Anyone wishing to see the interiors of Schönbrunn Palace has to go on a guided tour or buy an entrance ticket for the self-guided equivalent. It’s well worth doing so.
- Fantastic staterooms full of history
- Two self-guided tours available (do the longer one!)
- Tickets cost from €18 for an adult (or use the Vienna Pass for one-time free entry)
- Skip-the-line guided tour* also available
- Popular times for both guided and self-guided tours may sell out so book in advance if you can
- See also: Schönbrunn tickets & visitor info
Inside Schönbrunn palace
(Schloß Schönbrunn, Wien – the palace)
Ignoring the details of the historical rooms, fittings and furnishings, Schönbrunn Palace is just one of those places where you can talk of “real” history.
Mozart performed to the court behind these walls, and Franz Joseph received news from the WWI trenches in his study. The corridors echoed to the sound of Maria Theresa’s strategic marriage planning, which helped determine the destinies of countries and continents.
At the same time, so much opulence acts as a monument to royal decadence and the extreme inequality of times past. You find yourself wondering if they really needed all those rooms.
Schönbrunn tour options
The palace offers a choice between taking the Imperial Tour and the Grand Tour.
Don’t be misled by the word “tour.” It doesn’t mean someone is taking you round (though that’s an option). Think of them as two different levels of permission for accessing the palace.
Invest the extra four Euros and take the longer tour.
First, you pay very little extra for an awful lot more – almost double the number of rooms. And one of these is the Vieux-Laque room, which is simply breathtaking.
Second, you get to watch smugly as the unfortunates who picked the shorter tour troop sadly away at the halfway point. Just kidding (actually, not kidding).
Here’s a flavour of what the tours offer:
Tickets & visitor tips
At the time of writing, the self-guided Imperial tour cost €18 for an adult, the Grand tour cost €22. Schönbrunn offers various concessions, as well as combination tickets with other attractions.
You can buy all these at the ticket office immediately inside the palace courtyard to the left of the main entrance. Be mindful, though, that queues for tickets in peak seasons can be quite long, and each tour ticket comes with a fixed time slot. If you’re unlucky, you may have to wait twice: once to get your ticket and again before you can actually go in.
A Vienna Pass (see my review) entitles you to one free Grand tour, but you’ll still need to book a time slot on arrival at Schönbrunn. If you have to wait to go into the palace, the Vienna Pass also gets you into numerous other less-busy attractions at Schönbrunn, so you can make excellent use of any waiting time.
Useful tour information
- The self-guided tours include a free — and excellent — audio guide, which has a choice of languages (including English, of course)
- The rooms include some written information (in German and English) but you need the audio guides to really benefit from the experience
- The audio guide narrators tell you what you’re looking at, put everything in historical context, and throw in little anecdotes and bonus material (such as an original voice recording of Emperor Franz Joseph)
- The tours have a royalist flavour to them. You won’t see much indication of life for those who weren’t members of the imperial family: you can view various bedrooms and ballrooms, but not kitchens or servants quarters
- Contrary to expectations, the entrance to the palace proper is not in its very centre. Instead, go to the left-hand side of the large palace building after you pass through the main gateway to Schönbrunn
- Once you emerge from all the imperial splendour, sated with history, you may part with your Euros in a large gift shop stocking a huge range of imperial goodies…everything from princess dresses to Maria Theresa iPhone cases
- Again, don’t forget Schönbrunn has plenty of other attractions. The palace tour forms the centrepiece, but consider, for example, a walk through the park and gardens to see the various botanical displays and architectural ornamentation
How to get there
Follow these directions and travel tips for Schönbrunn.
Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna | Website