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Vienna Coffee Houses Make for Cozy Winter Retreats

by Aoife O'Riordan

Mar 4, 2024

© Evgeniy Fesenko | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

On a windy March day, there are no more inviting places in Vienna than its coffee houses. Couples can find romantic tables for two where they can linger over slices of sachertorte or sumptuous pastries. Family travelers in Vienna can take a break from sightseeing and warm up with steaming cups of hot chocolate topped by mounds of whipped cream.


Vienna’s coffee houses are about more than a cup of coffee. Lingering, reading a newspaper or book, meeting friends and just enjoying the warm (and usually elegant) surroundings is part of the Viennese way of life. Coffee houses are so much a part of Vienna’s culture, they have made it to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.


UNESCO describes the city’s coffee houses well: “The coffeehouses are a place where patrons consume time and space, but only the coffee appears on the bill.” Discover your own favorite or look for these as you explore this magnificent city.


Step into the elegant world of the Austrian Empire, sipping coffee or cocoa beneath the arched ceilings of Café Central. Order traditional apple strudel or the house specialty, Central Surprise, a beautiful creation of orange caramel, Bavarian cream and chocolate.


The venerable Demel has been a Viennese institution since 1786, where generations have sipped coffee at its marble-topped tables and discreetly watched other patrons in the gilt-framed mirrors. Famous for its sachertorte, Demel is also the place to sample Esterházy Cake, wafer-thin layers of almond meringue sandwiched with cognac-laced buttercream.


For a taste of an old-style coffee house, step inside Café Leopold Hawelka, a beloved hangout of artists since 1939. Without the crystal and gold décor of the fashionable cafés, the atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming, and just as it has been since Andy Warhol joined fellow artists here in the post-World War II years.


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