A big part of Vienna’s appeal for travelers is the city’s traditions. Within Vienna’s food scene, tradition plays a big role, and it’s hard to find a menu in a typical restaurant in the city that doesn’t have staples such as schnitzel, goulash, and knödel (dumplings).
Early on, I made the mistake of believing that this traditional approach to food limited the city’s culinary options. But, across my increasingly regular and prolonged stays, I’ve come to realize just how wrong I was, especially when you take into account Vienna’s love of seasonal dishes. So, if you’re a foodie, follow this 3-day itinerary to navigate different aspects of Vienna’s food heritage.
Despite being a long way inland, Vienna is a windy place, so button up in winter.
If you only have time for one thing, make it coffee and cake at a Viennese coffeehouse.
There’s no better place to start exploring Vienna’s food scene than at the historical center’s coffeehouses by sampling a variety of coffee, cakes, and strudels. Mix things up by visiting more traditional establishments such as Café Frauenhuber and Café Diglas, alongside flashier choices like Café Central and Café Sacher.
After doing your best to walk off the day’s sweet treats, head to a typical type of Austrian bistro called a beisl that offers tavern-style fare. There you can try Viennese classics such as wiener schnitzel (veal not chicken, served with potato salad not chips) and tafelspitz (boiled veal).
Viennese cuisine has long been influenced by different cultures, and nowhere are the city’s modern influences as easily explored as the popular Naschmarkt. Spend the morning working your way along this long market’s stalls of fresh produce, small eateries, and plentiful Balkan and Middle Eastern snacks.
For a late lunch, try the traditional and filling dish of kaiserschmarrn—chopped up sweet pancakes, with jam and fruit—from Heindls Schmarren & Palatschinkenkuchl. Later, before sampling Vienna’s nightlife, nab a sausage at one of the city’s würstelstands, or street food stands; but do avoid the tourist-plagued ones outside the Albertina.
Found at any local bakery, the humble kaisersemmel bread roll is an Austrian staple, so be sure to pick up some filled rolls for snacking. Later, make your way by metro to Vienna’s very own winery district, Grinzing, to sample local wines like Grüner veltliner and more typical Viennese dishes in a traditional heurigen, or wine tavern.
Round out your time in Vienna by diving into the city’s fondness for chocolate with a chocolate-making class. Mozartkugeln sweets may be a popular souvenir for many travelers, but you can learn how to make your own chocolate-covered souvenir instead.