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7 of the most beautiful castles to visit in Austria this spring

Sarah Magill
Sarah Magill - [email protected]
7 of the most beautiful castles to visit in Austria this spring
The Hohensalzburg fortress in Salzburg. Photo by Free Walking Tour Salzburg on Unsplash

With over 1,000 castles and palaces in Austria, it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. Here are our top seven picks.

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As the warmer weather approaches, a trip to a magical Austrian castle is the perfect way to spend a mild, Spring day.

During the middle ages and Renaissance periods, Austria was a centre of wealth and power and Europe and home to many noble families, such as the Habsburgs, who built many of the country's most impressive castles and palaces.

Today, there are still over 1,000 castles and palaces in Austria, which offer visitors a glimpse into the small nation’s prestigious past. Here are some of the most picturesque.

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

The stunning Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna is one of Austria’s most visited tourist attractions.

The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. Photo: Nathalie Stimpfl/Unsplash

The palace was built in the 18th century and features over a thousand rooms and sprawling gardens. Visitors to the palace can admire the living quarters of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth (Sisi) from the second half of the 19th century as well as the magnificent quarters of Empress Maria Theresa from the 18th century.

READ ALSO: Discover Austria: 7 must-see destinations for a spring break

The palace and its surrounding park were put on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.

Fans of the Netflix series The Empress hoping to catch a glimpse of the set will be disappointed, however, as the series was filmed in Weissenstein Castle in Germany.

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Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck

Situated high above the city of Innsbruck and framed by an idyllic castle garden, the Ambras Castle dates back to the 16th century.

Ambras Castle in Innsbruck. Photo: Henry Kellner/Wikimedia Commons

The castle was expanded in the 16th century by Archduke Ferdinand II into a magnificent Renaissance residence for himself and his wife Philippine Welser. He also founded the Ambras art collections with the Wunderkammer, the Rüstkammern and the Antiquarium.

Today, Schloss Ambras is home to several museums and collections, including the Chamber of Art and Curiosities, which features a fascinating collection of art and artefacts from around the world. 

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The castle's architecture is also noteworthy, with beautiful courtyards, towers, and gardens. One of the most impressive features of Schloss Ambras is the Spanish Hall, a grand ballroom decorated with beautiful frescoes and intricate wooden carvings.

Schloss Ort, near Gmunden

The beauty of the Ort Castle near the town of Gmunden in Upper Austria is enhanced by its stunning location on a small island in the Traunsee lake.

Ort Castle on an island in Lake Traunsee near Gmunden. Photo: Stefan Fadinger/ Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can take a ferry to the island and explore the castle, which offers stunning views of the surrounding lake and mountains.

The castle is also home to the "Mythos Traunstein" museum, which displays historical artefacts, the Orther Stub'n restaurant and a souvenir shop. The castle also regularly acts as a venue for concerts and readings, and wedding ceremonies are often held here. 

READ ALSO: The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg

High above the city of Salzburg is the Hohensalzburg Fortress - the largest completely preserved castle in Central Europe.

View of the Hohensalzburg Fortress above the city of Salzburg. Photo: Free Walking Tour Salzburg/Unsplash

From its lofty vantage point, the medieval fortress offers breathtaking views of the city, the surrounding Alpine mountains and the Salzach River. 

Visitors can reach the fortress by taking a funicular railway, which provides stunning views of the city and the mountains as it ascends the hill. Once at the top, visitors can explore the castle's many rooms and exhibits, including a medieval weapons collection and a marionette museum.

Schloss Herberstein, Styria

Surrounded by enchanting gardens in the mountainous southern state of Styria, is the mighty Herberstein Castle.

Herberstein Castle in Styria, Austria Photo: Wolfgang Glock/Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can trace the transformation of the 700-year-old castle through the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods through its varied architecture.

The current rose garden, which was reconstructed in 1997, is modelled on the original rose garden dating back to the Baroque period.

One of the most impressive features of Herberstein Castle is its extensive park, which covers over 100 hectares and includes gardens, forests, and meadows. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, boar, and birds of prey and young visitors will enjoy the adjoining Herberstein Zoo.

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Schloss Mirabell, Salzburg

Another gem in the city of Salzburg, is this 17th-century palace which features beautiful gardens and a stunning marble staircase.

The Mirabell Castle in Salzburg. Photo: Japleenpasricha/Wikimedia Commons

The castle's gardens were one of the first Baroque gardens to open to the public and feature a rich variety of statues and colourful plant life.

READ ALSO: How to save money while travelling around Austria

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Film fans will recognise the castle's exterior from "The Sound of Music" – particularly for the memorable scenes around the fountain and hedge tunnel.

Kreuzenstein Castle, Leobendorf

Just a few kilometres north of Vienna, the Kreuzenstein Castle is one of the most impressive historical sights in Lower Austria and one of the most popular and well-known excursion destinations for the whole family.

The Kreuzenstein Castle. Photo: C.Stadler/Bwag/Wikimedia Commons

Sitting 260 metres above the Danube River, the castle offers 360-degree views and can be seen from far away. 

It is a particular attraction for medieval history fans, castle lovers and romantics who want to be transported back in time. Visits are only permitted by way of a guided tour, however, which lasts between 45 and 60 minutes, depending on the size of the group. 

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