During my student days in Graz, I spent approximately 99.% of my income on coffee. This may sound like a slight exaggeration, but I’m not sure that it is. Although the cafe scene in Graz has certainly changed since those days, many of my favorites are still around. And I had lots of fun exploring the new additions during our last visit to my home town. That’s why I thought it’s only fitting to introduce you to the 13+ best cafes in Graz!
We would like to let you know that at the time of publishing, this post was sponsored by VisitGraz. However, all our opinions are our own, obviously 🙂
What to Drink at the Best Cafes in Graz
If you have visited Austria before, you will know that coffee has a very long tradition in this country. Historians often refer to the Viennese Coffeehouse Culture, but this tradition extends far beyond the borders of the capital. The proper way to enjoy coffee in Austria is not on-the-go, but rather slowly, preferably brooding over the day’s newspaper. That being said, you can get take-away coffee nearly anywhere in the city as it has become increasingly popular in the last one or two decades (can you tell I’m getting old?).
At most cafes today you will find lattes, cappuccinos, and even frappes. Nonetheless, if you can, you should try coffee the Austrian way. Two of the most popular options are Kleiner/Großer Brauner and Melange. A Brauner is basically black coffee with a little bit of milk (available as either a single or double). A popular variation of this is the Verlängerter which is a bit milder. A Melange consists of frothed milk and steamed coffee. Often it is dusted with a bit of cocoa powder.
Sometimes you may see a Kaisermelange on a menu which is very different from the ‘normal’ Melange. It consists of strong black coffee mixed with egg yolk and honey, often topped with a bit of whipped cream.
What to Eat at the Best Cafes in Graz
I’m the first to admit that I love a good bagel. However, you can probably imagine that this New York staple doesn’t necessarily reflect Austrian cuisine very well. Depending on when you are visiting, you can either grab a hearty breakfast or treat yourself with something sweet.
When it comes to breakfast, you can’t go wrong with a crisp Vienna roll (Kaisersemmel) with the topping of your choice. Personally, I recommend to have it with Liptauer, a spiced cheese spread. Not only is it vegetarian-friendly, it also reflects Austria’s imperial past. For a bit more oomph, order scrambled eggs with pumpkin seed oil (by the way, one of the best hangover foods in the world).
Not all cafes serve a full breakfast, so don’t be afraid to order a slice of cake for breakfast. In the country of Marie Antoinette, this is perfectly acceptable. Okay, perhaps a pastry would be more appropriate. One of my favorites is the Topfentascherl, a puff pastry filled with sweet quark and sometimes raisins. Otherwise you can, of course, always go for a slice of apple strudel.
What You Need to Know
If this is your first time in Austria, you may not be aware that cafes and restaurants here are not automatically non-smoking. Many establishments are, but some have both smoking and non-smoking areas. I personally find that I always smell of smoke even if I sit in the non-smoking section. It’s worth checking beforehand or, alternatively, sit outside if the weather allows it. Just be aware that pretty much all establishments allow smoking outside.
Something I struggle with occasionally is that not all cafes will take card payments. It’s definitely getting better, but there are still plenty of cash-only establishments. Others have a minimum amount before they will accept card payment (e.g. 10 EUR). I personally prefer to carry cash because you can never be sure whether your card will be accepted.
Lastly, cafes and restaurants are not open seven days a week. Well, most of them aren’t. If you set your sights on a particular cafe, be sure to check their opening hours beforehand. Many may be closed on Sunday or Monday.
Where to Find the Best Cafes in Graz
Below is a mix of my all-time favorite cafes in Graz plus a couple of new kids on the block which we checked out during our last visit. Scroll down to the end of the list for my absolute favorite cafe in Graz!
1. Cafe Schwalbennest
Located just opposite of the Franciscan Church in the heart of the city, Cafe Schwalbennest is a local favorite. The cafe is perhaps best known for its sunny terrace overlooking the River Mur and offering a splendid view of the Kunsthaus.
On their menu is traditional Austrian coffee, decent iced lattes, simple but delicious sandwiches, as well as a variety of cakes. For a light snack, get a slice of Gugelhupf (a yeast-based bundt cake). For something a bit heartier, try the Sterztorte, a sweet polenta cake.
Options for dietary restrictions: Soy milk, lactose-free milk
Address: Franziskanerplatz 1, 8010 Graz
2. Kunsthaus Cafe
This cafe is new, well.. New to me, considering it only opened in 2015 (which is a good year after I left Graz originally). Nonetheless, Kunsthaus Cafe quickly became one of the most popular cafes in Graz and is well known for its modern setting and delicious brunch. Catering to a young audience, this is easily one of the freshest (dare I say ‘hippest’) cafes in the city.
