If you are planning on a European vacation, learning about the deep history and culture of the different countries you visit is more than likely something you would want to do. One of the most amazing things to do when exploring Europe is to visit different castles, many of which have been around for hundreds of years!
To narrow down the list of castles to see, we here at Flight Centre have come up with a list of 20 amazing locations to visit, where some of the most majestic castles can be explored!
The Alcazar Castle in Spain
One of the most spectacular castles to visit in Spain is The Alcazar Castle which is located in the city of Segovia. This majestic mediaeval castle sits on top of a hill and in between a confluence of two rivers, making it a stunning sight to visit and explore. If you are travelling through the city with your children, they would be excited to know that this very castle inspired the design of Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle, and the whimsical notes of the rising towers are impossible to miss!
The Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany
King Ludwig II had built this castle after he withdrew from the public eye, but upon his death in 1886, it became open to the public. The grand castle sits in the midst of some of the most beautiful mountains and forests, and it can be explored by visitors, offering the unique chance to take a step back in time and experience what a king's life was like in the 1800s! Rich in history and culture, Germany also has one of the best Christmas Markets should your visit fall over the winter season.
Windsor Castle in Windsor in England
When talking about the best castles to visit in Europe, we would, of course, have to look at the famous Windsor Castle! As the largest and oldest occupied castle in not only Europe but the world, you would be able to experience over 1000 years of history while walking through this magnificent architectural wonder.
Hohenwerfen Castle in Austria
Hohenwerfen Castle is exactly what you would imagine if you had to think of a snow-covered architectural wonder that has been around for over 900 years! The mist-covered valley has an ominous and beautiful feel to it, with the castle itself offering beautiful views of the surrounding forested and mountainous region that it sits below. While the beauty of the surroundings will take your breath away, what this castle is most well-known for are the well-preserved rooms and mediaeval defences which depict the years that this castle has stood.
Bran Castle in Romania
For those who are fans of the stories of Dracula, you will want to be sure to include a visit to the majestic Bran Castle, as this is where many assume the famous vampire once resided! Even if you are not into fictional tales of the great Dracula himself, the gothic architecture and the surrounding Transylvanian Alps are spectacular to see in person.
Moszna Castle in Poland
The red roof and brick face style give the Moszna Castle in Poland a unique look, making it a favourite destination to visit and experience for yourself! This 17th-century castle sits near the village of Moszna and has a whopping 365 rooms to explore! The beautiful grounds can be explored by visitors, making it one of the best castles to visit when in Poland
De Haar Castle in the Netherlands
If what you think of when you picture a castle looks like something out of a fairy tale, you will definitely want to visit Haar Castle in the Netherlands! As the largest castle in Holland, it is frequently a travel destination for tourists who are hoping to see a bit of the heritage of this beautiful country. The castle was rebuilt by the Rothschild family during the 19th and 20th centuries, on the ruins of a castle that once existed in this area.
Burg Kreuzenstein in Austria
If you are a fan of the movie ‘The Three Musketeers, you may want to visit this location as this is where the famous movie was shot. It is located just a few kilometres from Vienna, so it is easy to reach if you are in that area. Though it has recently been rebuilt on top of the ruins of another castle, the mediaeval features make it seem as if you have gone back in time!
Château de Chambord in France
As a UNESCO world heritage site, as of 1981, the Château de Chambord is one of the most recognisable and well-known castles in the world. Tourists can experience this spectacular castle for themselves and also walk through the beautiful gardens. With a distinct and unique depiction of French Renaissance architecture, it is a site you will not want to miss out on. Your visit to this historic castle can also include additonal day trips in France.
Pena Palace in Portugal
Sitting above the town of Sintra is the Pena Palace, so tall that it is often seen above the clouds! The colourful exterior and interior are both wonders to enjoy for yourself, and the romantic feel of the castle exudes the charm of the 19th-century era! For a unique chance to see one of Portugal's most famous, and beautiful, castles, be sure to include a stop at the Pena Palace when planning your vacation itinerary!
Kronborg Castle in Denmark
As a castle that was built during the 1420s, the Kronborg Castle holds hundreds of years of history within its walls. As the setting for the famous Shakespearean play ‘Hamlet’, the stunning castle is a true depiction of what a renaissance structure would look like! With many rooms to explore and even a chapel on-site, you will be spoilt for choice on what to do and see.
Spiš Castle in Slovakia
Part of exploring the different castles in Europe will mean exploring some structures that have not stood the test of time. Castle ruins can be a great way to walk through and experience structures that have in no way been tampered with and improved over the years. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, Spiš Castle in Slovakia sits above the town of Spišské Podhradie! Along with being able to explore the ruins, within the old castle is a museum which outlines the mediaeval history of the region!
Gripsholm Castle in Sweden
Built in 1537, the whimsical look and feel of this castle contradict what it was used for back in the day; a national defence fortress for Sweden! While it no longer boasts such an important title, visiting the grounds of this majestic castle is still exciting! With tons of rooms to explore, a gallery and beautiful grounds, there are tons of things to do and see!
Miramare Castle in Italy
The stunning white fortress that is Miramare Castle contrasts perfectly with the blue waters of the Gulf of Trieste. This magnificent structure was built in the 19th century and maintains the standard Italian style of this era. Along with a beautiful castle that is open for visitors to explore, the grounds and gardens located behind the castle are also a marvel to enjoy!
Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark
One of the most spectacular sights in Denmark, the Frederiksborg Castle holds nearly 300 years of history within its walls. With the opulent rooms, breathtaking state room and even a chapel, it's easy to see why this is one of Denmark's most iconic locations for local and international travellers alike.
Alhambra in Spain
This Islamic palace located in Spain is a beautiful site to explore if you are venturing into this country. This majestic structure is also known as “The Red One” for the reddish hue on the bricks that gives it this colour. This is one of the most well-preserved Islamic structures in the world, and it is a very popular tourist attraction. If you are planning on venturing to it during summer, be sure to book tickets beforehand to avoid disappointment.
Château de Chenonceau in France
Completed in the early 1500s, the Chateau de Chenonceau is an iconic castle that displays a mix of both renaissance and gothic architecture. Located near the village of Chenonceaux, the castle is one of the most impressive and unique in all of Europe. The castle itself sits atop the Cher river, on magnificent arches that make it hard to believe the castle was built over 500 years ago!
Krujë Castle in Albania
The construction of the Krujë Castle began as far back as the early middle ages, making it one of the oldest buildings in the world! For all of you history buffs out there, this means the chance to explore what the architecture looked like during this time. Along with this, the castle is also home to the Skanderbeg Museum which is one of the most visited and popular museums in all of Albania!
Het Steen Castle in Belgium
Originally, this castle was built as a defence to protect the Scheldt river from raids that were usually carried out by Vikings! Being built in the middle ages, it is no surprise that many of the buildings are ruins, but the beautiful entry gate has managed to stand the test of time and is simply spectacular!
Akershus Fortress in Norway
If exploring what was once and still is a stunning fortress excites you, visiting Akershus in Norway would be the adventure of a lifetime! This magnificent structure was built in the 1400s and was renovated over and over again over the last 500 years, as different rulers came into power. With the chance to explore the stark dungeon, the many rooms and even a church that sits on the grounds, this would be an exciting castle to visit!