If you want to plunge into the world of courtly life, love and even lavatories, you’re in the right place with a look inside the Hofburg complex.
- Self-guided tour takes you through the…
- Sisi Museum
- Imperial Apartments
- Silver Collection (currently closed for renovations)
- Everything from baths to baby shoes
- Particularly recommended for fans of Empress Elisabeth
- Book a guided tour* of the Hofburg
- See also:
What’s on the tour?
(The outside of the apartments)
Although the wider Hofburg area now features numerous separate institutions, your first address for seeing inside the imperial complex itself should be a tour of the Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments.
A single ticket gets you into the locations in the main buildings at the heart of the Hofburg.
- The Sisi Museum features the life, clothes, and personal possessions of Sisi (Empress Elisabeth): the famous wife of Emperor Franz Joseph
- The Kaiserappartements Imperial Apartments are filled with historical fittings and furnishings. This is where Franz Joseph and Elisabeth lived and worked
The Silberkammer Imperial Silver Collection would normally form part of the tour with its wide range of precious porcelain and various household items from Habsburg times. However, renovation work means it’s closed for the foreseeable future (at the time of writing).
Is the tour worth it?
I think so.
Selected exhibits are priceless in terms of historical value. (You do not want to risk some of those glasses in a dishwasher.)
But even if you care little for the history or origin of the items on display, you do get a good, big-picture impression of imperial life in the 19th century simply through what you see.
The tour also indirectly provides insights into the crushing pressures of sitting on top of the social and political ladder, the almost-depressing extravagance of court, and the tragically all-too-human weaknesses of those who would set themselves apart from the rest of us.
Tickets & visitor tips
(Sisi Museum, Michaelerkuppel, entrance; © Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H., Severin Wurnig)
At the time of writing, basic admission costs €17.50 for the self-guided tour for an adult, with the usual reductions. Rather kindly, your ticket includes an audio guide. Vienna Pass holders get in once for free (read my review of this sightseeing pass).
Some further tips:
- For deeper insight into what you see or a wider Hofburg experience, consider these guided options*
- Get there early and think about getting your tickets in advance online. It can all get busy: particularly the Sisi Museum which has some narrow passages in it
- It took me four hours to get round all three areas when the Silberkammer was open. But I listened to just about everything on the audio guide and read almost every written information So you can probably get round in half that time
(I may have skipped a few porcelain plates at some point, but, in my defence, they had an awful lot of them).
- Display labels and information are all in English and German. The audio guide provides interesting background information and little bonus bits of trivia
- The numbers to plug into your audio guide appear in large print with a picture of the device next to it. The smaller numbers in any display cabinets refer to index cards somewhere nearby that tell you what you’re looking at
- If you enjoy the Hofburg insights into life as an emperor or empress, then other tours of historical buildings might interest you.
- In particular, consider a similar tour over at Schönbrunn Palace. You get less porcelain and crockery but a lot more interior decoration and the added bonus of landscaped gardens to walk around afterwards
How to get to the Hofburg
(The domed entrance on Michaelerplatz)
The Hofburg is a big place, largely free of vehicles. So you may have a short walk from all these public transport stops. But since that walk takes you through wonderful historical architecture or landscaped parks, that’s probably a good thing.
Indeed, the Hofburg is a major point on my suggested walking tour route for the city centre.
The ticket counter and starting place for the tours lie beneath the huge dome at the impressive Michaelerplatz entranceway (pictured above) at the northeastern end of the Hofburg complex.
Subway: Station Herrengasse (U3 and your best choice), Volkstheater (U2/U3) or Stephansplatz (U3/U1)
Tram: 1, 2, D or 71 to Burgring or 1, 2, D, 71, 46 and 49 to Ring/Volkstheater
Bus: 1A or 2A to Michaelerplatz (the best option) or 48A to Ring/Volkstheater
Address: Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna | Website