The grounds and gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace are some of our favorite destinations here in Vienna. We visit the zoo on a regular basis, make a point of going to the Christmas and Easter markets every year, and always enjoy a climb up the hill to the Gloriette, with the lovely view over Vienna as a reward at the end. Still, with our many visits to Schönbrunn, we had never been to the labyrinth, though we’d always meant to. So, this past spring, we took a free day and made another trip out to the gardens of Schönbrunn.
Our main goal was to explore the labyrinths, but we were planning to make a day of it, so we got started early. I had always wondered — what would the labyrinth be like? Would it be fun? Boring? A little scary? Would we get truly lost? That was part of why we hadn’t ever done it — we weren’t sure we’d enjoy it, but, with the recommendation of a friend and her slightly older (than my kids) son, we were up to try it.
There are a few labyrinth choices — one set made of short hedges (that you could see over), and another with 8+ foot high hedges — more of a classic hedge maze. We decided to start easy with the short one. It was a good choice. The kids took off through the maze — literally. While we adults were limited to the actual paths, the kids could slip between the hedges to switch routes. They got ahead of, and away from, us very quickly. The only way it worked was that we could still see their heads as they ran on through the maze. Though I was slightly concerned that we might lose track of them, we actually didn’t, and I think it was extra fun for them to reach the end of the maze well before we did. At the end, we were rewarded with some large games — an interactive fountain, some balancing tables, and a big musical instrument the kids played by stomping on it. A success! Much fun, and no one got lost.
After our success in the little labyrinth, we decided to take on the bigger one. This one, with hedge walls over 8 feet tall, was not a place we could safely get separated. We stuck together and wound our way through, encountering, at each dead end, a stone block bearing a zodiac symbol (for reasons I don’t understand, but the kids were enthusiastic to learn the symbols). At the end, we got to enjoy a lovely view of Poseidon’s Fountain. The journey was relatively short, but we had to discover the way out, as well, so it was a good adventure. After finding the exit, we stopped for an ice cream and some playtime at the playground — including an elevated eagle structure (whose wings were actually flappable — only in Vienna!).
We wanted to extend our day at Schönbrunn, so we climbed up the hill behind the palace to the Gloriette (something we’ve done many times before). We took a hike through the woods, had a picnic lunch, and inadvertently took dozens of inchworms along with us on the rest of our hike (they kept dropping out of the trees onto our clothes). We finished up our day with a climb to the observation area at the top of the Gloriette (our first time up there) for an even better view over Schönbrunn and Vienna.
As usual, we had a fantastic time visiting the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace. It remains one of my favorite places to take the kids in all of Vienna. And, even after 4 years here, we were able to experience something new and exciting in a familiar place.