Sometimes planning a trip too much can lead to disappointment because of unmet expectations. In contrast, sometimes a minimal amount of planning, along with some assumptions about a city, can actually increase anticipation because you don’t really know what to expect. I used to watch Passport to Europe on the Travel Channel religiously because it was one of my goals to travel to around Europe. The host, Samantha Brown, made traveling fun and accessible. Every episode, viewers got to see highlights of one European city and the fancy hotels Samantha stayed at. I loved the show so much I even bought the first season on dvd and downloaded the second season on iTunes. This blog’s title was even inspired by the show!
But I digress. Anyway…. back to Vienna. That little spiel was mainly to say that what I knew about Vienna before my trip, I learned from the Vienna episode of Passport to Europe. That episode showed the very posh and extravagant side of Vienna. In that episode, Samantha visited the Spanish Riding School and attended the Officer’s Ball at the Emperor’s Imperial residence. Because of this, in my mind Vienna didn’t seem very relaxed or welcoming. It seemed like one had to have a lot of money in order to enjoy visiting Vienna. I was curious to see if this was actually how Vienna was like, but because of this assumption and my lack of thorough research about what to do and see, I was the least excited about visiting Vienna on my 3 country trip. Surprisingly, Vienna turned out to be my favorite city out of them all!!
I’m actually glad that I didn’t do too much research on the actual places we wanted to see, like Schönbrunn Palace. If I had seen the architecture and gardens ahead of time, I might have had really high expectations to see everything exactly as those perfectly curated photos showed, which of course is unreasonable to expect. Instead, walking onto the Schönbrunn Palace grounds turned out to be such a magical experience, especially since the flowers are in full bloom in the summertime.
The set-up of the grounds really lends itself for gradually discovering the palace’s hidden treasures. Through the trees and low-hanging branches I could spot an interestingly-shaped glass structure in the distance, and that really captivated me. I wanted to find out what it was and see if it was a building I could visit.
Spoiler alert!!! Before you read on, I want to say if you’re planning on visiting Vienna and haven’t been to Schönbrunn Palace before, I highly encourage you to have a similar experience of discovering the grounds in person. I know no matter what, it’ll be absolutely beautiful, but there’s just something about exploring this place in person that adds to its magical quality. Ok, I’m continuing the tour now 🙂
As I approached, the glass structure grew bigger, and it was just magnificent! I felt like Alice in Wonderland when she arrived in Wonderland, only this time, I was transported to 19th century Vienna.
I soon discovered what the structure was: The Palm House, a greenhouse opened in 1882. It was here that I was so glad I didn’t have any expectations of Schönbrunn Palace because I literally had a moment where I was completely speechless and just wanted to take in all the details of the landscape I was seeing.
This is what I saw:
Everything was so perfect and well-maintained, yet so relaxed and peaceful. Even though the grounds were fit for royalty, it never felt too formal. There were plenty of benches surrounding the Palm House for visitors to sit and read, spend time with family and friends, or just soak in the beauty of it all.
On one bench you might have this view:
But sitting on another bench you might see this section of the gardens:
Frankly, any angle that included the greenhouse was pretty stunning!
Amazingly enough, you can walk onto the palace grounds for free! Admission costs apply to viewing the palace interiors, the main palace gardens, the museum, and the other buildings within the gardens. However, this part of the grounds with the Palm House, fountain, and benches is free as long as you don’t want to go inside the Palm House. Even if you do, the cost is minimal. Imagine if this was your everyday park and you could have lunch in front of this view almost every day? I would never leave!
Alas, we eventually had to leave this beautiful garden to see what other gorgeous offerings Schönbrunn Palace had to offer. Like this picture-perfect fountain surrounded by well-manicured trees called the Round Pool. Again, this part of the gardens were free to see!!
The trees provided different avenues to take from the fountain…
Some led to what looks like an impressive building:
Yup, it’s definitely impressive!!! It must be Schönbrunn Palace! Its beautiful pastel yellow color perfectly matched the relaxed vibe of this area of Vienna.
With the horses and carriages in front, I could easily imagine what this place would have been like in the 19th century.
We’re now in the areas where you have to pay to see a lot of the gardens and buildings.
On the other side of the palace, you can see the Gloriette at the top of the hill overlooking the vast gardens. I think I want to live here!
Inside the Gloriette is a café called Café Gloriette that provides such an opulent way to take a break and eat some much needed cold treats – an ice cream float and a milkshake 🙂
Contrasting the decor, the food was not too expensive, but I guess with minimal food options on this side of the palace grounds, and after a long walk up the hill to the Gloriette, they can charge us tired, thirsty tourists pretty much whatever they want!
A closer view of the Gloriette and its intricate detail:
After a nice relaxing break and yummy cold treats, we kept on wandering around the grounds to see what other pleasant surprises they had.
Here’s the elaborate Obelisk Fountain:
And you know, just some Roman ruins…
Back to a view of the palace and its symmetrical gardens:
A trellis covered in roses provided a shady reprieve from the burning sun that day.
Another trellis, but this time a little more fancier but with fewer flowers:
Peeking out of the trellis provided more serene picture-perfect scenes:
One more view of the Palm House before we leave, since it was my favorite “jaw-dropping, absolutely surprised to see this” moment at the palace and really set the tone for the visit.
Trust me, there was so much to see that this is only a brief tour of the palace gardens. For starters, there’s also a zoo, a carriage house, not to mention the inside of the palace. I think if my trip ended after this first day, I would have been perfectly content because it would have exceeded my expectations of this trip. Vienna is definitely one of my favorite cities now, I only wish I could visit more often!
Have you visited Schönbrunn Palace before? Was it during the summer or winter? Let us know your experience and thanks for reading!!