Europe is full of breathtaking scenery, picturesque villages and beautiful castles. With a rich history and a diverse culture, it’s one of those places that everyone should visit in their lifetime.
When planning a trip to Europe, it’s hard to decide which places to visit. Some prefer to visit big cities, others prefer rural areas with quaint villages and others want to visit fairytale castles.
If you’re looking for the best European castles to add to your itinerary, I’m here to help you! I’ve selected all the must-see castles in Europe and I’ve ordered them by country. I’ve even included a map to make things easier for you!
Friendly advice – grab a cup of tea or coffee or whatever drink you fancy because this list is going to be quite long. Besides showing you pictures of beautiful castles, I wanted to include a few historical facts and cool tips for each of the castles below. Enjoy and don’t forget to pin this post for later in case you don’t manage to finish it right now! 🙂
Interesting facts about European castles
- Oldest castle in Europe – Windsor Castle, England; built in the 11th century
- Biggest castle in Europe – Malbork Castle, Poland
- Most haunted castle in Europe – Leap Castle, Ireland
- The country with the most castles – Germany. It is estimated that there are around 25,000 castles in Germany
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Top castles in Europe – Map
To view the detailed map, click on the picture below or click here! This map includes the most beautiful castles in Europe with their exact location.
Best castles in Austria
Famous for its majestic mountains and breathtaking sceneries, Austria is one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful country, make sure to add the following castles to your itinerary. You can read more about Austria in this complete travel guide.
1. Castle Hohenwerfen
The picturesque rock castle of Hohenwerfen is located above the town of Werfen, 40 km away from the city of Salzburg. The 900 years old fortress is located on a high peak, surrounded by Austria’s amazing mountains and valleys.
Built as a twin of the castle above Salzburg, this medieval masterpiece served as a prison, a Nazi education camp and a rural police training camp, until finally becoming an inspiring museum that features weapon collections. It also serves as a Falconry museum with daily live demonstrations. Hohenwerfen is definitely one of the underrated castles in Europe.
2. Kufstein Fortress
The imposing fortress of Kufstein overlooks the town with the same name in the Tyrol region of Austria. First mentioned at the beginning of the 13th century, the fortress houses various museums and events, including the world’s largest organ and live concerts.
Visitors can also admire the typical medieval architecture, with narrow alleys, thick walls and underground passages. The Kufstein Fortress can be reached via a gondola that offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. Make sure to add this beautiful European fortress to your itinerary!
3. Schönbrunn Palace
Located in Vienna, the Schonbrunn Palace is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. It served as a residence for the Habsburg rulers but since the 1950s, the palace has been transformed into a museum.
Tourists can visit some of the 1441 rooms of the palace and wonder in its gardens. Countless art pieces are waiting to be discovered at this palace. The palace also houses a maze and a zoo and it’s one of the most famous palaces in Europe.
Best castles in Belgium
When we think about Belgium, the first destinations that come to mind are Brussels and Bruges. However, there are many other places worth exploring, including the castles below. For more info about this country, read my complete Belgium Guide.
4. Gravensteen Castle
Meaning the Castle of the Counts, Gravensteen is located in Ghent, in the Flanders region of Belgium. This is one of the top medieval castles in Europe, dating back to the 12th century. It was once the residence of the Counts of Flanders. It served many purposes over the years, finally being transformed into a fascinating museum and tourist attraction.
The castle is truly impressive through its defensive elements, many of which are still intact. Among others, visitors can see the keep, the gatehouse, the ramparts, the stables, a torture equipment collection and more.
5. Ooidonk Castle
Located only a few minutes away from beautiful Ghent, Ooidonk Castle is one of the prettiest castles in Europe. This Medieval fortress was built in 1595 and is currently the home of Count t’Kint de Roodenbeke.
Best castles in Croatia
Famous for its collection of stunning beaches, Croatia is a wonderful country, perfect as a summer destination. With countless incredible islands, Croatia is also home to a few beautiful castles. Here they are!
6. Varazdin Castle
The Old Town Castle of Varazdin is a beautiful example of medieval architecture, constructed starting from the 14th century and modified several times along its history. The castle features impressive defensive structures that include strong walls and round towers. Today, it houses the City Museum of Varazdin, with interesting collections including historical documents, weapons, glass, ceramics and beautiful furniture following the rooms’ various styles.
