It is virtually impossible to visit Austria without coming across the country’s most celebrated of desserts; the devilishly delicious apple strudel, or apfelstrudel, as it’s known in German. Translating literally to mean ‘apple whirlpool’, due to its characteristic swirling appearance, this calorific pud is made up of tissue-thin layers of dough that are layered up between apples, baked, and served with either whipped or pouring cream. Read on to discover where you can find the best to sample when visiting Vienna.
This distinctly Viennese hangout has a welcoming, cosy atmosphere, designed to make visitors want to stay a while. Formerly a café reserved for the upper classes of Vienna, who would gather to indulge in intellectual exchange, it is now enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, who delight in the Art Deco interior and the superb selection of puddings on offer — most notably their apfelstrudel. Soft, yet crispy and warmly satisfying, this version is reminiscent of home-baking, which is exactly as it should be.
You’ll be hard-pushed to find a cosier place in town to indulge in your apple strudel needs. Kaffee Alt Wien, dressed in old-fashioned furnishings and layers of retro posters, is a charming haunt, where you can try the world-famous dessert in truly authentic Viennese surroundings. Refreshingly, the strudel here is not as intimidating in size as others, although you’ll still be served a generous portion. Perfectly crisp on the outside and with a satisfyingly gooey filling, it is one of the menu’s bestsellers. Expect crowds on weekends.
As you indulge in a divine apple strudel at this hugely popular café, you can imagine life in Imperial Vienna, when the city’s lords and ladies enjoyed the very dessert that sits before you – they use the traditional recipe from the bakery at the palace of Schönbrunn. This coffee house has years of experience under its belt when it comes to delighting its visitors with delicious cakes and pastries, and has developed a strong reputation for delivering high-quality desserts. It is another one of Vienna’s coffeehouses that is a favourite location for prominent figures of society — author Graham Greene reportedly enjoyed his breakfast here and it was featured in the film of his book, The Third Man (1949).
This restaurant, located in the historically prominent Am Heumarkt in the third district of Vienna, is full to the brim with Viennese charm. Bright parquet wooden flooring and white tablecloths give this a true old-style Austrian feel; the perfect vibe in which to indulge in a famous native pud. The pastry is satisfyingly slim, and the apple filling is delightfully in proportion. Start your meal off with another Viennese culinary superstar, the Wiener Schnitzel, to make your experience a truly authentic affair.
Tucked away on a street adjacent to the bustling Naschmarkt, this cosy and quintessentially Austrian restaurant is a purveyor of traditional cuisine. Café Amacord gives the option of including the dessert in a Viennese set menu with a beef broth for starters, a Wiener Schnitzel for main course, and apfelstrudel for dessert. Expect a generous serving of whipped cream on the side.
For over 100 years, the iconic Café Prückel has been a pillar of the Viennese coffee house movement. Embodying all the characteristics synonymous with the culture of Viennese coffee drinking,including the imperative tuxedo-clad waiters, the beautifully decorated 1950s-style café was added to the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list in 2011. Decorated in light pastels with soft furnishings, the café’s interior wouldn’t look out of place in a Wes Anderson film. Their cake fridge has almost every Austrian variety available, including the strudel. Café Prückel use a very traditional recipe, and, unless requested, will not serve it with cream or custard.
Last, but certainly not least, is Café Landtmann. Their apple strudel is just as it should be; sweet, subtly spiced with a flaky crust and juicy tart apples that cut through the rich buttery pastry – not forgetting the vital addition of silky custard or cooling cream. Built in 1873, this café has become a legendary addition to the Viennese coffee house scene, admired for its chic and showy décor and fabulous Austrian cuisine.