500 is a lot of castles for a country as small as Switzerland, but that’s the prize they received for being a gateway between Central Europe and the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages. Today, most of them are impeccably preserved (although those in ruins are still adored, which historians attribute to being a relatively peaceful country during an otherwise rather savage time.
Here are the castles in Switzerland most worth visiting and our favorite places to stay nearby. Those inspired by life in court can even stay at a number of sophisticated castle hotels in Switzerland, and throughout other European countries like Spain and Italy.
Chillon Castle, Veytaux (Vaud)
Located on an islet in the mountainous eastern reaches of Lake Geneva, there’s a good reason Chillon Castle (Switzerland’s most visited historic building), inspired poets like Lord Byron and Mary Shelley. It’s the spotlight feature of the Veytaux canton’s most romantic setting. Today, the interior holds history-loaded relics of past owners like the Counts of Savoy and the Bernese among impeccably recreated bedrooms and grand halls. Make a day of it by taking the scenic 4-5 hour ferry from Geneva or opt for a train ride to Lausanne for a 1.5-hour ferry ride.
Nearby Stay: Continue your tour of iconic Swiss buildings by combining your Chateau de Chillon visit with a stay at the palatial Fairmont Le Montreux or at Lausanne’s most attractive estate, Hôtel Angleterre & Résidence.
Castles of Bellinzona, Bellinzona (Ticino)
Montebello Castle, Sasso Corbaro, and Castlegrande unite over the Ticino Valley as the Castles of Bellinzona. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex is strung together by an intimidating defense wall to form one of history’s biggest Medieval fortifications. Guided or self-guided, the castle-hop tour begins in Bellinzona Historic Centre where visitors can wind their way through old alleys and across vineyards before finishing the day with a refined dinner at Ristorante Montebello.
Nearby Stay: Base yourself in one of the frescoed rooms of boutique Hotel La Tureta, a former 18th-century palace in Bellinzona, or opt for Locarno lakeside luxury at the modern minimalist Villa Orselina.
Oberhofen Castle, Oberhofen am Thunersee (Bern)
Let yourself be wooed by the wistful 13th-century Bernese characteristics of Oberhofen Castle and its 19th-century interiors chosen by its former resident aristocrats. The oriental mountain-view smoking room and landscaped gardens are a particular treat, especially when followed by a lakeside lunch on the terrace at Restaurant Schloss Oberhofen and an afternoon of boating. It’s one of five beautiful castles on Lake Thun (Thunersee) including Schloss Spiez, Schloss Huneg, Schloss Schadau, and the Old Town’s Schloss Thun.
Thun Castle, Thun (Bern)
From the exhibitions on historic urban development in the cellar to the prison exhibition on the fourth floor, Thun Castle’s top-notch museum makes it a must-stop for those keen to educate themselves on regional history and culture. Centered in its historic Old Town where the Aare River meets Lake Thun, mountains sleeping soundly just beyond, its tower views are hard to beat too. After exploring the castle grounds and Old Town, treat your tastebuds at Dampfschiff, a refined waterfront restaurant serving terroir cuisine.
Nearby Stay: Sporting a historic exterior-meets-minimal interior design, boutique Schloss Hotel Thun is a delightful base for exploring Lake Thun and its castles.
Aarburg Castle, Aarburg (Aargau)
Aarburg Castle is an impressive 12th-century fortification built on a steep hillside (as a stronghold of the Aare River trade route) now serves as a juvenile offender rehabilitation center — and yes, you can tour inside. The town of Aarburg is also frequented by those hiking Tüfelsschlucht Gorge. From here, it’s a worthwhile 40 km drive to the other castles of the Aargau canton, Lenzburg Castle and Habsburg Castle where the foundation stone of the mighty Habsburg Empire was laid.
Nearby Stay: Kreuz Kappel Landgasthof & Hotel is an impeccable upscale country inn located in Hägendorf that would serve perfectly as your base for exploring the local castles, towns, and hiking trails.
Gruyéres Castle, Gruyéres (Fribourg)
Gruyéres Castle is a distinctly Franco-Swiss chateau doused with decorative arts created by history’s maximalists. Admire every patterned inch on a guided tour from the Bailiff’s to the Knight’s Hall and leave time to visit its rotating artist exhibition after. The tour can be extended to the streets of Gruyéres itself (with a reservation), a quaint village that embodies the picture-postcard scenery of Switzerland we’ve all dreamt of seeing. Don’t leave without sampling the renowned local delicacy, gruyére cheese, at the Maison de Gruyére.