7. Pazin Castle
Situated in the heart of Pazin town, the Pazin Castle was first mentioned in 983 and along the centuries it was the administrative seat of Pazin County. Standing on the edge of a steep cliff, the castle is a wonderful sight and the evidence of true craftsmanship. Nowadays, the castle is home to two fascinating museums – the Ethnographic Museum of Istria and the Pazin Town Museum.
Best castles in the Czech Republic
Most people who visit the Czech Republic only stop in Prague and that’s a shame. There are so many other beautiful cities and villages worth visiting such as Kutna Hora, Karlovy Vary and Cesky Krumlov. If you’re willing to get off-the-beaten-path, here are the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic.
8. Prague Castle
Built in the 9th century, the Prague Castle is one of the most visited sights in the city and one of the most popular castles in Europe. The castle even holds a world record as the largest ancient castle in the world with an area of approximately 70,000 square meters. Inside the castle tourists can visit various museums, churches, gardens and towers. There’s a lot to explore at the beautiful Prague Castle.
9. Hluboka nad Vltavou Castle
Hluboka nad Vltavou Castle is a must-see when in the Czech Republic. First built in the 13th century as a Gothic castle, it was rebuilt over time in Renaissance and Baroque styles, finally reaching its current Romantic style in the 19th century, inspired by the Windsor Castle.
The richly decorated interiors and artworks featured inside the castle can be admired during guided visits. Also, make sure to visit the beautiful gardens and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!
10. Cervena Lhota Chateau
Located on a rock in the middle of a lake, this beautiful European castle can be found in the village of Cervena Lhota, in South Bohemia region. Dating back to the 15th century, the castle is a Renaissance masterpiece, with its unique red exterior enclosing a small courtyard.
It sits in the middle of an enchanting fish pond and is linked to the banks by a stone bridge. Despite being quite small, the castle offers an interesting experience, with authentic furnished rooms and spaces.
11. Lednice Chateau
Definitely one of the most charming castles in Europe, Lednice Castle is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the best examples of English Neo-Gothic architecture in Europe, the castle used to be the summer residence of the rich Princes of Liechtenstein.
Visit the superb rooms and luxurious halls of the castle and enjoy a unique experience. Amongst others, visitors can also admire the Museum of Marionettes, the artificial cave, the Greenhouse or the Minaret.
Best castles in Denmark
Explore the homes of the Danish Royal Family and learn more about the country’s history. Visiting the castles of Denmark is a wonderful experience and I’ve picked the most beautiful ones. Read more about them below.
12. Frederiksborg Castle
Built by King Christian I in the early 17th century, the amazing castle of Frederiksborg is located on several small islets of the Castle Lake in Hillerod. The castle was rebuilt following a fire in 1859 and it’s surrounded by a beautiful Baroque formal garden. Apart from the gardens and its exterior, the castle also has other impressive features, including the astonishing chapel or the great hall. Today, Frederiksborg Castle houses the Museum of National History, containing rich collections.
13. Egeskov Castle
Among the great castles of Europe, Egeskov Castle was built on a lake, on strong oaken piles and according to the legend, an entire oak forest was used to create its foundation. Originally, the only way to access the castle was via a drawbridge.
The construction is home to several interesting defensive features, including hidden stairs and fountains. Egeskov Castle is located in the southern part of Funen Island, near Kvaerndrup and it’s the best preserved water castle in Europe. Today, the castle grounds are open to visitors who can visit several interesting museum collections, including a classic car exhibition.
Best castles in England
Estimates show that England is home to around 4000 castles. Many of these still stand today and are very well preserved. It was hard to choose only a few castles for this top but I did my best so here are the most beautiful castles in England.
14. Windsor Castle
Among the best castles in Europe, Windsor is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, dating back almost 1000 years. It was founded by William the Conqueror and has been the residence for 39 monarchs over the years. While the Queen also spends her free time at the castle, visitors are welcome anytime, with various routes and experiences available through the impressive grounds. The massive castle is still used for various royal ceremonies and State functions.
