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
- Three self-guided tours available
- …do the longest one
- Entrance requires a time slot
- Popular times may sell out, so book in advance if you can
- Book a guided tour or other Schönbrunn experience*
- See also:
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 Emperor Franz Joseph received news from the WWI trenches in his study.
The corridors once echoed to the sound of Empress Maria Theresa’s strategic marriage planning, which helped determine the destinies of countries and a continent.
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 hundreds of rooms.
If you’re not on a tour with an actual guide, the palace offers a choice between taking the State Apartments, Imperial and Grand self-guided tour options.
Think of them as three different levels of permission for accessing the palace.
The State Apartments tour is a quick “best of” tour, but the extra cost for the longer tours is so low that I’d recommend you do those.
The Imperial Tour sends you around 26 rooms/areas that include Franz Joseph’s study and bedroom, Empress Elisabeth’s dressing room and salon, and the Great Gallery (imagine a ball scene from a Disney film):
(Schönbrunn Palace, Great Gallery © Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. – Alexander Eugen Koller)
The Grand Tour lets you view an extra 13 or so rooms on top of that. One is the breathtaking and moving Vieux-Laque room that Empress Maria Theresa redecorated in honour of her late husband:
(Schönbrunn Palace, Vieux-Laque room © Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. – Alexander Eugen Koller)
Invest the additional couple of Euros and take the longest tour. You pay very little extra for quite a lot more: the Vieux-Laque room might be worth the extra price alone.
Schönbrunn tour ticket tips
Be mindful that queues for tickets in peak seasons can sometimes 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.
Which means buying an advance ticket with a fixed time slot makes a lot of sense.
I talk about the options in my overview article, but here a quick summary…
- Book a tour with a live guide. For example:
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
- Book a self-guided Schönbrunn tour ticket and time slot from the official website.
You can also buy these tickets, of course, at the ticket office immediately inside the palace courtyard to the left of the main entrance.
- Purchase a Vienna all-inclusive pass from Go City (see my review), which includes one guided tour of Schönbrunn palace at the time of writing
- Purchase a Vienna Pass (see my review), which entitles you to one free Grand tour at the time of writing.
You still need to book a time slot on reaching the Schönbrunn arrival centre. But if you have to wait to go into the palace, the Vienna Pass also gets you into other less-busy attractions at Schönbrunn, so you can make use of any waiting time.
Good to know
- The self-guided tours include a free audio guide, which has a choice of languages (including English, of course), or a printed description
- The rooms include some written information (in German and English) but you need a guide (human or otherwise) 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 interiors 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
- 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
For another dose of palatial household fun, try:
- The self-guided tour of the imperial apartments at the Hofburg complex in Vienna’s city centre. The ticket also gets you into the Sisi museum and the imperial silver collection
- The Albertina art museum: an entrance ticket also allows you to walk around the splendid staterooms
How to get to the palace
Follow these directions and travel tips for Schönbrunn.
Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna