When the heat turns up in Austria’s capital, the Viennese head to the Donaukanal for refreshment, rejuvenation and relaxation. With long summer days stretching until late September, there’s plenty of opportunity to explore the energetic paths dripping with street art either side of the canal that splits the city.
From morning yoga sessions by the water, midday grazing on fresh pad Thai to sunset dancing with your toes in the sand, come for a walk through a perfect day with us.
Below the ornate Urania Observatory building sits Vienna’s oldest and grandest beach bar, Strandbar Herrmann. Sandy volleyball courts, waterside canvas chairs and the perfect view of Aspernbrücke await early risers who can nab a chair at the popular man-made beach, hugging the corner of the canal. Brunch buffets are available on weekends and playground areas for kids means families can relax in the summer sun too. For a zen start to a Sunday, try Hermann’s 'yoga on the beach' sessions at 11am.
After stretching away your morning kinks, continue your endorphin boost at the nearby Badeschiff. Loosely translated as ‘pool boat’, it is permanently moored beside Schwedenplatz. The sprawling wooden decks beckon with beach loungers and shame-free swimmers, sunning themselves before slipping into the pool. It's the safest way to ‘swim’ on the Danube. The perfect spot for a mid-morning coffee, you’ll often rub elbows with Viennese enjoying their daily spritzer while the foot traffic crowd of the Donaukanal wanders beneath them.
Day-long access to the pool is available for just €5, so you can get in a few laps and work on your tan smack in the centre of town. For some more competitive activity, there’s a sports-cage above the pool for rounds of football.
Farther along the canal on the Schwedenplatz side, your best bet for breakfast is Motto am Fluss – hosting all day brunch and the best views across the canal from their shady terrace. Try the ‘Fresh Sailor’ with avocado, sweet potato, mushrooms and organic multi-grain bread for a filling dose of carbs to bolster your day of activities.
When the midday heat hits, stroll across the river by the Salztorbrücke bridge and seek out shady bar Adria for your first spritzer (or soft drink) of the day. The ramshackle vibe of pallet seating surrounded by street art and pop-up food stalls will have you settling in to while away the afternoon here. Our tip for quick snacks? Fast and fresh Asian fusion food from Mamamon, right next door. Spiced with authentic flavours and freshly cooked before your eyes, the family-owned stall cheerily serves some of the city’s best Thai food.
For the perfect sunset perch, move west along the canal to Tel Aviv Beach Bar, a favourite amongst the young and beautiful cocktail crowd and run by the Viennese food impresarios from Neni’s. The Israeli-inspired menu - think hummus sharing platters and street-food inspired Sabich (aubergine and egg stuffed pitas - pairs perfectly with views across to Kahlenberg hill when the summer sun dips below the horizon. Their cocktail menu is short and punchy, at €8.50 a pop you can sip on the sweet house specialty Neni’s Cocktail (Malibu, lychee, pineapple and lemon juice) – or try our favourite, the Kanalwasser with iced tea, vodka and fresh mint.
If you’re more of a wine lover, we recommend Zum Gschupftn Ferdl, a canal side pop-up bar from the urban heuriger (Viennese wine) masters, bringing a funky Pac-Man inspired twist on Vienna’s wine tavern tradition. The glowing, white-tiled box squatting by the Badeschiff has organic meat and cheese platters sourced from local farmers to pair with it’s curated local Austrian wine list.
Alternatively, seek out It's All About the Meat Baby, a gourmet burger/bar joint, run by Brian Patton, the founder of two of Vienna’s most popular gastro-pubs. This casual perch is consistently filled with punters enjoying oversized juicy burgers in lightly toasted fluffy buns. Beer snobs will say the craft beer selection is hit and miss, but live music and DJs most nights coupled with a prime location on the canal means you’ll be having too much fun to notice.
Once you're set for more dusky adventures, you can choose to stroll 30 minutes to your final party location or hop on the U4 subway from Schottenring to Spittelau. The walk will give you the chance to stop into the refined and leafy Summerstage terrace for a breather, but if you’re itching to boogie, best hop on the subway.
Beneath the arches of the rail line, Grelle Forelle has been proudly hosting underground club nights since 2011, crossing genres of hip hop, techno, trance, electro and live DJ acts. This is the grittier side of Donaukanal, where the street art becomes more free form, the crowd younger, and numerous dancing options. Keep in mind Grelle Forelle is a techno club in the Viennese style, so the smoke can be dense and the space small.
To ease you into the evening, popular Israeli restaurant Miznon has taken up residence on the outdoor terrace. Hosting disco evenings on Fridays and hip hop jams on Saturdays, the meat-filled pitas are irresistible and the chef makes the best baked cauliflower this side of Tel Aviv. The industrial brick terrace and grungy seating on concrete slabs offer a great view of the decorated streets and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot Hundertwasser’s elaborately-decorated incineration plant tower in the distance as the sun goes down. Then grab your Hugo spritzer and boogie your way into the wee hours inside the club, where photography is strictly prohibited so revellers can express themselves freely to the wild unexpected beats that swell until sunrise.
Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.