Schanigärten – Typically Viennese Sidewalk Cafés

Vienna’s Summertime Sidewalk Cafés:

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Sidewalk Café © WienTourismus/Bryan Duffy

As sure as springtime brings on the blooms of Vienna’s flower gardens, summertime in Vienna sees something quite different springing up on Vienna’s sidewalks:  Between March 1 and November 15 each year, Vienna’s Schanigärten (sidewalk cafés) spring to life – around 1,800 of them.

So when the warm weather comes on, it’s common to see locals making a beeline for a Schanigärten, or sidewalk café. These temporary outdoor cafés add to the relaxed atmosphere of summer in the city.

Unlike the outdoor seating offered in the city’s countless restaurant gardens (Gastgärten), Schanigärten can be set up on public spaces such as squares, pedestrian zones or sidewalks. However, they have to be close to the catering premises and not obstruct walkways. Flower pots take the place of garden fences, with parasols providing shade from the summer heat.

How the Schanigärten Began

Vienna’s first Schanigärten opened in 1754 when Johann Jakob Taroni set up a covered lemonade stall on the Graben in the old town. The term “Schanigärten” is thought to have stemmed from this pioneer of the sidewalk café as Jean and its derivative Schani are short for the Viennese name Johann.

Another possibility is that in those days apprentice waiters were also often referred to as “Jean” or “Schani”.  And, many people believe that the term Schanigärten comes from the oft-repeated instruction: “Schani, take that out into the garden.”

These temporary Vienna cafés and bars are veritable oases for relaxation and are the ideal places to have a drink and bite to eat and chill out.  For the visitor, it’s a great venue to have a sightseeing break,  soak in the atmosphere and watch the Viennese go by.

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