The ultimate list of the top 10 most impressive castles in Europe – those you really should visit if you’re planning a trip through Europe.
What better place than Europe to feel like you jumped right into the pages of your favorite storybooks as a kid?
After all, most famous fairytales were born in Europe, and if days spent feeling as though you’re a prince or princess is what you’re looking for on your trip to the Old Continent, checking out a few of its most impressive castles is exactly what you need to do.
From the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s iconic logo to one where Dracula is said to have lived, here is a list of the most incredible castles in Europe to check out during your trip.
#1 Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany
Located in the small town of Shwangau deep in the Bavarian Alps, Schloss Neuschwanstein is the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
It was originally constructed for King Ludwig II, who was actually nicknamed the “fairytale king”, during the 19th century.
This is likely one of the most popular castles to visit in Europe for all the right reasons. The building alone looks absolutely striking against the mountainous landscape from the outside, but we highly recommend going inside as well in order to check out its towers, intricate frescoes, and lavish rooms.
As a tip, there is another gorgeous castle located on the other side of the same town that is also worth checking out: Hohenschwangau Castle.
#2 Craigievar Castle, Scotland
Slightly lesser known but equally stunning and worth a visit, Craigievar Castle hides deep in the hills of Aberdeenshire county in Scotland.
It was completed during the 15th century and for centuries, it remained the home of the renowned Forbes family.
The castle is known for its extremely picturesque facade, which comes in shades of light pink that look absolutely stunning against the green nature around it.
Guided tours of the castle are offered. As you wander through it, you’ll be able to appreciate plenty of artworks from different centuries as well as a plethora of artifacts that have stood the test of time.
#3 State Castle and Chateau Český Krumlov, Czechia
As far as villages that look like storybook settings go, Cesky Krumlov in Czechia probably takes the cake.
Even though every corner of this place will make you feel like you walked into the pages of a storybook, the main landmark is a humongous castle that stands in the middle of it. The castle dates back to the year 1240 and today, it is the most-visited castle in the Czech Republic after Prague Castle.
The castle is also home to the Baroque Theatre, one of the best-preserved theatres in the world as it still contains most of its original form, including its auditorium, its stage, and its orchestra pit.
Legend has it that an actress named Evelyna fell head over heels in love with David, one of the leading actors in a play. When he didn’t return her feelings, Evelyna stabbed herself in the last act in front of the entire audience and some people believe her ghost still roams the theater.
#4 Bran Castle, Romania
Set in the mountains of Transylvania in Romania, Bran Castle is often called “Dracula´s Castle” because of its Medieval architecture and location up on a hill.
Even though Dracula never really lived here and it’s not even confirmed if its author even knew about Bran Castle, it sure does make for a pretty eerie-looking palace! The people in charge of the castle have taken this fact very seriously, so much so that they host a grand Halloween party at the castle’s grounds every year!
#5 Eltz Castle, Germany
Tucked away in the middle of a forested valley near the town of Trier, Eltz is a striking medieval castle whose construction began during the 9th century. While it’s not exactly known when the castle was officially finished, the first official documents date back to the year 1157.
The castle was built by the Eltz family and up to today, their descendants still own and continue to take care of it. Even though it was constructed over a millennia ago, this is one of the few castles in Germany unscathed by the war and it still continues to retain the same structure and even some of the same furnishing from centuries ago!
During your visit, you can tour a large part of the castle, including the inner courtyard and the treasury. Moreover, the castle is located in the heart of the Eltz Forest, providing a great opportunity to combine the trip to the castle with a bit of hiking.
#6 Chillon Castle, Switzerland
Located on a rocky island on the alluring Lake Geneva, Chillon is a gorgeous medieval castle that will take you back in time. Even though it’s not known when the castle was built, research indicates that construction likely began around the 11th century.
The castle has been a popular tourist destination since the 18th century, as it attracted romantic writers, painters, and poets from all over the world who visited the castle for inspiration. Famous authors like Lord Byron have written poems about the castle!
Because the castle is so old, it has undergone plenty of renovations to maintain its structure. On your visit, you’ll be able to see recreations of the interiors of some of the main rooms as well as three courtyards, the chapel, themed chambers, and the weapons room.
The castle also hosts several cultural and art exhibitions every year, so make sure to check their calendar to see if there’s anything going on during your visit.
#7 Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, United Kingdom
An icon of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle stands high on a volcanic rock, meaning it towers high over the Scottish capital and has always been its biggest landmark.
The castle’s oldest part, St Margaret’s Chapel dates all the way back to the 12th century, and the rest of the castle was built over three further centuries by different kings.
These days, the museum houses the National War Museum of Scotland and the Crown Jewels of Scotland. Visitors can enter the castle and check out the museum to learn all about Scotland’s battles, the Crown Jewels to see the regalia worn by monarchs during their coronations through the centuries, and several other attractions that highlight the country’s complicated history.
#8 Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
Standing atop a mountain in Baden-Württemberg, Hohenzollern Castle was built in order to become the home of the Hohenzollerns, an imperial family in Germany.
Up until today, the castle is still owned by the family, but some areas are open for visitors to come and wander around the castle and see artworks and artifacts that have belonged to the family for centuries.
Hohenzollern Castle was originally built during the 13th century and destroyed a couple of hundred years later. The castle fell again and was reconstructed as a neo-Gothic fortified castle during the 19th century by King Frederick William IV.
Aside from checking out the castle’s interiors, you can also wander around its gardens, and, if time permits, you can also go hiking around the surrounding forest afterward.
As a tip, if you’re visiting Germany during late November and December, Hohenzollern Castle is host to one of the coolest Christmas markets in the country.
#9 Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania
Set on an idyllic island on Lake Galve, Trakai Island Castle is one of the most unique castles in Europe due to its walls made out of bright orange bricks.
Trakai Island Castle was originally built as a defense fortress during the 14th century and later used as a residential building. Not long after, the castle became a prison and was then abandoned in the 15th century.
These days, the castle is alive and thriving as it constantly hosts cultural events and festivals, not to mention it is now listed as a historical monument and welcomes visitors from all over the world who are keen to explore lesser-known castles in Europe.
#10 Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Built into a cliff, Predjama Castle is as unique as it gets. The castle is actually on the Guinness Book of Records for being the most extensive cave castle in the world!
This castle was built in a way that it would be interwoven with the cave during the Middle Ages, and up to today, it remains an architectural marvel. Behind it, there is a humongous network of tunnels that knights actually used to set out on expeditions!
Visitors are welcome to come and walk through several sections of the castle, including the kitchen, the chapel, the armory, and even the torture chamber (yes, you read that right!). Moreover, you’ll get to see plenty of medieval armor and weapons used by knights back in the day.
Aside from checking out the castle, you can also opt to take a longer tour and explore the cave underneath it. This tour includes a train ride through the cave as well as an easy hike in order to see stalactites, stalagmites, bats, and even an incredibly rare cave animal that is believed to be a baby dragon!
So there you have it, my list of the 10 most incredible castles in Europe!
Have you visited any of these incredible castles? Which one was your favorite? Let me know all about your experience there in the comment section below!
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