29 of the Best Coffeehouses in Vienna

Apart from its museums, Vienna's coffeehouse culture might be the most unique attraction for a visitor. Since the mid-19th century, locals have been socializing at these grand establishments complete with suit-and-tie-wearing waiters, oversized windows, and neatly laid out newspapers. Journalists, artists, businesspeople – everyone has their go-tos. The coffee itself is usually pretty bad, but despite the recent advance of minimalist new-wave coffee shops, Viennese love for the coffeehouse hasn’t abated.

The cafes are open throughout the day and serve breakfast, traditional dishes, and pastries (schnitzel, goulash, apple strudel and so on). Wifi is rare, but lingering okay, even expected. Below, you’ll find a selection of my favorites, some with more tourists than others.

Known by all Viennese, Prückel is a coffeehouse establishment. The place is located along the Ringstraße, with a vast interior fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and giant mirror panels. Being in the well-off city center, District 1, means customers are upscale and elegant, but tourists also venture here, as do stylish students from the University of Applied Arts across the street (with an excellent museum, the MAK).

Prückel owes its inviting midcentury interior to a 1955 refurbishment by architect Oswald Haerdtl (the back section has regained its original Art Nouveau details, but the front is where the action is). The food is solid and includes both breakfast dishes and savory Austrian classics. The newspaper selections, laid out on a stick in typical Viennese fashion, range from local dailies to the New York Times. A true-to-Vienna cafe experience.

Café Bräunerhof, which opened in 1921, hides in the heart of Vienna's downtown flanked by antique dealers. Weekends can draw tourists, but otherwise the atmosphere is almost comically Viennese: well-dressed locals drop in for a melange and buttered kaiser roll (Buttersemmel) while perusing the morning papers, which are neatly laid out and include German and French publications.

Bräunerhof is known to be a literary cafe and there's still a palpable intellectual air (it used to be a favorite of the polemical Austrian writer, Thomas Bernhard). Observing a long-held Viennese tradition, waiters, who are donning suits and bow ties, are not exactly friendly with newcomers.

If you need to give your feet or your wallet a break from Mariahilfer Straẞe, Vienna’s main shopping street, your savior is Café Ritter. It’s the last remaining coffeehouse on this very long stretch of commerce and far better than your number two option a generic Starbucks.

Ritter delivers a true Viennese cafe experience, almost to the point of being a caricature of itself: stuccoed ceilings, hanging chandeliers, bow-tie-wearing waiters, dark-roasted coffee (the neon sign and the pastry counter are 1950s additions). But Ritter isn't mere nostalgia. The food is especially good here – Goulash! Topfenstrudel! – and the alert but never pushy servers are miles ahead of the competition. Cash only.

If you're unwilling to wait out the line at Café Sacher, just around the corner from here, slip in to Tirolerhof instead. Sure, the interior is less theatrical, but this old-school cafe in many ways is truer to Vienna than Sacher. Here, you can still find elderly aristocrats munching on their apple strudels; fur-wearing ladies absorbed by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung; the local bishop sipping his post-service Sunday coffee; adorably old-school waiters barking at customers and one another. Also here: Thonet chairs, Wiener Werkstätte upholstery, and an excellent Sacher torte that isn't overpriced.

One of the historic coffeehouses in Vienna, Cafe Florianihof was recently resurrected from the dead by a young team also in charge of Reznicek. They’ve retained the look and feel of the wonderfully bright space – the coffee is still dark-roasted – but the kitchen has experienced an empathic upgrade. Delicious weekday lunch specials and a wine list heavy on natural wines complement the coffeehouse classics. The crowd, both young and old, is distinctly bourgeoise  – this is the elegant, old-money District 8, after all.

High-flying businesspeople, local aristocrats, influential politicians, and selfie-stick-carrying tourists share this upscale Viennese coffeeshop located across from the City Hall (Rathaus). The most striking feature of the inside is the wonderful wood paneling with inlaid motifs, but I prefer the winterized terrace and its panoramic views onto Gottfried Semper's striking Burgtheater.

Landtmann is a see-and-be-seen destination and among the priciest cafes in the city (there’s coat service, so that we proles and plebs don’t hang our garbs on the chair). The current owner, the Querfeld family, is in charge of other historic cafes too, such as the Café Museum and Café Mozart.

Founded in 1786, Demel pastry shop is a legendary institution in Vienna, located near the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) to which it was an official purveyor during the glorious Habsburg days. The neo-Baroque interior, the crystal chandeliers, the apron-wearing servers are as much a travel back in time as the experience of waiting out the line together with fellow tourists is not.

Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the Viennese upper crust here, but the pastries are still delicious – most famously the Kaiserschmarrn shredded pancake with fruit preserves. And of course expensive. (Those with an interest in Jewish-Austrian cultural history might want to try the Fächertorte, a delicious layered cake once popular among Viennese Jews.)

