Vienna

Journey to Vienna for a heady blend of flamboyant architecture and grandiose palaces!

Vienna is a city whose fortunes have waxed and waned over the years. Seat of the Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, the city's imperial past is everywhere to be seen. Vienna's current population (1.8 million) is still below that of its pre-World War I levels, when the city was in its heyday.

Air France flights to Vienna from Johannesburg or Cape Town run the year-round as Vienna is a delight to visit even in the snowiest depths of Winter, with Christmas-time being particularly atmospheric (although airplane tickets may be expensive). To boot, the famous Viennese Ball Season reaches its peak in January and February.

Your holiday starts on arrival at Vienna International Airport , 18 km outside the city. Trains, buses, taxis and the suburban rail network, the S-Bahn, all make the journey from the airport to the city centre.

The Innere Stadt, Vienna's Old Town, which lies within the Ringstraße, the ring road that follows the trace of the old city walls, contains most of Vienna's top tourist sights. Many of these are intimately connected with the Imperial rulers of Vienna, the Hapsburgs, including the Hofburg Palace, the Albertina, which houses a huge collection of drawings, paintings and prints, St. Stephen's Cathedral, containing the remains of 72 members of the family and the Burgtheater founded by Empress Maria Theresa, which saw the world premieres of three Mozart operas, including the Marriage of Figaro. The Hapsburgs' main Summer residence, the Schönbrunn Palace, is Vienna's most visited tourist destination. A hugely popular zoo (the world's oldest public zoo) and four glasshouses containing a variety of plants from all around the world are also located in the grounds.

Vienna's massive expansion in the fifty years following the removal of the old city walls in 1857 saw a flourishing of new architectural styles to add to the baroque creations exemplified in churches like the Peterskirche and the Karlskirche, not to mention the Belvedere palaces (a UNESCO World Heritage site which now houses an important collection of Austrian art, including Klimt, Schiele and others). Art nouveau architecture, featured strongly, as constructions like the Kirche am Steinhof and the Secession Building demonstrate.

Classical music, museums and possibly the best chocolate cake to be found anywhere on the planet - Vienna has it all!

Vienna has been home to a remarkable succession of musical talents - Schubert, Johann Strauss the elder, Johann Strauss the younger, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler were all either born here or worked here. Not surprisingly, there are multiple opportunities to listen to top-quality classical music performances in the city, notably in the Wiener Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic.
There are a number of must-see museums that you should try to visit during your stay. Many are given over to the impressive art collections amassed in the city over the years, including the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Leopold Museum, but there are others that will appeal to non art-lovers, such as the Haus der Musik, an interactive music museum and the Technisches Museum Wien technology museum.
If you're hungry after all that culture, then Vienna is a great place to stop for a coffee and a slice of cake. Coffee houses are a great Viennese tradition, and almost as famous are the pastries and desserts that are served in them including
  • Apfelstrudel (apple strudel)
  • Sachertorte (chocolate cake)
  • Knödel (fruit dumplings)
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Before you set out, it's worth looking at the travel documentation section of the Air France website. You may also find some helpful information on accommodation and car rental on the same site.

Prepare your stay in Vienna by getting the low-down on the city through these websites!

This selection of websites will ensure your trip to Vienna goes without a hitch:
Bmeia.gv.at
Transportation urbanplanning