The Best 20 Castles to Visit in Switzerland (Listed by Popularity)

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Sure you’ve heard of Swiss chocolate and Swiss banks, but did you know that Switzerland has over 500 stunning castles and forts spread across the country? In fact, many of these have been restored to their original glory and are open to the public.

Plan your trip today and experience the rich cultural heritage the area has to offer. To help you out we’ve compiled a breakdown of the top 10 must-visit castles in Switzerland, with the historical backgrounds that make them so special.

And if that isn’t enough, there are also an additional 10 heritage sites for ardent travelers who want to make the most out of their trip.

The order of the list is based on Google search volume of each castle = popularity.

1. Chillon Castle

Chillon castle standing at the sea water.
Chillon castle standing at the seawater.

Built on a rocky platform that extends out into Lake Geneva, Chillon Castle is breathtakingly beautiful. While its location certainly has a lot of scenic value, its original placement was strategic. The chateau offers road access to Italy and views of the Savoyard coast, giving occupants a military edge over all trade passing through. 

Although originally the seat of power for the Counts of Savoy, Chillon Castle later became a prison during the 16th-century Wars of Religion. Renovations began in the 19th century and the castle has since inspired some of the greatest romantic writers, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, and even Lord Byron.

So, if you’re a writer with great aspirations you may want to take a visit to this striking castle for some divine inspiration.

2. Oberhofen Castle

The stunning Oberhofen Castle standing at the edge of the lake.
The stunning Oberhofen Castle standing at the edge of the lake. Francisco Conde Sánchez, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s something about the imagery of a radiant castle floating on clear water that has a dazzling impact on the mind. Oberhofen Castle is just such a stunning architectural monument with a  setting on the edge of Lake Thun that makes it irresistible to visitors. 

Walking through its magnificent halls you will see the influence of centuries of owners, each of whom sought to leave their personal mark on Oberhofen Castle. The central keep dates back to the 13th century, the chapel in the 15th century, and the tower and surrounding Baroque style structures were added in the 17th century.

When the Neuchâtel-Prussian Count de Pourtàles took over the castle in the 19th century he redid the North-Eastern side and entire western facade in his preferred Romantic style, even adding a Turkish smoking room. Architecture enthusiasts will find this visit a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

3. Spiez Castle

Spiez Castle view in front of the beautiful garden with blooming flowers.
Spiez Castle view in front of the beautiful garden. Frank Reeder, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spiez Castle (Schloss Spiez in German) is a beautiful, historical travel destination in Switzerland’s Canton of Bern. First constructed in 933 by The King of Burgundy, Rudolph II, the castle has been owned by a variety of titleholders through time.

The present castle form incorporates renovations made through the 15th-18th centuries, including the enlargement of the exquisite gallery and the addition of another level to the grand residence hall.

The Baroque “New Castle”, on the south side of the castle gatehouse, was constructed between the 17th and 18th centuries. Additions during this stage included vineyards and lush park gardens which enveloped the castle. 

The Spiez Castle Foundation was established in 1927 and purchased the castle site in 1929, owning and maintaining it since. The castle is restored and is open to the public. Tourists may walk around the beautiful gardens and attend various exhibitions and concerts, and the venue may also be rented to host conferences and events.

4. Tarasp Castle

The picturesque view of Tarasp castle surrounded by trees.
The picturesque view of Tarasp castle.

Tarasp Castle stands tall over the lush, green countryside of Eastern Switzerland offering picturesque views that invite visitors in. The earliest parts, like the chapel and boundary wall, were constructed in the 11th century, but the central structure dates to the 13th century.

Coats of arms from the late 15th century were painted on the castle’s outer, white plastered walls and remained to be seen until as late as 1900. Most of these images have since faded but some were restored during modern renovation work.

Integral to protecting the area, the castle was repeatedly attacked in the 16th and 17th centuries. Gradually the ancient manor fell into disrepair; however, recent renovations in the early 20th century by Dr. Karl Linger restored the castle.

Tarasp Castle is privately owned and visitors can arrange scheduled tours to explore the manor.

