The best bars in Vienna, Austria...
1 ~ EXTRAZIMMER
"Extrazimmer" basically translates as "speakeasy" in English and there is simply no better definition of this authentic secret bar in Vienna. A tiny basement apartment and former artist's studio, which now belongs to one of Vienna's most legendary bartenders, has been converted into an invite-only tasting room and private party venue, inspired by the Marlene Dietrich song "The Boys In the Backroom". You can forget the "too cool for school" secret speakeasy concepts in Berlin, as this is the real deal. For that reason, we only think it's fair that we don't give away it's location. However, if you can find the bartender behind it (their bar is also somewhere on this list) then you might just be able to book yourself onto one of their tasting sessions or get a sneak preview.
The beautiful bar on the top floor of the plush Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom offers some of the finest cocktails in Vienna with the best view in town. A painted mural ceiling - which looks amazing when viewed from the street outside - blends with the sky through the floor to ceiling wrap-around windows, whilst the large selection of fine wines from around the world, including a wine and Champagne flight, help make this one of our favourite bars in Vienna.
In a city where the cocktail culture trails many of the world's capitals, with a focus largely on classic American bars, this friendly neighbourhood lounge stands out above everything else, not only in Vienna but also over nearly everything else in Europe - especially when taking into account value for money. Kan Zuo and his team produce some of the most beautifully presented mixes you'll ever taste. Alongside their creative inventions, there's a vast menu which travels through the ages of cocktail making history, paying homage to the likes of Jerry Thomas, Harry Johnson, Louis Eppinger (The Grand Hotel Yokohama), Erik Lorincz (The American Bar at the Savoy London), Mike Meinke (Triobar Berlin) and Manabu Ohtake (Cerulean Tower Tokyo). Located in the North West area of the city, you'll probably find it difficult to leave once you step into this wizard's cauldron. As with all cocktail bars, it can get busy at weekends and the service obviously slower. For that reason, we recommend getting there early or even attending their Sunday night specials where a different spirit brand is showcased each week with a special discounted menu for the night.
Vienna's largest market is a must-visit when in town, and alongside the 120+ stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese and international delicacies, you'll find a large selection of bars, beer sellers, vinotheks and restaurants to choose from. The most hip of these seems to be the Naschmarkt Deli which offers a small selection of cocktails and boasts DJs at weekends. Other bars worth visiting in the market include the quaint and traditional pub, Zur Eisernen Zeit, the Landsknecht beer house and the more upmarket Do-An. The market itself opens at 6am every day except Sunday, and generally closes at 19:30 (17:00 on Saturdays) with the restaurants and bars staying open till around midnght, Monday - Saturday. Alongside the market, on the opposite side of the road is a selection of more traditional restaurants with longer opening hours, including the Sir Terence Conran designed Café Drechsler, a modern take on a traditional Viennese coffee house (see beow). You can literally spend an entire day eating, drinking and soaking up the atmosphere of Naschmarkt, especially on Saturdays when the colourful flea market is also open - a popular destination for Vienna's bar community seeking vintage glassware for their bars.
Vienna is the largest wine producing capital city in the world, and the best place to try these wines is in a Heuriger, a bar/restaurant in which the wine-growers serve their own wines, usually close to their vineyard. As they are often family ran, the opening times can vary so you need to look for a bunch of pine branches which hang over the entrance when it's open together with the words “Ausg’steckt” written on a board. For one of the most beautiful, if somewhat less rustic, heurigens, head to this stunning building in Heiligenstadt, which has been crafting the finest Viennese wines since 1683. Ludwig van Beethoven even lived in the romantic listed suburban home in 1817 and it was during his time there that he worked on Symphony No. 9, regarded to be his greatest creation. You can enjoy fine wines (including a six wine flight) in the rooms where he stayed and, after 19:00 each day, enjoy original Viennese Heuriger music. Whilst in the area, you should also check out the other heurigens to get a feel for true Viennese life. Well worth making the trip for.
Located on the 8th floor of the 5 Star Ritz-Carlton hotel this rooftop cocktail bar offers a spectacular view of the city. Open from April and throughout the pleasant summer months, the terrace is completely exposed to the sun making it the perfect place to soak up those rays over a summer cocktail a glass of Champagne or Austrian wine. WIth room for 110 people, the atmosphere is great and it's the only rooftop sundeck bar in the city. It's also home to a Christmas Market in the winter. The hotel's D-Bar on the ground floor, open all year round, is also worth checking out for some great creative cocktails.
