Did you even go to Europe if you didn’t go to a café? Each country in Europe has its own unique culture when it comes to roasting and brewing, drinking, and enjoying the buzzy stuff. While I haven’t visited every country in Europe (yet!), here’s a list of some of the continent’s very best cafés.
Café hopping gives you a great excuse to sit back and enjoy each new place, get to know the local culture better, and try each country’s unique cuisines and flavors. Plus, sitting in cafés for an hour or two can be great for people watching, catching up on some reading, or striking up a conversation with someone new. If you’re interested in learning more about café culture or just want a fancy latte, you might want to grab a cup at any one of these unbeatable cafés in Europe.
1) OZONE | LONDON, U.K.
London has an incredible coffee scene in its diverse neighborhoods across the city. Ozone is no exception: it has undoubtedly one of the best-tasting coffees in London, but the chain originally started in New Zealand. You’ll often see people in there eating a gourmet breakfast or brunch of poached eggs, toast, or some fancy pastries. They roast their own beans at the Leonard Street location, and the smell of a hot cup is enough to make you swoon.
The interior offers plenty of natural light if you sit near the window side, but if you opt for seating further inside the café, you’ll get a darker, moodier vibe. There are also quite a large number of freelancers working there, so it’s easy to meet an international crowd of digital nomads and/or locals.
2) NETWORK | DUBLIN, IRELAND
Ireland is one of those countries that’s not particularly well-known for coffee as Guinness reigns supreme as the drink of choice. However, there are some amazing cafés in Dublin, for when you need a break from beer. Network Café is one of them—located on Aungier Street, it’s got beautifully made mugs, speedy Wi-Fi, and small bites perfect for any time of day. Check out their website for a sneak preview of their well-designed space.
3) OJALÁ | MADRID, SPAIN
In Madrid, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants and cafés. Located in the trendy neighborhood of Malasaña, Ojalá’s picture-perfect Tiffany-Blue interior comes complete with sleek, contemporary decor, lush plants, and a wide selection of healthy vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Its basement feels like a retro night beach party – the entire downstairs is covered in sand, white brick walls, umbrella’d drinks and neon signs. Once you’ve had your coffee upstairs, head downstairs for a cocktail and an indoor beach party!
4) CUILLIER | PARIS, FRANCE
There’s obviously no shortage of cafés in Paris. The French invented the word “café”, so they must be good, right? This one, in particular, was on a quaint little street in the heart of Montmartre and is only a few minutes walk from the famous Sacré Couer. Cuillier has a beautiful display of delicious French pastries (try the petite pistachio cake) and a small, but high-quality selection, of coffees. Oui, oui!
5) SAKONA COFFEE | SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN
San Sebastian is known more for their Pintxos (Basque-style tapas) than for their coffee, but this little café just outside the main town was ideal for grabbing a morning cup. They have excellent Wi-Fi if you’re looking for a place to get some work done, plus delicious and light brunch options. The space has a clean, modern feel that Instagrammers will be buzzing about for days.
6) SANT EUSTACCHIO IL CAFFE | ROME, ITALY
The French may have invented the word “café” but the Italians invented the word “coffee.” When it comes to drinking coffee in Italy, there are some cultural guidelines worth knowing. First, cappuccinos and other milky drinks are only taken in the morning, not past 11 am. Second, if you try to order an Americano or drip coffee, you probably won’t be able to get it here unless it’s a place more catered towards tourists.
Most people go straight for the strong stuff AKA a shot of espresso (caffé). Check to see if it has crema (the brownish foam at the top), to check if the shot is fresh and good-quality. You’ll notice people drinking caffés at any given time of the day. In many places, patrons will be standing and drinking their caffès right at the counter.
Italians revel in the enjoyment of food and beverage and taking your time is essential to embody the Italian phrase, “Dolce Vita.” Yo pay for your coffee when it’s ordered, enjoy your drink and take your time doing so. You really can’t go wrong with most cafés in Italy’s capital city, but if you’re looking for an authentic and more traditional place to visit, stop by Sant Eustacchio il Caffe.
7) CAFÉ BAYLON | ROME, ITALY
Café Baylon is located in Rome’s trendy Trastevere neighborhood; they have outdoor seating and serve a full menu from breakfast to dinner. It’s worth visiting at night as the café becomes one of the coolest local bars in the area.
8) LA MENAGERIE | FLORENCE, ITALY
Recommending a French café/bar in the heart of Florence might seem sacrilegious, but it was honestly one of the most beautiful cafés I visited in Europe. The exposed brick-and-stone-walled interiors, modern lighting, and a speakeasy in the basement created a romantic ambiance that was hard to ignore. They also sell cute artisan products, flowers, and plants, and hold fancy dinner functions and live music performances. If you’re coming here with a big group of people, they have long, rustic-style dining tables where food can be shared, family style.
9) NEW YORK CAFÉ | BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
New York Café (also known as New York Kávéház) in Budapest was a popular spot for famous 19th-century writers and editors to congregate. Now, it’s one of the most popular destinations for tourists seeking a fancy afternoon tea set composed of decadent desserts or savory lunches reminiscent of Austro-Hungarian Empire cuisine. While you’re waiting for your drinks and/or food, enjoy listening to live classical music and marvel at the intricate Italian Renaissance-style architecture.
10) DROP COFFEE | STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
This café is ideal for digital nomads: strong Wi-Fi, lots of seating, and quiet space. The simple decor gives you a sense of ease and calm that is every bit representative of Sweden’s relaxed café culture. If you love their various origin beans, Drop offers six and twelve-month subscriptions in which you receive 250g boxes of beans delivered each month. Luckily, they ship worldwide.
11) LESS POLITICAL | HAMBURG, GERMANY
A small café in Hamburg’s hip Sternshanze neighborhood, Less Political is perfect for those looking to get some work done, or for those who are just there to stop in for a quick cup. The café is tucked away in a tiny street only a few minutes walk from the main road. Inside the café, they sell eco-friendly glass to-go mugs, minimalistic French presses, and light pastries.
12) THE BARN CAFÉ AND ROASTERY | BERLIN, GERMANY
The Barn Roastery in Berlin arguably makes the best coffee in the city. Known for their stark, minimalist interiors and high-quality beans, this place is for true coffee connoisseurs. If you’re searching for a fully immersive bean roasting experience, check out their Auguststraße location. Since roasting beans can get a bit noisy, check out their Schönhauser location for a quieter and more intimate feel.
13) CAFÉ SPERL | VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Have you seen Richard Linklater’s film, Before Sunrise? IT takes place in Vienna and Café Sperl was one of the places that the two main characters (played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) visited in the movie. When you go, the baristas know the exact seat of where the scene took place. If you can sit there, do it! Try to see the film before you go— I promise you’ll get even more wrapped up in Vienna’s traditional yet romantic café culture.
Cafés are the best when it comes to exploring Europe and getting a better feel for local cultures. If you love visiting cafés in Europe and elsewhere as much as I do, then I’d love to hear your favorites. Comment below with your favorite European cafés!
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