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Schönbrunn Palace Review: A Tour of History & What to See

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Historical structures, charming gardens, dynamic ambiance, an imperial zoo, and beautiful interiors are the sights to behold as you indulge in a delightful tour of Schönbrunn Palace.

If you’re looking for a fantastic palace experience in Vienna, Austria, look no further than Schönbrunn Palace (or Schloß Schönbrunn; literally “beautiful spring palace/castle”). This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to centuries of Austrian history and culture and unquestionably merits a stopover.

It’s the summer home to beat ALL summer homes.

What is the Schönbrunn Palace?

Schönbrunn Palace Garden and Grounds

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence in Vienna, Austria, that was built in the 17th Century and has over 1,400 rooms.

The palace grounds include a number of historical structures, great museums, charming gardens, an imperial zoo, and beautiful interiors complimenting its ambiance.

The palace is one of Europe’s most magnificent Baroque buildings and is also among Austria’s most significant cultural treasures as a tourist attraction. The palace is open to the public and attracts millions of tourists every year – being the most visited tourist attraction in the country.

The different areas of Schönbrunn Palace include the Imperial Apartments, the Gloriette rooftop viewing platform, and the palace’s beautiful gardens. The Imperial Apartments are a series of private apartments used by the Austrian imperial family and their guests.

The Gloriette is a marble folly that was built in the 18th Century and offers stunning views of the palace grounds and Vienna at large. The gardens are some of the most beautiful in all of Austria and include a number of fountains, sculptures, and greenhouses.

History of Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens

The history of this magnificent palace is honestly mindboggling. It’s seen some of Europe’s most famous historical figures from all walks of life and played host to numerous famous events.

Schönbrunn Palace is a Baroque imperial palace located in Vienna, Austria. The palace was initially constructed under the orders of Emperor Leopold I as an imperial summer residence for the Habsburg dynasty in the 16th Century.

Emperor Franz Joseph was the emperor of Austria and the King of Hungary from 1848 until 1916 and played an important role in developing Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens.

Emperor Franz Joseph ordered the construction of new buildings and gardens and had many existing structures and gardens renovated. Today, Schönbrunn Palace is a popular tourist destination and a monument to Austrian history and culture.

There are many things to see and do at Schönbrunn Palace. Visitors can explore the palace’s 1,441 rooms, decorated in the Rococo style, or walk through the beautiful gardens.

Schönbrunn Palace Exterior

Schönbrunn Palace from the Park
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The exterior is just as impressive as the interior and features a number of beautiful Baroque buildings, gardens, and statues – as well as a zoo!

The palace’s main building is a breathtaking six-story Baroque structure with a central dome. The dome is surrounded by four wings that feature a total of 128 windows.

Schönbrunn Palace Interior

Interior of the Schönbrunn Palace
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

While Schönbrunn Palace is a spectacular sight in Vienna, its beauty extends beyond its exterior to its interior, radiating sophistication and elegance.

The palace contains 1,441 regal-looking rooms, of which only 45 are currently exposed to the public. The interiors are decorated in Rococo style, and the palace is brimming with exquisite furnishings.

Notably, Schönbrunn Palace contains a hall of crystal mirrors and golden chandeliers in the Great Gallery, where Mozart, at six years old, performed his first royal concert. The Grand Salon was also where the Congress of Vienna was held.

The Blue Chinese Salon (where Emperor Karl I signed his government’s surrender in 1918, effectively ending monarchy) and the Vieux Lacque Room (where Napoleon conducted meetings during his occupation) are all magnificent Rococo rooms to visit.

Other incredible spaces to view include the Walnut Room, the dining room (also known as the Marie Antoinette Room), the Millions Room, and Franz Joseph’s Bedroom, where the emperor passed away in 1916.

Additionally, there are over a thousand photographs throughout the museum, many of which depict items from the palace that are rarely or never on display inside this beautiful castle in Austria.

What is Schönbrunn Palace famous for?

Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens in Vienna
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Schloss Schönbrunn is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Austria’s most popular tourist attraction. The Habsburgs’ summerhouse was here for thousands of years, reflecting Habsburg rulers’ imperial desires and preferences. It’s particularly famous for its grounds, including the Schönbrunn Zoo, the oldest zoo in the world, still in operation.

Who lived in Schönbrunn Palace?

Primarily Habsburg Emperors and their families, for centuries. In 1635, Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand III started building his hunting palace in the Vienna Woods. It was initially named after Empress Maria Theresa as “Theresienstein.”

