Located just outside of the main city, Schönbrunn Palace is a grand, golden complex—as you’d expect from the main summer palace of the Hapsburg Imperial family. The Rococo residence has 1,441 rooms and gardens that seem to unfold forever. Housed within the complex are a multitude of smaller museums and gardens—a literal trove of historical and botanical treasures. That said, Schönbrunn can feel a bit overwhelming, both in scale and in sights. So to help, I’ve collected some tips from both of my visits to the palace that will make visiting Schönbrunn Palace a bit easier to navigate. But first…
A little bit about Schönbrunn
Like we’ve said, Schönbrunn Palace is massive. Before going, it’s good to know what they offer, so you can choose how you want to structure your visit. Some of the recommended sights at Schönbrunn are:
- The Imperial apartments and state rooms
- Schönbrunn Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in the world
- The Gloriette, which offers sweeping views over the grounds and Vienna beyond
- The Privy Garden, a manicured garden tucked alongside the main residence
- The Imperial Carriage Museum
You can check out the full list of attractions within Schönbrunn on their website. When planning your visit, I’d suggest planning to stay the whole day at the palace. There’s plenty to see, little cafés to grab a moderately priced meal, and strolling through the gardens is a fantastic way to spend a summer afternoon.
You can either buy your tickets according to your interests, or opt for one of the larger package tickets. Schönbrunn itself offers two package deals—but if you’re planning to see more sights in Vienna, I highly recommend getting the Vienna Pass. The Vienna Pass lets you into all of the Schönnbrunn attractions. While we were at Schönbrunn, we actually decided spontaneously to visit some of the corners of the grounds we wouldn’t ordinarily have (like the Labyrinth), simply because it was already included in our ticket.
Wondering if the Vienna Pass is worth it? Check out my review here!
10 Tips for Visiting Schönbrunn Palace
Enter with the Vienna Pass
If visiting with the Vienna Pass, note that you cannot just scan your pass at the entrance to the Palace interior—you must get a paper pass at the front. So make sure you pick up your paper ticket at the welcome center before you go towards the palace.
Visit the Gloriette
Definitely go to the Gloriette—it’s worth the hike! On top of the structure, there’s an additional viewing platform that offers jaw-dropping views over the whole city.
Really explore the gardens
Most visitors stick to the main gardens right behind the residence, but as you stroll deeper, you’ll find little surprises. That’s exactly how we stumbled on the Columbary, or dovecote (above).
The Maze and Labyrinth are great for kids. Inside are little art installations and interactive musical games that pop up in the center of the experience. It can be entertaining for adults only as well, but you’ll have to compete with a bunch of wild kids—so factor that in. 😉
Come prepared to walk
There is a lot of walking! Even from the front gate to the residence doors. Those with mobility issues can navigate the longer stretches via the Schonbrunn train (8 euro pp per day, or 6 for kids—or included in your Vienna Pass).
I’d recommended wearing closed-toed shoes, as the garden paths are mostly gravel. I wore mule sandals and had to stop every five minutes to shake out the rocks.
There are water stations around the palace grounds, so either bring your refillable bottle or reuse the first bottle you buy. In the summer, you’ll definitely want to stay hydrated—especially if you’re hiking up to the Gloriette.
Grab a snack
Stop at Residenz Café for a (f-ing delicious) fresh baked pretzel the size of your head!
Check your bags (and cameras!)
No backpacks are allowed inside the Palace, so you’ll have to check your bigger bags. Photography is not permitted inside, so you’ll likely be asked to check cameras as well. Photography in the grounds, however, is encouraged.
Consider skipping the interiors
The palace interiors are cool, but I didn’t like how rushed I felt going through the rooms. It’s also majorly crowded! Unless you’re deeply interested in Imperial history, I’d actually recommend skipping the interior and devoting your time to exploring the gardens—especially if you’re visiting in the summer months. If you’re planning to do the Hofburg Palace tour in Vienna proper, you’ll get a good glimpse of the Imperial Apartments while touring there.
For those who do decide to do the interior, take the free audio guide. It’s quite informative, and, as there are no real placards explaining things, it provides much-needed context.