15. Palace of Westminster
Towering over the river Thames and London, the Palace of Westminster was ravaged by two fires during the years but it has since been reconstructed. Nowadays, the palace is at the centre of UK’s political life. Probably the most iconic part of the palace is Big Ben itself, the famous tower also called the Elizabeth Tower. No visit to London is complete without a stop at the Palace of Westminster, one of the world’s most famous palaces.
16. Warwick Castle
The old castle of Warwick is located in the county town of Warwickshire, on the River Avon. It was built on the grounds of a wooden fort originally built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, today featuring some of the most iconic military architecture still preserved, with strong tall towers and ramparts. Today, the castle and its park attract tourists from all over the world. The activities you can enjoy here include bird shows, the Castle Dungeon experience, musical events, medieval fairs and many more.
Best castles in France
France is well-known for being the home of some of the most picturesque castles in Europe with endless gardens and luxurious decorations. The most famous ones are located along the Loire Valley but there are many others that are worth visiting.
17. Chateau de Chambord
Definitely one of the top castles in Europe, Chambord is also among the most beautiful in the world. Probably the best example of French Renaissance architecture, this is the largest of the Loire Valley castles, located between the cities of Blois and Orleans.
The castle was never intended to have defensive purposes. All the elements are purely decorative, creating a perfect harmony of style. The interior of Chambord Castle features dozens of rooms filled with exquisite works of art, but also interesting architectural details. The grounds are also enchanting, with a French formal garden that surrounds the castle.
18. Chateau de Chenonceau
This is one of the most popular castles in France, also known as “Ladies’ Castle”, with Diane de Poitiers living in the castle and other important ladies influencing its history. It’s located on the Cher River, close to the city of Tours.
Chenonceau Castle was built in late Gothic and early Renaissance architectural style, over an old mill. Its most famous feature is the arched gallery over the river bridge. However, the amazing rooms decorated with works of art and the charming gardens are also worth visiting.
19. Azay-le-Rideau Chateau
Among the must-see castles in Europe, Azay-le-Rideau is located on an island of the Indre River and is an iconic castle of the Loire Valley. Built in the 16th century, the castle features superb Renaissance architecture. The castle’s beautiful façade is mirrored in the river, creating a charming scene, while the restored park features exotic trees and plants. The rich decorations and art pieces in the interior are also exquisite, making this castle a very fascinating place to explore.
20. Château de Vaux le Vicomte
The impressive castle of Vaux le Vicomte is a Baroque masterpiece from the 17th century, built during the reign of King Louis XIV by the most famous and influential architect, landscapist and painter-decorator of that time. The castle is located about 55 km from Paris in Maincy, near the town of Melun.
Vaux le Vicomte was the first castle to establish a new style that combined stunning architecture with French formal garden design by Andre le Notre and superb interior design and paintings by Charles le Brun. Today, the castle is opened to the public and houses various exhibitions and events, including evening visits at the candlelight.
21. Palace of Versailles
At the top of the most famous palaces in the world, Versailles is a complex experience, an unforgettable incursion into the France’s history. Enlarged from a small palace built by King Louis XIV, Versailles housed France’s royal court from 1682 until the start of the French Revolution in 1789.
Located in the department of Yvelines, just 20 km from Paris, the palace is a large and splendid architectural and artistic complex. Among the many highlights of Versailles, visitors are astonished by the Hall of Mirrors, the royal apartments, the Royal Opera, the Royal Stables, the Trianon Estates and the sumptuous gardens.
22. Rocamadour Castle
Considered a sacred village located in the Dordogne Valley of France, Rocamadour has been a pilgrimage site for many centuries for the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Built on a steep cliff on the banks of the Alzou River, the buildings of the castle keep and churches create the picturesque image of a citadel built on several levels.
The village with stone houses lies beneath the complex of monastic and defensive structures above, creating a unique atmosphere. Among the buildings of Rocamadour, the most fascinating are the Notre Dame Chapel with its Black Madonna statue, the Saint-Saveur Basilica and the castle ramparts with stunning panoramas and other highlights.
Best castles in Germany
From medieval fortresses to luxurious castles, Germany has it all! With a total of approximately 12,000 castles, it’s hard to choose the most beautiful castles in Germany but I’m here to help you!
