Vienna’s Indoor Swimming Pools

Vienna’s many indoor swimming pools are the ideal place to stay fit during the winter.

Indoor swimming pools. It’s been a long day and my head is full to the brim. Alongside my looming to-do list, a constant influx of emails is still buzzing through my phone. My usual solution? Lace up my trainers and run the stress away along the Donaukanal. Enjoying an active lifestyle, I’m one of the first outside on a sunny day, grinning from endorphins and soaking up vitamin D. But jogging in hostile weather just isn’t my idea of fun. With Vienna’s winter months infamous for high winds, horizontal sleet and transitioning from twilight to outright darkness around 16:00, it’s hardly ideal conditions for a workout. So instead of piling on layers of clothing to armor myself – grim-faced – for another mid-run freeze, I head to my local swimming pool to get my fix of activity. Best of all: My phone is locked away in my changing cabin and I am blissfully unreachable.

Dive into history through Vienna’s indoor swimming pools

With a network designed to serve most of the city, it’s easy for Vienna’s swimmers looking for a workout in winter to find a pool near them. And the cold months are a perfect opportunity to test the benefits. Besides it’s good for you: It’s a low-impact sport that helps avoid injury, provides more resistance than on land exercise, increases endurance and builds muscle strength. And if the goody-goody credentials don’t ruin it, even the World Health Organization recognizes swimming as one of the most beneficial forms of exercise. The mental perks aren’t so shabby either: The quiet and repetitive motion of swimming is a drug-free high, so lower anxiety and less stress. After-work challenges can also keep you levelheaded and if you aren’t one for solo training, get together with enthusiastic friends and catch up in one of Vienna’s sauna’s after your workout. Bathing has deep roots in Vienna, popularized in the late 19th century as a health and fitness measure for the wider public. Rapid industrialization caused the capital’s population to grow rapidly beginning in the 1850s, outpacing infrastructure and creating housing shortages and poor hygiene. Even as Vienna’s population topped two million in 1910, indoor plumbing remained a rare luxury, and city hall began building public shower facilities, the so-called Tröpferlbäder (droplet baths). Jokingly nicknamed after their poor water flow, they were nonetheless both necessary and popular: Around 5.1 million people used the Tröpferlbäder in 1950, and the number remained high until living standards gradually improved. A few of these public showers were later fitted with saunas and still exist today, serving around 33,000 customers annually. Public bathing eventually evolved into a full-fledged pool system to promote health and fitness, with the Social Democrats in the 1920s and early 30s funding large, prestigious projects, often as part of the Gemeindebauten social housing. The network was expanded in the 1960s and ‘70s to cover most of the city with 14 pools added over a seven-year period.

© Therme Wien

Postcard Worthy

Keen to jump right in? Take a dip into history in the 10th District’s impressive Amalienbad, a 1923 art deco jewel. Known for its beautiful saunas, picturesque changing cabins and mosaic-encrusted walls, it boasts a spacious 33.3-meter pool and even a diving tower. The Jörgerbad is another historic gem where you can tick off your daily exercise. Vienna’s oldest indoor pool has been operating since 1914, its art nouveau interior lit through an impressive skylight that spans the entire swimming hall. If you’re the competitive type, try the Stadthallenbad: Recently renovated, its state-of-the-art facilities include an Olympic-sized pool with eight tracks and a stand for spectators, and caters to both professional and amateur athletes. On the other side of the spectrum is family- friendly Dianabad, a fun-filled complex with a pirate ship, a wave pool and numerous water slides, perfect for a day trip with the kids. For a workout combined with relaxation and rejuvenation, the Therme Wien in Oberlaa is the city’s very own thermal spa, an extensive complex of wellness areas, steam rooms, saunas and five main pools with different temperatures. Now reachable by the recently extended U1 line, they offer after-work evening specials to melt away the stress. The ideal place to ease body and mind, Vienna’s public pools make keeping fit in winter easy and affordable with access and facilities catering to every requirement. And with a bathing history as rich as Vienna’s, it’s something close to a rite of passage.

(This article was originally published in January 2018)

Where to Swim

AMALIENBAD
10., Reumannplatz 23
Mon 12:30 – 15:00
Tue 09:00 – 18:00
Wed & Fri 09:00 – 21:30
Thu 07:00 – 21:30
Sat 07:00 – 20:00
Sun 07:00 – 18:00 (01) 607 47 47
wien.gv.at

JÖRGERBAD
17., Jörgerstraße 42-44
Tue 9:00 – 18:00
Wed & Fri 9:00 – 21:30
Thu 8:00 – 19:00
Sat 8:00 – 20:00
Sun 08:00 – 18:00
(01) 406 43 05
wien.gv.at

STADTHALLENBAD
15., Hütteldorfer Straße 2H
Mon & Fri 08:00 – 21:30
Tue 06:30 – 21:30
Wed 08:00 – 17:30
Thu 06:30 – 21:30
Sat 07:00 – 21:30
Sun 07:00 – 18:00
(01) 890 17 64 890
wienersportstaetten.at

THERME WIEN OBERLAA
10., Kurbadstraße 14
Mon – Sat 9:00 – 22:00
Sun 08:00 – 22:00
(01) 680 09 96 00
thermewien.at

DIANABAD
2., Lilienbrunngasse 7-9
Mon – Tue 10:00 – 22:00
Wed – Thu 13:30 – 22:00
Fri – Sat 10:00 – 22:00
Sun 10:00 – 20:00
(01) 219 81 81 10
dianabad.at

Alexandra Wood
Born and raised in the North of England, Lexy studied literature and rowed for Cambridge University. After exploring Switzerland for a year, she is now based in Vienna where she spends her time writing for Metropole, reading books and planning outdoor adventures.

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