Vienna swimming pool. Especially when Vienna is sizzling you’ll do well adopting a fresh approach to sightseeing. Instead of adding another museum to your itinerary, pack your trunks and swimsuit for a dive into 1920s bathing culture.
At barely 25 min from the city center, Neuwaldegg in the Vienna Woods lures with a sizeable vintage pool that could be taken out straight from a Wes Anderson film.
In the midst of pines, spruces, birches and beeches a clearing opened up a shimmering blue rectangle, framed by a typical green wooden veranda and a few tables and chairs. In the back, a dozen wooden plank beds balanced above a slightly sloping lawn.
Before we saw this tranquil oasis we made our way through the main building, a wildly romantic wooden complex smelling of soap and hay. I had been warned that this private bath charged hefty entrance fees, and forked out double the price I would pay in a common busy municipal bath.
Vienna swimming pool. Despite the warm July day the bath’s only guests were two elderly gentlemen, a pair of love birds and the three of us. When I pulled back the curtains of the ladies’ locker and changing room from 1925 I gasped: Bathed in the dim rooftop light were rows of wooden vintage lockers of the kind my late grandma would have used. In the back, a casually hung gold framed mirror hid the thousand vanities it had reflected for nearly a century.
Never had I taken that long in getting changed, just to savour the magic charm of that live exhibition of our grandparents’ lifestyle.
While my kids plunged into the chilly waters I tiptoed past a dozing gentleman in a deckchair.
Vienna swimming pool. The large plank beds on the lawn were perfect for observing the swimmers ploughing through the water, the finches feasting in the bird house and an employee updating the day’s menu on the chalk board: ‘Viennese savoury rice with meat’, ‘roast chicken leg with potatoes’, and ‘Greek salad’. (Though some locals swear on this place’s sourdough bread with butter and chives, and buttermilk, quite traditional swimming pool food.)
On my exploratory walk into the forested area of the compound, another idyllic vintage pavilion, and a separate area of plank beds in the cool shade of a large spruce. When I finally decided to take a swim I owned the pool for a whole 30 minutes. All you could hear were my gentle splashes and some tweeting finches.
Definitely a step up from contemplative coffeehouse crowds, pool life at Neuwaldegg not only immerses visitors in a 100 years of history but in the tranquil style the Viennese have been famous for: ‘Nur ka’ne Woe’n!’ (‘Just no waves!’)
Vienna Swimming Pool Neuwaldegg: Practical Information
Address: Promenadeweg 58, 1170 Vienna
How to get there: From Schottentor station at Ringstrasse boulevard, take tramway 43 right to the terminal Neuwaldegg. You will even pass a vineyard on the way. From there, it’s a five minutes walk slightly uphill.
Opening times: from Mai to end of September (if weather allows until mid October), daily 9.00 am to 6.30 pm (pool closes at 6.15 pm);
Entrance fees: EUR 17 for adults (EUR 11 from 3.00 pm), EUR 11 for children (prices from 2019)