Tired of planes, trains and automobiles? Take a boat from Bratislava to Vienna

River traffic began to operate on the Danube nearly 200 years ago. The steam driven boats would take many hours but today the sailing between Bratislava and Vienna takes just under two.

(Source: Sme, Jozef Jakubčo)
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An often overlooked passenger route between Bratislava and Vienna is the River Danube itself.

Boats began to regularly operate on the Vienna - Bratislava - Budapest route 189 years ago, when on September 14, 1830, Bratislava became one of the new passenger transport links between the important centres of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In those days the downstream navigation of the Danube took fourteen and a half hours while the upstream route took two days. Today, according to the SITA newswire, the cruise from Bratislava to Vienna takes an hour and three quarters.

Only one Slovak carrier, Twin City Liner, operates along the Danube between Bratislava and Vienna and its excursion cruisers leave the Slovak capital from the passenger quay located on the Fajnorovo embankment between the SNP Bridge and the Old Bridge in the city ​​centre.

Between September 6 and October 20, 2019, sailings take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The cruisers depart from Bratislava at 09:00 and the arrival time in Vienna is at 10:45. Returning passengers then have a five-hour break in Vienna with the return trip leaving at 16:00 and arriving back in Bratislava at 17:30.

During the summer season, generally from April to September, the sailings run from Wednesday to Sunday, but the duration and frequency of sailing may vary from season to season so it is advisable to do a live check to get the most up to date information.

200 years ago

The development of transport on the Danube in the 19th century was enabled by a decree issued by Emperor Francis I in 1817, which made it possible to acquire the right of transportation by river in the monarchy, if the candidate was able to show ownership of a ship with a steam drive.

The first successful long distance cruise was performed on 2 September 1818 by the paddle steamer Carolina. A €10 commemorative coin was issued by the Kremnica mint in May 2018 to mark the 200th anniversary of the event. The steamer completed the journey from Vienna to Bratislava in three hours and anchored at the quay near Coronation Hill, now Ľudovít Štúr Square.

The next day, according to the Pressburger Zeitung newspaper, the Carolina put on a demonstration for curious onlookers by turning upstream and downstream several times, before moving on downriver to Pest. On 16 September, she sailed upriver from Pest for the first time and, travelling only by day, reached Komárno on 26 September 1818.

The Carolina's voyage was reported as a great social event and marked the beginning of the steamboat era on the Danube which, until the construction of the railway connections between Vienna and Bratislava, remained the fastest way to travel between the two capitals.

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