Because I was in Vienna for a work event, our company organized tours for us. I chose the Sweet Vienna Tour, because I wanted to walk around the city and get my bearings and, well, who doesn’t love coffee, cake, and chocolate?
Vollpension is a newer Viennese cafe with an interesting concept. The cafe employs surrogate “Omas” (grandmothers, well, and Opas, too?) to come to the cafe between Noon and 8:00 p.m. to share stories and life lessons with the younger generations.
And the food and coffee? Well, the drip coffee was quite good and served strong. We were also served the traditional Viennese Apfelstrudel. Served warm, the apfelstrudel is filled with a mix consisting of grated cooking apples, sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and bread crumbs. It was absolutely delicious and was my favorite snack on the tour.
We tried two very popular Viennese chocolate candies: Ildelfonso and Pischinger Eckerl. The Eckerl is a chocolate covered hazelnutty brittle and is quite delicious. And I found out the Pischinger company was started in 1849 and they have been creating amazing chocolates and wafers ever since.
The Ildelfonso wrapper is quite unique in the outside wrapper wraps around the entire candy, and upon unwrapping, you’ll find a quote in German (mine was a Shakespeare quote). As you can see below, the candy has layers of light and dark nougat and tastes sort of like milk chocolate meets hazelnut.
Since these candies are very popular, you can purchase them in almost any grocery store for about half the price of the chocolate stores.
Oberlaa is a pasty shop with a few locations in Vienna, and this one at Naschmarkt is one of the smaller locations.
At this location we sampled a macaroon, and I chose the red currant flavor. While macaroons are traditionally French, they can be found in most pastry shops in Vienna. And I can confirm that Vienna knows how to make a macaroon.
Our last stop was Café Sperl, founded in 1880, just a few blocks away in the sixth district. We actually sat outside in the courtyard, but inside the cafe there is ample seating space, reading materials, and even pool tables. You can tell this is a very popular cafe spot.
This was the conclusion of our tour. So what was my favorite dessert? I would have to say the apfelstrudel from Vollpension.
Besides tasting, our tour guide told us a lot about the local cafe culture in Vienna. For example, cafes will never ask you to leave. You can purchase one cup of coffee and stay all day to work, chat, whatever. Cafes are where friends gather, meet, or locals just hang out, because, why not.
Some other cafes in the area I would have liked to visit but didn’t get a chance are Cafe Central, Cafe Weimar, and Cafe Hawelka.
Besides cafes and chocolate shops, our tour guide would point out landmarks as we passed and tell us stories. It was especially interesting to pass buildings that suffered damage from World War II (especially buildings peppered with bullet holes).
I’m not usually one for tours, but this tour was pretty interesting and helped us find our bearings in the city. At 25 people it was small enough to still remain somewhat intimate. Also, at around $25 Euro, the tour isn’t that expensive. I can’t seem to find where you can book a single ticket, but you can book group tickets here (and possibly write them to inquire about single tickets).