It is said that there are roughly 25,000 castles in Germany. It sounds like a lot, but it’s hard to pass a hill or mountaintop without seeing a castle, fortress, or rubble from one that once stood.
The Stuttgart area is full of many magnificent castles and palaces, and I was lucky enough to visit many of them over the six years that I lived there.
In this list I outline 15 of the best in the area. Many are located within an hour of Stuttgart, and a few are a bit further out. Please note I did not include the larger and well-known castles of Heidelberg and Neuschwanstein as those deserve their own posts.
Map of Castles
Here is a Google Map with all the castles and addresses saved to one list.
I’m starting off with one of my favorite castles and one of the most striking in the area, Hohenzollern. Hohenzollern sits atop a large hill in the Swabian Alb.
This hilly area south of Stuttgart is considered the foothills of the Alps, although you won’t see any large mountains around this castle.
The castle itself dates back to the 11th century and has been rebuilt three times. The most recent version was reconstructed by the Hohenzollern family in the 1800’s.
Today you can pay to walk the castle grounds, showrooms, chapels, and cellar rooms. In December they open up a few weekends for their Christmas market.
Currently, there isn’t a guided tour, but there is an audio tour while you make your way through the various rooms.
If you want the best view of the castle, head to Zeller Horn. Park near the Berghotel Zollersteighof and take the paved trail from the parking lot up. It’s about a 20-minute walk to great views of the castle. The name of the viewpoint is Zellerhornwiese.
If you are around in December, be sure to check their website to see when the market will run. It was such a unique experience to visit a Christmas market at a castle!
2. Schloss Lichtenstein
Like most castles on this list, the history of Lichtenstein is long and convoluted, changing hands multiple times. The castle you see today was inspired by the novel “Lichtenstein” by Wilhelm Hauff. It was rebuilt in the 1800s in the neo-Gothic style and has a few surrounding buildings.
It’s visually a beautiful castle high above the valley floor. To get here, you head south from Stuttgart. The closest town is Reutlingen and the castle sits above Honau.
It’s a beautiful drive from Stuttgart, through rolling hills, vineyards, and quaint towns with half-timbered homes. On the drive down you pass through Metzingen, a town with a large outlet mall.
The only way to enter the castle is via a guided tour. Guided tours are currently available in German only. If you want to skip the tour, you can walk the large grounds, grab a beer at the biergarten, or even have dinner here.
The castle grounds have a small zip line and a large ropes course in the woods.
You could easily make a day trip to this area. There are caves (Nebelhöhle and Barenhöhle, among others), lots of hiking, and if you have kids, there’s plenty to do in this area.
Did you know? Burg and Schloss both mean castle, and Ruine are ruins. Burg historically is more for a fortress while Schloss is used most for a palace. Festung is another word for fortress.
Hohenneuffen is another castle in the Swabian Alb, although technically it’s considered a fortress. Just like Hohenzollern, it’s perched atop a tall hill. It dates back to the 12th century and served as a strategic stronghold and witnessed centuries of regional history.
But unlike Hohenzollern, this castle was never restored and today sits mostly in ruins. There are guided tours available but only in German.
For more information and directions, you can find the visitor information here.
4. Schloss Solitude
Schloss Solitude is just on the outskirts of Stuttgart, west of Botnang. This large palace sits high enough that you can get beautiful views of the city below.
The castle was commissioned by Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg, and has a striking blend of Baroque and Rococo architecture. The palace was built as a hunting lodge and summer vacation spot and also a show of power.
The inside is accessible with a guided tour (currently only in German) offered daily.
There are plenty of trails worth exploring around the grounds, and it’s a great spot for photos too.
Let me preface by saying this isn’t the most stunning or breathtaking castle, but it’s a lovely area with a lot of beauty.
Hohenheim is in a suburb south of Stuttgart. We used to live just a few blocks away and would walk the grounds nearly every weekend.
Once a summer residence for the Dukes of Württemberg, Schloss Hohenheim was built in a classicist style. The grounds are beautiful and the botanical gardens steal the show. There’s a lavender field, sculptures, an exotic garden, and much more.
If you’re in the area it’s worth a walk to explore and see the stunning gardens.