Opened in December 2014 to much acclaim, this backstreet speakeasy comes from the cocktail dreamteam of Geri Kozbach-Tsai (co-founder of the Vienna Bar Community), Glenn Estrada (Lutz bar) and World Class 2014 finalist, Reinhard "Reini" Pohorec (The Sign Lounge and American Bar at the Savoy London). The result is stunning. A tiny yet expensively furnished bouteque bar for no more than 35 people. The main bar area is actually non-smoking meaning your senses are free to taste the amazing creations, which is a welcome relief in a city where even restaurants come complete with clouds of tobacco. Located on Buchfeldgasse 7, the menu comprises of seven suggested cocktails (or seven deadly sins) with, yes you've guessed it, seven varieties of each spirit on offer.
Vienna's coffee house culture is celebrated all over the world and this famous traditional cafÉ in the Palais Ferstel, which first opened in 1876, is perhaps the most beautiful example of the city's social scene. At the turn of the 20th century it was a popular meeting point for leading lights in the world of art, literature, politics and science, such as Arthur Schnitzler, Sigmund Freud, Peter Altenberg, Adolf Loos and Leo Trotzkis and, until 1938, was called Die Schachhochschule ("The Chess School") because of the presence of many chess players. An interesting statue of Viennese coffee house poet Peter Altenberg sits in the middle of the room. He wrote many of his poems whilst frequenting Cafe Central, even having his mail delivered there. The cafe was moved to a different part of the Palais Ferstel in 1975 and today the huge queue of tourists hoping to get a table mixes with politicians, royalty and Hollywood stars.
In a city packed with old school American-style cocktail bars, with their onus on serving male-orientated classic cocktails, this delightful little bar and cocktail school, just along the road from the famous Cafe Sperl (below) and around the corner from the Naschmarkt (above) offers a welcome relief with some of the most creative drinks in town. The menu is beautiful, offering a large selection of their own exquisite creations, including 40 bottle aged variations, alongside vintage classics, a huge spirits list and a daily special, devised on the same day. If imaginative cocktails with a classic soul soundtrack is your thing - and why wouldn't it be? - then this should definitely be your first night stop in Vienna.
Even in a city with more beautiful fairytale buildings than you can possibly ever imagine, the Palais Ferstel (Ferstl Passage) still stands out as one of the most stunning buildings on earth. Dating back to 1900, the beautiful arcade offers many shops. galleries, restaurants, cafes and bars, however it's the relatively new wine and ham bar/shop that we love most, purely for its offering of the best Austrian pork and wines. With a small but good selection of various grapes, it's open until 10pm every day and is one of those unique places where your drinking and tourism requirements are both met at the same time.
What can we say about this beautiful Vienna palace, dating back to 1839 and now a luxury hotel and 2 Star Michelin / 3 Toques Gault Millau restaurant? The comfortable wine bar is accessible to non guests and boasts an incredible 60,000 bottles (worth over €30 million). If you're lucky, you might be able to persuade the barman to show you the six stunning cellars below, or you can also book one of their wine tasting tours. It's an experience worth taking as they boast one of the largest stocks of Mouton Rothschild, Dom Pérignon and Pétrus in the world - although pride of place is their Château Yquem collection - worth over €10 million with bottles dating back to 1893. There's over 13,000 bottles from Austria, 30,000 from France, 1,000 Champagnes, probably the world's largest Sassicaia collection, a 27 litre bottle of Spanish Rioja and, what was described by Christies Auction House as the "oldest drinkable wine in the world", the 1727 Rudesheimer Apostelwein. If you can't quite afford the €170,000 bottle of Latour 61 Imperial, you'll be glad to hear that the excellent house Grüner Veltliner starts at just €4,50 a glass.
Even though this sleek bar is certainly Vienna's "place to be seen" with its glamorous clientele, prices are surprisingly in-line with the rest of the city. Whilst it speaks more New York or Milan than Vienna (the attached restaurant is Italian too), the cocktails are more creative than those found in many of the city's other cocktail bars, with the talented Jan Pavel and Isabella Diaz devising an ever-changing seasonal menu.
You're probably wondering how a takeaway bratwuerst stand makes it into our list of the best bars in Vienna. Well, this architectural masterpiece also serves beer, wine and even Champagne (from breakfast until 4am). When in Vienna, you should try the Käsekrainer (cheese sausage) or Bitzinger's famous Bosna, a spicy Austrian sandwich made with crisp fried Bratwurst. Located underneath the Albertina Palais Musuem, a famous viewing point featured in the Before Sunrise movie, Hotel Sacher is just across the road, where - unless you're visiting here in the early hours of the morning - you should also head for an original Sacher Torte chocolate cake.
