Austria’s most beautiful spots for lake and river swimming

Austria may not have a seashore but it has no shortage of beautiful mountain lakes and rivers. Have a look at our list of best places for open water swimming and plan a refreshing dip.

Austria's most beautiful spots for lake and river swimming
The Lobau. Photo: wien-info


The Old Danube (Alte Donau) is perfect for swimmers, sailors, rowers and windsurfers. There are four lidos along the river and the Gänsehäufel area has two kilometres of beach, swimming pools, playgrounds and cafés for enjoying relaxing summer days. If you’re feeling more adventurous explore the Lobau in the east of Vienna – part of the Donau-Auen National Park. It has ponds and creeks suitable for swimming and several areas for FKK – nude sunbathing and swimming. From May until October, you can get there with the National Park Boat which leaves at 9am from Salztorbrücke, Franz-Josefs Quay to the Lobau. Or cycle there from the Prater. 

Lower Austria



The romantic Lunzer See is surrounded by forests and is Lower Austria's largest lake in. The swimming area has a diving tower for daredevils and there are rental boats with which to explore the lake. Next to the beach is a shell-shaped stage where the Wellenklänge festival is held every year. There is also a popular lakeside restaurant with a terrace and view out over the lake.

Upper Austria

The turquoise-hued Lake Attersee is famous for its excellent sailing conditions. In summer the water temperature is around 25C – making it very pleasant for swimming and diving along the shore. Waterskiing is another popular activity and there are campsites and hotels close to the lake.


Photo: austria-info

With 300 days of sunshine per year, the Neusiedler See is the spot for sun worshippers. Europe’s westernmost steppe lake and the largest lake in Austria, its deepest point measures only 1.8m. The shallow water warms up very quickly in the summer making the lake a popular destination for families. The Neusiedler See is also great for windsurfing.


At 1000m above sea level, the Weissensee is Carinthia’s highest lake. With a temperature of around 24C, the clear water is refreshing even on the hottest of days, and has fantastic visibility. Two thirds of the lake shores are protected by conservation laws, and the area offers great scenic beauty. Ideal for those in search of a peaceful break.



The 11km long Wolfgangsee is SalzburgerLand’s largest lake. In addition to the two main resorts, St. Wolfgang and St. Gilgen, there is also Strobl on its eastern shores which offers numerous hotels and camping sites. Thanks to its crystal clear, warm waters, Lake Wolfgang is popular with swimmers, families and scuba divers in summer.


Photo: Raymond Muzika

Known as the ‘Styrian Sea’, Lake Grundlsee is the largest lake in Styria and has 14km of natural beaches, and a section reserved for nudist bathers. It also has boat rental, sailing and surfing classes.



Lake Achensee was created by mountain glaciers and is a great place for swimming, surfing, sailing, rowing, diving, and fishing. There are two bathing areas – the North and the Schwarzenau, which have camping grounds, restaurants, and boat rental. The average water temperature is a chilly 19C – refreshing on a hot day.


Photo: stadtwerke-bregenz

Austria’s share of Bodensee, or Lake Constance, is a 27km long stretch of beautiful beaches between the towns of Hörbranz und Gaißau. The Strandbad Bregenz is the largest beach, with an outdoor pool as well as an indoor pool. In the summer the lake has an average temperature of up to 26C, and the swimming pools are 22C. The town of Hard has Bodensee's only nudist bathing beach. The charming Militärbad, or “Mili”, lies between Bregenz and Lochau. The former military swimming baths were converted into Bregenz's first recreational bathing beach in 1825.

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EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung