free Open-Air Bathing Places:
Rosenwasser (a sidearm of Heustadelwasser)
1020 Vienna, Prater Hauptallee
1220 Vienna, Spargelfeldstraße
1220 Vienna, Wagramer Str./Am Kaiserwasser
1210 Vienna to 1220 Vienna, the entire stretch
Badestrand Romaplatz (Alte Donau)
1210 Vienna, Arbeiterstrandbadstrasse/Lovaraweg
3420 Kritzendorf, Badgasse (near the station)
3422 Greifenstein, Am Damm
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