Lifestyle & Culture

Escape the winter blues: Our list of cozy cafés and coffeehouses in Vienna only locals know

Vienna has long been a city of coffeehouse culture. Since 1683, after the unsuccessful siege by the Turkish Empire left bags of coffee beans in its wake, the city has been steeped in a craze for coffee, conversation and culture. The first real coffeehouse was opened a few years later by an Armenian spy named Diodato as a cover for his operations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

As Europe continued to change and modernize, the coffeehouse became the home of new traditions, progressive ideas and artistic conversations across the continent. Vienna became an internationally cosmopolitan melting-pot towards the end of the 19th century, and its rich tradition of coffeehouses help to cultivate the sharing, dissemination and creation of the modern cultural era.

There is no better time in Vienna to explore the large number of authentic coffeehouses and cafés than in the gray and uninspiring days of January and February. While the rest of the country is basking in winter sunshine or enjoying snow-covered mountains, Vienna’s microclimate often includes freezing temperatures, rainy weekends and cloudy skies.

What better time to choose a good book in which to escape into and finding a cozy armchair in the corner of a quiet coffeehouse? In addition to this, the reserved and simple serving practices of Austrian waiters mean that you are sure not to be disturbed.

Many of the most famous coffeehouses are well-documented online and in travel literature, and this shows in the full chairs and reservation cards bedecking each table. However, there are many unknown cafés that deserve a visit.

All of these coffeehouses can guarantee a high-quality coffee, and of course some delicious local beer and schnapps if you’re ready to settle down for a while.

Below, you can find a few of the author’s favourite cozy coffeehouses that you may not otherwise find in the guidebooks:

Kaffee Alt Wien (Wikipedia)

Kaffee Alt Wien

Bäckerstraße 9, 1st District

One of the most well-known and popular old coffeehouses/bars in the centre of Vienna is Kaffee Alt Wien. With a large open space and walls covered in cultural posters and advertisements from both recent and former times, Kaffee Alt Wien has long been a place for quiet coffees during the day and meeting friends for a few pints of beer in the evening. The cafe also can boast some of the most authentic Viennese cafe food on offer, such as wiener schnitzel and goulash soup.

Café Weidinger

Lerchenfelder Gürtel 1, 16th District

One of this authors personal favourites, Café Weidinger has not changed in at least 40 or 50 years. Although it is right next to the busy Lerchenfelder Gürtel belt road, when you step through the doors (and the hanging drapes to keep out the breeze after that) you notice the peace and quiet that reigns within.

With no music, and an extremely large empty space mostly filled with people reading or working, this cafe is a perfect place to relax with an espresso or beer and settle into your favourite book.

Wikipedia

Café Kafka

Capistrangasse 8, 6th District

Kafka is small and cozy, but centrally located near the popular MuseumsQuartier Wien and Mariahliferstrasse shopping street. While the clientele is mostly young and hip students, the vibe of the café is a calm mood filled with quiet folk music and a large selection of board games for when you meet friends around the small, intimate tables.

Café Jelinek

Otto-Bauer-Gasse 5, 6th District

Café Jelinek is a truly classic experience, with a typically Viennese interior design dating from the 1950’s and 60’s and complete with a wood-burning stove to greet you when you enter. Like the other coffeehouses mentioned, the atmosphere is quiet and perfect for reading or study, but Jelinek stands apart with its delicious selection of home-made sweets and desserts.

Poetry club at the Café Stadtbahn

Café Mocca & Café Stadtbahn

Gersthof S-bahn Station, 18th District

These two coffeehouses, though not technically connected, are situated directly across the street from one another and share a comfortable and bohemian atmosphere perfect for socializing or having a quiet coffee by yourself. Run by some of the younger and friendlier teams in the district, the music is always good and the clientele always a very diverse mix of everyone from high school students to retirees. They are both truly local places in their spirit and attitude.

Despite their small size, the two coffeehouses also put a lot of effort into organizing evening events such as crime-solving nights, quizzes and live folk music concerts.

Café Amadeus

Märzstraße 4, 15th District

Amadeus is a cafe that not only offers the style and chilled-out vibe of the other coffeehouses on this list, but also hosts frequent music events in the evenings. The events are filled with musicians from every genre, but nearly always local musicians who draw a local and enthusiastic crowd. Despite being so close to the pomp and grandeur of the palaces and museums of the city centre, the Café Amadeus has not lost its roots and remains a genuine Viennese experience.

So grab your book, newspaper or study materials, or call a few friends to meet for a chat over a beer or
melange! The coffeehouses on this list are only a few of over 2,000 cafes in the city, so there are many
more to explore when we are all trying to shelter from the cold and pass the time until the flowers in
Stadtpark bloom and the Vineyards of Grinzing are open again.

Enjoy.

About the author:

Thom Harding was born and raised in the UK and USA, sharing his time between Bath and Boston. Upon completing his studies in Art History and Painting in Florence, Thom travelled around Mexico and India before moving to New Mexico to start his career as a Primary school teacher.

After completing his MA in Education, he now lives and works in Vienna, Austria and enjoys spending his free time hiking, reading, travelling and exploring around Europe.

See more posts about Vienna in the Dispatches archives here.

See more about Austria here.

Website | + posts

Thom Harding was born and raised in the UK and USA, sharing his time between Bath and Boston. Upon completing his studies in Art History and Painting in Florence, Thom travelled around Mexico and India before moving to New Mexico to start his career as a Primary school teacher.

After completing his MA in Education, he now lives and works in Vienna, Austria and enjoys spending his free time hiking, reading, travelling and exploring around Europe.

See more of Thom’s work here in the Dispatches archive.

You can read more about Vienna here in the Dispatches archives.

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