Some people get the taste of a new place through food, some through nature, some through its history and architecture, and some through other activities they find fascinating.
Traveling through the spectacular countryside of Switzerland can be an incredibly rewarding experience. However, the sheer amount of magnificent castles scattered across the country is enough to confuse even the savviest traveler.
Due to the sheer volume of majestic chateaus and palaces, it isn’t easy to know where to begin and which ones to include in a trip plan. That’s why we’ve decided to give you a hand and offer our list of the best castles in Switzerland to visit.
Chateau de Chillon
Hailed as one of the most spectacular castles in Europe, Château de Chillon impresses visitors with its medieval splendor, commanding lakeside location, and history that dates back to the 13th century. Its role as a place of imprisonment during the Middle Ages makes it an unforgettable destination.
It’s like traveling back in time when you visit Chillon Castle! Each room reveals a new layer of history about this castle on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Chillon Castle contains roughly 300 artifacts on display as an outstanding heritage monument. Excluding the furniture, weaponry, and armor, all artifacts displayed here were discovered during the archaeological excavations conducted around the castle from 1896 to 1903.
Vufflens Castle is one of the most well-known castles in the Morges region. A thirty-minute stroll through the vineyards provides a breathtaking perspective of the castle.
Vufflens is a castle with majestic views of Mont Blanc and the Vufflens-la-Caille Glacier in Switzerland. The castle was built between 1863-and 1866 by an American couple and is situated at 1,485 meters above sea level. Between Dennis and Vufflens-le-Château, a nice 30-minute walk around the vineyards provides a breathtaking view of this majestic castle, the lake, and the Mont-Blanc.
The castle is the major house of one of the leading aristocratic families in western Switzerland throughout the Middle Ages: the counts of Gruyère, as documented in the archives for the very first time in 1244.
The castle was built in the 13th century in the shape of a “carré Savoyard,” a military design designed by the House of Savoy, whose vassals are the counts. An almost square enclosure with a keep, a tower, and little overhanging towers at the corners protects it.
Gruyères Castle was owned by the lords who constructed it, the so-called bailiffs of Fribourg, and then the Geneva families of Bovy and Balland before it was repurchased in 1938 by the Canton of Fribourg and then being opened to the public.
Hallwyl Castle is one of the most astonishing castles in Switzerland as the moated castle in the canton of Aargau. Eight hundred years of history await you within the walls of Hallwyl Castle, so explore the castle complex and the interactive display of the building and family history.
There are numerous activities offered at the Hallwyl Castle:
- Museum Exhibition
- Workshops and tours for schools
- Workshops and tours for groups
- Events and public guided tours
- Secret corners and puzzles for families
It also offers a bistro with delicacies, and you can even rent rooms for a wedding or other celebrations. The castle is perfect for a family day out, too; adventure playgrounds, gardens, and mini-golf are among the many attractions on offer.
Aarburg Castle (Festung Aarburg) is a castle in the Swiss canton of Aargau, located in the municipality of Aarburg. It is situated on a steep, rocky mountainside high far above the town of Aarburg. The castle was erected around some medieval castle that functioned as the headquarters of Aarburg Vogt and dominated the narrow-angle of the Aare river.
The fortification has a commanding position over the village of Aarburg and the Aare River. It’s a stunning sight for anyone traveling by vehicle or train, and it’s well worth seeing! Take a stroll to get the most out of the history and folklore surrounding this structure, which is about a thousand years old.
The Valere Basilica, also known as the Valere Castle, is a heavily protected church in Sion. It is placed on a hillside and faces the Tourbillon Castle, situated on the opposing hill. It is a national heritage site in Switzerland.
Accompanied by amazing architecture, its central tower is accessed by an interior staircase with its own outer spiral staircase leading to the top. Taking two hours to explore, you’ll walk all over this castle, checking out secret rooms, Gothic chapels, and ghoulish torture chambers.
If you’re looking for an adventurous experience off the beaten track, this is an excellent choice. Don’t forget a pair of comfortable walking shoes, as there are a few steep ways to get up to the parapets. So, take a tour of this stunning building and learn how it was preserved throughout history.
The magnificent Meggenhorn Castle is on a bluff above Lake Lucerne’s port, with a spectacular view of Lucerne and the Alps. This castle is easy to find, and once you arrive, you can either park at the entrance and walk to the castle or drive through the gate and stop almost beside it. The image of the castle is covered by a slop as you approach, so when you reach the main door, you’ll be astounded by the gardens and the structure itself.
The Meggenhorn Castle and gardens are located on a peninsula south of Lucerne, on a mountainside. The castle faces a vineyard and is a renowned picnic spot with swimming access to the lake.
You can make your fantasy a reality by hosting your occasion in a unique setting. The exquisite rooms provide the ideal environment for company gatherings, marriages, civil weddings, family festivities, graduation ceremonies, and conferences, with meals and feasts in the ballroom and cocktails on the castle terrace.
Rapperswil Castle is a popular tourist attraction in the scenic “City of Roses” on the banks of Lake Zurich. The castle, which was built near the end of the middle ages and has been repaired several times, can be seen from a long distance. It stands well above the town, sitting atop the Lindenhof, a steep rocky hill that runs through Rapperswil.
It has a breathtaking view that you would not want to miss, with the yard, walls, and architecture it carries. Here are some things to see if you visit:
- Castle from the 12th-century
- Beautiful scenery over Rapperswil
- Deer park on the castle hill
You can also take your children with you as they can climb walls and play with a speaking tube in a playground located directly beneath the deer park. So, do not forget to mark Rapperswil Castle on your list.
