You can work up a healthy appetite looking at Dodos and Diplodoci (is that the plural of Diplodocus?).
Fortunately, Vienna’s Natural History Museum has a rather nice café in the middle of the zoological floor. And a delightful shop, should you wish to buy something more permanent.
- Sumptuous setting for the café beneath the main dome
- Large shop with many unusual items, too, as well as standard museum wares
- See also:
(The dome above the café; photo © NHM Wien, Kurt Kracher)
Consider taking a break here simply for the surrounds: it’s like drinking coffee inside a work of art.
The main museum dome forms the café’s roof, heavily decorated with scientific themes, angels, animals, sculpted columns, crowns, and generous helpings of marble, gold and stone.
So not like your average Starbucks.
I enjoyed a fine cappuccino, but the location offered a range of other coffees, teas, juices and alcoholic drinks, plus snacks and other food to keep you going (it’s not a full-blown restaurant, though you can get a hot meal).
The cakes looked great. Unfortunately, an expanding midriff kept me away. The waiter was also friendly and fast – not always a given, especially in a busy café that has a lot of tourists.
Tip: the café can fill quickly, especially at mealtimes and weekends, so plan for that.
The Natural History Museum’s shop sits on the ground floor, after the exit. If that sounds like you have to leave the actual museum to go to the shop, don’t worry: we thought the same.
We told the the doorman at the museum entrance we were returning after a shop visit and had no problem getting in again. The entrance and exit are just a few metres apart, so it’s no great inconvenience.
This also means you can visit the shop without going into the museum; handy if you want to buy something later without paying the entrance fee.
The store is relatively new, quite large and airy, and full of the traditional wares of a museum emporium: books (also in English), posters, postcards, jewellery, toys, etc.
If you want a replica T-Rex tooth – and who wouldn’t? – or a key ring with a miniature Venus of Willendorf attached, this is your place.
But that’s not all.
Among the more unusual items I found for sale on my visit:
- Prehistoric relics, fossils, and other animal remains (such as a cave bear tooth)
- Minerals from around the world, including meteorite fragments
- Framed insects and other animals, such as butterflies and bird spiders
Somewhere to pick up an alternative souvenir to Mozart balls and Sachertorte, perhaps? After all, nothing says “I went to Vienna” quite as effectively as a nicely-framed prehistoric shark tooth.