With the Vienna Pass we gained free entry to the Palace straight away, although tickets are timed, so in high-season, be prepared to wait for admittance even with a skip-the-line pass. The 40-room Grand Tour took us through large and intimate rooms, all beautifully decorated in different colour schemes and using exquisite materials including porcelain, exotic woods, gold gilt and glass. The grounds could take a couple of days to explore properly, but our highlights were the elegant Palm House and the Gloriette which we saw illuminated and reflected in the reflecting pool at dusk. The topiary, statuary, fountains and glorious rhododendrons in bloom made a sunny afternoon in the grounds quite magical. The histories of some of the residents are quite sad, like the friendless son of Napoleon who lived and died here, his only companion in this gilded cage being the lark that now sits preserved inside a glass dome in his former apartments.
One minor niggle - the toilets in the grounds near the gloriette charge 50 cents. This seems petty and just encourages people to go in the woods if they don't have a 50 cent coin to hand - not very nice. Free, quality toilet facilities, really ought to be covered by the entrance fee!