In 1901 the architect Friedrich Ohman was comissioned to build the splendid Jugendstil palmhouse and butterfly house in the Hofburg Palace gardens. Sadly it fell into disrepair and was closed to the public in 1988. Ten years (and €17 million) later, the greenhouse was reopened as one of the most popular bars and restaurants in Vienna. The 12 metre long Marble Bar offers an amazing wine selection together with a good cocktail menu, the drinks garnished with beautiful fresh fruit. DJ's play on Friday nights and you can choose to sit on the comfortable leather sofas or outside on the garden terrace, overlooking the Hofburg Palace, enjoying warm summer nights until 2am.
They don't come much more unique than this very popular shop/bar concept opposite the famous Cafe Sperl (see below). Part bookshop, part cafe bar, it's the perfect place to unwind with a glass of Austrian wine and get lost in a good read. Comfortable seats and tables (which are also available to buy) sit amongst the bookshelves and boxes of vinyl whilst there's also a program of live music, lectures, film nights and DJs.
The Julius Meinl department store is a Viennese institution, and it's wines shop and cellar bar (open until 11pm Monday - Saturday) is a wine buff's wet dream. The extensive wine list offers a jaw-dropping selection of fine Austrian and international wines by the bottle, with over 30 wines to try by the glass. It's arguably the best place in Vienna to sample the local Gruner Veltliner and Rieslings, alongside many other world wines.
"Puff" is actually German slang for "brothel", so it may come as a surprise to those who speak English slang, that this is not actually a gay bar or a cannabis cafe but, instead, one of the most beautiful chic designed bars in the city, located in (you guessed it), a former bordello which dates back a hundred years. If you ask the bar staff nicely, they'll even show you the hidden pink painted rooms which are still decorated with beds and even a Jacuzzi. Although it's a different type of "cock" that the bar specialises in now (the innuendos extend to their cocktail menu). The liquor collection is impressive and the bar design is absolutely stunning, illuminated like a stage by the collection of recycled water bottles overhead.
Describing itself as "the ideal meeting place for lovers and madmen, for clubbers and music aficionados, for joyful discussion and cabaret fans, for lovers of literature and oblique excesses" this stunning bar in the 125 year old Volkstheater plays host to regular poetry, tango, and live music shows on the tiny stage. It's also an incredibly elegant place to catch up over a wine or beer.
Located on the sixth floor of the Do & Co Hotel, this posh small bar offers an amazing close-up view of Stephansdom (St Stephens Cathedral). Surrounded by the designer stores, it's no surprise that it's a more showy and expensive affair but the cocktails are amongst the best in Vienna and it's certainly worth making the effort to visit for.
Sneaking on to our list of the best bars in Vienna is this tourist trap located next to the famous Hundertwasserhouse. A former car tyre factory, it was built both inside and out using concepts from artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He declared at it's opening in 1991 that he had realised another piece of a more human and nature orientated piece of architecture. "I have been working as a doctor for architecture so to say. We did not tear down and rebuild it but used existing building fabric and improved it by changing and adding to the building and inserting components with new shapes and colours. On the roof a forest sprouts much to the pleasure of the neighbours and, inside, something like a romantic, narrow, oriental bazar exists where you like to linger for a while." Although the choice of liquors, beers and wines is limited, and it's only open until 6pm, it is truely unique to Vienna and a great place to grab a drink whilst on your sightseeing tour.
Not to be mistaken for the famous Volksgarten disco next door (see below), this romantic garden pavillion is the ideal place to spend those warm summer nights. Open from April until September, you can sit under 1950s tea lamps and old chestnut trees, overlooking the flowers in the direction of the Hofburg Palace. Play petanque or table football whilst DJs mix everything from jazz and soul to disco and underground hip hop.
The Schlumberger winery in Vienna has been making sparkling wines since 1842 and is now one of the biggest sekt brands in the world. Journey through 300 years of history with their cellar tour, learning about the "Méthode Traditionnelle", which came from the Champagne region in France. Each tour lasts for around 2 hours (with audio guide in German or English) and ends with a glass of Schlumberger sekt in the elegant cellar bar. Other packages available include tastings of five different Schlumberger varities, three different Rosés or a "Premium Tasting" with the Prestige Cuvée Schlumberger DOM (Classic and Rosé) and their flagship Sparkling Brut Vintage from the Premium magnum. Located opposite the Spittelau U-Bahn station, they are open from 11:00 until 21:30 on Wednesdays and until 18:00 Thursday - Saturday (last entrance 2 hours before).