23. Eltz Castle
One of the fairytale castles in Europe, Eltz is located in the enchanting Eltz forest, in the hills over the Moselle River, in western Germany. The picturesque location and its beautiful architecture with its slender shape and many turrets create a lasting impression on every visitor.
Eltz Castle is about 850 years old and has been owned by the same family since the 12th century. Various branches of the family have lived in the castle’s 100 rooms and some still do, only part of it being open to the public during the summer. It is one of the few castles that has never been destroyed and still preserves very old treasures.
24. Schwerin Palace
Located in the town of Schwerin in northern Germany, the Schwerin Palace or Castle and its beautiful gardens occupy an island on the lake with the same name. It is one of the most beautiful castles in the world and it was mostly built in the mid-19th century by famous architects, although various fortifications on this land were known from the 10th century. Today, the palace hosts both the government of the federal state and a museum where visitors can discover the history and heritage of Schwerin Palace.
25. Moritzburg Castle
Among the hidden castles in Europe, Moritzburg Castle is a splendid Baroque palace located in the German state of Saxony, close to the city of Dresden. The castle was originally built in the 16th century as a hunting lodge and was further enlarged in the later centuries.
The castle and grounds were envisioned by Augustus the Strong as a Baroque hunting palace, with exotic animal enclosures surrounding the grounds. Today, Moritzburg Castle houses several museums and exhibitions, including the Baroque Exhibition, the Porcelain Quarter and various events.
26. Neuschwanstein Castle
Considered to be one of the most famous castles in Europe, Neuschwanstein truly is a fairytale destination. Located in the southwest of Bavaria and built in a stunning Romanesque Revival style, this castle was used as an inspiration for the Disney animated movies.
Its location and surrounding area are truly awe-inspiring. Perched on a rock in the middle of a forest and surrounded by tall mountains, this castle will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. Neuschwanstein Castle features impressive rooms and splendid panoramas and is visited by over 1 million tourists each year.
27. Schloss Drachenburg
Built in the late 19th century on a hill next to the small town of Konigwinter, the Drachenburg Castle was actually a private villa built by a German baron. Today it’s owned by the state and opened to visitors who can wander around the castle’s charming rooms and beautiful grounds. It also offers amazing views of the Rhine River Valley below.
Best castles in Greece
Greece is the country of endless beaches and unique beach resorts but only few people know that Greece also has a few incredible castles and fortresses. Below I’m sharing with you the most beautiful ones in the country!
28. Bourtzi Fortress
The strong fortress of Bourtzi is located on a tiny island with the same name, in Nafplion. It was built in 1471 and the entire city was fortified by the Venetians against pirate attacks, its shape being adapted to the small area of the islet. Over the years, the fortress was used as both a prison and a hotel, finally becoming a tourist site, home to many cultural events. It can be reached by boat in a few minutes from the port of Nafplion. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful fortresses in Europe.
29. Astypalaia Castle
The superb Venetian castle of Astypalaia is located on a small island with the same name, above a town with iconic Greek white houses and surrounded by blue seas. It is also known as the Venetian Castle of Querini in Chora, being constructed by the noble Venetian family in the 13th and 14th centuries. Although almost ruined, there are still many things to see at the castle, especially the breathtaking panorama of the island from the top.
Best castles in Hungary
There are more than 100 castles in Hungary but the two most beautiful ones are located in Budapest and are easily accessible to all tourists. Make sure to add them to your itinerary when visiting Hungary!
30. Buda Castle
One of the most fascinating castles in Europe can be found in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. The famous Buda Castle dominates the city from the left bank of the Danube. It was originally built in 1265, although most of its Baroque buildings were constructed in the 18th century. It includes many iconic structures that have an impressive past, playing a major part in the European history.
The most interesting highlights of Buda Castle include the History Museum, the National Gallery, Matthias Church, Fishermen’s Bastion, Presidential Palace and many other rooms, halls and cellars. It’s surrounded by a beautiful area known as the Castle Quarter.
