In Search of Europes Best Castles to Visit

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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

Peles Castle Romania

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.


Ashford Castle

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!


draculas castle

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.


mont st michel france

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!


Windsor Castle

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.


Versailles 2

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.



10. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland 

Last but never least, the spectacular Edinburgh Castle. The Scottish capital surprises most travellers with its unique charm and impressive architecture. Indeed, this is one of Europe’s most underrated cities to visit.

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    December 30, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    I would also add the Pena Castle in Portugal, which is absolutely gorgeous. It was built during the Middle Ages, then destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 and the ruins were brought to life in the 19th century by King Ferdinand.

    Then, the De Haar Castle in Utrecht, founded in the 14th century. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture.

    Here are other suggestions for those who are interested in European castles:

    Ben Lee
    June 8, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    It is criminal to leave out Peterhof in Saint Petersburg from the list. I have been to Mont Saint Michel, Versailles, Prague Castle, Edinburgh castle but they all pale in comparison to Peterhof, especially its gardens. Versailles inspired Peter the Great to build Peterhof, so he ensured that the latter outdid Versailkes in its grandeur manifold including the wonderful wooden flooring within the palace.

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    April 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    And more to add from Slovakia, the gem of Central Europe, namely Bojnice castle, Orava castle and Spis castle!

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    March 3, 2015 at 4:02 am

    There is a counterpart to Mont Saint Michel castle in Cornwall called St Michael’s Mount, and is definitely worth visiting! 😀

    February 26, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Don’t forget about Schönbrunn in Austria. Being Austrian, I might by a bit biased, but I personally find it more beautiful than Versailles!

    Rafal @ Travel Feed
    February 22, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Excellent post! I love castles. They are my favorite places to visit. There are so many of them to see. Just in Poland there are over a hundred of them. I wrote a post about my favorites here:

    Anna, New York – My Bite of the Big Apple
    February 20, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Great list! I went to Newschwanstein when I was backpacking through Europe as a teenager. Remember the thin air and gorgeous views. Truly like a fairytale!

    February 14, 2015 at 2:52 am

    I love that Windsor is on here.. I live down the road from this castle and used to work in a store just outside. Windsor is probably one of my favorite places!

    Packing my Suitcase
    February 10, 2015 at 3:13 am

    I have been to 4 of them so far!!! Would love to visit the Mont Saint-Michel and the on in Romania… both looks awesome!

    February 9, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    and if you are looking for other nice castles in Europe please check these ones in Poland:
    1. Zamek Wawel in Krakow – with the mysterious positive energy place called the Wawel Chakra,
    2. Zamek Ogrodzieniec – beautiful ruins of the medieval castle,
    3. Zamek Niedzica – spend a night here but be aware it is haunted by the White Lady,
    4. Zamek Korzkiew – you can have a wedding here,
    5. Zamek Malbork – the world’s biggest brick stronghold and while visiting Malbork do not forget to visit Gdansk (50 km away)
    and of course there are other interesting castles in Poland. Make an effort and check them out! Good luck 🙂

    February 8, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Been to a few of these! Castles never get old! Neuschwanstein took my breath away (literally from the hike and figuratively from its beauty)!

    February 8, 2015 at 2:12 am

    omg I want to go to Europeeeee. 🙁 can’t wait to save all the money to buy a ticket over!

    Jack Johnson
    February 7, 2015 at 6:28 am

    The Gardens at the Palace of Versailles is almost as impressive as the majestic palace itself. I couldn’t believe how big and gorgeous it was until I actually saw it.

    February 7, 2015 at 2:12 am

    Next time look at Castello di Fumone in Italy! It’s wonderful! You can visit it in the inside and see all the ancient original piece of furniture: It’s the play where the Pope Celestino V died. And, here you can see the body embalmed of the little prince killed by his sisters! Amazing!!!

    February 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I would love to see more items added to your ‘shop’ page! Because a) you have cute style and b) it’s fun to see the types of things a traveler packs/uses, as I prepare myself. 🙂

    Leah of The Mochilera Diaries
    February 6, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Mont Saint-Michel looks absolutely dreamy. Especially in that nighttime shot! Gorge!

    February 6, 2015 at 9:35 am

    #6 in France looks so amazing! I’ve only seen the one in Prague and Edinburgh. Edinburgh is indeed an underrated city, i just wrote a post about my trip there yesterday actually 🙂 Ahh so many places to visit!

