The sheer grandeur of Café Central makes it well worth queuing for. Established in 1876, this quintessential Kaffeehaus was a popular hangout among intellectuals in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky and architect Adolf Loos are all known to have taken coffee here. Order a Melange, a Viennese take on a cappuccino, choose a cake from the stand and while the afternoon away under the pseudo-Gothic vaulted ceilings of the Palais Ferstel.
The traditional Kaffeehaus is to the Viennese what the pub is to the Brits. It’s as much of a social institution as a place to eat and drink – even if the tuxedoed waiters can be notoriously grumpy. Such is their importance, in fact, that Unesco has recognised ‘coffee house culture’ as an integral part of the city’s cultural heritage.
The array of coffees on offer can be baffling to the uninitiated. A Fiaker, for example, is named after the horse and carts you see across the Innere Stadt and consists of a coffee with a shot of rum and whipped cream. But you can guarantee anyone with a vaguely sweet tooth will find something worth ordering among the many cakes and pastries on show in the glass display cases of most traditional Kaffeehäuser.
It’s not all Habsburg-era pomp and service, though. Plenty of modern coffee shops are springing up across the city and they often host a range of artistic, cultural and music events later in the evening. There’s a reason taking Kaffee und Kuchen will forever be one of our absolute favourite things to do in Vienna, and you’ll no doubt be hooked, too. Looking for booze not brews? Check out our guide to the city’s best bars.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Vienna