Pronounced in German, "Siebensternbräu", the 7 Star brewery is a stunning micro brewery in the heart of Vienna offering a selection of seven fantastic, fresh, natural homebrews. One of six seasonal specialities complements the seven delicious regular ales which include a Wiener Helles, a traditional Viennese Märzen, a smoked Rauchbier, an India Pale Ale, a black and creamy Prager Dunkles, a very spicy Chili beer and even a herbal Hanf beer made from cannabis hemp leaves. The food is also delicious and the huge portions are ideal for soaking up the booze. The place is large and is especially popular with non-smokers, whilst a beautiful beer garden offers a chance to catch some sun or have a cigarette.
Located on the Danube inside the Wien - Bratislava ferry terminal, this 1950s Venice inspired bar and restaurant is one of our favourite places in the city. A very classy venue set over two floors with a large sundeck overlooking the river, the cocktails are some of the best in Vienna and the ever-changing DJ line-up throws up soul, funk and jazz to add a fantastic atmosphere.
If you're looking to taste something new, then it's well worth taking the trip slightly out of town to this excellent bar and restaurant (just 3 minutes on the U-bahn from Wien Mitte station). Their liquor collection is said to the biggest in Austria, and with 6,000 wines (1,500 from Austria alone), 800 whiskies, 550 cold beers, 180 gins, 90 vodkas and 150 rums to choose from (including a Damoiseau Rhum Vieux 1953 and a Cutty Sark Queen Victoria 50 years), all available by the glass at very reasonable prices, it would take you many years to work your way through the menu.
Located opposite Naschmarkt (see above), this 18th Century building is home to one of the most beautiful cafés in Vienna. And one of the gayest ones, too. In fact, you'll struggle to find a more elegant gay bar in the whole of Europe. Originally built by a pupil of the gay architect August von Sicardsburg, who designed the Wiener Staatsoper, it was lovingly renovated in 2008. The two enormous mirrors are, apart from the mirrors in the Château de Versailles, the largest mirrors made of a single piece of glass in Europe. Straight-friendly.
27 ~ BONBONNIERE
Although prices are almost double that of other bars in Vienna, this tiny piano bar still has to be visited for the experience. With capacity for little more than 30 people (31 if you include the pianist), the decor has not changed in 75 years and you can really get a feel of how the city was back in the day. There's a small classic cocktail list and the clientelle are noticebly older. Photos are not allowed and it is extremely smokey.
During the time of the Turkish War in 1683, Prince Esterházy provided his soldiers with free wine before their fight to defend the city walls. As a result, they fought with great courage and good humour against the Turkish superiority. This was the beginning of the historic dining hall and wine vault in the romantic Haarhof side street, next to Herrengasse U-bahn station. Two stories deep, it's a huge handmade brick rabbit warren of tables in which the 15th century tale of legends meets wine aficionados and beer drinkers. There's a great choice of Austrian wines from the House of Esterházy vineyards and, in the attached Esterházystüberl, you'll also find a great selection of Austrian beers too.
Beer / Cocktail / Wine ~ €4+ / €11+ / €5,50+
Head down to the Donaukanal towpath between Schwedenplatz and Urania for a bar with a difference. This permanently anchored ship boasts an outdoor swimming pool on the first deck, a bowling alley in the cargo hold, a sundeck up top and a fantastic craft ale bar and restaurant which uses beer as an ingredient in many of its dishes. In keeping with the cool graffiti that surrounds it, the ship is shabby chic and a real hipster hangout.
Vienna is famous for its history, architecture, culture and music - but also for its sweet desserts and fine wines. So when Gerstner, the city's finest purveyors of desserts, teamed up with Schlumberger, the city's finest sekt producer, to open this joint venture in December 2014, you just knew that they would deliver Viennese culture to perfection. Indeed, this unique concept mix of shop and bar at Palais Todesco certainly has to be visited. Downstairs the beautiful shop offers sweet delights but climb the imperial staircase, and you will find yourself in a homely wine bar with a living room atmosphere, where you can also see the pastry chefs at work and admire the view over the Wiener Staatsoper.