I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a history geek. I love Europe because its so jam-packed with history from across the ages, loads of fascinating architecture and enough diversity to keep you entertained for weeks or months of travels. So when I was last in Europe I made it a bit of a mission to hunt down Europe’s Best Castles to visit. Some even operate as hotels and all are open to the public for viewing. So here they are…
Europes Best Castles to Visit
1. Peleș Castle, Romania
Let’s start with arguably Europe’s most beautiful castle (and a personal favourite), Peleș Castle in Sinaia, Romania. This Neo-Renaissance Castle is best visited by staying in nearby Brasov and combining a visit to #5 on this list – less beautiful but undeniably more renowned; Dracula’s Castle.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
You’ve seen it before and probably heard about it, too. This is Europe’s most visited castle – with numbers skyrocketing in the previous 5 years. Nowadays more than 1.3 million people visit annually…. clearly there’s something worthwhile in scheduling a visit here. Visitors typically come on a day trip from nearby Munich and I would strongly recommend checking out Mike’s Bike Tours if you’re interested in cycling around the area as well.
3. Ashford Castle, Ireland
What’s better than a castle in Europe you can visit? A castle in Europe you can SLEEP IN, of course! Ashford Castle has recently undergone a number of renovations and is now more speccy than ever. Visitors who choose not to stay overnight can pay a small entrance fee to visit the castle and castle grounds which are certainly worth a visit if you’re ever in Ireland.
Image: Wikicommons License by Ignacio Cobes Rey
4. Castle of Coca, Spain
This 15th Century Castle is high on my radar, but I am yet to have the pleasure of visiting Segovia, Spain. If you find yourself in the area, this is renowned for being one of Europe’s most beautiful castles to visit so be sure to put it on your list!
5. Bran Castle, Romania
Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnn! (should sounds like horror music). Bran Castle is perhaps Eastern Europe’s most renowned castle to visit because it is also known as Dracula’s Castle. This association encourages visitors from around the globe to partake in the legend, even if the stories are lacking in proof. Its a lot of fun and well worth a visit to Transylvania, a beautiful part of Eastern Europe that remains off the beaten path and as such feels somewhat reminiscent of a bygone era.
6. Mont Saint-Michel, France
This small island commune in Normandy is a major tourist attraction and typically dubbed the most spectacular castle to visit in France. If there’s one castle in France you should aim to visit, this should be it. But if you’re in the country travelling around, its highly unlike you will stop at just one. France is a mecca for castle-hunting and chateau spotting. Be sure to hire a car and get gloriously lost!
Image: DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
7. Windsor Castle, England
Dubbed the “must visit” castle in the UK, Windsor Castle is a huge tourist attraction for visitors to England. Located in the English county of Berkshire, this castle is an extraordinary display of architecture over the ages, having been commenced in the 11th Century and holding a strong association to the British Royal Family.
8. Chateau de Versailles, France
Okay okay, so its not a castle but instead a palace… however no list of Royal Residences in Europe to visit would be complete without a swift mention of King Louis’ Chateau de Versailles. If you’re visiting Paris be sure to take the short train journey to nearby Versailles as it is a must see for any and all history buffs.
9. Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Nearing the end of the list, it would be a shame not to include Prague Castle, a spectacular castle that overlooks the city of Prague. As far as visiting great European castles go, the Prague Castle self-guided audio tour failed to impress… but some visitors love the experience. Certainly worth a visit for first-time visitors to Prague.