The namesake settlement in Upper Engadine is dominated by Castle Tarasp, which dates from the 11th century. The castle belonged to Austria until 1803 and was often besieged and fought over, although it was never taken. Karl August Lingner, the creator of the mouthwash Odol, saw the vacant and deteriorating castle in 1900, bought it, and had it extensively rebuilt (the restoration lasted until 1916).
Castle Tarasp has been available to the public since 1919, and visitors can see nobles’ halls and ballrooms, medieval bedrooms, the castle chapel, and the 2,500-pipe organ. The castle hosts public organ performances, excursions, and “active holidays,” which allow visitors to assist with annual maintenance tasks.
Numerous fun and educational activities await you there, so seize the opportunity.
Grandson Castle is Switzerland’s second-largest castle, with a 40-meter-high façade, massive ramparts, and a more than 150-meter-long parapet walk. The fortification is a remarkable example of 13th-century castle architecture and was built by Otto I, Lord of Grandson.
This imposing 13th-14th century Gothic fortress, which overlooks Lake Neuchâtel and was the seat of the noble Waldensian Grandson family, was also at the core of European history during the Burgundy Wars (1474-1477) among Charles the Bold and the Confederates, and the echoes of the Battle of Grandson (1476) still resonate with people in the collective memory of Switzerland.
The Grandson castle has a long history, dating back to roughly 1050, and has been owned by a dozen different people over the centuries, so there is a lot to learn.
Make sure you find time and a place on the list for Grandson Castle, and we promise you will be left amazed and inspired.
Tourbillon Castle is considered a national historic site in Switzerland. It is encircled by a round wall that reflects the spire’s uneven top. From up there, you can see The Basilique de Valere, which is positioned on the opposite hill.
In 1788, the castle was destroyed by fire. Despite this, the rectangular keep and a thin watchtower in the corner and many of the internal walls still remained.
To get to the location, you’ll have to ascend steep stairs that wound their way around the hill. The walk will be totally worth it when you experience the panoramic view from above.
The Bellinzona Castles are a collection of fortifications surrounding Bellinzona’s town. The complex, located in the Alpine foothills, is made up of a fortified city and three castles: Castelgrande, Montebello, and Sasso Corbaro. Since 2000, the defensive walls of Bellinzona’s castles have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The castle was once known as Montebello Castle or Castel Piccolo (“little castle”) (1457-1472). It was renamed Svitto Castle under the Swiss occupation and San Martino Castle after 1818.
Moreover, outside you can enjoy a relaxing picnic and some healthy fun in our well-equipped playground or snap a snapshot at the Grand Tour of Switzerland photo site.
Also, the scenery from this fortress is breathtaking! It’s a short walk from Piazza Collegiata and the Nocca neighborhood, so do not miss out.
The old castle on the outskirts of Thun is a remarkable focal point of Bernese Oberland’s entry. The Knights’ Hall, one of the very few surviving chambers of its type dating from the Middle Ages, is housed in this nearly entirely intact emblem of power.
Since the 12th century, Thun Castle has been a magnificent icon closely tied with the town of Thun. The vistas of the surrounding Alps, Lake Thun, and the old town alone make it worthwhile to visit.
Please keep the following in mind to guarantee that your trip is ideal in every way:
- Check the current work hours ahead of time.
- Make a reservation for a castle tour in advance.
- Before visiting, wheelchair users should inquire about access points.
On the edge of Lake Thun sits Oberhofen Castle, which has a medieval keep and a lake tower. The living museum is housed in the palace, which goes back to the early thirteenth century. The enormous castle park is said to be among the most beautiful in the Alps region.
The exhibit rooms of the living museum illustrate Bernese residential culture from the 16th to the 19th century, with artifacts varying from neo-Gothic dining rooms and knights’ suits of armor to a Turkish smoking parlor. The castle chapel, with its late 15th-century wall paintings, is still used for baptisms and marriages today.
Besides the interesting history and beautiful architecture, you can:
- Rent a room in the castle
- Enjoy the magnificent park in the alpine region
- Immerse yourself in the past that has shaped the castle over eight centuries
- Experience the cultural tours
Ensure you check out at least one of the above.
In what is said to be Europe’s most beautiful bay, Spiez Castle is encircled by vineyards and the Alps. From the castle tower, you can enjoy spectacular views of Lake Thun and the Bernese Oberland Alps, or you can visit the castle museum’s permanent exhibition or one of the attractive special exhibitions.
By visiting Spiez Castle, you may learn about the castle’s 1,300-year history. In the historical exhibition halls, the personal life story of the warrior Adrian von Bubenberg, who previously dwelt in Spiez Castle, is told.
With beautiful views, relaxing vibes, and enriched stories, you can enjoy your time with your loved ones in the middle of history. Pick up the phone and call for a reservation.
We tried to help you by listing the best castles in Switzerland and showing a bit of them all so that you are introduced to them, their history and cultural importance. All the castles on this list are amazing sites for visitors wanting to soak up some of Switzerland’s unique history, but they’re different enough to provide something new for everyone who makes the trip.
As such, we encourage a visit whether you’ve visited the other castles or not because each one has something to offer. Now, if you have not planned your trip to Switzerland yet, this will help you for sure. So, go out there and enjoy the cultural sights of this beautiful country.