A little tip for those visiting Vienna’s zoo: make your way to the far side of the zoo and climb the wooded hill to the Tirolerhof, a genuine farmhouse from the mountainous Tyrolean region of Austria. Try the cheese.
- Original farmhouse with rare breeds of sheep, goats, cows, etc.
- Also a restaurant and (organic) food shop
- Look for the educational trails and raised tree walk on the way up
- See also: Zoo overview
A genuine farmhouse from Tyrol sounds like an oxymoron in the middle of Vienna. But it isn’t.
The Tirolerhof building dates back to 1722. They moved the whole thing to Vienna in 1994: stone-by-stone, beam-by-beam. As is usual for the region, the house has a part where the family would have lived and a working part which, for example, housed the animals.
The area offers three highlights for visitors:
The lower levels of the farmhouse and the surrounding enclosures contain various rare breeds of farm animals, including horses, sheep, goats, cows and chickens. And rabbits.
It’s a chance for kids to get up close to farm animals with such exotic names as the Tyrolean Rock Sheep.
Don’t forget to go to the lower level of the farmhouse proper – if you’re lucky, you’ll find incubators and small glass enclosures with chicks or baby rabbits.
The house itself
As an original building, you get an idea of how a traditional Alpine farmhouse looks and feels. A few rooms also feature typical furniture, too – all dark solid wood and the overwhelming impression that the life of an Alpine farming family probably lacked frivolity. I can’t imagine winter was a bundle of laughs.
Food and drink
Curiously, the Tirolerhof turns out to be one of the best places to eat in the zoo.
The ground floor (at the time of writing) has a small organic farm shop selling bread, cheeses, hams, fruit juices and other traditional rural fare.
We often go for a couple of open sandwiches with cured ham and a strong Bergkäse (mountain cheese), plus a drink of natural apple juice.
The bread is a thick wholemeal and soon fills you up. And the cheese might just be the best in the city, though be warned: Bergkäse can be sharper than a new pencil with a degree in rhetoric. You can eat your sandwiches in the room opposite the shop, which is heated in winter.
For those with more appetite, opposite the farmhouse is the Tirolergarten restaurant with a range of traditional Austrian fare, as well as a children’s menu and vegetarian options. You can also reach the restaurant from outside without going into the zoo itself.
Tickets & visitor tips
The Tirolerhof is part of the zoo, so requires no separate ticket. In fact, it’s just inside one of the back entrances.
The trails down to the main part of the zoo are maintained, but the hill is relatively steep at times, so obviously not all easy-going. Wear decent footwear.
As you go down (or up), look out for the educational trails. In particular, one route takes you through the tops of the trees on a raised walkway that also gives wonderful views across to Schönbrunn palace and the west of Vienna (where, unfortunately, few of the famous landmarks reside).
(The area to the south beyond the Tirolerhof is set to become incorporated into the zoo, too, in the coming years.)
How to get to the Tirolerhof
Check the main article for directions to the zoo and the Tirolerhof entrance.