Nestled inside the modern art museum (Kunsthaus), the interiors are dominated by concrete and steel, contrasting the warm wood of the generous farmhouse tables. On sunny days, the cafe extends to the street outside with dozens of tables providing seats for sun-seekers.
On the menu are American brunch favorites such as Eggs Benedict and bagels as well as classics such as porridge and french toast. If you come in the evening, they serve an eclectic mix of continental and oriental food alongside a large variety of excellent cocktails.
Options for dietary restrictions: Soy milk, oat milk, lactose-free milk, decaf
Address: Südtiroler Platz 2, 8020 Graz
This cafe can best be described as a curios cross-over of your grandmother’s kitchen and crisp Nordic design with nautical undertones. Located at the heart of the very hip Lend Quarter, this cafe usually brims with artists, students, poets, and designers.
Just like the eclectic interiors, their menu is a hodgepodge of cuisines. Between spring rolls and corn dogs, you’re sure to find something you will like. Saturdays and Sundays you’ll find locals fighting for a seat for their ever-popular brunch. So be sure to reserve a table in advance!
Address: Mariahilferstraße 24, 8020 Graz
Insider tip: Minimum consumption for card payment is 10 EUR.
4. Freiblick Tagescafe
This cafe has not one, but three unique draws. First of all, it’s located on the top floor of local department store Kastner & Öhler. That means you can get a wee bit of shopping in before relaxing over a nice cup of coffee. Even better, do it with a view! Freiblick is best known for its rooftop terrace overlooking the UNESCO-listed old town of Graz. It even offers a stunning view of the Clock Tower (Uhrturm)! Apart from that, one of the things I like most about it is its clean modern interior design. If I ever miss good-old Scandinavia while I’m in Graz, you’ll know where to find me!
This cafe serves breakfast until 16.30 which is a good indication for how breakfast-obsessed Austrians really are (Mihir will attest to the fact that I don’t go anywhere without breakfast). But even if you’re not much of a breakfast person, you’ll get some great lunch here. I particularly enjoy their subtle blend of Austrian and international cuisine.
Address: Sackstraße 7-13, 8010 Graz
5. Das Promenade
This cafe located at the edge of the city’s biggest park, Stadtpark, dates back to 1870. Despite its long history, however, Das Promenade is actually one of the freshest establishments in the city. Somewhat opulent with its plush interiors, this cafe isn’t necessarily on the cheap side. For the quality of food served, however, the prices are fairly reasonable.
They serve a traditional Austrian breakfast with a nice selection of savory and sweet treats. They also serve beer and cocktails which makes it a popular after-work hangout. In the summer you will find dozens of people enjoying a view of the park from the outdoor terrace. Besides their house cocktails, be sure to try a shot of Room 43, a locally distilled gin.
Options for dietary restrictions: Soy milk, lactose-free milk
Address: Erzherzog-Johann-Allee 1, 8010 Graz
6. Ducks Coffee Shop
Because who doesn’t need a coffee shop entirely dedicated to Ducks in their lives? Located just around the corner from the Joanneum Quarter, it is the perfect place to grab a nice cup of coffee after a museum tour.
The menu is dominated by millennial favorites such as matcha lattes and green smoothies, but that certainly adds to its charm. One of their most popular items is the slow-brew filter coffee prepared at the table. If you’re looking for something a little tongue-in-cheek, order the ‘Graz Smog’, a cup of earl grey with milk foam and vanilla syrup. Because locals love nothing more than to discuss the city’s smog levels on a long winter day.
Options for dietary restrictions: Soy milk, oat milk, lactose-free milk
Address: Raubergasse 14, 8010 Graz
7. BUNA Kaffee
If the cafes I mentioned earlier are the new kids on the block, then BUNA is the new.. Baby on the block? Part of the so-called ‘Third Wave’, this coffee shop is as hip as it gets in Graz. BUNA serves specialty coffee and vegan cakes while a record player gently hums in the background.
Really, this is a small boutique store which happens to serve excellent coffee. It’s the place to go if you’re looking to buy a Keepcup and finally cut down on all these disposable takeaway cups. Of course, they also sell a number of other specialty coffee products such as Chemex coffeemakers, coffee grinders, and more. Did anybody say heaven?
Address: Schmiedgasse 11, 8010 Graz
Insider tip: Because this is more of a boutique than a cafe, there are no restrooms.
8. Lenz im Lend
Lenz im Lend is one of the newest additions to the Graz coffee scene. For many years it was known as ‘Die süße Luise’ but has opened doors under its new name recently. Lenz im Lend is the perfect place to relax with a cup of coffee while pondering your weekly shopping list. Located on Lendplatz, one of the city’s biggest farmers’ markets is just a few steps away.
