Europe is the land of castles. All throughout the continent, you can visit, drink wine and even spend the night in many of these medieval structures. With over 2,500 hundred alone in Spain, 1000 in the southwestern region of France and a whopping 20,000 rumored to exist in Germany, castle enthusiasts certainly have their work cut out for them. It’s likely you won’t be able to visit them all, though. So, Winetraveler has narrowed it down to some of the most beautiful castles in Europe you should plan to visit.
Château de Chenonceau, France
This castle was constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries. Nowadays, only the dungeon remains intact from the original medieval structure. A special bridge section that spans the Cher River was added during reconstruction in the 1500s. The grounds and gardens showcase the charm and beauty of France’s Loire Valley.
Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
This bold and colorful palace is one of Portugal’s most famous architectural examples of 19th-century Romanticism. Set on a hill and surrounded by a forest, the warm tones of the turrets and towers look especially stunning against the greenery of nature.
Aragonese Castle, Ischia, Italy
Dating back to 474 BC, the Aragonese Castle has one of the most unique locations on this list: it’s on its own volcanic tiny islet, connected to the larger island of Ischia by a small walkway. Today, the castle is privately owned and tourists can visit for a small fee. Learn more about visiting Ischia with our guide here.
Conwy Castle, Wales
Eight stone towers emerge beyond the fog, overlooking the still waters of the River Conwy — this is the Conwy castle. Built by Edward I in 1293, the medieval fortress stands near the stone walls that guard the town of Conwy.
Bled Castle, Slovenia
One of Slovenia’s oldest castles, this giant citadel sits atop on a rocky cliff overlooking the clear waters of Lake Bled below. Constructed in Romanesque, Medieval and Renaissance styles, the castle also features a quintessential moat and drawbridge.
The Alcázar of Segovia, Spain
While this castle is reminiscent of the Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland, it’s actually shaped like the bow of a ship. The structure dates back to 1120 and is in excellent condition. The castle was once a fortress, a prison, a military academy, and now, a museum.
Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria
Perched alongside the Berchtesgaden Alps, the Hohenwerfen castle sits up high on a rocky outcrop over 2,000 feet above the nearest town Werfen in the Salzach Valley. Built in 1070, the fortress has functioned as a military base, hunting retreat, and prison.
Buda Castle, Budapest
Located on Castle Hill, Buda Castle dates back to 1265. A pretty incredible addition was built on the grounds in the mid-1700s: a Baroque palace. Now, the castle complex houses three museums and the National Széchényi Library.
Kasteel de Haar, Netherlands
The grand turrets of the de Haar castle in Utrecht are in prime condition. This isn’t surprising, as they were rebuilt in the late 1800s, though the site dates back to the 13th century. The brilliant exterior overlooks 135 acres of flower-filled gardens and a park with over 7,000 trees. The interior of the castle is covered with ornate woodwork.
Dunluce Castle, Ireland
Although Dunluce Castle lies in ruins, its location on a rocky cliff rising over the crashing sea waves is nothing short of spectacular. In fact, the broken-down stone walls add to the mysterious, majestic look of the castle and its impressive surroundings.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
One of the world’s most famous castles, the 19th-century structure was once a royal retreat for King Ludwig the II. The palace, which welcomes over a million tourists each year, also served as the official inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland and has appeared in a number of movies.
Bran Castle, Romania (Dracula’s Castle)
Commonly referred to as ‘Dracula’s Castle,’ the structure dates back to 1211 and is now a museum. Erected by the Teutonic Knights, inhabited by the Saxons and later a royal retreat for Queen Marie, the castle has seen extensive renovations and is now privately owned. We can’t confirm nor deny that it’s haunted, but Halloween definitely seems like the ideal time to visit.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
This castle, which is smack in the heart of Edinburgh’s city center, sits on Castle Rock. A mini-village in itself, you could spend the entire day exploring Edinburgh castle and its many museums, shops, restaurants, and other tourist attractions.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
This 9th-century royal structure is the largest ancient castle in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, occupying over 750,000 square feet. The castle is home to a number of museums, churches, gardens, a monastery, and more. Most of these attractions are open to visitors.
Kronborg Castle, Denmark
Also known as Hamlet’s castle, Elsinore, the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, was based on this castle. Ships had paid sound dues back in 1420 to the King and the castle to pass through the Baltic Sea. A large fire in 1629 led to reconstruction in a Baroque style.
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