25 of The Best Castles in the World
The world is an astounding place. Sometimes it's hard to imagine what life was like “back then,” but once you step foot in a castle, that all changes. I can't believe these fortresses are still around today and that we can actually step inside and pretend to relive Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella. We can walk the same path as conquering kings, powerful queens, and the people who put their blood, sweat, and sometimes life into building these remarkable homes that have stood the test of time. I've put together a list of the best castles from around the world.
Of course, I couldn't do this alone. I asked bloggers from around the world to contribute their favorite castles. So, I think we've come up with a pretty great list!
Below you can find a map of all the places discussed in this post:
25 of the Best Castles in the World
Neuschwanstein Castle // Germany
This is one of the coolest and most visited castles in the world. It was the inspiration for Disney's castle and continues to be one of the fairest of them all. You will seriously feel like a Princess when you walk the hill up to the stone castle perched on top of the hill in Germany. See a full guide to this castle right here.
Hohenschwangau Castle // Germany
Located right by the Neuschwanstein castle is the often overlooked Hohenschwangau castle. But this one is just as pretty and much less crowded. This is a 19th century (so newer for around here) palace in southen Germany that was the childhood residence of famed King Ludwig II of Bavaria. You can find my guide to this castle right here.
Favorite Palace // Germany
The actual name of the palace/castle in Ludwigsburg is “Favorite” There are a few castles and palaces in Ludwigsburg but this one is my favorite…. clearly. Not only is it beautiful, it has gorgeous grounds where you can see real deer roaming. This baroque palace was not used to as a permanent residence but really just a pretty place to look at, for the OTHER palace. Can you imagine the amount of money they had in those days?! They also used this as a place to hunt and host weddings. See my full guide to Ludwigsburg here.
Burg Castle // Germany
Europe has so many castles it can be difficult to decide which ones to prioritize first. Germany alone has over 20,000 of them! But if you only have time to visit one castle in Germany, it should be Burg Eltz – a fairy tale vision made of red brick and crooked towers. Nestled on a green hillock in the Moselle River Valley, Eltz is the second most visited castle in the country. Yet despite its popularity, it receives fewer visitors than one might expect, largely due to its secluded location. Those who do manage to make their way to the castle are in for an unforgettable visit. Dating from the 12th century, Burg Eltz is unique in that it was never conquered or destroyed, so the furniture, drapes, and personal objects that remain in the castle are authentic. It's been in the same family for over 30 generations, and members from one branch still live in a set of private quarters in the castle. To fully immerse yourself in the time period, you can stroll along Elzbach River below, admire family heirlooms in the Treasury, and take a guided tour of the castle interior. I guarantee that long after you depart, the fairytale magic of Eltz Castle will linger in your dreams.
Imperial Palace (Hofburg) // Austria
The imperial palace or Hofburg, in Innsbruck, Austria is not only stunning on the outside but equally as beautiful on the inside. There is a rich history here of Austria and the Haupstburg dynasty as well as one of the most interesting palaces because of the influence of Maria Theresa (Marie Antoinette's mom!). Basically, she ran things. See my full guide to Innsbruck, Austria here.
Clam Castle // Austria
Funny story, I went to this castle on a cruise down the Danube. As we walked up to the castle from the nearby town we could see huge crowds of people gathering below the castle walls. Were they storming the castle? No! It was a concert to see Foreigner play! After our tour, we got to see Foreigner play for the Austrian crowd for a bit- was such a treat!
This medieval castle has housed the same family for 550 years! The buildings are very well preserved in a gorgeous setting. You can find all info on visiting the castle here. Thanks to Katie for this incredible submission! Find her blog and more about the castle
Hohenwerfen Castle // Austria
Hohenwerfen or Werfen Castle is situated above an idyllic town in Austria. Located right near the beautiful village of Hallstatt and not far from Salzburg, this is an short trip to this medieval rock castle. Located on top of a 623 meter hill, this 900 year old castle has an incredible history. More fortress than castle, it sits above the Salzach River Valley And it's very close to the world's largest ice cave! You can get a stunning view of the castle on your way up to the ice cave (which I highly recommend!)
The Palace of Versailles // France
Versailles is just magical. A place where Marie Antoinette has a pink marble palace, a hall of mirrors that is mind blowing, manicured that stretch for miles, and the most ornately decorated rooms you can ever hope to see. Just outside of Paris I recommend EVERYONE make the half day trip to the palace. Coming here, I realized that Europe was full of treasures and Versailles is one of the best.
