Best Castles in Austria

Best castles in Austria-Burg-Heidenreichstein

Austria is full of castles, fortresses, and palaces making it a delightful country to explore whether you’re a bit of a culture vulture who seeks guided tours around the staterooms of Baroque palaces or you prefer solo hiking expeditions up to forgotten Medieval ruins with views that take your breath away. With so many to choose from, the aim of this article is to help you narrow down your options, as you zero in on the castles in Austria that sound (and look) the most interesting to you.

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40 Famous Austrian Castles you Need to Visit

1. Aggstein Castle

Castles in Austria-Aggstein-Castle

Built on a ridge 300 meters above the Danube River by the Kuenring family in the 12th century, the small castle was used to control boats on the river below.

Today, visitors can take a tour of the historic castle, choosing either a classic tour or a fairytale tour, to learn the history and legends of the castle as they walk up hidden stairways to the tower viewing platforms, visit the dungeons, Knights Hall, courtyard, famous rose garden, chapel and more.

Where: Schönbühel-Aggsbach, Lower Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

2. Ambras Castle

Best castles in Austria-Ambras-Castle

This eye-catching white castle-palace gets its present-day look from Archduke Ferdinand II who had the older 11th-century medieval castle converted into the picturesque Renaissance castle to house the famous Ambras collections.

Over 200 works of art along with books, armor, and other curiosities from the prince who promoted the arts and sciences to the Renaissance world can be seen at the museum.

Where: Innsbruck, Tyrol
When:
16th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

3. Burg Raabs an der Thaya

Austrian Castles-Burg-Raabs-an-der-Thaya

This hill castle is one of the earliest stone castles to have been built in what we now know as Austria. Owned today by publisher Richard Pils of The Provincial Library, but once part of the ‘King’s District’, visitors can enjoy a guided tour around the castle taking in the big and small knight’s hall, the chapel, and courtyard and the views over the city of Raabs.

Where: Raabs an der Thaya, Lower Austria
When:
11th century
Style:
Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

4. Burgruine Gallenstein

Famous Castles in Austria-Burgruine-Gallenstein

Once the seat of the administration of Gallensteiner rule, and the family home of this noble family until 1831, Gallenstein Castle stands in partial ruin today.

At its prime, the mountain castle, which still provides visitors with stunning views was a refuge for the abbots of the Admont monastery and protected not just the Benedictine Monks from attack but kept the treasures of the church and monastery safe too.

Where: St. Gallen, Styria
When:
13th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

5. Hohensalzburg Castle

Best Austrian Castles-hohensalzburg-fortress

Built on top of Festungsberg, a small hill in the city of Salzburg, Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the biggest preserved medieval castles in all of Europe and is one of a few that have never been conquered.

Discover its 900 years of history on a tour of the castle grounds inside and out as you visit the museum, castle interior including dungeons, Golden Hall, Golden Chamber, and the medieval prince apartments before admiring the views over the city from the courtyards and bastions.

Where: Salzburg
When:
11th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

You might also like: The best castles near Salzburg. 

6. Hohenwerfen Castle

Castles in Austria-Hohenwerfen-Castle

Located in a prime position overlooking the market town of Werfen and surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps with the Tennen Mountains opposite, this rock castle is certainly one that takes your breath away.

Explore the castle’s 900-year-old history taking in the permanent and temporary exhibitions before enjoying a falconry show.

Where: Werfen, Salzburg
When:
11th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

7. Liechtenstein Castle

Best castles in Austria-Liechtenstein-Castle-

Located on the edge of the picturesque Vienna Woods, Liechtenstein Castle has had a long and turbulent history. Built in the 12th century, it was destroyed twice by the Ottomans, first in 1529 and again in 1683, remaining in ruin until it was rebuilt in the 19th century in the Neo-Gothic style that we see today.

The seat of the Prince of Liechtenstein for 900 years (and the family home for 200 years) today the castle opens its doors to allow visitors to see inside the regal family home.

Where: Maria Enzersdorf, Lower Austria
When:
12th century / 19th Century
Open for visit:
Yes, Check here for more information.

You might also be interested in: The best Castles near Vienna.

8. Moosham Castle

Austrian Castles-Moosham-Castle

As the 3rd largest castle in the state of Salzburg and one of the most haunted castles in the world, Moosham Castle is well worth a visit as you discover life in the 16th-19th centuries including the history of the witch trials that took place here.

Having been the administrative center during the 17th century and the seat of the governor in the Lungau region, visitors can learn the history of Moosham Castle on a guided tour before soaking up the views and stunning architecture that has inspired many a painter.

