With its many embankment walls, the Donaukanal forms a natural canvas for street artists. And no self-respecting urban waterfront would be seen without its fair share of open-air bars, restaurants and similar.
- Northern and central parts best for seeing street art
- Various popular eateries and bars appear in the warmer months
- Unusual options include beach bars and a floating swimming pool
- See also: The Donaukanal – overview for visitors
Spray paint and spritzers
While you might walk or cycle along parts of the river bounded by trees filled with the call of songbirds, other areas invite you to grab a cold drink, put your feet up, and admire the fresh handiwork of a spray can-wielding urban artist.
Long sections of the Donaukanal serve as open-air exhibition space. Look, particularly, at the stretch of riverside on between Heiligenstadt (marked with a purple palette in the north of the map) and the Franzensbrücke bridge (marked similarly just east of the town centre).
Beyond Franzensbrücke going east, the Donaukanal is largely left to the shrubs, trees, and roads that tend to bound its passage. Note, also, that west of the centre the art tends to appear on the southern bank.
Vienna has a delicate relationship with the wealth of street art that proliferates along the channel. Admiration for the remarkable skills of the artists comes with a lingering question mark over the legality of some of the sprayer’s efforts.
Parts of the Donaukanal are officially-sanctioned areas for street art; others, well, less so. But nobody seems particularly interested in policing the difference and the result is quite spectacular at times: long passages aflame with colour, often combined with cultural and political context.
The images change regularly at the whim of the sprayer community, so current topics find expression on riverside surfaces. During 2020/2021, for example, this meant plenty of COVID-related art.
Bars and restaurants
The restaurant and bar scene comes alive during the summer months, with most places directly on the Donaukanal opening only seasonally. Among the more renowned locations:
This popular annual event continues across the summer around the Roßauer Lände. The heart of Summerstage is the open-air riverside terrace and pavilions featuring a range of culinary choices from around the world: Asian, French, Mexican, Italian, and Caribbean, for example.
Otto Wagner Schützenhaus
A piece of architectural history, given the famous Otto Wagner designed the building with his trademark combination of utility and form. It should have helped regulate the channel’s water, but never entered operation. Now a restaurant serving mostly traditional Viennese cuisine.
Tel Aviv Beach
Close to the Schützenhaus with a small stretch of beach to sit in the open air, sup your cocktail and watch the sun drop down over the city centre. The Tel Aviv Beach has a strong oriental flavour to its menu.
Another spot that conjured up memories of Mediterranean beachside holidays as we passed. The elegant Blumenwiese also has sandy parts for that summer feel.
Motto am Fluss
Slick and modern restaurant with a dash of Venetian architectural flair. Motto am Fluss is built into the landing stage for the ships that take you out on trips up the Danube. On a raised platform so you can look out across the water from inside or on the open-air terrace.
Built from two converted push barges to create a multi-deck complex with, for example, a bar, food and a floating swimming pool. A visit to the Badeschiff means you can swim in the water while on the water.
Restaurant inside the iconic 1910 Urania building that marks where the Donaukanal meets the River Wien. The Klyo has an open-air terrace that looks out over the Donaukanal with the famous Riesenrad Ferris wheel in the distance.
As close to a beach bar as you can get in a city hundreds of miles from the coast. Grab a deckchair at Strandbar Herrmann and feel the sand between your toes. Also well known for its public viewing during major football tournaments.
Café Kunst Haus Wien
Not a riverside location as such, but worthy of a special shout out because of the unique ambience. Step over the road from the riverside path to find yourself transported into the imagination of artist and architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
The Café Kunst Haus Wien has what is best described as a unique interior decor, full of curves, colour and greenery. I enjoyed a cold Schladminger beer here on my last sojourn along the Donaukanal.
Which brings us to an end for this brief journey through the art (culinary and street) offered along the Donaukanal. For a visitor guide to all that this arm of the Danube has to offer, check this overview.