17 Historic European Cafes Worth Travelling For

Known for their décor, atmosphere, and fascinating stories, each of these historic European cafes is steeped in history and tradition.

where better to have a coffee or a snack of a local sweet than a beautiful coffee shop where you can soak up the local culture at the same time.

Reading: Cafe in europe

some of these iconic cafes were frequented by famous literary figures. others were the birthplace of the revolution. while some are known for their opulent interiors, others are humble locals. each has its own particular charms, and most come with their own drink or cake.

here are 17 of the most beautiful historic European cafes that you have to try at least once, as recommended by travel writers.

  • Do you prefer tea? Check out my list of the world’s top destinations for tea lovers.
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    the two wizards | paris, france

    by elisa in the world of paris

    if you plan to spend 3 days or more in paris, take the time to enjoy some coffee shops. The French capital has hundreds of beautiful cafes, many of them also part of the city’s history.

    les deux magots (established 1822) in saint germain-des-près is one of the most iconic cafes in europe. After World War II, Saint Germain became the center of intellectual and cultural life in Paris, and cafés like Les Deux Magots emerged as the perfect meeting places for lively discussions.

    les deux magots was hemingway’s favorite cafe in saint germain. She is said to have spent many hours here writing or drinking with other authors, including James Joyce and F. scott fitzgerald. Les deux magots hasn’t changed much and still attracts personalities from the worlds of art, literature, fashion and politics.

    Depending on the time of day, you should opt for a coffee or a hot chocolate, or a glass of one of the cafeteria’s excellent wines.

    florian coffee | venice, italy

    by alex in alex on the map

    Known to be the oldest and most iconic cafe in the beautiful city of Venice (and by claims, the oldest cafe in all of Europe!), Caffe Florian has been a fixture of Piazza San Marco since 1720.

    takes its name from the owner, floriano francesconi. Part of the reason this beautiful cafe remains a must-see in Venice is because it was created during a crucial time in the republic’s history. In the past, it was a meeting place for conspirators against the French and Austrian rulers who took over after the fall of the Venetian empire.

    today, you can still visit caffe florian’s opulent rooms. Not much has changed since its founding: it still contains its original murals, and the menu remains the same as it has been for hundreds of years. Recently, the owners have tried to bring the café into the 21st century by also showcasing contemporary art exhibits.

    The hot chocolate (cioccolata calda in Italian) is divine, and you can’t go wrong with an espresso or cappuccino.

    new york coffee | Budapest, Hungary

    editor’s choice

    A classic European coffee shop that oozes old world charm, Budapest’s New York Coffee Shop boasts one of the most opulent interiors of any coffee shop on this list. it truly must be seen in person to be believed.

    the cafe is located on the ground floor of the luxurious new york palace hotel. the building’s intricate façade is the first clue to the treasures that lie within: hardwood railings, chandeliers, and generous use of marble give this café a truly palatial feel.

    the new york cafe embodies the beauty and charm of the old world of hungary; if this is your style, you would do well to choose an airbnb in budapest that exudes the same sense of glamour.

    In addition to being pleasing to the eye, coffee has played an important role in Hungarian history. Writers and publishers flocked here in the early 20th century, and one of the country’s largest newspapers was published right here in the gallery above. in the postwar period, coffee deteriorated; It was only in 2006 that the new york cafe was lovingly restored to its former glory.

    order the signature afternoon tea, an extravagant assortment of sandwiches and sweet treats served with coffee. or you can opt for a glass of prosecco!

    coffee to brasileira | Portugal

    by wendy in the vegan nomad

    This historic café first opened its doors in Porto in 1903, and by 1907 the owner had expanded the business to Lisbon and Braga. At first, it wasn’t really a cafe, but a place that sold imported coffee beans from Brazil. Back then, the Portuguese were not yet in the habit of drinking coffee in public establishments. It was a Brazilian who started this trend!

    The owner, Adriano Telles, offered a free cup of coffee as an incentive to anyone who bought coffee beans at his store. this was the first place that sold the now ubiquitous Portuguese bica, which has become a national passion.

    Just like the Italian espresso, the word bica is an acronym meaning beba isto com açúcar (‘drink this with sugar’). At first, customers didn’t like the strong, bitter taste, so Telles put up signs on the tables telling them to add sweetener.

