Since my Viennese grandparents took me to the Vienna Zoo in Schonbrunn I have returned several times: first with my little nephews, now with my own children. Below you’ll get my personal guide of the ‘Tiergarten Schonbrunn’. Find out what to see and do there, where to eat (or NOT to eat), and how to book tickets.
Like Schonbrunn Palace, the zoo has a rich history. Starting out as a ‘pet project’ in 1752, Emperor Francis’ I. created a baroque menagerie of exotic animals. Since its beginnings the animals had their home in the forestry part of the gardens behind the palace.
In the past few decades, luckily, the world’s oldest zoo has had some serious upgrades. Now it is into one of the best in Europe. Wherever you turn to as you walk through the forest, you’ll see that the animals own large spaces.
Since the zoo’s entrance is on top of the hill near Gloriette belvedere, you will just make your way down to the main area.
The entrance next to rustic Tirolergarten tavern also leads you past a historic Tyrolean farm house, beautifully painted and with wooden beams, and some farm animals.
This photo shows the tree walk, which leads from the upper part of the zoo down to the main area with its many animal pavilions. During your walk you can spot animals such as lynxes and wolves.
The tree walk takes just a few mintues, is generally safe and can also be used by smaller children. In the winter months and in bad weather conditions the tree walk can be closed.
Once you arrive at the main area you will see a circular layout, with a beautiful historic pavilion and cafe in its center. As you walk around the pavilion you will see about a dozen enclosures with various animals, for example zebras, monkeys, hippos and flamingos (see photo above) . From there, venture out to the other enclosures which are all perfectly signed.
Vienna Zoo Animals
Whereas my kids adored the pelicans and tigers, the most popular species are the Chinese pandas, especially the cute twins Fu Feng and Fu Ban. Since the zoo excels in breeding, much of its animal population is not much older (in animal years) than the human visitors, which adds to the fun. All in all, you’ll get to see a vast range of major animal species: from colourful rainforest frogs and desert spiders, Indian elephants, tigers and fluffy koalas to polar bears, seals and penguins, to name just a few.
About every 30 min between 10.00 am and 4.00pm you can watch animals being fed at different locations. My kids absolutely fell for the orang utans and the koalas.
If your kids like to stroke animals head for the miniature goats at the petting zoo close to the large adventure playground.
How to Get There: Panorama Train
If your kids are still small, encouraging them to climb up Schonbrunn’s steep hill can be a challenge. Provided you visit between March and October, the panorama train is a life saver. Starting from the palace, the electric train comfortably makes its way to Vienna zoo in 20 min. On the way you pass the Imperial museum of carriages and vehicles (Wagenburg) and Hietzing Gate. All in all, the train’s full round perfectly entertains children and adults. Further stops along the route are Schonbrunn’s original Tyrolean house, the Gloriette belvedere on top, and the obelisk and Schonbrunn’s public swimming pool (perfect for hot summer days).
Food And Drink
There are two eateries at the Vienna zoo in Schonbrunn: Tirolergarten tavern and Kaiserpavillon. Both have a rich history. In the early 19th century, Archduke Johann established a Tyrolean style log cabin in the upper area of the zoo, where he held cattle and ran a little farm. Today’s Tyrolean house dates from 1994. It has been re-built from the original parts of an 18th century Tyrolean farm house.
Tirolergarten tavern is cosy inside and has a lovely shady garden to hang out in the warm months. On the other hand, 300 year old Kaiserpavillon in the middle of the zoo reflects Schonbrunn’s Imperial glamour, boasting frescoes, chandeliers and a domed roof.
While we found our lunch at Tirolergarten absolutely acceptable customer reviews suggest that you will get better food and service elsewhere. Since the tavern and the pavillon are unique buildings do take a look inside. Good alternative options for lunch or a snack are Landtmann’s Jausenstation (see photo; closed in the winter from November to March) and Gloriette cafe. For Landtmann’s Jausenstation take the Panorama train to Meidlinger Tor.
Vienna Zoo Map
Click on the image to download the full Vienna zoo map as a pdf.
Opening Times And How To Get There
April to September: 9.00 am to 6.30pm;
October: 9.00 am to 5.30 pm;
November to January: 9.00 am to 4.30 pm;
February: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm;
March: 9.00 am to 5.30 pm
If you visit Schonbrunn Palace, head out into the gardens and then keep right. If you want to visit the Vienna zoo separately take metro U4 to Hietzing, then bus 58A to Tirolergasse.
Vienna Zoo Tickets
There are various options to get a Vienna zoo ticket. Probably the best value for money for travellers is in a combined ticket:
If you are planning to see various attractions in Vienna, consider a Vienna Flexi Pass, which not only covers Schonbrunn zoo but some 30 more key sights. For an even broader range of sights and included transport (hop on hop off bus) check out the VIENNA PASS city card. For just a visit to the zoo get single tickets.