The former summer residence of Austria’s imperial family, Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most visited sites in Vienna. Set in a baroque complex that includes the palace, viewing terrace, gardens and mazes, Schloß Schönbrunn is well worth a day trip out from the city!
When I visited Vienna in Summer 2015, a trip to Schönbrunn Palace was always on my list of things to do! At various points in history an estate, hunting lodge and eventually the focus of court life for the Habsburg family, Schönbrunn is an important historical building… Also, it’s pretty.
Upon arriving at the site, you’re greeted with a wonderful view of the palace. The site itself is free to enter, so if you just want to take a look at the palace’s exterior, you can do so from here!
If you want to enter the palace, viewing terrace, gardens or mazes, you will need to buy a ticket. Prices for the palace range from €12.90 to €18.90, depending on how many rooms you want to see and whether you want to use an audio or real life guide. Tickets for the viewing terrace, gardens and mazes are extra, and range from €3.60 to €5.20. There are also various ways of combining tickets to make your trip a bit cheaper, so make sure to ask at the ticket desk!
Fortunately for me (though unfortunately for my bank account), I think if you’re going to something you may as well do it properly… So I ended up seeing the lot! On reflection, that may have been a bit much. However, if I was travelling with a group, I would probably do the same thing again, take a picnic and make a whole day of it.
One word of warning: when I visited it was hot. I mean, hot. And there’s not a whole lot of shade when you’re wandering from place to place! If you’re bringing a picnic, be prepared to spend a little while hunting down a patch of shade. Or just wrap your scarf around your head and style it out like I did.
My first stop was the palace itself. When you buy your ticket, you have to book a time slot to visit the palace… The queue was pretty long when I visited, so just be aware of that and make sure you’re in the queue before your time slot!
The interior of the palace is beautiful; all ceiling frescoes, gilded frames and mirrored walls. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take photographs inside the palace… But of course I got one sneaky snap! I risked it for the Great Gallery, which is truly spectacular.
After my tour of the palace, I headed to the Privy Garden. One of the oldest parts of the gardens at Schönbrunn, the Privy Garden is highly decorative, with flower beds imitating embroidery designs.
There are also trellis-covered walkways around the garden, and a viewing platform at one end.
Once I’d finished enjoying the Privy Garden, I headed to the Orangery. One of the largest baroque orangeries in the world, this is described as ‘the winter quarters for citrus trees’. Although visually less impressive than the Privy Garden, the idea of trees having seasonal quarters amused me enough to want to pay it a visit!
The Viewing Terrace
Keen to get a view of the palace from afar, I headed for the Gloriette, or Viewing Terrace, located on the far end of the site. Fairly typically, I took a bit of a long way round to get there… I’d like to say this was out of choice, but really I just have an appalling sense of direction and managed to get lost!
Still, my little detour took me to the Obelisk Fountain, so maybe it worth the possible heatstroke! Maybe not.
Intended as a symbol of the stability of the Habsburg dynasty, the Obelisk Fountain is covered in hieroglyphics that are supposed to tell the history of the Habsburg family… Which is a bit odd, seeing as the Fountain was built in 1777 and hieroglyphics weren’t deciphered until 1822! Regardless, it’s a pretty impressive sight.
Eventually, I did make it to the Viewing Platform (yay!). Built in a Classical style, the Gloriette is adorned with stone columns and statues of soldiers and beasts, and is of architectural interest in its own right.
The platform is also a wonderful place from which to view Shönbrunn Palace! Whenever I visit somewhere new, be it a city or site, I like to try and get up high to get a proper view. The Gloriette at Schönbrunn certainly fits the bill!
I finished my day with a trip to the palace mazes. There are two mazes, called The Maze and The Labyrinth… Someone had their creative cap on the day they named those! The Maze has a viewing platform at its centre, whilst the Labyrinth has games placed throughout. Neither are especially challenging, but both are a bit of fun!
So that’s Schönbrunn! If you’re visiting Vienna and fancy a day trip out of the city, I’d more than recommend it. The palace itself is beautiful, inside and out, and the gardens and grounds offer more than enough to keep you busy all day. I’d particularly recommend the Viewing Platform, for that lovely view of the palace!
Have you visited Schönbrunn Palace? What did you think? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section!