A Guide To Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace

The back entrance of the palace
The back entrance of the palace | © joenevill / Flickr
Culture Trip

The palace of Schönbrunn is the epitome of Viennese extravagance. Walking through the garden’s seemingly never ending pathways, dressed with carefully pruned trees towering on either side, it is easy to imagine life back in imperial times, when the palace housed the Austro-Hungarian empire’s now-defunct monarchs. Standing at the obelisk gates, you can see the grandeur of the grounds extending all the way up to the arch of the Gloriette – a monument perched proudly atop a 60-metre hill, adorned with an imposing golden eagle representing the Labours of Hercules.
The history of Schönbrunn fascinates tourists and locals alike, so much so that it has become Vienna’s most popular attraction. Schönbrunn Palace and its vast grounds are considered one of the most important historical and architectural monuments in the whole of Austria.

The estate used to be called Katterburg, only becoming known as Schönbrunn (which translates as ‘beautiful spring’) in 1642. Austria’s most prominent dynasty, the Habsburgs, acquired the land in 1569, originally using it as a hunting ground, eventually transforming it into the sprawling 1.5sq km (1 sq mi.) estate we have today. Maximilian II was responsible for its acquisition and was primarily interested in developing the space for breeding game – keeping many ‘exotic birds’, such as turkeys and peacocks.

The magnificent Gloriette at sunset

Exploring the grounds

There are many different ways to explore the palace, with packages offering varying levels accessibility. The Imperial Tour allows you to see inside the apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife ‘Sissy’, as well as the Great Gallery. Those interested in a more in-depth look at the history of the complex may prefer the Grand Tour which allows access to over 40 rooms.

If visiting Vienna in the winter months, there is a special pass which covers the Grand Tour and admission to the world’s oldest zoo, which is also in Schönbrunn Palace Park.

Drinks and nibbles

If peckish during your visit to the palace, there are numerous cafes and restaurants dotted conveniently around the grounds. The Cafe Residenz is a quintessentially Viennese joint, offering an array of traditional cakes and desserts, as well as many savoury meals. Another reason to visit is the hourly apple strudel show, giving you a chance to watch professional bakers craft Austria’s most famous traditional dessert.

The Cafe Gloriette is another fine choice for visitors in need of a pick-me-up after climbing the 60m (200 ft.) hill up to the monument, which boasts beautiful views of the city. Those wanting to experience the imperial high life can enjoy the Sissi Buffet – a plush spread of fried bacon, sausages, kaiser rolls and smoked salmon, topped off with a glass of Prosecco.

World Heritage Site

Named a World Heritage Site in 1996, the complex includes many attractions, including an orangery, a maze, botanical gardens, a palm house, a zoo and in summer, an outdoor swimming pool.

One of the many monuments inside the park

Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Wien

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article