These historical structures are beautiful in their own right; you can admire them from the outside, stroll around them, and take in the sights. However, we highly recommend visiting the various exhibitions in nearly every castle. You will discover numerous impressive artifacts, exhibits, and interesting programs for adults and children.
Important note! For anyone planning to visit the castles, it's worth knowing that the National Association of Palaces and Castles in Switzerland regularly organizes Swiss Castle Day. The upcoming date is October 1, 2023. On this day, you can participate in unique programs at 28 castles. Look for details on the Association's website. It's a beautiful opportunity to explore these magnificent structures this Sunday, but don't limit yourself to just this day. Castles and palaces are worth becoming regular destinations to visit.
Top 10 Castles in Switzerland
We've put together a selection of castles specifically for you to simplify your decision on where to go this time.
One of Switzerland's oldest castles, dating back to 933 when Italy controlled much of the western region. However, construction spanned six centuries, resulting in a remarkable blend of architectural styles. For instance, the church with unique frescoes represents the early Romanesque style, the courtrooms belong to the Renaissance era, and the southern wing is an example of exquisite Baroque architecture.
The castle museum showcases the 1300-year history of this place, including in 3D format. Art exhibitions are also regularly held there. And the highlight is the Knight's Path, which will appeal to children and adults.
This castle is perched on the high hills of Bellinzona in the canton of Ticino and is one of three fortresses that protected the ancient city. It's a massive and powerful structure that impresses with its somewhat stern yet noble appearance.
Built in the 14th century, expanded in the 15th, and reconstructed in the early 1900s, it now houses the Civil Museum. It features unique archaeological finds, objects from the Neolithic era, a collection of ancient weapons, and rare examples of medieval art. A bonus is the breathtaking panoramic views and well-maintained terraces on the bastions.
This 15th-century castle is the pride of the village that bears its name. It is renowned for its tall central tower and is one of the best-preserved fortresses in the canton of Vaud, built in the late Middle Ages. An interesting detail is that the castle is made of brick. Although privately owned and not open for general visitation, you can still enjoy its grandeur by strolling nearby. A walk through the adjacent vineyards will enhance your experience.
Castelgrande is another castle in Bellinzona. It is the oldest of the three castles in the city. The first archaeologically confirmed fortification was built in the fourth century AD, but the oldest surviving structure dates back to the 15th century.
The castle houses a museum on two floors. The archaeological section provides a brief overview of human presence on this hill for 6,500 years, and the art history department includes a series of tempera paintings on paper from the 15th century. Thanks to recent reconstruction, new stairs, and an elevator to the castle, it's easy to access. There are two restaurants, picnic areas, and an excellent sensory path where you can walk barefoot.
This majestic 13th-century fortress is perched on the highest cliff peak near the beautiful town of Sion. Unfortunately, most of the castle was destroyed by fire in 1788, but the 15th-century chapel with ancient frescoes survived, and you can still see them. One unique feature of this castle is its location opposite another cliff where the Valère Basilica stands, resembling a mini-fortress.
The ascent to Tourbillon Castle is quite steep, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.Erlach Castle
Erlach is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Geneva, surrounded by picturesque vineyards. The Erlach knights built it in the late 12th century. Additional defensive structures, such as a wall and a central tower, were added in the 13th century. In the past century, the Grape and Wine Museum was opened here. It's a charming, small castle that's easy to reach without climbing steep hills or cliffs—just vineyards.
This romantic castle complex with a medieval fortress is situated right on the shores of Lake Thun. It looks like something out of a fairy tale, surrounded by a large park and a magnificent castle garden. The park is considered one of the most beautiful in the Alpine region. Construction of the castle began in the 1200s and lasted for centuries, resulting in a blend of different architectural styles.
Today, meticulously restored rooms serve as a living museum, providing insights into the lives of former residents. Don't miss the 13th-century chapel adorned with Romanesque frescoes and the unusual Eastern smoking room that offers breathtaking views of the lake and mountains.
The castle complex is located on three islands in the idyllic natural reserve of Lake Halwil. At the end of the 12th century, the lords of Halwil constructed the first mighty residential tower on one of the islands. The foundation is made of massive megalithic stones, which can still be seen today. In the 14th century, the castle expanded and moved to other islands.
Currently, there is a museum within the castle rooms, and its exhibition consists of eleven thematic sections that offer a broad historical panorama of medieval and modern worlds.
This oval-shaped castle stands on a rocky islet in the middle of Lake Geneva, mimicking its rounded shape. From the 12th to the 16th century, it was used to control traffic on the lake. Now, it serves as a place for relaxation and enjoyment. The castle has two faces: the northern facade with battlements is the fortress designed for defense, while the southern facade resembles a princely residence with beautiful Gothic windows. You can reach the castle via a bridge connecting it to the "mainland."
Technically, this is not exactly a castle but a Baroque palace near Zollikofen. It was constructed under the influence of French and Italian architecture and exudes an incredibly refined and lavish appearance. A Baroque garden surrounds it; strolling through it is a genuine aesthetic delight. The updated permanent exhibition at Waldegg Castle is dedicated to the history of Zollikofen, and various thematic exhibitions and tours for children and adults are regularly held there.