Coffee houses in Vienna have been part of the city’s rich history for centuries, with the first one opening its doors way back in 1685. The waiters in waistcoats, elegant interiors and extravagant cakes make up the look and feel of a traditional Viennese coffee house that both locals and tourists still frequent today. While the coffee is of course downright delicious, a visit to one of these haute Austrian cafes is more about the overall experience - that’s what makes the coffee houses of Wien so special. The ‘Wiener Kaffeehauskultur’ is such an integral part of Viennese society and the city’s cultural heritage, that even UNESCO has recognised the city for this.
Whether you’re a coffee addict or would rather opt for a creamy hot chocolate, these are the best traditional cafes in Vienna that’ll warm up your soul with an extra shot of culture.
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1. Cafe Landtmann
Enjoy a quality cup of coffee in an opulent setting at one of the oldest coffee houses in Vienna, Cafe Landtmann, built in 1873. Cafe Landtmann is a local institution, so you can expect a truly relaxed, welcoming experience from the moment you step inside. It’s located right in the heart of Vienna, so although you should expect crowds of tourists, you’ll always find locals chatting away over a coffee either inside and out of the cold or on their charming outdoor terrace in the summer months.
2. Cafe Hawelka
Just a couple of minutes walk from the Hofburg is another famous, family-run Wien cafe called Cafe Hawelka. Take a break from touring the city’s must-see attractions and cosy up inside one of the friendliest cafes on this list. You can tell just how well-loved this place is by the fact that it's hardly changed a thing since the 80s. The interior at Hawelka is more like a living room than the usual opulent styles of decor at other Viennese coffee houses, giving its guests the sense of feeling right at home for their morning caffeine fix. Like many of the most famous coffee houses, this one was a local haunt for creatives in Vienna back in the day, including artist Andy Warhol and playwright Arthur Miller.
3. Kaffee Alt Wien
Just a 7-minute walk further north towards the river is another Hawelka family-owned cafe, Kaffee Alt Wien. Round off a beautiful tour of the World Heritage site Wiener Ring with a coffee and slice of cake in this hundred-year-old cafe down a charming side street. The high ceilings and bright windows paired with walls plastered in posters that advertise the city's arts give this cafe a more down to earth feel, and their menu full of Austrian home comfort dishes will warm your soul. Indulge in their freshly prepared beef goulash or crispy chicken schnitzel, then satisfy your sweet tooth with their selection of hand-baked cakes and puddings - delicious.
4. Cafe Korb
Cafe Korb is a classic example of Viennese coffee culture, just without the old school opulence. Pull up a chair for a delicious caffeinated refuel with a side of cake in a cafe where Andy Warhol and the infamous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, were once regulars. It may look unassuming when you first step in, but the friendly service, delicious cakes and quality coffee make this place the perfect respite in Vienna city centre.
5. Cafe Central
Cafe Central has been considered part of the beating heart of Vienna since its establishment in 1876. If you’re looking for somewhere to experience a truly lavish, traditional Viennese coffee house, this beautiful institution is a must-visit. It was once frequented by all the city’s most famous poets, writers and philosophers back in its heyday, now it’s one of the most popular places for tourists to get a taste of the local cuisine and enjoy its traditional hospitality. Order a Wiener melange - Viennese-style coffee with frothed milk - and indulge in an apple strudel or classic cake from Cafe Central’s in-house patisserie.
6. Cafe Sacher
Home of the traditional sacher torte cake, Cafe Sacher is another iconic coffee house in Vienna. The deep red walls and carpet, round marble tables and hanging chandeliers are everything you’d want from visiting a Viennese cafe, however it’s the cake that sets this place apart from the rest. Here, you simply have to try the classic gateau, sacher torte, the most famous dessert in Austria made of chocolate sponge, apricot jam and more melted chocolate. It was invented on a whim in 1832 for Viennese royalty and has been the country’s sweet of choice ever since.
7. Cafe Sperl
Just a couple of minutes walk from the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Wien is a coffee house that once welcomed guests of great importance from archdukes and generals to actors and artists. Fuel up for a day of exploring Vienna’s cultural sites with a tasty cup of Wiener melange, or visit on a Sunday from 3:30pm for an afternoon of elegant piano performances while you enjoy their menu. Cafe Sperl even has billiard tables if you’re up for a game.
8. Cafe Frauenhuber
Enjoy sacher torte, apple strudel and all other delicious local dishes inside a cafe where two of the world’s most famous composers used to perform. Cafe Frauenhuber was a spot where both Mozart and Beethoven would sit down and play the piano to Vienna’s locals - if that’s not worth the name drop, we don’t know what is. With the cosy vibe and friendly atmosphere, it’s no wonder Cafe Frauenhuber has remained such a popular spot for so many years.
9. Cafe Schwarzenberg
Cafe Schwarzenberg is the oldest cafe in the Ringstrasse, offering guests a relaxing respite from seeing the city’s nearby attractions. This Viennese coffee house is the ultimate example of Austrian hospitality, and its period interior features, suited waiters and marble tables make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Order a cup of speciality coffee, a slice of cake or a heartwarming homemade meal and enjoy one of the most historic coffee houses in Vienna’s city centre.
10. Cafe Pruckel
Cafe Pruckel opened its doors in the early 1900s, but after a refit some years later, it now has the traditional Viennese coffee house vibe but with a 50s flair. You won’t be disappointed with the coffee at Cafe Pruckel, and its food menu is seriously tasty if you stop by over lunch. Being so close to an art university, you’ll always find the local students getting their caffeine fix at any time of day, plus a basement used regularly for in-house entertainment like readings and plays as well as other performances. If you really want to get the local coffee house experience, visit on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday evening and get lost in the sounds of a pianist playing live for an intimate audience.
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