Classic Viennese pastry shops, or Konditorei typically serve tortes, cakes, pastries, confectionery, and more.
Most of them offer a place to sit and have coffee or tea just like in a coffeehouse, but with one main difference: As this traditionally catered to the female audience, staff used to be predominantly female, as opposed to coffeehouses where women often weren’t even allowed and the staff was thus male.
(*AC = air condition)
This is a list of classic Viennese pastry shops, that’s why the outstanding Italian pastry shop Dolce Pensiero (Salzgries 9B, 1010 Wien) is not featured here.
Demel, K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäckerei (Pastry Shop – Restaurant)
Demel is “THE” museum of all traditional Austro-Hungarian cakes, tortes, and strudels. This is one of the world’s leading pastry shops! Famous Jewish author Friedrich Torberg loved it. Just look at the selection of treats! I grew up in this city. I know all the places that pretend to surpass this landmark. Not-one shop, except maybe the excellent Sluka at Rathaus, comes even close.
Demel is always packed with tourists but it’s well worth the wait for these fabulous cakes, tortes, open-faced sandwiches and other savory food. (To avoid the crowd, we often get their cakes to take them home.)
If you’re lucky, a peek towards the back might grant you a glimpse of someone making traditional Viennese apple strudel, or Sachertorte.
Demel, Sluka and Café Central complement each other. You’ll find many things here that you don’t get there, and visa versa.
Demel has also got a sort of Museum, two rooms downstairs (inquire for opening hours) filled with sculptures made out of something close to marzipan – I guess real marzipan would have been too expensive for something that nobody would eat, as they were only intended for display.
Café Conditorei Sluka / Café Zwieback (Pastry Shop – Coffeehouse)
Café Conditorei Sluka at Rathausplatz 8 is the original Sluka location and is still the top place for Viennese pastry making! It is also because of the Rathausplatz 8 branch that I rate Sluka that high.
Sluka won the 1898 Vienna Culinary Arts Competition and has been synonymous with high quality ever since. Maybe the interior is not the most alluring, but everything is about the cakes here. They are absolutely fabulous, every piece of them we ever tried.
The branch at Karntnerstrasse is now a Sluka and was a Gerstner branch before. Unfortunately, they do not sell all their wonderful creations here as they do at Rathhausplatz 8. Instead, they also sell cakes and tortes made by different companies that are not up to Sluka’s Rathausplatz level.
If you go, you can always ask for Sluka’s own cakes. But there’s another reason to come here:
A second entrance to the Kärntnerstrasse branch from Weihburggasse 4, which leads to a wonderfully restored coffeehouse. It’s the cakes by Sluka I love here but the interior here is really worth a visit, since it’s been painstakingly restored to its original Art Deco glory.
Plus, there’s air conditioning, still a rarity in Vienna.
The real treat for history buffs is the fact that this place at Weihburggasse 4 was a famous Jewish owned coffeehouse named Café Zwieback in the 1920s. It is probable that husbands used to wait here at Weihburggasse 4 in the coffeehouse Zwieback while their wives were shopping in the eight stories high department store Ludwig Zwieback & Brother on Karntnerstrasse, which was owned by the same Jewish family.
Gregors Konditorei (Pastry Shop – Café)
Don’t let the honestly unalluring clean atmosphere of the place get into your way of appreciating one of Vienna’s very best spots to indulge in all sorts of outstanding cakes and wonderful ice cream. The ice cream is in fact as good as it gets in this town. All products are not overly sweet and very tasty. You can try whatever you want, but especially the tortes and cakes are outrageously delicious! Coffee is excellent too, and the staff is very friendly with all that.
Mathias Szamos Konfiserie (Pastry Shop – Café)
Mathias Szamos is quite famous in Budapest where he runs the amazing café Ruszwurm and offers a magnificent lemon cake and the Gellénházy torta (THE definite chestnut cake). He’s still rather unknown here in Vienna. Nonetheless, his products are excellent and worth any detour, a trip even.
All of the tortes and cakes are outstanding—even the Sacher cake is stunning. If you can’t decide, I recommend the Dobos and the Eszterházy tortes, my two favorites. But there are so many other things you should make a point to try. So there’s nothing left to do but to plan to come here more than once.
The place itself is rather small but cozy.
Hübler Kaffee – Konditorei (Pastry Shop – Café)
If you can make it here from the center of the city, you will be richly rewarded by the finest of all cakes and tortes. It’s not about the looks of the place. Everything here is in the cakes and pastries, which are clearly outstanding. I’d say it’s one of the best Sacher cakes in town!
For 55 years, the owners have produced a large variety of delicious sweets every day including ice cream. Alexander Hübler is the man to blame for everything here!
You should also know that breakfast is served all day long and that they deliver city-wide.
