Viennese Café Culture: A Guide to the Best Cafés in Vienna

Michael Catford | May 25, 2019 in

European café culture is a unique and wonderful thing. Each country has its own take – you’ll see the French sipping cafés un lait behind windows, the English nibbling on sandwiches during high tea, and Italians enjoying espressos on the cobblestones in front of the shop.

Listed by UNESCO as ‘intangible cultural heritage’, Viennese coffee house culture is as strong as any in Europe. As the center of European high society for much of the last 500 years, and now officially rated the world’s most liveable city, the Austrian capital boasts a range of the finest, freshest and most historic establishments in the world. Vienna cafés, as UNESCO describes them, are “places where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.”

But for caffeine addicts who are visiting the city, finding the very best coffee in Vienna can be a tricky task. There are hundreds if not thousands of café options, and each looks more alluring than the last. To make your decision a little bit easier, let’s take a look at 10 of the very best cafés and coffee houses in Vienna, Austria, which serve up some of the best tea, food and roasted beans in the world.

1. Café Central

Herrengasse 14, Vienna.

Open 7:30am – 10pm Mon – Sat, 10am – 10pm Sun.

Cafe Central - ©WienTourismus / Christian Stemper
Cafe Central – ©WienTourismus / Christian Stemper

Café Central Vienna is less a café than it is an Austrian national treasure. Having stood for almost 150 years, this opulent establishment has been the favourite of some of history’s most famous figures, from Freud to Trotsky. While tourists are told that St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the center of town, locals believe it is actually Café Central. Walking inside it isn’t hard to see why – the café glistens with gold and polished marble, while the low hanging chandeliers offer up soft, romantic light. The tea, coffee and snacks are every bit as delectable as the surrounds, with light versions of Viennese dishes being served up day and night. Live performances are held in the café between 5pm – 10pm, so if you enjoy tapping your feet while you tuck into high tea, there’s no place better.

2. Cha No Ma Teehaus

Faulmanngasse 7, Vienna.

Open 10am – 6pm Mon – Sat.

From 19th century Austrian opulence we jump forward to the Vienna of today – modern, trendy and multicultural. Cha No Ma brings the east to one of the epicenters of the west, in the form of delicious Japanese green tea. The green theme actually runs through the entire place, with every drink and dish seeming to feature emerald hues. From sweet to salty, aromatic to spicy, light and fresh to umami-driven, you’ll be surprised at the range of tastes this simple drink can cover. If you’re wanting to trade in the traditional Vienna coffee house experience for something a little more unique and leafy, Cha No Ma is where you should aim.

3. Balthasar Coffee Bar

Praterstraße 38, Vienna.

Open 7:30am – 7pm Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm Sat.

Innovative, chic, minimalist and modern – Balthasar is another example of how Vienna coffee shops encapsulate the broader transformation of the city. On walking into this establishment you’ll find the focus abundantly clear; Balthasar care about coffee. A lot. Gorgeous single-source beans are turned into cups of deliciousness by the passionate baristas, who like to serve their creations with one of the many fresh pastries on offer. Ideal for an early morning snack, many locals treat Balthasar as their first stop in the morning and last stop at night.

4. Fenster Café

Fleischmarkt 9, Vienna.

Open 8am – 4pm Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm Sat – Sun.

A proud participant in the third wave coffee movement, which treats the caffeine-rich bean as an artisanal drink like wine, rather than something to simply get you out of bed in the morning, Fenster Café have taken Austrian coffee culture to the next level. Rated one of Europe’s 50 best coffee houses, this gorgeous little Vienna coffee shop is a hole-in-the-wall operation famous for its Cornettocinos – literally coffee in an ice cream cone. It doesn’t sound like it would work, but trust us, it does.

5. Sir Harly’s Tea

Mariahilfer Str. 45, Vienna.

Open 11am – 6pm Mon – Sat.

Another magnificent choice for those who prefer leaves to beans, Sir Harly’s is an English tea house with an Austrian twist. Hidden away in a courtyard, this establishment is absolutely gorgeous, all hardwood, glass and gold embellishments. The tea selection is extensive, to put it mildly. The walls are lined with specialty brews, dreamed up by Zdenka Tause and her tea-loving team. Quite possibly the friendliest spot in all of Vienna, visitors find that a 15 minute stop often turns into two or three hours!

6. Kaffeefabrik

Favoritenstraße 4, Vienna.

Open 8am – 6pm Mon – Fri, 11am – 5pm Sat.

If you’re the type of coffee addict who puts the bean above all else, you’ll fit right in at Kaffeefabrik. This most bare and minimalist of coffee houses has a simple motto – if you’re going to do it, do it well. So understated that many will walk straight past it, the simple glass façade and bare white interior tells guests that nothing matters more than the produce. Happily all that focus results in absolutely incredible coffee, which has quickly become the toast of the town. Grab a croissant, park yourself on a bench outside and watch the world go by.

7. Café Latte Art

Universitätsstraße 4, Vienna.

Open 8:30am – 6pm Mon – Fri, 10am – 5pm Sat.

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Calling your Vienna cafe ‘Latte Art’ makes a big promise to patrons. Happily this is one of the best coffee places in Vienna, and not just because of the beautiful foam graphics created by the baristas. While the majestic birds, lifelike flowers and crazy geometric patterns found atop the coffee are a major reason why the crowds come, the liquid below is every bit as enticing. Café Latte Art is great spot for everyone, from families with young kids to coffee connoisseurs.

8. Café Frauenhuber

Himmelpfortgasse 6, Vienna.

Open 8am – 11pm Mon – Sat, 10am – 10pm Sun.

With Viennese style coffee world famous, coffee-loving visitors often come to the Austrian capital with one question on their mind: which was the first coffeehouse in Vienna? The first recorded café was opened by an Armenian in 1685, but it no longer stands. That leaves the title of the oldest coffee house in Vienna to Café Frauenhuber, an establishment that has served roasted beans since 1778. The history of the building goes back even further – what began as a medieval bathhouse was turned into a music venue at which Mozart and Beethoven played. These days the café is best known for its delicious coffee and hearty local food, making it the perfect place for a long lunch.

9. Café Prückel

Stubenring 24, Vienna.

Open 8:30am – 10pm Mon – Sun.

Locals have been coming to Café Prückel since 1904, although on arrival you’ll notice that the décor is distinctly 1950s. Here you’ll get the classic look and feel of coffee houses in Vienna, Austria. Tuxedo-wearing waiters bow as they serve your cup, the smell of traditional Austrian fare emanates from the kitchen, and the hum of conversation drowns out the classical music in the background. In fact the experience at Prückel is so quintessentially Viennese that the café was granted UNESCO world heritage status in 2011! If you visit in the evening, you may get the chance to head downstairs to the in-house theater for a saucy cabaret performance.

10. GOTA Coffee Experts

Mariahilfer Str. 192, Vienna.

Open 7am – 6pm Mon – Fri, 8am – 4pm Sat – Sun.

As a rule you should only call yourself a coffee expert if you can deliver on that promise. Happily GOTA has proved that they deserve the title. This place is often described as serving the finest espresso in Vienna, and the talents of the team don’t stop there – they take their food every bit as seriously. The breakfast and lunch items are fresh and delicious, and are served up in the most artistic of ways. If you’re looking for a brunch spot in Vienna, you could do far worse than here!

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