Exploring Austria’s Kreuzenstein Castle

On a small hill on the outskirts of Vienna is Kreuzenstein Castle, parts of which date back to the 12th century. It’s a stunning, fairy-tale of a place, with a moat (now dry), towers, and a fantastic view. Being so close to Vienna, it’s an easy afternoon trip.

So that’s exactly what my friends and I did, timing it just right to get a guided tour, and have an early dinner at the adjacent restaurant that serves medieval food.

Here’s what it’s like up close.

If you have a car it’s way easier. We did not. The closest train station is Leobendorf-Burg Kreuzenstein, and after that it’s a bit of a walk… then a bit of a hike up the mountain. At 869 feet its not high per se, but it’s not nothing. On the way up we walked along the road. There were only a few cars, but no sidewalks on the hike up. There’s a path through the woods, which we took on the way down and is a way better option.

The castle itself is fantastic up close. High walls perched on top of a small hill is the kind of thing you’d expect to find only in movies or video games. And indeed, a few movies were shot here.

There are only a few tours per day, and that’s the only way it. Enter through a person-sized part of a much larger door, and pay at a small kiosk. The walled ramp that brings you up into the castle courtyard is suitably epic.

You can imagine a medieval society going about it’s day-to-day within these walls, even though the current castle is a mix of structures and designs from throughout the last several centuries. This is a living place, not a static, decaying structure. Parts, however, are certainly more museum than not, with weapons collection of swords and pikes, and a kitchen centered around a stone hearth.

The tour is in German, which is fine unless your German doesn’t go much beyond “Bier, bitte.” However, a sheet with info is available in English at the gate. Plus, I was with to native German speakers who helped me out. Our tour guide was also fluent in English, so the few questions I had she was able to answer with ease.

Inside is a mix of wood-walled coziness and stone-walled coldness. Pictures were, sadly, off limits.

As fun as the castle is, my favorite part by far is the adjacent restaurant, Burgtaverne Kreuzenstein. Using seasonal ingredients and medieval recipes they create dishes that not only go with the mood of the castle, but also are worthy of trying in their own right.

I had the Medieval Roast Pork with Honey Onions, which came with fried dumplings and hand pomegranate seeds on top. I have to say, it’s one of the best things I’ve had in half a dozen trips to Austria. It was sublime. Or to put it another way, I’d go back to that restaurant, hike and all, just to have that again.

After our early dinner, we made our way back down the hill to the train station.

Adults are 12 euros. The castle is open most of the year, but closed for the winter. To find out more info, check out their website

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Geoff Morrison is a tech and travel writer/photographer based (occasionally) in LA. For most of the year he's a digital nomad, working while travelling around the world...