It all began with a scoop of Tiramisu

After a month in Vienna one thing in particular stands out for American journalism student Gretchen Henderson, as she writes for The Local.

It all began with a scoop of Tiramisu
A Zanoni & Zanoni ice cream bar in Vienna. Photo: Zanoni

After being asked, “What flavour of gelato would you like?” my experience with frozen desserts changed forever.

Walking around Vienna, one is bombarded with an excess of ice cream parlours and pastry shops.

The calories and sugar are endless, as is the choice – from the apple streusel cake served at bakery Der Mann to a triple scoop of double fudge chunk gelato from the Zanoni and Zanoni ice cream bar. 

The flavours and choices are endless. The only challenging part of the delicious experience is choosing what flavour or pastry you will indulge in.

Walking in the First District, near Saint Stephens cathedral, I passed an ice cream cafe that even offered dairy-free sundaes suitable for the lactose intolerant, or vegans.

The creamery had a line of sugar-deprived people circling the building. After waiting 15 minutes for a scoop, I came face to face with the window holding the delicious treats.

I stared at the endless row of flavours and failed to make a decision. I did the only logical thing and asked the smiling man who was waiting to serve me for his suggestion. We decided on the Tiramisu gelato.

Upon taking a lick of the creamy treat, the first thought I had was, how can I pack this to take back home?

The man who had helped me decide what to have knew the exact questions to ask to narrow my choices down to a select few flavours.

“I learned to categorize the flavours into four sections. One for chocolate lovers. One for fruit lovers. One for customers with a sweet tooth. And one for the adventurous,” said Felix, an employee at Zanoni & Zanoni on Graben.

Felix has been working there for 12 years and has perfected the art of assisting indecisive customers with choosing a flavour.

“I first ask them their favourite candy. If it is chocolate, they are chocolate lovers. If it is a sweet or sour candy, they fall into the sweet tooth category,” he told me.

“Every Sunday my father would take my brothers and me to get a scoop of gelato. It was what I looked forward to every weekend and I have carried on the tradition with my own children,” Felix said.

“I hope I can make someone’s day a little better after a visit to the Gelateria.”

Conclusion to the day

Originating from Italy, gelato has become a summer tradition for many Viennese. Vienna is said to have the most ice-cream bars in Europe – and most of them are run by the descendants of Italian immigrants.

People can be seen all over the city holding a cone piled sky-high with gelato – and for many it’s a daily treat.

After speaking with an Italian tourist, I found out one of the reasons why gelato is so good. Gelato contains less air – making it richer than American ice cream. It also uses natural flavours and has less calories and butter fat. 

“Gelato is the conclusion to the day. You have to end a good day the right way,” said Petride, an Italian on holiday in Vienna.

Gelato is a classic dessert generally eaten after dinner in Italy, and thought to cleanse the palette. It is a way to wind down the day and relax with friends and family.

And happily, Vienna has adopted this tradition as well. Gelato can be found in numerous cafés and bakeries, as well as ice cream parlours. 

There are variations on how you can enjoy the satisfying treat, ranging from towering sundaes to a simple scoop.

For me it will always be a memorable experience from my time in Vienna.

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Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

It is easier to face the summer heat with a proper cold drink in your hands. Austrians know that well and have created (or made popular) several delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Here are five you should try.

Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

The debate of which is the perfect summer drink is undoubtedly a very controversial one.

While many people would argue that nothing can beat the Italian Aperol Spritz (which is also very popular in Austria), some would rather stay with a simple cold beer.

If you are team Spritz, then you should know that Austria has a love for things g’spritzt, with their own versions of sparkling drinks (with or without alcohol). However, for those who prefer a beer, the alpine country is home to several famous brands, including the Styrian Gösser, the Viennese Ottakringer, and Stiegl, from Salzburg.

READ ALSO: Five Austrian destinations you can reach by train to escape the heat

In any case, when living or visiting a new country, it’s always fun to try out the traditional dishes and, in this case, beverages.

Here are five drinks you should try during the Austrian summer.

Hugo drink summer drink austria

Hugo is a very popular (and sweet) summer drink in Austria (Photo by Greta Farnedi on Unsplash)


Some say this is the Austrian answer to the Aperol Spritz, but its sweetness from the elderflower syrup makes it quite different from the bitter bright orange Aperol.

There is also a bit of controversy as to where this drink, which Austrians love to drink during a nice summer afternoon, originates.

Internationally, it seems to be widely accepted that this alcoholic aperitif comes from South Tyrol, a German-speaking region of Italy with deep Austrian roots. Ask any Austrian, though, and they will tell that just proves the drink is from Austria.

READ ALSO: Eight ways to talk about the heat like a true Austrian

Italian or Austrian, the sweet drink is made with prosecco, elderflower syrup, seltzer and mint leaves. Serve it with lots of ice in a large glass, and you have a perfect summer drink.

white wine drinks party

Mix your white wine with sparkling water and you get a refreshing gespritzt (Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash)

weiß gespritzt

This is extremely popular, relatively cheap even in fancy restaurants, and somewhat controversial, but take some white wine and add a little sparkling water (sometimes ice) and you get a weiß gespritzt, or a g’spritzter.

READ ALSO: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer

Not everyone appreciates mixing your wine with water, but it makes for a refreshing and lighter drink. In Austrian restaurants, you might be asked whether you want a summer gespritzt, which means it has higher water content and, therefore, is lighter, or a “normal” one.

It is by no means an Austrian drink, and you may have to ask for a Weinschorle instead of a Gespritzter in Germany, but it is a popular drink in the German world.

gösser radler drink

Austrian brands sell some of the most popular Radlers in Europe (Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash)


A Radler is another drink that though not from Austria, is extremely popular here. Not only that but some of the most popular Radlers are sold by Austrian brands.

Traditionally, all you need to make a Radler is to mix beer and lemonade. However, the drink is also found bottled and sold by beer companies such as Gösser and Ottakringer. The mix has also expanded and you can discover Radlers with a citrus or berry mix.

READ ALSO: Austrian old folks toast success of ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ beer

It is a lighter and sweeter beer, perfect for enjoying the summer with a fresh drink that is not so alcoholic.

Mixing apple juice and sparkling water creates a perfect non-alcoholic summer drink. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)


Following the Austrian love for adding sparkling water to drinks, a very common and non-alcoholic beverage is the Apfelspritz.

It is a mix of apple juice and (you guessed it) sparkling water. It is popular in Biergarten as a non-alcoholic alternative, with kids joining in on toasts with their apple and soda mix.

The drink is also very common in Germany (where it is known as Apfelschorle), Switzerland and Hungary.

READ ALSO: Cash and Schnapps: A guide to visiting pubs and cafes in Austria

almdualer gerhard schilling

Almdudler’s CEO Gerhard Schilling holds a bottle of the traditional Austrian drink (© Philipp Lipiarski)


Another option for a summer light and non-alcoholic drink is the Almdudler, which is technically the name of the Austrian brand that sells the famous carbonated soft drink.

The drink is a blend of 32 “natural alpine herbs, beet sugar and soda water”, according to the website. It has a very distinctive logo and can be found in almost all Austrian households – being one of the most popular beverages in the country.

Did we forget about your favourite summer drink? Then let us know in the comments below or send us an email at [email protected]