Where: Unternberg, Salzburg
When:
13th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

9. Niederfalkenstein Castle

Famous Castles in Austria-Niederfalkenstein-Castle-

Making up part of the larger Falkenstein fortification complex, Niederfalkenstein Castle (Lower Falkenstein Castle) is the most preserved lower barbican whilst the main fortress, Oberfalkenstein, is a ruin.

Originally belonging to the Falkenstein family, the castle was split into 2 in the 1300s after the Falkenstein’s died out, the upper and lower citadels becoming the homes of two different noble families.

Where: Obervellach, Carinthia
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Yes, 24/7

10. Riegersburg Castle

Best Austrian Castles-Riegersburg-Castle

Built atop a dormant volcano overlooking the town, Riegersburg Castle has an 850-year-old history waiting to be explored. Once the “strongest fortress in the Christian world”, today it is owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein.

Visitors can step inside to explore 30 rooms of the castle-museum while learning about the wealthy and powerful Baroness Katharina Elisabeth von Wechsler who took control of the castle in the 17th century at a time when witch hunts were rife in a male-dominated world.

Where: Riegersburg, Styria
When:
17th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

11. Schloss Ort

Castles in Austria-Schloss-Ort

Built on a small island on Traunsee Lake, Schloss Ort is a picture-postcard fairytale castle that can be accessed via a 123-meter bridge from the mainland. Built on the ruins of a Roman fortress in approximately 1080 by Hartnidus of Ort, the castle was passed to Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor in 1483 after which it was rebuilt due to a fire.

Visit the castle and discover the legend of Erla the giant and many other characters as you admire the external Gothic staircase, beautiful courtyard, and onion-domed tower.

Where: Gmunden, Upper Austria
When:
11th / 17th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

12. Burg Bruck

Best castles in Austria-Burg-Bruck

The home of the Meinhardiner Counts of Görz before it passed to the Habsburg archduke Maximilian I of Austria, Burg Bruck is known and loved for its chapel with frescoes by Simon von Taisten.

Used as a military field hospital and barracks during the French Revolutionary Wars, today, Bruck castle is home to the Museum of the City of Lienz and contains the largest collection of works by the painter Albin Egger-Lienz.

Where: Lienz, Tyrol
When:
13th century
Open for visit:
Yes, Check here for more information.

13. Burg Clam

Austrian Castles-Burg-Clam

The family home of the Counts of Clam since 1454, Castle Clam was built as a fortress high above the Danube Valley in 1149 by Otto von Machland who ruled of all Upper Austria.

The castle changed hands several times until the Clam clan finally won the 30-year war which had seen them forced to employ their own private army to defend the castle including the now-iconic 30 meters high round tower.

Step inside and explore the halls, rooms, and grounds of this historic ‘working’ family home which includes a 3-story inner courtyard and chapel and take in the private collection of antiques, paintings, porcelain, furniture, and armory.

Where: Sperken, Upper Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

14. Burg Freundsberg

Famous Castles in Austria-Burg-Freundsberg

Built 675 meters above sea level in the year 1150 as the seat of the Lords of Freundsberg, Burg Freundsberg initially only had a single tower which was 5 storeys high and used for residential purposes but the castle was expanded to include an adjoining chapel in 1177, both of which still stand.

Today, the castle houses the museum of the city Schwaz where visitors can learn about the development of ‘the silver city’, Schwaz being the largest mining metropolis in the Habsburg Empire during the Middle Ages.

Where: Schwaz, Tyrol
When:
13th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

15. Burg Greifenstein

Best Austrian Castles-Burg-Greifenstein

For almost 1,000 years a castle known as Greifenstein has stood overlooking the Danube River with Burg Kreuzenstein almost directly opposite. Rebuilt several times due to invasions, Griefenstein Castle was inhabited until 1770 and owned by the Bishops of Passau until 1803. The castle that we see today dates from the 19th century.

Where: Andrä-Wördern, Lower Austria
When:
11th  / 19th century
Open for visit:
Exterior only, 24/7

16. Burg Griffen

Castles in Austria-Burg-Griffen

Perched atop a 135-meter high limestone mountain, the well-preserved ruins of this Medieval fortress make for an impressive sight. Built by the Bamberg prince-bishops between 1124-1148, Burg Griffen is one of the largest castles in the state of Carinthia and has never been besieged.

Visitors to the castle who hike up the nature trail enjoying the views back down across the town can also visit the impressive Griffener stalactite cave.