5. Thun Castle

The side view of Thun Castle.
The side view of Thun Castle. joe4statenisland, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Situated in the lovely town of Thun, Switzerland, Thun Castle was constructed in the 12th century. Originally built only as a fort, the castle was expanded over the centuries to serve other purposes. In 1429, a Gothic-style administrative and residential wing was added to the castle complex. The castle was used as a prison in the 17th century. 

Today, the castle boasts an extensive history with many different owners over the centuries. A museum is housed in the tower’s five levels showcasing an array of cultural and historical exhibits spanning the castle complex’s entire history. The great hall is available to the public to rent for events and functions. Thun Castle is a top-rated tourist site and destination for all travelers wishing to enrich their sightseeing experiences.

6. Gruyeres Castle

The panoramic view of Gruyeres Castle.
The panoramic view of Gruyeres Castle. Giles Laurent, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The charming Gruyeres Castle is one of Switzerland’s most famous tourist attractions. The manor was constructed in the 13th century. However, its owners, the Counts of Gruyeres, were forced to declare bankruptcy and sell the property in 1544.

For more than two centuries, Gruyeres Castle served as the official residence for Fribourg’s bailiffs and prefects. Finally, in 1849, the Bovy and Balland families purchased and restored the castle to its former glory. A century later, it was reacquired by the city of Fribourge, and opened to the public. 

Today, it serves as a museum with collections including Fantastic Art by Jose Roosevelt, along with paintings by Jean Baptiste-Camille and Barthelemy Menn. It also holds the 3 legendary capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

7. Tourbillon Castle

The castle walls of Tourbillon Castle.
The castle walls of Tourbillon Castle.

Tourbillon Castle (French: Chậteau de Tourbillon) is a secured, grand compound situated on a hilltop in Sion, Switzerland. With its extensive, interesting history and magnificent views, the castle complex has much to offer visitors.

Built at the end of the 13th century on a rocky and steep hill, it was used by the bishops of Sion as a secure residence. The castle was badly damaged in 1417 and subsequently rebuilt. Another fire completely destroyed the castle complex in 1788. In the 19th century, the ruins were strengthened using rocks from the castle. 

Directly across from the location of Tourbillon Castle, the Basilique de Valềre fortified church and Valềre Castle are clearly visible. The Tourbillon Castle site includes a court, a keep, a chapel and gorgeous mural paintings. The castle also features an enclosed courtyard. Declared a Swiss national heritage site in the 20th century, the castle is open to the public to explore.

8. Aigle Castle

Aigle Castle's side view.
Aigle Castle’s side view. Champéry Tourisme, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Aigle Castle is a well-preserved castle situated on a hill in the municipality of Aigle, in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. It is at the heart of a large vineyard with a 1000 year old tradition of winegrowing.

The castle was originally built as a fortress in the 11th century. The castle was rebuilt with a fortified tower and a protective wall in the 13th century. During its existence through the centuries, the castle site has had many owners and other additions were made to the castle site such as the construction of a grand tower in the south corner.

The castle became the property of the Aigle community in 1804 and was used as a cantonal prison until 1976. A museum named Musée de la Vigne et du Vin (Vine and Wine museum) was established in Aigle Castle, both the museum and castle are open to the public.

9. Aarburg Castle

Aarburg Castle's view at the top.
Aarburg Castle’s view at the top. Roland Zumbuehl, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the 13th century, Aarburg Castle was built on the bank of the Aare River so the resident Vogt (a title similar to Governor) could hold power over the strategic trade route. This narrow point was also important because it served as the connection between Protestant towns Bern and Zurich, at a time when religious tension with Catholic neighbors was extremely high.  

A complete renovation in the 16th and 17th centuries added the Baroque elements you see today. In 1891, the manor was converted into a segregated zone for juvenile criminals, however the changing times had a definite influence on the facility. The 1959 Reform Institution became the 1972 Education Home and eventually the 1989 Youth Home. The castle remains an active Youth Home, so touring is limited to Saturdays from spring to fall, pre-scheduling required.