Nearby Stay: Stay in the Gruyère-Rooms Hôtel, a warm and inviting hotel with a restaurant and its own cheese factory. Alternatively, retreat to the clouds at Le Mirador Hotel & Spa, one of the region’s most exceptional stays.
Spiez Castle, Spiez (Bern)
Spiez Castle is one of the smaller and more humble castles in Switzerland but that’s no reflection of its grand history. Learn all about the noble hands it fell into on a guided tour, as well as the lives of the servants that ran it. To complete the tour, head up the 39-meter-tall watchtower for the best panoramic views of any Lake Thun castle. Combine your castle tour with a tour of the St. Beatus Caves, a kilometer-long cave system that’s easily reached on a scenic hour-long ferry ride from Spiez.
Nearby Stay: Hotel Eden Spiez is the best place to stay on the south side of Lake Thun, not just for the views, but for the cuisine, massages, gardens, and wine cellar.
Laufen Castle, Laufen-Uhwiesen (Zürich)
Perched above Europe’s largest waterfall, Laufen Castle at the Rhine Falls is one of the prettiest castles in Switzerland. While tours are available to learn about its 1000-year history, Laufen is all about luxury and experiences and events in an iconic setting. (Look no further for that fairytale wedding.) If you don’t have an event to plan, the castle restaurant’s creative gastronomy is reason enough to visit. Stay until nightfall to see the Rhine Falls illuminated.
Nearby Stay: Sorell Hotel Rüden, a regal 15th-century guild house in the heart of Schaffhausen Old Town, is the most inviting stay in the city.
Tarasp Castle, Scuol (Grisons)
Not only is Tarasp Castle a defining landmark of the Engandin basin, but it’s also a staple exhibition space for modern art. Guided tours take place during the day, but there’s no better way to experience its majesty than at one of its intimate evening organ concerts — a treat after days spent hiking, skiing, and biking in the great outdoors. While you’re here, experience the unique ways that nature can revitalize your soul with Xin Li health training.
Tourbillon Castle, Sion (Valais)
Tourbillon Castle is a distinctly northwestern-European-style medieval castle offering exceptional views over the city of Sion and its fair share of Franco-Swiss history. The castle tour is a Sion highlight, along with the Valére Basilica history museum. From here, visitors have easy access to the Swiss Alps: Zermatt’s famous ski trails (just 39km by train), the Matterhorn’s hiking routes, and the charms of Chamonix (located 72 km east). Along the way, continue the castle tour with Château de la Majorie and Vidomnat. A helicopter ride over the Matterhorn glacier will be the cherry on top.
Nearby Stay: The ski resort town of Crans-Montana, located 30 minutes away from Sion, offers the best choice of accommodation including the Crans Ambassador, Six Senses, and a rustic alpine retreat called Le Crans.
Rapperswil Castle, Rapperswil (St. Gallen)
Rapperswil Castle and the surrounding town is a top day-trip destination from Zürich. The scenic two-hour boat ride to Rapperswil reaches a crescendo with astounding views of the castle from the lake. Most of the castle isn’t open to the public but the surrounding gardens featuring deer, rose gardens, and even ancient vineyards make it a relaxing place to unwind after exploring the fittingly named ‘City of Roses’. The fine choice of restaurants in town will compete for your attention, but Italian restaurant La Scala is a sure-fire win.
Nearby Stay: Just across the bridge from Rapperswil, Marina Lachen awaits to provide its guests with that luxury lakeside lifestyle complete with a delicious selection of waterfront restaurants.
Aigle Castle, Aigle (Vaud)
The 12th-century turreted Aigle Castle is centered at the heart of the ancient Rhône Valley wine-growing region. Now, its history and culture is celebrated at the castle’s Vine, Wine, and Wine Label Museum. The museum visit is perfectly paired with a tour or two of the Lavaux Vineyards (an UNESCO World Heritage Site). Hitting some of the region’s best wineries, this Lavaux wine-tasting walk provides an excellent insight into local viticulture.