31. Vajdahunyad Castle
This superb castle located in Budapest is considered among the most beautiful Romantic castles in Europe. The building was finished in 1896 and is home to various architectural styles including Medieval, Romanesque, Gothic or Baroque styles. Built in the city park and surrounded by a lake, this unique castle hosts the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.
Best castles and palaces in Italy
If you like castles as much as I do, make sure to add the ones below to your bucket list. These Italian castles are stunning and their histories are fascinating. Some true authentic European gems!
32. Aragonese Castle
One of Europe’s most beautiful Medieval castles, the Aragonese Castle in Italy is located on a small island near Ischia. The island is connected to the shore through a beautiful causeway, with breathtaking views of the castle. In the 1700s the island was inhabited by around 2000 families but nowadays, the castle serves as a museum and a tourist attraction.
33. Doge’s Palace
One of the most visited palaces in Europe is none other than the famous Doge’s Palace, located in Venice’s heart. Built in Venetian Gothic style, the palace served as the residency of Doge of Venice. The palace was built in 1340 but since 1923 it serves as a museum, attracting tourists from all around the globe with its undeniable beauty.
Best castles in the Netherlands
Mostly famous for the beautiful Amsterdam and the endless tulip fields, the Netherlands has so much more to offer. Head to Giethoorn and admire the city with no roads, also known as the Venice of the North, or explore the beautiful castles in the country.
34. De Haar Castle
Dating back to the 14th century, this beautiful Dutch castle is located near the city of Utrecht. It was rebuilt and renovated several times through the years, and now is a popular tourist attraction.
De Haar is the largest castle in the Netherlands, featuring impressive medieval structures but also charming grounds with gardens, ponds and wildlife. The interior is also fascinating, with rich wooden decorations, lavish furniture and porcelain, as well as excellent works of art.
35. Muiderslot Castle
Muiderslot Castle can easily be visited as a day trip from Amsterdam, either by bike or by car. Built in 1280, the castle served as a prison and as a home to important Dutch families over the years.
Nowadays, Muiderslot is open to the public as a museum and its architecture and gardens are admired by tourists from all over the world each month. However, Muiderslot is one of the secret castles in Europe, not yet affected by mass tourism. When visiting the castle, make sure to also visit the beautiful town of Muiden.
36. Doorwerth Castle
One of the oldest castles in the Netherlands, it was originally built from wood around the 12th century and was rebuilt several times along the centuries. It is located on the banks of the Rhine River and close to the village with the same name – Doorwerth, near densely wooded hills.
Today, this splendid castle houses several museums, as well as events in the perfectly furbished halls. The museums include the castle museum with amazingly decorated rooms, the Veluwezoom Museum and the museum for wild game management. Another highlight is the old Robinia tree that is thought to date from the 1600s.
Best castles in Poland
Poland is a country with a rich history and many beautiful destinations. From the colorful Wroclaw to the enchanting Gdansk, Poland is a must-see for any traveler. Below are the most beautiful castles in the country.
37. Książ Castle
The charming castle of Ksiaz is the largest in the region of Silesia, located in an enchanting protected area known as the Ksiaz Landscape Park. It was built at the end of the 13th century on the site of a previous fortification. During the years, it passed through various hands and was rebuilt during the 16th century in a beautiful Renaissance style. Today, the castle has various exhibitions and experiences open to the public, including night visits, underground visits, light shows and more.
38. Malbork Castle
There are many famous European castles, but few have such a fascinating history like the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, in northern Poland. It is the biggest castle in the world by land area and was originally built by the Teutonic Knights, a mysterious German Catholic order of crusaders. During the 14th century, the castle was enlarged and fortified and today a deep moat and several rings of walls, including churches, palaces and other spaces inside are part of it. Today, this impressive castle houses a museum that presents various heritage collections.
39. Nowy Wiśnicz Castle
Dating back to the 14th century, the castle is structured as one building with four sides around an inner courtyard and four towers in the corners. It was owned and managed by various nobles and families along the centuries, being nationalized after the Second World War. The Nowy Wisnicz Castle is now open to the public and the Museum of the Wisnicz Land is located in a building nearby. Various legends surround the castle that can be discovered during a visit.
