The freely-accessible Schönbrunn gardens paint lines of colour through the park landscape. But if you want a botanical bonus, then visit the hidden privy garden next to the palace…
- Private garden behind walls and wild vines
- Full of beautiful geometric patterns laid out in flowers, gravel and box hedges
- Requires a ticket (or a Vienna Pass)
- See also: Schönbrunn tickets and visitor info
Inside the privy garden
The German name for the privy garden is the Kronprinzengarten or “garden of the crown princes”. First constructed in the 18th century, the area passed through various iterations as court architects and their employers refurbished their way through history.
The initial design came from the pen of the opulently-named Jean Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey. This fine fellow also had a hand in the building plans for the royal menagerie. That menagerie became today’s public zoo, which still features some of Jadot de Ville-Issey’s work (the central restaurant pavilion, for example).
(Schloß Schönbrunn, Privy Garden © Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H., Foto: Alexander Eugen Koller)
Today’s privy garden illustrates the gardener’s ability to bend nature to their will and create patterns out of plant, soil, and stone.
The lower part adjoins the east end of the palace and no doubt once provided a suitable view for an illustrious resident. Box hedges mark out beds of colour-coordinated flowers, with bits of topiary adding an extra dimension…all hemmed in by hedges and a brilliant white balustrade.
The (larger) raised section looks like something you’d get if you put a mathematician and a gardener in a room with a floral catalogue and a credit card.
Low curving hedges of box, coloured sand/gravel, grass, flowers and shrubs map out geometric patterns across the garden, all flecked in colour as if Henri Matisse had discovered fractal design (which I’m sure was the look the gardeners were going for).
It’s all quite spectacular and makes a gorgeous photo from the top of the spiral stairs at one end of the garden.
Once up there, take a look around at the view across to the orangery, hills, woods, and parkland. You might believe you’re visiting a country retreat (as Schönbrunn once was), and not a palace now embedded in the heart of a city with nearly two million inhabitants.
Special mention goes to the iron lattice arches that bound the upper garden, interspersed with dark green and white gateways covered in decades-old Virginia creeper. These must form blazing tunnels of red in autumn.
Tickets & visitor tips
The privy garden requires a ticket (available on-site or online), which cost €4.50 for a standard adult at the time of writing.
If you’re doing a self-guided Schönbrunn palace tour, consider a ticket upgrade to include the privy garden and other attractions. The difference in price is minimal for what you get.
Alternatively, a Vienna Pass (which I review here) also gets you into the privy garden once for free (and should let you skip the ticket counter).
The garden typically opens from April to early November.
How to get to the privy garden
First, find your way to Schönbrunn Palace and stand facing the entranceway that leads to the start of the palace tour.
Look left and wander down the road you see. The privy garden entrance and ticket counter are almost immediately on your right. You can’t miss them.