An cityscape over Vienna at sunset

Discover Vienna, a city steeped in aromas


Let your senses lead the way on an exploration of the most pleasurable Viennese traditions.

Vienna is a city steeped in alluring aromas: the nutty caramel gusts of brewing coffee; the bittersweet traces of melted chocolate; the sugared perfume of cakes and pastries emerging from the oven. All roads in the charming Austrian capital lead to a coffeehouse, repositories for the sensuous, familiar scents that have lured you here.

 

Viennese Coffee Culture  

To order a coffee in Vienna is to engage in one of the city’s oldest traditions, with a bag of coffee beans discovered in the Ottomans’ abandoned encampment, after they were defeated at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 (some thought the strange beans were camel feed or camel dung). 

A General who had fought with the victors experimented with the bitter little nuggets, adding milk to the brew and so devising the drink universally adored today. It wasn’t long before the first Viennese coffeehouse opened, in 1685; soon there was one on almost every corner. 

You can bypass the coffee-mad crowds when you take your seat at Café Central’s marbled tables during the Scenic Freechoice activity, offered on Scenic’s 15-Day Jewels of Europe itinerary. This fabled coffeehouse in Vienna’s centre is little changed since it opened in 1876, when writers, poets, artists, musicians, financiers and intellectuals would drink coffee while reading the newspapers, working on their novels, doing business deals or engaging in heady conversation. 

The coffee is still served here on a silver tray beside a glass of water upon whose rim a teaspoon rests. If you fancy a second (or third) cup, why not move on to Café Landtmann, where Siegmund Freud and Leon Trotsky drank their daily brew, or Café Museum, hangout of artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka

A coffee house on a corner of a street

Let them eat cake 

A slice of chocolate cake served with coffee
If you enjoy cake with your coffee, then you’ve come to the right place, as Vienna is also the home of that most famous gateau, Sachertorte. The recipe was conceived in 1832 by apprentice chef Franz Sacher as a dessert for guests of Austrian State Chancellor, Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich.
 
Assigning the task to the young apprentice after the head chef had fallen ill, the prince is said to have issued a caution: “I hope you won’t disgrace me tonight”. The very opposite occurred, with this deceptively simple confection of eggs, butter, flour, dark couverture chocolate and apricot jam becoming a cult favourite. Today, the precise recipe remains a tightly-held secret; 360,000 Sachertorte are handmade in Vienna each year and shipped around the world.
 
The most iconic spot to have your cake and eat it is the historic Hotel Sacher, founded in 1876 by Franz Sacher’s father, Eduard, who put his son’s recipe to good use in the plush, scarlet-festooned Café Sacher. 
 
But why be restricted to one slice of cake? The bakery displays in the coffeehouses and cafes dotting this city tempt with a mouth-watering diversity of tarts, pralines, cream slices, pastries, eclairs, macaroons, croissants and apple strudel, that other Austrian specialty.
 
 

Tempting Chocolate 

Remember to save space for their famous chocolate; it’s so prized in this city there is even a Museum of Chocolate offering workshops, where the expert Confectioners have elevated chocolate to an art form. If you’re visiting the Naschmarkt district you can pick up edible masterpieces at chocolatier Fruth; or order a slice of Demeltorte (a walnut and chocolate cake topped with candied violets) and a cup of hot chocolate at the fabled coffeehouse and chocolatier, Demel. 
And if you simply can’t accommodate another bite, indulge instead in a calorie-free chocolate body wrap at the Sacher Hotel’s spa. It will infuse your senses with that aroma so reminiscent of this city, and will leave your skin plump, supple and sweet.
 
There are many options to explore Vienna on a Scenic 5-star, truly all-inclusive river cruise. Click on the itineraries below for more details:
 
A skyward shot of the Vienna rooftops
A couple taking a pair of Scenic e-Bikes for a ride

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