I’m a lover of all things Manali. Even though the beautiful town is teeming with tourists throughout the year, it is undoubtedly one of the happiest places in India.

In August last year, when I travelled through Manali, I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of cafes that had opened up in the town. Old Manali was so busy that I lost traces of it from my memory! I decided to go on a cafe-diet during my stay in Old Manali. And I loved wherever I ate and the people I met.

On my way to Manali
On my way to Manali

Drifters Inn and Cafe

The young and fresh Drifters’ Inn and Cafe is probably one of the most sought after B&Bs in Manali. The cafe is designed to make you feel at home with its warm, yellow mood light, reading material and board games. What worked for me was the strong wifi connection and the well stocked-up bar.

Drifters’ Cafe serves the best breakfast. Caution: It can spoil you! I chose the Sausages and Eggs and tried very hard to resist the Nutella Pancake. Do try the Veg Alla Rosso and the trout when you’re there.

As the name suggests, Drifters’ is synonymous to travellers. And it was unexpected how much the place lived up to its name. I stopped by at Drifters’ in one of my solo travels and I was amazed to see how warm and hospitable the staff were. I chatted with Rayo for hours while Ram helped me with my dinner decisions. They truly go out of their way to make your time in the place worthwhile. Drifting now seems a way of life.

~Stop by at the cafe during their acoustic gig nights.

Breakfast at Drifters' Cafe
Breakfast at Drifters’ Cafe

Cafe 1947

This is one of those rare cafes where you could probably sit for hours without eating anything! There is just so much to do here.

Located brilliantly by the Manalsu river, Cafe 1947 is a hangout for music lovers, book recluses and any creative enthusiast. It reflects the ideology of the founders of the cafe (both musicians) and the decor exhibit photographs of some of the most popular musicians.

Famous for its pizzas and burgers, I experimented with the risotto which was too much for my appetite but delicious. There is a lot to choose from on the menu and you should be ready to be baffled.

Cafe 1947 is a comfortable place to explore by yourself. You can read your book, sit out by the river to see the day go by. Or join the artistes while they’re tuning up a song. The choice is yours but be well prepared to come back to the cafe again.

~The evenings are special in Cafe 1947

My table at Cafe 1947
My table at Cafe 1947

Lazy Dog

It was a rainy evening when I walked into Lazy Dog to get a couple of beers and some crispy French fries. The tables outside were luring but the weather did not allow me to enjoy them.

The cafe is fairly young and hosts a large number of guests from families to solo travellers. The space and the service appeared a little disconnected to me though the food was appealing. If you enjoy fish, you should try the trout here. The cafe is ideal for an evening out with friends during a sports event over a couple of beers.

~The terrace/sit out is the main attraction and you will not regret it

The view from Lazy Dog
The view from Lazy Dog

Dylan’s Cafe

Best known for its cookies and pancakes, stop by Dylan’s Cafe (also known as Toasted & Roasted) for some of the best chocolate cookie you may ever taste. The sandwiches are also quite popular there. This cafe will serve you the best coffee and beverages without any frills in Old Manali.

~Overlooks the street and is a great way to meet fellow cookie-lovers

Tall Deodar trees
Tall Deodar trees in Manali

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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8 thoughts on “Best Cafes in Old Manali”

    1. Hi Sharmila,
      I’m glad you like the photos :) All the cafes mentioned are polite on the pocket. Say about 300-500INR maximum for drink+ meal except Dylan’s which would be approximately 100INR for a drink+snacks.

  1. Good one…will definitely keep in mind when i visit Manali again… Would have loved to get a bit more background on the people who run the place

    1. Thank you:) Nishant Singh from Delhi owns Drifters’ and Ankit Sharma from Shimla owns Cafe 1947. I got a chance to meet Abhishek, Ankit’s brother though didn’t get lucky with meeting Gopal Kaushik (owner Lazy Dog) and Eric and his team at Dylan’s :(

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