13 Castles in Switzerland You Absolutely Cannot Miss!

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Even though Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe, it still has over 1,000 castles and fortresses. And that’s not counting all the tower houses and fortified mansions. You can find a castle in almost every Swiss town. But some castles are more spectacular than others, and these magnificent medieval structures are what we want to introduce you to today!

Some of the most beautiful castles in Switzerland have slowly been crumbling away. While the Swiss preserved some castles, they left others to the elements. These castles transformed into something different entirely. These medieval castles are true architectural masterpieces worth visiting if you’re in Switzerland. If you want to learn about the country’s history, architecture, and culture, visiting one of these castles is the perfect way to do it.

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Chillon Castle (oldest of the castles in Switzerland)

Chillon Castle is one of the most famous castles in Switzerland. They built the castle in the 11th century in the village of Chillon in the Swiss canton of Vaud. They built Chillon as a fortress to protect the people on the shores of Lake Geneva from the threat of invasion. The castle also played a crucial role in the Burgundian Wars.

It was the prisons of Chillon where the Swiss held many French nobles captive in the 15th century. Chillon is one of the best-known castles in Switzerland and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors can visit the fortress throughout the year, and it’s straightforward to get to from either Geneva or Lausanne.

To visit Chillon Castle near Lake Geneva, why not stay at the Hotel Mon Repos or Hotel President Wilson?

Laupen Castle

The Laupen Castle is in the Swiss canton of Bern. They built it in the 12th century. It served as a fortress against the House of Savoy and the city of Bern. The castle is on a rocky cliff and got its name from the nearby village of Laupen. In 1286, the House of Savoy conquered the castle and held on to it for the next 60 years. Laupen Castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Switzerland. It is open to the public, and visitors can do guided tours in several languages. The castle also has a museum where you can learn more about its fascinating history.

Good hotel options in Bern include the Heart of Bern or Hotel Landhaus.

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Rothenthurm Castle Ruins

Rothenthurm Castle Ruins are in the Swiss canton of Aargau. The House of Habsburg built the medieval castle in the 12th century. It was the centre of a medieval settlement, and a moat surrounds it. They destroyed the castle in the 16th century.

There are very few ruins left of the castle. The only building still standing is a tower known as Rothenthurm Tower. It is open to visitors and has a small exhibition where you can learn more about the castle’s history. Rothenthurm Castle Ruins are easy to get to from the city of Aarau. It’s just a short walk from the city centre.

To visit the Rothenthurm Castle Ruins, stay at Hotel Kettenbrücke or Gästezimmer Erlinsbach near Aarau.

Tourbillon castle

Tourbillon Castle, or Château de Tourbillon in French, is a castle in Sion in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It stands on a hill, facing the Basilique de Valère. Bishop Boniface de Challant supervised the castle’s building at the end of the 13th century.

Through the years, the castle has been used as the bishop of Sion’s residence. Its location makes it perfect for defence as it is at the top of a steep hill. The conflict between the people of Valais and the bishops caused damage to the castle. It burned down in 1417 during the Raron affair, a war between the Raron family and the people of Sion. Bishop William III of Raron rebuilt the castle about thirty years later.

A fire destroyed the castle in 1788. In the 19th century, the Swiss reinforced the castle ruins, and it became a historical monument. The castle is a Swiss heritage site of national significance. The castle grounds include a chapel, garrison building and a keep.

Stay at ibis Styles Sierre or Hotel La Cambuse to visit the Tourbillon Castle.

Thun castle

Duke Berthold V Zähringen built Thun Castle (Schloss Thun in German) between 1180 and 1190 to signify the family’s power over the region. The Duke also built the Knights’ Hall as a monument to Zähringen’s power over the region. The Grand Hall is currently one of the best-preserved samples of the representation halls of the Middle Ages. 

Thun castle - a castle in Switzerland
Photo by Marcreation on Unsplash

The roof is from the Bernese period. In 1429, they added an administrative and residential wing to offer residential housing options. The castle housed the local court and prison for many years. They built a new prison on the castle grounds in 1886.

In 1888, a museum opened in the castle. In 2006, the city of Thun bought the castle from the canton of Bern. The Bernese Oberland regional court used the castle property until the end of 2009. The grounds feature a conference and training centre, a hotel and a restaurant. 

Good hotel options for visiting Castle Thun include Schüür Restaurant & Kultur or Schloss Schadau.

Oberhofen castle

Oberhofen castle - castles of Switzerland
Photo by Daniel Cox on Unsplash

In the High Middle Ages, the Freiherr von Oberhofen built Balm Castle on a mountain above the village. A daughter of the family, Ita, married the von Eschenbach family in 1200. Her family gifted the castle to her husband and his family. They built a new, moated castle on the shores of Lake Thun. 

The Pourtalès family from Neuchatel and Prussia bought the castle and converted it to a summer residence. The castle features a museum drawing to explain the history of its former residents. The chapel on the castle grounds dates from the fifteenth century and has impressive murals. Its Oriental smoking room gives a unique view of the lake and mountains surrounding the castle. 

