What it’s like to visit Venice’s Caffe Florian, oldest cafe in Europe – Insider – INSIDER

Caffe Florian has been a Venice institution for 300 years — and is right on St. Mark’s Square.

Caffe Florian location
Caffe Florian is one of the most famous attractions in Venice.
AP Photo / Luca Bruno

Being in the heart of Venice, online reviewers have praised its location, where it just celebrated its 300th anniversary. Conde Nast Traveler calls it “a charming, if touristy spot.” TripAdvisor user Jane M. praised the “great location next to the square.”

The cafe suffered extensive damage during recent record flooding in Venice, but remains open.

Caffe Florian flooding
Heavy flooding in November 2019 caused extensive damage to Caffe Florian.
Simone Padovani / Awakening / Getty Images

In November 2019, photos showed the majority of the cafe underwater from flooding. However, the cafe posted a message on its Facebook page a few days later saying it was open.

Even before stepping inside, the crowds are evident.

Caffe Florian crowds outside
Being a major tourist attraction, crowds are ever-present at Caffe Florian.
John Greim / LightRocket via Getty Images

The word “touristy” features often in many reviews, such as on Caffe Florian’s own Facebook page

Visitors are greeted by well-dressed staff.

Caffe Florian waiters
Wait staff at Caffe Florian wear a “uniform” of white tuxedos and ties.
John Greim / LightRocket via Getty Images

In a review on Conde Nast Traveler, Andrea Whittle said of the waitstaff: “They can be a bit harried during peak tourist season, but otherwise they’re friendly, professional, and well-versed in multiple languages.”

In a five-star review for Yelp, another user said the staff’s level of service was “optimal.”

There are several rooms, or “halls,” to sit in — and they’re covered in art.

Caffe Florian walls
Art covers every wall at Caffe Florian.
Marco Secchi / Getty Images

Caffe Florian’s own website describes preserving the past with its decor — and it’s something almost every review praises. Overall, Caffe Florian has a TripAdvisor rating of 4.5 stars — out of five — for its atmosphere.

Some reviewers have said the seating is not as plush as it appears, however.

Caffe Florian seats
Caffe Florian’s seats have been described as uncomfortable by some.
Alessandro Albert / Getty Images

A number of TripAdvisor reviewers have called the seating “uncomfortable.”

The cafe’s coffee and desserts have earned high praise — but they’re not cheap.

Caffe Florian mug
Coffee and hot drinks are served in special mugs with Caffe Florian’s logo on them.
Probst / ullstein bild via Getty Images

In a Facebook review, Ann Wade said her October 2019 visit featured “the best cakes/desserts ever,” especially recommending the tiramisu. Also on Facebook, Thunthoch Laksulapan called it “like Mecca” for coffee lovers.

But the prices can be high.

As Maggie P. says in her Yelp review, a single flavored coffee cost €12 ($13.20). “Expensive,” writes Teresa Josephine Fleming in a Facebook review. “But you could see and taste why.”

A menu on Caffe Florian’s website states afternoon tea costs €34 ($37.50) per person, and cakes start at €18-21 each ($19.80 to $23.15) — and the prices don’t include service charges.

There is also a bar that does fancy cocktails.

Caffe Florian bar
Pomegranate cocktails are one of many drinks bartenders can make.
Marco Secchi / Getty Images

On TripAdvisor, Caffe Florian scores four stars out of five for its food and drinks. Lonely Planet says drinks are served on silver trays, while Conde Nast Traveler’s Andrea Whittle says Aperol spritz and Negroni are particularly popular cocktails, especially in late afternoon.

While eating and drinking, other diners might be wearing elaborate costumes, especially during Carnival.

Caffe Florian guests during Carnival
Costumed revelers snacking at Caffe Florian during Carnival season is a common sight.
Vincenzo Pinto / AFP via Getty Images

Venice is famous for its Carnival, which takes place each February or March. During this time, masked balls take place throughout the city, featuring revelers in historic costumes — and Caffe Florian is one of the centers of the action. During this time, it’s not uncommon to be sitting next to someone looking like they’ve time-traveled from the 18th century.

Art exhibitions and performances by an orchestra commonly take place — but they can cost extra.

Maori Venice Biennale Caffe Florian
Venice Biennale brings an especially diverse array of performances to Caffe Florian, such as appearances by Māori dance troupes.
Massimo Di Nonno / Getty Images

Conde Nast Traveler says a fee will show up on visitors’ bills if they visit while the orchestra is playing. That’s something TripAdvisor reviews highlight, too, pointing out a €6 ($6.62) fee if sitting down while a performance is going on. It’s one reason why Caffe Florian has a rating of only three stars (out of five) on TripAdvisor for value for money.