I think nobody will object me – Vienna is a great city. It is so much to do there – museums, operas, theatres, parks, beautiful architecture, and cafes. Opera, Sachertorte, Schnitzel and Strudel are the first things that come into your mind when you hear the word Vienna. However I've been to Vienna three times in my life, and there is only a single place I keep returning. And no – that's not even the Schönbrunn Palace, but close. It is Tiergarten Schönbrunn – the main Zoo of Vienna.
The first thing you should probably know about this zoo – it is believed, this is the oldest zoo in the world, it was founded in 1752 (as a menagerie at the beginning). It is located on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace (which means you can spend an entire day in Schönbrunn – visit the palace, wander around in the gardens, and visit the zoo).
So – why is this zoo special for me? Firstly, the variety of animals. I can find animals that I won't find in any other place – and they all can be found in relatively small area. The highlights for me definitely are the Giant Pandas, Red Pandas, Orang-utans, Koalas and now also Polar Bears. And the great thing is – you can see that the conditions for animals are absolutely perfect. Each animal has a large territory with an option to hideaway from the unwanted attention. Secondly, the zoo is located in a fantastic place – Schönbrunn Palace gardens. Even if there would be no animals, the place is worth seeing. Thirdly – infrastructure. There is everything you need for a full day stay at the Zoo. There are plenty of food stands, cafes, souvenir shops etc.
· Zoo is easy reachable by metro, just take U4 line from city centre (a lot of connections to other metros and other means of transportation can be found at the Kalsplatz station).
· In order to avoid a queue at the ticket booth, buy the tickets in advance in web-page (you also save 1 EUR per ticket this way).
· Be sure to visit café at the pavilion constructed by Jean-Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey in 1759. Wiener Schnitzel tastes great there (keep in mind that the portion is extremely large – will be enough for at least two people). Don't forget to take a look at the interior decorations and the ceiling paintings. It is a weird feeling – you're eating your Schnitzel, but outside the window you can see Ostriches talking a walk.
I've added some picture from my last visit to the zoo. Hope you like them and hopefully you'll have a chance to visit animals in Schönbrunn. J
P.s. Please, don't use flash on your cameras – that won't improve the photo much, but will definitely disturb animals. And don't make any noises trying to attract animals. Remember that it's a home to these animals and you're just a visitor. J