Kreuzenstein Castle: A Hidden Gem Day Trip From Vienna

In my opinion, the best castles in Austria today are the Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Hohenwerfen Fortress near Salzburg. However, if you’re in Vienna, you don’t need to travel far to see castles straight out of a movie. Just 30 minutes away, you’ll find Liechtenstein Castle or Franzensburg in Laxenburg Castle Park.

Another castle worth mentioning near Vienna is Kreuzenstein Castle. Even though it’s a restored medieval castle, I personally find it more charming than the first two castles near Vienna that I mentioned. 

Perched on a hill in Leobendorf, an Austrian countryside, Kreuzenstein Castle is the small version of Germany’s Hohenzollern Castle. It’s a hidden gem in Austria, with its romantic beauty still unknown to many. It’s no surprise—Vienna’s stunning palaces like Hofburg, Schönbrunn, and Belvedere consistently draw all the attention.

Actually, if you’ve seen the 2011 film, Season of The Witch, you’ve already seen Kreuzenstein Castle—it was one of the filming locations. So, yes, Kreuzenstein Castle is literally straight out of a movie! The timestamp is 15:00.

If you’re considering a visit from Vienna, I can provide all the information you need.

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Another thing that makes Kreuzenstein Castle an interesting destination is its rich history. Did you know that the tale of Kreuzenstein Castle takes us back to ancient times?

It’s when the first signs of civilization appeared in the form of a prehistoric ring wall at its present site. Fast forward to the 12th century, a medieval castle named “Grizanstein” emerged. However, over time, it was renamed Kreuzenstein, likely in honor of one of its earliest lords.

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Appearance of Kreuzenstein Castle today, near Vienna, Austria
Appearance of Kreuzenstein Castle today
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The Middle Ages: The castle changed hands many times during this period. Engelbrecht von Wasserburg, son-in-law of Dietrich von Grizanestaine, became the new Lord of Kreuzenstein through marriage. His descendants owned the castle for over a century.

By the middle of the 13th century, Kreuzenstein came into the possession of the Habsburgs, who had the castle administered for more than 250 years predominantly by carers and burggraves.

The 16th and 17th Centuries: This was a time of great change for Kreuzenstein, with frequently changing owners.

Among them were the Bohemian King George of Podiebrad, Count Ferdinand von Hardegg, Baron Johann von Herberstein, and Count Karl von Saint-Hilaire, who expanded the fortifications of the castle into one of the most important bulwarks at the gates of Vienna during the Thirty Years’ War.

The Darkest Year: In 1645, during the last years of the Thirty Years’ War, the castle was surrendered to the Swedish field marshal Lennart Graf Torstensson.

The castle was soon abandoned by the Swedes and largely destroyed by explosions during their retreat. The remains of the castle were used as building material by the surrounding population, leaving only sparse remains.

A New Light: In 1702, the ruins of Kreuzenstein came into the possession of the Wilczek family through marriage.

It was Johann Nepomuk Count Wilczek, a descendant of Heinrich Wilhelm von Wilczek, who began the reconstruction of Kreuzenstein in 1874. He turned the castle into an extraordinary and unique museum of the Middle Ages, as it stands today.

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Why Visit Kreuzenstein Castle?

While I’m already familiar with other beautiful castles in Europe, and I believe Kreuzenstein Castle isn’t the most beautiful in Austria, I have to admit, it was still love at first sight for me when I discovered Kreuzenstein Castle.

Wanderers, the castle’s blend of Gothic and German medieval architecture gives the castle a mystical appearance that stirs the imagination.

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Kreuzenstein Castle — a blend of German medieval and gothic architectural styles, near Vienna, Austria
Kreuzenstein Castle — a blend of German medieval and gothic architectural styles
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Right from the cobblestone arched bridge before you enter the gate, you can already imagine knights on their horses and swordsmen marching from the castle, passing under the portcullis. Look up and your imagination will let your eyes paint flying creatures, soaring over the pointy towers of the castle.

It’s a place where fantasies come to life in Austria. No wonder it was chosen as a filming location for the Season of The Witch!

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Full view of Kreuzenstein Castle from the moat bridge, near Vienna, Austria
Full view of Kreuzenstein Castle from the moat bridge
View while walking in the moat bridge of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
View while walking in the moat bridge of Kreuzenstein Castle
The portcullis of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
The portcullis of Kreuzenstein Castle
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If you’re particularly interested in castles or quaint places as much as I am and you’re spending a few days in Vienna, I highly recommend Kreuzenstein Castle.

