Vienna’s Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture

Vienna did not pioneer “Coffee House Culture”; Mecca had several in the 12th century and Venice had the first in Europe in 1647.  But the Austrian Capital has over the centuries, established the tradition like no other city in the world. Coffee houses are at their best in Vienna!

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

It’s more about the cake than the coffee! Apples bites in almond past over a poppy seed and hazel crust!

Legend has it that Georg Franz Kolschitzky (1640 – 1694) was the first to obtain a license to serve coffee in the city.  The license was a reward following his heroic actions during the Siege of Vienna. He was also the one that established the “vibe” associated with the image of Viennese Coffee houses. You know what I am talking about right? The velour seats, the fine embossed and gold trimmed china, the ornate frescos, and the deep dark wood furniture. There are certain other musts: All waiters wear the crisp white long apron, a glass of water is always served with your coffee on a small silver tray, and much to our delight; the coffee house must have a proprietary cake.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

What is not to love about this vibe? (Sacher)

Things like newspapers to read and games to play (cards and chess) as well as music were added later in the 17th century.  A full menu didn’t really come into play until 1808 when Napoleon’s tiff with the Brits had a domino effect on the price of coffee and the café’s needed to find another way to make money – offering cacao with Schlag (whipped cream) and food options (sandwiches, soups etc.) was their solution!

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

Schlag is a point of pride. No processed stuff only the real hand whipped will do. Mom can’t digest it at all so Dad got most of it! (seen here with a famous Sacher Torte)

The Viennese like most people living in large metropolitan cites in those days, lived in tiny crowded flats. Many took to thinking of the elegant coffee houses as their parlors or extensions of their own homes. This was where they would meet friends and business partners. There was a Viennese coffee house in every neighborhood of the city. Opera houses may have been the soul of the Capital – but the coffee houses were the beating heart. It’s where poets, and great literary minds would mingle. Composers like Mozart and Beethoven would spend days composing great works sipping a single coffee for hours to lay claim to their table. The first time Jazz was introduced to Vienna was in the coffee houses. Café Museum even hosted painters, with all their equipment and paints. When war hit and times were difficult, the coffee houses became places to meet and barter for black market goods in secret under the table.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

When bipeds are delighted because the place is pet friendly!

With the advent of Italian style espresso bars after WWII, Viennese coffee houses fell out of favour up until the 80’s. Sadly many closed as a result. Lucky for all of us, the newer generation of humans have a strong desire to connect with their rich history and the coffee houses are back “in”. Some young entrepreneurs have even managed to ensure this type of “disfavor” of the coffee house culture will not happen again; and have approached city hall to ensure that big International conglomerates such as Starbucks will never have a strong hold in the old city Centre. To be honest we are glad to hear it.

It’s should come as no surprise to you then Dear Reader, that in 2011 the Viennese “coffee house culture” was included in the UNESCO inventory of intangible cultural heritage! With THAT kind of endorsement (and the fact that mom had lived in Vienna for 4 years and knew ALL about this) we just had to visit at least one famous coffee house each of the three days we were in the city. So it’s with great pleasure that I share with you our (yes…pet friendly!) findings!

Café Central

Although more than a 100 years old, it was the « newest » of the coffee houses (1876) we visited – but it was also the most striking; inside and out. From the moment we saw it across the street on our walking tour I knew we had to find out if it was pet friendly. I mean … look at it!

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

That is some ornate details! The line up isn’t to bad let’s go!

And after waiting in line for a few minutes (expect this!) the inside blew us away as well. The frescoes were just superb and I think we all sort of fell in love with the arches in the ceiling.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

Feast your eyes!

Café Central was known mostly as a gathering place for intellectual debates. Some of the most famous names you may recognize would be Alfred Adler, Egon Friedell, Alfred Polgar, Adolf Hitler (yes THAT Hitler), Leon Trotsky, Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, and Joseph Stalin.  All were patrons of the establishment. And many more too. But it wasn’t just about the intellectuals it was also about chess. So much so that the café was often referred to as the “Chess school” (Die Schachhochschule) because of the permanent presence of chess players on the first floor.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

Dogs welcome. Little ones can even sit on the seats if not dirty.

My presence was a non-issue. We got a fantastic seat right near the cake display and facing the big fancy entrance so we could people watch. The waiter brought me a small “short” glass of water. When the bipeds asked if it was ok for me to sit on the fancy sofa’s the waiters just waved their hands as if to say “of course what silly question” … so … I did!

