Why Schönbrunn Palace is a tourist hotspot and beautiful getaway.
In a sun filled café, you can sip a famous Viennese coffee and look out onto Palace Gardens with Vienna’s skyline in the background, just as Maria Theresa used to do each morning at Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer home of the Habsburg family. Maria Theresa’s beautiful breakfast abode, which sits on a hill overlooking the Gardens and Palace, has been converted into the delicious Café Gloriette. Like the rest of Schönbrunn, the Café is simultaneously a tourist hotspot and a place to get away from the busy city.
The Palace was built to rival Versailles, but the Habsburgs ran out of money and ended up with a much smaller vacation home than they had hoped. Though not the biggest palace, Schönbrunn is the only place with the world’s oldest zoo, ruins, mazes, a children’s museum, and an obelisk fountain within the same gates. You can no longer eat a pastry in the Café while a tiger strolls by, but I recommend checking out the zoo, which is tucked into the Palace Gardens.
Whether you want to say hello to the animals, go for a run, tour the palace, or have a picnic in the Gardens, hop on the Ubahn (Vienna’s subway) and get off at the Schönbrunn stop (it’s less than 10 minutes from the city center.) Follow the tourists across the street and you’ll end up standing in front of a giant gate with two golden eagles looking down on you.
While living in Vienna for five months, I went to Schönbrunn almost every week and never once toured the Palace (though I heard that the tour is excellent). Despite the fact that the Palace is a popular tourist destination, the Gardens are so expansive that there is always a quiet place to hide away. The views are incredible and there is more than enough to keep you busy all day. Though to tourists it may seem close to the center of the city, the Schönbrunn was a place for the Hapsburg family to get away from the city center and relax.