Styria Castles: The Ultimate Travel Guide!

Looking to visit Styria’s castles?

I pass through Styria at least twice a year, usually stopping in Graz on my way to Salzburg, Bad Ischl, or Hallstatt. Along the way, I pass Maribor and Zagreb, but what consistently catches my eye are the castles as I enter Austria.

Visible from the highway, perched atop hills or mountains, they’re distant yet imposing. Often, we overlook things close to us, thinking, “I’ll stop next time; I’m in a hurry now.”

But I finally decided to visit the palaces in Styria, and they’re definitely worth it. Here’s the guide I created for visiting Styria’s castles.

Riegersburg Castle

The legendary fortress, about 850 years old, is perched on a volcanic hill in southeastern Styria. It’s a sight to see, almost like it’s suspended between the sky and the earth, with great views of the clear sky above and surrounded by green slopes and lush vineyards. The place has a bit of a Sicilian feel, thanks to the volcanic rocks and the high-up buildings.

The nearby village of Riegersburg is like stepping back in time. The houses have pastel-colored facades, the streets are neat and clean, and there are flowers on the terraces and incredibly green lawns. The centerpiece is a charming church in the square. The whole atmosphere is quite modest yet elegant.

Inside the castle, you’ll find a multimedia journey into the 17th century. It tells the story of two legendary women during the fight against the Turks, featuring a museum dedicated to witches and wizards and a historical setup about weapons.

The myth of these women, known for breaking societal norms, still lives on. Baroness Elisabeth Katharina Galler, known as “Bad Bet” (“Schlimme Liesl”), and her servant Katharina Paldauff, the “Flower Witch” (“Blumenhexe”), became infamous during the biggest witch hunt in Styria about 250 years ago.

The castle, owned by the Princes of Liechtenstein, continuously draws tourists with its blend of history and innovation.

At the base of the castle, there’s a small town that’s home to a unique chocolate empire. Zotter, a Viennese confectioner, crafts unusual and original chocolates that are on par with those from Modica. The chocolate factory and theater, with their vibrant colors, imaginative murals, and sculptures, offer a feast for the senses.

You can taste cocoa and chocolate from a glass chocolate fountain and customize your hot chocolate at the bar. The shop offers a variety of chocolates in fancy packaging, including flavors like almond, hazelnut, pistachio, and pumpkin. It’s heartening to know that the products are organic and part of the sales goes to feed children in the cocoa-sourcing regions of Latin America.

Riegersburg is in southern Austria, not too far from the Slovenian border, the Blumau spa, and Graz. The Liechtenstein family, with the elder son Emanuel, a doctor, living in the village, adds to the local charm.

To get from the village to the castle, you can either walk for 20 minutes or take a quick 90-second funicular ride. For details on ticket prices for the funicular, museum entry, guided tours, and more, you can check out their website.

Every August, there’s a fantastic cultural event, the Festival of Knights. It’s a full-on medieval experience with warrior games, sword fights, archery, and open-air craft workshops. Plus, there’s a real knight’s feast, clowns, fireworks, and stuff for kids to do.

Btw, Styrian villages are a fantastic place for hot air ballooning. They’ve even hosted the World Cup three times: in 1986, 1996, and 2008. There’s this quirky local tradition after your first flight. It involves burning a lock of your hair, rubbing dirt from where you landed, pouring champagne over your head, and then getting a new name. And not just any name – it’s usually really long and pretty silly.

Schielleiten Palace

This is a really impressive castle with a baroque facade, painted in pearl white and sun-yellow. It’s quite a serene place, full of charm and elegance. It makes you curious to learn more about it.

I had some expectations about the history and stories of the castle, which has a rich past. It was once owned by an imperial count, served as a monastery, and now it’s a hub for sports, recreation, and culture in Eastern Styria.

Inside, there’s a beautifully preserved library in the late baroque style on the first floor. They use this space for concerts, conferences, and workshops.

The courtyard is lovely, filled with green plants and fragrant flowers. There’s even some art around, like sculptures. To add to the charm, a local orchestra plays traditional Styrian melodies, which really adds to the atmosphere.

The place also has a big sports and recreation park with facilities for various activities, a restaurant, and a café. The setting of Neuschilten is really picturesque – the castle stands out in a vast plain surrounded by hills, lakes, and vineyards. It’s a great spot for tourists who appreciate nature and a bit of adventure. 

You can go hiking, cycling, swimming, or even try something more thrilling like paragliding or hot air ballooning. The lifestyle here is quite captivating; you can either take a historical carriage ride to the famous coachman’s castle or enjoy a breathtaking view of the region in a hot air balloon.


