Burg Hohenwerfen Castle is a medieval rock castle located in the Salzach valley of Austria. Built in the 11th century by the powerful prince Archbishop of Salzburg, it is an impressive sight to behold. The castle is perched high on a cliff overlooking the surrounding Berchtesgaden Alps and the adjacent Tennengebirge Mountain Range and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Hohenwerfen’s perfect combination of Gothic and Renaissance architecture epitomizes “the Middle Ages” and easily inspires dreams of knights, princesses, and possibly a dragon or two!
What really endeared this castle to me was the red details that just pop against the deep blue skies that surround it. I really fell in love with this castle and so will you!
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In this article I’ll give you all the details to make your trip to Hohenwerfen castle truly epic!
WARNING: you may get some photo overload in this article because I couldn’t stop snapping photos of this lovely castle!
Table of Contents
getting up to Hohenwerfen Castle
It’s a strenuous 155-meter-high climb to the castle from the valley below. The trail passes through woodland and takes about 15 minutes.
Does Hohenwerfen castle have a cable car? It’s more of a lift, but yes there is an easier way to the top! I highly recommend taking the lift directly from the car park to the castle courtyard to saving your tired tourist legs for other things!
Exploring the castle complex
Visitors to Hohensalzburg Fortress can admire the castle’s intricate stonework, vaulted ceilings, and ornate furnishings. Take a leisurely stroll around the castle walls, taking in the panoramic vistas and enjoying the fresh mountain air. Here are a few castle highlights:
Castle Fortress Tour
On the guided tour a knowledgeable travel guide takes visitors through the castle’s various rooms, including the chapel, armory, and living quarters. The tour also includes a visit to the castle’s impressive watchtower, where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, and get a chance to ring the castle bell!
Note: You can access the castle on a self-guided tour. However, the guided tour is the only way to the interior rooms of the castle, and worth the extra 2 or so euros!
The bell tower where guests are invited to ring the bell for luck!
Don’t miss the views from the castle ramparts, walkways, and towers!
The Sigismund chapel was probably built with the original fortress in the 11th century and has been modernized several times over the following centuries.
Guided tour of the fortress interior: Duration approx. 50 min
Falconry Museum and Falconry show
The historic Falconry Centre Museum is a special attraction among visitors to the castle. The historical Salzburg falconry museum offers interactive exhibits but even more popular are the daily flight demonstrations using various birds of prey. Visitors can see falcons, vultures, eagles and other local birds of prey show their flying skills or try their hand at handling a bird of prey.
Falconry shows run from April to November. Check the website for the most up to date information on the Falconry Show.
Flight shows with birds of prey 2023:
April to 16 July: 11.15 a.m. and 3.15 p.m.
17 July to 18 August: 11.15 a.m., 2.15 and 4.30 p.m.
19 August to 5 November: 11.15 a.m. and 3.15 p.m.
(Closed on Monday in April, October and November. Except for public holidays)
Weapons and Torture devices
The castle boasts an extensive weapons collection with weapons and armor, dating back to the medieval era. Visitors can see swords, spears, and other weapons used by knights and soldiers throughout history.
Included on the tour is the torture device room where you can see various forms of torture implements.
Witches and Wizards Exhibit
I love Europe’s dark folklore and fairytales, witches, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I discovered that the current castle exhibit is all about witches and wizards! I immediately wished that I had planned more time in our schedule! But I quickly made the rounds at the i”The Legend Of Jackl” Witches and Wizards in Salzburg exhibit. There are some fun interactive displays that children of all ages will enjoy.
Visitors to Hohenwerfen Castle can dine right at the castle in either the Castle Tavern or grab a quick bite at the snack stand in the castle courtyard.
We grabbed a quick bite in the courtyard. If you haven’t yet had a Bosna sausage you NEED to try one! Bosna is a spicy Austrian fast food dish, said to have originated in Salzburg. Served on a soft crusty roll with mustard and onions, it’s delicious!
Castle Tavern Burgschenke Hohenwerfen
The Tavern located inside the castle wasn’t open when we visited but I peeked inside and let me tell you, if it’s open you are going to want to eat there! It’s beautifully decorated in a medieval atmosphere. The restaurant is open during the castle’s opening hours and offers an ala carte menu.
