Vienna is famous for a lot of things. The Habsburg Monarchy, Mozart, Freud, sausages, wiener schnitzel, and pastries are perhaps what first come to mind. However, Vienna is also known for its world-renowned coffee culture.
Now international hubs for specialty coffee, Vienna’s cafes are and have been a major part of the city’s culture throughout its history. In fact, coffee culture has held such an important place in its identity that the city is now littered with coffeehouses. However, unlike your typical Starbucks, Viennese coffeehouses are upscale, elegant meeting places. In fact, UNESCO, which deemed the city’s coffee culture as “Intangible Cultural Heritage,” officially describes Vienna’s coffeehouses as places “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.”
In essence, cafe hopping in Vienna is a must. Without further ado, check out three coffeehouses in Vienna that will make you feel like royalty.
Just steps from the Spanish Riding School lies Cafe Central. Once frequented by the likes of Sigmund Freud, Vladimir Lenin, and Leon Trotsky, it is known for its grand interior and famous guests of the twentieth century. Today it is popular amongst both tourists and locals for its array of scrumptious Viennese sweets, specialty coffees, and of course its opulent décor, which includes high-beamed gold ceilings, dramatic chandeliers, and red printed booths. Be sure to grab a newspaper off the hanging wooden rack and sit back and relax with a slice of Sachertorte (Vienna’s most famous chocolate cake with an apricot jam centre), and a melange coffee.
Dating back to 1929, this ornate coffee house is hard to miss. It is only a few minutes walk from the Vienna State Opera (another must-see while in the Austrian capital), making it a popular spot with operagoers. Inside Cafe Mozart, you’ll find gold crown molding, luxurious draped curtains, gold and crystal chandeliers, and of course, a sharply dressed team of waiters there to serve you.
Cafe Mozart is known for its coffee and has an expansive coffee menu to show for it. Specialties include the wiener melange, the extended espresso, the ristretto, and the single brauner. Beyond warm beverages, Cafe Mozart is known for its traditional Viennese breakfasts. Options vary but include the likes of soft boiled eggs, rolls, natural yogurt, ham and cheese, and homemade preserves. They also boast the famous Emperor’s Pancake, a unique dessert made with raisins and served with plum and apricot compote.
Situated in the centre of Karlsplatz, Cafe Museum opened in 1899 and quickly became a common meeting point for painters, writers, and composers such as Gustav Klimt, Joseph Roth, and Alban Berg. This cafe was designed by legendary architect Adolf Loos, though his interior was eventually replaced by that of Josef Zotti’s in order to make the coffeehouse more comfortable.
Today, Cafe Museum boasts half-round booths upholstered in red velvet and hanging metallic lamps that reflect the cafe’s interior. Be sure to try some traditional apfelstrudel (or apple strudel) as Vienna is said to be the birthplace of this sweet treat. We also recommend visiting between 5pm and 8pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, as there is a resident pianist who plays beautiful live music on weekend evenings.
Everything here, from the music to the decor to the apfelstrudel, is sure to make you feel like royalty.