Near the Schielleiten Palace, there’s a run-down place called Altschielleiten. It’s a 13th-century fortress-castle on top of a vine-covered slope. 

The place looks a bit melancholic, with its time-worn facades and ivy-covered walls giving it a fragile, almost abandoned look. 

Maybe the current owner, the former mayor of Schilajten, Josef Stelcer, and his sister Hermiona, will turn it into another tourist attraction, kind of like what they did with Neuhaus.

Burg Neuhaus

This is the oldest skyscraper in Styria. After being wrecked by fire and decay for 200 years, it’s come back to life, showing off its colorful history. 

It stands guard over Stubenberg, offering a majestic view of the hills of Eastern Styria, down to southern Burgenland, Graz, and even the Alps. It’s like something out of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Stubenberg Castle

This picturesque 16th-century castle, now a hotel, tavern, and cultural event venue, belongs to the intriguing Wurmbrand-Stuppach family. Inside, you’ll hear the famous legend of Countess Stuppach and the clever peasant who saved the village from a dragon and, as a reward, got the countess’s hand in marriage.

Stubenberg is a municipality in the Hartberg district, Styria, about 50 km from Graz and 200 km from Vienna. With around 2,300 residents, it’s a tourist hotspot, recording about 150,000 overnight stays a year, mostly in the summer. Tourists love the warm Stubenberg Lake and visiting the magnificent Herberstein (Tier und Naturpark Schloss Herberstein) and nearby castles.

The place sits on the “Styrian Castle Road” (die Schlosserstrasse), which is home to over 20 former royal residences. Starting from the south, the journey through history begins at Kapfenstein Castle near the Bad Gleichenberg spa, with Festenburg near Aichberg as the last building on the road.

About 10 km from Stubenberg is the “Land of Apples” with over a million apple trees. During the spring bloom in April, there’s a national festival celebrating the “blossoming of apples” with a grand parade, brass bands, folk music, dancing, and local culinary specialties.

Herberstein Castle

I accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up in a dream-like place. I was confused whether I was in some kind of Eden or a fairy tale, but a sign reading “Herberstein” cleared that up. The place echoes its past like a melody only the mind can hear. I’m no painter, so I grabbed a pencil to write about it, washed my face in the Fountain of Youth, and made a wish to return to Styria.

Nestled between green Styrian hills and the Feistritz River canyon, I found this magnificent building shining in the dark night. The lights were like a light show, changing from pink to lilac, then turquoise blue, grass green, and lemon yellow.

This wasn’t just any place; it was Herberstein. The castle is an architectural gem with fantastic gardens, holding art treasures from the Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance periods, right up to contemporary pieces in the Bruno Girocoli Museum. Its stone walls, over 700 years old, owned by the noble Herberstein family, are witnesses to European history.

From Sigmund Herberstein’s diplomatic missions to Suleiman the Magnificent to the present day, the castle’s elegant Knight’s Hall and other fascinating salons, and the “Life in the Castle” exhibit, all tell the story of aristocratic life, knights’ shining armors, and human spirit, power, and greatness.

Herberstein intrigues and inspires. It’s a hidden gem for those interested in architecture, history, art, botany, zoology, and natural beauty. The historical gardens, secret passages, legends, and myths about one of the most influential families in Styria and Austria over the last seven centuries add to the charm.

Although deer no longer roam the castle as in medieval times, there’s a spectacular zoo, one of the biggest in Europe, filled with exotic animals from five continents. The heavenly gardens add a special touch.

Walking through the lavish historical gardens, I paused in the garden of human virtues to listen to nature: in the green garden, a symbol of hope with giant cow parsnip, mint, and even a green rose – a botanical rarity, I sought harmony.

Surrounded by Himalayan fairy bells, lavender, sage, and bluebeard in the blue garden, I tried to get a clear picture of life. In this garden of spirit, romance, and charm, I found peace, and my inner voice guided me further to the bright and festive white garden. There, I contemplated purity and nobility among beautiful “snowflake” roses, lilies, and ledeborg roses.

In the yellow garden of life, warmth, and new strength, I recharged my batteries and moved to Sigmund’s garden and the herb garden, taking in life with full breaths. The scents of flowers, herbs, and blooming fruit trees were everywhere.

In the divine rose garden, a true Eden, a gentle breeze carried the scents of 3,000 different rose buds. I was amazed by the unreal beauty and thought, “Life is beautiful!” I took a sip from the Fountain of Youth to refresh myself. Maybe that’s the secret of the Herberštajn family’s long residence in the castle.

I wish I could paint, but since I can’t, I take a pencil to write and wash my face in the Fountain of Youth, wishing to return to Styria.

Herberstein is 52 km from Graz, in Eastern Styria, in the Stubenberg municipality, 10-15 km from the Vienna-Graz highway near Hartberg or Seeber village.

