Where to Drink With The Locals: 26 of The Best Bars in Vienna

A good way to assess a city's vibes? Head to a neighborhood bar. The list below includes everything from grungy dives to slick downtown cocktail dens, so you can pick what suits your fancy.

#1 Cafe Anno

Cafe Anno is a popular drinking joint for Viennese alternatives, a dive bar of the best kind: low lights, wooden floors, maroon walls covered in posters, brainy locals who might be here for a book launch. The draft beers are notably delicious and affordable. The music selections lean catchy 1980s pop. Fans of foosball and darts can appropriate the designated room in the back.

#2 Kreisky

District 7 is the edgy-cool part of Vienna, but you can stumble into places that don’t try so hard. One of my favorite dive bars around here is Kreisky, named after Austria's seminal social democratic Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky. It’s a lively, grungy, graffitied-over drinking joint. No matter whether you order a coke-and-wine combo (“cola rot” – tastes better than it sounds) or a glass of prosecco, the bartenders won’t turn up their noses at you. Daily specials include "free shots for true tears."

#3 Cafe Monic

One of the hidden jewels of Vienna's District 6 (Mariahilf), Cafe Monic is an updated dive bar, one that makes no attempt to bring attention to itself. The outside of the building is covered in graffiti, the inside dim, with plenty of nooks and crannies. It’s the kind of bar where neither a Campari soda, nor the house lager feels out of place. The crowd comprises alternative-leaning locals in their twenties and thirties who come here for date nights and weekday drinks. Open until 4 a.m. every day.

#4 Schikaneder Bar

This positively grungy dive bar lining the fashionable Margaretenstraße in Vienna’s District 4 is named after Emanuel Schikaneder for good reason. Schikaneder, a comic actor, playwright, and theater entrepreneur, wrote the libretto to Mozart's Magic Flute, which premiered at the nearby Freihaustheater in 1791.

It’s all about the crowd here, which is young and cool and artistic and alternative. Friday and Saturday nights are especially lively. Also here: cheap booze and toasted sandwiches buried in ketchup. (The bar is attached to the neighboring art cinema, Schikaneder Kino.)

#5 Pub Klemo Weinbar

Vienna’s Klemo wine bar embodies that rare combination: a top wine program and a pretense-free ambiance. Here, no one will expect you to know the difference in soil between Bordeaux and Burgundy, but you won't be alone if that sort of thing gets you going. Around seventy wines are served by the glass, mainly Austrian, French, and Italian, in addition to daily tasting lineups such as 6 Rieslings of Wachau, 6 Reds from the Northern Rhone, or 6 Austrian Sweets.

The food also merits attention: the Päpstliche Platte cold cut platter, the homemade pappardelle, and the crème brulée have been mainstays on the menu since the 2006 opening. If a wine has caught your attention, you can buy it at Klemo’s wine store located across the street.

#6 Espresso Burggasse

Part cafe, part breakfast restaurant, part bar, Espresso is an effortlessly cool establishment in Vienna's fashionable District 7. Although it opened in 2004, Espresso will take you back in time to the 1960s: neon sign, red leather banquettes, small plastic-topped tables, midcentury chairs (the ceiling shows leftover frescoes from the bakery once here).

The breakfast dishes and the lunch specials are reliably solid, the coffee distinctly old school. Evenings also get lively, when the place transforms into a natural wine-forward bar. Both the servers and the crowd are trend-conscious, but not in a pretentious way. Closed on Sunday.

#7 Zum Schwarzen Kameel

Zum Schwarzen Kameel, which goes back to 1618, is a legendary restaurant within Vienna's upscale shopping district. This buzzing establishment has both fans and detractors and is best-known for the crowd it attracts: posh, showy, a bit vulgar, but altogether adorable middle-aged Viennese. Picture chic fifty-somethings enviably enjoying themselves with a chilled bottle of champagne. The restaurant's enormous terrace serves as a theatrical see-and-be-seen stage throughout the whole year (heated in the winter).

Instead of pricey Viennese classics, you can also just drop in for a few of the open-faced sandwiches served from the display glass at the front. They're the specialty of the house (ham and horseradish! salmon! eggs spread!) and no one is going to turn up their noses at you if you get a few of those with a glass of the house Grüner while enjoying the vibes. Perhaps snobby, but not elitist is the Kameel!

#8 Bar Campari

Curious where the Viennese upper crust winds down? Head to Campari Bar, tucked away in the city center amid Louis Vuitton, Hermés, and Prada stores. As its better known sister location around the corner, Zum Schwarzen Cameel, Campari Bar is a see-and-be-seen destination for the well-to-do. Lots of high heels, slicked-back hair, and champagne popping. The drinks menu is focused on Campari based cocktails, of which the Negroni Sbagliato – campari, vermouth, prosecco – is what the white-suited servers deliver most of. The wine list leans Italian.

