Vienna’s world-famous Spanish Riding School is something not be missed if you are visiting Vienna. It is truly reminiscent of the imperial Habsburg era. This equestrian show is performed by Lipizzaner stallions formerly kept at an imperial stud established at Lipica. The graceful stallions perform an equine ballet to a classical-music program while the audience watches from pillared balconies – or the cheaper standing-room area – and chandeliers shimmer above.
There are many options to see the Lipizzaner. The Gala performances are first-class, and seats for these performances are in high demand and need to be booked several months in advance. The website lists performance dates and you can order tickets online. Normally, performances are at 11 am on Sunday from mid-February to June and mid-August to December, with frequent additional performances on Saturday and occasionally other days of the week.
For standing-room tickets, book at least one month in advance. During the summer break there are no Gala shows but the School hosts special ‘Piber meets Vienna’ performances. There are alternatives to a gala performance, though.
Training sessions in the morning
Most of the year, the stallions train in the winter riding hall in the mornings and this Morgenarbeit (morning training) is open to the public from 10 am – 2 pm. Although it doesn’t have the glamour or comprehensiveness of the gala performances, the exercises are done to music and it’s a cheaper and easy way to see the horses doing their (rather impressive) thing. There are no training sessions from July to Mid-August. – Cost from €16.00 euros per person. (Approx. AUD$27.00)
You can also take a guided tour around the riding school and stables most days. One-hour guided tours are at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm Tuesday to Sunday, held in English and German, take you into the performance hall, stables and other facilities. A combined morning training and tour is another option.
The visitor centre on Michaelerplatz sells all tickets. Morning training tickets can also be bought at the entrance during training sessions. Cost from €19.00 euros per person. (Approx. AUD$32.00). Morning Exercise and Guided tour from €33.00 per person (Approx. AUD$56.00)
During part of the summer, don’t expect to see any Gala shows or morning exercise. The stars of the stable enjoy a well-earned holiday in the country. In their place, the younger “trainee” horses step in for a special Piber meets Vienna* show.
If you want to see the stallions for free and you have plenty of patience, you can wait outside the stable areas for the horses to transfer from their accommodation to the training areas on days when there’s Morgenarbeit or a performance.
Stand outside the former Lipizzaner Museum (Address: Reitschulgasse 2), facing the wall. To your right is the entrance to the stables. If you’re there just before, during and after the times of a session or performance, you might see some stallions walked past by their riders. No promises though.
Equally, from the road you can look into the courtyard of the riding school stables and maybe catch a glimpse of some Lipizzaner poking his head out to catch sight of the tourists (see the photo above).
If you aren’t walking past on your travels around the sights, anyway, then you can best reach it on bus numbers 1A and 2A using the Michaelerplatz and Habsburgergasse stops.
Alternatively, it’s approx. a 10 minute walk from subways U1 (Stephansplatz), U2 (Volkstheater or Museumsquartier) and U3 (Herrengasse or Stephansplatz), and from any stop on the trams 1, 2, 71, and D between the stops Ring/Volkstheater and Oper/Karlsplatz.
Address – Spanish Riding School (visitor centre and entrance), Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Vienna
Website – https://www.srs.at/
Note: The schedule is a guide only and you must refer to the website for accurate dates. Prices suggested are subject to change.
Snaffle Travel are offering a Christmas Markets River cruise with a visit to the Spanish Riding School including a Gala Show and a behind the scenes stable tour in December 2020. http://www.snaffletravel.com.au/london-olympia-horse-show-christmas-markets-river-cruise/. We can also help with arranging itineraries and accommodation,including tickets to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
Photo: Courtesy of Stefan Seelig & Vienna information