The time-transporting experience becomes even more amazing when you reach the courtyard. Kreuzenstein Castle’s walls covered by vines, timber-framed rooms, and Gothic bridges are simply magical.

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View after you enter the gate of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
View after you enter the gate of Kreuzenstein Castle
Inner courtyard of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Inner courtyard of Kreuzenstein Castle
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On the other hand, if you’re the ordinary type of traveler or anyone not into historical or medieval stuff, I believe there are other attractions in Vienna which you might want to prioritize more. Literally, there are tens of amazing attractions in Vienna, and the city’s stunning churches like Stephansdom, Karlskirche, or Peterskirche are just the beginning.

Anyhow, Kreuzenstein Castle indeed makes for a wonderful day trip from Vienna. If you’re planning to stay in Vienna for a few days or more, it’s worth considering a visit to Kreuzenstein Castle.

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Looking for a different day trip near Vienna? Try visiting Melk Abbey. It’s just an hour’s drive from the city and is a top architectural site in Austria. 

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What to Expect in Getting to Kreuzenstein Castle?

Actually, if you’re thinking about heading to Kreuzenstein Castle without a vehicle, you’re in for a bit of an adventure. After reaching Leobendorf via public transit, you’ve got a 40-minute hike ahead of you to get to the castle.

The route is 2.5 kilometers, or about 1.5 miles in length. It’s a split journey from the station to Kreuzenstein Castle – half is a stroll through the neighborhoods, and the other half is a climb on forest paths.

There’s a little ‘teaser’ en route. Midway along the path, just a few steps into Kreuzensteinerstrasse, you’re treated to a dramatic view of Kreuzenstein Castle perched on its hill. It’s bound to stir up some excitement!

The path through the forest is well-paved, so hiking shoes aren’t necessary. But it’s certainly recommended to wear shoes that are comfortable for walking. The path to Kreuzenstein Castle is also a roadway, so be mindful of cars. Although the path does have a few forks, don’t worry – there are signs to point you in the right direction.

After about a 40-minute walk, you’ll find yourself in the expansive parking lot of Kreuzenstein Castle. This lot seems large enough to hold over 100 cars. From there, Kreuzenstein Castle is just a short stroll away.

If the 40-minute hike has you feeling peckish, you’re in luck: there’s a restaurant just outside the castle. They serve goulash, coffee, cakes, topfen strudel, and more. You can find the menu in the resources section of this post.

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What’s Inside Kreuzenstein Castle?

While Kreuzenstein Castle looks imposing from the outside, your overall impression of it will be affected by the things that you’ll experience inside.

As someone who likes seeing quaint beauty, I think the picturesque scenes in the courtyard already give an unforgettable experience. From the reliefs on the doors of the castle to the covered ramparts and the metal clock on the face of the tower, it feels like you’re in a video game.

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Quaint details of the courtyard of Kreuzenstein Castle, Vienna, Austria
Quaint details of the courtyard of Kreuzenstein Castle
Beautiful doors and arched pathways and windows of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Beautiful doors and arched pathways and windows of Kreuzenstein Castle
Fantastical covered ramparts and magical gothic bridge above the courtyard of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Fantastical covered ramparts and magical gothic bridge above the courtyard
Access to the fortifications inside Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Access to the fortifications inside Kreuzenstein Castle
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Also in the courtyard, there’s a battering ram that was once used to breach castle gates during medieval times. It’s incredibly intriguing. I just wish there was a demonstration showing how it was operated back then.

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The battering ram and quaint old door in the courtyard of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
The battering ram and quaint old door in the courtyard of Kreuzenstein Castle
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The old well and the tree beside it in the courtyard are head turners. They pretty much show how slow life was and what a beautiful experience it already was to get water—all before we invented water pumps

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Old Gothic well of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Old Gothic well of Kreuzenstein Castle
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While anyone can see everything in the courtyard in a few minutes, a photographer can spend more than an hour capturing dramatic scenes in it.

If you like taking photos, know that you can climb the stairs at the far end of the courtyard to reach the part of the castle with an overlooking view of the courtyard. That view is unmissable!

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View from the second floor of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
View from the second floor of Kreuzenstein Castle
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Aside from the courtyard, you can also see the interiors of the castle, although you need to join a guided tour to do so. You must have cash when you visit. There’s no ATM and credit cards aren’t accepted.

