Visitors to Vienna cannot experience true Viennese culture without participating in what has been officially named by UNESCO as “Intangible Cultural Heritage,” namely, Viennese café culture. Since the 19th century, coffee houses in Vienna have been internationally recognized as a social ritual ripe with conversation, newspaper tables, rich architecture and interior design and, of course, coffee. Whether you’re sipping alone or engaged in deep conversation, Vienna’s coffee houses are truly a cultural (and cultured) experience.
There are countless cafés throughout the city, all with their own unique take on café culture, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.
1) Café Central, housed in a breathtaking neo-Renaissance building, is as grand as its architecture. Unstoppably fashionable, Central has understandably become a tourist favorite, so be prepared to wait a bit with the knowledge that your patience will be justly rewarded.
2) Café Griensteidl, opposite the beautiful St. Michael’s Church, is the quintessentially traditional Viennese coffee house. A favorite of Austrian poet Peter Altenberg, this fin-de-siècle café is classy without feeling snobbish or exclusive. Centrally located, it is a great place to unwind at sunset after a long day of sightseeing.
3) Café Alt Wien will give you a more Bohemian experience if that’s what you’re looking for. Slightly hidden, this café’s dark and smoky atmosphere is much like Café Hawelka, its better-known counterpart that, while equally Bohemian in nature, is usually packed with tourists.
4) Café Sacher, located just behind the Staatsoper National Opera, is a good place to head over for a bit of indulgence. A little more on the expensive side, Café Sacher is home to the famous Sacher tart, a traditional treat that is sure to please.