Ice-cream is generally not the first thought people have about Vienna, but the Austrian capital actually has a long tradition of serving this delicious treat. In the 19th century, migrating Italians brought their creamy gelato with them, and it was so popular that it has been part of the city’s summers ever since.
There are literally dozens of eissalon, or gelaterias, around Vienna. It would be impossible to find the best one – and it might cause no small amount of disagreement among locals, who each have their favourite. If you want to join in the debate, you’ll have to visit at least some of them – such a difficult task, but it’s a cultural experience, right?
Eis Greissler (Eis-Greißler)
This is one of the big names in Viennese ice cream at the moment, and if you saw the menu, you’d soon understand why. There are dozens of flavours, with vegan options and allergen information clearly labelled, all made fresh without any additives. The milk comes from just 45 cows on an organic farm, and it becomes anything from goat cheese and blueberry to white chocolate. Even seasoned regulars have something to look forward to with unusual specials like elderflower, asparagus, or garlic.
The 2 Vienna stores are located at Rotenturmstraße 14, open every day from 11am to 11pm, and at Mariahilfer Straße 33, open from 11am to 9pm from Monday to Thursday, and otherwise from 11am to 10pm.
Tichy is one of the longer-running ice cream shops in Vienna, having first opened in 1952. It’s a family-run business that’s well into its second generation of frozen confectionery experts. It’s most famous for its Eis-Marillenknödel, their ice cream-based version of Marillenknödel, balls of pastry filled with apricot. Tichy’s version is rolled in pieces of caramelised hazelnut – accept no substitutes.
Like many ice cream parlours, the Reumannplatz-based shop is closed for the winter season, from October to February. Expect long queues in summer, when it’s open from 10am to 11pm.
Schelato is a newcomer on the scene, but it has already cemented itself as a favourite among the younger crowd. The organic ice cream is made in the basement, which is practically a mad laboratory; it has produced flavours such as blue cheese, celery, and beetroot and poppy seed. This creativity springs from the imaginations of the owners, formerly from the film and fashion industries. If something like pomegranate and basil is a bit much for you, though, they also have salted caramel, chocolate, and fruity, vegan-friendly sorbets.
Even the decoration in Schelato, located at Lerchenfelder Straße 34, is trendy – the wall of plants is a particularly interesting touch. It’s open every day from 12pm until 9pm, and serves savoury snacks, locally-roasted coffee, and local gin and vodka.
Ice Dream Factory
If the name didn’t give it away, one look at the décor will reveal the Dream Factory’s American influence – stylish, retro and very New York. Their philosophy is what dreams are made of, aiming to make ice cream in a fun, homemade, natural, vegan, eco-friendly, and honest way. They’ve certainly got the first part sorted, with the intriguingly-named “Mother’s Nightmare”, “Monkey Chocolate” and “Trash Can” (which is full of popping candy, mini marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles…). Found at Burggasse 68, the Ice Dream Factory serves their flavourful fantasia from 12pm to 9pm on weekdays, and from 10am to 9pm at the weekend.
Zanoni & Zanoni
Zanoni & Zanoni offers both quality and space, so if you want ice cream and a guaranteed place to sit, here is your best bet. The premises have a modern look, and their extent is only matched by that of the menu. The ice cream includes flavours such as chestnut, poppy seed, and ricotta, with vegan options and frozen yoghurt available, too. Then there are the cakes, affogati, pastries, and sandwiches.
Another draw is that this parlour, at Lugeck 7, is open every day from 7am to 12am and all year round. Orders from the bilingual menu are taken electronically and service is fast.
Ice Cream Salon Tuchlauben (Eissalon Tuchlauben)
Austrian milk and high-quality ingredients have made Eissalon Tuchlauben a favourite since 1962, when it was opened by an Italian family. They honour tradition in their ice-cream and in their interior, which has an old-fashioned cosiness to it. The service is fast, but the parlour is small, so tables are a rare commodity – if you want iced coffee, pancakes or cake on the premises you’ll likely have to wait.
This salon, located at Tuchlauben 15, is another that closes for the winter, and it operates reduced hours during March and October – 10am to 8pm every day except Sunday, when it opens at 11am. Between April and September you can get your ice-cream fix between 10am and 11:30pm, except Sunday, when it also opens at 11am.
Ice Cream Salon at Schwedenplatz (Eissalon am Schwedenplatz)
Eissalon am Schwedenplatz is also a family business, but it has been running a little longer – since 1886. Their ice-cream is particularly creamy, and it has offered a prodigious number of flavours over the years: lavender, coriander, halva, kiwi, nectarine, pumpkin, apricot, redcurrant and quark-mustard, to name a few. Who knows what will be available when you visit? Frozen yoghurt and vegan options are also available, from 10am until 11:15pm every day at Franz-Josefs-Kai 17, from mid-March until October.
Gelateria Hoher Markt
With just 20 years under its belt, Gelateria Hoher Markt has done well to cement itself into Viennese ice-cream culture. Known also for its coffee, there’s a café area which offers various breakfast options, and ice-cream creations – shakes, cakes, and even pizza. If the 30 or so flavours of ice-cream and sorbets seem bewildering, you can taste a few to help you make up your mind between things like pistachio, straciatella, walnut, orange, chestnut, and the mysterious Mou Mou or Croccolino. Found at Hoher Markt 4, the gelateria opens from 8:30am until 11:30pm except Sundays, when it opens at 10am.
Veganista Ice Cream
Unsurprisingly, Veganista is a vegan ice cream specialist. The two shops, at Neustiftgasse 23/3 and Margaretenstrasse 51, both open from 12pm to 10pm and offer 18 flavours made fresh, daily. The owners, 2 sisters, make an effort to use local and organic produce when possible, and offer entirely biodegradable tubs and spoons. Expect the same variation as elsewhere, with classics like strawberry next to innovative flavours such as basil. Their bestseller is “the inbetwiener”, an ice-cream sandwich that cleverly incorporates the name of the city, and is available gluten free.
With all the options that are available, there’s almost no reason why you shouldn’t get an ice-cream or three. Good luck with your taste testing!