Anyone who has been or knows anything about Vienna is aware of their famous coffee houses and the delicious Viennese coffee they serve. Whilst there are plenty of coffee houses to choose from, if you are on a whistle-stop tour of the city and don’t have time to look around for options, yet wish to experience the coffee culture of Vienna, then read on.
During our recent trip to Vienna, we saw many modern coffee houses sitting pretty alongside the more traditional ones. Radlager is one of them. It is a smart, modern, trendy looking coffee house, slightly off the beaten track. It is frequented by bike enthusiasts but can equally be a perfect spot to catch a break if you are weary from sightseeing. Service is prompt and friendly. There are some delicious lunch options, and a nice, chilled out atmosphere to idle away a few hours doing nothing but drinking good coffee and listening to some music. You can also buy some coffee here to take back with you.
#5 Café Sperl
Café Sperl needs no introduction. This is the most famous of all the coffee houses in Vienna and no trip is complete without visiting this one. While I love the grandiose interiors and the iconic status of this café (a famous movie scene between Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in ‘Before Sunrise’ was filmed here), it does not occupy the top spot for me. It is still an amazing place to have a good cup of joe and take a breather, but the rushed and slightly curt service meant that in spite of its glorious history, my time spent here was not as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be.
#4 Café Demel
Another iconic venue, but here the coffee is secondary and their cakes take centre stage. One does not appreciate how big Café Demel is until one walks past the retail section at the front and spots the queue snaking through to the next level! Café Demel is set upon three floors, so there is plenty of seating space. But due to its immense popularity, be sure to expect long queues. Nevertheless, it is a joy to queue as you can watch the pastry chefs in action whilst waiting for your turn to be seated. We spent a wonderful afternoon here, people-watching over a delicious, creamy melange (Viennese coffee topped with milk foam) and flawless apple strudel.
#3 Cafe Sacher
I am not a big fan of cafes within hotels, but Cafe Sacher is in a league of its own. The luxurious interiors provide a glamorous setting to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and their legendary, decadent sachertorte. Despite its fame and central location in the middle of all the tourist spots, it does not feel overwhelmingly busy so you can have a quiet moment to enjoy your coffee amidst the gorgeous surroundings.
This is truly the most magnificent setting to have coffee and cake. Unfortunately, you have to book a ticket to enter the museum café, which will set you back by 15 euros (price of entry for the museum). Nevertheless, the museum is worth every penny and the café is a beautiful setting to pause under the dome and admire its awe-inspiring interiors over a hot drink or a glass of wine.
#1 Café Central
This gets my top vote – architecture, history and top class service all under one roof. The patisserie selection is delectable and there is enough seating to accommodate locals as well as enthusiastic tourists like us. The vaulted ceilings and marble pillars are a marvel to look at and you are in the midst of a really busy and buzzing café. The service is polite and not rushed. Overall, it was the one of the best experiences I had of a traditional Viennese coffee house. A visit is highly recommended.
Things I learnt from my experience of coffee houses in Vienna:
- Be prepared to queue.
- A couple of places will ask you to wait to be seated but in some places you just walk in and get the first empty seat you spot.
- Book in advance to avoid queues.
- Prices of food and drink are very reasonable whether you are in a modern cafe or plush hotel. So a good option for lunch and cake after!
- Try to go in the early afternoon so you don’t miss out on the cake – they run out fast.
- Good service is a bonus, don’t expect it!
- It’s a place to pause and people-watch, so allow plenty of time to linger at these cafes.
- Great for rainy days in Vienna!