||In the past Austrian rivers faced a series of human impacts leading to a loss of both ecological and social functionality. River restoration measures aim to improve this functionality, however, they are currently mostly targeted at ecological functions rather than at recreation. To prevent conflicts between ecological integrity and recreational needs integrated river management is demanded. So far river recreation in Austria is an unknown quantity, as profound data are lacking. The range of present river-based recreational activities can only roughly be estimated. The ongoing project “Future options for the development of riverine landscapes – space requirements for multifunctionality” aims to fill this gap. Concerning recreationists’ dispersion, behaviour and preferences data is collected along three rivers (Enns, Drau, Lech). The first step of the methodological approach was an explorative preparatory study conducted in 2007. Qualitative face-to-face interviews should clarify which factors influence river recreationists in terms of how they perceive the river, what they appreciate about the setting and what compromises their quality of experience. Based on these results a semi-standardised questionnaire was developed for a quantitative survey conducted in 2008, covering topics such as visitation motives, use patterns, habits, and perceptive aspects using image-based choice statements. Additionally the extent of river recreation is assessed via peak-day observations documenting recreational characteristics like number of visits, length of stay and activities. Preliminary results indicate that most people associate calmness and relaxation with river recreation rather than adventure and action. In particular, the acoustic scenery and certain natural attributes play a major role. Most people state, that they prefer natural river sections for recreational purposes. However, some ecologically valuable features such as woody debris seem to bother them. Further steps aim to identify key factors for the usability of rivers, integrating both objective factors such as the biophysical setting and subjective issues such as aesthetics and personal preferences.