10. Morges Castle

Morges Castle along the road.
Morges Castle along the road. Pierre Bona, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Morges Castle (Château de Morges in French) is a picturesque medieval castle in the municipality of Morges in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. The castle is located in the southern part of the Morges town square.

The grand, square-shaped castle has a raised courtyard protected by  a tower in each corner–one of which is larger than the other three and features a clock.. The castle was built to secure and defend the town in the late 13th century.

The castle has been ruined and rebuilt during the centuries of its existence. In 1803, the castle housed the cantonal army and certain structures were added to the castle site.

The Vaud Military Museum has occupied the castle building since 1925. The castle site is open to the public and is a Swiss heritage site of national importance. The castle museum exhibitions attract tourists from around the world.

If you are a castle enthusiast, you must take out the time to visit these equally spectacular castles in Switzerland as well:

11. Castle of Montebello

Montebello Castle's entrance bridge.
Montebello Castle’s entrance bridge. Viktar Palstsiuk, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Castle of Montebello is home to several significant archeological exhibitions and draws in hundreds of visitors each year. The castle has a slightly tumultuous history because it is one of three regal fortresses that were once responsible for protecting Bellinzona. Political tensions over the centuries meant the castle was often under attack.

However, much of the damage sustained was repaired towards the start of the 20th century. Today, the Castle of Montebello is known for hosting the Civic Museum. Rising high on its hilltop site, the manor offers scenic views of the city center and Lake Maggiore. 

12. Meggenhorn Castle

Meggenhorn Castle's architectural structure view from afar.
Meggenhorn Castle’s architectural structure view from afar. Leiju, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lavish Chillon Castle draws inspiration from France’s Chambord Castle. It was constructed in 1868 as a home for the affluent industrialist Edouard Hofer Grosjean. The manor home overlooks a clear lake and stunning vineyards. 

The extravagant residence was designed to reflect the owner’s taste and interests, even hosting a Welte Philharmonic Organ. After his death the castle passed into the hands of two other private owners until finally becoming property of the state in 1974. This stunning manor is definitely one to visit on your trip to Switzerland.

13. Bottmingen Castle

Bottmingen castle surrounded by water.
Bottmingen castle surrounded by water. Taxiarchos228, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bottmingen Castle is an ancient, medieval castle, built around the early 13th century. It is a moated castle and a sight to behold with its incredible water surroundings and charming drawbridge. It is a Swiss heritage site of national significance and has been well preserved.Situated in the municipality of Bottmingen, Switzerland, the castle was rebuilt in the 18th century in the early Baroque style. It served as a country manor house for an established family in the region. The famous world champion tennis player, Roger Federer, lives in the same town.

14. Rapperswil Castle

The Rapperswil Castle from afar.
The Rapperswil Castle from afar.

Rapperswil Castle (Swiss German: Schloss Rapperswil), is a medieval castle built around 1220 ADE. The castle was rebuilt;as of 1354, it is equilaterally shaped with an impressive clock tower housing two clocks, a sundial, and three bells.

Rapperswil Castle is situated on a lovely lakeshore in the town of Rapperswil, Switzerland. During the period following the castle’s restoration, it was neglected and not maintained. The local authority agreed to lease the site, in 1870, to a Count who restored the castle at his own expense. In the same year, the Polish National Museum was also established in the castle complex.

15. Hallwyl Castle

Hallwyl castle standing in the water.
Hallwyl castle standing in the body of water. Photo by Oliver Cossalter / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dating back to around the 12th century, Hallwyl Castle is an ancient, romantic tourist attraction distinctly situated on two islands, in the municipality of Seengen, Switzerland.

This romantic getaway spot has been open to visitors from all over the world for almost a hundred years. It is part of the Museum of Aargau since it became the property of the Canton of Aargau.

The medieval castle was neglected for some time. Luckily, it was restored in the late 19th century, mostly in the Neo-gothic architectural style.

16. Lenzburg Castle

The worm's eye view of Lenzburg Castle.
The worm’s eye view of Lenzburg Castle.

