Food, glorious food. I love Viennese food! There are so many choices when deciding what to eat in Vienna so I tracked down some of the best traditional Viennese food that you simply must eat in Vienna. I’ve picked out my favourite traditional Austrian dishes, and some of the best places to eat them, so you know exactly what to eat and where to eat in Vienna! And, if you prefer to take a food tour in Vienna I’ve found some corkers for you too, from a market & food tour to a Strudel Show!
What to Eat in Vienna: Wiener Schnitzel
This surely has to be top of any list of what to eat in Vienna, and even what to do in Vienna. Also written without the space in Austrian German, Wienerschnitzel is one of Austria’s national dishes and is a thin veal cutlet, which is breaded and pan-fried. In Vienna, the Wiener Schnitzel varies in size and is often large enough for two people to share.
Usually served with a slice of lemon and potatoes, this was my favourite Viennese dish. Although traditionally made with veal, pork schnitzel is very common, and often cheaper than the veal version. In some restaurants in Vienna, you can also find chicken schnitzel but veal or pork is my favourite.
Where to Eat the Best Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna
Almost every restaurant in Vienna has schnitzel on the menu, but Figlmüller serves one of the best wiener schnitzels in Vienna. It is HUGE and easily serves two people. There are several Figlmüller restaurants in the city, and they are often packed with tourists and locals but it is worth the wait.
Traditionally a specialist in coffee, I also have to mention Café Central, because I loved the wiener schnitzel here. It was perfectly cooked, tender on the inside with a crispy coating and simply served with a wedge of lemon and herbed boiled potatoes. Yum!
Vegan & Vegetarian Schnitzel in Vienna
If you are vegetarian, don’t worry – you can also try a veggie-friendly version of the classic schnitzel in Vienna. Try Das Agustin or Landia to try a vegetarian schnitzel and other tasty meat-free options.
What to Eat in Vienna: Sachertorte
The classic chocolate cake, Sachertorte is a chocolate cake, topped with a thin layer of apricot jam and a smooth chocolate topping. The cake was first created by Franz Sacher, who was instructed to create a new dessert for Prince von Metternich in 1832.
Where to Eat the Best Sacher Torte in Vienna
The Sacher Torte caused a lengthy ‘cake war’ when both Café Sacher and Café Demel entered into a lengthy legal fight over whose right it was to own the label of ‘the original Sachertorte’. In the end, both sides agreed that Hotel Sacher could say they have “The Original Sachertorte” and Demel uses Eduard-Sacher-Torte to decorate their cakes.
Both are supposed to be excellent, although the one I tried in Café Sacher was a little dry. Café Demel was delicious; moist and chocolatey. I managed to get a seat here on my second visit – there is almost always a queue outside but you can go inside and order your cakes to go which saves you a lot of time! The Sachertorte I tried at the excellent Vollpension (photo above) was also beautiful.
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What to Eat in Vienna: Tafelspitz
Tafelspitz is a dish of boiled beef, served with horseradish and/or applesauce, and usually potatoes. Figlmüller is also famous for this, but I tried it and much preferred the wiener schnitzel. To me, the beef was a little boring, so I ended up leaving some of mine and chowing down on the schnitzel instead! I later learned that the broth which comes with the beef should be eaten before the beef, so perhaps that makes a difference. Either way, if you like beef then it is a great option to try, let me know what you think!
What to Eat in Vienna: Goulash
Similar to the goulash in Hungary and Czech Republic, goulash is a thick meat stew usually made with beef and flavoured with paprika, tomato, and other spices. I had gorged myself on goulash in the Czech Republic so I didn’t try it in on my first visit to Vienna but did try it next time on an Urban Adventures food tour. In Vienna, goulash is usually served with potatoes, bread rolls or the smaller Austrian dumplings (Semmelknödel).
Must-Eat Dish in Vienna: Pork Knuckle
Vegetarians, look away now! If you need pork in your life, make it a pork knuckle. These huge pieces of meat are actually pork knee and are served on the bone, but the meat is so tender it’ll practically drop off. They are definitely large enough for two people, especially with a side dish of potato or cucumber salad and a beer! I had this one from Schweizerhaus beer garden in Prater Park and it was epic! Crunchy fat and tender pork which melts in your mouth. What more could you ask for?
What to Eat in Vienna: Coffee & Cake
I am not a coffee lover myself, but was surprised to learn that coffee is HUGE in Vienna! There are cafés and coffee houses all over the city, and Viennese people love to pop in and enjoy a nice coffee every chance they get. A Wiener Melange (Viennese Blend) coffee is very similar to a cappuccino, a small espresso served with half steamed milk and topped off with milk froth.
I still don’t really understand the difference between a cappuccino and a melange, but maybe you can ask for both and do a taste test! Coffee is often accompanied by delicious cakes, like the Sachertorte, strudel, and any assortment of cakes, pastries and sweet delicacies. The cakes at Café Central were divine!
What to Eat in Vienna: Apple Strudel
Austrians definitely have a sweet tooth. Apple strudel is one of the most famous deserts in Austria, and all around this part of Europe. Made with pastry stuffed with apples, raisins, and flavoured with cinnamon and a sprinkling of sugar, apple strudel, or apfelstrudel as it is called here, makes for a great dessert, or as a sweet snack with your coffee.
