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TRAVEL

The best lakes and swimming spots in Austria

From lakes framed by breathtaking mountains to ink blue waters, Austria has some of the cleanest and most beautiful swimming spots in Europe. 

People make their way in pedal boats on the Old Danube (Alte Donnau), a subsidiary of the Danube river, in Vienna, Austria  (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
People make their way in pedal boats on the Old Danube (Alte Donnau), a subsidiary of the Danube river, in Vienna, Austria (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

There are hundreds of lakes in Austria where you can splash around.

Water quality in the alpine state is also the second highest quality in Europe according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) list published on Tuesday. 

READ MORE: Austria’s beaches ‘second cleanest in Europe’. 

Here are some of the best places to relax and take a dip in Austria. 

Achensee

The largest lake in Tyrol is the Achensee a mountain lake with cool, clean water. It is sometimes dubbed “Tyrol’s ocean”.

The lake is located in the Karwendel nature reserve.

You can paddleboard, windsurf, sail or dive as well as swim here – the average water temperature is around 19°C (66°F) in summer.

Achensee, also known as Tyrol's ocean. Photo by Alin Andersen on Unsplash
Achensee, also known as Tyrol’s ocean. Photo by Alin Andersen on Unsplash

Neusiedler See 

Neusiedler See, also known as Lake Neusiedl is a shallow lake in Burgenland, reaching only around one metre deep. The steppe lake is surrounded by reeds and meadows.

There are more species of birds here than at any other inland lake in Europe. Drinking local wine in lake taverns is also an option for visitors, as is cycling.

Be careful not to go too far as it is possible to cross the Hungarian border if you make your way around the lake in its entirety. 

Windsurfing is possible at Neusiedler See. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Altausseer See

In the middle of the Styrian Salzkammergut lies the Altausseer See, which is particularly known for its crystal clear water with its dark blue colour, giving it the name the “dark blue inkwell”.

Bathing is usually possible from late spring to autumn.

An excursion boat moves along on Lake Attersee (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)

Attersee

Beloved by Austria’s most famous artist Gustav Klimt, Attersee is a beautiful glacier lake located in the Upper Austrian Salzkammergut.

The water is exceptionally pure and clear, with visibility under water for up to 25 meters. In addition, the water heats up to 25 °C in summer. The Attersee-Bädercard gives you access to seven bathing beaches.

Wörthersee

The largest and most famous lake in Carinthia is the Wörthersee , which lies between Villach and Klagenfurt. It is also one of the warmest alpine lakes due to the low water flow and the sheltered location.

The water is often over 25°C in summer and can even reach 28°C. There are numerous bathing beaches around the lake, including some nudist bathing areas. There are also hip beach bars and restaurants to visit. 

River Danube 

Even if you are stuck in Austria’s most urban city, Vienna, there are still many opportunities to swim in the River Danube. 

The EEA pointed out in its report that in recent years there has been a great deal of effort in Vienna to improve water quality here.

There are river beaches along the Danube Island (Donau Insel), just outside Vienna in Donaualtarm Greifenstein, and the Copa Kagrana sand beach near Uno City, which has cocktail bars and snack options.

The Old Danube (Alte Donau) is also great for a dip or a chance to try out paddle boarding or rowing.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is hitting the headlines as the Austrian Federal Government plans a reform of the scheme. Here's how it works now, why it is necessary and how it will change in the future.

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass (Mother-Child-Pass) was launched in Austria in 1974 to ensure the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies.

It grants pregnant women free access to essential examinations and consultations, and serves as a record of healthcare.

But big changes are on the cards for the pass as a digitization reform is planned for the coming years, while disputes continue about the cost of the scheme.

Here’s what you need to know about how the Mutter-Kind-Pass works, why it’s necessary and how it will change. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules about turning on the heating in the workplace in Austria?

What is the Mutter-Kind-Pass?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is a small, yellow passport-style document to provide and track healthcare for pregnant women and young children in Austria.

It is issued to a woman when a pregnancy is confirmed by a doctor and contains records of medical examinations during pregnancy. As well as health check-ups for the child up to five years of age.

The Mutter-Kind-Pass exists to ensure pregnant women and children get the necessary medical care they need.

For example, women in Austria are entitled to five medical check-ups throughout their pregnancy including blood tests, internal examinations, ultrasound scans and consultations with a midwife.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Am I liable for ambulance costs in Austria?

Who can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass and how much does it cost?

Any pregnant woman living in Austria can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass (and subsequent health examinations) for free.

However, all examinations must take place with a doctor that is registered with a health insurance company in Austria.

Women without health insurance need a confirmation of entitlement from the Austrian health insurance fund that is responsible for the area where they live.

This is a required step before any examinations can take place free of charge.

Why is the pass necessary?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass and its mandatory examinations are primarily used to detect any illnesses or possible complications early. 

The expected date of delivery is also entered into the Mutter-Kind-Pass, so the document is needed to receive maternity pay in Austria.

Additionally, proof of examinations are required to receive the full entitlement to childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungsgeld). This means the pass should be taken to every maternity-related appointment, as recommended by the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse.

How is the Mutter-Kind-Pass being reformed?

On Wednesday 16th November, Minister for Women and Family Affairs Susanne Raab (ÖVP) and Minister of Health Johannes Rauch (Greens) announced a reform of the Mutter-Kind-Pass.

The most notable change will be a transition from the paper booklet to a digital app in 2024, as well as new services and a name change to the Eltern-Kind-Pass (Parent-Child-Pass).

Raab said: “In addition to the services in the area of ​​health care, we will introduce parent advice, which should be a compass for the new phase of life for new parents.”

The new services will include counselling, an extra consultation with a midwife, an additional ultrasound, hearing screenings for newborns, nutritional and health advice, and multilingual information in digital form.

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

In the future, parents-to-be and new parents will also be offered parenting advice when they have their first child, for example on the compatibility of employment and childcare, on the division of parental leave or on the effects of part-time work on pensions.

“The mother-child pass has been an essential part of maternal and child health in Austria for decades. Now we have managed together to further develop this important instrument in a contemporary form”, said Rauch.

READ NEXT: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

The implementation of the parent-child passport is a comprehensive, multi-year project and will begin with digitisation from next year.

The annual budget for the Mutter-Kind-Pass is currently €62 million and an additional €10 million from EU funds has been allocated to cover the cost of the reforms. 

However, there have been debates in recent months about the general cost of the pass. 

As a result there are ongoing negotiations between insurance companies and the Medical Association about the reimbursement of fees for providing healthcare and examinations.

READ ALSO: ‘Better and cheaper’: What foreigners really think about childcare in Austria

Der Standard reports that the Medical Association is threatening to discontinue the Mutter-Kind-Pass at the end of the year if an agreement on doctors fees cannot be reached. If that were to happen, expectant mothers would have to pay for examinations.

Currently, doctors receive €18.02 per examination and the Association is calling for an 80 percent increase.

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