Schönbrunn: the Public Grandeur & Private Realities of Emperors

2.5 Hours

Palace & Grounds Tour

Discover the Habsburgs through their Opulent Summer Residence

Stroll through Schönbrunn’s lavish formal gardens and park, opened to the public from 1779 as the Habsburg dynasty’s political and cultural dominance reached its peak. It was under Maria Theresa’s direction that Schönbrunn Palace became the focal point of Austria’s imperial policy and the center of court life, in addition to functioning as the summer residence of a reigning family counting not less than 16 children! Witness the height of High Baroque on this expert-led Schönbrunn Palace tour of majestically-designed rooms, recalling the influential role of culture and the arts in the imperial family’s life and its use as a reflection of their power and wealth.

Learn the politics and privilege of court life while exploring details of Baroque and Rococo design in the Grand Dining Room, the Hall of Ceremonies, the Porcelain Room, and the Millions Room.

Discover the personalities and often ill-fated lives of the imperial family, including Empress Maria Theresa, Emperor Franz Joseph, and Sisi, his country-reared consort, who struggled with the burdens of state before her tragic assassination.

Take in the extravagant music room where six-year-old Mozart famously performed for the imperial family and where they showcased their own impressive musical accomplishments.

Meander through the palace gardens, observing the Baroque landscape principle interweaving nature and architecture, highlighted in the Gloriette: the grand arch that sits on a hilltop with stunning views.

Tour Details


Private tour – $330 USD (1-10 persons)
*your guide all to yourself


Small groups – $105 USD per person
*still intimate with 8 persons or less

Departure time

Private tours: daily at 9:30 AM and 2 PM


Small groups:

  • Monday 9:30 AM
  • Wednesday 9:30 AM
  • Thursday 2 PM
  • Saturday 9:30 AM

Meeting point

Private tours include a pick-up at your central hotel or flat


Small groups: Meet your guide at the Schönbrunn Arrival Centre at Schönbrunner Schloßstrasse 50. Your guide waits in front of the Group Centre Building right across the street from the palace’s main entrance.




Private tours: 3 hours


Small groups: 2.5 hours

Group size

Private tours: 1-10 persons
Groups of over 10 should contact us at in order to get a special rate for their party.


Small groups: 2-8 persons

Participation requirements

As this is a walking tour, please contact us if you have any mobility issues or concerns

Not included

Schönbrunn Palace & Park Tickets

  • Individual: €29,00
  • Students (aged 19-25): €22,00
  • Kids (aged 6-18): €19,00

Note: please remember to wait until the beginning of your walk to purchase your tickets in the company of your guide. There will be no long lines to get your special admission ticket for a guided visit because you have a reserved tour.

What to bring

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Cash or credit card for the entrance fee

About your guide

Read about our Vienna guides

Cancellation policy

For cancellations 72 hours prior to your scheduled tour, Insight Cities offers a full refund. We cannot refund cancellations within 72 hours of a scheduled tour as we need to pay our guide.

Overview of Your Tour

We begin our Schönbrunn tour excursion at the astonishing High Baroque Palace (built to rival Versailles) with a stroll through the magnificent formal gardens, exploring the Baroque landscaping principle of interlaced nature and architecture that is illustrated throughout the grounds.

Approaching the Gloriette, a huge triumphal arch situated on a hilltop with panoramic views of Vienna’s woods, we recall the military victories that made Empress Maria Theresa’s reign (1740-1780) a highpoint of the Habsburg dynasty’s political and cultural dominance in Europe. The park was opened not only to the court but to the general public from 1779, a populist gesture that reveals Maria Theresa’s canny charm offensive towards her subjects. Indeed, it was under Maria Theresa’s direction that Schönbrunn Palace became the focal point of Austria’s imperial policy and the center of court life, in addition to functioning as the summer residence of a reigning family counting not less than 16 children! Several of this teaming brood of young royals did not survive to adulthood but the palace preserves the memory of their infancy, childhood summer activities, illnesses, and early loss.

group of people smiling in front of horse and carriageFor example, Maria Theresa’s music room was the setting of acoustic delights attended by the imperial family in a glittering Rococo ambiance of gilt mirrors and lavish chandeliers, regarded as Late Baroque. The six-year-old Mozart performed here for the family. The Habsburgs’ devotion to the development of classical music did not end at their support of brilliant composers; many of the children were trained as advanced musicians themselves and were expected to exhibit their skills in private entertainments held in this space. The Empress herself acted in plays in the private theater.

The next generation of Habsburg rulers also put their stamp on Schönbrunn. The Franz-Joseph & Elisabeth Apartments tell the story of a couple torn apart by the burdens of the state. In 1854, Emperor Franz Joseph married the Bavarian princess Elisabeth (known by the affectionate nickname Sisi) who despised the rituals of court life and the ornate environment of the summer palace. Sisi commissioned a spiral staircase leading from her official rooms to a private entry from which she could flee the palace to the gardens.

large gate monument reflected on waterVisiting one lavish room after another gives us an ample sense of the opulence which country-reared Sisi fled such as, the dining room with precious tableware and “imperial napkins” in the form of a “fleur-de-lys” witnessed countless state dinners. We’ll also behold the Hall of Ceremonies that records the pompous Baroque celebrations it hosted, such as the wedding of Crown Prince Joseph, depicted in a series of scenes by court painter Martin van Meytens, and the so-called “Porcelain Room” (office of Maria Theresa), completely done in imitation of precious china with orientalist drawings drafted by the imperial children. Even the unique “Millions Room” owes its name to a fabulous price in gold ducats that paid for it: antiquated Indo-Persian miniatures with rococo-frames, wall hangings manufactured of carved rosewood from the Antilles make the “Millions Room” one of the most accomplished combinations of Oriental and European decorative art from the Rococo Era.

large gate with tall hedging on either side
Good to Know

Please remember to wait until the beginning of your walk to purchase your tickets for the palace in the company of your guide.

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