This mini danube cruise took us on a city trip from Vienna to Bratislava, the charming Slovakian capital at just 60 km from Vienna. We chose the most exciting travel option: a high speed catamaran ride down the Danube. Read my story and decide if this is for you.
By Catamaran From Vienna to Bratislava
The catamarans are not only the most classy passenger boats on the Vienna Danube but also the fastest. They have become one of the most popular day trips from Vienna for travellers, like Ashley and Carolyn who raved about their journey in their Lazy Travelers blog.
Our High-Speed Mini Danube Cruise
Our Danube catamaran departed on a sunny Sunday at 9am from a quay on the Danube canal in the city centre. At that point, the canal itself has at best urban charm, boasting a mixture of graffiti walls, two man made sandy beaches with deck chairs, and the Badeschiff, a ship moored closeby with a restaurant, bar and its own swimming pool.
The scenery changed abruptly after the first few hundred meters, giving way to lush green shores which accompanied us until we floated into the huge wide Danube itself. By then, the boat whizzed us across the river at an average speed of up to 55 km per hour. It was fairly quiet in the passenger room which looked like an aircraft cabin with three times the space and view.
The passing scenery of this mini danube cruise:
Nationalpark Donau-Auen (Danube floodplains), sandy shores with sculptures of driftwood, dozens of little huts of amateur fishers (like this one on the photo) and a few motor boats and canoes every now and then. Close to the border with Slovakia, the city of Hainburg appeared, followed by the ruins of Theben castle on a huge bedrock towering over the Danube. Shortly after, we Bratislava castle on the left with the city at its feet.
Downstream, the trip took an hour and 15 minutes (upstream: an hour and a half).
Bratislava‘s old town is a jewelry box containing beautiful town houses, churches and insitutional buildings from all cultural epochs in a cobble stoned pedestrian area full of nice little squares and alleys with dozens of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Timewise, we could have easily visited Bratislava castle which you can access right from the old town. Push chairs and steps don’t combine well, so we decided to give my little son another year and then mount the castle.
Back on the Twin City Liner, we decided for the full speed boat experience up on the sun deck. Standing on the guardrail, the strong head winds and the engine noise created that adventurous feeling of doing something really cool. That feeling grew when we whizzed past two standard danube cruise ships in seconds.
Other than the hydrofoil boats to Bratislava, the Twin City Liners take off directly from Schwedenplatz at the city centre and go down the Danube canal for the first 12 km, therefore by-passing the Danube lock at Freudenau. Online booking is easy and once you have booked you get a fairly unobtrusive mail by a city tour operator including a few offers.
Season: 31th March to 28th October (if you travel outside these dates, consider a round-trip car transfer from Central Vienna to Central Bratislava).
Among the main highlights of Bratislava is certainly the castle, from which you have a beautiful view of the Danube Valley and into Austria and Hungary. The old town is a pedestrian area and full of nice restaurants and cafés. More info and tickets for catamaran or hydrofoil to Bratislava.
The high speed catamaran doesn’t operate during the winter months. And it doesn’t come with a private guide who picks you up at the hotel. This private tour does. You will have your own private driver and guide to get you to Bratislava by car. In Bratislava, a local guide will show you around town and Bratislava castle. On the way back, you can choose between returning by car, boat or train. Find out more.
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