Destination: Austria: Vienna
Most locals believe the Diglas’s renovation robbed the place of its bohemian soul, but this centrally located café is a great spot to refuel during sightseeing (the Stephansdom and Museum of Applied Arts are nearby). You can’t miss the pink façade on the corner of the Wollzeile; inside you’ll find red velvet chairs and small marble tables on which coffee and pastries are served on silver trays. Ask for the daily specials, and try the homemade traditional desserts like Milchrahmstrudel, a custard strudel served with warm vanilla sauce. Open daily.
This classic Viennese Kaffeehaus, which overlooks the Baroque Michaelerplatz, is one of the few in the city that’s entirely non-smoking. There are large windows, red velvet sofas and waiters who look like they stepped out of another century. The food is not exceptional, so stick to coffee and the homemade pastries. The Griensteidl is within walking distance of the Hofburg and the Dorotheum.
Located on a quiet side street near the Stephansdom, the dark, smoky, wood-paneled Hawelka is one of the city’s most famous intellectual cafés, frequented during its heyday in the 1960s and ’70s by actors, artists, poets and songwriters. As other Viennese Kaffeehäuser have renovated to appeal to a more contemporary sensibility, the Hawelka, opened by Leopold Hawelka in 1939, has held on to its well-worn patina, with faded red-and-yellow-striped couches, marble-topped tables and cozy nooks where you can sit for hours—if you can handle the nicotine-stained atmosphere. Now 97, Leopold still sits in the entrance of his café, surrounded by framed paintings and photographs by artists who used them to pay their tabs. Much missed is his wife, Josefine, who passed away in 2005; her Buchteln (dough dumplings filled with jam) remain legendary. Today the couple’s son makes them, and they’re served piping hot nightly at 10 P.M. Closed Tuesday.
The place where Franz Sacher created his famous chocolate torte in 1832 is one of Vienna’s legendary cafés on the ground floor of the hotel. Due to the Sacher’s popularity, a modern annex was added to the original red velvet–clad salon, but it’s worth waiting to be seated in the cozy old section. Coffee is served on a silver tray, and the moist Sacher-Torte, filled with a thin layer of apricot jam and coated with a shiny chocolate glaze, tastes particularly good here. The cake is served mit Schlag, with whipped cream.
Many locals consider this large corner café on the Gumpendorferstrasse their favorite classic café. Despite a renovation by the current owners in the early 1980s, the Sperl—a meeting place for artists and designers like Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann during Belle Époque Vienna—maintains a traditional vibe in the plush red velvet window seats and small fauteuils, the wood-paneled walls and appropriately disgruntled waitstaff. And its soaring ceiling and spacious L-shaped layout make it feel less smoky than smaller places like Hawelka. The extensive menu, too, is classic Vienna, with such dishes as Bouillion mit Ei (clear broth with an egg), Wiener schnitzel and Topfenstrudel (strudel made with farmer’s cheese). The café is close to the Naschmarkt and the Secession.
If you’re baffled by the encyclopedic array of Viennese coffee brews—indisputably more confusing than those found at Starbucks—the Landtmann is a great place to start, as the menu provides illustrations of its selections. For example, you will learn that a Kleiner Schwarzer Kurz is a single espresso, a Wiener Mélange is a coffee with hot frothed milk (like Paris’s café crème) and a Salon Einspänner is a double mocha served with whipped cream. The café, which opened in 1873 (Freud and Mahler were regulars), is one of Vienna’s most congenial, occupying the bottom floor of a large building overlooking the Ring boulevard. Locals dislike the new glass-encased addition in front; I personally liked the light-filled space with views of the Burgtheater. Open daily from 7:30 A.M. to midnight, the Landtmann is a terrific spot for lunch where you can try hearty classics like sausages served with horseradish, and potato soup with bacon and mushrooms. The café is within walking distance of the Hofburg. Open daily.
Search By Keyword
An insider's guide to Rio. Plus, learn about a family...
New on Indagare
Give the Gift of Indagare The perfect present for travelers: a membership to Indagare. Buy now
Indagare Insider Trips: Cuba, Myanmar and India: We’re planning trips throughout the year. Contact Indagare (212-988-2611) to be added to the wait list.
- Community: Share advice with fellow members asking about your favorite travel discoveries.
- Indagare Insiders: Three-day itineraries for families in London and art lovers in Vienna. Plus, fashion insider Chiara Ferragamo’s picks on what not to miss in Florence, Bonnie Gokson, owner of Hong Kong’s lofty Sevva on Hong Kong, Culinary Insider: Budapest.
- Rant & Rave: Indagare members can share their advice with the community by logging in first, then clicking here: Rants & Raves.
- Give the Gift: Indagare: Give the gift of travel intelligence with a membership to Indagare. For details or to order, call us at 212-988-2611 or click here: Gift Membership.
- Indagare Plus: Remember that hotels marked by an Indagare Plus symbol offer preferential rates and benefits to members.
- Indagare Share Feature: Share articles, postcards and reviews with family and friends on such networking sites as Twitter, Facebook and Delicious. Simply click on the three small dots that symbolize our connect icon, at the end of every article, and follow the link to the networking site of your preference.
- Sample Indagare: With free bi-weekly email blasts on new hot spots and insider tips when you sign up for our mailing list.
- Profile feature: Members share your profiles, comments, favorite articles and IQs. Just click on the Profile tab on the upper right of your screen and look for the Edit My Profile blue tab.
- Indagare means to discover, explore, seek, scout in Latin.