This might seem like an unusual pairing, but Schönbrunn Palace and the Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn) are actually in the same place! There’s quite a lot to see and do on a visit to this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. If you’re planning a trip to Vienna, a visit here would absolutely be on my “recommended” list.
This is an all-day visit location filled with things that suit me down to the ground. History? Check. Pretty things to look at? Yes. Food? Of course. Animals? Uh-huh.
Before we even get to the palace itself, I’m going to mention the Strudelshow again. This is where it’s located! On our visit, we toured the palace, wandered a little of the garden, had cake for lunch and an apple strudel sample for dessert. Shhhh… I was on holiday! I can have judgement-free cake followed by cake, it’s the law! And as it happens, you can read about the Strudelshow here.
We visited in early July 2017.
Getting to Schönbrunn Palace
The setting for Schönbrunn Palace and its extensive gardens is a little way out of Vienna’s centre. You’ll need to travel to get there, though it doesn’t take long on the U4. Catch the U-Bahn in the direction of Hütteldorf – just remember to have bought a ticket prior to boarding and please please make sure you’ve validated. Use the little stamping machines before heading towards the tracks!
Another swift mention of Otto Wagner here – and if you’ve been reading the earlier posts in this series you’ll know what I’m talking about. The U-Bahn station for Schönbrunn is another of his designs! During the 1970’s the Stadtbahn lines were converted into the underground system, with a handful of the original undergoing refurbishment. Though Schönbrunn has had some alternations (notably the lift), it’s still a pretty stop.
Oh – and if you wanted to tour through the remaining historical stations, this is the guide for you!
Schönbrunn Palace – Tickets
Let’s start with tickets. Get them in advance. Go early. Seriously. This is a popular attraction and even though we chose a 9am entry time, it was busy.
When you buy a ticket online, you’ll need to print out the paperwork that’s emailed to you. It contains a barcode + QR code combo that lets you scan through the turnstiles with ease. By booking in advance, you’ll get to skip the queues and avoid so much messing.
Naturally there’s a cloakroom where you’ll need to leave large bags. Unfortunately the queue for that one can’t be helped.
Booking in advance gives you an admission window of 30 minutes. Don’t be late! Online tickets can’t be exchanged or returned. Which begs the question, which ticket do I pick? Well, obviously that’s up to you. We chose the Classic Pass for €24 each.
This gave us access to the longer tour of the palace with an audio guide (just input the room numbers and listen!) along with the Privy Garden, Maze, Orangery Garden and the Gloriette viewing terrace.
If you’re only interested in the shorter, basic tour and none of the added extras, prices start at €14.20. Please be aware though that these aren’t in operation over the winter months. Double check the website for info!
The former summer residence of the Habsburgs impresses with imperial ceremonial rooms and magnificent gardens. | Wien.info
I know I often like to give dates and historical references, but this time I’ll avoid the urge to do so. Instead, read all about the history of Schönbrunn here.
For my part, I enjoyed the tour and was glad to have booked the extended version. The rooms are beautiful, authentically designed and with some original pieces in situ. Austrian history isn’t something I know overmuch about and I enjoyed finding out more in a gorgeous setting.
If you have the time and inclination to come to Schönbrunn in the first place, you really should take the slightly longer tour.
Added Palace Extras
The Privy Garden, Maze, Orangery Garden and Gloriette all close for winter. As you might have guessed, they’re mostly enclosed green spaces and perfectly pleasant for a wander around.
If you’re pushed for time, money or just have zero interest in small garden spaces, don’t worry. The only one here that I really feel you should see is the Gloriette.
And why? Well the view you’ll get over Vienna is impressive. If you’re visiting, you might like to know a little more about the structure itself, but really it’s all about climbing the steps to the top and looking out.
That being said, it’s only fair I mention it’s a bit of a walk up the hill to the top (depending on your route, it might dip into ‘mountain goat’ territory!). There is another way though – the Panorama Train!
A single ticket for the Gloriette will set you back €3.80.
Schönbrunn Gardens and Park
Visiting the park is entirely free! Open from 6:30am daily, you’ll be able to stroll at your leisure around the grounds, making this a great location for those visiting Vienna on a budget.
The park at Schönbrunn Palace was opened to the public around 1779 | Schoenbrunn.at
The well kept park is scattered with pieces of interest, from the Neptune Fountain (completed in 1780, above) to the picturesque artificial Roman Ruin and a perfectly manicured Japanese garden.
There’s plenty of detail all about these features on the Palace website, though don’t forget the water based ones won’t be operating in winter!
Palm House and Desert House
The pavilions contain different climatic zones: a ‘cold’ house to the north, a temperate zone in the central pavilion and a tropical zone in the south pavilion. | Schoenbrunn.at
Built between 1881 and 1882, the beautiful Palm House is an impressive structure, filled with lots of lovely greenery. The Desert House was built a little later, in 1904. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Desert House is filled with drought-resistant plants from three separate habitats – along with a few small animals and birds.
These two attractions are charged for separately (around €6 each), or as a combination priced at €9… or as part of a combi ticket with the Zoo for €24.50. However, it wasn’t possible to purchase the Zoo combi ticket online! In the end, whilst we pre-booked the Palace and Zoo (through Imperial Austria), we simply paid in cash at the Palm House for entry.
Yes! Schönbrunn also offers a Carriage Museum, a Children’s Museum (and find out about the lives of imperial children), and a round trip around the park with the Panorama Train! There’s also a Lindt shop located on the edge of the palace grounds… I just felt you should know.
Last but not least, let’s chat about Tiergarten Schönbrunn. A menagerie existed on the site since 1752, giving rise to the title “oldest zoo in the world”. At over 260 years old and with over 2 million visitors per year, it’s certainly a popular Viennese attraction.
You’ll find basic and essential information on their English language website, but for anything else (like blog updates, events etc) you’re better off with the native website and using the translation function in your browser.
I was fully prepared to be unhappy with an old zoo, but Schönbrunn clearly puts money into modernisation and development. Now I’m not saying it’s all shiny and new, but we did like it here. We were particularly pleased to see a really large Polar enclosure, with plenty of emphasis on education. It’s the way forward!
Clearly I was having a bit of a ‘panda’ and ‘bear’ day with the photos I took! Never the less, children will no doubt love it here. It’s open all year round too!
If you’d like to find out more about Vienna, there’s extra content over at Part One (Museums and the Stephansdom), Part Two (Cake, The Strudelshow and the Naschmarkt) and Part Three (The Prater and Other Things to See).