As the temperature drops, there’s nothing cosier than grabbing a hot chocolate in a cafe and watching the world go by from a table by the window. But which European city has the continent’s best coffee culture?
While there’s definitely some strong competition from Paris and Prague, Vienna might just hold the title as Europe’s best place to go for a coffee.
Viennese coffeehouses are such an integral part of the Austrian capital’s culture, that they’ve even been awarded UNESCO heritage status. Although it’s likely just a story, legend has it that the city’s first coffeehouse was started by a Polish officer during the second liberation of Vienna in 1683.
Whatever their origins, sipping a coffee in a Viennese coffeehouse is a must on a trip to the city. Many of the traditional spots have marble tabletops and newspaper tables.
In the old days, customers often lingered in the coffeehouse for hours to read the paper, chat with friends or play cards. While today’s modern world doesn’t often allow for slowing down, some of the city’s most famous coffeehouses still maintain the old traditions.
Vienna’s coffeehouses were the favoured haunts of writers and poets and even Andy Warhol was known to visit.
Although the coffeehouses suffered when modern espresso bars became popular in the 1950s, today the culture has had a welcome resurgence and there are many famous spots to explore on a winter visit to the city.
Cafe Sperl is one of the city’s most traditional coffeehouses with piano music every Sunday from 3.30pm. Sperl torte was created in the cafe and although the recipe remains top-secret, it’s a delicious chocolate cake with hints of almond, cinnamon and vanilla.
Cafe Hawelka is one of the city’s most famous institutions. Don’t leave without sampling its speciality, buchteln. A sweet roll filled with jam and chocolate, it’s the ultimate winter treat.
For a unique experience, visit Vollpension, which hires senior citizens to serve its homemade cakes and tell its customers stories.
Meanwhile, Cafe Weidinger has a hidden bowling alley in the basement. Tourists who prefer a modern cafe bar will find there’s plenty of choice in Vienna.