A little tip for those visiting Vienna’s zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn): make your way to the far side of the complex and climb the wooded hill to the Tirolerhof, a genuine farmhouse from the mountainous Tyrolean region of Austria.
- Original farmhouse reassembled in Vienna
- Features rare breeds of sheep, cows, etc.
- Educational trails and raised tree walk
- Area also has a restaurant and farm shop
- Try the cheese (seriously)
- Book Vienna zoo tickets* online
- See also:
(The Tirolerhof on a bright winter’s day)
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; it once stood in a small municipality close to the German border about a 400km drive west of Vienna.
In 1994, they moved the whole thing to the zoo: stone-by-stone, beam-by-beam.
As is usual for the original Tyrolean 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…
1. 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 excessive frivolity.
I can’t imagine winter was a bundle of laughs, either.
2. The animals
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 gives kids a chance to get up close to farm animals with such intriguing names as the Tyrolean Rock Sheep.
Be sure to go to the lower level of the farmhouse proper; if you’re lucky, you find incubators and small glass enclosures with chicks or baby rabbits.
3. 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. You might meet the vendor at the Christmas and Easter markets on the Freyung, too.
We often pop in for a couple of open sandwiches with cured ham and a strong Bergkäse cheese, plus a drink of natural apple juice.
The bread is a thick wholemeal and soon fills you up.
That 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.
For those with more appetite, the Tirolergarten restaurant opposite the farmhouse offers a range of traditional Austrian fare, as well as a children’s menu and vegetarian options. You can reach the restaurant from outside without going into the zoo itself.
Tickets & visitor tips
The Tirolerhof forms part of the Tiergarten Schönbrunn zoo, so is included in your zoo 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 can be 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 gives wonderful views across to Schönbrunn Palace and the west of Vienna (unfortunately, few of the famous landmarks reside on that side of the city).
(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.