On our last day in Vienna the capital of Austria, we took a train from the city out to the spectacular Schönbrunn Palace and what a sight it was! The Baroque style castle was a former imperial summer residence of the Habsburgs where the beloved Empress Elisabeth and Emperor Franz Josef spent a lot of their time (the latter was born there and also died there). It is now an insanely popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The name Schönbrunn means ‘beautiful spring’ and was believed to be named after an artisan well used to collect water for the court. The palace (which has more than one thousand rooms) and its gardens were humongous, complete with a maze, orangery, palm house and even a zoo.
Once we went through the gates at Schönbrunn into the entrance court, we realised that our stomachs were growling so we promptly went on the hunt for food.
We went into the first café we saw by the entrance (I had an apple strudel) but what we didn’t realise until later was that there were much nicer places to eat in the complex, complete with an original Viennese style apple strudel making studio (and that is why I should do some research before visiting places!).
It’s free to enter Schönbrunn’s magnificent gardens but you have to buy tickets to go inside the palace itself. There were a lot of different tours to choose from but the main idea was that the more you pay, the more rooms in the palace you got to see. We went on the ‘Imperial Tour’ which had the cheapest tickets at 12,90 Euros each.
Before going in, we got handed audio gadgets which meant we could listen to explanations about the rooms at our own pace in whatever language we needed (we also had these on the Sisi Imperial Apartment tour so we were used to the drill). Technically, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the rooms (there were a lot of staff members patrolling the corridors to make sure people didn’t) but I managed to get this sneaky one in of the gorgeous Great Gallery lined with mirrors, chandeliers and frescoed ceilings.
After the tour we entered the gardens behind the palace, where the Vienna Zoo was also located. The park was built in the 1700’s and claims to be the oldest zoo in the world. They even have some Giant Pandas living there at the moment!
Behind the zoo was a hill where the Gloriette structure was located. It was a stifling hot midsummer’s day when we climbed up to the Gloriette, so you can imagine our relief when we realised it was a café/restaurant inside and not just an empty viewpoint as we’d first thought it was! (Again, some prior research would have been handy).
The Gloriette was bombed during the war, but has been beautifully restored since. The panoramic views of Vienna from up there were just breath taking.
After some refreshing Himbeer Sodas (raspberry sodas that we were obsessed with during our time in Vienna) we headed back down the hill and meandered through the extensive gardens of Schönbrunn, admiring the views as we went.
We ended up spending the whole day there and although there were a lot of tourists around, it was clear that locals used the grounds too – for jogging, picnics and relaxing – which was really nice to see.
For dinner we went to Café Residenz in the entrance court, which was much nicer than the place we went to for lunch.
They served traditional Viennese cuisine and my Schnucki had super scrumptious Kaiserschmarrn, which is like fat chunks of fluffy pancakes with apple sauce and jam, which was apparently a favourite dish of the Emperor.
As I’ve mentioned before, Vienna was my favourite place that I’ve visited this year so far and Schönbrunn Palace was definitely the highlight of the trip. If you ever go to Vienna, you MUST visit Schönbrunn!
The Palace was a sight to behold and it makes anyone visiting feel like absolute royalty – it was so much fun imagining the imperial courts of the past having their parties and balls there in the very rooms we walked through!
So, did you enjoy Schönbrunn Palace as much as I did?
Is it somewhere that you would like to visit? Let me know!