Korb is a busy cafe in Vienna's city center. It was the hub of underground artists in the 1960s and 1970s, at a time when Vienna was hardly known for its embrace of the new and the unconventional. Today, many tourists stumble in here, but the ambiance of the cluttered space has retained some of its irreverence.

A midcentury remodeling left its mark on the interior, which is fitted with linoleum floors and plastic-topped tables (the futuristic but impractical bathroom merits a visit to the below-ground level). The Viennese breakfast dishes and savory classics are solid, but the prices reflect the downtown premium.

If an old-school and a modern Viennese coffeehouse had an offspring, it would look like Café Schopenhauer. High ceilings, oversized windows, marble-topped tables, creaking floors, yes, but also a sleek concrete counter, open kitchen, and fashionably dressed servers. The menu, too, reflects this fusion of old and new: avocado toast and soy milk matcha appear next to eggs in glass, frankfurters, and buttered kaiser roll.

The crowd leans fashionable Millennials and upper-middle-class folks from nearby Währing (District 18). As a hat-tip to the intellectual ethos of the Vienna coffeehouse, there's an entire corner laid out with books for sale. The dishes are named after famous philosophers; my favorite is "Simone de Beauvoir" – espresso with a cigarette. Why Schopenhauer? The reason is disappointingly prosaic: the cafe is located by Schopenhauer Street.

Places near Vienna’s #1 attraction, the Stephansdom, must be taken with a grain of salt, but the Kleines Café is no tourist trap. The outdoor tables overlooking the charming Franziskanerplatz are predictably nice, but be sure to also glimpse the inside. The truly small – kleines – cafe was designed in 1970 by the prominent Austrian architect Hermann Czech. In the vein of his idol, Adolf Loos, he used inventive solutions to maximize space, such as the mirror panels behind the leather booths split by vertical marble partitions. Dim, cozy, and positively strange.

The Kleines Cafe is packed at all times, but try to score a seat from which you can observe the crowd. In the evenings, when tourists have retired, it becomes a locals' spot with many of the stylish, longtime regulars. Price points reflect the central location.

Eiles is a perennially busy cafe in Vienna's elegant District 8, a short walk form the city center. Being near the City Hall (Rathaus) means politicians and journalists often congregate here, but so do all sorts of other people, both young and old. As a nod to the 21st century, the servers are casually dressed – no wrinkled smoking jackets here – and the owners tend to hire recent immigrants and refugees.

Despite the enormous size of the place, which opened in 1840, there are many snug booths coated in plush red upholstery and ringing small marble-topped tables. Pick one with a view, tuck yourself in, order a cake from the glass display upfront, and observe the scenery. Prices are on the higher end and the food is just average, but you're here for the atmosphere, which is truly Viennese. Open every day until midnight.

Opened in 1924, Dommayer is a neighborhood institution in the upscale Hietzing, within walking distance of the Habsburg summer palace (Schönbrunn). Don’t let the crystal chandeliers and suit-and-tie wearing waiters intimidate you; as with other Viennese cafés, this place is less pretentious than it looks.

The crowd consists of elderly locals who wind down here with the paper, an apple strudel, or a chocolate mousse, and well-informed visitors recharging their batteries after a Schönbrunn visit. Dommayer is owned by Oberlaa, an upscale pastry chain, which means that tortes and confections are on point. Nearby attractions include Adolf Loos's pioneering residential houses – the Scheu and the Steiner Haus – and the Hietzing Cemetery, with the tombs of Gustav Klimt and Otto Wagner.

This secluded downtown café doesn’t want to draw attention to itself but it’s a true-to-Vienna establishment. Journalists, actors, businesspeople, well-heeled elderly couples, and even teenage lovebirds come to Cafe Engländer, which is known for its above-average kitchen (schnitzel, fried chicken salad, Carinthian cheese dumplings) and kind, longtime servers. The interior is simple and elegant and there’s something distinctly civilized and bourgeoisie – in the best sense of the word – about this place. Evenings tend to be most lively.

If you’re near St. Stephen’s Cathedral and need a break in grand Viennese fashion, walk a few steps over to Cafe Diglas. The elegant pink facade with golden letters hides an interior with crystal chandeliers, marble floors, and snug booths with red upholstery. Somewhat disjointed are the erotic black-and-white photos that hang from the wall panels.

In the mornings, locals gather here before the cascade of tourists arrive. Diglas is best known for its in-house pastries, such as the ethereal cottage-cheese strudel (Topfenstrudel). Note that in the old Vienna tradition, service can be unkind and that price points are steep. The Diglas family, one of the well-known restaurateurs of the city, have two additional locations.