Nearby Stay: Sink into the breathtaking Swiss mountain scenery in a cabin or geodesic dome by Whitepod Original, a unique eco-retreat in the adventure-ready outskirts of Monthey.
Lenzburg Castle, Lenzburg (Aargau)
With a regular schedule of interactive tours and events from jazz brunches to plays, Lenzberg Castle is a fun living museum for both families and individuals. Within its theatrics, visitors will get a memorable insight into the most fun and unusual stories of this historically pivotal castle. To make the day out even more rewarding, wander into central Lenzburg for dinner at Skins, a two-Michelin-star restaurant focusing on artistically served experiential cuisine.
Nearby Stay: Oschen Lenzburg’s traditional timberframe features create a warm and restful atmosphere to unwind in after the day spent exploring Lenzburg.
Kyburg Castle, Kyburg (Zürich)
Featuring dungeons, an armory, a chapel, and courtrooms, Kyburg Castle is a destination with a lot of personality. Kids can enjoy interactive displays and attention-holding activities in each room, giving the adults chance to absorb its wonderfully dark history. If you find your way around the hidden passageways and back out the castle gates, continue along the Ringmauerweg (Ring Wall Path) to find the town’s old stately homes, the bailiff’s house, and a knight’s castle.
Nearby Stay: Stay at The Dolder Grand, a modernized hilltop chateau outside Zürich that’s considered one of Switzerland’s most prestigious addresses. Alternatively, be one of the first to stay at the highly anticipated Ambassador boutique hotel.
Hallwyl Castle, Seengen, (Aargau)
As one of Museum Aargau’s 10 heritage sites displaying historic objects from the Swiss canton’s history, Hallwyl Castle stands out amongst its peers as a sweet-moated 13th-century fortification on the River Aarbach. It hosts regular castle tours that delve into the life of its former owners, the Lords of Hallwyl, who controlled a large part of the canton of Aargau. With an impressive schedule of arts and cultural events for all ages throughout the year including open-air film screenings, archery, cigar rolling, operas, and heritage days, it’s well worth scheduling your visit accordingly.
Nearby Stay: From its suites and spa to its fine dining restaurant, Seerose Resort & Spa brings the benefits of Thai design and wellness culture to the Swiss mountains.
Grandson Castle, Grandson (Vaud)
Overlooking Lake Neuchâtel with an impressionable sense of grandeur, Grandson Castle is the treasure of the canton of Vaud. Previously known for its classic car museum, the castle is currently undergoing exciting renovations (until 2026) to transform it into a museum heralding its historical importance in the Battle of Grandson and the Burgundian Wars. Still, it continues to hold regular must-see tours and events. Just 9 km away, it’s also worth taking a peek at the privately owned Champvent Castle, also built by the Grandson family in the 13th-century.
Nearby Stay: Complete with its own cigar lounge, wine store, and Italian restaurant, Vigata is the ideal accommodation for a stately stay in Vaud.
Morges Castle, Morges (Vaud)
Sitting pretty on Lake Geneva, Morges Castle shows off its rich cultural heritage with the Military Museum, Figurine Museum, Artillery Museum, Police Museum, and Paderewski Museum under its roof. Just a 20-minute drive west of Lausanne, it makes for a great day trip. Complete the day with a stroll through the local vineyards to a wine tasting at Domaine de Marcelin. Along the way, be sure to get a sighting of Vufflens Castle which shows off its exquisite and rare Romandy architecture from afar.
Nearby Stay: Explore the Morges region from the luxurious Hotel Mont Blanc, or opt for a regal stay in Lausanne at the Beau Rivage Palace or Château d’Ouchy, one of the best castle hotels in Switzerland.
Belfort Castle, Brienz/Brinzauls (Graubünden)
Belfort Castle is a ruined fortification perched on a mountainside overlooking Brienz’s/Brinzauls’ thick coniferous woodland. Rather than rich interiors and dark dungeons, this Swiss Heritage Castle is revered for its history as the home of the Lords of Vaz. In the 13th century, they made an enemy of their neighbors by siding with the Habsburgs in the Swabian War, ultimately leading to the castle being burned down. Today, the castle makes for a scenic stop on a small hiking loop from Surava.
Nearby Stay: Describing itself as ‘a haven of peace, an energy center, and a refuge’, Maiensäss Hotel Guarda Val is an incredible place to reconnect with yourself and the natural environment.