10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit!

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

If castles could speak, they would certainly have some incredible stories to tell!

And why wouldn't they? These magnificent structures have stood the test of time, witnessing centuries of history and enchanting generations with their grandeur and charm. They've inspired fairy tales, captured the hearts of artists and poets, and continue to awe visitors with their breathtaking beauty. Wordsworth, Coleridge, movie-makers and artists have all painted whimsical portraits of the mysterious stone structures in their works.

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Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

That's why I feel that Europe is blessed. It's the only place in the world where you can find a castle at every turn, making you feel like you've stepped into a fairytale. And if you're wondering where to start your castle-hopping adventure, we've put together a list of 10 iconic castles in Europe that will help you travel back in time and experience what it's like to be a royal!

1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

Only if I were Sleeping Beauty, I wouldn't waste a second sleeping in this magical castle. This castle served as inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle, and with its clifftop location and ornate rooms, it's easy to see why. It was originally built as a private retreat for King Ludwig II in 1886, and today, it welcomes millions of tourists every year. Given its breathtaking views and rich history, it's no wonder why visitors are enchanted by this fairytale come to life.

To reach Neuschwanstein Castle, you can take a train from Munich or Fussen to the village of Hohenschwangau. From there, it is a short 30-minute hike up to the castle, or you can take a shuttle bus. There are also guided tours available for purchase. Be sure to book your tickets in advance, as this popular attraction often sells out.

Also read: Things to know before visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany!

2. Château de Chillon, Switzerland

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

The Romantic poet Lord Byron captured its essence in his famous poem "The Prisoner of Chillon," and for good reason. Château de Chillon, with its picturesque location on the shores of Lake Geneva, is the stuff of fairytales. This medieval fortress has served as a stronghold, arsenal, prison, and noble residence for centuries, and its charm has only grown with time. Carved into the cliffs, it's a popular day-trip destination for visitors from nearby Geneva. Plus, if you've watched Disney's The Little Mermaid, you may recognize it as the inspiration for Prince Eric's castle. Just remember, this castle is meant for freshwater mermaids only. ;)

The castle is located about 4km from the town of Montreux, Switzerland. The most convenient way to reach it is by taking the train to Montreux from Geneva or Lausanne. From Montreux, visitors can take a bus, boat, or walk along the lake shore to reach the castle. People often say that the boat ride, although chilly, offers great views of the castle! Consider booking your tickets early for a seamless experience.

3. Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

If Edgar Allan Poe were to craft a setting for one of his Gothic tales, it would certainly be the Kylemore Abbey in the heart of Connemara. Surrounded by majestic mountains, peaceful valleys, serene lakes, and babbling streams, this 19th-century neo-Gothic castle is simply breathtaking. Originally built as a grand residence, the abbey now serves as a Benedictine monastery run by devoted nuns. The church and gardens have been lovingly restored, inviting visitors to step into another world and bask in the tranquil beauty of Ireland's countryside.

Kylemore Abbey is most easily accessible by car from Galway or Dublin. However, there are also bus and train services to the nearby town of Letterfrack, from where visitors can take a taxi or shuttle to the abbey.

4. Palace of Versailles, France

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

A true icon in the world of European castles, the Palace of Versailles is the epitome of French grandeur and magnificence. Built in the 17th century by King Louis XIV, this breathtaking palace and its sprawling 1,977-acre estate will leave you in awe. Spend a day wandering through the opulent Royal Stables, gazing at the famed Hall of Mirrors, and getting lost in the endless beauty of its perfectly manicured gardens. Even the French locals consider a visit to Versailles a must-do, and it's not hard to see why.

From Paris, visitors can take a direct train to Versailles or drive about 30 minutes from the city centre. There are also organised tours available from Paris that include transportation to the palace. And if you're on your own, you can check the entrance prices as per your booking dates.

5. Egeskov Castle

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

Gothic arches and majestic spires, 200 windows and 66 rooms, and a 300-year-old living hedge maze...this is no fairy tale, this is Egeskov Castle. Located in Denmark, this magnificent moat castle is deemed the best-preserved in all of Europe. Built in the 16th century, it reflects a time long gone, when grandiosity and charm coexisted in perfect harmony. But don't be fooled by its age, because this castle is anything but dull with its lush landscape and impressive architecture.

You can catch a nearby train from Odense to Kværndrup and then make your way on foot to the castle if you're up for it. If not, you can take a bus from Kværndrup to the castle instead. Alternatively, you could also make a day trip out of it by also visiting the nearby towns of Nyborg or Faaborg before taking a direct bus to the castle.