“Vienna is boring.” Something I often hear from Budapest friends. All the prosperity leaves little room for a bit of irreverence, they say. Too much melange, too little espresso, if you will. I like to point them to Cafe Kafka to prove this isn’t so. Opened in 2001, this bar draws many people who would seamlessly blend into Budapest’s alternative scene (ironically, Kafka is just steps away from Mariahilfer Straße, the main shopping street). No matter whether you come here at 11 a.m. or 11 p.m., the place is filled to capacity.

Vintage film posters decorate the worn walls and vintage too is the wood-burning stove that provides heating in the cool months. Laptops are permitted and there’s wifi and electric outlets for lingerers. A few of the servers are known for their bad attitude, but I don't let them spoil the fun.

Of course, I can’t decide whether you should visit Cafe Sacher, Vienna’s main tourist destination known for its namesake chocolate sponge cake layered with apricot jam, but I can lay out the facts. The story is well-known: pastry maker Franz Sacher invented the recipe for the Habsburg's all-powerful chancellor, Prince Metternich, in 1832. Later, Franz's commercially-savvy son, Eduard, opened the Hotel Sacher and cashed in on the name.

Most days, you’ll need to wait in line between half-hour to an hour to enter the premises: Two small but elaborate neo-Baroque halls located on the ground floor of the five-star Hotel Sacher behind the Opera House. The Sacher torte is indeed delicious – rich but feather-light. The customers are strictly tourists; local people don’t go near here since similarly good Sacher torte can be had elsewhere for lower prices (for example at Cafe Tirolerhof around the corner).

This isn’t to say that Cafe Sacher is your typical tourist trap; it's simply a soulless commercial operation. A cash cow. More so than Demel, its historical archrival a few blocks away.

If you think only rich people live in Vienna’s District 8 (Josefstadt), spend a couple of hours at Cafe Hummel sitting at the bar counter. The unobstructed views will reveal a motley group: far from furs and glitz, opinionated pensioners, college students, and regular middle-classers fill the enormous space of this neighborhood institution anchoring Josefstädter Straße (fine: the price points are a bit unfriendly).

Since 1937, the Hummel family has been in charge; the current owner, Christina Hummel, is half-Hungarian, perhaps the reason that the goulash soup is the specialty of the house. Notably, Hummel is open every day of the year.

Dating to 1896, Savoy is a historic cafe and the best-known and oldest gay bar of Vienna. Even in good weather, be sure to glimpse the inside: the exuberant neo-Baroque furnishings are a refreshing contrast to the pervasive minimalism of the current day. The most prized objects are two enormous mirror panels – the biggest in Vienna – and golden chandeliers designed by Theophil Hansen, the architect of the Austrian House of Parliament. During the day, foreigners stumble in here from the tourist-heavy Naschmarkt market across the street, but there's more of a gay scene in the evenings.

Sperl is one of the nicest and priciest cafes in Vienna, one that retained-regained its original 1880 look. Sperl was known as the hangout of the Viennese Secession artists, whose home base, that strange white building with a golden dome, is just a few blocks away (paper and painting supplies were always within arm’s reach to ensure that Sperl’s marble tables remained free of creative inspirations).

The right-hand side of the space is anchored by pool tables, the left is for coffee and socializing. Today, Sperl is a bit of a tourist spot, but not distractingly so. Across the street is phil, a new-wave cafe and bookstore, so you can sample both sides of Vienna.

Opened in 1861, Cafe Schwarzenberg is one of the well-known, historic coffeehouses of Vienna, lining the famous Ringstraße. If you wonder how the place earned its moniker, all you need to do is peek outside, toward the equestrian bronze statue of field marshal Prince Karl Philipp Schwarzenberg, who fought Napoleon in several military campaigns.

Try to sit in the section left of the entrance, formerly the women's salon, which is brighter, cozier, and overlooks the Ring. The walls are crowded with reprints of old masters paintings but the reason turns out to be less than poetic: the owners of Schwarzenberg also manage the glitzy cafe inside the nearby Kunsthistorisches Museum. Note that price points are steep.

Weidinger is a very special cafe in Vienna, but – warning! – it may not be for everyone. This unpretentious establishment is located along the Gürtel in District 16, well away from downtown and its tourist and bourgeois-heavy crowds. Here, you’ll be with regular Viennese: mid-level office workers, community organizers, foreign workers, daydreamers, students. The low price points and all-inviting atmosphere bring together this eclectic group.

Some decades ago, the brown walls must have been yellow, the gray upholstery blue, the formica tables unblemished. Oh well. Apart from alcohol and surprisingly good coffee, they also serve some basic dishes – goulash soup, scrambled eggs, toasted sandwiches. The evenings draw Viennese hipsters, as well as card, pool, and bowling players (the bowling alley is below-ground).