The Oberhofen Castle’s park has one of the best gardens in the Alpine region. It features exciting wood plants, striking tree formations, covered walkways and beautiful flower parterres. 

You can stay at Boutique Hotel Niesenblick am Thunersee or Hotel Restaurant Bellevue au Lac to visit Oberhofen Castle.

One of the best castles in Switzerland – Vufflens castle

The castle dates from the 15th century. The castle is an example of a fortified Romany castle from the Middle Ages. It has an imposing tower with a 60-metre-high donjon. The castle is privately owned and cannot be visited by tourists. Walking in the vineyards near the castle will give you stunning views of the castle, Mont Blanc and the lake. 

One of the castles of Switzerland - Vufflens castle
Photo by G_Gott on Unsplash

Excellent hotels for visiting this castle is Les Volets Bleus or BnB chez Fanfan.

Castles of Bellinzona

The Montebello castle in Switzerland
Photo by Matteo Cheda on Unsplash

The Bellinzona fortresses are at a strategic point on the Alpine pass. These buildings are excellent examples of late-medieval defensive structures in the Alps. The three castles of Bellinzona are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The three castles, Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro, controlled the route from the valley of the Ticino river, access to Alpine passes and commercial traffic from and to the San Gotthard pass.

Places to stay include: Villa del Gusto or Hotel Internazionale Bellinzona.

Gruyères castle

Since its completion, the Gruyères Castle housed the counts who built it and the bailiffs of Fribourg and the Bovy and Balland families from Geneva. In 1938, the Canton of Fribourg bought back the castle and opened it to the public. The castle is now a museum that covers the history, culture and architecture of the castle’s eight centuries.

Gruyères castle - one of the best castles of Switzerland
Image by Mintmount from Pixabay

When you visit the castle, you can learn more about the region and its legends, including La Belle Luce, the jester Chalamala and John, the Cripple. 

Good hotel options for visiting the Gruyères castle include Hamilton Lodge & Spa or ibis Styles Sierre.

Rapperswil castle

The Rapperswil Castle dates back to between 1200 and 1220 AD. Count Rudolf II and his son, Rudolf III, built the castle and its fortifications when the swiss nobility moved from Altendorf to Seedamm. The family gave the castle to the citizens of Rapperswil in 1442.

The castle gives a beautiful view of Zurich, the Zurich lake and the alps. To get to the castle, you walk through old Rapperswil and climb stairs up to the castle and St. John’s church. Here, you can enter the castle gate. We recommend visiting St. John’s Church with its gorgeous stained-glass windows. The castle grounds feature beautiful gardens and an animal park with deer. 

To visit the Rapperswil Castle, stay at Hotel Jakob or Moxy Rapperswil.

Tarasp castle

Castle Tarasp dates back to the 11th century. It is a magnificent castle that dominates the Upper Engadine region. It used to belong to Austria until 1803. The inventor of mouthwash, Kark August Lingner, bought the castle in 1900 and restored it until 1916. 

Beautiful Swiss castles - Tarasp castle
Image by Iso Tuor from Pixabay

The Castle Tarasp opened to the public in 1919. Visitors can see old bedrooms, the castle’s chapel and organ with 2500 pipes, knights’ halls and ballrooms. The castle often hosts organ concerts, tours, and vacations where volunteers can help maintain the buildings. 

Hotel options near Tarasp Castle include: Hotel Bellinzona or Defanti.

Hallwyl castle

Hallwyl castle - one of the beautiful castles of Switzerland
Image by joduma from Pixabay

Hallwyl Castle dates back to the 11th century. It is on the northern side of Lake Hallwil on two islands in the Aabach creek near Seengen. It is one of the Swiss castles with the most moats. 

The castle belonged to the von Hallwyl family, a lower nobility clan who distinguished themselves on the battlefields of the Swiss confederacy in science, politics and finance. 

The castle belonged to the von Hallwyl family, a lower nobility clan who distinguished themselves on the battlefields of the Swiss confederacy in science, politics and finance. 

Hotel options near Hallwyl Castle are Seehotel Delphin or Ochsen Lodge.

Lenzburg castle: Legendary castles of Switzerland

The legend of how Lenzburg castle was established is interesting. A dragon lived on the mountain. Two noble knights, Wolfram and Guntram, slew the dragon and started living on Dragon Mountain. They built Lenzburg castle. 

Castles of Switzerland - Lenzburg Castle
Photo by Michael Büchi on Unsplash

The castle’s history spans over 1000 years. The castle grounds have several exhibits, a museum about life in the olden days and an exhibit about the Swiss nobility and knighthood. There is also a children’s museum and history studio at the castle. Enjoying a drink and a snack in the beautiful gardens is a must-do!

To visit the Lenzburg Castle, stay at Holiday Inn Express – Aarburg or Aarau West Swiss Quality Hotel.