Prague and Vienna Summer Trip: Schonbrunn and Belvedere Palaces

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    On my four day visit to Vienna, the summer palaces were at the top of my list. Even after several visits to the Schonbrunn Palace on multiple trips to Vienna, the palace and gardens never fail to impress. As the main Hofburg Palace is in the center and the Schonbrunn and Belvedere Palaces are outside the center, I set aside a full day to tour the latter two. In fact, I enjoyed the Schonbrunn so much that I went there twice during the trip – once with my family and once when Svetlana arrived.

    This is part of my trip report on my week-long trip to the cities of Prague and Vienna.

    Trip report index:

    Schloss Schönbrunn

    The Schonbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence and my favorite attraction in Vienna. It was the birthplace of the well-known Emperor Franz Joseph I and where he spent much of his time. The rooms in the palace are impressive to tour and the gardens behind the palace are beautiful. In fact, I like this particular palace so much that I actually went there twice during my trip: once with my family and once with Svetlana.

    Schonbrunn Palace view from the front

    As is the case with most summer palaces, the Schonbrunn is located slightly away from the center so I had to take a bus to get there. There are two parts that I highly recommend: A tour of the palace interiors and a walk through the gardens. For the palace tour, there are two options: The Imperial Tour and the Grand Tour. They are similar except that the Grand Tour covers a few extra rooms while the Imperial Tour exits at room 26. The Grand Tour costs 14.50 euros while the Imperial tour costs 11.50. Either comes with a fairly detailed audio tour.

    A useful tip: Buy the Schonbrunn tour ticket with the Sisi/Imperial Apartments ticket to save time and money!

    On popular summer days, there is a very long wait to enter the castle. This is frequently up to an hour – when you purchase your ticket, you are given an entry time and you cannot enter before then. However, there is a trick. If you buy a combination Schonbrunn/Sisi ticket for 25 Euros instead, then you get to expedite your entry without any line and without any wait. The ticket also gives you access to the Hofburg Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum in the Hofburg Palace in the center. This is almost among Vienna’s most exciting attractions and something you’d want to visit anyway so you may as well save a few Euros (and hours) buying them together.

    The castle tour winds through the summer residence of Elisabeth and Franz Joseph II. We saw the bedrooms, the dining rooms and my favorite grand ballroom. Afterwards, we took a walk through my absolute favorite place in Vienna… the gardens behind the palace.

    Schönbrunn Gardens

    After touring the palace, we visited the gardens behind the castles. Walking through the gardens is completely free. The gardens are large with colorful flowers and fountains and a gloriette at the very end atop a hill. The gloriette is specifically a building erected on a hill in a garden and the one at Schonbrunn is actually the most famous of these.

    Schonbrunn Gardens with the gloriette in the distance

    During the rule of Emperor Franz Joseph I, the gloriette was used as a dining and festival hall. Today, it has a cafe where the festival hall used to be. Walking to the gloriette was quite a bit of a walk, but it was definitely worth it.

    A view of the palace from atop the gloriette

    Belvedere Palace

    The Belvedere Palace is another palace with a nice garden complex, although not quite as nice as those near Schonbrunn. This previously served as a residence for Franz Ferdinand, a nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph I. We did not go inside and tour the palace as we were running short on time, but we did have a pleasant walk through the gardens.

    Belvedere Palace from the front

    The gardens at Belvedere

    Taking a break with the fountain in the background

    Of course, we saw many other sites in Vienna – the Hofburg Palace, a museum, a Mozart concert and those are all coming in my next posts! What are everyone else’s favorite sites in Vienna?

    The Miles Professor – Taking miles and points to the limit!

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