You may be fortunate enough to visit during one of their unique dining experiences, the knight’s feast at Hohenwerfen Castle where visitors can dine like a real knight. This special traditional medieval banquet event can be booked in advance by groups of at least 25 people but if there is one on the schedule you may be able to join in. (Just ask when the next knight’s banquet will take place). At the knight’s dinner there is a 7-course menu with medieval music and a 3-hour program.
Plan a visit: Tips and important information
April*: Tue – Sun, 9.30 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
May – 16 July: daily, 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. 17
July – 18 August: daily, 9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. 19
August – September: daily, 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
October – 5 November*: Tue – Sun, 9.30 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
(*Closed Mondays (except holidays) first guided tour is at 10:00 am, check the website to confirm)
tickets (2023 prices)
All tickets include: daily falconry flight displays/falconry museum, entrance to the i”The Legend Of Jackl” Witches and Wizards in Salzburg exhibit
- Ticket via footpath: (no tour) Prices: Adults € 10,40
- Ticket footpath and tour: Prices: Adults € 12,90
- Ticket via lift: (no tour) Prices: Adults € 14,40
- Ticket via lift AND tour (all-inclusive ticket): Prices: Adults € 16,90
Discounts available: for children and those with disabilities.
Purchase advance tickets online: at Salzburg Burgen official website
(To save time and avoid long lines, visitors are advised to purchase tickets online in advance, or arrive early or late in the day.)
Other important information
Pets: Dogs kept on a lead are welcome in outdoor areas (castle courtyard). Visitors are not permitted to bring dogs on the tour. My advice if you’re passing through is to Google pet groomers nearby and drop them off for a spa day while you tour the castle!
Drones: Drone flights are forbidden.
Strollers: Access to the castle with a stroller is limited.
Children’s audio guides: Are available in German, English, Italian, Dutch, Danish and Hebrew and are distributed in the castle courtyard at the start of the tour.
Rally Quiz for Children: Quiz books available for purchase for € 2,00 at the ticket window. Solve tasks at various stations around the castle.
Wear Comfortable Footwear: Comfortable footwear is essential to navigate the castle’s uneven terrain.
Check the Weather Forecast: Hohenwerfen Castle is an outdoor attraction, and the weather can have a significant impact on the experience. Visitors are advised to check the weather forecast before visiting and dress accordingly.
Plan for Extra Time: To fully explore the castle and enjoy all it has to offer, visitors should plan for extra time. I kind of thought we’d make a quick stop but we could have spent the better part of the day at Hohenwerfen. The castle offers numerous attractions, including a bird of prey show, a museum, and a castle tavern, and visitors should allow enough time to experience everything.
ACCESSIBILITY: Barrier-free access to the Hohenwerfen Castle is possible with the castle lift. However, due to the number of stairs at the castle, guided tours of the interior and access to the birds of prey For more information refer to the official website.
Best Time to Visit: Hohenwerfen Castle is a popular tourist attraction in Austria. The general rule of thumb for avoiding the worst crowds at popular tourist attractions are:
- Visit early morning or late in the day (i.e., the first or last tour of the day)
- Weekdays are often less crowded than weekends.
- Travel in the shoulder or off season: Summer months are peak season / high season, spring and fall are considered shoulder seasons, and winter months are off season in Germany (outside of the Christmas market season.)
Events at Hohenwerfen Castle
There are several events and festivals that are held at the castle throughout the year.
- Mystical Night at the Castle: see the castle at night and attend the fire show in the courtyard. Duration: about 4 hours. (Reservation required) September.
- Medieval Hustle and Bustle: Enjoy theatrical productions such as swordplay displays, Jugglers, artisans such as a wood carver, a blacksmith and more give insight into daily medieval life. Visitors in medieval clothes get a discounted entrance ticket at the event “Medieval hustle and bustle at Hohenwerfen adventure castle” September.
- Special Falconry Program: The special falconry school program exhibits the acrobatic flying skills of falcons, bald eagles and griffon vultures accompanied by music. Late September/early October.
