Tag: Vienna

Vienna: A Midsummer Day’s Dream At Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace

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.

Horse drawn carriages in the entrance court

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.

One of many fountains in the entrance court

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.

Apfel Strudel und Vanilla Eis

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!).

Back view of the building

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.

Great Gallery of Schönbrunn

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.

Vienna Zoo

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!

Panoramic view of Vienna from the Gloriette

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.

Inside the Gloriette

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.

Garden pagoda



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.

Viennese cuisine at Café Residenz (with Himbeer Soda again)

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!

Daydreaming on the palace balcony

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!






Vienna: The Imperial Palaces, Magnificent Museums and Iconic Cafés


We went to Vienna last weekend for a three day holiday and I was completely blown away by the city. The buildings were magnificent; I’d never seen so many beautiful buildings in such a concentrated area before. Every corner we turned, there was another amazing structure to be awe-struck by – I’m pretty sure we walked around the city centre dragging our jaws along the ground with us!

Vienna or Wien is the capital of Austria and it used to be the imperial capital of the Austrian Empire which was ruled by the Habsburg Monarchy. The city is known for its musical and artistic legacy and is considered one of the most livable cities in the world.

Upper Belevedere

Our hotel was located near the famous Belvedere complex, so naturally we went to check that out first. The Upper and Lower Belvedere are Baroque palaces that were built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was a general in the imperial army.

Lower Belvedere

The two buildings are used as art museums and have beautifully manicured lawns, fountains and flower gardens surrounding them (look at those perfectly pointy trees!).

Hall of Grotesques, Lower Belvedere

The Lower Belvedere holds temporary art exhibitions and the Upper Belvedere is home to Austrian art dating back to the middle ages. It is most famous for its huge Gustav Klimt collection including The Kiss. I am still so disappointed that we didn’t have enough time to go into the Upper Belvedere exhibition!


We had perfect weather while we were in Vienna – three days of temperatures over 30 degrees with not a single cloud in the sky! After visiting Belvedere we stumbled upon the fountain at Karlsplatz, which people were swimming in to cool off in the heat.


The St. Stephan’s Cathedral or Stephansdom is the most important religious building in Vienna. There is also a Stephansdom in Passau (where I live) which was supposedly built in a similar Gothic style to the Vienna one before it was burnt down in a town fire and rebuilt in Baroque style.

Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace in the centre of the city was the residence of monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty and also houses the Winter Riding School of the famous Lipizzan horses of the Spanish Riding School. I remember reading a book called The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson when I was younger which featured the Spanish Riding School – does anyone else remember reading that book?

Emperor Franz Josef I and Empress Elisabeth

In the Hofburg Palace we went to the Sisi museum, which showed the life of the beloved Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary. I found it fascinating to learn about her life and she seemed very modern minded, which was sometimes not taken so well in her own time.


Sisi was born in Munich to Bavarian royalty and met Franz Josef when she was fifteen, who became infatuated with her even though it was Sisi’s older sister he was there to meet. They married and Sisi moved to Vienna to start her royal duties. Throughout her life Sisi disliked Viennese court life and preferred to travel and do things on her own. She was famous for her beauty which she kept a strict routine of daily exercises and hours of dressing her long hair to upkeep.

Imperial Apartment tour

The museum also included an audio tour of the imperial apartments where Franz Josef and Sisi lived. The rooms were gorgeous and rich with detail!

Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Museum of Fine Arts or Kunsthistoriches Museum holds the Habsburgs’ art collection and it was amazing from the inside and out.

Inside the museum

Marble staircases and gold leaf decorations adorned the main hallway, along with the huge fresco painted on the ceiling.

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

The Austrian National Library or Österreichische Nationalbibliothek is also located in the Hofburg and is also another gigantic building which includes four museums and boasts the title of being the largest library in Austria.

University of Vienna

The University of Vienna is one of the oldest and largest universities in Europe. It really looks more like a palace than a university, doesn’t it?

Rathaus (City hall)


Austrian Parliament building


Café Central

Vienna is also famous for its traditional coffeehouses, one of the most iconic being Café Central. The café opened in 1876 and famous people of Austria were noted to be regulars there.

Delectable sweets in Café Central


The arches and columns inside Café Central

A pianist was playing live in the café while we ate and the ambiance was just beautiful.

Our Vienna Cards (Wien Karte)

When we got to the main train station in Vienna, we went to buy the Vienna Card, which cost 21,90 Euros and it was a great investment for our trip. You can buy the 48 hour card or the 72 hour card (which we got) and it enables you to travel on all public transport for free (buses, trams and subway) and gets you discounts for the main attractions and museums in the city. When every museum or palace costs 10 Euros or more to get in, this card seriously came in handy for a cheaper deal.


As you can probably tell, there was A LOT to see in Vienna – almost too much! There is so much fascinating history there, especially involving the Habsburgs that what we saw was just the tiniest tip of the Viennese ice berg. Three days was definitely not long enough!

I already have a mental list of things I missed that I want to see when I go back there, starting with the Upper Belvedere art collection, Albertina, inside the National Library, National History Museum and maybe even a show at the Spanish Riding School.

I’m really looking forward to going back there sometime!

So, did you enjoy my Vienna post? 

Watch this space for my next Vienna post about Schönbrunn Palace!