Château de Chantilly // France
France is known for its fairy tale castles and magical Châteaux and so Chantilly is no exception! Situated on Île de France, Château de Chantilly makes the perfect day trip from Paris; it takes about half an hour to catch a train there from Garde du Nord. Once home to a wealthy family with connections to French royalty, construction of the palace began in the 16th Century.
Over time, various extensions and buildings were added, forming the impressive structure standing today. The Château also happens to house the Musée Condé, the second largest art collection in France after the Louvre. The grounds to the Château are equally impressive, housing gems like the hamlet that inspired Marie Antoinette to build her ‘Hameau de la Reine’ at Versailles.
Frederiksborg Castle // Denmark
Frederiksborg Castle is a gorgeous fairytale castle just outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, and visiting it is an easy day trip by train. The castle dates as far back as the 13th century but has undergone many improvements and upgrades to make it the stunning work of art it is today. Inside the castle is Denmark's Museum of National History, where visitors can learn all about the history of Frederiksborg and the country of Denmark! Don't forget to spend some time exploring the adorable little town of Hillerød – complete with tiny windmill and stunning castle lake views – when you visit.
Muiden Castle // Netherlands
Kasteel Muiderslot is the Netherland’s must-see castle. Despite its beautiful moat and proximity to Amsterdam, Muiden Castle remains relatively unknown to tourists visiting Amsterdam. It was first constructed in 1350 although it was destroyed/rebuilt at a later date. The castle has been carefully preserved for many years and it’s possible to walk along its ramparts to take in the beautiful view of the Zuiderzee. Muiderslot is only one bus away from Amsterdam, which makes it the perfect day trip for castle lovers! Thanks to Karen for submitting this. You can also go to her blog to read more about the castle along with her 3 other Must See Dutch Castles.
Bishop's Castle // USA
For a country that is equal parts log cabin and modern skyscraper, the United States is hardly the first place you'd expect to find castles. In fact, it would surprise most people to discover that tucked away in a remote valley in Colorado, one man's vision of architectural splendor has been drawing visitors for years. Known only to locals and a few curious travelers following rumors, Bishop's Castle rises from the dense pine forest as a cluster of jaunty stone and wrought-iron towers. Homemade wooden scaffolding casually hangs from the exterior walls. Spiral staircases and arched walkways in delicate black filigree cling to the facade. Inside the main chapel, stained glass panels form a triangular A-frame multi-story window to the woods. The ceiling is glass. Knotty pine boards line the inner walls, true to the site's frontier culture. From the eaves, a giant fire-breathing metal dragon guards the castle.
The creator of this ongoing work of art is Jim Bishop, who started work on the castle in 1969 when he was just 15. Ultra conservative and outspoken, his political views and coarse language aren't for the faint of heart. Like a true outlaw, he spent decades engaged in a variety of disputes with state and local authorities over the construction of his castle. Operating as a questionable non-profit to skirt zoning and building code regulations, Bishop's Castle has long been open to the public for nothing more than a small donation. It's truly one of the most fascinating castles in the world to visit. Just remember – visit at your own risk! Thanks to Carrie for this awesome castle description! Check out her blog, Two Small Potatoes here.
Peles Castle // Romania
Peles Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Romania. It used to be the residence of the Royal family of Romania and now it is leased by the Romanian state so that people can visit. The castle is a beautiful Renaissance building, surrounded by forest, at the bottom of a mountain. The inside of Peles Castle is spectacular, with walls dressed in carved woodwork and stained glass windows. Some of the mural paintings from the theatre room have been signed by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. The castle also hosts one of Europe’s finest exhibitions of weaponry, collected during the years by the king. Thanks to Joanna for sending over the information on this beautiful castle. You can find her at her blog sharing her travels throughout the world.
Bran Castle // Romania
Bran Castle is located in Bran, Romania. Famous for its association with Bram Stoker's Count Dracula, Bran Castle has watched over the region of Transylvania since 1211. Visit Bran Castle to learn more about the legend of Dracula, and other famous inhabitants. Thanks to Caitlin for sharing this information. You can find her blog at Southern Exhiliration.
