Swimming in Donaukanal is legal?
Swimming is generally allowed in the Donaukanal although it is no official swimming spot. Only 100m before or after landing stages of ships and at the Nussdorfer Watergate swimming is strictly forbidden.
Is the Donaukanal not too polluted for swimming?
Generally the water quality is the same as in the rest of the Danube.No wastewaters go into the canal uncleared. Of course, as with Danube and other waters in Vienna: after heavy rainfalls and in case of high water it is not recommended to swim, as the water quality drops in these situations. There could be overflowing wastewater kanals and other dirt is washed into our rivers. This condition is usually cleared after a few days.
But look at the color of water it looks really dirty doesn’t it?
The color of the water is caused by the mud that the Danube is carrying, this is normal for a stream of that size.
Isn’t the current too strong?
The current’s speed is around 5 km/h; this is faster than on the shores of the Danube main stream but good swimmers are able to handle this speed. As an example the river Aare in the city of Berne in Switzerland is also 5 km/h fast and is enjoyed by thousands of swimmers on a sunny summer day.
In fact being carried by the stream is a very pleasurable experience. It's a fully immersive experience of the city from a completely different angle than usually.
But aren’t there swirls?
Yes there are swirls, especially close to obstacles one has to be careful. Note that the stream in the outer side of curves is stronger, so that one can be dragged into the outer side of the curve, which can become dangerous.
In general, it is recommended to stay close to the board(bank), as also in the middle of the Donaukanal the flow and current is the fastest. One wants to be able to swim to the side at any point. This means also: do not cross the Kanal, but rather enjoy one side and then the next time the other.
But no one has ever been swimming in the Donaukanal!
Swimming in the Donaukanal has a rich history, there has even been a swimming competition in the Kanal called “Quer durch Wien” in the mid war epoque. To see more historical images see our >> archive.
Why should I be swimming in the Donaukanal if I can go to the New or Old Danube or in any other Viennese Freibad?
First it is a glorious experience and pleasure to swim in the middle of the city. Secondly, having this vast amount of fluid/liquid public space 850.000m2 in the center of the city is a rare and precious quality Vienna has amongst other cities affected by hotter and hotter temperatures in summer. To use the Donaukanal to have a swim on an everyday basis (as like a jog along the banks, but with refreshment) adds to Vienna's citizen's possibilities and brings joy. For swimming in the Donaukanal one does not need to buy a ticket and can just jump in wherever is suitable – this activity should stay free and therefore spontaneous for all of us!
What about the ships?
The ships are in fact a problem since the Donaukanal is not very wide and it doesn’t leave them a lot of space to navigate. Yet the boats follow a schedule so one can anticipate at which moment the ships are gonna pass by. The schedule changes in the case of high water – but then swimming is not recommended anyways. In general swimmers should keep 30 m distance from boats. Swimming around ship docks is forbidden (100m radius).
How to enter/ exit, and when?
As with all natural waters before swimming in the Donaukanal it is recommended to check the situation carefully and beforehand find a spot to enter and exit.
Check the ship schedule before you swim.
To take your belongings with you a wetbag is very useful. It is practical for floating on the water, too.
Swimming in pairs or as a group creates more visibility for other Donaukanal users, can be beneficial for emergency situations and at the same time the experience is shared with others which makes it even more enjoyable!
Swimming in the Donaukanal is only for good swimmers that have experience with swimming in waters with currents and are able to assess and to adapt to the changing situations at the Kanal.