    Today, a brasileira is a main attraction in braga, porto and lisbon for its atmosphere and history, but not necessarily for its food, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan.

    Prices here are a bit high by Portuguese standards, so most locals just order a bica, which costs 2 euros.

    maiasmokk coffee | tallinn, estonia

    by katja on globe

    charming cafe maiasmokk is the oldest cafe in tallinn and indeed in estonia.

    It was first founded in 1864 by Georg Stude, a Baltic German confectioner responsible for creating the best marzipan in town. their marzipan treats were so exquisite that the Russian imperial family and court favored them. Today, marzipan is still one of the main reasons to visit Cafe Maiasmokk: there are dozens of marzipan figures on display in the window.

    If you’d like to learn more about this traditional sweet, such as how it was used during the middle ages as a cure for heartbreak, be sure to visit the on-site mini marzipan museum. It houses around 200 figures, all made from molds dating back more than 100 years. this is a particularly fun activity to do in tallinn with kids.

    of course, there is more to maiasmokk than just marzipan.

    The cafe is a wonderful “step back in time” as it has remained largely unchanged since 1913. It’s a great place for breakfast and lunch, or maybe you just want to stop by for coffee and cake. whatever you do, don’t forget to look up at the ceiling!

    atlas coffee | lviv, ukraine

    See also: Chiến lược để trở thành &quotBá chủ&quot của Highlands Coffee Câu chuyện thành công

    by kami in kami and the rest of the world

    hopping from cafe to cafe is one of the best things to do in lviv, ukraine. There are so many outstanding cafes located all over the city (lviv supposedly has the most cafes per capita in the world!), but one of them deserves more attention than the others.

    atlas cafe is located on the corner of rynok square and drukarska street, a favorite hangout for lviv’s art community in the days before world war ii. today it is one of the most popular and beautiful cafes in lviv, where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner and, of course, coffee.

    While it’s tempting to sit outside and watch Lviv’s street life, you should also take a look inside the cafe. parts of the decoration are original and numerous references to the pre-war era can be seen. the most beautiful room is hidden on the right side of the building: the lights are dim, the armchairs are super comfortable, and the space is decorated with paintings of knights.

    Fortunately, the prices at Café Atlas are affordable and the place is large enough that there is almost always a free table available.

    louvre cafeteria | prague, czechia

    of rose where does rose go

    When it comes to cafés in Prague, there are few better places to experience the city’s history than the Café Louvre, a landmark of Albert Einstein and Franz Kafka.

    The place opened in 1902 and, in addition to serving high-quality Czech food, it became a popular hangout for scholars and writers. sadly, the Soviet government forced it to close and banned private businesses and the work of creative minds. after being empty for five decades, it was opened to the public once again in 1992.

    Nowadays, it’s a pretty sophisticated place to eat in Prague, but it’s by no means an unaffordable option. visit the magnificent interior and period artwork, and stay for hearty meals and a selection of coffee, cocktails, wine, and beer.

    order the Czech national dish, svickova, steak mashed with carrots, parsley, and celery, served with bread dumplings, cranberry sauce, and finally a splash of cream! sounds strange, but the combination somehow works.

    sacher coffee vienna | vienna, austria

    by james ian in travel collecting

    another of the most iconic cafes in europe is the sacher cafe wien in vienna. this is where the sacher cake of the same name was invented.

    Sachertorte, two layers of chocolate sponge cake separated by a thin layer of apricot jam and covered with dark chocolate ganache, is undoubtedly one of Austria’s most famous foods. It was created by the confectioner Franz Sacher in 1832 when he was only 16 years old.

    today, it is served in the cafeteria of the famous hotel sacher. choose between the lovely outdoor area, which is perfect for people-watching on a summer day, or the indoor cafe.

    The original recipe is protected by a trademark and jealously guarded, so the only place in the world to have a real sacher cake is right here. each slice even comes with a trademark stamp, in chocolate, of course.

    Best paired with a coffee or chocolate liqueur, a slice of sacher cake at café sacher is a must when visiting vienna.

    hafiz mustafa | istanbul, turkey

    editor’s choice

    With its original branch located in the Sirkeci neighborhood on the European side of beautiful Istanbul, Hafiz Mustafa is part of the coffee crop where coffee made its leap across the continent. it’s a wonderful place to try traditional Turkish coffee and sweets.

