Austrian Breakfast Demystified

Austria is a big breakfast country; many Austrians are obsessed with the idea that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day and at least on weekends, they tend to celebrate breakfasts rather extensively. This is also reflected in the way hotels present their traditionel "Austrian Breakfast" - as if it was fundamentally different to other European breakfast traditions. To say it in a nutshell: This is not the case.

The traditional Austrian breakfast comprises of: Semmeln (a type of breadroll; singular: Semmel); butter; coffee (not tea, although hotels these days almost always offer tea as well); muesli (often more than one kind); cold cuts (ham, sometimes smoked bacon called Speck or Schinkenspeck, cut sausages); boiled egg (rarely scrambled eggs, even though the same thing applies as for tea: tourists are often offered a scrambled variation); cakes and pastries (such as Danish buns); jams (not marmalade, although the Austrian term for jam is misleadingly "Marmelade"); and orange juice. The range of each of these items and the quality matches with the hotel category. In a four star hotel, you can typically expect an impressive "Austrian breakfast" buffet.

A different story is the "Viennese Breakfast" that you can often get as a set in cafes. This type of Austrian breakfast is usually served in portions for a single person and comprises of a Semmel, jam (often apricot), coffee (typically a Melange), butter and a glass of orange juice. Sometimes you can opt for ham and cheese instead of the jam and boiled eggs commonly round up the offer.

In any case, we believe that the "Austrian Breakfast" is in fact not all that different of what is called the "Continental Breakfast" in an international context. It′s just that like many nations, Austrians like to feel special and thus created the brand "Austrian Breakfast" out of (almost) nowhere. A genuinely national breakfast would - in our opinion - be the English Breakfast, which does comprise of a set of items generally not sold in this combination elsewhere.

Let us finish the article with some good news: In general, even three star hotels do breakfast buffets with "Austrian breakfasts" that come at a quality significantly higher than what you get in many other countries in Europe. The Austrian breakfast culture and the importance of tourism for the national economy surely did have a positive impact on that matter.


Bed & Breakfast (Pensionen) in Austria
Wikipedia on Austrian Breakfast


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