Day 14 of 18…
Situated six kilometres from the city centre is Schloss Schönbrunn. It is one of Vienna’s most valuable cultural assets and also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Schönbrunn was the favourite summer residence of the ruling Habsburg family whose dynasty spanned six centuries. The palace dates back to the 14th century when it was still a hunting lodge and it came into the possession of the Habsburgs in 1569. Several alterations have been made to the palace over the centuries and much of what we see today is from the more recent renovations during the time of Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780) up to the time of her great-great grandson Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830-1916).
Schönbrunn is easily Vienna’s most popular tourist destination so planning your visit is very, very important. We arrived at the palace around 2pm. It was the day before New Year’s Eve, the Visitor Centre was packed to the brim! So many disappointed faces when the announcement came that over-the-counter tickets for the day had all been sold.
Lucky us, and I say this with a grateful heart, we thought of making reservations a few weeks in advance. You see, we wanted to do the Grand Tour (the longer of the two tours) and have an expert guide with us so that we could learn as much as we could about the Habsburgs. (Check the end the of this blog on how we acquired our tickets)
The tour was wonderfully insightful. Our kids found the 50-minute history immersion far from boring. They especially liked the trivia that went with every one of the 40 rooms that we explored. Our family unanimously agreed that Schönbrunn is probably the best palace we’ve ever visited. My hubby said that he was impressed with the planning I did for this one.
The furnitures, ceilings and walls were fit for a king (or an empress, of course). And the paintings, oh the paintings, were breathtaking!
Okay now; how to get tickets for this palace…
- There are at least two tours that visitors could do – the Imperial Tour which covers 22 rooms or the Grand Tour which covers 40 rooms. We did the 40 rooms.
- A ticket would give access to the rooms plus an audio guide.
- They have a strict admission system – timed entry, but this I think is what gives the visitors the best chance of completely enjoying the experience.
- There are a few ways to acquire a ticket.
- The most obvious would be over-the-counter especially for tourists with no fixed itinerary. But now we know how this could end.
- One other way is to purchase a ticket from their website where you’ll be asked to fix the date and the time of entry. This includes the audio guide.
- Another is getting a Vienna Pass, which gives you access to over 60 attractions in Vienna but of course this is more expensive and for Schönbrunn, there is no guaranteed entry on the day that you decide to go to the palace. Check out the disclaimers/tips on Vienna Pass website first.
- For us, we wanted to have an expert tour guide from the palace and not just an audio guide and so a few weeks before our trip, we made a reservation via email. The reservation includes the ticket for the Grand Tour, the tour guide and what looked like a ‘fast pass’ where we went past everybody else. They gave us a confirmation email which we took to the Visitor Centre, where we then paid for our tickets. There were only 15 of us. Our tour started at exactly 3pm. This tour runs only twice a day, so we were among just 30 lucky people who got to do this amazing tour.
Here are the other posts on our holiday in Bavaria and Austria:
- Munich: Start of our family’s tales from last winter
- Munich: Viktualienmarkt Biergarten
- Munich: BMW Museum and BMW Welt
- Munich: Theatine Church and Odeonplatz
- Munich: Christmas Markets
- Munich: Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall
- Munich: City Aparthotel München
- Salzburg: Birthplace of Mozart and Silent Night
- Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress
- Salzburg: Residenzplatz Christmas Market
- Salzburg: Salzburg Cathedral
- Salzburg: Silent Night 200 at Salzburg Museum
- Salzburg: Silent Night Tour by Bob’s Special Tour
- Salzburg: Silent Night at Oberndorf and Laufen
- Salzkammergut: Road Trip to Hallstatt
- Salzkammergut: Christmas Market at St Wolfgang
- Salzburg: Krampus Run at Hellbrunn Palace
- Salzburg: Imlauer Hotel Pitter Salzburg
- Obergurgl: A Week in the Austrian Alps
- Obergurgl: Chalet Obergurgl Luxury Apartments
- Obergurgl: Hohe Mut Alm Mountain Restaurant
- Obergurgl: Snowstorm on Christmas Eve
- Obergurgl: Day After the Storm
- Obergurgl: Snowshoeing
- Hochgurgl: Tobogganing
- Hochgurgl: Hochgurgl Cable Car Ride
- Vienna: First Impressions
- Vienna: Hofburgkapelle and Imperial Armoury