Donauinsel Vienna:
Danube island & Festival Venue

The Millennium Tower with the Donauinsel, the artificial island in the Danube of Vienna

The Donauinsel ("Danube Island") is a 21.1 kilometre long and very narrow, artificial island in the Danube of Vienna. It divides the river into the main course ("Danube") and the Neue Donau ("New Danube", a reservoir for floods). The widest part of the Donauinsel is 200 metres; generally, it is much narrower. The Donauinsel is an easily accessible patch of green in Vienna and therefore, it provides important recreational grounds. Many Viennese view it as a wonderful piece of nature - in fact, being a biologist myself, I can assure you that from an ecological viewpoint, it is a piece of desert with almost exclusively decorative value.

The Donauinsel is a fairly new creation: It was built in the course of improving the anti-flood systems of Vienna between 1972 and 1988. The Donauinsel was created to provide a barrier and create a kind of basin that could act as a reservoir when the Danube carries too much water to be taken up naturally; even in this case, the island itself barley gets flooded.

The Donauinsel is popular with joggers and cyclists. Personally, I don′t quite understand that since the Donauinsel is normally heavily populated with vast crowds of BBQ-ing Turkish families, littered and feels to me a bit like fake nature. I do admit that deer that is said to live on the Donauinsel, though; as well as foxes, herons and beavers.

Between Nudism & Donauinselfest

Speaking of the latter: In the northern and southern part of the Donauinsel, naturists will find FKK areas designated for nudists. During summer, the Donauinsel is also popular for its outdoor pubs and bars. Since the 1980ies, this applies in particular to the area near the Reichsbrücke, called "Copa Cagrana" - a bastard-word from the Brazilian Copacabana and the Viennese working-class neighbourhood Kagran. According to the city of Vienna, warm summer evenings draw some 10,000 visitors to the Donauinsel.

In 1984, the first "Donauinselfest" music festival was held. A former colleague of mine has shared his fond memories of it with me many times - as a young man from Lower Austria, the open-air concerts (free of charge!) were a welcomed opportunity for an excursion to the big city. With time, the Donauinselfest grew bigger and bigger; it is seen as a present of the City of Vienna to its residents and the world. Since the 1980ies, the Donauinselfest has evolved into a beast with over three million visitors every year.

More on the Donauinselfest & Attractions Nearby

The Donauinselfest lasts for three days and is said to be the biggest music festival in Europe. The music styles vary from stage to stage - and there are many stages all over the Donauinsel. The Donauinselfest is sponsored by the city of Vienna and thus associated with the Social Democrats; the conservative People′s Party has started a competitor-festival in the Inner City years ago, which never developed to the same size (and lacks public money, since the conservatives are a small opposition party in Vienna).

Attractions nearby include the Millenniumstower, the Donauturm and Donaupark, the Vienna International Centre/UNO City and the Gänsehäufel, the most legendary public lido of Vienna. Note also the Donaukanal, the Prater and the attractions of the 20th and 2nd district.

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Further Reading

Official website of the Vienna Tourist Information

Donauinsel (Danube Island) in Vienna on Wikipedia

City of Vienna's Map of the Donauinsel (Danube Island)