Wondering what to tip in restaurants? Where to get a great coffee? Where to find luxury stores? Or whether Vienna takes credit cards? Here some local guidance on how to make life easier when eating out or shopping.
- See also:
- Traditional Viennese food and drink
- Coffee houses
- Romantic dinners
- Wine taverns
- Dining culture and etiquette
- Shopping advice
- Selected store tips
Eating out in Vienna
(One of the traditional coffee houses in the city centre)
Vienna is best known for its famous café and coffee house culture (though we have Starbucks and McCafé now, too). But the city’s wine taverns (the Heuriger) represent another tradition firmly anchored in Viennese life.
Obviously, Austria’s capital also hosts a variety of pubs, bars, and restaurants: from Irish watering holes to Michelin star establishments (twelve with between one and three stars the last time I checked).
I’m not going to highlight many specific restaurants, except for some rare exceptions…for example, long queues may form outside the famous Schnitzel-serving Figlmüller restaurants in the centre. Is a visit worth the wait? Answer here.
But let me take you through some establishments in my particular area of expertise: coffee houses and café-confectioneries.
(Café Hawelka opened in 1939)
That famous café culture takes place in equally famous locations. But which ones should you try?
Here’s a list of some of the best traditional cafés in the city, as suggested by locals (which means me, my friends and relatives). How I suffered: forced to visit each location and try the coffee and cake.
(Sluka opened in 1891)
These Viennese Konditoreien (confectioneries) also have a long and illustrious history.
Think of them as cafés with an unfeasibly large cake counter. A good source of lovingly-packed edible gifts to take back home, too.
A touch of romance
(The tree of hearts adds a loving touch to the Rathaus park at Christmas)
Looking for somewhere to add some more love to your trip for two? I have a few romantic dinner locations for you.
The suggestions ignore restaurants that are simply good. Instead, I cover unusual spots, dinner with a view, and rather poignant places for snacks or picnics.
(The “genuine” Heuriger have their natural home in the outer districts)
As you immerse yourself in Viennese culinary life, you might come across the Heuriger or wine tavern: a rustic form of eating and drinking establishment centered around Vienna’s own wine-growing tradition.
Expect homegrown wines and a buffet of local delicacies (some of which are considerably more robust in nature than the term suggests).
(We even have a chain of vegan ice cream parlours)
Particular mention should go to the traditional ice cream parlours, which now tend to offer a number of vegan ice creams, too.
Local traditions & rules
Regardless of where you go to eat and drink, you’ll want to know the rules and etiquette in Vienna. Some helpful advice for you:
- Service is almost always at the table, often even in places that look like British pubs. (Learn the rules for ordering and paying for food and drink)
- And your bill very rarely includes that service; I can’t recall having ever seen it included, frankly. So you should tip waiting staff. (See guidelines for tipping in restaurants)
- If you’re drinking alcohol, particularly with locals, you’ll want to know how to behave before taking that first sip. (Discover how you say “cheers” – it’s a ritual)
- Ah, but when can you drink in Vienna? And how old do you have to be? (Learn about drinking hours and ages)
- And can you have a cigarette inside bars and restaurants? (The short answer is “no”, but read up on local smoking regulations)
- Finally, menus often come with a bunch of letters attached to each food description. These refer to allergens. (Understand the allergy information codes)
Shopping in Vienna
(Part of the Golden quarter luxury shopping area)
Like any affluent capital city, Vienna bursts with shopping opportunities.
The two main central “shop ’till you drop” streets are the Kärntner Straße / Graben area (the pedestrianised city center) and Mariahilfer Straße (a little further out).
Useful shopping advice
- What are the best shopping areas? The hotspots all sit in or near the centre, except for the big malls
- When are the shops open? Possibly not as often as you might expect. Sunday shopping and 24hr shopping are not a thing in Vienna, barring a few exceptions
- Is Vienna expensive? Probably not as expensive as you imagine. I’ve listed typical prices for food, travel, and entertainment
- Do stores take credit cards? Not as much as you might be used to elsewhere. Vienna runs on cash and debit cards, mostly, especially in bars and at markets
- What make good souvenirs? You’re spoiled for choice, but cake and chocolate do feature prominently in my list of suggestions
Useful store tips
(An Anglo-American grocery store)
And some advice for particular needs…
- If you’re desperate for self-raising flour or Cadbury’s chocolate, then Bobby’s foodstore near Karlsplatz station stocks UK and US groceries
- Vienna’s largest open-air food market is the Naschmarkt, with products from all over the world as well as numerous bars and restaurants
- The local answer to the tobacconist and newsagent is the Trafik
- If you’re going old school and want to send a postcard back home, then you need to know about stamps and post offices
- For snacks, picnics, bottled water etc., pop into one of the supermarkets, who also make financial sense for a little souvenir shopping if you’re thinking of buying chocolate and Mozart balls (Mozartkugeln)
- Finally, because I had to research this in doomed pursuit of ingredients for an Asiatic sauce, Vienna has a couple of Japanese food stores