A Guide to the Best Cafe's In Rishikesh

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Rishikesh is a place I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know and call home.

The region, known by many for its yogic culture and proximity to the Ganga, plays host to a wonderful community of nomads, way-showers, thought leaders, musicians, and weekend warriors from all across India and the world.

The river Ganga, and it’s refreshingly clear icy waters, weaves it’s way through the heart of Rishikesh, making the area an even more exploration-worthy destination. I highly recommend a visit to anyone seeking community, time in nature, and a place to reflect.

A seemingly never ending stream of beautiful cafes have popped up on either side of the Ganga, catering to the diverse selection of visitors frequenting this holy place throughout the year.

After weeks of exploring and meeting friends, new and old, in different cafes, I settled on a few favorites that suit just about any mood. Many of these sanctuaries overlook the river that has become so special to me, offering a place to socialize, eat amazing (vegetarian) food, work, read, listen to music, and do virtually anything else that you’d desire in a cafe.

Rishikesh’s Best Cafes

Though I left many unexplored, here are some of my favorites: 

The Ganga View Cafe

Though the name may not be very original (and there are several others with the same), this cafe was my absolute favorite in Rishikesh.

The seating area is witness to beautiful river views, and a wonderfully friendly environment welcomes you every time you enter. If you visit the Ganga View a few times, you’re likely to see many familiar faces as testament to the cafe being a community favorite.

I came to love the tamed busy-ness of this place. Everyone is exceptionally accommodating, making space in the always overcrowded seating area to make sure newbies feel welcome.

If you go in, ask for Gopi and tell him Varun sent you. I’d be willing to bet that you’ll be greeted with a heart melting smile, a hug, and a cappuccino to go with the best vegan banana cake you’ll ever eat. 

Go For: meeting friends (new and old), excellent views, good coffee/desserts

Where: Laxman Jhula, near the Neelkant Taxi Stand

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Cafe Steps

Steps is located near my favorite riverside beach (where I spent A LOT of time) in Laxman Jhula. The place immediately felt like home, and was somewhere I returned to nearly every day I was in Rishikesh.

Perched atop a lovely art gallery, it was a wonderful spot to break from the busy-ness of the nearby main strip (chalk full with street vendors, shops, ashrams, etc.).

Steps is quiet, clean, and possessive of the the nicest toilet I’d used in months. It offers a sense of tranquility that I found to be unrivaled by any of its counterparts.

Surrounded by greenery and a glimpse of the Ganga, it’s a perfect place to shelter from the sun in the afternoons. They have wonderful coffee (pour-over, cold brew…the works), and and a staff that I came to know and love.

For a cherry on top of the cake, Steps is one of the only places you can go to fill up your water bottlesfrom a filtered unit. I love the fact that the cafe is all about sustainability, something that is much needed in a place that is becoming increasingly polluted.

Go For: filtered water fill-ups, amazing (crepe-like) pancakes, fantastic coffee, peace and quite, a beach detour.

Where: 150 meters from Laxman Jhula

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Tree House Cafe

This cafe is literally a tree house, with a beautiful specimen jutting through the middle of the main sitting area (a primary reason it made my list of favorites).

I found that the cafe has cultivated arguably the best community atmosphere in Rishikesh. In the evenings many people convene, after returning from their daily adventures and practices, to sing, chat, and hop their way to a good time.  

On most nights, you’ll find a music circle chock full of drums, flutes, and guitars, and potential dance partners.

Go For: the community, the lemon nana (frozen mint lemonade), and the music.

Where: Laxman Jhula, opposite the Govt. Hospital

Royal Cafe

The Royal Cafe isn’t, in my opinion, aptly named. It’s a really laid back place with a charming sit-out balcony that has an excellent river view.

The thing that brought me back here again and again was the live music. The Royal has the most consistently pleasing tunes, hosting one of the many musicians who make Rishikesh their home every night at 7:30 pm. 

Go For: the music and the views

Where: Laxman Jhula Road

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Freedom Cafe

Freedom offers really good value for money, with lots of food and a rather overwhelming selection of it.

They are uniquely suited to please the many vegan visitors of Rishikesh, whilst also serving some of the best omelettes in a place where I didn’t find eggs too easy to come by. 

The staff have a brotherly vibe and are really playful, making it another location at which I found it easy to make new friends.

The views here are amazing!

Go For: the Ganga (and sunset) views, food variety (with great/extensive vegan options)

Where: Laxman Jhula Road, very close to the entrance of the Royal Cafe

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Honorable Mentions:

As I mentioned, there are A LOT of cafes to choose from in Rishikesh. All of my favorites tended to be around Laxman Jhula, but there are many lovely spots elsewhere where you can grab a bite. Here are some honorable mentions that I couldn’t, in good conscience, omit completely:

The Little Buddha Cafe

Go For: tree-house vibe, good pizza

Where: near Royal & Freedom Cafes

The 60’s Cafe

Go For: being a Beatle’s fan, nice views

Where: Tapovan

Divine Cafe

Go For: dessert

Where: Badrinath Road, Tapovan

Bistro Nirvana

Go For: any of the indian menu-items

Where: Tapovan

Cafe de Goa

Go For: views, people watching, juices

Where: Tapovan, very close to the Laxman Jhula bridge

Taste Kitchen

Go For: sunsets!

Where: Tapovan

For The Best Street Food visit:

The Momo & Falafel Stand outside the entrance to Royal/Freedom Cafe’s

There is some amazing street food destinations in the area, but this place was far and away atop the list of those that I tried. For 50 rupees (less than 1 USD), you’ll get a whole load of delicious street chow including: noodles, falafel, and the best momos around.

If I missed any of your favorites, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment to help out your fellow travellers!