The Donauinsel – Danube Island – is an artificial island, which is a result of measures taken to protect Vienna from floods. It is easily accessible from surrounding tube and train stations, such as Donauinsel, Kaisermühlen, Floridsdorf and Handelskai, as well as several bridges. There are no cars allowed on the island, making it a quiet part of nature right in front of Vienna’s skyline.
It’s big. Seriously, it is.
The first time Samora and I went there together it was spontaneous. We found ourselves in Handelskai with time to kill, so we decided to walk around the island. I suggested we go for a walk to the Donauinsel station and take the tube from there. So we walked and walked and walked. We walked for five kilometres until we finally reached the station, which from the bridge we had crossed to get to the island had looked so close. Although relatively thin, the island stretches for over 21 km, a fact we both remember since then.
Island life – Viennese style
When I told Samora this is what we call “the island”, he looked very sceptical. To be fair the only time we went there together was on a windy October day, when none of the beach bars were open and people weren’t basking in the sun. While people in other countries go to the beach, the Viennese come here, whether it be for swimming, cycling, rollerblading or just a nap in the sun. During the summer months there are also plenty of small restaurants and places to have afterwork drinks.
Go on a mini holiday
The best time to enjoy the island starts with the first warm days of spring. The moment temperatures hit 20 degrees and the sun is out, you will find people in bikinis and swimming trunks, basking in the sun, instantly giving you a sense of summer holidays, even if it’s only March. Later in spring the small restaurants and bars open along the riverside, making the outside seating areas the perfect place to watch the sunset with a cocktail in your hand. The water may not be as sparkling blue as the sea by the shores of Barbados but you still get to pretend on holiday.
Each year at the end of June, there’s the Donauinselfest, Europe’s biggest free open-air festival. Here you can find music of different genres for each age group. Apart from a wide range of very well and lesser-known Austrian artists, there have also been international artists onstage, like Anastacia.
Entry to the Donauinselfest is free but if you want to go to see a specific artist make sure you go there early enough because, as mentioned before, the island is huge and so is the amount of people swarming the island.
Barbados’ rivers are located underground and you only get to see them when you venture, for example, into Harrison’s Cave. So naturally I enjoy any opportunity to walk alongside a rivershore. Although a windy afternoon in October was not the ideal time to view the ‘island’, it was peaceful and allowed time to take in nature. I can imagine if it was a hot summer’s day, I would have sought refuge from the sun and ordered a cold beer by the end of the trek. Next time I’ll be sure to visit during the warmer temperatures.
How to get there: From the tube station Donauinsel (U1) you can exit directly onto the island. Other nearby stations are, for example, Kaisermühlen (U1), Floridsdorf (u6, S-Bahn) and Handelskai (u6, S-Bahn)
Why go: Whenever you want to recharge in nature without leaving the city
Best time to visit: during the warmer months or whenever the sun is out and restaurants along the riverside are open