Where: Griffen Carinthia
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Yes, open 24/7

17. Burg Heidenreichstein

Best castles in Austria-Burg-Heidenreichstein

This beautiful moated castle with its terracotta turrets and two drawbridges is as impressive inside as it is outside. Take a tour of the permanent residence and administrative seat of the rule Heidenreichstein to admire the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque interiors.

Where: Heidenreichstein, Lower Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

18. Burg Kreuzenstein

Austrian Castles-Burg-Kreuzenstein

Looking like it came straight out of a fairytale, Castle Kreuzenstein is a 19th-century reconstruction of an older medieval, castle that was demolished after it fell into disrepair during the Thirty Years’ War.

Admire the panoramic views of the countryside before stepping inside to experience life during the Middle Ages with unique collections that will excite the imagination of the whole family.

Where: Leobendorf, Lower Austria
When:
12th / 19th century
Open for visit:
Yes, Check here for more information.

19. Burg Mauterndorf

Famous Castles in Austria-Burg-Mauterndorf

This toll castle, built on the ruins of a Roman fortification in 1253, is comprised of a main residential area, castle chapel, 44-meter high keep, and surrounding defensive wall.

The Summer residence of the Salzburg archbishops, the castle complex is complete to this day and provides visitors with an opportunity to step back to Medieval times to get to know Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach and his entourage on a guided tour of the castle’s interior.

Where: Mauterndorf, Salzburg
When:
13th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

20. Burg Neulengbach

Best Austrian Castles-Burg-Neulengbach

This beautiful hilltop castle with its 8 round towers and the red-brick roof was made into a residential palace in the 17th century by Count Khue. Founded in 1189, the castle complex overlooks the town and forest and boasts a Renaissance portal and a courtyard with Tuscan columns.

Where: Neulengbach, Lower Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

21. Burg Ottenstein

Castles in Austria-Burg-Ottenstein

Surrounded by woodland, this beautiful castle with its grey turrets, yellow stonework, and small drawbridge got a makeover in the 1860s-70s giving the castle the romanticized look we see today.

Originally a defence castle, frescoes from the 12th century are located in the castle chapel which is one of the oldest parts of this castle complex. Today the complex is an event venue and hotel with restaurant.

Where: Rastenfeld, Lower Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Only for events and restaurant patrons.

22. Burg Perchtoldsdorf

Best castles in Austria-Burg-Perchtoldsdorf

Once an important defense element in the castle chain on the Alpenostrand, the restoration, and expansion of Castle Perchtoldsdorf above and below ground make it a multi-functional venue that has successfully combined modern technology with ancient history, this castle dating back to before the year 1,000.

Where: Perchtoldsdorf, Lower Austria
When:
12th century
Style:
Contemporary and Modern
Open for visit:
External only, 24/7

23. Burg Rappottenstein

Austrian Castles-Burg-Rappottenstein

Explore the history of this impressive medieval fortress that has never been conquered on a 50 minute guided tour. Lovingly restored by the Counts of Abensperg and Traun who have owned Rappottenstein castle since 1664, travel back in time to Medieval times and see the rare examples of 16th-century frescoes and the charming castle garden as you move around the 3 castle buildings to admire the Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance architecture.

Where: Rappottenstein, Lower Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

24. Burg Seebenstein

Famous Castles in Austria-Burg-Seebenstein

Thought to have been built in 1042, after the Battle of Pitten against the Hungarians by one of the Gerhard clan who built other castles in the area, Burg Seebenstein was later owned by the Knight Niklas von Sebeck and his heirs. Today visitors can admire the 23-meter high keep from 1380 and see art and artifacts inside 40 rooms of the lower castle museum.

Where: Seebenstein, Lower Austria
When:
13th and 15th-17th century
Open for visit:
Yes, check here for more information.

25. Burg Vichtenstein

Located in the Sow Forest above the Danube valley, Vichtenstein Castle was built in approximately 1100 by the Counts of Formbach before being passed to the Hallgraves of Wasserburg.

After a long dispute between Wasserburg and the Prince-Bishop of Passau due to Wasserburg borrowing money to make a crusade to the Holy Land in which the castle was used as collateral, Burg Vichtenstein became an administrative center of the Bishopric of Passau until the 17th century.

At the end of WWII, the castle was used as a refugee camp and is now privately owned, not open to the public despite having been restored.

Where: Vichtenstein, Upper Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit:
Exterior only during daylight hours.

