Are you interested in kayaking a former arm of the Danube River in the heart of Vienna? Here is how to spend a lovely day kayaking the Danube Canal and catching views of the city along the way!
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Helpful Info for Kayaking the Danube Canal
The Danube Canal is 17 kilometers long and crossed by five rail bridges and fifteen road bridges.
The Danube’s former arm forks off just after reaching Vienna’s northwest at Nussdorf Weir in Döbling. It reaches the Old Town of Vienna and rejoins the Danube on the southeast side of the town at Praterspitz in Simmering.
Regulated as a water channel from 1598 to 1600, the Canal is relatively narrow. For centuries, the Danube Canal was essential for passenger and cargo transportation.
In the 19th century, using the Canal for shipping failed as Vienna grew, and the transport was transferred to the Danube River.
The Danube Canal was defined as a leisure and entertainment area in 2005.
In 2010, a new ship station was opened at Schwenedplatz, and a fast ferry to Bratislava was launched. Experience a scenic tour by bus from Vienna to Bratislava and stroll through the old town. Return to Vienna past the picturesque river landscapes aboard the Twin City Liner boat. BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE
Both sides of the Donau Canal are used for cycling, walking, jogging, or skating. During the summer months, there are flea markets and music events. Discover Vienna from the water on a 1-hour boat tour along the banks of the Danube Canal. Enjoy the view of the highlights of the city, from the beautiful old buildings to the new, trendy districts. BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE
Summary of Our Kayaking the Danube Canal Trip
We’ve paddled a few sections of the Danube River and wanted to discover the Danube Canal, its former arm. The weather was promising on a Saturday morning, so we drove to Vienna, expecting a great paddling day. The best thing was that we didn’t paddle too much; we just left the flow carrying us along the canal while admiring the views.
Total distance: 17 kilometers
Moving Time: 2 hours 44 minutes
Difficulty: 1 – for beginners
Water Level: 293 cm
Average Moving Speed: 7 kilometers/hour
Departure Point Coordinates: 48°15’27.9″N 16°22’07.6″E
Arrival Point Coordinates: 48°09’35.3″N 16°30’21.2″ E
Gear: Gumotex Twist Inflatable Kayak
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Kayaking the Danube Canal
Getting to Nussdorf Weir
We left the car at Albener Harbour, near the bus station, in front of a farmer’s house. We even asked the guy if we could leave the car there, and he seemed surprised. “It’s free parking, so you shouldn’t ask,” he answered. Well, we know that, but many are so territorial that you never know!
We waited no more than 5 minutes and jumped on a bus to Vienna downtown. The connection to Nussdorf wasn’t as easy as expected. After leaving the bus, we headed to the metro station, which was quite crowded for a Saturday morning. Last, we took a tram to reach our final destination, Nussdorf.
It was the first time we moved using three transport forms, and carrying a trolley didn’t help either.
Nussdorf Weir- Departure Point
The Nussdorf Weir was built between 1894 and 1899 to protect the canal from floods. Depending on the time of year, a volume between 80 and 225 m³/s of feedwater must be provided to the Danube Canal, with up to 132 m³/s being possible.
Reaching the Nussdorf Weir was easy, and we were glad we finally got there. Since we weren’t in a hurry, we sat on a bench for a while and enjoyed a snack and a coffee bought from a coffee house near the tram station.
We began to inflate our kayak, and the preparation didn’t take long. Shortly thereafter, we had some witnesses near us, asking all kinds of questions, but mostly, asking where our final destination was.
The launch area was clean, so we could easily drop our kayak into the water. Although the stairs were steep, that didn’t annoy us too much. One last view of the beautiful Art Nouveau bridge of the weir, and we were already floating the Danube Canal.
Soon after the departure, we realized we were carried downstream on a fast flow, so we didn’t put too much effort into paddling. Instead, we began admiring some of the graffiti bits on the shores. We could spot some graffiti here and there, but it kept to the concrete for the most part. While some seem annoyed by this so-called art, we enjoyed this young’s way of expressing themselves.
Once again, passers were taking pictures of us from the sidelines. Children were running and asking for a photo, adults wishing us “bonne voyage,” and the elderly waving us. It was funny as we didn’t experience that before. We never imagined our inflatable kayak could make such waves in Vienna’s downtown.
The Spittelau Area
While kayaking the Danube Canal, we began to count the bridges, but soon after, we abandoned the idea as the city’s views were lovely, and we just wanted to embrace that.