Sustainability and regionality are what makes this cafe so special. It blends in perfectly with its surroundings, making use of some of the beautiful raw ingredients at its doorstep. Whether you’re in the mood for coffee or a glass of wine, you’re at the right address.
Address: Lendplatz Stand Nr. 9, 8020 Graz
Would you like to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and know that you’re doing something good at the same time? Parks not only serves ecological and fairtrade drinks and food, they also make it a point to employ minorities, underprivileged youth, and people with disabilities. With two outlets in the city, you’ll never be too far from a guilt-free cup of roasted goodness. Their products are sourced regionally, seasonably, and sustainably.
As you can probably imagine by now, they serve breakfast and cakes, but also lunch and after-work drinks. I love that you get a regular cup of coffee with every croissant you buy!
Options for dietary restrictions: Soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, lactose-free milk
Address: Raubergasse 14, 8010 Graz & Zinzendorfgasse 4, 8010 Graz
Brooklyn meets Graz – otherwise known as SO/SO. Located just across the street from the city’s main university, this cafe allows you to cure your hangover, caffeinate for finals, or simply destress after a long day. To be honest, I wished it had been around in my student days because my lecture hall was literally 2 minutes away.
SO/SO serves everything a millennial needs, from acai bowls and falafel to freshly squeezed juice (and coffee, obviously). In their words – ‘You have the choice’.
Address: Heinrichstraße 29, 8010 Graz
11. Delikatessen Frankowitsch
Frankowitsch is more than just a cafe in the traditional sense. Although they do serve a decent coffee as well as incredible cakes and pastries, don’t get me wrong, they are best known for their open-faced sandwiches. The cafe has been around since 1932 and has been a long-standing favorite with locals.
Their popular sandwiches are served on soft white bread, reminiscent perhaps of a fluffy and less crunchy baguette. The subtly sweet flavor and soft crust lend themselves perfectly to a variety of toppings. Favorites include salami, ham, and cheese, but shrimp and salmon are becoming ever so popular. Alongside you should order a ‘Pfiff’, the tiniest glass of beer you’ll ever see. To posh it up, order a glass of prosecco instead 😉
For a stark contrast of old and new, order a poke bowl in this very traditional Austrian setting. Strange? Maybe. Delicious? Yes.
Address: Stempfergasse 2-4, 8010 Graz
12. Cafe Fotter
Unassuming from the outside, especially should you pass it on a Sunday, Cafe Fotter is one of the oldest cafes in Graz. Although it is more than 80 years old, the interiors have been updated extensively. Rarely will you find a cafe with so much charm and ‘Gemütlichkeit’, the Austrian sense of coziness. And as if that wasn’t enough, you can also enjoy your coffee break in their serene rose garden.
Besides breakfast (you guessed it) and traditional Austrian refreshment, Fotter also serves a simple lunch for students of the neighboring universities. After devouring your avocado bowl, take a look at their traditional cake display for the cake selection of the day!
Options for dietary restrictions: Soy milk, lactose-free milk
Address: Attemsgasse 6, 8010 Graz
13. Cafe Harrach
I did promise you my favorite cafe in Graz would be at the end of this list. Thinking back to my student days, I definitely spent too much time at Cafe Harrach and not enough time at the library. While the cafe in itself is very simple, it’s the atmosphere which makes it so unique.
In some ways, this cafe appears to be caught in a strange time loop. It is retro yet contemporary at the same time. It is fresh and modern in its approach to food, yet you will still find people smoking inside. Cafe Harrach is the kind of place where you’d expect to find artists, students, philosophers, and poets. And you’d be absolutely right. Political discourse is not uncommon during the late hours when tongues become loose.
During the day, however, this cafe is simply the epitome of ‘hygge’.Mismatched furniture sets the tone while friends catch up over a cup of coffee. Some of the pieces you see here are even on sale!
Perhaps I’ve caught a bad case of nostalgia, but for me, there truly is no better cafe in Graz.
Address: Harrachgasse 26, 8010 Graz
Best Coffee in a Pinch
If you don’t have time to sit down for a cup of coffee, many of the places mentioned in this article also serve takeaway coffee. Nonetheless, there are four chains in Graz which serve coffee from early till late and between them, they have an outlet at literally every corner. Those four are Auer, Sorger, Tribeka, and Barista’s.
The first two are not the place to go if you want something fancy, but for a quick cappuccino and snack before catching a train they are perfect. Tribeka and Barista’s are perhaps the forerunners of Americanized coffee shops in Graz, and I remember teenage me loving all of it. Even today, I still enjoy the sleek interiors of Tribeka as well as their bagels! So if you’re in a pinch and an urgent need for coffee, you don’t need to worry 😉
Now, what do you think? Which is the best cafe in Graz? Anything we need to add to this list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!