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Vienna, Austria: Magical Schönbrunn Palace

Summary. The primary summer residence of the Hasburg's, Schönbrunn Palace is roughly a 15 minute ride on Vienna's subway from the central station. The grounds are expansive, perfectly manicured, and filled with photo ops at every turn. Be prepared to spent several hours here making your way through the museums, grounds, and hedge maze. This is a "must see" when in Vienna. Ticket prices vary depending on your package. We chose the "classic" package which includes tour of the palace plus the four garden sections: Privy Garden, Orangery Garden, Maze and Gloriette. 28.5 Euros per adult for this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Getting there. A 15-minute ride from central Vienna's Westbahnhof station, the Palace is easily accessible on the U-Bahn, Vienna's subway system. We easily navigated this user-friendly system.

Arrival. Entrance to the Palace is a brief walk from the station. We spent a good amount of time taking photos when we first arrived as the magnificent main palace building, of course, makes for a beautiful photo opportunity. Actually, the entire palace complex will make you burn through your camera's memory card. In terms of tickets, we selected the "classic package," and began our tour of the inside of the main palace. Note that photos are not allowed inside the palace.

Palace Gardens. After roughly an hour inside the Palace, we headed out to see the Palace's four gardens: Privy Garden, Orangery Garden, Maze and Gloriette. The grounds are expansive and will take a fair amount of time to tour. The kids especially liked the Maze which included a watch tower where you can watch others trying to make their way through the puzzle.

Gloriette. Built in 1775, Schönbrunn's Gloriette is the largest, likely best known Gloriette in the world. It was used as an outdoor dining and festival hall by emperors and was unfortunately nearly totally destroyed in WWII. Restored shortly after the War and again in the '90s, this impressively large structure towers over the gardens.

The hill upon which the Gloriette sits also provides a beautiful view of the palace and gardens.

We love the horses. A common tourist attraction in Austria are horse-drawn carriages. While we never participated, we definitely enjoyed seeing these beautiful animals and they certainly added to the atmosphere. Having grown up with horses, I can attest that we never once saw any of the animals mistreated, overly hot or exhausted, or otherwise in poor condition. Finding this actually surprising, I googled the issue and found this article that pre-dates our trip. It appears that there are animal welfare standards in place to protect these hard-working "Fiaker" horses.

Schönbrunn Palace grounds are large. We spent a good portion of our day here even after arriving early in the morning in an effort to avoid the heavier crowds, which we recommend. After picnicking at the Palace, we traveled back to central Vienna where we spent the last few hours of the sightseeing day.

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