The Schönbrunn Palace is one of the finest-preserved baroque European palaces and was taken from Habsburg’s possession between 1469 and 1669.

See Related: Follow Our Vienna, Budapest, Prague Itinerary

Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens Tours

Schönbrunn Palace and Garden

There are many different Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens Tours to choose from. If you want to see the palace itself, some tours include just the palace, as well as tours that include both the palace and the gardens.

If you’re more interested in outdoor adventures in the gardens, plenty of tours focus exclusively on them. There are also a few options for how you want to experience the tour. You can choose a guided tour or a self-guided tour.

With a guided grand tour, a guide will lead you through the palace and gardens, pointing out all the important sights and telling you about their history. The Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens tour lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

With a self-guided tour, you’ll have a map and information booklet that will tell you about the different sights, but you’ll be free to explore at your own pace.

A Classic Pass ticket for the Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens tour includes a guided tour of the palace grounds and gardens and access to the palace museum.

Whichever option you choose, taking a Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens Tour is a great way to learn about this important Austrian landmark’s history and see some of its most beautiful features.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Vienna with Kids

Things to Do in the Schönbrunn Gardens and Palace Complex

Serene pathway with autumn leaves in Schonbrunn Palace Gardens Vienna
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Aside from the palace, the gardens are great sites to explore at Schönbrunn Palace. The gardens, or Schönbrunn Park, are free to explore all year and feature stunning fountains, sculptures, monuments, and natural features. 

The Schönbrunn Gardens is a historical site once a private imperial garden but is now open to the public. The gardens are in Vienna and were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1996.

The gardens served as a model for many other European parks, and its facilities and attractions are still enjoyed by visitors today. Schönbrunn Gardens offers a variety of activities and sights to see, making it a perfect destination for anyone interested in history, culture, or just spending time outdoors.

The park has many great features that will please everyone in the family. Here are some of the must-see attractions and activities:

Kronprinzengarten (Crown Prince Garden)

Garden in Schönbrunn
Schönbrunn Gardens” by Kurayba is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Kronprinzengarten (Crown Prince Garden) at Schönbrunn Palace is a stunning botanical wonderland open to the public. The garden features a variety of flowerbeds, plants, and vine-covered walking trails, making it the ideal destination for those who love spending time in nature.

The grand pathway throughout the garden is known as the Great Parterre and leads to the Neptune Fountain. When you visit the Privy Garden at the palace, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

This sunken garden, with its parterre portions bordered by beds, dates back to 1865. It was once known as the Crown Prince’s Garden, and today, it’s a popular spot for travelers to enjoy peace.

Palm House

Palmenhaus conservatory at Schönbrunn Palace gardens on a sunny day
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Palm House is a glass-enclosed tropical oasis that is located within the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens and is home to a variety of exotic plants and animals, making it a perfect destination for anyone interested in nature and wildlife.

In addition to its diverse plant life, the Palm House also features a café and a shop, making it the perfect place to relax and take a break from exploring the gardens.

Hedge Maze And Labyrinth

Schönbrunn Park Maze

The Maze at Schönbrunn Park is a fun and challenging activity for all ages. The maze is made up of over 2,000 yew trees, and its paths wind through a variety of different gardens.

The Maze is the perfect activity for anyone who loves a good challenge and will provide you with hours of fun. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to explore the Maze, as it is easy to get lost!

The Roman Ruins

Roman Ruins in Schonbrunn Palace Gardens, Vienna
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Roman Ruins are one of the highlights of the palace garden. The garden, often known as The Ruin of Carthage, was built as an imitation Roman ruin on the grounds. These fake Roman Ruins are comparable to the remains of Rome’s Villa Torlonia and Paris’s Parc Monceau.

The Roman Ruins are a great place to learn about the history of the Habsburgs. The garden is also a great place to take pictures. It’s also pretty close to the equally photo-worthy Obelisk Fountain!

Zoo Vienna (Schönbrunn Zoo)

Hippo in Schönbrunn Zoo

The Zoo Vienna (Schönbrunn Zoo) is located in the palace garden and is the oldest zoo in the world. The zoo has over 500 animals, including elephants, tigers, giant pandas, and lions. Visiting the zoo is among the best places to visit in Austria.

The zoo also has a petting zoo, where children can interact with animals such as rabbits, goats, and sheep! Visitors to the Zoo Vienna can also ride on the Vienna Zoo Railway, which runs through the park. The train stops at various attractions, including the Palm House and the Roman Ruins.