40. Moszna Castle
One of the lesser-known fairytale castles in Europe, this is a truly splendid monument that has been included among the most beautiful castles in the world. The majestic building was started in the 17th century and includes 365 rooms and 99 turrets. The castle and the park surrounding it used to be the residence of the German Tiele-Winckler family and it includes an old Baroque Palace, as well as various buildings built in Neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance and Eclectic styles. There is also a huge beautiful park and a stud farm with thoroughbred Arab horses.
Best castles in Portugal
When visiting Portugal, there are a few places that all the tourists want to visit. Lisbon is a must-see for those passionate about culture and architecture (tip – make sure to visit the Pink Street and Lx Factory), while Porto is a must-see for those who are looking for a more relaxing holiday. Sintra and Algarve are also popular tourist destinations but below I want to talk about the most beautiful castles in Portugal. Here they are!
41. Pena Palace
This outstanding palace is located in the town of Sintra, Portugal, and is one of the most famous attractions in the country. It impresses with its superb Romanticist architecture and its fabulous location on top of a hill, surrounded by the Sintra Mountains.
Pena Palace of Sintra was built by a German architect in the 19th century and is surrounded by a beautiful large park that includes labyrinths, pathways, pavilions, lakes and exotic trees.
42. St. George Castle
Among the most charming castles in Europe, St. George Castle of Lisbon is truly astonishing, dominating the city with its strong, tall walls. It dates back to the first centuries and it was built as a Moorish stronghold.
Once a highly disputed military stronghold, today it’s a pleasant attraction that can be discovered behind the stone walls, with a small museum and a restaurant. Visitors can climb the towers and the ramparts for one of the best views of Lisbon.
43. Castle of the Moors
The ancient Castelo dos Mouros is one of the most important historical sites in Portugal and one of the best castles in Europe. Located on a steep hill above the town of Sintra, not far from the capital, this castle played an important role in Portugal’s independence, being acquired from the Moors in the 12th century and built some three centuries prior. It was considered to be undefeatable due to its strong walls and perfect position. Today, the castle has gained its previous splendor and welcomes visitors from all around the globe.
44. Castle of Leiria
Located high on a hill overlooking the Leiria town in the region of Extremadura, this is one of the most beautiful medieval castles in Europe, being conquered from the Moors by the first king of Portugal in 1135. It hosted the royal court at various times throughout history and includes a palace from the 15th century inside. Behind the castle’s strong walls, there is also a church, a collegiate space, a loggia and many towers. Today, the large castle features a charming garden, a small museum and splendid panoramas of the city.
Best castles in Romania
One of the most underrated places in Europe, Romania is a beautiful country with countless stunning castles and fortresses scattered around Transylvania and not only. Here are the most beautiful ones!
45. Peles Castle
Located in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, Peles Castle is one of the most interesting castles in Europe. It’s a popular tourist attraction for both locals and foreigners. The castle was built in Renaissance style, between 1873 and 1914 and it served as a residence for Romania’s former kings until the rise of Communism when the castle was seized. Nowadays, the castle’s interior and gardens can be visited and the visitors can admire the exquisite furniture and wooden details.
46. Corvin Castle
Corvin Castle is one of the most underrated castles in Europe. Few international tourists get here and that’s a shame. Resembling a scene from Harry Potter, the castle is one of the oldest castles in Europe, being built in 1446. To get to it, visitors will have to walk on a beautiful stone bridge from where the castle can be admired in its entire splendor.
47. Bran Castle
Situated just a short drive away from Brasov, Bran Castle is mostly famous as Dracula’s home. However, I’m sorry to disappoint you but most historians agree that Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula never set foot in Bran Castle. Nowadays, the castle serves as a museum and visitors can admire antique furniture, beautifully decorated rooms and traditional objects.
Best castles in Scotland
No matter which part of Scotland you’re planning to visit, there are lots of castles to choose from to visit. Some are in ruins while others are very well preserved. Here are the most beautiful castles in Scotland.
48. Balmoral Palace
The large estate house of Balmoral is located in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland. The building has been the royal residence of the British crown since 1852, when Prince Albert bought the estate for Queen Victoria. Soon after that, the current castle was built in a beautiful Scottish baronial architectural style and includes a large estate that features forests, farmlands and herds of deer among others. The castle of Balmoral is still a private residence for the Queen. Only the gardens and the great ballroom are open to the public when the royal family is not present.
