In a short answer, I would say no.
Generally I would never try to discourage anyone from wanting to see something for themselves when traveling. In this case however with all of the numerous things to do in Vienna, I feel like time could be spent better elsewhere. Here’s why:
Kreuzenstein Castle is located less than 30 minutes from Vienna by car (which a little more than doubles when using public transportation). During my trip to Vienna, I did not have a car and relied solely on public transportation, which means that I had to take the train to Leobendorf – Kreuzenstein (approximately 30 minutes from Wein Praterstern on the eastern edge of town) and then walk 40 minutes through a combination of streets and woods.
When planning my trip to Kreuzenstein, I was wondering why I was having difficulty finding English language travel information on visiting the castle from bloggers and travel websites, and I soon discovered why.
Finding the castle is relatively easy, but getting there is what initially turned me off. After departing the train and heading through a small village, I turned down an unassuming side street and came across a sign leading me into the woods. I walked through the woods for a good twenty or so minutes while looking behind my back from time to time to see if there was anyone else taking this route. I rarely saw another soul.
Finally, I reached the castle and found it to be absolutely stunning. I then found out that entry to the castle was only permitted via a guided tour which occurred at the top of each hour.
When the gates to the castle opened for entry, I purchased a ticket and was informed that tours were only led in German, but that I would be provided with an English summary of all of the places the tour would cover, something that was not mentioned on the website.
Have you ever been on a tour led in a language you don’t understand with a translation guide that briefly summarizes what you are looking at? Well let me try to paint a picture of it for you:
The tour begins with the tour guide separating people into two groups
The tour guide introduces himself and the castle [in German].
I stare at the ceiling above me and look at my loosely translated notes.
The tour guide instructs group to move [in German]. I shuffle along behind everyone, down some stairs, and into the kitchen of the castle. The guide talks a lot about the things around us [in German], points to the table, some things hanging from the walls, the pots, etc.
I look at a little boy clutching his mothers neck and smile and wave. No response. I move my attention to the pots and pans.
For the next hour, more shuffling, more staring, more awkward glances around the room. I was the only person who did not understand. I kept checking my watch to see when the hour would be over. Since we were limited to things we could photograph, I could not distract myself by taking pictures.
The hour was up. I sighed with relief and made my way out of the castle and over to the restaurant to grab a bite to eat. While I found the ‘medieval’ theme of the restaurant to be charming, I found the food and the service to be mediocre at best. I would recommend either eating a big meal before you make the journey or choosing from one of the restaurants in the nearby village.
Is this castle pretty? Yes. It is so nice that it was used in the American TV show ‘The Quest‘ (ABC).
Would I recommend visiting it? No; Unless you speak German and have a car to bring you there, I would not include it in your itinerary.
If you do decide to visit the castle, here are the directions:
- Take the S3 train to Leobendorf – Kreuzenstein.
- When you arrive to the stop, head right towards the castle (which you will see in the distance); signs will guide you along the way through the little village, up the side road, and along the entire path through the woods. It is a little bit of a hike towards the top of the path, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes with a good grip.
You are going to make so many people happy by writing this post. I wonder how many other people this happened to before you?! I’ve been there before, not understanding a word of what the tour guide was saying because I didn’t speak the language. But at least I knew about it in advance. Big bummer, but the castle does look pretty at least!
I was very surprised myself! I wish I had been forewarned or otherwise I would not have made the trip. I too found the castle to be lovely but unfortunately did not understand anything about it 🙁
This is a real bummer! From the outside the castle looks amazing. How was the interior?
The interior was quite lovely and I wish I understood what the guide was saying so that I could explain it.
Aw, what a shame that the tour was a disappointment. I hate that so many cool places aren’t accessible via public transportation, but your frustrations with the guided tour certainly made the situation even worse. Thanks for being honest about the castle!
You’re welcome Cassandra and thanks for reading!
Such a pity, girl! I was sure you’d say, “yes, of course!”, that’s what all bloggers do! I like you being so frank, since I don’t understand German either I guess I should remove this castle out of my trips list until I take some classes! I’ll recommend your blog in mine, if you don’t mind 🙂 http://lazypenguins.com/
You’re welcome. I am a big believer in being honest about my experience with a place 😀
Cool article. Maybe you didn’t get the full experience, but by not speaking the language you had a completely individual experience to all of the others on the tour :).
Thanks for reading James and that is an interesting way to look at it. 🙂
It’s a bummer that you had to sit through this whole tour in German. Sometimes it’s frustrating but makes for great laughs later on in life, don’t you think? Anyway, thanks for sharing. Great post!
Hi Carl, thanks for reading 🙂 Even though I did not understand anything going on, I got to see a lovely castle, so there’s that 🙂
I think it’s reasonable to expect that tours will not be offered in English or other languages when you visit a country that does not speak English. I’ve ran into similar issues but now always call ahead to find out. At least now people will read your article and know in advance. 🙂
That is a good idea too Cheryl! I had no idea however because they had an English website 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Hey Chanel, After reading your blog post, I am planning to visit this place asap. Thank you for sharing your experience !
You;re welcome 😀 Have fun!
We toured the Kreuzenstein Castle in May. Took train and walked from the little village. The walk is 2.7kms. The castle is incredible, similar to “Beauty and the Beast”. The guide only does tour in German. English tourists are given a laminated info sheet. The information on sheet is limited and one is left gazing around each room as guide talks in German. You can ask her questions in English at conclusion of each room. We bought a little booklet at end of tour for €3.50 which was worthwhile. To summarise, definitely doing this tour. Authentic medieval castle.
Thanks for your comment Shona!