Visit This European Country For The World's Only Float-Thru McDonald's

There are almost 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the U.S., and around 95% of them have a drive-thru. So, while drive-thrus are convenient, they're not really anything special. We've all been through one (probably many, many times). Drive-thrus are also everywhere in Europe, although they're often called a "McDrive." Different name; same concept. Again, nothing special. Well, step aside, McDrive, because the McBoat is here to change the game. In one European country, you can experience the world's only float-thru McDonald's. And it's not the country you think.

If you're anything like us, Venice immediately springs to mind when you hear "float-thru." However, the unique McBoat isn't in Venice or even Italy — the deliciously delightful innovation is in Hamburg, Germany. And if you know a little about the city's deep-rooted maritime past (and present), it becomes easier to understand why the first McBoat was set up there.

Hamburg has been a major port city since Medieval times. Even now, it's home to Germany's largest seaport. And though the so-called "Gateway to the World" flies somewhat under the radar for tourists, it's actually a thriving destination that may remind you a little of New York City. The city of Hamburg is also covered in canals, and on the Mittelkanal stands the McBoat.

How and why to try Hamburg's McBoat

You can arrive at Hamburg's float-thru McDonald's by boat, kayak, stand-up paddle. Basically, anything that floats. Watercraft are available to rent in Hamburg, and there's even a stand-up paddle rental shop not far from the McBoat. Once on the water, you're looking for a wooden dock with a green-and-white McBoat sign emblazoned with the famous golden arches.

YouTuber Tom Scott posted a video of himself arriving at the dock by kayak and explaining how the McBoat works. The first thing to know is that it's not the same as a McDrive in that there are no speakers to order into. You're going to need the McDonald's app to place your order. There seems to have been an intercom in the past, but it's not there in 2024. You place your order via the app, and one of the staff brings the food to the dock from a regular McDonald's restaurant above the canal.

You might be wondering why you'd go all the way to Germany to eat McDonald's. We get it, but come on, you get to float through the McBoat. If that isn't enough, German branches of McDonald's have items on the menu that may not be available in the U.S. You could try the McPlant Mango Chili or, for breakfast, the McWrap Rührei Bacon. And if you just want to order something classic, where better than in Hamburg, the city that inspired the hamburger?

More unique McDonald's locations

If the float-thru McBoat has inspired you, McDonald's has many other unique locations you can visit on your travels. First, you may not associate McDonald's with fine dining, but one Michelin-star chef disagrees. Head to the beautiful Welsh town of Welshpool to visit what chef Gareth Ward calls the world's best McDonald's. In terms of looks, we're all used to the golden arches signifying McDonald's, but that's not the case everywhere. Right here in the U.S. is the world's only McDonald's with teal arches. In California, Rocklin's McDonald's has red arches, while over in France, the McDonald's on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées has white ones.

Things get whackier in Roswell, where the McDonald's is (somewhat predictably) shaped like a UFO. Down in Taupo, New Zealand, one McDonald's has a decommissioned DC3 plane next to the store. You can take your Almighty Angus burger (a New Zealand item menu) into the plane to eat and pop into the cockpit, too. Finally, you might be thinking, Europe came up with the McBoat, but where can they go from there? To a McSki. Yes, Lindvallen, Sweden, has a ski-thru McDonald's. That really takes the (breakfast) biscuit.