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Demel in Vienna
Photograph: Demel

The 13 best cafés in Vienna

The best coffee culture in Europe? Get to the Austrian capital. Enjoy the best cafés in Vienna, where coffee is king

Susanne Garber
Written by
Natalie Marchant
Susanne Garber

There’s a reason Vienna is known as the coffee centre of Europe: this city knows its stuff. The legend goes that a Viennese local grabbed the final bag of coffee beans left over by the Ottomans in 1683 and started serving it up, and whether that’s the whole truth or not, the proof is in the pudding when it comes to the quality here. 

If you’re visiting Vienna, drinking coffee will be higher on your ‘to do’ list than any other city, not least because a lot of the time, the cafés are the attraction (some of them have UNESCO status, don’t you know). The traditional Kaffeehaus is to the Viennese what the pub is to the Brits, a social institution that transcends eating and drinking, and the cafés here are unmissable. Here are the best cafés in the Austrian capital. 

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This article was recently updated by Susanne Garber, a writer based in Vienna. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines. 

Best cafés in Vienna

Café Central
Photograph: James Manning for Time Out

1. Café Central

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 laze the afternoon away under the pseudo-Gothic vaulted ceilings of the Palais Ferstel.

Café Schwarzenberg
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Café Schwarzenberg

Said to be the oldest café on the Ringstrasse, with a marble and wood-panelled interior, the Café Schwarzenberg is one of the city’s most opulent coffee houses. It was severely damaged by the Soviets during the post-war occupation, and it was only in 1979 that it was finally renovated. There’s a wide range of rather curious (and very boozy) Viennese coffees available, but the real highlight is the hot chocolate ‘Alt Wiener Art’, served with cinnamon, vanilla and whipped cream.

Photograph: Demel

3. Demel

Located on one of Vienna’s most prestigious shopping strips, the Kohlmarkt, former imperial supplier Demel is a confectioner’s dream. There are so many sweet treats in the Habsburg-esque vitrines that even a quick visit to the shop can make your teeth ache. Every type of Viennese cake and pastry you can imagine is on the menu, alongside savoury specialities such as sausages with mustard or schnitzel. It’s even worth just walking past to admire the sugary artwork.

Café Hawelka
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Sniper Zeta

4. Café Hawelka

This Kaffeehaus, just off the main pedestrianised shopping drag, the Graben, is a considerably less formal affair than some of its rivals. With slightly threadbare upholstery and well-worn tables and chairs, the Café Hawelka is more akin to a living room than an upmarket Kaffeehaus. During its ’60s and ’70s heyday, the stars of the Vienna art scene regularly met here, and celebs such as Andy Warhol dropped by.

Kleines Café
Photograph: Flickr / Julius Cruickshank

5. Kleines Café

The appropriately named Kleines Café – ‘small café’ – may be tiny inside, but the warmer months see its clientele spill out onto tables on the pretty Franziskanerplatz. Featured in the film ‘Before Sunrise’, this late-opening bar has long attracted a range of arty types and serves simple dishes and decent coffee alongside wine and beer on tap.

Café Sacher
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Böhringer Friedrich

6. Café Sacher

This café in the historic Hotel Sacher is THE place to sample a slice of Vienna’s most famous cake, the Sachertorte. Legend had it this dark chocolate and apricot confection, usually enjoyed with unsweetened whipped cream, was created here for Prince Metternich. The exact recipe remains a secret (they’ve even gone to court with Demel over it,) but eating a slice of this rich cake in the imperial surroundings of the Café Sacher will make anyone feel like royalty.

Kulturcafé Tachles
Photograph: Marcin Gorski

7. Kulturcafé Tachles

Describing itself as a ‘culture café’, Tachles is in one of Vienna’s coolest up-and-coming districts. You can relax with a coffee – or a beer – on the terrace overlooking the Karmeliterkirche during summer, while the film-themed interior offers a cosy respite from the cold in winter. Tachles also hosts events, including readings, cabaret and open mic nights in its basement.

8. Café Hildebrandt

Café Hildebrandt is more than just a coffee shop – it's the kind of place you could spend a whole day in. From an outstanding breakfast with waffles, avo toast and eggs and lots of vegan options to the some of the finest cakes around, the menu is full of high-quality organic ingredients. Located in the Volkskundemuseum (Folklore museum) of the 8th district in Vienna, a lovely garden invites you to sit outside in the warmer months, or to get cosy and watch it from the inside during winter. 

Café Prückel

9. Café Prückel

The delightfully retro Café Prückel has remained faithful to its ’50s restyling by Oswald Haerdtl. You’ll find all the Kaffeehaus classics on the menu, from traditional Viennese coffee to pastries to Wiener schnitzel, which you can devour while listening to live piano music every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening. The clientele tends to be pretty mixed, although the Prückel made headlines for all the wrong reasons back in 2015 when a lesbian couple was thrown out for kissing in public.

10. Café Comet

All of Café Comet's coffee is freshly roasted in house, and they'll serve you up a great cup of Joe from Fürth roastery. There's also great sweet snacks and a wood-burning stove for cosy days. But perhaps its greatest asset? Café Comet is also a great spot to get work done; there's a huge table in the space where you can sit with you laptop for hours and no one will bat an eyelid. In Vienna, this is a bit of a rarity, and the traditional cafés especially aren't keen on laptop workers. Coffee house culture is taken very seriously here. 

Photograph: Mark Glassner

11. Vollpension

Meaning ‘full pension’, Vollpension is a novel café where all the cakes are baked to tried-and-tested family recipes by the grannies and grandpas in the kitchen. This quirky modern-day café aims to bring people from all generations together and make them feel at home. Breakfast and light bites are also available, alongside whatever cake is freshly baked that day. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, try the eggnog from the ‘Grandma’s drink cabinet classics’ section of the menu.

12. Café Landtmann

Another of Freud’s favourites, Café Landtmann predated the existence of the Ringstrasse on which it now sits. Dating back to 1873, this traditional Kaffeehaus has long been popular with politicians, academics and theatre-goers. It’s also one of the city’s poshest; the waiters are impeccably attired, and upon arrival, you must surrender your jacket to the cloakroom. Spacious inside, Landtmann also boasts a pleasant terrace overlooking the Burgtheater in summer.


13. Café Rondell

If some places in Vienna already feel nostalgic to you, you haven’t seen this beauty – Café Rondell is worth taking a few steps out of town. It’s technically still in the city, but it feels like a completely different world (or at least a different century). Rondell is located on one of Vienna’s peaks, Cobenzl, and is a midcentury dream of lounge chairs, shapes and ornaments. Pop in for breakfast, lunch or just a coffee – the breathtaking views over Vienna are the highlight anyway.

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