26. Burg Wiener Neustadt

Castles in Austria-Burg-Wiener-Neustadt

Built by Leopold VI, Duke of Austria with the ransom for King Richard the Lionheart, Burg Wiener Neustadt becomes the imperial and royal seat and contains the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I in St George’s cathedral. Since 1752 it has been the home of the Theresian Military Academy, the oldest existing training facility for officers in the world.

Rebuilt after it was destroyed during WWII, the castle exhibition entitled “From the Imperial Residence to the Officer’s Forge” allows visitors to learn about the castle during the time of Maximilian I, explore the art collections, as well as get insight into military officer training past and present on a 75 minute guided tour.

Where: Wiener Neustadt, Lower Austria
When:
12th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

27. Eggenberg Palace

Best castles in Austria-Eggenberg-Palace

The most significant (and quite simply, stunning) Baroque castle-palace complex in the region, Eggenberg Palace is to Styria what Versailles is to the Île-de-France. Built for Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg to show off his newly acquired status in the Imperial Court, the palace was designed to tell the story of the universe.

The buildings represent a precisely calculated cosmos with the number of rooms, windows, doors, towers, etc. marking the number of seasons, weeks, days, hours, and minutes in a year. Step inside on a guided tour to marvel at the thought and detail that has gone into this palace, especially with the Planet Hall with its decoration depicting celestial bodies, and delight in the landscaped planet garden full of peacocks.

Where: Graz, Styria
When:
17th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

28. Forchtenstein Castle

Austrian Castles-Forchtenstein-Castle

This mighty fortress was the only one in the region not to be taken during the Turkish Wars and therefore became a treasury of the Esterházy princes from 1713 whilst also serving as an arsenal for troops.

Step inside the castle grounds to see the huge bright frescoes in the inner courtyard that are considered amongst the greatest North of the Alps before you admire the treasures of the Esterházys’ which includes military items, Baroque furniture, and other family heirlooms of great value.

Where: Forchtenstein, Burgenland
When:
14th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

29. Franzensburg Castle

Famous Castles in Austria-Franzensburg

Named in memory of the last Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II who died in 1835, this beautiful water castle, built on an artificial island next to the Castle of Laxenburg, was completed in 1836 in the style of a Medieval castle though its function was not for defense but as two museum spaces are known as Ritterburg and Knappenburg.

Enclosed in a 250-hectare park with English-style landscape gardening, visitors can explore the castle and its collections on a guided tour with access to the rooftop and towers where you can take in the stunning views across the lake

Where: Laxenburg, Lower Austria
When:
19th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

30. Heinfels Castle

Best Austrian Castles-Heinfels-Castle

Known as the “Queen of Pustertal” due to its location, Heinfels Castle was founded by the Huns and known as Huonenfels Castle until the 16th century. Later, the present-day castle was owned by the knight Otto von Heunvels, before falling into the hands of the Counts of Gorizia. Visible for miles, the impressive castle has equally impressive views across the valley from its walls making it well worth a visit.

Where: Heinfels, Tyrol
When:
13th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

31. Hochosterwitz Castle

This medieval rock fortress is one of Austria’s most impressive castles. Perched atop a 172-meter high dolomite rock, the castle’s 14 fortified gates made it impregnable and therefore it became a refuge for the local people during the Turkish invasions in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The 14 gates along with the “fools stairs” make for an exciting climb up to the castle with the 14th-15th century square tower and chapel with frescoes awaiting at the top.

Once the architecture and views have been admired, visitors can step inside the castle museum to see weapons left by Napoleon and portraits of Khevenhüller’s ancestors. Special events including Knight Festivals and Folk Festivals also take place throughout the season.

Where: Hochosterwitz, Caranthi
When:
10th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

32. Itter Castle

Best castles in Austria-Itter-Castle

This small castle that stands on the site of an older Medieval castle made modern-day history by becoming the site of the strangest battle of World War II, ‘The Battle for Itter Castle’.

The battle that took place on 5th September 1945 saw American and German troops join forces to fight the Nazi SS in order to free French VIP prisoners of war who were being held, unguarded, at Itter Castle in the last days of WWII.

Two former prime ministers of France, Edouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, as well as the elder sister of Gen Charles de Gaulle amongst other notable French figures, were released unharmed whilst 100 SS men were captured.

Where: Itter, Tyrol
When:
19th century
Style:
Tudor Revival
Open for visit
: No

33. Kufstein Fortress

Austrian Castles-Kufstein-Fortress

This impressive medieval fortress was built to control the pass from the Alpine foothills into the Inntal valley. Owned by the bishops of Regensburg in 1205 and besieged and conquered by Emperor Maximilian I in 1504, today Kufstein Fortress takes visitors back in time to the era of the Knights with not three museums to explore.