    The coffee shop and bakery was founded in 1864 by a merchant and his son. the latter of the duo is credited with inventing the pogaca, a stuffed bun that has been a menu mainstay throughout its five generations of family ownership.

    Today, there are a dozen cafe branches in Istanbul. for an original experience, head to the first store on hamidiye street. the wallpaper and tiled interior with veneered columns recalls the days when a family outing to hafiz mustafa must have been a real treat. You can see a framed portrait of the cafe’s founder, Ismail Hakki Zade, on the box.

    Turkish coffee served with a cezve, a ritual drink so important that it is recognized as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, is what to order here. Pair it with a slice of Hafiz Mustafa’s famous fruitcake, some hard candy, or a square of Turkish delight.

    My personal favorite item on the menu is booza baklava, an indulgent slab of chewy Turkish ice cream sandwiched inside a slice of pistachio baklava. falls beautifully on a hot summer afternoon or cold winter night.

    glace conditions | Copenhagen, Denmark

    by derek & mike all over copenhagen

    Copenhagen’s most iconic café is Conditori La Glace, an elegant establishment dating back to 1870. They serve traditional tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and of course Danish pastries and elaborate cakes.

    la glace is not only denmark’s oldest bakery and pastry shop, but also one of the best breakfast spots in copenhagen. in fact, it’s hard to walk past the glace, look out the window, and not stop for a sweet treat. Denmark is famous for sweet breads and cakes, and la glace has been perfecting them for over six generations.

    The interior of the cafeteria transports you to a bygone era. With antique decor and staff uniforms, la glace maintains all the charm of a 150-year-old family bakery.

    Anyone visiting Copenhagen should plan a stop at this Danish institution. There are plenty of pastry and coffee options in town, but none rival the iconic flavor, atmosphere, and experience of conditori la glace.

    moskva hotel cafe | belgrade, serbia

    editor’s choice

    The capital of the former Yugoslavia is often associated with concrete monoliths, but Belgrade also has some truly splendid old buildings. the iconic moskva hotel on terazije square is an example of serbian art nouveau and stands in stark contrast to the socialist-brutalist architecture that defines the newer part of the city.

    Since it opened to the public in 1908, the hotel has always had a public kafana at street level. Today, the Moskva Hotel Cafe serves more than 300 different pastries, but it’s famous for one recipe in particular, the eponymous Moskva Shnit.

    This fruit and cream cake was invented in 1974 by the hotel’s pastry chef, Anica Dzepina, and has been a trademark ever since. delicately topped with almonds, pineapple and cherries, moskva shnit is light and airy, perfect for eating on a summer’s day while sitting on the cafe’s sun-drenched terrace.

    osteria of the sun | bologna, italy

    by lori on travlinmad

    a few steps from piazza maggiore, in the historic heart of bologna, is the quadrilatero, the oldest market in bologna. Along the narrow cobblestone streets are jewelers, high-end clothing stores, butchers, delicatessens, fish markets, produce stalls, and bakeries. if you eat in bologna, you will find it here.

    See also: Sheep, Raccoons, And Meerkats: Unique Animal Cafes In Seoul

    but there is something else very special here that happens to be one of the most unique things to do in bologna.

    osteria del sole is one of the oldest cafes in the world. In existence since 1465, the comfortable pub was frequented by university students and luminaries of the day, including Da Vinci and Galileo.

    They don’t serve food, but you can buy wine and beer. it’s easy to find good food in nearby shops to go with your drink. Salumeria Simoni, a small cheese and charcuterie shop in the heart of the market, is a great choice. From there, walk a short distance to Via Ranocchi and look for the small sign, Osteria del Sole. find a place to sit, order a glass of wine and prepare your lunch.

    This is a social and lively place, especially in the evenings when locals and visitors come to enjoy good conversation and a snack with friends. Oh, if walls could talk!

    san carlo coffee | Turin, Italy

    by christina on travel2next

    caffè san carlo can be counted among the most emblematic European cafes, as it has been a meeting place for writers for centuries.

    this is where french novelist and author of the three musketeers, alexandre dumas, tasted his first bicerin, a unique hot beverage created from layers of espresso, chocolate, and milk.