Lenzburg Castle is one of Switzerland’s oldest heritage sites. Placed on a circular hilltop, the earliest parts of the castle date back to its 11th century owners: the Counts of Lenzburg. Although its origins are disputed, written records for the castle trace back to 1077, to Ulrich the Count of Aargau.

Over the centuries, the imposing manor passed from one aristocratic family to another. Most famously, the castle was purchased by Friedrich Wilhelm Wedekind in 1872, a man who amassed a fortune during the California Gold Rush. His children include the famous singer Erika Wedekind and writers Frank and Donald Wedekind. 

After passing through the hands of several American magnates, Lenzburg Castle was sold to the town in 1956. Today, the castle is open to the public and home to one of the most comprehensive cultural collections in Switzerland displayed in Aargau Museum.

17. Munot Castle

Munot Castle at the top of the hill
Munot Castle at the top of the hill. Roland zh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Munot Castle is a prominent 16th century circular fortification in the center of Schaffhausen town, Switzerland. It stands out as being one of the few European castles to have been converted into a modern-day fortress. The castle is built into the city’s foundations.

A range of expositions are open to the public at Munot Castle, as it is a popular destination for travelers. Elevated above ground level, the proud fortress offers visitors a magnificent view of the surrounding town area below and the gorgeous vineyards which envelope the castle.

Tradition at this castle since 1589, the Munot watchman rings the bell of the fortress every night at 9pm!

18. Angenstein Castle

Angenstein Castle's view from afar.
Angenstein Castle’s view from afar. Aschweizer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Standing guard over the town of Duggingen, Angenstein Castle was essential in maintaining power in the Jura area. Because of its strategic regional importance the medieval castle endured significant damage. 

With each subsequent change in ownership came a new age of neglect. Add to that several harsh fires and much of the original structure was ruined. It is only when the city of Basel gained sole rights over the property that a complete restoration project began. It is now open to the public.

19. Marschlins Castle

Marschlins Castle view from across the green field.
Marschlins Castle view from across the green field. I, Parpan05, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marschlins Castle, a true gem for tourists, is situated in the village of Igis, Canton of Graubṻnden, Switzerland. Often described as a fairy-tale palace, the exact time of its construction is still not clear, but records certify that it existed from at least the 13th century. The picturesque castle is built in the shape of a square with a tower at each corner.

Over the centuries the castle has burnt down, been rebuilt as a residence with a French garden, and then fallen into disrepair. Luckily, it has been fully restored and is open to the public!

20. Castles of Bellinzona

The stunning view of Bellinzona Castle.
The stunning view of Bellinzona Castle.

The Castles of Bellinzona is a trio of fortified castles, situated in the enchanting Alpine foothills around the town of Bellinzona, the capital of the Canton of Ticino. 

Sasso Corbaro Castle was built in 1479 and is elevated above the other two castles on a rocky point with a magnificent view. Castlegrande Castle was built in the 13th century. It is a solid gray structure with several interspaced towers and a glorious staircase. Montebello Castle was constructed prior to 1313, rhomboid-shaped with deep moats.

All three breath-taking Castles of Bellinzona are open to the public for touring.

Conclusion

Switzerland is home to some of the most stunning castles in the world. Any one of these breathtaking sites will leave you awe-struck. So if you’re looking for a little historical inspiration or simply to take a step away from your everyday life with a dreamlike vacation setting, then Switzerland is the place for you. 

Charmaine Waterston
Charmaine Waterston
After studying Law and Industrial Psychology, I went on to start my own ICT data recovery business. Some years later I qualified locally as a Financial Advisor and ran my own business with a portfolio of clients. Throughout my life, I traveled extensively to many interesting countries around the world. While enjoying my life’s adventures, I absorbed the rich history of various cultures and experienced the beauty of so many different places! Today, I am an author. I combine my career and travel experience with my thirst for knowledge about our captivating world and the remarkable people in it. My writing is an expression of my passion for personal growth and my love of communication. I am truly fulfilling my dream through my work!

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