Five Castles to See Medieval Switzerland

There are over 600 castles located in Switzerland. You can find them in almost every city or village. Most of them are listed by Swiss Heritage Sites of National Significance. Below are the 5 best castles that SUISSEPIC recommends you visit while exploring the country.

Chillon Castle

Canton of Vaud
Avenue de Chillon 21, CH 1820, Veytaux

The majestic Castle of Chilion is situated on a rocky island in Lake Geneva, which is about 5 km away from the city center of Montreux. From2th to 16th centuries, the castle was an outpost tof the Counts of Savoy, who guarded and controlled the passage of ships on Lake Geneva, as well as the strategic roads through the St. Bernhard Pass. also served as a prison, a defensive outpost, and a weapons depot. This castle in particular is a combinationof 25 buildings, four courtyards, three great halls, and beautiful bedrooms. All of these buildings are open to the public. This castle became famous thanks to Lord Byron, who wrote “The Prisoner Of Chillon”, a poem about Francois de Bonivard. This castlealso inspired the creators of The Little Mermaid to film the scene of musical fantasy.

Hours of Operation:
9:00 to 19:00 (April-September)
9:30 to 18h:0 (October)
10:00-17:00 (November-February)
9:30 to 18:00 (March)
Tickets: CHF12.50 (adults), CHF6 (children)

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Oberhofen Castle

Canton of Bern
Stiftung Schloss Oberhofen, Postfach 22, 3653 Oberhofen

The Oberhofen Castle is a must-visit place on your way to Interlaken. Located along the shores of Lake Thun, this romantic castle has the charm of a fairytale, making it hard to resist such a place. Construction on the castle began in the 13th century. Royal families that have previously wned thispicturesque place wanted to leave their mark. This is why the castle has a combination of different architectural styles. Its main features include a Turkish smoking parlor and a 13th century chapel adorned with Romanesque frescoes. The castle also has a huge park with beautiful English-style gardens and spectacular views of the Bernese Alps.

Hours of Operation:
11:00-17:00 (Tuesday-Sunday)
Tickets: CHF10 (adults), CHF2 (children)

Gruyere Castle

Canton of Fribourg
Chateau de Gruyeres Rue du Chateau 8, CH-1663, Gruyeres

The Gruyere Castle is situated atop of the Hill of Gruyere, a medieval town known worldwide as a capital of Swiss cheese.Dating back to the 13th century, this castle consists of towers, spiral staircases, wood-floor galleries, courtyards, French style gardens, guard rooms, and ramparts that may be explored by visitors. The treasuries of the castle include the beautiful, yet precious medieval stained-glass windows, capes from the Order of the Golden Fleece, and paintings by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. In 1849, Gruyere Castle became a property of the canton of Fribourg. The officials set up the museum and opened it to the public.

Hours of Operation:
9:00-18:00 (April-October)
10:00-17:00 (November-December)
Tickets: CHF12 (adults), CHF4 (children)

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Rapperswil Castle

Canton of Zurich
Rapperswil Castle, CH-8640, Rapperswil

The Rapperswil Castle is the landmark of the Canton of Zurich. Rapperswil is called the “City of Roses” because of the 16,000 roses that bloom in the Rose Garden from May to October. It was built by Count Rudolf von Rapperswil and his son. In 1870, Count Władysław Broel-Plater, an immigrant from Poland, leased the castle. He restored the castle to its original state and founded the Polish National Museum within the grounds. Here, you can learn about the history of Swiss-Polish relations, as well as facts about Nobel Physicist Marie Skłodowska Curie and pianist and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

Hours of Operation:
13:00-17:00 (daily from April to October)
13:00-17:00 (weekends in March, November, December); and open upon request (January to February)
Tickets: CHF12 (adults), CHF4 (children)

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Thun Castle

Canton of Bern 
Schlossberg 1, 3600 Thun

The Thun Castle, known locally as Schloss Thun, was founded in the 12h century in the Canton of Bern. Built by Duke Berthold V of Zähringen, the Thun Castle towers over the Aare River and Lake Thun. Visitors can explore all 5 floors of the castle as well as a prison. This castle is now acts as a historical museum. Its collection houses rare artifacts that include a tapestry of the Duke of Burgundy, medieval knights’ armor and weapons, Roman coins, and antique toys. The castle’s 4 towers provide a stunning panorama over the city of Thun, Lake Thun, and the Bernese Alps.

Hours of Operation:
10:00-17:00 (April-October)
13:00-16:00 (November-January)
13:00-16:00 (February-March)
Tickets: CHF8 (adults); CHF3 (children)

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