select - Café cities

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When you travel the world, head for the nearest café. Every coffee you enjoy is history and culture in a cup. Here are some of the world’s best café cities in which to watch the world go by.

 

Paris

Paris is dense with cafés, most famously along the boulevard Montparnasse and boulevard St-Germain, where they’re favoured by French writers, cinematographers, and politicians. Some of the famous cafés here, such as Les Deux Magots and Le Flore, are also associated with the French intelligentsia and artists. At the top end of town, head along the Champs-Elysées and rue de Rivoli; the best might be the very chic Café Marly between the colonnades of the Louvre Museum. You’ll find a completely different ambience in the student cafés around the rue Linné or the place de la Sorbonne and rue Soufflot. And don’t rule out museum cafés: the Pompidou Centre and Musée d’Orsay have particularly good ones. Fashionable department store La Samaritaine also has a good café with some spectacular views of Paris to accompany your brew.


WHY
The elegant outdoor terraces of the city’s cafés make the ideal grandstand from which to watch the drama of Paris unfolding over coffee.


WHERE
Located on a hairpin bend of the river Seine, Paris lies in the centre of northern France.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has 15 flights a week from Doha to Paris.

 


Rome

Italians prefer their coffee strong and sweet, espresso style, even though the rest of the world has embraced the latte and cappuccino with passion. The Italians are great café aficionados, and even the smallest piazza in Rome boasts a few tables where you can sit out under the flamboyant façade of a church or palace. But wander the finest squares and you’re in for the best café treat. Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo, looks fabulous illuminated at night, while Piazza Navona is a baroque beauty sporting a magnificent fountain by Bernini, where fashionable cafés are alive with chatter and inimitable Roman style. And around the Pantheon, the square is always full of life and a good place to linger at a café, watching the world go by with considerable Italian chic.


WHY
Café-hopping in Rome allows you to soak up the centuries of architecture and history that lie all around, while nibbling on an almond pastry.


WHERE
All roads proverbially lead to Rome, located in the central west of Italy on the Tiber River.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Rome.

 


São Paulo

Brazilians start their day with a short, black cafezinho at a street-corner bar, occasionally accompanied by a pastry. By afternoon, move on with the locals to cafés where you can ogle São Paulo’s high society and enjoy tartlets and macaroons; fashionable Rua Oscar Freire is the place for people-watching. At night, it's time to enjoy jazz and blues in places such as Café Piu Piu.


WHY
From the Brazilian Santo to Italian espresso, many people consider São Paulo to have the best coffee in the country.


WHERE
Brazil’s largest city lies in the southeast of the country in the highlands, some 70km from the Atlantic coastline.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to São Paulo.

 


Vienna

Legend has it that Austrians were the first Europeans to get their craze for coffee from the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, and many Vienna coffeehouses date back centuries. Some are simple affairs with creaking floorboards and dilapidated wooden furniture with a delightful fin de siècle atmosphere of spies, poets, and revolutionaries – the most famous is Café Hawelka in the old town. Others are imperial leftovers, complete with marble tabletops, gilded mirrors, and crystal chandeliers. Either way, they aren’t places for those in a hurry; locals can while away hours, reading the papers, playing chess, and discussing philosophy as they dig into sumptuous pastries. With a bewildering range of cakes such as apple strudel or rich Sachertorte with cream, there’s enough entertainment for your mouth to while away an entire afternoon.


WHY
Vienna is considered one of the world capitals of coffee, with more than 20 varieties, most famously served with generous dollops of whipped cream.


WHERE
The Austrian capital lies in the east of Austria on the Danube, near the Hungarian and Slovakian borders.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Vienna.

 


Melbourne

European-style café life first emerged in Melbourne’s Lygon Street in the 1950s and, once the espresso machine was introduced, there was no looking back for Australians. Coffee in Melbourne is almost universally excellent, even if it does go by such unexciting names as ‘short black’ and ‘flat white’. You can get your dose of caffeine in surrounding that recall Mittel Europa and the Mediterranean, accompanied by Hungarian cakes and Greek baklava. Many of Melbourne’s iconic suburbs – Richmond, St. Kilda, Prahran, and South Melbourne – have excellent coffee strips. In Carlton, Lygon Street (often referred to as Little Italy) remains a great place for those who love their coffee accompanied by delectable Sicilian pastries. South Yarra’s Chapel Street is the spot to perch outdoors and watch fashionistas teeter along the strip of boutiques and chic cafés.


WHY
Few would argue against the proposition that Melbourne has the best café scene in Australia, rich with the culinary influences of its many European and Middle Eastern immigrants.


WHERE
The Victorian state capital lies on Port Philip Bay in the southeast corner of Australia.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Melbourne.

 


Istanbul

Coffee houses in Istanbul are generally rough-and-ready places. Elegance is reserved not for the décor but pastries full of nuts and honey, with wonderful names such as ‘nightingale’s nests’ and ‘lady’s lips’. Enjoy them with coffee, which comes in minute glasses full of fine grounds. Sit among old men playing backgammon or reading the newspaper, and while away the time: Istanbul at its relaxing best.


WHY
Enjoy not just coffee but the rumbling of hookah pipes as customers sink into a postprandial haze in this ancient capital.


WHERE
Located on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul famously straddles Europe and Asia, with many cafés overlooking its famous harbour.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has 10 flights a week from Doha to Istanbul.

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