Writing a list of top coffee houses for Vienna is a bit like deciding on the best French wines. There are rather a lot of good ones, so it’s often a matter of taste and personal preference.
But I canvassed opinion among friends and relatives to come up with this list of classic cafés, which will grow as more suggestions come in.
Sadly, it falls to me to work my way through them one-by-one, bravely consuming excellent coffee and mountains of cake to eventually bring you a local review of each establishment. There’s no need to thank me.
So, in no particular order:
Famously the subject of one of Vienna’s best-loved songs, “Jö Schau” by the late Austrian songwriter Georg Danzer. The chorus includes the line, “What’s a naked man doing in Hawelka?”. A fair question, I would have thought. Austropop legend, Falco, celebrated his 30th birthday here, and other prominent guests have included Andy Warhol, Klaus Maria Brandauer, and Peter Ustinov.
Dorotheergasse 6, 1010 Vienna | Website
Opened in 1880 and traditional home to archdukes, generals, artists and actors (the café is close to the Theater an der Wien opera house). Also known for its billiard tables and patterned upholstery.
Gumpendorfer Straße 11, 1060 Vienna | Website
First opened in 1903. There’s even a theatre in the basement, reflecting the long association between coffee houses and the arts. Inside is a mix of Art Nouveau and 1950s design, and the café is a favoured haunt of students from the nearby University of Applied Arts.
Stubenring 24, 1010 Vienna | Website
Another literary coffee house that traces its roots back to the 19th century. Known particularly for its interior design and neo-rococo ceilings. Its most famous guest was probably Austrian author, Peter Rosegger, who came very close to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Mariahilfer Straße 73, 1060 Vienna | Website
Newly refurbished in 2010 but originally designed by Adolf Loos in 1899. He was a regular guest, too, along with other giants of art and architecture, such as Otto Wagner, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. As with many cafés in Vienna, it upholds the traditional association between coffee house culture and literature with monthly public readings by authors.
Operngasse 7, 1010 Vienna | Review
Not a tourist haunt, so not as busy as many of its cousins, but still very central. Like many coffee houses in the city, it also has a literary connection. This was the favourite café of one of Austria’s greatest writers and playwrights, Thomas Bernhard, whose will famously forbade publication or performance of his works in the country.
Stallburggasse 2, 1010 Vienna
Easily spotted because of the queues that always seem to snake out from the entrance. Possibly the most famous of the Vienna coffee houses and much loved by tourists (hence the queues). Trotsky and Freud both supped at their coffees in this 1860-built palatial building. In fact, in 1913, they both lived in Vienna at the same time as Tito, Hitler and Stalin, which must have led to some awkward conversations.
Herrengasse / Strauchgasse, 1010 Vienna | Website
Where high society goes to see and be seen. Opened in 1873 and located next to the Burgtheater and opposite city hall. So
Universitätsring 4, 1010 Vienna | Website
This one dates back to 1895 but was (fortunately) completely refurbished in 2018. Another café with glorious ceilings, upholstered wall seating and broad windows for plenty of natural light. So not one of the dusky haunts of yore.
Mariahilfer Straße 128, 1070 Vienna | Review
And for something a little different…
If you find yourself in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, pop into Landtmann’s Jausen Station.