6. Schloss Ludwigsburg
Often referred to as the “Versailles of Swabia,” Schloss Ludwigsburg is a Baroque masterpiece. It was the royal residence of the Dukes of Württemberg and later became a haven for artists.
Ludwigsburg is technically a palace, not a castle. But it’s so impressive that it deserves a spot on this list.
The palace grounds are massive and you could easily spend an afternoon walking around the palace area. There are beautiful gardens, the palace itself, and a hunting lodge.
There is an English tour that takes you through many rooms in the palace. The tour lasts for 90 minutes, so be prepared for quite a long tour.
If you have kids, there’s a fantastic fairytale garden (Märchengarten) at the palace with all sorts of rides and interactive fairytale characters. From Rapunzel to Little Red Riding Hood to Sleeping Beauty, there’s a lot to see. My son’s favorite ride was the boat ride through the canal. I highly recommend going here if you have kids!
In the fall, there’s the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival.
This is the largest pumpkin festival in the world.
There are multiple themes every year so you can go back multiple times in the same year and get a new experience. When we went it was under the sea, and the pumpkin exhibits were incredibly detailed and impressive.
7. Bären Schlossle
Bärenschlossle, or Bear Castle, is a lesser-known gem near Stuttgart. The castle was originally built in 1768 as a vacation spot for Duke Karl Eugen von Wuerttemberg. Then in the 1800’s, King Wilhelm transformed the entire surrounding area to a game reserve.
The original structure was destroyed by a fire bomb in WWII, and has since been rebuilt in the same style.
Today, the forest still surrounds the castle and there are tons of trails around the multiple lakes and woods.
The small castle became a popular stop for coffee, cake, and wine by the local family living in it in 1964. That hospitality has now extended to a restaurant and terrace with 60 employees. The restaurant serves traditional Swäbish fare.
And while I think calling this a ‘castle’ is a stretch, it’s a lovely area on the Bären lake just southwest of Stuttgart.
Although the interior is not open to the public, the exterior and the surrounding area are perfect for exploring.
Bebenhausen is a former Cistercian monastery turned into a castle. Its medieval architecture and serene surroundings make it a captivating destination.
A short drive from Stuttgart, Bebenhausen is just outside of the town of Tübingen.
Guided tours are available to take you through the cloisters, the chapter house, and the charming residential areas. The monastery’s history and the life of its inhabitants are quite interesting.
Once you’ve explored the monastery, be sure to continue on to the charming town of Tübingen (and visit the castle too!).
Perched atop a large cliffside in the Swabian Alb, this mysterious medieval fortress once likely served as an important watchtower over the Neidlinger valley below. The fortress lies southeast of Stuttgart in an area known as the Swabian Alb, the foothills of the Alps.
Historians don’t know who originally built the castle, but believe it was built around the 13th century. Sadly it was abandoned in the 16th century, and today is a magnificent ruin.
Many consider these castle ruins some of the most romantic in the area. There’s even a tale of a giant who lived in a nearby cave that constructed the fortress for himself.
When you walk through the grounds it’s easy to see that this was once an incredible fortress.
The closest town is Neidlingen in the valley below, and the Neidlingen waterfall is within walking distance. It’s only about a 10 minute walk to the ruins from the parking area (refer to map above for location information).
10. Langenburg Castle
Langenburg Castle is the furthest north from Stuttgart on this list. With its Renaissance and Baroque architecture, has been home to the Princes of Hohenlohe-Langenburg for generations.
This is an impressive castle overlooking the town of Langenburg.
11. Alte Schloss Stuttgart
The Alte Schloss (Old Castle) is centered next to Schlossplatz in downtown Stuttgart. Its origins trace back to the 10th century, and it has served as a ducal palace and a residence for kings.
This castle is unique as it’s centered right in the middle of the city, instead of a hilltop. It’s also quite beautiful and the 1,000 year history is worth exploring.
There is a crypt here where five prominent members of the royal family are buried.
Park at any of the Parkplatz downtown (or try to find free street parking), or take the S-Bahn to the Hauptbahnhof. It’s a short walk from the main train station.
12. Burg Hofen
Burg Hofen is a ruin just north of Stuttgart in the city limits. It’s a picturesque hilltop castle that dates back to the 13th century.
The castle was built around 1250 to secure the Neckar River crossings and trade route. Then in the Thirty Years’ War, much of it was destroyed, and then it was partially demolished in 1738.
