Get to know the fascinating world of the “Donau-Auen”, the Danube wetlands! Situated between Bratislava and Vienna, the Donau-Auen National Park preserves the last remaining major wetlands environment in Central Europe. Here, the Danube is still free flowing and is the lifeline of the National Park. It creates a habitat for numerous animals and plants, some of which are rare species. A great trip that takes just a 45 minute drive from our capital!
The Donau-Auen National Park covers 93 square kilometres in Vienna and Lower Austria and is one of the largest remaining floodplains of the Danube in Middle Europe. The main visitor center is located in a small village called Orth an der Donau. It beckons as “Gateway to the Wetlands” – the starting place for getting to know the fascinating world of the Danube wetlands.
We recommend to come here with a car as it is the easiest and most comfortable way. Plus you need to transfer yourself if you want to experience more walking trails. Firstly, visit the main center, where you can find our more. Everything is under one roof there: the multimedia exhibition “DonAUräume”, the lookout point, the castle courtyard, the National Park Lounge, the souvenir shop, the walk-in underwater observatory, the information service and the ticket office. We stopped here to get our map and ask for advice about the walking trails, as there are several of them.
If you take a car, follow this route to get to Orth an der Donau: Bratislava – Hainburg – Donau-Brücke (Danube bridge behind Hainburg) – towards direction Engelhartstetten – Pframa – Orth an der Donau.
THE DONAU-AUEN NATIONAL PARK
The Donau-Auen National Park protects a large area of lowland forests, meadows, wetlands, and other riparian habitat along the Danube just downstream of Vienna. It is also called a “green ribbon” connecting the conurbations of Vienna and Bratislava, or a “green lung” and climactic regulator for the region. In the national park area there are more than 700 species of higher plants, more than 30 mammals, 100 species of breeding birds, 8 reptiles, 13 amphibian species, and around 50 species of fish. Among the most characteristic inhabitants of the wetlands of the National Park are the Danube crested newt, the European pond turtle, dog fish, sea eagles, kingfishers, and beavers.
There is an extensive network of walking trails which enable the visitors to explore the park on their own. We chose to discover Orth an der Donau – which is one of the most expansive wetlands areas in the National Park and is traversed by numerous watercourses, including two side arms that have been reconnected to the Danube.
ORTH AN DER DONAU
There are five walking trails to choose from in the Orth area. We did two of them as we had one afternoon only. The National Park’s well-developed navigational system can be used for orientation and also offers other valuable information so make sure you grab your map and a booklet at the center.
The first trail we did was called „Uferhausrunde“, or Uferhaus Trail, long 2,5 km and taking about 1 hour.
First, park your car near the Danube at the Uferhaus restaurant. Soon you will pass a boat where you can later stop for a coffee or a cake as well.
No wonder it is a recreational area for the population living by or just visiting and chilling on the stones or having a picnic.
The free-flowing Danube here retains the character of an alpine stream and looks just beautiful. Plus, various kinds of shells may be found among the rocks!
FADENBACH CREEK TRAIL
The other walking trail we took was called „Fadenbachrunde“, or Fadenbach Creek Trail. It is also long 2,5 km and lasts for about an hour. We had to take our car to get here from the first one, it was a few minutes drive.
There are several boardwalks leading along a silted-up former river branch. You will get impressed with this great natural beauty.
Feel like getting lost in the woods with sun shining in your face through the trees. It’s a different kind of energy you get here in the pure nature.
Still, despite the proximity of civilization, an increasing number of deer and rabbits may be seen here. And the regal wood pigeon may announce its presence by its hoarse cooing, too.
Are you are a fan of outdoors and you search for something new to explore? Then Donau-Auen National Park is surely a great option for getting out and enjoying some beautiful nature. Let us know how you liked it!
Author: Maria Kecsoova