Time stopped sometime around 1960 at Cafe am Heumarkt and I'm still not sure whether despite or because of this am I such a fan of this place. It’s always very calm and pleasant here: people playing cards, shooting pool, chatting quietly in a corner. The cozy booths are draped in red artificial leather whose decades-old scars are patched up with inordinate black tapes (a few broken springs here and there).

The two no-nonsense servers, who are wonderfully old school and also the owners, have created an intimate, almost family-like atmosphere. Orders might be called out from the other side of the room. The daily specials are delicious – soups especially – and it was here that I had the best plate of cabbage noodles of my life (Krautfleckerl!). Hint: If you like Cafe Weidinger, you’ll like this place, too. Weekdays only!

When you enter this historic café near Vienna’s Opera House, you’ll be accosted by a mouthwatering display of pastries and tortes behind the glass display. Apple and cottage cheese strudels, Esterházy torte, Cardinal slice, whipped-cream-filled rolls (Schaumrolle). They usually lure me into one of the crescent-shaped plush red banquettes (sadly, Adolf Loos's legendary interior from 1899 is no more).

You’ll sit alongside elegant local Viennese who camp out here under the silver globe lighting fixtures and do their reading or socializing with a cup of very pricey coffee or a glass of Zweigelt. Note: weekends are usually overrun by tourists.

Rüdigerhof, a historical Vienna cafe a half-hour walk from the city center, inhabits the ground floor of a beautiful Art Nouveau building designed in 1904 by Oskar Marmorek (an excellent example of Viennese Secession architecture). There’s a lively and blithe energy here, as evidenced by T-shirted waiters and alternative-looking regulars, some in their twenties, some in their sixties, some in-between. In the warm months, the action shifts to the outdoor terrace overlooking the slender Vienna River.

Kaffee Alt-Wien isn't your typical Vienna coffeehouse: here film and museum posters blanket the seasoned walls and a distinctly bohemian vibe fills the dim interior. The place is best known as the hangout of painters and poets in the 1980s. Some of them still appear in the evenings, when most of the action is, alongside beer-loving members of the Croatian and Hungarian communities. Being smack in the middle of the city center means that Alt-Wien gets its share of tourists, but its native spirit is very much alive.

Jelinek is a cozy neighborhood café off Mariahilfer Straße in Vienna's District 6. The high-ceilinged establishment opened in 1910 and the weathered interior is proof that little has changed here in the past century. In fact, that fireplace at the center of the space still provides much of the heating in the cold months (customers occasionally toss in a few logs to keep the flames alive).

Jelinek serves breakfast food all day, but you’re here mainly for the ambiance – try to score a table in one of the snug corners with plush chairs. Customers are a mix of local hipsters, neighborhood residents, and an increasing number of tourists. Prices are higher than what you’d expect, but the vibes make up for it.

Owners Leopold and Josefine Hawelka turned this dim downtown cafe off the Graben into a legendary bohemian hangout whose golden period lasted from the 1950s to the 1970s. Back then, Viennese painters, architects, and writers sat around the marble-topped tables amid a thick haze of cigarette smoke.

Today, the inside is still unquestionably cool: creaking wooden floors; museum posters and playful drawings on the walls; a well-earned patina anywhere you look. But the native spirit and local residents are long gone, having been replaced by floods of tourists. If you decide to go, show up shortly after 4 p.m. when the freshly made yeast buns – Buchteln – filled with plum jam are served (they run out quickly). Prices, as you can expect, are inflated.

Locals will tell you that no self-respecting Viennese would enter a coffeehouse with a “please wait to be seated" sign, not to mention a long line of tourists outside it. If you follow their dictum, you'd altogether skip Café Central, which, along with Café Sacher and Café Hawelka, is the most touristy coffeehouse in town. (Coffeehouse culture is alive in Vienna, why not try something closer to the fabric of the city?)

In the first decades of the 20th century, the Central was a literary cafe, where writers and poets gathered amid the thick haze of cigarette smoke. Most famously Peter Altenberg, whose plastic figure today greets visitors at the entrance (he's the same Altenberg whose portrait hangs in the Loosbar). The cafe's dramatic vaulted interior inhabits the ground floor of the 1868 building that used to be the Central Bank of Austria-Hungary.

Scan the stylish crowd of creatives and established artists, and you’ll not be surprised that Anzengruber is located in the upper-middle-class gallery district of Vienna's District 4. Historically, Anzengruber was the hangout of the city's Croatian community and it still draws Slavic speakers when soccer plays on the big screen. These days, Anzengruber is more of a restaurant and a bar than a cafe – it opens at 4 p.m. – and shows its liveliest self in the evenings. Food, coffee, and service are all above-average.