Desert House (Wüstenhaus)
Desert House (Wüstenhaus)

Desert House (Wüstenhaus)

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Schönbrunner Palace Park, Vienna, Vienna, 1130

The basics

The Desert House is located in the glass-and-steel Art Nouveau hothouse built in 1904 by Emperor Franz Joseph I to house his vast collection of rare tropical plants and sits next to the main entrance to the Schönbrunn Zoo. Visit the Desert House with a Vienna Pass or Flexipass to avoid the line at the ticket window, or as part of a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to take in the city's major landmarks without getting footsore.

Divided into four sections—Northern Africa and the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and Madagascar—the habitat is nome to a North American blacktail rattlesnake, radiated tortoise from Madagascar, and Welwitschia tree from the Namibian desert, which has long, droopy fronds and grows in an untidy heap along the ground; it can live for up to 1,500 years.

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Things to know before you go

  • The Desert House has a separate admission ticket and different opening hours than the Schönbrunn Zoo. A fast-track Vienna Pass or Flexipass ticket is a good idea during the summer months to skip past the long lines to enter. You can also opt for a combined pass for the Desert House, Schönbrunn Zoo, and Palm House.
  • Though the Desert House is protected under a glass roof, you’ll want to wear comfortable footwear and dress for the weather if pairing your visit with a stroll through the zoo.
  • There are eateries, restrooms, and gift shops located inside the adjacent zoo grounds.
  • The habitat is accessible to wheelchairs, and the zoo offers a wheelchair rental service at the entrance.
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How to get there

The Desert House is located in the Schlosspark Schönbrunn, the vast historic garden and grounds adjacent to Schönbrunn Palace on the outskirts of Vienna. Take the metro line U4 (get off at Schönbrunn), tram 10 or 60, or bus 10A to visit independently, or join a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

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When to get there

The Desert House is open daily from 9am to 5pm (6pm in summer). The former winter garden can be oppressively hot during the midday hours in the summer months, so visit in the cooler morning or afternoon hours to avoid the worst of the heat and spot the animals at their most active.

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Vienna’s Storied Schönbrunn Zoo (Tiergarten)

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful historic zoos in the world, the Schönbrunn Zoo (Tiergarten) was established in 1752 by the Habsburg imperial family. The grounds have a unique circular layout that spirals outwards from an elegant baroque pavilion. The zoo is known for its successful conservation and breeding of some of the world’s most endangered species, including Siberian tigers, rhinos, and giant pandas.

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