How to NÖ: Wüstenhaus-Schönbrunn

On behalf of my family’s interest in the Niederösterreich Card, welcome to my How-to series where I show you places to go, things to see, food to eat, and coffee to drink using the NÖ card.


Recognize this little guy from your phone?


He’s a dead-on representation of how I feel about Schönbrunn’s Wüstenhaus – Desert House in English. It’s kind of one big “eh.”

That said, I’d still see it to cross it off my NÖ list. Though underwhelming, it’s an enjoyable place for a slow Saturday or rainy afternoon.

Here’s the lowdown:

According to the Desert House’s website, Emperor Franz Joseph I had the house built back in 1904 as a solution to store his special Australian and South African plants. So if anything, you’re entering into a very old building. Then in 2000, the house was remodeled to make it into what it is today.

Photo by Daniel Zupanc

The website is amusingly proud of its “nibble fish” (“kissy fish” in our family), so if you’d like to experience the sensation of about twenty to thirty little grey fishies removing dead skin off your hands with their tiny nibble mouths, you’ve come to the right place. 

There is also a naked mole rat. Blech.

Our Review

For parents, this may not be the most exciting spot to be from an adult perspective. However, if you’ve got young kids, they’ll be thoroughly entertained. They can wander freely and safely through warm open spaces, gawk at scaly reptiles, and even get their wiggles out for a bit outside. Like I said, Wüstenhaus is a super choice for those days where the kids have to get out of the house.

For adults without kids, I’d still go just do it. It’s on the NÖ card, you’ve got a free entry, why not? Know that unless you’re into birds and plants or those kissy fish, you’ll be done in half an hour. But remember, Wüstenhaus is planted in the middle of Schönbrunn, so though your tour of the Austrian desert may be brief, you’ve got all of the palace gardens, the palace itself, and Europe’s oldest zoo to explore.

Recommended: 6/10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.