As I am Romanian-born, it's easy to imagine my childhood being filled with stories of ghosts, ghouls and vampires. I grew up believing in Dracula, imagining bloodthirsty bats flying around Transylvania and the famed Bran Castle, Dracula's (Vlad the Impaler) former residence. I still remember the first time I visited Bran Castle. I was a child with vivid imagination, scared that just around the corner, a vampire might show itself and steal me away. As I grew older, Bran Castle became one of my favorite places to visit during trips back to Romania. This majestic structure, became an old friend, a place where the mystical becomes reality, a secret where vampires could be real. Bran Castle is a wonderful site, deep in the Romanian mountains, where traditions, customs and old folk tales are very much kept alive. After all, who can really know, what lies buried deep, in the castle's dungeons, from the times when Dracula ruled the area. Thanks to Cory for this historical and interesting submission on Bran Castle. You can find his very informative post on Romanian customs at his blog, You Could Travel.
Duart Castle // Scotland
Scotland is home to many beautiful castles, such as Eilean Donan, Inveraray, and Balmoral. But however beautiful, my favorite castle is one much lesser known. Duart Castle is located on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. Dating back to the 13th century, it is the seat of the Scottish Highland Clan MacLean. And despite the castle being in dire need of renovation, this place has no equal in terms of panoramic views. A 360 degrees panorama of water and mountains is the reward of those making the trip to Mull. “Do you like the castle?”, an older gentleman asked me on my visit back in 2010. I responded I had never seen a more beautiful or more peaceful place in the world. He nodded approvingly and after exchanging some more pleasantries he went on about his business. It was only later that I learned of his identity: I had actually been talking to the owner of Castle Duart, the Chief of Clan MacLean himself! Thanks to Brigitte for this amazing submission. You can find her blogging about her travels and more here.
Conwy Castle // Wales (United Kingdom)
I visited Conwy Castle last year whilst on holiday in Wales, a beautiful old 13th century castle with a medieval character. To get to the castle you have to walk through the little quaint town of Conwy which has the loveliest snug cafe's, quayside pubs and plenty gift shops. While there isn't much left of the castle, more ruins than grand halls, the castle offers stunning views. As you climb up the many small steps of each turret and reach the top you get a wonderful view of the Colwyn Bay. It's just the perfect castle if you are looking for a peaceful and relaxing walk around the old ruins and to stand over looking the boats gently rocking on the water across the bay. This castle was submitted by Kayleigh. You can check out her blog here.
Windsor Castle // England
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest castle still in use in the world, built in the 11th century. Queen Elizabeth II spends most of her weekends here and hosts many important guests. As you might expect, the decor is immaculate with plenty of gold and priceless pieces of art and historical memorabilia. Some of the highlights of the self-guided tour are Queen Mary's dollhouse, St. George's Hall (where state dinners are held), and St. George's Chapel (where 10 monarchs are buried). I would definitely recommend making the short trip from London to visit Windsor Castle. This submission was sent over by Anisa. She blogs over at Two Traveling Texans.
Windsor Castle is the mother of all castles. It is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. This is the place to envelop yourself in a piece of British history. Hop on a short, scenic train from London and head into the countryside up the Thames River. The majestic castle waits quietly atop a rolling hill. Strolling through its massive walls makes it easy to imagine the castle as it was back in 1100A.D. Everywhere you turn is picture perfect. From the manicured lawns to the lavishly decorated apartments, to St. George’s Chapel which sits in the middle of the massive grounds. My best tip is to watch the changing of the guard at Windsor Castle rather than at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony isn't as extravagant but the process is exactly the same and you’ll fight less to get a better view. After the ceremony is your chance to try and crack a smile on the new guard's face. Best of luck! When it comes time to leave your new dream home, head down the hill to the equally charming town of Windsor. Grab a bite to eat with the stone facade of the castle watching over you.
York Castle // England
York Castle (known locally as Clifford’s Tower) stands proudly on top of a huge mound in the center of York. There has been a castle on the site since the late 11th Century when it was originally built by William the Conqueror. In the 12th Century, the entire Jewish community of York fled there in fear of their lives after a wave of anti-Semitic riots. When an angry mob set siege to the castle, the Jewish people chose to take their own lives in an act of mass suicide. A terrible chapter in the history of York Castle. The next century saw the building of the stone tower that remains today. Every spring we see thousands of daffodils flowering on the mound. They have six petals to symbolize the points on the Star of David. Nikki sent over this amazing submission. You can find her blogging at Yorkshire Wonders.