The Schönbrunn Orangery

The Schönbrunn Orangery Garden is one of the most impressive gardens in Vienna, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in horticulture. The Orangery was built in the early 18th Century by the Habsburgs, and it’s home to exotic plants and unusual fruit tree species.

In later life, Mozart would perform concerts here, too! The garden is beautifully landscaped, and the structure itself is quite impressive. The orangery is open to the public, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Vienna.

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Schoenbrunn Palace Concerts

Musical Schönbrunn Palace Concert
Image by Viator

Schoenbrunn Palace Concerts are a special event at Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, and are frequently held in the Orangery. The palace concerts feature classical music by the Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra and internationally renowned musicians.

These concerts are always very popular with tourists and locals from all over to enjoy the beautiful music in such a historic and beautiful setting. They even hold dance and vocal performances!

The Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum at the Schönbrunn Palace is a unique space dedicated to exploring the palace’s history through the lens of royal childhood.

With exhibits on everything from toys and costumes to furniture and interactive displays, this museum provides an exciting, hands-on experience for kids as they learn how the Imperial children lived.

The Carriage Museum

If you’re visiting Vienna and are interested in the history of horse-drawn carriages, then a trip to the Schönbrunn Palace Carriage Museum is necessary. Located within the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace complex, this museum showcases the history of carriage and sleigh design.

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The Palace Chapel

The Schönbrunn Palace Chapel is a beautiful Rococo structure built in the 18th Century. It is located in the Schönbrunn Palace complex and is often used for weddings and other special events. The chapel features stunning decorations, including painted ceilings and elaborate carvings.

The Neptune Fountain

Schönbrunn Palace Neptune Fountain

The Roman god Neptune, who stands majestically above sea horses, is the most magnificent of Schönbrunn’s fountains. The Neptune Fountain signals the conclusion of the garden tour as you approach the palace grounds’ final stop.

Tips for Visiting Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens

Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s most popular tourist destinations, with valid cause. The palace and its gardens are full of history and culture, and there are numerous things to see and do.

Here are some travel tips for visiting Schönbrunn Palace:

  • Check the opening times before you go, as the palace is only open to the public at certain times.
  • Purchase a Schönbrunn Palace Ticket in advance to avoid long lines at the ticket office.
  • Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace, which is recommended to learn more about the history and culture of Schönbrunn Palace.
  • The best time to visit Schönbrunn Palace is during the summer when the weather is pleasant, and the gardens are in full bloom.
  • To get to Schönbrunn Palace, visitors can take the subway or a bus from Vienna.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved in exploring the palace grounds.
  • Plan to spend at least half a day at the palace so that you have enough time to explore all of the different areas.
  • Bring a camera to capture the beauty of the palace and its grounds.
  • Stop by the Schönbrunn Palace Shop to pick up a souvenir of your visit.

See Related: Things to Do in Innsbruck

Best Time to Visit Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens

Front Entrance of the Schönbrunn Palace
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’re planning a trip to Schönbrunn Palace, the best time to visit is spring or summer. The weather is warm and pleasant, and the gardens are blooming. April (2nd-19th) is particularly great, as you can visit the Easter Market in front of the palace.

However, remember that the palace is open year-round, so there’s still plenty to see and do even if you can’t make it during the spring or summer. If you like your festive markets a little chillier, come in December to explore the wonderful Christmas Market!

No matter when you visit, be sure to take some time to explore the surrounding parkland – it’s a great way to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

See Related: Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit

How to Get to Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens

There are four distinct ways from Vienna to Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens: taking the subway, catching a bus, grabbing a taxi, or walking.

You can reach the palace by a 40-minute walk or cab from Vienna’s city center using lines 10 and 58 or by taking route U4 while riding a subway that stops at Schönbrunn station.

Seeing the Schönbrunn Palace’s beautiful sights is astonishing. A tour of Vinnie’s historic gourds, gardens, and rooms is a satisfying experience. The palace provides a magnificent and fascinating tour for travelers in Austria.


What is the best time to visit Schönbrunn Palace?

The best time to visit Schönbrunn Palace is between April and October when the weather is milder, and the gardens fully bloom.

How do I get to Schönbrunn Palace?

The easiest way to get to Schönbrunn Palace is by taking the U-Bahn (subway) line U4 to the Schonbrunn stop. The palace is a 10-minute walk from the station.

Why was Schönbrunn Palace built?

Schönbrunn Palace, in its current form, was designed in the 1700s under the reign of Empress Maria Theresa. Emperor Franz Joseph I ordered the redevelopment of the palace interior in a Neoclassical style like today’s image.

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