- End of Season Celebration: Celebrate the end of the season in the castle tavern. Early November
- Advent Market: Christmas is a special time at the castle when visitors can attend the “Romantic Advent Market” in the castle courtyard, vendors, special activities for children, a Nativity scene and genuine folk music. The Advent market can be reached on foot or with the inclined elevator for 4.- Euro (ascent & descent). Special weekends in early and mid-December.
Getting to Hohenwerfen Castle
Salzburg (SZG) 45 km
Salzburg 45 km
Hallstatt (60 km)
Berchtesgaden (45 km)
Address: Burgstraße 2, 5450 Werfen, Austria
GPS coordinates: 47.48376703941773, 13.188871842232983
Hohenwerfen Castle is easily reached by car and is a mere 40-minute drive south of Salzburg. Take the A10 motorway and exit at Werfen, then follow the signs to the castle, or just plug the address into your Google Maps!
Parking is available at the castle for a fee. It is recommended to arrive early, especially during peak season, to secure a parking spot.
Warning: A “vignette” is required to drive on highways in Austria. If you do not wish to buy a vignette, you can reach Hohenwerfen Castle via the Salzachtal main road (B 159).
By Public Transportion
Visitors can also reach Hohenwerfen Castle by public transport. Trains run regularly from the city of Salzburg to Werfen, with a journey time of approximately 45 minutes.
Werfen station has its own railway (ÖBB) and local railway (S-Bahn) station with direct connections to the city of Salzburg and to Bischofshofen. Rail service runs every 30 minutes between the city of Salzburg and Werfen.
From the train station, visitors can walk (30 minutes), take a taxi to the castle, or schedule a shuttle from the train station to the castle. The shuttle service must be booked ahead of time, approximately 1 hour in advance by calling the following phone number +43 664 1266700.
Accommodation Near Hohenwerfen Castle
Here are a couple of standout options in the area:
Pferdehof Oberegg, Werfenweng
A cute traditional Austrian cottage in the countryside with mountain views. They have horses and carriages in the photos on their listing so inquire! (The name after all is horse farm!)
Prices: starting at $86.50 Guest rating: this is a new listing. (Google Reviews has it at a 4.8/5) Distance: 9 km
Alpenrelax Haus Weidmannsheil wohnen im romantischen Forsthaus
Nestled in the mountains, rent the entire apartment and this one is a stunner! Prices: starting at $184 per night Guest rating: 9.4 Distance: 1.6 km!
This is my favorite Salzburg option. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and trade it for scenic meadows with highland cattle and a mountain backdrop. Bloberger Hof is located on the bus route directly into the city center, and the hospitality and food are excellent! Read this review of Bloberger Hof, or
Werfen’s Eisriesenwelt (World of Ice Giants)
Werfen’s “Eisriesenwelt, the world’s largest ice cave, is a natural limestone and ice cave featuring frozen geological formations, including icicles, stalactites, and stalagmites, and an “ice place.” Distance: 6.5 km
(see the website for information on entry OR book a private tour from Salzburg! Private Tour: Werfen World’s Largest Ice Caves or this one that includes Howhenwerfen Castle: Werfen Ice Caves & Hohenwerfen Castle Private Tour
Gosausee is a crystal-clear emerald green Alpine lake that reflects the surrounding majestic mountain range. There’s a picturesque trail that circles the lake. Distance: 60 km
The charming small town of Hallstatt is nestled in the mountainous Austrian Alps. Picture perfect Hallstatt sits prettily on the shores of swan studded Lake Hallstatt. It’s 1000% worth seeing! Distance: 62 km
Parish Church of St. Sebastian
The St. Sebastian Church is an adorable little church with the mountains in the background, and the little brook and bridge in the foreground. It’s one of Germany’s most recognizable sights! Distance: 55 km
Königssee and Obersee
Take a scenic boat tour through the Bavarian Alps on fjord like Konigsee lake. Disembark and make your way to Obersee, an idyllic emerald-green alpine lake with stunning views! From Obersee you can take a trail to Röthbachfall waterfall, Germany’s highest waterfall! Read how to see both Konigssee and Obersee! Distance: 50 km
Salzburg is magical! If you are on the fence about visiting this stunning city, make the right decision and go! Salzburg is the home of Mozart, so check out all the fun Mozart things to do in Salzburg! Distance: 53 km
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to tour Hohenwerfen Castle?
