The enormous Schonbrunn estate is one of the most-visited attractions in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Whilst many visitors flock here to see the magnificent imperial palace, you may be surprised to find that the complex offers much more to enjoy as well.
Whether you’re looking for a greater insight into Austria’s past, are craving a cultural fix, want to spend time in nature wandering through beautifully-manicured gardens, or would like to take the kids to a terrific zoo, there are many ways to enjoy your time at Schonbrunn!
Experience the grandeur from times gone by at Schonbrunn Palace
A splendid piece of architecture, the baroque gem of Schonbrunn Palace was home to Austria’s ruling family, the Habsburgs, for many years. Built in the latter part of the 17th century, it was at the heart of royal life. Stately and impressive from the outside, you can step inside to take a journey into the past and see how the ruling elite lived in times gone by.
Visitors can only enjoy the inside of the palace as part of a self-guided tour or with a guide; you can’t just wander around at will. You will be given an audio guide that tells you more about the building and the characters who once lived there. With interesting snippets of history, you can also learn more about the culture of those times and delve deeper into the intimate lives of the people who once reigned supreme over Austria.
Exquisite furnishings, grand portraits, unusual rooms with international themes, a sweeping ballroom, and dazzling chandeliers are just a few things you can expect on your enchanting journey through the palace.
The Imperial Tour offers a good oversight of the palace and its past. Covering 22 rooms and lasting for around 35 minutes, tickets cost 13.30 EUR (approximately 15 USD). Alternatively, for even more details and to see more superb rooms, take the Grand Tour. This costs 16.40 EUR (approximately 18.50 USD) and covers 40 rooms in around an hour.
Be captivated by some animal magic in Tiergarten Schonbrunn
Tiergarten Schonbrunn is one of the oldest zoos in the world. Home to lots of animals from all four corners of the globe, you can also enjoy picturesque walks, a ride on a zoo sightseeing tram (additional fees apply), and relax in one of the cafes and restaurants.
Animals are housed in large, clean, and well-maintained enclosures, and, despite its long history, the zoo is today quite a modern facility. It’s a fun place to spend a few hours, or longer, for anyone, although visitors with kids will find it especially great.
Animals in the zoo include beautiful and gentle giant pandas, cute red pandas, majestic elephants, strikingly-patterned leopards, polar bears, koalas … and much more besides!
Admission to Tiergarten Schonbrunn is 18.50 EUR (approximately 21 USD) for adults and 9 EUR (approximately 10.20 USD) for children.
Enjoy the warmth and beauty of the Desert House
Rather like a large greenhouse, the Desert House was designed on the orders of a previous emperor, Franz Joseph I. Originally built to house plants from South Africa and Australia, it now contains an eye-catching array of plants that are found in arid landscapes.
Creeping plants trail up and down a large jagged rock-face, small desert-dwelling birds flit between large leaves, cacti tower over the dusty ground, and you can see various plants and creatures that usually live in the world’s deserts. You can even watch small desert hamsters scuttling through an enormous collection of see-through tubes and chambers.
It costs 5 EUR (approximately 5.65 USD) to enter the Desert House.
Be transported around the world in the Palm House
Another great attraction for budding botanists, the Palm House at Schonbrunn contains large plants and flowers from different climates. You can wander from the cold house, through the temperate zone, and into the tropical pavilion, seeing how flora changes with the temperature and conditions. Some of the plants that grow in the Palm House are rare and the building itself is a striking and gleaming vision of glass and iron.
Admission to the Palm House is 5 EUR (approximately 5.65 USD).
Stroll through the pretty gardens
The large public garden at Schonbrunn is free for visitors to enjoy, and many locals come here to walk in the sunshine, jog, and perform other exercises in the fresh air. Take a wander yourself, enjoying the fabulous views of the palace at one end of the formal gardens and the Gloriette (a raised building in a garden) atop the small hill at the other end.
Although many of the flower beds were still being planted at the time of visit (March), it was easy to imagine how magnificent the garden would look when in full bloom. There are ornate flower beds, large patches of lush green lawns, and colourful flowers in pots. Proud statues also line the walkways, watching over visitors.
Other attractions at Schonbrunn
You can walk up to the Gloriette for great views down over the gardens and towards the palace. For even more sweeping views, you can climb to the top of the viewing platform (3.60 EUR / 4 USD).
A sightseeing train, the Panorama Train, ambles throughout the ground, stopping in front of places of interest, such as the Gloriette, the Desert House, and various speciality sections of the garden. A commentary explains more about the grounds, pointing out things that you may otherwise miss. A hop-on hop-off ride costs 7 EUR (approximately 7.90 USD) for adults, and 4 EUR (approximately 4.50 USD) for children.
Get lost in the intricate mazes, call into the Carriage Museum, grab a bite to eat in the onsite restaurant, and more!
Plan to spend at least a day at Schonbrunn to fully make the most of all the great attractions. Book your trip to one of Austria’s most-loved places and experience so much in one place.
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