Rivers in Austria: Danube, Inn, Traun, Enns

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3 Rivers and 2 Seas

The vast majority of Austrian rivers drain eventually into three rivers, the Danube, the Rhine (Rhein), and the Elbe, and through them eventually into two seas, the Black Sea (the Danube) and the North Sea (the Rhine and the Elbe).

The Danube

Most of the Austrian surface belongs to the drainage basin of the Danube, the second longest river in Europe (after Volga). A little over 10% of its total length of 2,850km is located in Austria. The Danube originates in Germany before entering Austria near the German city of Passau. It leaves the Austrian area for Slovakia only several kilometres down the stream from Vienna. The Danube is the major river of the country and plays a significant role in the Austrian economy. The biggest cities on the Austrian section of the Danube are (ordered according to the stream) Linz, Ybbs, Krems, and Vienna.

The Inn

The Inn originates at Piz Bernina in Switzerland and flows through the well-known Swiss Engadin region to Tyrol in Austria. Here it flows through Innsbruck, whose name means “the bridge over Inn.” Then the Inn leaves for Germany, where it eventually enters the Danube in Passau. The Inn is actually longer than the pre-Passau section of the Danube, has a higher average flow and Piz Bernina with 4,049m is the highest point in the whole Danube watershed. Nevertheless, the river is called the Danube below Passau, probably due to the larger drainage basin compared to Inn.

The Salzach

The Salzach originates in Kitzbühel Alps and flows through the state of Salzburg. Right below its capital Salzburg is starts forming the border between Germany and Austria and continues so for about 70km. Then it enters the Inn.

The Traun and the Enns

The Traun originates in Styria and flows through a picturesque lake area of Salzkammergut (most known lakes include Traunsee or Halstätter See). It enters the Danube near Linz. The Enns has its source at the slopes of Radstädter Tauern. It forms an important border first between Central Eastern Alps and Northern Limestone Alps and then between the states of Upper Austria and Lower Austria. It meets the Danube close to the city of Enns. Several other major rivers join the Danube directly while still in Austria, like the Ybbs or the Traisen.

Continue to part 2: Thaya, Leitha, Raab, Drau