The Herbersteins are one of the most powerful aristocratic families in Styria, including many military leaders, diplomats, and travel writers. They once owned land in Istria but traded it with the Habsburgs for Styria. At one point, they owned a fifth of Styria.

The Herberstein Zoo is owned by the Styria province, not the Herberstein family who live in the castle.

Herberstein was a filming location for the famous movie “The Bible Code” (Der Bibelcode) directed by Christoph Schrewe, which was also broadcast on our screens.

Eggenberg Castle

The Eggenberg Palace in Styria is a grand baroque complex, once the residence of the mighty Eggenberg family, one of Austria’s most powerful.

The palace is famous for its astronomical symbols: it has four towers representing the seasons, twelve gates for the months, and 365 windows for the days of the year. It’s well-preserved, with courtly salons, picturesque gardens, and art from Austria’s oldest museum, the Joanneum.

The palace’s design follows principles of hierarchical organization, math, logic, astronomy, astrology, and alchemy. It has a square layout with a Gothic tower at the center and towers at each corner representing the four seasons, facing the four cardinal directions. The exterior is painted in pastel shades from champagne to amber and chocolate hues.

Inside, 24 salons preserve historical interiors and original 17th and 18th-century features. There are painted, lace-like white plaster ceilings, rustic fireplaces (some with motifs), baroque and rococo style salons with luxurious red or brown chairs, gold-patterned wallpapers, and refined crystal chandeliers – the only source of light since there’s no heating or electricity.

The 365 exterior windows represent the days of the year, 52 windows in 24 rooms symbolize the weeks in a year and hours in a day, and each floor has 31 rooms, indicating the days in a month. The second floor with a terrace has an additional eight windows, totaling 60, symbolizing seconds in a minute and minutes in an hour.

The north side of the castle features a planetary garden, a lapidarium of ancient Roman stones, and an entrance to the New Archaeological Museum. The castle also houses a numismatic museum and the Old Gallery with an impressive art collection.

There’s a touch of Italy with a replica of the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary Saviour, a Byzantine icon from the Borghese Chapel in Rome’s Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A nod to the Far East is found in three Indian cabinet rooms.

A special journey to China is offered through a salon with tiered benches, antique porcelain, framed Chinese silk miniatures, illusions, and blue silk wall decorations. A true Japanese treasure is present, too: a colorful panorama of Osaka, a rare and precious gift from Japan.

One part of the palace is humorously decorated, with allusions and paintings from the everyday life of nobles: parties, hunting, card playing, and leisure.

The romantic 19th-century gardens in the English style are perfectly maintained, a real wonder in landscape architecture. Due to its cultural and historical significance, Eggenberg Palace has been on the UNESCO list since 2010.

Hans Eggenberg redesigned the castle in the 17th century following Enlightenment principles to represent a rationally ordered world. Baltazar Eggenberg, in the medieval period, had a license for minting coins, and today his room is a numismatic museum.

Kornberg Castle

Located near Riegersburg in Styria, Austria, was first mentioned in documents in 1284. Initially, it was not a residential building but a fortified complex constructed by the Lords of Kornberg near the Hungarian border.

In 1308, the Lords of Kornberg sold the castle and lordship due to financial reasons. Over the years, the castle underwent several ownership changes, eventually becoming the administrative headquarters for the Styrian branch of the Graben family.

Seggau Castle

Initially built in the 12th century by the Archbishopric of Salzburg, it served as a base for missions and supervision. The area has been settled since the Roman era, evidenced by a surviving lapidarium from that period.

The castle has been expanded and altered over time, with significant developments in the 17th century under Bishop Johann Ernst, Count of Thun. Now, Schloss Seggau functions as a site for seminars and conferences, featuring a hotel, a café, and a historic wine cellar over 300 years old.

Styria Thermal Region

Starting from Austria’s healthiest corner, Bad Radkersburg, just a few kilometers from the Slovenian border (near Murska Sobota), you head northeast through Styria.

Next up is the oldest spa, Bad Gleichenberg, a heavenly retreat, followed by Bad Loipersdorf, another wellness and health hub, Bad Waltersdorf, and the famous Bad Blumau, which is close to an attractive flowery town also named Blumau.

This spa was designed by the famous Austrian architect and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who drew his inspiration from nature.

Its lively, warm, and bright colors, unusual shapes, and golden domes shining in the sun give the spa’s architecture a feel more akin to Disneyland, Gaudi, or Turkish architecture, rather than the precise, neat, straight lines and soft pastel colors of typical Austrian facades.

It’s a great place to rejuvenate both body and spirit, or at least to enjoy a cup of warm coffee.