    February 6, 2015 at 2:21 am

    Can’t wait to see that German one in person!

    Characters & Carry-ons

    February 2, 2015 at 11:29 am

    They all look so pretty!! I would love to visit Pele castle one day, I’ve loved dracula movies since I was little.

    February 2, 2015 at 8:52 am

    in love with the first one!

    February 2, 2015 at 2:30 am

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful castles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’ve been to Versailles & the Prague castle…..
    And I’m looking forward to visit Windsor and castles around Scotland…


    February 1, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Don’t miss out the castle in Neuschwanstein… really impressed about this castle(s)

    Leanne Winters
    February 1, 2015 at 4:07 am

    WOW stunning castles, the one in france looks amazing x

    January 31, 2015 at 2:31 am

    Really enjoyed the list. I just made one on my blog about destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and there are lots of old castles and fortresses here as well that are also worth visiting.

    Love the Bran Castle, it’s a must visit for me.

    Mersad Donko Photography

    Marie @ Marie Away
    January 30, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little obsessed with castles, palaces, and the beauty of historical architecture in general 🙂

    I think growing up in the “New World” means that the history is always something new and exciting. I loved reading this, and daydreaming about exploring these places at the same time.

    January 30, 2015 at 1:22 am

    I’m so excited to go and see some of these places in summer. I’m curretnyl living in Madrid and I just went to a small city called Toledo. Have you heard of it? So much history 🙂

    January 29, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    beautiful!!!! number 2 is definitely on my list too.
    check out my travel blog: maybe you will find somethignt oo:)

    Selma TLBC
    January 29, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve already seen some of these (several times for a few of them), but the others definitely make it to my bucket list!
    Though for the sake of accuracy I must point out that the Mont Saint Michel is not a castle, but a fortified city with an abbey on top 😉

      Ben Lee
      June 8, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      You are absolutely right, it is not really a castle (and for that matter, neither is Chateau de Versailles, which is more a palace) but very lovely to visit all the same. For those who love fortified towns, I would highly recommend Dubrovnik, Croatia. You can walk a full round over the place on its city walls.

    Claire-Line's travelogues
    January 29, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Great list! Those castles are stunning! Thx for sharing your experience with us. The Castle of Coca in Spain is amazing!

    The Daily Miacis
    January 29, 2015 at 7:38 am

    I have like a love-hate relationship with Peles Castle. I was like 3 weeks on Romania, visiting my father. He was on Ploesti and we travel like half day to get to the castle. We arrive like 10 minutes after it closed for the day…-.-

    January 29, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Even though I’ve been to Windsor three times in the last 2 years, I’ve never been to the castle, only seen it from the outside. How silly is that! It’s on my list to do though, along with Mont Saint Michel which I have been wanting to visit for ages!

    How to be a Wanderluster

    January 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

    i want to go!!

    January 29, 2015 at 4:01 am

    I hope to make it out to Scotland this year and see their castles. Great list! 🙂

    Karen Roemer
    January 29, 2015 at 3:38 am

    Definitely check out Burg Eltz in Germany! It’s out in the country side but is accessible by bus tour from Trier. Here’s my personal photo of it:

    Brittany Stopa
    January 29, 2015 at 1:20 am

    Wow, absolutely stunning! These will be great destinations to seek out 🙂

    Charlotte Sophia Roberts
    January 29, 2015 at 1:16 am

    I’ve been to the one in Germany and it was absolutely stunning! Would definitely go back!

    Jake Ryan
    January 29, 2015 at 1:05 am

    I’ve been to a couple of these, but they all look amazing 😀


    January 28, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Great list. I am headed to the UK in March. I’ve always dreamed of visiting a castle. I hope to see at least Edinburgh castle, perhaps Winsdor too.

    January 28, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    I’m absolutely in love with castles <3. And as an European I have seen quite a lot. Have you seen the French castles on the Loire? Chenonceau is one of my favourites!

      Ben Lee
      June 8, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Yes I love Chenonceau too! There is even a very lovely French restaurant in the garden.

    The slow pace
    January 28, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I would add the Nyon Castle in Switzterland!

    January 28, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Actually Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for the Disney Castle. We learned that in art class 😉

    January 28, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve been to a few of these (Peles, Windsor, and Prague) but I’d love to get to Neuschwanstein Castle. Have you been to Predjama Castle in Slovenia? It’s not as elaborate as some of these… BUT it’s in a cliff!

