Café Tomaselli – The oldest café in Austria

The Tomaselli must be almost as old as the tradition of coffee drinking in Europe.


Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and inextricably linked to the history of music as Mozart’s birthplace. Salzburg’s Altstadt (historic centre) is famous for its Baroque buildings and is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. During your visit to the town make sure to visit the renowned Café Tomaselli on the Alter Markt. It is the oldest coffee house still in operation in Austria and its history goes back to 1700. It has been owned by the Tomaselli family since March 12, 1852.

Photo by Diego Delso

The French-born Johann Fontaine obtained trade law approval to sell chocolate, tea and coffee on the 31st of March in 1700 (although for many years it was believed to have been founded in 1703) and opened his first shop in Goldgasse, which was not yet a real coffee house, but primarily a meeting place for students. In 1764, the rights to serve coffee were acquired by Anton Staiger, who founded the café at its current location and named it “Staiger”. He turned the coffee house into an elegant establishment for the upper class. Even Mozart was a frequent guest here, as he noted in his writings. In 1852 Johanna Staiger sold the café to the confectioner Carl Tomaselli, son of the tenor Giuseppe Tomaselli from Milan.

Photo by Andreas Praefcke – Eigenes Werk

During your visit here you will feel that you are traveling back in time. The furniture, the crystal chandeliers, the waitresses in white aprons (the cafe is one of the few places where this costume tradition continues), the cart with the desserts carried from table to table and the newspapers of the day on wooden bases, are some of the elements that will transport you to another era of luxury and elegance. It is certain that sometimes the place becomes touristy and noisy but it never loses its ambience. If you arrive here early in the morning (the place opens at 7 o’clock) you will see the regular clients enjoying their cup of coffee and reading the morning newspapers.

But apart from the unique and authentic atmosphere, one more good reason to visit this place is to try their delicious desserts. Here you could taste one of the best Sachertorte (Viennese chocolate cake) but also some of the in-house specialties such as the unique Erdbeerschüsserl (made from sponge cake, chocolate and whipped cream, vanilla cream, redcurrant jam and fresh strawberries) and the crescent-shaped biscuits (made from butter pastry with walnut filling and sugar-rum icing). But most visitors come here to taste Tomaselli’s famous Apple Strudel. It is consists of several layers of thin phyllo filled with apple, rum, pieces of bread, raisins and rum. According to the tradition of the café every layer is so thin that you could read a newspaper through it. This is why they serve it only with a fork because if you need a knife to cut it, the strudel is a failure.

In our opinion, no visit to Salzburg is complete without a cup of coffee at Tomaselli, either indoors during the winter or on the outdoor terrace in the summer. It is a great way to understand the Austrian coffee culture. In Austria, people not only drink coffee as a quick take away, but it is a drink that is an essential part of their culture.

*[Photo at the top by OS on Flickr]

Visit our website category Europe for more unique suggestions