A Guide to the Best Coffee Houses and Cafes in Vienna

Want a taste of the quintessential Central European cafe scene? With a wide selection of historic coffee roasters and trendy cafes, Vienna deserves a spot at the top of your list.

Are you wondering “What are the best coffee houses and cafes in Vienna?”? Here is all you need to know.

Best Coffee Houses and Cafes in Vienna

Vienna’s café scene is renowned worldwide, embodying a rich tradition that dates back centuries. These historic coffee houses are not just places to enjoy a cup of coffee but are cultural institutions where intellectuals, artists, and writers have gathered for discussions and exchange of ideas.

Recognized by UNESCO for their cultural significance, Viennese cafés offer a unique atmosphere where time seems to stand still, blending traditional elegance with the leisurely enjoyment of coffee and pastries like the famous Sachertorte. They’re seen as public living rooms where locals and visitors alike can soak in the city’s history and creativity.

We gathered the best coffee houses and cafes in Vienna for the ultimate Central European experience.

A Brief History of Viennese Coffee Culture

The Viennese coffee culture began in the late 17th century when the Turks left behind bags of coffee after the Siege of Vienna. This event led to the opening of the first coffee house in 1685. Viennese cafés became cultural hubs, known for their elegant interiors and as meeting places for intellectuals, artists, and writers.

By the 19th century, Viennese cafés had become iconic, offering a blend of elegance, literary culture, and the unique tradition of serving coffee with a glass of water. This culture, celebrated for its contribution to the social and cultural life of the city, was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, highlighting its importance beyond Austria’s borders.

What is typical Viennese coffee?

A typical Viennese coffee is known for its variety and tradition, exemplified by the “Melange,” which is similar to a cappuccino. It consists of steamed milk and froth over a shot of espresso, often dusted with cocoa powder. The coffee culture in Vienna is steeped in history, offering an array of unique preparations that reflect the city’s cosmopolitan past. From the strong “Espresso” to the creamy “Wiener Melange” and the layered “Einspänner” topped with whipped cream, each coffee tells a story of Vienna’s rich café culture.

vienna melange

What is the famous coffee drink in Vienna?

The most famous coffee drink in Vienna is the “Wiener Melange.” It’s a beloved specialty, similar to a cappuccino, that consists of a shot of espresso mixed with steamed milk and topped with a light foam. The Wiener Melange is a testament to Vienna’s rich coffee culture.

Why do they serve water with coffee in Vienna?

Serving water with coffee in Vienna is a tradition that underscores the city’s famous hospitality and the ceremonial aspect of enjoying coffee. The glass of water serves not only as a palate cleanser, allowing the coffee’s flavor to be fully appreciated, but also as a symbol of the coffee house’s generosity, indicating that guests are welcome to linger and enjoy their time without feeling rushed.

6 Best Coffee Houses and Cafes in Vienna – according to locals

6 Best Coffee Houses and Cafes in Vienna according to locals

1. Café Jelinek

Café Jelinek, tucked away just off Mariahilfer Strasse, is a hidden gem that offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Vienna’s main shopping boulevard. This cozy café encapsulates the essence of Viennese coffee culture with its unchanged decor for decades, wrought iron woodburner, and an array of sweet temptations including their homemade guglhupf cake.

It’s a place where the charm of old Vienna is palpable, offering guests a slice of the city’s rich coffee house tradition in a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Highlights: Timeless ambiance, homemade guglhupf cake.

2. Café Sperl

Café Sperl stands as a portal to old Vienna, nestled between Mariahilfer Strasse and Naschmarkt, and has been a beacon of Viennese coffee culture since 1880. With its largely unchanged furnishings from the time of its opening, this café offers an authentic glimpse into the past. You can indulge in a cozy cup of coffee accompanied by the original Sperl Torte or enjoy a game at one of the billiard tables, making Café Sperl an ideal spot for a reflective pause in the Austrian capital.

Highlights: Historic interiors.

3. Café Hawelka

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Café Hawelka, located near Stephansplatz, is one of Vienna’s most legendary cafés, cherished for its unique charm and history. This café has long been a favored gathering place for notable figures from the arts and culture sectors. Its atmosphere, enriched by decades of intellectual and artistic exchange, together with the irresistible aroma of its famous Buchteln (jam-filled pastries), offers a deep dive into the authentic Viennese café culture, making every visit memorable.

Highlights: Its famous Buchteln.

4. Café Korb

Café Korb, nestled near Stephansplatz and established in 1904, offers an all-day breakfast and is famed for its Wiener schnitzel and the Artlounge, designed by several artists to create a modern contrast within the classic coffee house setting. This café stands out for its mix of traditional Viennese charm and contemporary art, reflecting the diverse culture of Vienna itself.

Highlights: Original 60s decor, art displays.

5. Café Schwarzenberg

ringstrasse vienna

Café Schwarzenberg stands as Vienna’s oldest Ringstrasse café, beloved for its traditional charm and position as a prominent meeting spot. It narrowly escaped transformation into a car dealership in 1980, preserving its historical ambiance. Today, visitors can enjoy classic coffee and tea specialties in an atmosphere that speaks to the enduring elegance of Vienna’s coffee house culture.

Interesting Fact: A Ringstrasse café refers to coffee houses located along Vienna’s Ringstrasse, a grand boulevard that circles the inner city. These cafés are often housed in ornate buildings that date back to the 19th century.

6. Café Central

Café Central is one of the best coffee houses and cafes in Vienna, housed in the Palais Ferstel since 1876. It is known for its splendid Venetian-style courtyard, exquisite patisserie, and ambient piano music. Celebrated for its historical significance and architectural beauty, it offers an immersive experience into Vienna’s rich coffee house culture, serving traditional Viennese cuisine alongside a variety of coffee specialties.

Highlights: Café Central is historically linked to Sigmund Freud and Leon Trotsky as one of the key intellectual hubs in Vienna.

Best Desserts to Try in Vienna’s Cafes

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A symbol of Viennese culinary finesse, Sachertorte is a rich chocolate cake with a distinct layer of apricot jam, coated in dark chocolate icing. Café Sacher offers the original and arguably the best version of this dessert, where it’s served with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.


try apfelstrudel in vienna

This traditional Viennese strudel is a delightful pastry filled with tart apples, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins, wrapped in a thin, flaky crust. Café Landtmann is renowned for its Apfelstrudel, serving it warm with powdered sugar, making it a perfect treat alongside a strong coffee.



A fluffy, shredded pancake, Kaiserschmarrn is lightly caramelized and often served with plum compote or applesauce. Café Central offers a luxurious version of this dessert, capturing the essence of Viennese sweetness and served in an ambiance that echoes the city’s imperial past.

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