#9 Cafe Bendl

One of the most idiosyncratic bars of Vienna, Bendl is a lively student hangout near the City Hall (Rathaus). I haven’t been able to ascertain why so many of the young clientele sport a suit and a tie, but it surely makes for a strange sight under the yellowed walls covered in worn wall panels.

As the night unfolds, the energy level rises, beer coasters fly (keep the tradition alive and join the coaster battle!), and Austrian evergreens stream from the jukebox. €1 will buy you not one, but three songs. Cleanliness doesn't seem to be a priority here, but Bendl makes up for it in good spirit and character.

#10 Kleines Cafe

Places near Vienna’s main 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, the stylish, longtime regulars often appear. Price points reflect the central location.

#11 Loos American Bar

For fans of architecture, the Loos Bar is a must while in Vienna. Adolf Loos, one of the seminal modern architects, is best-known for his infamous Looshaus (1910-12), a provocatively undecorated building that outraged the Habsburg royal court living across the street from it on Michaelerplatz.

The American Bar (1907), hidden on a downtown side street off Kärntner Straße, embodies Loos's stylistic philosophy: exquisite materials – marble, mahogany, alabaster – without superfluous decorations. The dim cocktail bar is tiny, the impact is striking (lots of mirrors are meant to enlarge the space). That portrait hanging on the wall: he's Peter Altenberg, a close friend of Loos and a famous Viennese coffeehouse poet.

The crowd is heavy on tourists and scoring one of the few precious seats is nearly impossible, but a visit is worth it for a peek at least. Try going during off-hours.

#12 Wunder-Bar

An alternative-leaning bar right in Vienna’s historic city center otherwise known for its Baroque palaces and five-star hotels? Wunder-Bar – a play on the German word for “wonderful” – hides on a small, obscure medieval street. The inside is dark and quirky, showing the strange postmodern touches of architect Hermann Czech: fading leather banquettes, decorative ribbed vaulting, inlaid marbles, space-swelling mirrors (Mr. Czech left a similar mark on the nearby Kleines Café).

The crowd is young and relatively bohemian (this is swanky land, after all). The excellent musical selections include contemporary indie hits anywhere from Russia to South America. Depending on the bartender, the service can be kind or less so.

#13 Cafe Habakuk

Habakuk is where hip and alternative Viennese Millennials from District 6 wind down. At its core, Habakuk is an unfussy dive bar, but more cozy and intimate than your typical neighborhood joint. The main room is perfect for date nights – dark and lined with small tables and a cushy banquette. As it should, the music gets increasingly better and louder as the night progresses.

#14 Cafe Weidinger

Weidinger is a very special Vienna cafe 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 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).

#15 Cafe Carina

Part bar, part concert venue, Carina is a longstanding drinking den in Vienna located along the Gürtel – the busy road connecting inner and outer city – and the crowd is accordingly mixed on most days. Notably, Carina occupies the ground floor of the grand Josefstädter Straße subway station, one of the 1895 masterpieces of architect Otto Wagner.

I like to warm up to my Carina visit with drinks and some grub at Weinhaus Sittl, an old-school, traditional Austrian restaurant across the street. Be sure to check the concert schedule before you go as things are slow on off days.

#16 Cafe Kafka

“Vienna is boring.” Something I hear from Budapest friends. All the prosperity leaves no 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 don't let them spoil the fun.

#17 Wieninger am Nussberg

Wieninger am Nussberg is one of the growing number of Heurigers in Vienna that are located high up on the hillside. The panoramic views and a carefree environment right amid the vineyards draw young and chic and sometimes rowdy locals, who otherwise turn up their noses at the old-school Heurigers in the city.

The wines come from Fritz Wieninger, a father of Viennese winemaking, who makes both excellent whites – Gemischter Satz, too, of course – and easy-drinking reds. Tasty Viennese classics are available for the side. The best way to get here from the city center is taking tram #37 to the last stop (Hohe Warte), then walking the remainder of the way, about 30 minutes. The last section right through the vineyards. Open Thursday to Sunday in the outdoor season.

#18 Edlmoser Weingut & Heuriger

If the well-known Heurigers of Vienna’s District 19 in Grinzing and Nussdorf feel overly touristy, I suggest you head to Mauer on the other side of town. Here hides the beloved neighborhood Heuriger of Michael Edlmoser, a leading Viennese winemaker.

