In Vienna the coffee cafe culture is a way of life. Locals will spend their time nursing a cup of coffee while pouring over a newspaper or devouring one of the many rich cakes on the menu. These coffee houses or cafes are easily found across the city but it’s the old traditional ones that have larger spaces that resemble a living room in someone’s house. Then again to so many locals, the cafe is an extension of their home. It’s where you’d meet to catch up on gossip, idle away the time and generally be in no hurry to leave.
It’s an important part of Vienna and I must admit great fun to visit. The food is always on point and while I personally am not a coffee connoisseur, I can vouch for all those delicious desserts. While there are several iconic cafes to discover, I picked 5 that I had the good fortune of visiting. These are the cafes I recommend to anyone who’s looking to soak up a little bit of the local life. Mind you there are many many more so in case you’ve got any favourites I’d love to hear!
Demel – This is my first pick because it is possibly the most famous pastry shop in Vienna that was established in 1786. Demel was the official or should I say royal supplier to the Imperial court . It is said that Empress Sisi was a huge fan of their candied violets and the minute you walk into the cafe you’re in for a visual treat. Plenty of sweet and chocolate on display, fresh pastries and cakes and you can’t help but have to jostle your way through to try and find a free table inside. If you manage to snag a table on the lower level then you’re treated to views of their chefs busy in action behind glass walls and I for one can sit all day watching them make strudels and cake. I couldn’t stay very long but managed to try their apple strudel but it’s really their Demel Cake that’s recommended here. I suppose that’s what I’ll try on my next visit.
Hotel Sacher – Most folks seem to think of this cafe as a bit of a tourist trap but I think it would be sacrilege to visit Vienna and not eat the famous Sacher Torte at the very place of its invention. The cafe is part of the luxurious Hotel Sacher and is beautifully decorated with its trademark deep red interiors with gold and possibly the most expensive sacher torte in the city. There’s almost always a line to get in but a cup of coffee and a slice of cake is the most usual order. It’s busy bustling and not as relaxed or laid back as the other cafes in my opinion but its legacy and grand interiors make it worth a visit. The cake is possibly extremely over hyped and depends entirely on how you enjoy your chocolate cake. This is quite dense and dry with a thin layer of apricot served with a dollop of fresh cream which I personally enjoyed but fair warning, a lot are left underwhelmed. I’d love to hear what you think.
Mozart Cafe – In a town proud of famous composer there has to be a cafe named after him. I thought it might have a more classical approach to its decor but the name is about the only inspiration the cafe takes from the musical prodigy. It’s located in the heart of Albertina Platz a stone’s throw away from the Sacher Hotel and has a cosy indoor space as well as plenty of room on the street perfect on a bright sunny day. Plenty of cakes and pastries on display making it easier to choose from. I like the location though I must confess I didn’t end up eating anything here despite it being highly recommended to me. Too many cafes and such little time unfortunately.
Landtmann Cafe – Step inside this cafe and you’ll feel an abundance of elegance and class. Every server is suited with a bow-tie unlike other cafes that reminds you of an older more charming era than today. The cafe has beautiful large windows with drapes and elegant booth like tables with furnishings that feel almost art deco like. It is a popular spot and home to many intellectuals and celebrities over the years. The service here like most cafes is unhurried encouraging you to sit back and enjoy your time. I got here in time for breakfast but couldn’t resist the sweet treats so it was chocolate filled crepes (skipped the more traditional apricot in favour of cacao ) and a delightfully sinful apple strudel.
Sperl Cafe – I save the best for the last because this is possibly my favourite of the lot. There is something wonderfully welcoming in a space that looks untouched by time. This old charming cafe resembles on that was built in the 20’s or 30’s and remains unchanged. Grab one of the coveted booths by the window and watch the world go by while enjoying a hot cup of coffee or slice of decadent cake. I found myself here on my last night in the city wishing I had discovered this place sooner. I ate a wonderful Schnitzel and took a lot of pictures promising myself to return soon.
Interestingly enough, none of these cafes serve water unless you specifically order a coffee or beverage. In most specially Sacher they even charge for water and it’s always served in tiny child like glasses so if you’re very thirsty either bright your own or enjoy the coffee.
For more tips and suggestions on how to enjoy your stay in Vienna have a look at my Vienna Travel Guide.
I’ve also documented my entire journey on my Travelibro app that you can find RIGHT HERE
For more stories from Vienna you can check my Instagram highlights labelled Vienna RIGHT HERE
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