Bodiam Castle // England
Bodiam Castleis a 14th-century castle surrounded by a moat near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II, ostensibly to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years' War. Of quadrangular plan, Bodiam Castle has no keep, having its various chambers built around the outer defensive walls and inner courts. Its corners and entrance are marked by towers, and topped by crenelations. Its structure, details and situation in an artificial watery landscape indicate that display was an important aspect of the castle's design as well as defense. It was the home of the Dalyngrigge family and the center of the manor of Bodiam.
Chartwell Castle // England
Chartwell is not the most beautiful castle I have ever seen, but as it was the former house of Churchill, it breathes history. I am a huge fan of Churchill and his famous quotes (for ex.: History will be kind to me for I intend to write it). So visit Chartwell and feel Churchill's vibes. Thanks to Wendy for submitting this castle. You can find her blogging over at World Wide Wendy.
Château de Chillon // Switzerland
The magnificent stone castle built in the 13th century on the shore of Lake Geneva belongs among Switzerland's oldest and most romantic castles. You still can find here the medieval frescos, period furniture, and artworks. The castle gained fame in 1816 when a poet Byron wrote “The Prisoner of Chillon” and carved his name into the pillar in gothic dungeons (it can still be seen here). From the castle, you can take a 4km walk to the Riviera-like town of Montreaux, well known for its annual jazz festival and 9-feet bronze statue of Freddie Mercury, who spent here last months of his life. Thanks to Hanka for her submission. You can find more information about the castle here.
Trakoscan Castle // Croatia
Welcome to the fairy tale! Northern regions of Croatia are known for its turbulent history, especially during the medieval period. Numerous castles were built during that time, with Trakoscan castle being the most beautiful and the most preserved one.
It was built as a medieval fort on the hill to protect the road nearby, but soon it became a home for noble family Draskovic, one of the most famous families in Croatian history. Later, it was restored and turned into a museum.
Being just an hour drive from Zagreb, Trakoscan is a great place for a day trip, especially if combined with the baroque city of Varazdin and the Neanderthal Museum close to Krapina. Its romantic looks and beautiful surroundings make it the destination for couples. A walk around the lake, short visit to the museum and a long photo session are the must do’s in the area. Thanks to Maja for sending this over. You can find more information about the castle here.
Lednice Castle // Czech Republic
You can find here a unique fairy tale castle architecture, the stunning castle gardens, a tropical greenhouse, minaret. Thanks to Petra for sending this submission. You can find her on Twitter here.
Prague Castle // Czech Republic
The Prague Castle might come off as a little too mainstream here but it is a true masterpiece. This huge complex of palaces, churches, administration buildings and gardens was being built for nearly an unbelievable 1000 years. You can observe many different historical styles which makes every archi-lover delighted. Just make sure you go a little further than a touristic selfie in front of the gate and appreciate it the way the locals do.
Castel dell'Ovo // Italy
Castell dell'Ovo means, literally, “Egg Castle”. It's one of Napoli's historical landmarks, one of the most romantic places to go in the evening when it's all lit up, and probably the most famous “picture” of Napoli you'll see aside from the Vesuvius. This castle is situated on a tiny island, Megaride, linked to the coast from a lovely stone bridge. Its name comes from an ancient legend about the Roman poet Virgil. At the time it was believed that Virgil, whom people believed was a powerful wizard, put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications: had the egg been broken, Castel dell'Ovo would've fallen and Napoli would've suffered disastrous events. This iconic castle is 200 by 45 meters at its widest, occupying the whole Megaride island, with a high bastion that is a very popular location for newlyweds to have their wedding photos taken. It is located between San Ferdinando and Chiaia, facing the Mergellina area, across a series of luxury hotels. Us Neapolitans are very proud of our “yellow castle”, and we'll gladly take a photo of you, telling more the legend if you ask us! The entrance is free and the Castle is open every day of the year.
Thanks to Dany for this wonderful submission. You can find her blogging about her travels and more over at Travelling Dany.
So there you have it, some of the absolute best and most fascinating castles in the word. ll of these castles are so different from one another and each have their own history. I hope to visit all of them one day. Have you been to any of these castles?
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