Schonbrunn

Picture of schonbrunn The Schonbrunn palace complex on the western edge of Vienna is so large that we decided to give it an entire page. We spent an entire day here between the palace, the gardens and the zoo. When you arrive at the palace, you can purchase tickets for the next available tour which will probably be an hour (or many hours) in the future. It takes a while to get from the ticket office to the palace, go through the bag check process and so on. There are approximately 20 rooms on the short tour, then there are additional rooms on a longer tour.
Picture of back_view Schonbrunn was one of the many grand palaces used by the Hapsburg family. The tour focuses on daily life and the usage of each room. After you've had your fill of Baroque opulence you have a choice of the gardens, some other gardens, the orangerie (which is more gardens), stables, some sort of cooking class or of course you could flee back into Vienna.
Picture of gardens The gardens have a couple key attractions like the Gloriette (shown here) at the top of the hill and a play area with a hedge maze and playground. Both the Gloriette and the maze area have separate admission fees.
Picture of paths The vast majority of the gardens (everything else) are free to wander through and are crisscrossed with everything from wide paved walking roads to narrow sandy trails. It should be noted this area is free to anyone regardless of whether or not you visit the palace.
Picture of zoo The zoo (Tiergarten Schonbrunn) is located in the back of the property and is basically independent of the Schonbrunn palace although it's an easy walk between them. Generally claimed to be the oldest continuously operating zoo in the world (it started as the Hapsburg menagerie) this is a large, complex, impressive zoo. We spent three hours here and saw maybe two-thirds of it. Parents take note - there is a beer garden overlooking the lion exhibit. Needless to say, we spent some time watching the lions. This picture happens to be a sun bear.

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