Live Free Hostels

A Live Free Guide to the Cafes of Rishikesh

There is no shortage of small cafes in the Laxman Jhula area of Rishikesh, and it can be really hit or miss just trying random cafes. Depending on what you need – good food, a beautiful view, the chilliest of chill vibes, real coffee, or simply WIFI, this list has you covered during your stay at Live Free Hostel.

Free Spirit Cafe

Free Spirit Cafe is a staple for anyone staying at Live Free. It’s right down the street, has great food and good vibes. There are a few window-side tables with a view of the Ganga and mountains, a few tables with floor seating, and a couple more tables with chairs. Chill out with a tea, or order some delicious (but not spicy) Indian food. The salads are also top notch if you are looking for some raw veggies.

Shambala Cafe

The Shambala Cafe is another cafe located a few minutes from Live Free with a great view of the river. There are two stories with floor seating and the standard menu – breakfast, tea and juices, Israeli, Italian, Mexican and Indian food. Like many of the cafes in Rishikesh, the Shambala Cafe has a different vibe during the day and night.

Expect a quiet, chilled out vibe during the day, and a packed house at night! Be prepared to wait a while for your food if the cafe is crowded. However, it’s worth it to stick around for the post-dinner jam session, where the staff will hand out instruments and join the guests in drumming, singing, and dancing the night away.

Little Buddha Cafe

The Little Buddha Cafe is well known in Rishikesh, and for good reason. It combines a great view of the Ganga with great food at a fair price, and you can expect consistency here. Walk up two flights of stairs to the cafe area, and cross your fingers if you want one of the tables by the window to get the best view.

Even if you are not one of the lucky few, don’t worry, the rest of the cafe soaks in the river air and sounds, too – you have glimpses of the beauty from every seat. The menu here is the standard of Rishikesh – Indian, Israeli, Italian, etc. but it’s a step up from some of the other cafes at the same price level. Chips and guacamole? Yes, please!

Chat Sang Cafe

Walking into the Chat Sang Cafe you might think you’re walking into a hip cafe somewhere in Brooklyn. There is a coffee station in the front with a proper espresso machine (hard to find in India…), and the garage-like room behind is filled with sleek wooden chairs and tables. There’s no WIFI here, so don’t expect a throng of digital nomads, but it is a great place to read, write, or just chill with your friends.

Even with real coffee, the most impressive thing about this cafe is the food. You can get a peanut butter banana smoothie, a “real” spicy masala (with green chillis!), and some thin crust pizza. The menu is slimmer than some of the other cafes, and slightly more expensive, but this is because the food is tastier and more intentional. There is only a view of the street here, but don’t let that deter you from a great meal and a good coffee.

Freedom Cafe

The Freedom Cafe boasts a spectacular view of the Ganga, perhaps the best view on our list. Located across the river a few minutes south of Laxman Jhula, you can observe a large stretch of the river and nearly the whole of the bridge.

The food here seems average, but this place is more about taking in the rush of the Ganga topped a sprinkle of horns from motorbikes trying to navigate the crowds and cows crossing the bridge.

Bistro Nirvana

Bistro Nirvana is up there with Chat Sang Cafe and Little Buddha Cafe on our list for best food. The location is a little off the beaten path (you need to walk on a twisty, mountain road for a few hundred meters, or grab an autorickshaw if you prefer) but the slightly non-pedestrian walk is well worth it.

It’s a large restaurant, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Outside are tables, where you will see locals smoking and playing cards, while the inside consists of raised tables with cushiony floor seating. There are a few bookshelves if you want to cozy up with a book for an hour or two as you eat.

The good vibes are only enhanced when your food does come, because it is proper Indian food as one local described it. Definitely go for the Indian food here since it is top notch, and make sure to get some galub jamun for dessert!

Frog Life Cafe

You could say the Frog Life Cafe is a hole in the wall with really tasty food, because that’s exactly what it is. There is a counter and a few stools cramped against the wall, and always a few stools half inside and half outside the cafe for more room, so be prepared to make some new friends.

It’s so cramped because most of the cafe is taken up by the kitchen! That’s right, the kitchen is right there, in the same room as you, which is great, because you get to see, hear, and smell the food being cooked up fresh after you order.

It’s breakfast only in the morning (tea, porridge, parathas, pancakes, etc.), and then you can get the full menu later on. The Frog Cafe is slightly less expensive than other cafes on the list, but you wouldn’t think it from the tastiness of the food.

Pure Soul Cafe

Pure Soul Cafe is where you go in Rishikesh to get your custom antioxidant smoothies, wheatgrass shots, and delicious cakes and sweets. Much of the food is plant based and unprocessed. The cafe has real coffee (though it could be stronger) and a wonderful view of the mountains.

There is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and you will likely find some yoga teachers in training hanging here during their down time. Go for the all-day breakfast (smoothie bowls, no eggs here!), one of the many health-packed smoothies, or the delicious sweets.

Choose another cafe from the list if you want Indian food, and choose Pure Soul if you want to detox and chill beside a green mountain view.

Kumar’s Cafe

Last but not least on our list is Kumar’s Cafe. Most people refer to Kumar’s Cafe as “that little coffee place”, and they know about it because it has the strongest coffee. It’s a small hole in the wall on a side alley, with a bench inside and some plastic chairs tucked into a corner of the alleyway.

Kumar’s uses real coffee beans and has an espresso machine. In addition to basic espresso drinks, you can order tea and choose from a selection of sweets. It is the tiniest cafe on our list, but it is the place we recommend if you need your morning or afternoon coffee fix.

Choose another cafe from the list if you want Indian food, and choose Pure Soul if you want to detox and chill beside a green mountain view.

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