Once part of the Holy Roman Empire, Austria houses a large number of magnificent castles, palaces, and fortresses. In Austria, you can find several architectural styles, from Renaissance to Gothic. As a result, it is arguably the most diverse and interesting place to explore in Europe!
If you’re struggling to find which castles in Austria to visit, you came to the right place! First, our guide will briefly outline some of the most mysterious and beautiful castles in Austria. Then, depending on which parts you’re planning on staying in, you can pick one or two castles to visit.
Castles in Vienna
The Schonbrunn Palace is a very popular sight located in the capital of Austria – Vienna. The palace primarily served as the summer residence of the Habsburg dynasty. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in the whole of Austria.
If you could only pick one among all castles in Austria to see, this is the one we definitely wouldn’t miss. The palace offers an excellent opportunity to learn about the lifestyle and interests of the Habsburg monarchs.
When the monarchy ended in 1918, the palace was taken over by the Republic of Austria. Visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the palace. You can enter the Palace Park for free.
The Belvedere is a grandiose palace complex located in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Besides two palaces completed in Baroque style, you will find the Belvedere Palace stables and Orangery located on the premises.
The palace was initially constructed to serve as Prince Eugene of Savoy’s summer residence. Now, the building complex houses the famous Belvedere Museum that has an astounding collection of valuable art.
The Belvedere Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its status gave it even more popularity, causing an inflow of over 1,5 million visitors in 2016. In addition, the Belvedere houses one of the most iconic works of art by Gustav Klimt – The Kiss (Lovers). You can see it with your own eyes at Upper Belvedere!
What you could also do while in Vienna (besides enjoying other attractions) is visiting the famous landmark of Hundertwasserhaus. It’s a true hidden gem that most of travelers don’t get the chance to know about.
Castles in Salzburg
Fortress Hohensalzburg is one of the largest castles in Europe. The medieval castle was built under the ruling of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg. The fortress is located in the city of Salzburg in Austria, one of the best medieval towns in Europe.
The castle is now easily accessible from the center of Salzburg. You can take a tour of the castle or just walk around and admire its exterior. To get there, you are invited to take a funicular up. It only takes a minute to get there, though it would take about 20 minutes more on foot.
The hill is quite steep, so count on a decent cardio workout if you want to walk it. Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the oldest castles in Austria. Its construction began in the year 1077.
The Hohenwerfen Castle is located in the picturesque Alps overlooking the town of Werfen in Austria. The castle is located approximately 40 km away from the city of Salzburg. The castle was built in 1077 under the rule of Archbishop Gebhard.
It was later used as a military training center during the 2nd World War. The castle became a tourist attraction later in the 20th century, in the year 1987. Fun fact: The movie “Where Eagles Dare” was filmed in the Hohenwerfen Castle in 1968.
Castles in Lower Austria
Once a beautiful castle at the top of a hill, Aggstein Castle is just castle ruins at this point. The now-former castle is located in the town of Schonbuhel-Aggsbach in Lower Austria. It was built in the 12th century by Manegold III of Acchispach.
The castle was besieged and conquered several times before it suffered some damages in the 14th century. The castle was then renovated and occupied again. Unfortunately, the last occupant of the castle passed away in the 17th century, leaving the castle completely neglected.
Today, the ruins of Aggstein Castle are one of the most frequently visited among all castles in Austria, with over 50 thousand visitors annually. The stop is really worth adding to your driving trip in Europe.
Rosenburg is a renaissance castle in Rosenburg-Mold, in Lower Austria. The property is located inside a nature reserve, making it one of Austria’s most visit renaissance castles. The castle was initially built in the 12th century, and it’s gotten a few makeovers since.
In 1476 the castle was extended and rebuilt in the Gothic style. Only a few elements from that time have remained, including the chapel. The Gothic castle was demolished at the end of the 16th century.
It was rebuilt into Schloss Rosenburg as we know it, one of Austria’s most well-known Renaissance castles. Unfortunately, tragic events took place, and Rosenburg was neglected and destroyed by a series of fires. It currently belongs to the von Hoyos-Sprinzenstein family.
Burg Rappottenstein is located in Rappottenstein, in Lower Austria. The castle is one of the less well-known castles in Austria, so not as much information about its history is available. It is a beautiful and grandiose structure nonetheless.
The castle has never been captured by enemies, so it stayed in excellent shape throughout the centuries. To experience its charm firsthand, you can rent a room in the castle and stay there for a few days! Very few castles in Austria offer this unique experience to visitors. According to Trip Advisor, you can just walk in and ask for a room.
Burg Raabs an der Thaya
Burg Raabs gets its name from its location. The castle was built in the Burg Raabs an Der Thaya municipality in Lower Austria. Recent historical discoveries show that the building of the castle first started in the 10th century.
The site was later abandoned and destroyed. In the 13th century, the castle belonged to Czech royalty. Now, it is located near the Czech-Austrian border.
Other Great Castles of Austria
Burg Kreuzestein or Kreuzenstein Castle is located near Leobendorf. You will find that the castle is not far from the towns of Korneuburg and Stockerau. Initially, the castle was built on top of the remains of another castle that was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War.
It was rebuilt and brought back to life by the Wilczek family. The origin of the destroyed castle dates all the way back to the 12th century, when it was built by the Counts of Formbach. Burg Kreuzenstein is now a popular destination for many tourists visiting Austria.