    One of Italy’s most distinguished cities, Turin was the kingdom’s first capital (before Florence and Rome) and, as a result, attracted Europe’s literary and political community. Several great cafes were established to welcome these remarkable visitors, none more beautiful than caffè san carlo.

    the building is located in the famous piazza san carlo, right in the heart of turin, where you can stroll and admire the majestic architecture of the city. the interior is richly decorated with ornate gold leaf mirrors, marble and velvet.

    sitting inside the cafeteria and having a glass of the city’s traditional hot drink is one of the things to do in turin on your bucket list.

    bettys in harrogate | Yorkshire, England

    by stuart forster in go eat do

    bettys operates six tearooms in yorkshire, but the first to open was in the center of harrogate.

    The café was established in 1919 by a Swiss immigrant who began life as a Fritz Bützer. a successful pastry chef, he anglicized his name to frederick belmont. That Swiss connection explains the special bacon and raclette rösti dish, which is still on the menu at Bettys.

    The spa town’s best-known cafe has become an iconic spot for traditional afternoon tea served from three-tiered cake stalls. It is possible to go upstairs and wait to be seated or reserve a table in the elegant Imperial Room on the upper level of Bettys.

    There is a distinctive old world charm to the tea room on parliament street in harrogate. The staff wear uniforms not unlike those worn by the servants in the Downton Abbey television series.

    if you want to stock up for a picnic or buy some cakes for later, bettys also has a shop.

    bewley oriental coffee | dublin, ireland

    by emer & zeros in let’s go ireland

    It would be difficult to list the most iconic European cafes without including the Dublin institution of Bewley’s Oriental Cafe on Grafton Street.

    This cafe was designed with such elegance and style that it continues to impress people more than 90 years after it first opened its doors.

    The innovative décor, including Egyptian-style motifs in colorful mosaics covering the building’s exterior, is one of Dublin’s most unusual sights. however, it is the stunning stained glass windows, created by renowned irish artist harry clarke, that are the crown jewel of this café.

    for an extra special atmosphere, visit poets corner or james joyce room, or sit by one of the 10 open fireplaces to enjoy fresh coffee alongside delicious cakes and pastries. don’t forget to try the original sticky bun!

    There are also traditional Irish breakfast and light lunch options on the bewley menu.

    central cafeteria | Malaga, Spain

    by paulina in paulina on the way

    one of the most iconic, beautiful and historic cafes in spain is cafe central in the city of malaga, located in the plaza de la Constitución, just a 4-minute walk from the cathedral of malaga.

    Jose Prado Crespo founded this restaurant in the early 20th century in the days following the Spanish Civil War. Interestingly, it is a combination of three smaller cafes: Swiss Cafe, Chinitas, and Munich.

    the most special feature of café central is that it offers a splendid location to watch the world go by. If you are wondering what to eat in Malaga, the cafeteria offers a varied menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner and tapas, along with a powerful black coffee and a creamy cloud coffee.

    friendly staff and an english menu (with pictures of many side dishes) make this an excellent place to eat freshly prepared and a great value for any visitor to malaga.

    pedrocchi coffee | padua, italy

    by jonathan in journeymaxx

    the neo-gothic style altars outside the café pedrocchi hint at the café’s legacy. A popular meeting point for scholars and writers since the 18th century, today Padua’s most famous historic café is also known for being one of the most canine-friendly, always going the extra mile to cater to customers who they want to bring their dogs with them.

    As with all great European coffee houses, its unique selling point is that the beer shares its name with the establishment itself. pedrocchi is a very dark concoction served with creme de menthe and cocoa powder on top, which adds sweetness to counteract the bitterness.

    That’s all we know about the ingredients: the precise brewing method is confidential and all baristas are sworn to secrecy. note that to appreciate the flavor of the pedrocchi, you are not supposed to stir it. so no spoons provided!

    A popular urban legend says that students at the world-famous University of Padua should not enter the café until after they graduate, otherwise they will be doomed.

    How many of these historic European coffees have you tried? any other beautiful coffee shops in europe that you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

    See also: Can you use cafe bustelo in an espresso machine

    more European inspiration

    • countdown of the best gastronomic experiences in europe
    • where to go in europe in autumn: the best destinations for the grape harvest
    • Top 25 Alternative European Destinations for City Breaks
    • 20 itinerary ideas to explore Europe by train
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