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

House cake has the “stamp” on it. It’s chocolate by the way – not wax!

The Café Central cake looked good but because it had chocolate on it I wasn’t allowed any. From what I could smell I would have to guess it was vanilla in the center with a thin layer of hazelnut and a topping of milk chocolate. Me? I power napped.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

Power napping is the key to success when a small dog travels!

Café Sacher

Sitting pretty just across the street from the Opera House you will find the most renowned of them all…. with the most famous of all cakes: The Sacher Torte! If you have money to burn you can stay at the beautiful hotel and if you are without a pet you can dine at the elegant and very posh restaurant. But the real gem is the coffee house. There are two sections and one is very pet friendly, but do avoid going at peak times such as lunch or 3:00 if you hate waiting in line.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

I got our seat!

Give yourself permission to linger and enjoy the rich history of not just a world famous cake designed for a prince (1832 ; get to know one of Vienna’s most famous family’s and it’s hotel. The hotel and Coffee house were built by the son of the original Chocolatier that came up with the Sacher Torte; but it’s really his wife who ran it and made it famous after her husband died.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

Swanky! Posh posh posh! That’s a fancy tea bag!

You’ll be given lots to read while you sip your coffee. Including the history of the place; and snippets on all the famous people that made this place home – some quite literally taking up residence in the hotel!  Among the famous guests over the decades were not only Emperor Franz Joseph but also King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, President John F. Kennedy and many others. Being close to the opera, Hotel Sacher has also been popular among artists such as, Leonard Bernstein, Plácido Domingo, and José Carreras. On 31 March 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono gave a press conference in Hotel Sacher.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

So — that went down fast!

After being allocated a most lovely banquet seat with the prerequisite red velour covering (complete with the famous Sacher “S”); we quickly ordered our drinks. Mom by now had switched to herbal tea after one too many coffees. But Dad got his espresso – black of course – and naturally two slices of Sacher Torte! The bipeds read, ate their dessert and I well … I people watched.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

Notice even the upholstery has the famous “S” for Sacher.

 Café Frauenhuber

Going as far back as 1622 this one is “The Original”.  In the previous days, we had seen the “most striking” and the “most famous”… but we were eager to sit inside the oldest of them all.

Café Frauenhuber is more down to earth, it’s interior hasn’t been puffed up or designed for the upper crust. It’s not really a place to “be seen” since it’s also on a modest side street rather than on a grand square. With a wonderful front terrace  set up on the cobblestoned streets, it’s truly just a place for friends to meet. Old Vienna is very much alive here. The waiter’s even use old terms to address you with “gnädiger Herr or Frau” the equivalent of “My Lord and Lady”. This place has some real old fashioned Austrian comfort food on the menu too! I recommend you don’t just go for cake and coffee…. Go for dinner! But leave room for dessert! Because apple strudel!

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

A simpler decor, but we do love the arches!

It’s so amazing to sit in the spot where Mozart preformed his LAST public performance on March 4th 1791. Or where Beethoven performed in 1788. All this in a setting as intimate as your own living room.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

Historic plaques help keep some of the dates sorted! This is just to the left of the main door.

I snoozed while across from me a large shepherd dog also dozed under the table. As much as we love fresco’s or fancy wall paper there is something to be said for the comfort of solid wood furniture, velvet seats and white washed walls with just the heavy weight of history to wow you as you enjoy good food.

Vienna's Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture - Montecristo Travels

You see the other dog right? I fell asleep watching it … making sure we stayed at our own tables.

And that Dear Reader, sums up our three. I really do hope to return one day and visit many more. It was wonderful to find that they were all pet friendly and it just made the Viennese Coffee House culture one we wanted to bring home. For now … I have my memories of those fine seats and coffee smells.

44 Comments on “Vienna’s Pet Friendly Coffee House Culture

  1. I’ve never traveled to any of the places that you’ve written about, but after reading this lovely post, I truly feel like I have. Coffee is one of my favorite things and while I doubt I will ever get to Vienna with a dog, it’s great to know that such wonderful places allow our furry friends.

    • Oh it’s wonderful … if you do go … there are often other pups there… maybe one will come over to keep you company! 🙂

  2. This is my idea of Heaven. I loved living in Europe, and you capture the vibe of it so well. I almost feel as though I am there with you, although I don’t think I would nap on the banquette MOL!!!