If you’re in a hurry, a typical visit to Hohenwerfen Castle takes around 2-3 hours, including time to explore the castle’s various rooms and exhibits, as well as watch the falconry show. However, I recommend adding more time to fully take in this wonderful Austrian attraction.
Is Hohenwerfen castle worth visiting?
Oh my yes! My eyes just could not get their fill of this pretty medieval castle! With its location and panoramic views and so many things to do such as the falconry show, museums and exhibits this castle is a must for your Austria travel itinerary!
Which castle was “Where Eagles Dare” filmed?
What movie is Burg Hohenwerfen castle in? The 1968 World War II Film Where Eagles Dare starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood was filmed at Hohenwerfen Castle. A U.S. Army Brigadier is captured by the Germans and taken for interrogation to a mountaintop fortress. A team of seven Allied Special Operations Executive commandos is sent in to rescue him. The movie follows the officers allies and their attempts to rescue him.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the classic film there’s a special exhibition at the castle dedicated to the film.
History of Burg Hohenwerfen Castle
Here’s a brief history of the castle for you history buffs!
In 1077 on the order of Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg, an ally of Pope Gregory VII and Antiré Rudolph of Swabia, construction of three major castles ensued – Castle Hohenwerfen, Hohensalzburg Castle and Petersberg Castle in Friesach. Each castle was initially constructed as a strategic bulwark to protect the archbishopric from the forces of King Henry IV during the Imperial Investiture Controversy, a power struggle between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope over the appointment of bishops.
The mountainous location created a natural barrier to protect the castle from invasion. The original fortifications were probably simple wooden structures that were extended upon in the 12th century and to a lesser extent in subsequent centuries but by the 15th century when thick stone walls replaced the wooden structures of the former fortification.
At the beginning of the 16th century the German Peasants’ War took place in the area. During this time of unrest, the country was devastated by insurgent peasants and riotous farmers. Local farmers and peasants besieged, plundered, burned, and destroyed large sections of the castle. Following the suppression of the revolts, Prince Archbishop Matthäus Lang began to rebuild, his efforts eventually expanded upon by Prince Archbishop Johann Kuen-Belasy.
In the following centuries Hohenwerfen wore many different hats. From 1803 the castle was allowed to fall into disrepair and ruin but was eventually restored. In 1898 Archduke Eugene of Habsburg-Teschen acquired the fortress and had it converted into his stately home and filled it with a large collection of art and weapons. In 1938 the castle was sold to the Salzburg Reichsgau administration.
In the proceeding years Hohenwerfen was a hunting base and during the second world war a military base and military training ground under Nazi rule. After the war it was used as a training camp by the Austrian Gendarmerie (rural police) until 1987.Since 1987 the fortifications have been developed as a tourist attraction.
“Alternatively, it was used as a maximum security prison and therefore had a somewhat sinister reputation. Its state prison walls have witnessed the tragic fate of many ‘criminals’ who spent their days there – maybe their last – under inhumane conditions, and, periodically, various prominent figures and highly ranked noblemen have also been imprisoned there including Salzburg rulers such as Archbishop Adalbert III, arrested by his own ministeriales in 1198; Count Albert of Friesach (in 1253) th Styrian Governor Siegmund von Dietrichstein, captured by insurgent peasants in 1525; and Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau, who died here in 1617 after six years of imprisonment. ”
(source of all Hohenwerfen historical information: Wikipedia)
Planning a trip to Austria but need an itinerary? Here are some of my best Austria itineraries:
7 day Austria Itinerary (Salzburg, Hallstatt, more!)
Ultimate Road Trip Austria, Germany, Slovenia itinerary!
You may be interested in: this castle is one of Austria’s top landmarks, Get a list of Austrian Landmarks here!