Graben (German for “ditch”) is a famous street in central Vienna that is one of the most popular and alluring shopping areas in Europe. The area commonly referred to as Graben begins at Stock-im-Eisen-Platz and continues as far as the junction of Kohlmarkt and Tuchlauben. It has served as a marketplace for centuries, although for a long time there was a good deal more in the way of foodstuffs for sale than anything else. Today, the butchers and vegetable stalls are gone. In their place is an astonishing array of high end stores and boutiques showcasing the best that Vienna has to offer in the way of elegance and style, commercial artwork, and consumer goods.
Graben Square (with its imposing Baroque memorial to the end of the plague of the 17th century) attracts festivals and entertainers throughout the year. Though it is technically a street, Graben is decidedly pedestrian-friendly (vehicles are not allowed), and it is a very nice place to take a stroll regardless of whether or not you’re interested in spending any money.
Graben is also a great place take a load off and sip an espresso. Two of the most famous cafés in the area are Demel and Sacher. Rather like competing cheesesteak vendors on opposite corners in Philadelphia, these two cafes have a longstanding feud regarding which establishment makes the better sachertorte. Wherever your own loyalties lie (or end up), I think you’ll agree that the quality of the offerings at virtually all of the cafes in the district are first rate.