49. Edinburgh Castle
The Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of the Scottish capital from the 12th century until now. It’s one of the oldest castles in Europe and has served as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress along the centuries. Set on an impressive rock over the city, the castle has played a crucial role in Scotland’s history of and today is one of the most famous sights in the country.
It houses the precious Honors of Scotland, the oldest Crown jewels of Britain, as well as other attractions like St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Stone of Destiny, National War Museum, One o’clock Gun and more.
50. Craigievar Castle
One of the most enchanting castles in Scotland is located in the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire, south of Alford. This could easily serve as an inspiration for fairytales, with its slender tower-like aspect and pinkish hue.
Built starting with the 16th century, Craigievar Castle best exemplifies the Scottish Baronial style and was built on a former traditional fortified country house. The amazing surrounding area and its intricate small architectural details, as well as the many works of art displayed inside the castle are just some of the reasons why you should visit this beautiful pink castle in Scotland.
Best castles in Slovenia
Slovenia is one of the countries that surprised me the most. With the beautiful Lake Bled and other hidden gems, this country has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty. Here are the most beautiful castles in Slovenia!
51. Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle is located on a hill above the capital of Slovenia. It was originally a medieval fortress built in the 11th or 12th centuries but it evolved into its present state starting from the 15th century. It played a crucial role in the history of the city, today being used mostly as a tourist attraction and cultural venue. Among others, visitors can explore the castle grounds, including several majestic towers, the chapel, the armory, the prison and more, while the courtyard is used for cultural events.
52. Bled Castle
Considered the oldest in Slovenia and one of the best castles in Europe, Bled Castle is located on a high cliff over the stunning lake of Bled. It was first mentioned in the 11th century and features Romanesque and Renaissance architecture.
The Bled Castle has two beautiful courtyards and includes an inspiring museum, a chapel, a wine cellar, a restaurant and other perfectly preserved spaces. The true charm of Bled Castle comes from its magnificent location. Overlooking the lake and being surrounded by forests and mountains, this castle is a must-see!
53. Zuzemberk Castle
Originally built in the 13th century, the picturesque castle of Zuzemberk got its current look during the 16th century, with seven huge towers and strong defensive walls. It was built as a stronghold against the Ottoman Empire and was the birthplace of important historical figures. The castle was severely damaged during the bombings of the Second World War, but it is still being restored to this day. During the summer, cultural events are being hosted in its courtyard.
54. Predjama Castle
One of the most unique and interesting castles in the world can be found in the village of Predjama in Slovenia. The castle was built inside a cave opening over 8 centuries ago and is located just a few kilometers away from Postojna Cave.
It’s the largest cave castle in the world, constructed in Renaissance and Gothic styles, having the reputation of being impregnable. A network of secret tunnels and galleries are connected to the castle, while other legends surround its famous name.
Best castles in Spain
Many castles in Spain are worth to be included in this list of top castles in Europe but I chose only the best of the best. Here are the most beautiful castles in Spain that you need to add to your bucket list.
55. Alcazar de Segovia
Alcazar de Segovia is definitely one of the famous castles in Europe, located at the confluence of two rivers and resembling the bow of a ship. A massive and impressive fortress rises over the town of Segovia in central Spain and impresses with its unique architecture.
It served multiple purposes throughout its history, including a royal palace, a prison and a military academy, finally becoming a fascinating museum. Visitors of the castle can admire its ornately decorated rooms and halls filled with works of art, as well as the interesting Museum of Artillery.
56. Olite Castle
The Royal Palace of Olite is also known as the Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite and used to be one of the most luxurious castles in the whole of Europe. Located in the town of Olite, this magnificent palace is a true medieval Gothic treasure, with intricate towers and strong walls.
Divided in the old and the new palace, it features many towers, halls and chapels. The town of Olite is also famous for the large Medieval Fair held during the month of August each year.
57. Castillo de Colomares
One of the newest castles of Europe, Castillo de Colomares was constructed between 1987 and 1994 near the town of Benalmadena in Spain. It was dedicated to the life and adventures of Christopher Columbus and covers a huge area of 1500 square meters. It also includes the smallest church in the world and features a fascinating mix of architectural styles.
