In the city, the heat is oppressive. Yet the evening, in a deck chair under a beach umbrella, is cool. The beer in my hand is icy. All around me, hundreds of people are upending a beer or slurping a cocktail. Open water glistens nearby. What could be better than this?
The Strandbar Herrmann is a regular haunt of mine; is a unique spot in the centre of Vienna; and has charm. So here is a review.
Strandbar Herrmann – the Urania is the domed building in the background
Seven great things about the Strandbar Herrmann:
(i) it is close to town. Vienna has tons of outstanding beach bars next to the Danube, many of which I recommend, but which are a train- or bike-ride out of town. Herrmann is on the Danube Canal, which loops round from the river towards the city. You can walk there from the town centre in 15-25 minutes;
(ii) it’s big and bustling. OK, so I love the Kleines Cafe (click to see all my Vienna cafe reviews – links in bold italics are to other posts on this site). But when you’re having a cooling drink out of doors, a hum of contented conversation has much to recommend it. I love Munich’s beer gardens – and the rather awesome Augustiner Bräu in Salzburg – for the same reason;
(iii) the beer is ice-cold. To non beer-drinkers, this may sound a small issue – isn’t all beer cold? But scientific studies have shown that when the weather is hot, an ice-cold beer is approximately three thousand, two hundred and eighty-nine times better than a beer which is merely cool, or was put in the fridge only twelve minutes ago*;
(iv) the service is quick. Except at peak times, you can get served almost instantly at the bars or food-counters (there is no table service). This avoids frustrating German restaurant or Vienna cafe waiter-interaction situations;
(v) Herrmann’s is right on the water – refreshing to look at, and cooling;
(vi) the setting is magnificent – from where you sit, you can admire the Urania educational institute as the sun sets behind it. You can also see a modern insurance building whose facade is decorated with a light-show – not to everyone’s taste, but may improve after a beer or two;
(vii) even on your 93rd visit to a beach bar in a city centre, it still feels pleasing to sit in a deck-chair with sand between your toes.
For: see (i) – (vii) cult, cool, place to enjoy a delicious beer outdoors in the heart of Vienna. I’ll be back.
Against: only open from April to October (obviously) – so get a move on if you want to visit. Not conspicuously cheap – at the time of writing, a beer is around €4.20. Although the bottled Stiegl (from Salzburg) is excellent, I hanker after a really good beer-garden-style draught beer – but perhaps that is unfair as this is not really a beer garden.
P.S. If you want to see more Vienna cafe reviews, see my Great Vienna cafes page.
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* I am speaking here of course of continental-type beers such as the rather good Stiegl served at the Herrmann Strandbar. For British beers served in British pubs, different rules apply and cellar-cool is the perfect temperature.