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Vienna Coffeehouse Tour

If you are visiting Vienna, it is imperative that you spend some time in a proper Viennese Coffeehouse. There are more than 1100 coffeehouses in Vienna; each with its on ambiance. Every Viennese will have his/her favourite(s) depending on their mood.   Don’t expect to rush in grab a coffee and head off.  Viennese coffeehouses are a place of refuge where “Kaffeehauskultur” rules.  Life may rush ahead outside, but in a Viennese Coffeehouse time stands still. To help you in your quest, here is a DIY-tour of the 10 best Viennese Coffeehouses.

Top 10 Viennese Coffeehouses

The tour starts on the lovely Ringstraβe at Café Landtmann and meanders in a pseudo clockwise manner through first district finally venturing just beyond the Ringstraβe to Café Sperl.  Some of the cafés are also popular night spots, a great place for a beer, wine or cocktail.  I would recommend breaking up the tour over a few days (save you from caffeine overload) and combine it with sightseeing. Although coffee is king, all Viennese coffeehouses serve drinks and many are famous for their delectable cakes, pastries and authentic Austrian dishes.

Café Landtmann

Opened in 1873, Cafe Landtmann sits proudly on the tree-lined Ringstraβe (Ring Boulevard).  Due to its location directly across from the Rathaus (city hall), University and next to the Burgtheater, and tends to attract politicians, academics, theatregoers and celebrities.  

 

Walking through the glass-and-brass doors, you enter a Jugendstil haven lit by ornate brass chandeliers hanging from the high tiled ceiling.  The cafe is resplendent with large arched windows plush upholstery, starched white table cloths set against wood-paneling heralding an elegance of a bygone era.

 Visit Café Landtmann to immerse yourself in the charming ambiance in Imperial elegance.  Café Landtmann has an extensive menu with its typical Austrian dishes such as Wiener schnitzel, goulash, tafelspitz (boiled beef) and Apfelstrudel are local’s favourites.

Where: Universitätsring 4, First District

Open:  7:30 am to 12 am

Café Central 

Cafe Central opened in 1876, and is one of the grandest of all Viennese coffeehouse.

It is located in the Palais Ferstel (named after its architect Heinrich von Ferstel).

Opened when Imperial Vienna was still at its peak, Café Central quickly became the fashionable meeting place of the rich Viennese. 

During the 19th century Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin were patrons and Hitler apparently tried to sell his artworks to café patrons.  The Austrian poet Peter Altenberg had his mail addressed to Café Central where he held his Stammtisch (“regulars’ table”). A Papier-mâché statue of Peter Altenberg still welcomes guests to Café Central.   

 

 

Café Central’s decadent interior is reminiscent of a palace ballroom with Florentine marble columns, high vaulted ceilings, glittering chandeliers, and parquet flooring.  Guests can choose from hundreds of newspapers in over 20 languages, A Bösendorfer Grand piano serenades evening guests enjoying their “la grand cuisine”.

Visit Cafe Central if only to enjoy a melange and a cake in the decadent coffeehouse.  The cafe’s menu is extensive and specialises in traditional Viennese cuisine.  The pastries are made by the in-house chefs and the flaky cream filled Cafe Central slice and the orange, marzipan and light chocolate Cafe Central Gateau are divine. 

Where: Herrengasse 14, First District

Open: 7:30 am to 10 pm

Café Hawelka

Café Hawelka was opened in 1939 by Leopold and Josefine Hawelka.  Closing at the outbreak of World War II, luckily it remained undamaged and the Hawelkas took right up where they had left off in 1945.

This typical Viennese Coffeehouse, located just off the Graben on the narrow Dorotheergasse, has been a hangout for colourful artists and intellectuals including Frederick Hundertwasser and Andy Warhol.

 

Café  Hawelka is always crowded and dark giving it a bohemian atmosphere.  The original Art Nouveau interior decor has remained relatively unchanged to this day. The Ace of Hearts card from a magician’s trick is glued to the ceiling (I’ve checked- it’s still there!). Over the years, famous painters paid their bills with paintings which still hang on the walls. 

The café has been run by three generations of Hawelkas Leopold, his son Günter and now the two grandsons who continue with the tradition. (Josefine passed away in 2005 followed by Leopold in 2011.)

Josefines famous Buchteln, a type of Bohemian dumpling served with plum jam is still served fresh (from her highly guarded recipe) from the oven every evening -a tradition that remains unchanged for over half a century.

