Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, with its one million plus visitors per year, is the most visited tourist attraction in Austria. Throughout its centuries of history, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has hosted many of Austria’s monarchs, particularly known for being the summer home to the Habsburgs. Stunning royal rooms decorate the interior of the palace, while the grand gardens surrounding it illuminate Schönbrunn exterior. Often compared to France’s Palace of Versailles (nicknamed a “mini Versailles”), Schönbrunn was the first place I visited during my time in Vienna. In this post, I will be informing you on all you’d ever need to know about this famous Viennese Palace!
Schönbrunn is open everyday of the year; the palace itself is open from 8am to 5-6pm (depending on the time of the year), and the gardens are open from 6:30am to 5:30-9pm (again depending on the time of the year). The palace is located just outside of the centre of Vienna, on the outskirts of the Austrian capital. Using St. Stephens Cathedral as a reference, Schönbrunn is about a 15 minute drive, 40 minute public transportation ride, and one hour walk away from the city centre. Click this link for specifics on how to use public transportation to get to the palace.
Visiting the palace grounds and a majority of the gardens is free, however visiting certain parts of Schönbrunn requires purchasing tickets. There are many ticket options available, which makes choosing which to buy quite difficult. The Imperial Tour, lasting 30-40 minutes, guides you through the state rooms and private apartments of the palace (22 rooms in total), for €14,20. The Grand Tour, lasting 50-60 minutes, guides out through the same as the Imperial Tour plus 18 extra rooms (40 rooms in total), for €17,50. The Classic Pass, said to account for three to four hours, includes access to the same as the Grand Tour plus the Privy Garden, Orangery Garden, Gloriette, and Maze, all for €24. Due to the short amount of time my family and I stayed in Vienna, we didn’t have too much time to spend at Schönbrunn, so we didn’t actually purchase any of these tickets and just explored the areas open to the public. Therefore, I can’t suggest any ticket options in particular to you; however I would recommend choosing which tickets to purchase based on how long you plan to spend at Schönbrunn and what in specific you’re interested in seeing.
The site of Schönbrunn was first home to a small estate back in the Middle Ages, before the decision was made to turn the area into the site of a huge palace! Constructed beginning in the mid 1700s, the present version of Schönbrunn was later renovated to its current appearance in the early 1800s. Over the years, Schönbrunn was used as a residence for the many monarchs of the area, until the fall of Austria’s monarchy in 1918. Once Austria was established as its own country, Schönbrunn officially became property of Austria and was turned into a museum, which it has been ever since.
Out of the 1441 rooms in the palace, only 40 are open to visitors through tours. These rooms, including the breathtaking state rooms and splendid imperial apartments, are all decorated with authentic furniture and decor. Many of the rooms on display were formerly occupied by iconic monarchs; one room in particular is Marie Antoinette’s room, where Napoleon once stayed in. Other notable rooms include the Mirrors Room, where Mozart performed his first concert; the Great Gallery, a massive room once used for banquets and balls; and the Millions Room, an astonishingly well decorated room.
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have much time to spend at Schönbrunn, so my family and I didn’t get to tour the palace or actually go inside it. Either way however, I wouldn’t have any photos to show of its interior, since unfortunately photos aren’t allowed inside the palace. I do wish I was able to tour the palace though, so hopefully next time I visit Vienna I’ll get the chance to come back to Schönbrunn Palace and tour it!
Made up of 1.2 kilometres east to west and 1 kilometre north to south (200 plus hectares in total!), the Schönbrunn Gardens are incredibly impressive. These Baroque gardens were created in the 18th century, with a similar geometric style to Salzburg’s Mirabell Gardens (though on a much bigger scale!). Schönbrunn’s Gardens were first opened to the public in 1779, and have been a popular recreational area for the Viennese and a popular tourist attraction for visitors ever since.
The south side of the Palace looks out onto the Great Parterre, a very symmetric and visually pleasing area. Leading out to all of the smaller parts of the garden, the Great Parterre is the largest open space throughout the gardens and is often thought of as the backbone of them all. The Neptune Fountain, a beautiful fountain & sculpture built in the 1770s, is often considered the most exceptional element of the Great Parterre.
Beyond the Neptune Fountain, atop a small hill, you’ll find the Schönbrunn Gloriette. Especially popular for the stunning views it offers of the palace and the Vienna skyline, the Gloriette is an icon of the Schönbrunn Gardens. Unfortunately I didn’t get to actually walk up to the Gloriette when I was at Schönbrunn, though looking back I really wish I would’ve!
Due to their close proximity to the actual palace, I really only got to explore the Great Parette and Privy Gardens during my time at Schönbrunn. Other noteworthy parts of the garden I didn’t get to see, however, include the Orangery, the world’s second largest Baroque orangery; the Zoo, the oldest one in the world; and the Palm House Garden and Botanic Garden, the last of its type built on continental Europe (which I really wish I had gotten to visit!).
As I visited Schönbrunn during the holiday season (quite a while ago now!), they fittingly had a Christmas/New Year Market going on at the time. This market, evidently located at the country’s largest palace in the country’s capital, is one of the best in Austria. The Schönbrunn Market is home to roughly 70 stands, located in front of the palace’s entrance, which circle a giant Christmas tree in the middle. Just like all of the fairytale markets throughout Europe, this Christmas market sells handmade notebooks, fragrant candles, unique toys, elegant pottery, and many more one of a kind things. The market’s many stands also sell tons of delicious, traditionally Austrian holiday treats and meals.
That brings us to the end of my first Vienna blog post! I hope you enjoyed. Have you ever visited Vienna, or Schönbrunn Palace in particular? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!