Edlmoser himself is among the servers who slalom through the crowd with Liptauer spreads, tender pork belly slices, and apple strudels in hand. And of course wines. Start with his classic Wiener Gemischter Satz, then move on to the Rieslings, among the best in Austria. Be sure to check their calendar – look for asg’steckt – as they follow the Heuriger tradition and open for two-week intervals at a time.

#19 Heuriger Muth

Heuriger Muth is the name if you'd like to experience a typical Heuriger in the center of Heurigerville, that is, the Grinzing neighborhood of Vienna's District 19. Enter through the barrel-vaulted courtyard, select some cold cuts and spreads – spicy Liptauer! – from the display case, then settle down under the soaring chestnut tree with a glass or two of easy-drinking Gemischter Satz, the local specialty.

Proprietor Michael Landrichter, also busy serving guests, gathered an especially kind group of servers. Muth, which isn't overrun by tourists, serves excellent warm dishes, too. Vienna's main Beethoven Museum is right next door.

#20 Weinstube Josefstadt

Heurigers are a Vienna specialty: charming wine taverns in the suburbs, near the city’s famed vineyards. What if you don't have the time or energy to trek out to Grinzing and Nussberg in Heuriger-land? You find the best alternative in the city, which is Weinstube Josefstadt. It's a small drinking joint in the elegantly old-school District 8, with residential houses towering over its ivy-covered outdoor garden.

While technically not a Heuriger – they don't make their own wine – the place looks and feels like one. Both its Gemischter Satz and Blaufränkisch-forward wine offerings and the foods lined up behind the glass display: meatballs, roast pork belly, egg and Liptauer spreads, apple, and cottage-cheese strudels. Weinstube Josefstadt retires for the cold months, from November until February.

#21 Futuregarden

Dim space, disco lights, ear-catching electronic music drifting from the background – what else can you wish for on a Saturday late night in Vienna? Affordable drinks and good company perhaps, and that too delivers Futuregarden, a longtime bar in the heart of Mariahilf (District 6). It’s a good place to meet people and even to move your feet as the night progresses. Weekdays tend to be slower.

#22 Schadekgasse12 / Liebling 2

Schadekgasse 12, a fashionable cafe and bar in Vienna's District 6, comes into its own in the evenings when soft electronic music streams from the background and the Millennial crowd pours out to the sidewalk. This is mainly a sit-down bar and a see-and-be-seen venue for chic Viennese alternative types. I prefer this location to its sister institution just up the street, Liebling, where the hipster vibes feel less effortless.

#23 Weinhaus Sittl

If you’re like me and get a kick out of weathered neighborhood institutions with a beating heart, then be sure to mark up your map with Weinhaus Sittl. The patrons span Viennese young adults, senior citizens, and everyone in between. What draws them here? The friendly price points and the tasty dishes: cold cuts, Schnitzel, meatballs, and the Kaiserschmarrn all hold their own.

The server-proprietor sisters, Leila and Anna, represent the fourth generation and treat everyone with the same no-nonsense kindness, whether you're a cool hipster or a downtrodden senior in for a nightcap. Sittl is located on a not especially inviting part of Vienna by the Gürtel, a car-heavy three-lane road, but the venerable patina of the place, which opened in 1914, will make you forget the noisy traffic outside. In nice weather, try the outdoor garden too. Weekdays only!

#24 Kaffee Alt-Wien

Kaffee Alt-Wien is an unlikely place to find in the middle of Vienna's Old Town. Far from the typically pristine Vienna coffeehouse, here seasoned film and museum posters blanket the walls and a distinctly bohemian vibe imbues the dim interior. The place was best known as the hangout of painters and poets in the 1980s, some of whom still appear in the evenings, when most of the action is, alongside beer-loving members of the Croatian and Hungarian communities. Given the location, tourists also stumble in, but Alt Wien's native spirit is very much alive. Affordable daily lunch specials!

#25 Schweden Espresso

Walk into this downtown watering hole on a weekday, and you’ll glance a mellow and predictable bar crowd: students, construction workers, graying alcoholics, a few oldtimers in the back huddling over a chessboard. Come Saturday evening, an influx of young Viennese monopolize the place drawn by the old-school vibes (jukebox!), low prices, and central location. Needless to say: you're here for the authentically retro atmosphere, not the quality of drinks. Cash only and open daily until 2 a.m.

#26 Bukowski The Pub

Located in the heart of District 7, Bukowski is a grungy, unpretentious bar frequented mainly by Viennese students. Oversized prints of pop legends adorn the walls, those of Charles Bukowski of course, but also MLK, Che Guevara, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. Naturally, cheap booze is the focus here, mainly beer and wine spritzers, but also ciders (apple! pear! strawberry!). Open daily until 6 a.m.