If you want to experience a typical Viennese Coffeehouse, then visit Cafe Hawelka- one of my favourites

Where: Dorotheergasse 6, 1 First District

Open: 8 am to 12 am

Café Diglas

Café Diglas located on the corner of Wollzeile and Strobelgasse, only a few steps from Stephansdom, has been opened since 1923.  It has a stylish, yet eclectic décor.  Red leather chairs, red-velvet window booths, marble top tables and the antique cash register harmonise with the ballet tuft lampshades and chandeliers embellished with kitchen utensils, coffee cups and fabric fish.  Visit the modern designed washrooms with clear glass that turns cloudy only when you close the door. 

 

 

 

Cafe Diglas serves light meals but visit for their delectable pastries from their own traditional in-house bakery.  Grab a cosy booth and enjoy the piano music from 7pm Thursday to Saturday. 

Where: Wollzeile 10, First District

Open: 8 am to 10:30 pm

Kaffee Alt Wien

A classic Viennese coffee house founded in 1922 at Bäckerstraße 9 in the First District. From 1936-1939 it was run by Leopold Hawelka and his wife Josefine until they opened their new coffeehouse, the Cafe Hawelka.

Café Alt Wein continues to be popular with artists, writers and journalists.  At any time you will find a mix of young bohemian students, regulars sitting at the bar and tourists.

 

 

You enter this cavernous cafe haloed in foggy smoke to find an unpretentious, shabby chic (before shabby chic was fashionable) cafe that is the closest the Viennese coffeehouse will be to a locale. There is a constant din of people talking. Thonet chairs are clustered around the typical marble top tables.   Every space on the walls is plastered with posters, some yellowed, advertising exhibitions, concerts and shows. Looking closer, there is yearsworth of posters that have been layered on top of each other.

By day Kaffee Alt Wien is a typical Viennese coffeehouse and by night it becomes a Beisl (tavern) full with a trendy crowd drinking wine and beer. 

Visit Kaffee Alt Wien for its bohemian chic and experience a Viennese coffeehouse like a local.  The goulash is legendary recommended to be accompanied with dark bread and beer and the ham and eggs are reported as the best in town.

Where: Bäckerstraße 9, First District

Open: 9am to 2 am

 

Kleines Café

“Kleines” means small and the name is not misleading. Great things come in small packages.  

This tiny Viennese Coffeehouse is found in the quaint cobbled Franziskanerplatz nestled amongst traditional shops.  Although it is only a five minutes’ walk from Stephansdom, the cafe is still a local favourite having not been entirely overrun by tourists. 

Designed by Viennese architect Hermann Czech in the 1970s, the cafe follows his concept of a Stehcafe (both a café and a bar). Its green wooden facade may be recognisable from the Gypsy palm reading scene in the movie “Before Sunrise”. 

 

 

 

The high ceiling arcs above the comfy leather benches placed on both sides of the tunnel-shaped café. Its décor is not typically Viennese having a more Parisian style with bistro tables.  In the summer months, seating capacity expands with tables that spill out onto the cobbled square in front of the Petrusbrunnen fountain. 

Visit Vienna’s unoffical smallest cafe to appreciate the sun setting over the square while enjoying some light bites with a cocktail, beer or wine. 

Where: Franziskanerpl. 3, Vienna, First District,

Open: 10 am – 2am.

Café Prückel

Café Prückel, opened in 1903, is across from Stadtpark on the Ring Boulevard.  Its interior is reminiscent of the fifties with intimate wooden trimmed booths, high ceiling with glass chandelier and well-worn beige velvet seats. Café Prückel is not pretentious, it does not flaunt long departed grandeur nor does it follow current trends.  It is simply a comfortable coffeehouse. Its regulars include civil servants, students, and it would be one of the least touristy cafes in the city centre. It would not be unusual to find pensioners playing cards and chess in the back room.

Visit to relive the retro charm of this café and to enjoy Café Prückel’s flaky apple strudel served with Schlagobers (fantastic diet defying fresh whipped cream).

Where: Stubenring 24, First District.

Open:  8:30 am-10pm

Café Schwarzenberg

Café Schwarzenberg opened in 1902 (but a café has been on site since 1861) sits at the end of Schwarzenbergplatz on the Ringstraβe. The café is located between the Musikverein  and the Konzerthaus, making it a popular place to dine before and after musical performances. In the morning the café is full of  well-dressed businessmen dealing over working breakfasts, and in the afternoon tourists are enjoying their famous cakes and coffee.