Best castles in Sweden
When you think about the most beautiful castles in Europe, Sweden is not the first country that comes to mind. However, there are a few beautiful castles that are worth visiting if you’re planning a trip to Sweden. Make sure to add them to your itinerary!
58. Skokloster Castle
Considered one of the most important and beautiful Baroque castles in Europe, Skokloster was built in the 17th century and is located on a peninsula of Lake Malaren, between Stockholm and Uppsala. Parts of the castle were never finished and the owners have gathered rich collections over the years, today presented to the visitors. Skokloster Castle features paintings, furniture, textiles and silverware, as well as a collection of arms and armor.
59. Gripsholm Castle
Located in the small town of Mariefred, on the shores of Lake Malaren, this splendid castle was built in 1537 by Gustav Vasa. Today, it offers an exciting experience, with countless rooms that feature art collections and historical exhibits.
The exterior features a splendid park with a Deer Nature Reserve and other green spaces. The castle belonged to the Swedish Royal Family and is still considered a Royal residence, although it functions as a museum.
Best castles in Switzerland
Apart from majestic mountains, stunning waterfalls and excellent hikes, Switzerland is also home to some pretty incredible castles. Here they are!
60. Aarburg Castle
Located high above the town of Aarburg in the Aargau canton of Switzerland, this majestic castle was probably built around 1200. Developed over the centuries, it has grown to occupy the whole steep rock it sits on. Today, the castle is used as the Kantonale Jugendheim, an institution established over a century ago to hold and rehabilitate juvenile offenders.
61. Chillon Castle
Definitely one of the fairytale castles in Europe, Chillon impresses through its striking location on an island amid the charming Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It’s one of the most visited castles in Europe and impresses through its amazing preservation, with its majestic walls and towers.
The castle was occupied by the house of Savoy, followed by the Bernese and now the state has opened it up as a tourist attraction and museum that includes restored halls and rooms, as well as various art exhibits.
62. Oberhofen Castle
Dating back to the 13th century, the picturesque castle of Oberhofen is located on the shores of Lake Thun and features a living museum. The romantic castle with its beautiful tower keep features several fascinating spaces and museum exhibits, like the Oriental Smoking Room, the beautifully painted chapel or the perfectly recreated dining room tell the story of several centuries, creating a living museum. The large garden located nearby is equally enchanting, creating an amazing landscape on the background of the Swiss mountains.
Other fairytale castles in Europe
63. Balchik Palace, Bulgaria
The splendid palace of Balchik is one of the must-see castles in Europe, a beautiful architectural masterpiece located on the coast of the Black Sea. It was built between 1926 and 1937 when Romania ruled the region, for Queen Marie of Romania, also being known as the Quiet Nest Palace. The palace complex includes several buildings and spaces, including residential villas, a monastery, a chapel, a holy spring, a wine cellar and a botanical garden. The superb palace mixes various architectural styles and for its construction were hired Italian architects and a Swiss florist.
64. Bratislava Castle, Slovakia
Located in the capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava Castle is a unique castle in Europe. This rectangular building with towers in each corner was built in Gothic and Renaissance styles with Baroque elements. The Castle is home to the Slovak National Museum, the Treasure Chamber and an impressive exhibition on Slovakia’s History.
65. Lóndrangar Caslte, Iceland
I’m going to end this list of the most beautiful castles in Europe with an unconventional castle, Located in Iceland. Lóndrangar Castle, also called the Rocky Castle of Iceland was built by nature. Lóndrangar is actually a rock formation, having the shape of a castle. The basalt volcanic dykes standing on the edge of the ocean create the illusion of a degraded castle when seen from afar. Iceland actually is a country with no castles.
There are many stunning castles in Europe and talking about all of them would take years. I tried to include only the best in this list but there are many other castles that deserve to be visited and added to every traveler’s bucket list.
If you plan to visit some of these breathtaking castles in Europe, I’m sure that you’ll feel like a princess or prince. I’ve also written an extensive post about the most beautiful villages and towns in Europe. You can check it out here.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below. May the travel bug bite you!