Schonbrunn Palace: Where the Hapsburgs Went Baroque

Posted by on March 11, 2014

Schonbrunn Palace

You may remember that I’ve written about Vienna’s Schonbrunn palace once before, in an article with an exceptionally witty title and lots of photos but very little information. Never fear, as your lingering questions of a year ago are now to be answered!

schonbrunn palace front view

Originally a Royal Hunting Ground and later a Royal Summer Palace, the Schloss Schonbrunn stands today as a monument to the life of the Hapsburg Dynasty and along with the surrounding gardens a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

schonbronn palace view of vienna

Schonbrunn is Vienna’s most popular destination for tourists, with 2.6 million showing up to 2010. Add to that regular number a popular Christmas market held in the entrance courtyard of Schonbrunn (acclaimed even by the hard-hearted Anthony Bourdain, one might add), and numbers/crowds get even larger.

interior of schonbrunn palace

To be honest, the Palace itself is lavish and beautiful and it bores me quite a lot. With the exception of one small room dedicated to and decorated with hand-drawn ink pictures from the Emperor Franz Stephan and his children (which I lingered in for far longer than I anticipated) the rest of the palace only held my attention for just a little while. Even worse, no photography is allowed inside!

gloriette arch at schonbrunn palace

A much better use of time in Vienna, to my mind, is to wander up the hillside behind Schonbrunn Palace to the Gloriette arch and sit on the grassy slope or at the windows of the coffee house inside the Gloriette itself. At once presenting fantastic views of Schonbronn and the city of Vienna while feeling removed from the crowds of both, I can (and have, and hopefully will again!) spend hours here writing and reading and photojournalistically creeping on tourists when they step into the perfect frame.

Vienna view from schonbrunn glorietta

I would happily visit Schonbrunn again, as a place to wander through the world’s oldest zoo and past fountains and statues and everything else Imperial-esque that one could hope for in a royal palace. The next time, my third visit as it would be, I’d just make sure to miss the palace itself.

I have visited Schonbrunn Palace twice, once while traveling independently and once while photographing a tour while working with GetYourGuide. Schloss Schonbrunn is open from 8:30 to 17:00 year round, with extended hours in the warmer months. The gardens stay open from 6:30 till at least 18:30, and again longer during the summer. Note that the bag check closes when the palace itself does, and it can be quite a hassle to get your stuff back once they’re closed!

The palace is extremely easy to get to (the U4 stop ‘Schonbrunn’ is just down the road) and the price of admission (starting at 11.50 Euro) includes a free audio guide. With the Vienna 72hr  card you get a one Euro discount so if you already plan on buying one for other museum discounts it can save you a bit more here (and your metro/tram ride will be included as well). If you’d prefer to go with a live guided tour, though, check out GetYourGuide for one option that includes a bus tour through the city en route to the palace.  

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7 Responses to Schonbrunn Palace: Where the Hapsburgs Went Baroque

  1. The Guy

    Your pictures sum up my memories of Vienna and indeed Budapest. The old Austro-Hungary areas are full of such grand old buildings. You’ve certainly highlighted one here which would be great to see. Such a shame you weren’t allowed photos inside.

    • Stephen

      It would have been great to have the option of taking photos inside, but to be honest it would have required a ton of patience to get shots that weren’t super crowded. I really like Vienna, though, and have only spent a weekend in Budapest. I definitely need to head back down that way at some point to explore the photo opportunities there!

  2. Selina

    Great extra info. Another reason to add Vienna to the bucket list! I look forward to reading more of your blog – budget and travel are my kind of words 🙂

    • Stephen

      There are SO many reasons to add Vienna to your list. Check back in a week or two, and I’ll have a write-up talking about all my favorites and why you should go too!

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