Summer, sun and fun beside the water – sounds like the perfect summer holiday. It doesn’t always have to be the Mediterranean, the Atlantic or the Indian Ocean, though, because we’ve also got an abundance of lakes and rivers right here at home in Austria. So this week, we’re taking you on a very Austrian island hopping tour.
The Old Danube in Vienna: the Gänsehäufel
One thing’s for sure: the Gänsehäufel – literally, the “pile of the geese” – has acquired cult status. Geese were once bred on this sandy island in the Old Danube – hence the name. Nowadays it’s home to one of the city’s most popular lidos. The Viennese absolutely adore the island, with its numerous beaches, wave pools, water slides and beach volleyball courts.
The Wörthersee in Carinthia: Maria Wörth
Did you know that until 1770, the Maria Wörth peninsula was actually an island? Back in the ninth century, the Church of St. Mary was built here, and was a popular pilgrimage site. Today, the peninsula and its church are a popular destination for visitors, and the perfect postcard and Instagram motif: the Karawanken mountains rising up in the background, and Maria Wörth surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Wörthersee lake.
Hallein in Salzburg: Pernerinsel
The Pernerinsel island is at the heart of the town of Hallein, in the Salzach region. In the middle of the nineteenth century, a brewhouse was constructed here to extract salt from Salzburg’s Dürrnberg mountain. Today, however, it serves a different purpose: fans of theatre and opera will be more familiar with the Pernerinsel as the venue of the Salzburg Festival.
Traunsee in Upper Austria: Schloss Ort
The Salzkammergut region is home to a picturesque small island in the Traunsee lake, best known as the backdrop to the television series Schlosshotel Orth. 144 episodes were recorded here at Seeschloss castle in Gmunden. Nevertheless, what many people don’t know is that the castle isn’t actually used as a hotel at all, but as a museum and venue for events. The location is particularly popular with honeymooning couples.
Faaker See in Carinthia: the Faaker See Island
Given the fact that the province of Carinthia is home to more lakes than any other in Austria, it’s only natural that there should be more islands than anywhere else in the country as well. At the centre of the Faaker See lake, you can discover the Inselhotel Faaker See - the only island hotel in Austria. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit the island, by the way. You can have yourself comfortably ferried out to the island by water taxi, before relaxing on the beach or trying out a wide range of water sports, such as windsurfing and sailing.
Graz in Styria: the Murinsel
Since Graz was Europe’s Capital of Culture back in 2003, the city has had an island as well. Anchored in the River Mur, not far from the city’s main square, or Hauptplatz, is the Murinsel. The floating platform is the same shape as a mussel, and was built according to plans drawn up by New York artist Vito Acconci. There’s also a popular coffee house on the island, and a small arena, which can be used for private events.
Danube in Vienna: the Danube Island
The largest island in the country is 21 kilometres long, up to 250 metres wide, and has an area of just under four square kilometres. The artificial island was constructed between 1972 and 1988 to protect the city from flooding. It separates the Danube from the New Danube, one of the most popular local recreation areas for residents of Vienna. You can go cycling on the island, hike, barbecue, swim and just have a good time. Every June, the Danube Island hosts the Danube Island Festival, the world’s largest music festival.
The summer's going to be hot - so which islands are on your bucket list for the holidays?