Vienna’s coffee house tradition is said to date to a 17th century siege by the Ottomans, who left a large number of sacks of coffee when defeated in 1683. Although local people thought they were camel feed, an officer in the victorious Polish army – who had been a prisoner of the Turks and knew their secret – used them to open up the first coffeehouse. They have been famous ever since for a relaxed atmosphere where customers can linger for hours over one coffee.
Vienna – Been There

Where breakfast can eat up a whole morning

Photo by Mathias Kniepeiss

Vienna – Been There Where breakfast can eat up a whole morning

Some cafés in Vienna try to dissuade “parking”: the process by which patrons order a single cup of coffee – or an individual biscuit – and linger for hours, taking up inordinate amounts of table space. But at Café Sperl, they encourage it.

Tara Isabella Burton
Tara Isabella Burton Travel Writer

Some mornings, live pianists serenade the patrons here with renditions of Chopin and Liszt. Expansive newspapers – clipped to wood bindings – are on offer in both German and English. Poets meander in and out of the café, selling their often self-published books.

Sperl’s service is famously leisurely. A glass of tap water may well take an hour. Its famously decadent breakfast bowl – an eight-euro basket of butter-flaked croissant, pain au chocolate, brioche, and fig jam – served with a whipped-cream-topped mélange (the Viennese version of a cappuccino) might take you the whole morning to order and consume.

To hurry – regardless of your personal schedule or the flight you need to catch – would be unforgivably, lamentably rude. And so there is only one choice. Turn the newspaper page. Keep sipping your mélange. Enjoy the afternoon.

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Café Central opened in 1876 in Palais Ferstel, built as the Vienna stock exchange. Its dramatic decor has made it very popular with tourists – as has its history of notable former regulars such as Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler and Sigmund Freud. Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/2.8
Exposure
1/10
ISO
800
Focal
27 mm

Café Central opened in 1876 in Palais Ferstel, built as the Vienna stock exchange. Its dramatic decor has made it very popular with tourists – as has its history of notable former regulars such as Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler and Sigmund Freud.

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