During our brief stay in Vienna this summer, we opted to check out the Schönbrunn Palace for the day as it claims to be Vienna’s most visited tourist destination. Our intention was to spend most of our time at the Schönbrunn Children’s Museum and exploring the Palace grounds. However, a day with kids never turns out as planned (at least for us).
On arrival to the complex things went a little pear-shaped largely due to the confusing options available at the ticket counter. Of the many ticket package deals, we ended up purchasing tickets for the Palace thinking that access to the Children’s Museum was included. Our choice meant that we ended up joining another (45 min) queue to enter the actual palace itself. Not an easy feat with jet-lagged kids!
Fortunately, the Palace itself is stunning to look at and you can participate in guided tours or audio tours – of which we did neither. Indeed, Schönbrunn Palace is considered to be one Europe’s most impressive Baroque palaces. Built in 1740, the 1,441 room Palace was the summer residence of the Imperial Habsburg family.
Unfortunately our kids weren’t interested in the Palace itself, which did limit our time spent there, and we were pulled from room to room by little hands in a whirlwind tour. Although certainly interesting to see, I would only recommend a visit to the Palace itself if you are joined by older children. Nevertheless, if I am to look on the bright side, at least we got to see it!
Fortunately, the Palace complex is home to numerous other attractions, including a Children’s Museum, extensive gardens, the Neptune Fountain, the world’s largest gloriette, an outdoor hedge maze and a children’s playground. The entrance to Europe’s oldest zoo is also accessible from the rear of the Palace grounds.
Eventually we made it to the Children’s Museum after touring the gardens, visiting the fountain, lunching at an outdoor cafe at the zoo, exploring the hedge maze and spending time at the children’s play frame. The Children’s Museum has a separate entrance to the Palace and tickets can be purchased at the door. My kids loved this museum, and it is definitely worth a visit. Here you can explore the world of the Imperial children, dressing in their clothing, playing with their toys and games, and exploring their living quarters. There are many interactive stations scattered throughout the 14 rooms. I think the true highlight for my kids was the enormous dress-up room of baroque clothing and wigs. We spent about 2 hours at this museum and probably could have stayed longer were it not for the fact that it was closing.
If you wish to see the Palace itself, I suggest you buy your tickets online. The Palace viewing is timed and you can avoid the long queue by booking a viewing slot online in advance.
Getting there is very easy. You can drive, but we opted instead for the U-Bahn (metro) as the stop is a short walk to the Palace entrance. Vienna’s U-Bahn is reliable and affordable and in our experience it took very little time (20 – 25 minutes) to travel to Schönbrunn from where we were staying in District 3.