wine and cheese

A guide to Europe's most unique cafes

Often hidden in backstreets of the destinations called at during deluxe European river cruises, this list hopes to give those searching for a refreshment an insight into the gems that can be found.

Cat Café, Budapest

There are more than 10 cats residing in the café that are constantly awaiting the affection of guests. Visitors to the café can purchase a variety of beverages and sweet treats, as well as cat snacks, which are much appreciated by the café’s feline friends. Throughout the year, the café organises a number of events, including cat adoption days, as well as talks and shows with renowned personalities, which cat lovers are sure to enjoy. The venue will also help those looking to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, for a truly unique experience.

“The goal of Cat Café is to provide a place for the cat loving community where in the midst of a busy city our guests can come into contact with nice and friendly animals that would make their day or at least make them relax and be at peace while enjoying some delicacies.

“The rules of the house as well as the helpful personnel of Cat Cafe will help you to have the best experience enjoying your spare time with us. We are awaiting everyone who loves cats like us and wants to have a unique experience." - Cat Café

Café Neko, Vienna

Similarly to the Cat Café in Budapest, Café Neko is home to a variety of loveable furry characters. Located just two minutes to walk from the city centre and St. Stephens Cathedral, this wonderfully decorated café is the perfect tranquilising experience. Each cat’s profile is included on the menu, alongside the variety of tasty delicacies, which can help you to get familiar with the residents of the café. Cat toys are provided so that you can play whilst you wait for your food and drinks, or watch them as they sleep in the café where they please.

“Here at Café Neko there are five cats, who have been specially selected from more than 700 cats in an animal shelter, and are all looking forward to seeing you. We also offer some fantastic Japanese specialities, such as rice balls or green tea ice cream for you to enjoy." - Café Neko

Books and Brunch, Bruges

This cute and quirky café is nestled on the outskirts of the city centre, with a modest exterior that doesn’t give too much away about what can be expected inside. The interior boasts pretty pastel colours, patterned tiles and open brick work, with walls covered in shelving for the thousands of books that line them. Book worms will want to come here to relax with their head in a paperback, while enjoying the delightful food and drink served by the welcoming staff.

“The combination of different kinds of breakfasts, light lunches (salads, sandwiches and seasonal specials) and our used-book store, create a relaxing atmosphere. We like to surprise with tasty, healthy food, and we have organic and vegetarian options, which are always available.

“As for drinks we offer freshly ground coffee, latte, cappuccino, fresh tea, homemade lemonade and ice-tea. The books are a mix of all genres of non-fiction and fiction, and our range includes English and French books too. We also supply free WiFi and charging points for your laptop, phone and tablet. See you in Books & Brunch soon!” - Books and Brunch

Café Brecht, Amsterdam

Cafe Brecht is a Berlin style bar in the centre of Amsterdam, and is a small tribute to the writer Bertholt Brecht who lived most of his life in the German city. Offering shabby chic décor, with super friendly staff, it’s great for those who like somewhere a little alternative to enjoy a refreshment. The café is very popular and takes no reservations, but feel free to drop in as you wander around the charming city of Amsterdam if you fancy a German beer or sausage.

“The interior of our café gives the atmosphere of an early 20th century middle European living room, and you will find comfortable sofas, bric-a-brac, wallpaper and tea cups you are only likely to see while visiting your grandmother.

“Our food menu contains a range of Italian Piadina sandwiches and various Dutch and German bites, and we also offer a unique range of drinks like rare German craft beers, contemporary European cocktails and creative alcohol-free drinks. In short we see Cafe Brecht as a modern dive into old European culture.” - Café Brecht

Wash & Coffee, Munich

Doing the laundry can be a rather mundane chore, but that need not be the case anymore, with a visit to Wash & Coffee. It is the first launderette of its kind, with an integrated café courtesy of Bosch and Persil from Henkel, and offers visitors the opportunity to clean their clothes, while enjoy a refreshment at the same time. There is also professional advice on machine washing and drying to hand, with high-quality laundry brands and products to choose from.

“We feel that tourists should visit because you can wash your laundry, lounge, have a coffee, chat, leaf through a magazine, surf the internet and enjoy a bit of ‘you time’, all while in one place.” - Wash & Coffee

Boulder Bar, Prague

This is one for the more adventurous, as not only does the Boulder Bar serve great food and drink, it also has its own climbing wall, which visitors are encouraged to take advantage of. Even if you are a novice, the staff are very enthusiastic and will be more than happy to take you through the basics. The cafe also offers many type of coffee and tea, snacks, tortillas, and homemade cakes, which are perfect for refuelling after a busy hour or so climbing.

“Boulder Bar in Prague-Holešovice is unique place where you can find both a cafe with a pleasant atmosphere and a modern climbing wall – all in one. Our 700m2 climbing wall is a bouldering wall, which means that you climb without a rope but are instead protected by the mattresses all over the ground.” - Boulder Bar

Screaming Beans, Amsterdam

With numerous rave reviews on Trip Advisor, the Screaming Beans café is one not to be missed by those visiting Amsterdam. The cosy environment will certainly be appreciated, and as for the coffee, it is regarded as some of the best in the city, with the café sourcing, selecting and serving its own coffee beans.

“Providing the ultimate experience to our guests is what we do, by serving perfect coffee, salads, sandwiches, hot & cold small meals (also take-out) and pastries from early morning until long after lunch at the Hartenstraat and Haarlemmerstraat. Of course our coffee tastes great on the go as well, for those in a rush to tour the sights of the city.” - Screaming Beans

Ruin Pubs, across Budapest

While not strictly a café, these wonderful pubs offer a different experience to many of the establishments mentioned above. Housed in previously closed or rundown buildings, these distinctive bars have a certain charm, which is hard to match elsewhere. For example, visitors can enjoy a drink in a cannibalised old Trabant car, or feel the atmosphere of a socialist beer-garden during the 1980s when visiting one of Ruin Pubs’ vast variety of venues.

“The beginning of the 21st century was an exciting turning point in the nightlife of Budapest: in the central area of the city new places were opened one after another in tenement houses and factory buildings doomed to destruction. These were equipped with rejected furniture of old community centres, cinemas, and grandmothers’ flats, bringing a retro feeling into these places. They were soon called ruinpubs and became popular very fast among the youth of Budapest - ruinpub is the exact translation of the Hungarian name.” - Ruin Pubs

Image Credit: Books and Brunch, Cat Café, Café Brecht

This content was written by Angela Sloan. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.