The fortress is also known for having the world’s largest outdoor organ which features 4,307 pipes and 4 registers. Named the “Heroes’ Organ”, it is played every day to honor the soldiers who died in WWI and WWII.

Where: Kufstein, Tyrol
When:
13th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

34. Landskron Castle

Famous Castles in Austria-Landskron-Castle

The ruins of this medieval hill castle with residential tower, dungeon, and chapel, provides walkers with panoramic views over the valley and is the site of an arena in which falconer demonstrations of endangered birds of prey take place during the Summer months.

Where: Villach, Carinthia
When:
14th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

35. Laudegg Castle

Located at the bottom of the Samnaun mountain range, Laudegg Castle, or  Laudeck Castle as it’s otherwise known, started off in 1200 as a residential tower located beside an ancient Roman road.

The castle was expanded by Maximilian I, and it became the administrative seat of the court of Oberes Gericht valley (Laudeck Court) until the 16th century after which it became used as a prison and arms depot before falling into disrepair until the restoration project in the 1960s.

Where: Ladis, Tyrol
When:
13th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

36. Tratzberg Castle

Castles in Austria-Tratzberg-Castle

Built in the 13th century and used as a border stronghold against the Bavarians and as a hunting lodge by Emperor Maximilian I, the first Tratzberg Castle was destroyed by fire, remaining in ruin until it was acquired by a wealthy merchant named Georg Knight of Ilsung who initiated the building of the present-day castle in 1554.

Expanded by the Fuggers family, more wealthy merchants, today Tratzberg Castle is a superb example of palace architecture typical for the alpine parts of the Holy Roman Empire.

Fitted with modern technology to allow visitors to do time travel back to the 16th century thanks to a new 3D virtual reality tour, visitors can also enjoy a traditional guided tour through the stunning castle rooms.

Where: Jenbach, Tyrol
When:
13th / 16th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

37. Schloss Schönbrunn

Best castles in Austria-Schloss-Schönbrunn

This 1,441 room Rococo pleasure palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers and is one of Europe’s most beautiful Baroque palaces, only slightly less opulent than Versailles.

Visit the staterooms and private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi as you choose between the Imperial Tour (22 rooms, 30-40 minutes) or the Grand Tour (40 rooms, 50-60 minutes) which includes the 18th-century rooms from the time of Maria Theresia.

After viewing the interiors, step outside to wander in the Orangery Garden, find your way through the maze, admire the 6 fountains including the iconic Neptune Fountain, and explore the park.

Where: Hietzing, Vienna
When:
18th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

38. Esterházy Palace

Austrian Castles-Schloss-Esterházy

This beautiful Baroque Imperial palace was the Esterházy court for 300 years, being the main residence for the noble family of the Habsburg Empire as well as the administrative centre. Originally a fortified Gothic castle, it was converted into a palace in the late 17th century by Paul, the first Prince Esterházy.

Today, visitor’s can explore the rooms and private collection of the Esterházy dynasty, seeing the apartment of the princess, the treasure chamber, the Haydn Room (the former banqueting hall where composer Joseph Haydn was inspired to create his exceptional music), and the palace chapel and other rooms alongside exhibitions detailing the life and times of the people who lived here.

Where: Eisenstadt, Bergenland
When:
13th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

39. The Hofburg

Famous Castles in Austria-Hofburg

Once the imperial Winter palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers, this sprawling palatial complex with its 2,600 rooms (one of the largest in the world) was the political centre of the monarchy right up until 1918, today is the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria.

Each Austrian Ruler over the past 500 years made alterations to the palace which you can see on a guided tour as you make your way through the 18 wings and 19 courtyards to see the Imperial Apartments, Royal Chapel, silver collection, furniture collection, and learn about Empress Elisabeth at the Sisi Museum.

Where: Vienna
When:
13th – 20th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

40. Belvedere Palace

Best Austrian Castles-Belvedere

The sprawling Belvedere Palace Complex was built as a summer home for Prince Eugene of Savoy and consists of two palaces (upper and lower) with marble hall, orangery, chapel, and stables all set within a Baroque landscaped park. Today the palaces house one of Austria’s most valuable art museums with works from the Middle Ages to the present day on display in the themed rooms.

Where: Vienna
When:
18th century
Open for visit
: Yes, check here for more information.

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