Vienna’s full of the artistic types that see the world, and this life, as something to think about and to ask questions about intensely. They spend their lives trying to express their findings in a creative way.
Of course, where there’s a dense population of creatives, there’s a dense population of bohemian bars, with shabby and dimly lit interiors that are perfect for deep conversations, thoughts and sparking the fire to create.
Here are 7 bohemian bars in Vienna where all breeds of creatives will feel at home:
Kaffee Alt Wien has been the haunt of the creative type since the dawn of its own time. It’s like that aged writer that everybody wants to be around for the charisma. As the evening deepens, the crowd thickens with all breeds of people. The place is a relic of days gone by in Vienna before bar designs got the single aim to be “Instagram-friendly”. The lighting is low, and the walls are cluttered with posters of art exhibitions and concerts. Its red velvet benches that line its walls embrace the visitors.
This being an old Viennese coffeehouse, you certainly won’t find such a place anywhere else in the world.The setting and the old school waiters will tell you you’re in a traditional Viennese coffeehouse, but the loud chatter, cigarette smoke and new rounds of pints being constantly ordered make you feel a grungy pub atmosphere that will have you linger for hours. That’s because a coffeehouse is also a pub, a restaurant…actually, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Torn, broken and mismatched furniture paired with a shabby chic charm and the crackling flames of a fire place – this is the lulling bubble of calm at the café attached to the vintage clothes boutique, Burggasse 24. The high and white wooden ceiling frames the café nicely and separates it from the neighbouring vintage clothes boutique attached, where you can purchase an outfit that will help you blend in to the effortlessly chic setting. It’s the kind of place where the people who hang out there seamlessly slip into being part of the furniture, matching the bohemian vibes of the place effortlessly.
The rustic, sweeping space of Burggasse24 is airy and bright, but is somehow intimate and personal. To think such a beautiful space was once a wheelchair store. This is a living room cafe/ bar with couches and a streetlamp plonked in the middle of it.
It stays open late and beloved by those that know it as the kind fo bar where you feel at home in its dimly lit atmosphere. Cafe Einhorn is one of the favourite hangouts for artistic souls, particularly those that are currently in a slump. It’s the lack of fanciness that lets a miserable artist get a good mope going and it sets the perfect scene to hate against the system with other people who question things as a hobby. Also, the great music its always playing has led to it making a mark in the creative types list of go-to bars. It was actually founded in the 60s by a music aficionado, Uzzi Förster, and ever since it’s been playing an eclectic playlist, from rock, punk, Jazz and alternative.
Opening times SUN–THU: 6pm–2am FRI–SAT: 6pm–4am smoking/non-smoking
From the street, it looks like a jungle’s inside, with plants crowding the windows. Inside, it looks like a character that has lived some kind of rock and roll, or writer life a thousand times, with plenty of booze and drugs. The black and white striped bar reminds us of the tail from the dope-smoking cat in Alice in Wonderland. The stools at the bar are wobbly and on the verge of collapsing. One could say the same about the characters sitting on them.
The menu is simple – beer, wine and a few spirits. Behind the bar are fridges leftover from the time when large blocks of ice were used to cool the drinks. The bar staff fit the grungy, gritty feel that fills the place, along with the cigarette smoke. The ripped up couch in the non-smokers section will swallow you if you’re not careful. You visit Café Anno if you’re a fan of Tom Waits or Nick Cave or put your feet up on the pew in church – or would if you ever went.
Entering this tiny café is like climbing back into your mother’s womb (and we discovered that if you look at the pattern of the tiles on the floor long enough, they’re in the shape of ovaries- after the 5th glass of the cheap house Zweigelt red wine).
So cosy and warm it is here amidst the intimate setting in this little cafe – the actor’s dressing room lightbulbs, the maroon leather bench sofas, the squeaky old chairs, the eclectic playlist (from Deep Purple to Miles Davis) and marble table-tops. This little place is filled with mighty big legends amongst the locals.
‘It was the place where you’d get a joint over the bar,’ one old Viennese guy tells us in a thick dialect. While we wouldn’t know anything about that, we do know that the service is as charming and seductive as the setting.
It’s often crowded with people (a range of characters) and plumes of cigarette smoke. If it is full when you get here, just take a seat at the bar (if there is one) or ask to join a table if there’s a seat spare – this is common practice here.
The wallpaper is peeling from the roof. The open kitchen fills it with funky smells of grease and boiled broccoli, but somehow – like a grandfather who farts every time you sit on his lap – it’s all part of the charm.
It’s the kind of place that if you don’t know about it, you wouldn’t walk in off the street. It’s almost invisible when walking past. Unless it just so happens that the glowing candles on the tables, and the warm, cosy atmosphere within the dark wood-panelled walls catches your eye when glancing in its windows.
You’ll hardly be able to read the hand-written menu, but just point at something and we guarantee it will be good. Plenty of people come here just for its famed boiled beef (the typical Austrian dish, Tafelspitz).
Here, you’ll realise that everybody looks better in candlelight than they do in the glow from their smart phones. You’ll rarely see people checking their Facebook account here for the place encapsulates a time in which conversation was done with lips and body language.
Café Jelinek is one of the reasons why we love living in Vienna – it’s dripping with true Viennese coffeehouse charm and is the perfect place to spend some lazy idle hours, or time with intense thoughts.
From the patine-stained walls, covered with pictures of famous faces, the very well-worn wooden floor, to the comfortable scruffy velvet sofas, it feels as if nothing has changed since Jelinek became popular in the 80ies (It was actually opened by a Jewish couple back in 1910).
We love the little marble coffeehouse tables, while a prime people watching position can be had at the much prized seats by the big windows in the booth seats. It’s the perfect place for intense debates, reading or accessing your creative core.
We also love… the old fireplace oven in the center of the café. They also have… a great range of quality breakfasts on the menu.