Today the ruins have been partially restored and make for a nice afternoon outing. If you plan to head north of Stuttgart, I recommend exploring these ruins and walking through the neighboring vineyards. While there isn’t much left, you can just imagine the grandeur that it once had.
13. Burg Katzenstein
Burg Katzenstein is a medieval hilltop castle that has stood for over 800 years. Its well-preserved walls and towers offer a glimpse into the region’s feudal past. The castle changed hands many times throughout the course of history and today is quite an active place.
There are guest rooms and apartments for rent so you can say you stayed at a real castle. You can also There’s a medieval market and Christmas market held here, and a restaurant offering traditional German fare.
This castle is further than the rest on this list at about 67 miles east of Stuttgart.
14. Sigmaringen (Hohenzollern Palace)
Sigmaringen Castle is an imposing fortress overlooking the Danube River. It has served as a residence for royalty and is now a museum.
This castle is located about 60 miles south of Stuttgart in the town of Sigmaringen. It dates back to the 11th century and has gone through many updates, renovations, and changes throughout the years. The palace became Hohenzollern Royalty in the 16th century and is still owned by the family today. This is the same family that owns the Hohenzollern Castle in this list.
Guided tours take you through the lavish State Rooms, the armory, and the museum’s collections. Tours in English are available if arranged in advance, but pamphlets in English are available with the regular tours.
15. Schloss Hohentübingen
Schloss Hohentübingen is a Renaissance castle located within Tübingen University.
Located in the old town (Altstadt) of Tübingen, the castle is part of the university campus. You need to hike up a hill and some stairs to get here, but the views are lovely from the top. You can see the Neckar River and the Swabian Alb beyond.
There’s an inner courtyard with some interesting sculptures, and a museum holding the oldest preserved largest wine barrel in the world. It even made the Guinness Book of World Records.
The castle houses the Museum of Ancient Cultures and the Art Museum, providing a blend of academic exploration and artistic appreciation.
Tübingen is loaded with things to do. You could easily spend a day here exploring the old town and incredible history of the area.
16. Esslinger Burg
Located just southeast of Stuttgart is the town of Esslingen am Neckar. This town deserves a visit on its own as it’s so charming. I love the old town area and mini Venice canals that weave through it.
Here you’ll also find the oldest half-timbered homes in Germany, dating back to 777! In fact, the entire town was spared from bombing in WWII, and today you can see many of these historic buildings quite literally leaning on one another.
The Esslinger Burg is another castle on this list that doesn’t look like a German castle you’d expect. The smaller structure sits high above Esslingen and is part of the large wall fortifications that still stand today. In fact, the fortifications are the most striking and impressive along the hillside to see.
The area is surrounded by vineyards with walking trails and there is a grassy area at the top. There’s also a large playground in the outer castle area as well.
Many events are held here in the summer months. To get here, you walk up quite a few covered stairs that were part of the fortifications.
I recommend spending at least half a day to climb up to the castle and explore the walled old town.
17. Burgruine HohenRechberg (Rechberg Castle)
Perched high on a hill in the Swabian Alb, these castle ruins are considered some of the most beautiful in Swabia. Rechberg was first mentioned in the early 12th century and like many others, changed ownership a few times over the course of it’s history.
The castle fell into ruins from a lightning strike and fire in the 1800’s but has been somewhat restored for use today.
There’s a tavern with a food and drink menu, and you can even get married here. The tavern has a large indoor seating area and a terrace outside with stunning views of the valley and hills below.
More Stuttgart Reading
- If you’re looking to get away for the weekend, I have a list of 17 weekend trip ideas from Stuttgart, all of which I’ve personally done (so I know it’s doable).
- There’s plenty to keep you busy in town too. In fact, here are 28 ideas to keep you busy while in Stuttgart.
- There are so many beautiful towns and villages in the Stuttgart area. Here are the 5 best towns to visit nearby.
- It seems Germany has festivals every weekend, and the Stuttgart area is no exception. As a self-proclaimed festival expert, I’ve been to nearly every single festival in and around the Stuttgart area. Here are the 20 best festivals to visit in Stuttgart!
- If you’re moving to the Stuttgart area, I have many articles about living in the Stuttgart area.