Experiencing the wondrous Viennese Coffee House Culture
Updated: Apr 15
Even though there are many cities and countries that can boost about their amazing coffee, Vienna has outdone them and has elevated the classy beverage into a form of art, and the consumption of coffee at their numerous coffeehouses into a lifestyle. Just by purchasing a cup of coffee that costs several euros, one can sit in the grand and history-rich cafes for the entire day; be it enjoying alone-time or socialising with friends and families.
Whenever one enters a cafe in Vienna, he or she will be charmed by the beautiful interiors and would almost seem to emulate the calm and classy composure that the environment posits.
Viennese coffee house culture began in 1683 and since 2011, it has been listed in the Austrian inventory of the "National Agency for the Intangible Cultural Heritage", as part of UNESCO. What's notable is how they describe cafes in Vienna as an place where both space and time are consumed, but only the coffee is charged on the bill.
One may think... then how's that different from our experiences at Starbucks and Coffeebean? Well, think of these establishments as the fast food of coffee and Viennese Coffee Houses or cafes as the more upscale sibling. Here, you'll enjoy a sit-down service where the waiters or waitresses would tend to you, serving you your coffee with a glass of still water.
You won't even feel obliged to purchase anything more than that and they will leave you to while your time away, doing whatever that you pleased. You also won't be rushed to finish your drink or pastries as they would not (unlike Singapore's establishments) start clearing your cups and dishes.
The many amazing coffee houses or cafes in Vienna can be a shocking list for any new visitor to Vienna and we do suggest that you could probably spend several hours cafehopping to try as many cafes as you can. However, most Viennese locals do have their preferred establishment and once they become a regular customer, they do receive special treatment from the staff. The regulars are also known as a "stamgast" and the staff will often remember their regular order and even usher them to their preferred table, perhaps even reserve it for that customer if they visit it at a certain timing each day.
Well, when we were here, we've had simply too many cups of coffee per day because we seriously wanted to cover as many joints as possible! There's no single best coffee house as each caters to different preferences, but here's a list of establishments that we've tried during this trip!
Widely known for their Sachertorte, Cafe Sacher is conveniently located next to the Vienna Opera House. There is normally quite a queue to get into this establishment but if you go early, or if visiting Vienna during the off-peak periods, you'll get ushered into the indoor seating area in no time.
Cafe Sacher Wien
Philharmoniker Str. 4, 1010 Wien, Austria
Nearest metro: Karlsplatz
Cafe Central was one of our favourite cafes. Besides the beautiful columns that surround the cafe, we were also memorised by the countless options of cakes and pastries. Service here was exceptional and we really enjoyed our time there.
Herrengasse/Strauchgasse 1010 Wien
Nearest metro: Herrengasse
This was the most peaceful cafe of the lot. We also loved the fact that we get to enjoy sunlight while not feeling too cold in the glass-covered atrium. Cafe Landtmann is a great stop when visiting the Burgtheater.
Universitätsring 4, A-1010 Wien
Opens daily from 7.30am to 12.00am
Nearest metro: Rathaus
The interior is beautiful as it was set in a tropical house in Wintery Vienna, but we had an amazing sunny day and decided to hang out outside. There was quite a bit of a crowd that day we went as well and we could tell that everyone loved the tropical theme of Palmenhaus.
But if you sit outside, you'll get to overlook the beautiful Burggarten while sipping on your hot coffee or tea!
Burggarten 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
Nearest metro: MuseumQuartier
Although Ströck isn't really a cafe per se, we thought that we'll still add it in because of how convenient it is to find them. They have multiple outlets all over Vienna, some of them located in subway stations where you can either take-away the pastries or have them sitting down.
You won't find waiters in elegant clothing serving you your coffee, but for a quick bite, Ströck is awesome!
So there you go, here's some of the many Viennese coffee houses we've tried this trip, there's still also Cafe Pruckel, Cafe Diglas, Cafe Demel and Cafe Schwarzenburg that are on my munchlist! Have you tried any of these cafes? Share with us your experiences in the comments below!