    January 28, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Aww as a Hungarian I really missed the Buda castle in Budapest from this list, it’s just sooo amazing!! Also, Schönbrunn castle in Vienna is an absolute must see!! However the ones in the list are spectacular as well.

    January 28, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Brooke!
    i really liked your list (especially since i am Romanian and there are 2 castles on the list).

    I agree Prague castle is more about the complex than the castle itself- but definitely worth a visit.
    I live nearby so we’ve done it a few times and it’s still impressive. I would definitely add Granada on the list. It’s not a castle per say, more of a complex but it is definitely worth visiting- one of the most fascinating places I’ve seen.
    Also, maybe consider the Buda castle in Budapest- it’s an awesome area with lots of history to discover.

    January 28, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I highly recommend Palácio da Pena in Sintra, Portugal. It’s just like in a fairytale ♥

    Samantha Angell
    January 28, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I’m so happy I’ve visited several of these in the past years! I think the one in Normandy will be next on my list, as my husband is a bit of a history nerd and we are going to check out Normandy for the historical purposes. I saw your post on instagram today asking for fellow travel-lovers, and wanted to reach out here as well. I’d love to be involved with whatever you are doing! Can’t wait to continue to follow along on your adventures.

    Oana Laura
    January 28, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Wow. Now I am more proud to say that I`m a Romanian. #1 and #5 are in Romania, Transylvania.

    They are both really awesome and worth visited! I hope more and more people will get to see them. As for the others..I will write them on my wish list! <3

    January 28, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Loved your choise, but living in Europe and being a passionate by the castles of entire Europe I have got for you some other sugestions. 🙂 I think that the Spain has got the prettiest castles in the Europe, even better than France and Germany. Near Madrid there are also the Toledo and Avila town which are beautiful. France has got Carcassonne with who I’m in love with. But next 6 months I’ll go to Germany and want to see the Schwerin castle, the Hohenzollern castle and whole area of the middle course of the river Rhine. The Bavarian castles I have already seen. Very shore I’ll do step to Luxembourg witch has got the beautiful castles as well. I love your blog very much and you are so inspire to me for things and towns to visit.

    January 28, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    This is amazing!! I live in London i need to get out of the city and see a bit more of these in britian.

    January 28, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Hey, doing good! I have visited most. Still got some to visit though. Thanks for the list.

    January 28, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    That article is really helpful! Thanks for sharing Brooke.

    By the way, did you ever go to the Schönbrunn palace in Vienna? It was the castle of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria also known as Sissi. It is absolutely stunning!

    xo Aurora

      Ben Lee
      June 8, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      Yes I have been to Schonbrunn as well. It is lovely, but I am sorry, I have to rank it after Peterhof, Saint Catherine’s palace and Chateau de Versailles in that order as far as palaces go.

    January 28, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    wonderful! i’m going to neuschwanstein this sunday, can’t wait!
    xo, cheyenne

    Clipping Path Outsource
    January 28, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    I am totally impressed with your bellow speech :-

    “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 .”

    January 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Brooke! I’m thinking about buying your book “The World of Wanderlust Story”, and am curious about the content. Do you cover how you got started traveling down to the logistics- such as money and how you pre-planned? Thanks!

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    January 28, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Wonderful list! I am excited to go to Prague castle in September.

    January 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Great list! I wanted to stay in Ashford Castle for my Ireland trip in March but they are still closed for renos at that time 🙁 So depressing but a great excuse to go back again someday!

    January 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    From all the castles in the list, I have only visited the one in Prague. I liked it but I guess only because its a huge building complex and has churches, cathedrals, houses and even another palace. The old castle itself wasnt that spectacular, to be honest, and the museum inside looked a bit empty… BUT! the whole place is nevertheless spectacular and definitely worth a visit!

    Samantha Elisabeth
    January 28, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    You’ve GOT to go to Segovia. When I studied in Madrid, I visited there twice–that’s how much I loved it. I didn’t go to the Coca Castle (it’s a little outside of the city of Segovia), the main alcazar of Segovia is gorgeous as well. It’s one of the inspirations for the Disney Castle! Plus the aqueduct is pretttyyy cool itself.


    Jee Ann
    January 28, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Oh, WOW indeed!! I want to see these castles so badly and I certainly would not say No to a night in that Irish castle!