If you’d like to see how apple strudel is made, Schönbrunn Palace do 20-minute ‘Strudel Shows‘ demonstrating the art of strudel-making, which you happily get to taste afterwards! Read my full review of the Strudel Show.
What to Eat in Vienna: Tichy Ice-Cream Dumplings
I’d seen adverts for these on signposts all around Vienna but I hadn’t realised exactly what they were – until I took a food tour in Vienna. Then we paid a visit to Tichy, a classic ice cream parlour which serves up incredible ice-cream sundaes and their famous dumplings. The dumplings are balls of hazelnut ice-cream with a fruity apricot centre, coated in fine breadcrumbs – which may sound a little strange, but they are delicious!
What to Eat in Vienna: Cheese & Wine
It hadn’t occurred to me that there was good cheese in Austria, I think spending too much time in Latin America I forgot how much we Europeans LOVE cheese. I tried a (mostly) Austrian cheese plate at Käseland in the Naschmarkt and was a very happy bunny indeed.
And what goes better with cheese than wine? Just outside the city is the Wachau Valley, where you can take Wachau Valley Winery Biking Tour or go by car to explore the wineries in the Danube valley. Dürnstein, Wissenkirchen and Spitz are all popular stops along the trail.
You might like these wine tours:
The Best Cheap Eats in Vienna
Würstel (Viennese Sausage)
Oh yes, Austrians love a good sausage, and Vienna is no different. On pretty much every street in Vienna, you will find fast food places selling various types of würstels. Unlike typical hotdogs in the US or UK, würstel sausages in Vienna are served sliced, with a generous dollop of mustard and/or ketchup, with a couple of slices of bread or a roll on the side.
A cheap & meaty treat, würstels are great to grab on the go. You can also get spicy or cheesy sausages too.
If you want something lighter than a typical Austrian meat-fest then open sandwiches are perfect. Buffet Trzesniewski have several shops around Vienna, including one at the Westbahnof station where you can buy sandwiches in a box to take with you on the train.
Buffet Trzesniewski’s sandwiches all have a base of egg mayonnaise with a wide range of toppings from crab to paprika and truffle. If your German is anything like mine you can get away with pointing at the ones you want! The sandwiches are €1.20 each or 6 for €8.
Another popular option for open sandwiches is Duran Superimbiss which don’t all have the egg mayo base, or the more upmarket Zum Schwarzen Kameel (Black Camel).
Turkish & Middle-Eastern Food
There is a large community of Turkish people in Vienna, and their cuisine now forms a staple part of Viennese cuisine. The huge Naschmarkt is one of the best places to find falafel, hummus and kebabs, to either take away or eat in. I ate at the extremely delicious Neni and loved everything we tried!
This isn’t a traditional dish as such, but you really have to try these! Manner has been making their bite-size Neapolitan wafer biscuits since 1898 and they are as much a part of Viennese food culture as the schnitzel. They are crunchy wafers layered with a creamy chocolate and hazelnut spread, and they are seriously addictive!
You can buy them in most shops and supermarkets, and there is a special Manner shop next to St Stephen’s Cathedral and at the airport.
Food Tours & Foodie Experiences in Vienna
There are plenty of foodie experiences to enjoy traditional Viennese food while you are in Vienna. I usually love to do food tours, so I think next time I’m in Vienna I’ll give one of these a try!
If you don’t fancy a full food tour, there are other ways to enjoy a Vienna foodie experience, including a strudel show!
Where to Stay in Vienna
Like many cities, you pay a premium for staying right in the city centre, and you get a lot more for your money staying just outside the centre. I love being around the Naschmarkt food market as it is close to town and you are right next to the market for tasty food whenever you want it!
Hostels in Vienna
I stayed at Wombat’s Vienna Naschmarkt hostel, which is a fabulous option for backpackers and budget travellers, with dorm rooms and private rooms available. You can read my full review of Wombat’s Naschmarkt here.
Wombat’s Vienna Naschmarkt is right next to the Naschmarkt which is Vienna’s largest market, and a great place to get a bite to eat any time of the day. There is a bar where you can meet other travellers, and an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast for a couple of euros extra, which is well worth it to fill up for a day’s sight-seeing. It is clean, safe and a short metro ride or 20 minutes’ walk to Stephansplatz in the centre of Vienna. You can book directly on their website here or check out the reviews on Hostelworld here.
Alternatively, you can check out all of the hostels in Vienna here.
Hotels in Vienna
There are a lot of hotels in Vienna to choose from, but most in the city centre are quite expensive. Hotel Kaiserhof Wien is close to Naschmarkt and gets excellent reviews while offering decent rates. However, if you are coming to Vienna for a special occasion and want to splurge then the Hotel Sacher is tough to beat for luxury and location! Check availability at all hotels in Vienna on HotelsCombined.
Airbnb in Vienna
If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $52 credit to use on your first trip! Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code and my full Airbnb guide or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
Have you been to Vienna? Which food did you enjoy – any other dishes that people must eat in Vienna? Where is your favourite place to eat in Vienna? Let me know in the comments below!
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This post was brought to you as a result of the #wombatsTraveller blog trip, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with wombat’s CITY HOSTELS. However, as always, all opinions are my own and I maintain full editorial control of the content published here on Tales of a Backpacker.
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