Even though some castle rooms were destroyed in the 2nd World War, it is still a magnificent structure.
Ambras Castle is a breathtaking example of Renaissance architecture located above the city of Innsbruck in Austria. The palace has a rich history that began all the way back in the 10th century.
The castle we see on the hill today was built later, in the 16th century. Ambras Castle served as Archduke Ferdinand II’s residence until the late 1590s. Currently, the Lower Castle is considered among the oldest museums in the world.
The Chamber of Art and Wonders is an unrivaled piece of cultural heritage that many tourists and locals enjoy. The museum contains a collection of luxury objects, rare natural wonders, scientific items, and so much more. You will also find collections of unique European artists there. Book a guided tour for the best experience.
The Schallaburg Castle is located in the Schallaburg village in Austria. The castle was initially referred to as fortress Schala in the 13th century. At the time, the castle belonged to the lords of Zelking.
Later, the castle was passed on to the von Losenstein family. The von Losensteins renovated the castle in the 16th century and gave it its modern Renaissance look. When Hans Wilhelm von Losenstein passed away, the castle changed many owners.
Eventually, in 1945, the property was confiscated by the Russians. However, it was returned to Austria in 1955. Now, the Renaissance castle serves as a museum, which is very popular among tourists and locals.
The Hochosterwitz Castle is a medieval fortress located near Magdalensberg in Austria. The impressive structure remains on the list of the strongest castles ever built. You can find early mentions of the Hochosterwitz Castle all the way back in 860.
In the 11th century, the fortress became a place of hiding for the local population during the Turkish invasion. As a result, the castle changed many owners and was badly damaged by the Turks in the years following the 11th century. Since the 16th century, the fortress belongs to the Khevenhuller family.
The Hochosterwitz castle opens its doors to visitors every year during the warmer months, from Easter to October. However, visitors are only welcome in one part of the castle. It is easily accessible from the city of Klagenfurt.
Schloss Ort Castle
Schloss Ort is a very unique castle, if only because of its location. The castle is located in a lake! You will find it in lake Traunsee in the city of Gmunden, not far from Vocklabruck. The castle was originally built under the rule of Hartnidus of Ort in 1080.
It was later sold to the brothers Friedrich and Reinprecht I of Wallsee. It stayed in the family until the end of the 15th century. The castle switched a few owners before finally ending up in the hands of Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1914.
Schloss Ort was meant to serve Gmunden’s schools’ students, but that didn’t work out because of the World War. The castle was not well looked after until the end of the 20th century when Gmunden acquired it in 1995.
Moosham is a medieval castle located in the region of Lungau. The castle was built on the ruins of an older Roman fortress. Unfortunately, there are no records of the original fortress anywhere, but we know that Moosham Castle’s construction began around the year 1191.
The castle was built by Prince Bishop of Salzburg. Now, it is privately owned and open to receiving visitors all days of the week. A little fun fact about the castle is that between the years of 1675 and 1690, it was the administrative center for the Zaubererjackl witch trials.
A total of 139 people was executed, 39 of which were children. Some were burned alive, others decapitated and hanged.
The medieval castle is located in Carinthia, in Austria. Once a functioning castle, Landskron is just a site of the castle’s ruins today. The castle was majestic between the 14th and 17th centuries. However, after 1648, the castle owners (the Dietrichstein dynasty) resided in their estate in Moravia, leaving the castle with no maintenance.
It consequently decayed and was struck by lightning, which left the property completely destroyed. Tourists are now welcome to visit the castle’s remains. In addition, there is a restaurant on the property that attracts a fair bit of visitors in the warmer months.
The Riegersburg Castle resides on a hill above the Austrian town of Riegersburg. The castle’s location is quite interesting, as it is situated on top of an ancient volcano. At the moment, the castle is in the ownership of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein.
It serves as a museum and showcases new exhibitions every once in a while. In its day, the castle had several different owners. Among the most important ones are the Walseer family and baroness Katharina Elisabeth von Wechsler.
She completed the castle’s construction around the year 1653 and made it one of the biggest and strongest castles in Austria at that time. The castle, having 108 rooms, often served as a refuge for people trying to hide from the conflict with the Ottoman Empire.
Schloss Esterhazy is a breathtaking Baroque palace located in the city of Eisenstadt. The castle came into the ownership of the Esterhazy family in 1622, though it was originally constructed all the way back in the 13th century.
The palace was initially built for protection, like a medieval fortress. With the Esterhazy family, it underwent the transition to become a more esthetically pleasing structure. Now, you can visit the castle, and admire its beauty from the inside and outside.
Tratzberg Castle is located above the town of Jenbach. Built in the year 1500, the castle is still functioning and very well preserved. In fact, it has one of the best-preserved interiors and exteriors of all castles in Austria.
Tratzberg Castle is currently occupied by Count Ulrich Goess-Enzenberg and his family. Despite its inhabitants, you can visit the castle and its first floor in the year’s warmer months, from March till November.
Final Words about the Castles of Austria
Castles in Austria form a huge part of the country’s heritage, history, and culture. Through visiting the castles on this list, you can learn more about Austria’s leading dynasties, their interests, and the life of luxury in the previous centuries. So don’t worry if you can’t get them all this time; you’ll have more of a reason to come back!
If you’re no stranger to Austria, please share your favorite places with us! Also, if you have some tips and recommendations for a magical time in Austria, we’d love to hear them. Don’t hesitate to share your experience in the comments.