The tour of Kreuzenstein Castle comes with two plot twists: If you don’t speak German, the experience inside Kreuzenstein Castle could be a little unsatisfying as the tours are only conducted in German.

Another plot twist is this: you’ll learn that the castle isn’t 100% authentic, which would already be obvious if you’re familiar with the history of the castle. The castle has become a museum of artifacts collected from different parts of Europe.

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Different artifacts exhibited inside Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Different artifacts exhibited inside Kreuzenstein Castle
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Even though you’ll receive English handouts from the guide, the information they’ll share verbally goes beyond what’s printed. There are guides who can speak English, but the tour itself is still carried out in German.

If you happen to join a tour with a guide who speaks English, feel free to ask them questions once they’ve finished talking about the castle exhibits.

But if you’re a bit shy, you can always use a translation app on your smartphone. Just stand near the guide and let the app work its magic.

All in all, the tour takes about 45 minutes and includes a visit to different areas of the castle. Tours are scheduled every hour. You’ll have the opportunity to see the kitchen, dining room, sleeping room, knights hall, and the armory, which I personally find to be the most intriguing part of the tour.

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The armory of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
The armory of Kreuzenstein Castle
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The armory houses hundreds of medieval weapons and armors, with some likely reaching up to two meters in length! It’s regarded by many as one of Austria’s most historically significant collections of weaponry.

In addition to the diverse exhibits, be prepared to climb some stairs to explore different sections of the castle, including the impressive wooden architecture of the castle’s roof. Make sure your knees are up for the challenge!

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Wood carvings and architecture of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Wood carvings and architecture of Kreuzenstein Castle
Habsburg coat of arms and religious reliefs — hidden gems of Kreuzenstein Castle, near Vienna, Austria
Habsburg coat of arms and religious reliefs — hidden gems of Kreuzenstein Castle
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How to Go to Kreuzenstein Castle From Vienna?

Reaching Kreuzenstein Castle by car is straightforward. Your smartphone’s map app, whether it’s Apple Maps or Google Maps, should guide you there from Vienna without any issues.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to use public transportation, you have a couple of options: you can take bus line 1026 from Wien Praterstern Bf or catch a train from Wien Mitte. Both modes of transport have a stop at the Leobendorf-Burg Kreuzenstein station in Leobendorf, which is where you’ll begin your hike to Kreuzenstein Castle.

After you get off the bus or train, there will be road signs to guide you to the castle. For added convenience, you can also use your phone’s GPS and mapping features to navigate your way to the castle.

Make the most of your trip to Vienna by checking out my Vienna Travel Inspiration posts. They’ll help you find the perfect experiences to suit your preferences

10 Most Picturesque Spots In Schönbrunn Palace Park, Vienna

Salzburg Day Trip From Vienna: 10 Unmissable Things to Do

7 Beautiful Day Trips From Vienna (Within Austria)

30 Little Gems in Old Town Vienna (See Them on a Map)

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How Much Time Needed in Kreuzenstein Castle?

If you’re still in the process of planning your itinerary, it’s advisable to set aside four to five hours (half a day), or potentially a whole morning or afternoon, for a visit to Kreuzenstein Castle.

This time frame takes into account your travel from Vienna to Leobendorf and back, the hike from Leobendorf to Kreuzenstein Castle and return, the castle tour lasting between 45 minutes to an hour, some leisure time for relaxation and photography in the courtyard, and a quick bite at the castle’s restaurant.

It’s more preferable to spend an afternoon at Kreuzenstein Castle as more tours take place after lunch, allowing you to be more flexible with your schedule. During the visiting season, the tours take place from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm (4:00 pm during October).

The only advantage of visiting Kreuzenstein Castle in the morning is the opportunity to take photos without photobombers. It might be less busy in the morning.

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Resources: Kreuzenstein Castle Visiting Information

What are your thoughts on Kreuzenstein Castle? Could it be your upcoming day trip from Vienna? If so, the links provided below can offer additional information to assist in planning your visit to this castle.

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Kreuzenstein Castle information board, near Vienna, Austria
Kreuzenstein Castle information board
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Please know that WanderInEurope is a reader supported online publication. If you find this blog helpful, please support it by booking your hotels in Vienna using this link. I get commissions from there with no additional fee to you. Thank you very much! 

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Lastly, you might also want to check out other attractions in Vienna like the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Museum of Military History (the two unmissable museums in Vienna in my opinion) and Danube Tower (the best place to go for panoramic views of the city). 

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