Belvedere has to be a highlight of any trip to Vienna. Baroque palaces? Yep. Priceless art? Yep. Photogenic views? Yep. Oh, and is that one of the world’s most famous paintings on the wall? Why, yes, it certainly is.
- International art museum(s) with some unique treasures
- Home to Klimt’s The Kiss
- Regular temporary art exhibitions
- Two early 18th-century palaces with gorgeous gardens
- Free one-time entry with a Vienna Pass
- See also: Other (art) museums | Baroque Vienna
It’s all about Eugene
(Front view of Upper Belvedere Palace)
When you successfully tweak the noses of the Emperor’s enemies, you can expect a little bit more than a thank you note and a bottle of wine.
Which is why Prince Eugene of Savoy – military commander and all-round national hero – managed to accumulate enough lands, positions and wealth to construct some of Vienna’s most impressive buildings. Including the early 18th century Baroque Belvedere palaces (one at each end of the landscaped gardens).
Today’s Belvedere is a collection of historical and modern buildings that double up as art museums.
Main Belvedere palace and garden complex
So what can you find at this storied location? The main site features:
- Upper Belvedere: the ceremonial palace, exhibition venue, and home to the Klimts, Schieles and other items in the permanent art collection
- Lower Belvedere: the more functional palace and home to temporary art exhibitions (closed until sometime in 2021). Lower Belvedere also includes:
- Belvedere Gardens: to make the walk between the upper and lower palaces more pleasant (no ticket required)
The Belvedere area and/or institution also includes one or two othe delights. For example:
- Belvedere 21: the Museum of Contemporary Art
- The Alpine Gardens and Botanical Garden: not officially part of Belvedere, but both border the palace grounds
- The Winter Palace (Eugene’s place in the centre of town. Now part of the Federal Ministry of Finance, so outside the remit of Belvedere and closed to visitors)
Tickets & visitor tips
The two Belvedere palaces normally open all year and are easy to reach. Unfortunately, the lower palace is currently closed until sometime in 2021 (?) for renovations and technical improvements.
The main gardens are free to look around, but (at the time of writing), it’s €16 for a standard adult ticket to Upper Belvedere and €14 for Lower Belvedere (when open). U19s go free and there are cheaper combination tickets and other concessions.
I’d strongly recommend getting tickets in advance*, as the ticket office queues can grow quickly during peak season. The Vienna Pass (review) gets you into the Upper and Lower Belvedere sites, as well as Belvedere 21, for free (one time only).
Upper Belvedere uses a time slot system. So purchased tickets come with a specific entry time (you can take as long as you like once inside).
Should you have, for example, a Tiqets online ticket for Upper Belvedere without a time, simply book your time slot at the palace’s group desk. You don’t need a time slot if you have a Vienna Pass – just go in.
Visitor tips for Belvedere
Follow the individual links above for site-specific tips, but some general advice for you:
- Don’t worry about language – all display information is in German and English
- If you’re pressed for time, here are some must-do suggestions
- The main ticket office is normally not in Upper Belvedere palace, but an outbuilding slightly to the west. You’ll also find a shop there with more Klimt souvenirs than you can shake a paintbrush at. Even the cat in the famous photo of the artist has its own souvenir. Lower Belvedere palace (when open) and Belvedere 21 also have ticket counters
- Think of the buildings and exhibitions as one and the same. Your Belvedere entrance ticket covers entering the relevant building(s) and viewing whatever’s inside. If an exhibition does not interest you, you may still want to get a ticket because that’s how you also see the inside of, for example, the palaces.
- In many parts of the main complex, look for a board in German and English describing the decor and, perhaps, the history of the room or area you’re standing in, together with a relevant picture from the early 18th century.
(We’re very lucky – a chap called Saloman Kleiner produced a series of copper engravings of the interior and exterior of Belvedere in the 1730s, so we have a pictorial record of what the original palaces and gardens looked like. You can buy a copy in the Belvedere shops.)
- The main art collection is in Upper Belvedere. So, if you’re pushed for time, this is the one to visit. It’s also where you’ll find the Klimt paintings, including the Kiss. But if you do have time, I recommend popping into Lower Belvedere, too (when open).
- Everything is within a relatively short walk of each other.
- Be warned that with the turnover of exhibitions, one or two areas may be closed temporarily for set up. This does not normally affect the permanent collections at Upper Belvedere, of course.
- Belvedere is also a dynamic, contemporary institution, so paintings cam move as displays get reorganised, new acquisitions come in, or items go on loan for exhibitions elsewhere. Though I can’t see The Kiss ever leaving!
- Visit in November and December to experience the utterly delightful Christmas Market; the location makes for some astonishing photo opportunities.
How to get to Belvedere
Ah, there’s a whole page of advice for that.
Address: Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna | Website