 

 

 

 

The walls are adorned with the original light marble cladding bordered by dark black stone with wall-to-wall mirrors.  The old-fashioned glass display case brimming with beautiful pastries will tempt anyone’s diet.  As you people watch in the reflection sitting in your large dark leather chair, your coffee expertly placed on the hammered brass-topped table, you will be excused to think that you have been transported back to the early 20th century. 

The café is known for its traditional Viennese breakfast, served with a roll and a soft boiled egg – deep yellow yolk perfectly runny every time.  The Viennese Potato soup is delicious and I have been told that the Esterhazytorte is sublime. 

Where:  Kärntner Ring 17, First District

Open: 7:30 am to 12 am

The walls are adorned with the original light marble cladding bordered by dark black stone with wall-to-wall mirrors.  The old-fashioned glass display case brimming with beautiful pastries will tempt anyone’s diet.  As you people watch in the reflection sitting in your large dark leather chair, your coffee expertly placed on the hammered brass-topped table, you will be excused to think that you have been transported back to the early 20th century. 

The café is known for its traditional Viennese breakfast, served with a roll and a soft boiled egg – deep yellow yolk perfectly runny every time.  The Viennese Potato soup is delicious and I have been told that the Esterhazytorte is sublime. 

Where:  Kärntner Ring 17, First District

Open: 7:30 am to 12 am

Café Museum

Café Museum was designed in 1899 by pioneering architect Adolf Loos. It is situated on a prominent corner across from Karlsplatz, the Naschmarkt and the Secession.  The original minimalist interior attracted the Fin-de-Siècle artists such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner, and Elias Canetti.  In the 1930s architect Josef Zotti redesigned the interior creating a public living room.   Today the interior has been renovated to Zotti’s vision with semi-circled boxes, red velvet upholstery and large retro-style mirrored globes hanging from the ceiling.

Café Museum is a popular place to meet friends and have a glass of wine or beer.  The cafe has free high-speed Wi-Fi, so it’s also a great place to check all your emails, upload your Instagram shots while having a lovely coffee.

Where:  Operngasse 7, First District

Open: 8 am to 12 am

 

Café Sperl

 

Café Sperl first opened in the 1880s and was a favourite amongst composers, singers, and writers. 

It is located slightly away from the city centre on Gumpendorferstrasse, between the Theater an der Wien and the Museum Quarter.

After WWII Café Sperl was the headquarters of the Russian army and was restored according to the original plans in 1983.

The deep hall-like room complete with Jugendstil fittings, low-lit pool tables, cosy booths, dark wood and original gilded Age panels.  The ceiling fresco shows angles demonstrating what customers are entitled to do:  eat, drink and play billiards.

 The clientele is mostly art students from the nearby academy, theatre workers at and neighbourhood regulars come to Café Sperl for their coffee and the newspapers.

 This is an authentic coffeehouse and has been voted Austrias best coffeehouse of the year”.  While you are there, try the Sperl cake, an almond-and-chocolate-cream dream.

Where:  Gumpendorfer Strasse 11, 6th District

Open: 7 am to 10 pm

Other Favourites

Cafe Kunst Haus Wien Untere Weißgerberstraße13, Third District

The café is in the museum that houses the world’s only permanent exhibition of Hundertwasser’s works.  The cafe is unmistakably Hundertwasser- black-and-white squares, soft edges, multiple colours and a somewhat jungle in the city.

Open 10 am to 6 pm

Café Europa Zollergasse 8, Seventh District.

A hip, modern cafe located just off Mariahilferstasse.  Young clientele tend to hang out with the relaxed music before heading out on the town.  The café is open until 5am and it was our favourite place to find late night food from its extensive menu (our favourite was the chicken club sandwich with curry sauce)

Open 9am to 5 am

Café Anzengruber, Schleifmühlgasse 19, Fourth District

Located not far from the Naschmarkt, this was a favourite meeting place with my friends who lived on Linke Wienzeile.  The place is always full and is generally very popular and serves a mix of Viennese and Croatian cuisine

Open 4pm to 2 am

Café Hummel– Josefstädter Str. 66, Eighth District

Opened in the 1870s (previously known as Café Parsifal) this unpretentious café is very popular amongst the locales of the 8th district.  It is a third generation family run café.  The interior is still reminiscent of the 1970s décor.  Café Hummel serves an extensive menu of Austrian classics.  

Open 7am to 12 am