    Thank you for a lovely post.

  3. Love this post! My fiance and I (and the pets of course) live in the city and love to explore all the local places. I wish we had more pet friendly places like this. Not that many public buildings are pet friendly where we live, and the only food establishments where I can bring the pups are ones with outdoor dining areas.

  4. All those pastries look divine. And so much history at those coffee houses! I appreciate that they’re dog-friendly. There are a couple coffee shops here that will let you bring your dog in but they don’t advertise that.

  5. These coffee houses are simply beautiful!! I’ve been to a few of what I thought were pretty cute coffee houses, but I was so wrong. And they’re dog friendly?? That is simply amazing!

  6. I love the idea of the cafe as an extension of a person’s home or parlor. Although I now live just outside Chicago with a bit more space, when I lived in the city (in a studio) I definitely remember using local cafes and bars as meeting spaces with friends.

    Love the colors and grand arches and those pastries look divine.

  7. What really strikes me about these three coffee houses is how friendly everyone was to you and your humans! I guess they have reason to be so upbeat. Their working environment is stunning! How could you not be in a positive mood? Also, you are cutest power napper ever!

    • I do love Europe … I really do. The pet friendliness there is so amazing. Hard to come back where I can’t even go on a patio. 🙁

  8. Oh My!!!! I would love to visit any and all of them but for some reason cafe Sacher really caught my eye! I love how they are pet-friendly! Where I live more places are slowing coming around thankfully.

  9. After all that walking and biking, I’m glad your bipeds got to enjoy some delicious desserts! Those coffee houses have so much going for them, I don’t think a Starbucks could stand a chance against them, but I’m glad they won’t be able to set up shop there.

    • You can’t compare really – it’s a totally different vibe. One thing I notices is that people in Vienna really don’t do “to go” culturally coffee and cake is a sit down and take a moment that I think is almost socially required!

  10. A pet friendly coffee house! I want to go! And I love how you take little snoozes while your humans enjoy themselves.

    • Power naps are really the only way for me to keep up! I think they forget that I must take 5 steps to their one. It’s ok. The smells make for great day dreams.

  11. Okay you had me at the first cake!! Yummm! I love the old world decor and delightful desserts!! Oh that’s my weakness. So fabulous the coffee house is pet friendly! Score! Win win. Hmm…now I’m hungry!

  12. What a great trip! I loved reading about all the history, plus the tortes and other pastries along with the photos gave me a serious case of wanderlust!

  13. I loved visiting Vienna. You really gave me a history lesson on coffee houses. I think I was into wine tasting and visiting the Lipizzaners at the time…and the opera which was lovely even though I couldn’t understand a word they sang…lol.

    • Opera … we always read the story online before. 🙂 My bipeds don’t drink so … coffee and cake it was! 🙂

  14. We were in Vienna a few years ago, unfortunately sans our furry family member, but loved it! Honestly, I had no idea about the history of coffee houses and the culture, absolutely fascinating! We did visit The Sacher Hotel and enjoyed one of their decadent, famous Tortes.

  15. Wow! What an interesting and very dog friendly post. I have never been to Vienna but it is wonderful to read that so many coffee houses allow dogs inside them, such a shame more in the UK don’t! The two best coffee houses I’ve been to were in Buenos Aires and Florence, but we didn’t have the dogs with us, so we don’t know if they were dog friendly!

    • Brazil and Italy are VERY pet friendly so my guess is yes. Especially Florence. There wasn’t a single place that turned us away, 🙂

  16. You took me down memory lane to a trip to Austria I made from Australia after my first year of university. Many hours spent in those beautiful cafes (my friends and I would share the Sacher Torte). Nice they are pet friendly and that you are so well behaved.

  17. Wow! And I thought sitting out on a porch looking over the river while drinking something and eating a lucious was relaxing until I see the coffee houses in Vienna. The locations and the food are beautiful! I’m so jealous!

  18. I loved reading about all the rich coffee house history. I’m always amazed at home dog friendly eateries in Europe can be! I love that you could actually sit on those beautiful sofas. How divine!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  19. Being so used to Starbucks or Dutch Bros, these coffee houses are just breathtaking! They really look like a place where you go for more than a bite to eat and a coffee. It looks like they are there to allow people to linger, talk, read, and just be peaceful…well, that’s what the pictures look like to me. The history in the area is awesome! I will have to plan a visit one day!

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