6. Castel del Monte

There haven't been many who have not been captivated by the wonder that is Castel del Monte. Nestled on a rocky hill 50 km from the city of Bari in Southern Italy, this is one fortress that will leave you in awe. Built in the 13th century by the Emperor Frederick II, this citadel and castle is a true testament to his vision and eclectic taste. The merging of classical and Muslim architectural influences is a sight to behold, and with perfectly octagonal towers, it is no surprise that this castle is held in such high regard.

The most convenient way to reach it is by car or organised tour. It is also possible to take a regional train from Bari to the nearby town of Andria, from where visitors can take a bus or taxi to reach the castle. But make sure to check out more details before you plan your trip.

7. Bojnice Castle, Slovakia

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

Amusement park meets Gothic grandeur in the magical town of Bojnice. Here, standing tall and proud, stands the impressive Bojnice Castle, a breathtaking neo-Gothic palace that captures the hearts and imaginations of all who visit. Its roots in history can be traced back to the 12th century, and throughout the centuries, it has been rebuilt and reimagined to reach its current design. Now, as part of the Slovak National Museum, the castle is open for enchanting tours nearly every day of the year. Pro tip - Look for the eerie yet fascinating travertine caves that are hidden beneath the castle's walls!

The nearest airport is in the city of Bratislava, from where visitors can rent a car or take a bus or train to Bojnice.

8. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

Clouds cling to its towering 768-foot bluff, making Hohenzollern Castle appear as if it's floating on a sea of fog. This picturesque castle, nestled in the foothills of the Swabian Alps, is more than just a beautiful sight. Its intricate towers and fortifications make it a true marvel of 19th-century military architecture. Take a guided tour to explore its rich history or wander through its majestic halls on your own. And be sure to make a stop at the charming beer garden inside the castle for a taste of true German hospitality. There are many concerts, open-air cinema, exhibitions that happen all year round. And a plus to all that is one of Germany’s most beautiful Christmas markets that happen during year-end that make the Castle to an attractive cultural event all year round.

Hohenzollern Castle is most easily accessible by car. There’s a large parking area for your vehicle, and you can walk uphill from the parking lot or take a shuttle bus. However, there are also trains and buses from nearby cities such as Stuttgart and Munich to the town of Hechingen, from where visitors can take a bus or taxi to reach the castle.

Also read: Castles and Palaces in Beautiful Germany

9. Pena Palace, Portugal

Photo of 10 Iconic Castles in Europe That You Need To Visit! by Namrata Das Adhikary

It's as if a fairytale has come to life atop a hill in Sintra, Portugal. The Pena Palace, with its whimsical pink and yellow towers, ornamental buttresses, and playful gargoyles, exudes a certain charm that could easily rival any Disney castle. Stepping inside this 19th-century marvel, you'll be transported to a dreamlike world, where intricately carved ceilings and walls adorn Queen Amelia's apartments, and a striking all-white reception room beckons you to stop and marvel at its beauty.

Take the scenic 40-minute drive from Lisbon and let Pena Palace work its enchanting spell on you. The palace is also easily accessible by train from Lisbon. Alternatively, visitors can also take a bus from Lisbon to Sintra. Once in Sintra, a quick ride on the Scotturb bus will bring visitors right to the palace gates, where tickets can be purchased at the former gatehouse. The bus from Sintra train station runs every 15 minutes and takes about 20 minutes to reach the palace. Just be mindful, there are long queues for the tickets and often limited slots that are available, so you could consider booking your tickets in advance. Thank me later!

10. Drottingholm Palace

A little closer to the Arctic Circle and tucked away on the serene island of Lovön, lies the breathtaking Drottningholm Palace. Originally constructed in the 16th century, this architectural masterpiece now serves as the private haven for the esteemed Swedish Royal Family. So enchanting is its grandeur that the UNESCO committee deemed it a World Heritage site in 1991, recognizing it as a stunning representation of the splendour of 18th century north European royal residences, greatly inspired by none other than the Palace of Versailles.

You can take a bus or train from Stockholm to the nearby town of Ekero, from where you can walk or take a taxi to the palace. Pro tip: Take the scenic bike route from the heart of Stockholm all the way to the magnificent Drottningholm Palace. In the summer months, you can even hop on a boat at Stadshuskajen and enjoy a leisurely ride to your destination.

Best time to visit:

All of these castles can be visited year-round, but spring and fall offer milder weather and fewer crowds. Summer is the peak tourist season, while winter can be cold and rainy. If you're interested in events like medieval fairs or festivals, check the specific castle's website for dates.

I'm sure it's difficult to transport back to reality after being whisked away on a journey through the most breathtaking and majestic castles in Europe. But nevertheless, it's always better to have spent a magical moment in a fairytale world than to have never dreamt at all.

Think we missed out on something? Tell us about it in the comments below. Or write about it here on Tripoto.