Café Central (Coffeehouse – Pastry Shop – Restaurant) AC
According to writer Frederic Morton, in January 1913, you may have run into Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud—when he wasn’t at Café Landtmann—Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, and/or Leon Trotsky at Café Central.
This place, with immense, castle-like vaulted ceilings, was the go-to coffeehouse for many a celebrity.
These days, it’s a tourist hot spot with a decent selection of classic Viennese food, warm sweets dishes (Warme Mehlspeisen), good coffee, and delicious pastries (though not the best Sachertorte in town). Thus this place is the only one to feature on my list of must-see coffeehouses as well as on my list of excellent pastry shops.
The days are long gone when the establishment offered 250 newspapers in 22 languages (see Wikipedia in German)! But newspapers are still available. The beautiful renovation of Café Central and the whole Palais Ferstel is credited to Karl Wlaschek, the owner of the supermarket chain “Billa,” who swore to himself that once rich enough he would restore the whole building including the Café to its 19th-century beauty.
Heiner, K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäckerei (Pastry Shop – Coffeehouse)
Heiner has stunning cakes and other sweets, and even invented a few classics, like the Kardinalschnitte!
It doesn’t get any better than this in Vienna, though you want to check out others on top of this list—equally delicious, but with a quite different selection of delicacies.
This is the place where Sachertorte is actually enjoyable… moist, with fruity jam and tasty ganache. Sacher’s own torte is still a step up though (If you get a fresh slice!), the kind you’ll want another piece of. The wonderful atmosphere at Heiner is real old school post-war Vienna.
The focus here is on cakes and nothing else. The outdated atmosphere is delightful if a tad shabby in the room upstairs at the Kärntnerstrasse branch. Service is also typical for Vienna—and by that I mean you’d better not have high expectations.
Groissböck Café & Konditorei (Pastry Shop – Café)
If you’re into pastry shops for their good looks, this might not be your kind of place. But it is, for many, the very best spot to get authentic Viennese sufganiyot, doughnuts, or “Krapfen” as they are called here in Vienna. The rest of the pastries, cakes, and tortes are as delicious.
Gerstner, K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäcker (Pastry Shop – Coffeehouse)
Downstairs and the first floor are pure kitsch, and (in my opinion) to be avoided. But some might love the Disneyworld-ish atmosphere.
Once you climb up one more flight of stairs to the “belle étage,” the chief story of the house, things are really beautiful. You find yourself in the luxurious apartments of Palais Todesco which had been built in the early 1860s for the Jewish family of Baron Eduard von Todesco. (Be aware that the “Belle étage” in the past was closed during the summer months.)
Cakes and pastries taste good here, but what sets them apart is their looks! It’s definitely a spot for those who love to Instagram their food.
Kurkonditorei Oberlaa (Pastry Shop – Coffeehouse) AC
Oberlaa is a chain with branches throughout Vienna and Lower-Austria. Many people swear by Oberlaa, a chic spot with quality cakes and pastries. The branch here at Neuer Markt has been luxuriously adapted to suit an upscale crowd. Coffee is decent. Most cakes and pastries are average.
The café Dommayer in the 13th district is a typical Viennese coffeehouse, though also quite upscale. So if you are trying to mingle with a few people working at the Austrian Broadcasting Company or living in the upper-class neighborhood of Hietzing, this might be an ideal spot for you.
Café Sacher Wien (Coffeehouse – Restaurant) AC
This is one of the better Sachertortes in town, at least when it’s fresh (for the best Sachertorte turn to Leschanz’s Schokoladekönig, Szamos or Gregors)! If you don’t like chocolate cake, don’t come here, because there’s nothing else to see! This place is all about the famous Sachertorte cake. The ganache is dark and tasty. The cake itself is, contrary to the opinion often expressed by others, not dry (if it is fresh). Only the jam could be a tad fruitier.
(Note that this rave review is from someone who loves this pastry shop’s main opponent, the Demel.)
Otherwise, there are only, and I mean only, tourists here at the Café Sacher. The ornate interior is what the average tourist would expect it to be.
Café Konditorei Aida “Wollzeile” (Coffeehouse – Pastry Shop – Espresso bar)
Aida is an iconic chain of espresso bars that double as popular pastry shops. The branch on Wollzeile is my favorite Aida, and it’s been very well preserved from the 1950s on. It features the original wood paneling. plus the espresso machine island in the middle.
This one has a style all its own: The color of the brand is a cute pink! Waitresses are dressed in pink, tables are often pink. It would be a perfect setting to try something pink like the Viennese petit four called Punschkrapfen.
It’s been said the Austrian is often seen as such a Punschkrapferl because its exterior is pink like the Social democrats but its interior is brown, the color of the Nazis, and always soaked in alcohol. (This 1980s bonmot is often attributed to Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, but it goes back to the psychiatrist Erwin Ringel).