After passing a few bridges, we recognized on the right-hand side shore the Park&Ride Spittelau, the popular and pocket-friendly parking in the middle of the city. Next to the building, a giant tower and a charming, colorful building were visible from the water. Since the building looked so appealing and we knew nothing about it, we googled it. I can’t tell you how surprised we were when we found out this fancy place is actually a waste incinerator!
And guided tours in English and German are possible by emailing them! What a brilliant idea to bring elegance and recycling in one place!
The Schwedenplatz Area
In the 1990s, the section between Vienna’s 2nd and 3rd districts was exploited for recreational purposes. Now, the area is lined with beach bars and places to eat and drink. Many spots are available exclusively for the waterway, a must-see in summer. At night, the area becomes more alive as the bridges are lightened in blue.
We passed by many buildings, restaurants, and terraces. People were constantly waving and taking photos of us.
We passed by the Twin City Liner terminal at Schwedenplatz, close to the city center, where the fast ferry to Bratislava(Slovakia) leaves. Usually, the Twin City Liner runs at least two times a day. Always double-check its schedule, as you don’t want to paddle at the same time as the Twin City Liner!
Reaching Vienna River
Right after the ferry terminal, we bumped into the small Vienna River that winds past the Schönbrunn Palace all the way to City Park. The river meanders partially underground and joins the Danube Canal near Schwedenplatz. If you’re kayaking the Danube Canal, take a short detour on the Vienna River.
We’ve been kayaking for more than 7 kilometers by now. A small tour boat was coming upstream, so we decided to join the Vienna River. Unfortunately, we could only paddle for a few hundred meters as the water was shallow, and we had to return. It’s the few times we really paddled. Next to the bridge over the Vienna River, a few fishermen waved us and asked us where we were going.
Hundertwasserhaus – Lunch
We were floating for a while and looking for a place for lunch. The steeps on the shore didn’t look so appealing for our inflatable kayak, and after checking Google Maps, we realized we were coming close to Hundertwasserhaus. We kept our eyes open for a friendly disembarkment point, and once we found a proper place, we pulled the kayak out of the water. We placed it on the trolley and headed to one of the terraces near the Hundertwasserhaus.
The colorful and unusual house designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser attracts tourists from all over the world. Do I have to mention that the two of us dragging a trolley with a kayak in the middle of the city was also an attraction? We posed for some tourists, and since the weather was beautiful, we just wanted to enjoy our afternoon in the city! The guy serving us was also curious about our route. We were its first guests arriving by water at his restaurant!
Leaving the Residential Area
After a delicious lunch, we launched our kayak and continued our route. By KM 9, we left the residential area behind, and the course was peaceful except for some noise from the highway.
At KM 12, we reached the vast OMV infrastructure, and soon after, we came across the familiar fishermen’s houses. This summer, while kayaking the Thaya and Morava Rivers, we saw this kind of fishermen’s house for the first time, which is typical for this region. It might be challenging to paddle through the wires and fishing nests; fortunately, we didn’t see many fishers that day.
At some point, it was so silent that we got scared by a deer coming out from the bushes. We spotted it, but catching the deer with the phone camera was impossible.
Praterspitz – Arrival Point
The final stretch to Pratespitz: no arm tiredness due to lack of paddling! The weather was beautiful, and we were floating in complete quietness. We were starting to feel sorry that our journey was coming to an end.
As we got closer to Praterspitz, we knew we had to paddle downstream to reach the shore stairs. To our surprise, fishermen entirely occupied those, and they started to look odd as we approached. None of them made any effort to let us use the stairs, so we struggled to pull out the kayak on an unfriendly rocky area. What was I saying earlier about some being territorial?
Nameless Cemetery – Friedhof der Namenlosen
After packing everything, we headed to our car, passing an industrial property with two huge cereal storehouses.
But before that, we made another interesting stop, this time at the Nameless Cemetery. From what I’ve read, there are buried unknown people who drowned in the Danube river between 1840 and 1940. Many of the bodies remained unidentified, hence the name: nameless. While the older part lies abandoned, the new section is easily recognizable as a wall surrounds it. A family has been taking care of this place since 1933. We strolled for a while around the area, reading the crosses and snick-picking inside the small chapel.
Kayaking the Danube Canal. Interactive Map
Underneath, you’ll find a customized map that includes all the locations mentioned in this article. Just open up this link on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. The Google Maps app will open, and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!
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