Windsurfing and kitesurfing at the Neusiedlersee
Austria has no coastline, so, why does the world cup of
windsurfing stop there every spring for an event? The answer is simple:
Neusiedlersee. The lake is ideal for all types of windsurfing and kite
surfing, especially suited for beginners and intermediate sailors: Despite
its size, the lake is very shallow and a normal sized person can stand
and touch the bottom at almost any point. Very useful to learn and improve
Neusiedlersee is one of the rare lakes in Austria to allow kitesurfing, having a special beach reserved for it, apart from the windsurfing. Motorized boats (except, of course, for rescue purposes) and those nuisances called jet skis are not allowed. Only 45 minutes from Vienna, bordering on Austria and Hungary, the lake is approximately 35 km in length and at its widest 7 km.
The strong spring winds make it the base for a windsurfing world cup event at the end of the month of April, a few kitesurfing ones during the course of the sailable season and the summer are surprisingly windy due to the thermal influence of the hills in the background, we will have to wait a while for the fall storms to come for a report on these. (see Sport Schneider's wind statistics). Shallow waters mean the temperature of the lake rises quickly and it is possible to sail without any suit all summer long, except for the strong wind days that seem to get quite cool.
The main beach for the windsurfing is in Podersdorf's Nordstrand (north beach). With a huge parking lot, nice grassy rigging area, rental and lesson facilities, a windsurfing shop right next to the beach, a good bar and restaurant (Podo, see below) and storage area, the whole setup is almost perfect. Only little annoyance is the price of entry of 90 Austrian shillings (approx: 7$us) per day. The beach being a community beach is also equipped (for the lesser wind days) with 3 beach volleyball courts, 1 football (soccer) field and plenty of grassy areas to do anything you want, from simple picnics to impromptu ultimate Frisbee games.
The bar "Podo" with a terrace looking on the lake, right next to the volleyball courts and the rigging area serves the best Spare ribs (served with potato wedges) this side of the Atlantic and the fumes of them cooking on the grill will make you hungry as you come crashing down from any attempted maneuver. The rest of the food is also excellent and the portions are more than enough to satisfy a windsurfer's appetite after a full day of riding the gales. The beer is always cold and cheap. This is definitively the best place for après-windsurfing, letting the gear dry down and watching the spectacular sunsets.
At night there are 2 bars in Podersdorf itself, both
surfer bars, crowded with the same people that were on the water earlier
that day, the parties can last long into the night.
The camping (in Podersdorf), right on the lake, with its own windsurfing beach, is the most popular place for accommodations. Tents mix joyously with RV's and wooden cabins, that (i am not sure) can be rented.
There are also many B&B's and guesthouses in Podersdorf.
Other things to do:
If the wind is not blowing, no problem, the area around Neusiedlersee has plenty of activities to offer. Apart from all the sport activities at the beach itself, it is possible to cycle or rollerblade around the lake as there are many bike paths that circle it (you might want to bring a passport if you plan to do the whole perimeter of the lake as the lower third of the lake lies in Hungary). Driving about 2 km down the road from the village of Podersdorf lies a natural reserve, partly in both countries, with plenty of nature paths and opportunities to observe the wildlife of the area.
For the no or low exercise days, it is possible to cruise the lake on different ferryboats and then go visit the other villages that shore the lake. The region is the prime wine region for Austria and Hungary and it is possible to go the Heurigers (Wine guest houses owned by the winers themselves) for a typical region's meal and some wine tasting.
Other webpages about windsurfing & kitesurfing at the Neusiedlersee:
Info about the area:
Wine & food in the area:
Windsurfing, Kitesurfing & Sailing Schools:
General map of the area: (click on it for a bigger version)