6 Best Castles to Visit in Europe
Europe is home to many beautiful castles, which have a variety of architecture and are situated in an assortment of landscapes, from mountains to lakes. With such a rich history across the continent, the castles make for some fantastic travel destinations for those who want to learn the history and take in the culture.
Below are some of the best castles to visit in Europe.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle in southwest Bavaria is instantly recognisable, as it was the inspiration for Disney’s iconic Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It was built in 1886 by King Ludwig II as a private retreat from public life.
The castle has a dramatic hilltop location and features a number of towers and turrets, which all add to the fairy-tale appearance. It’s one of the most popular castles in Europe, with 1.4 million visitors every year. Guided tours take visitors around the 14 finished rooms in the castle, which feature art inspired by the operas of German composer Richard Wagner, of whom King Ludwig was a huge fan.
Pena Palace, Portugal
Pena Palace in Sintra, 40 minutes from Lisbon, is a 19th-century Romantic castle, with bright yellow and red turrets and towers. Initially, in the Middle Ages, a chapel stood on the hill where the castle now resides. In 1838, King Ferdinand II acquired it and construction began to build a place for the Portuguese royal family to spend their summers.
The interiors of Pena Palace are just as exquisite as the building itself, with vaulted ceilings, carved walls, and intricate tiling. The grounds feature gargoyles, mythological statues, and hidden pathways in the nearby forest. Millions of tourists now visit the castle every year. Visitors can purchase a ticket to view the grounds only, or the ground and the staterooms of the palace.
Bran Castle, Romania
Bran Castle, in Bran, central Romania, was originally a medieval fortress. It is now known as the Dracula castle – author Bram Stoker never visited Romania, but it’s thought that the inspiration for Dracula’s castle came from an early etching of Bran Castle. The castle has proven to continue to spook tourists who visit for vampire lore, with a dramatic hilltop location and creepy turrets.
The castle is now a museum, used to exhibit artifacts that were collected by the late Queen Maria. Visitors can take guided or self-guided tours.
Château de Chambord, France
The Château de Chambord, in Chambord, Central-Val de Loire, France was built in the 16th Century, with the distinctive French Renaissance architectural style. It is set in a wooded park in the Loire Valley, surrounded by stunning gardens. It was originally built as a hunting lodge for King Francis I, but the king spent very little time there. It was left to decay after his death in 1547 until it underwent major restoration work by King Louis XIII’s brother in 1639.
Visitors can take guided or self-guided tours. Over 4,500 art pieces are housed in 60 spectacular rooms, which also feature swirling staircases and intricately carved ceilings.
Miramare Castle, Italy
Miramare Castle is on the Gulf of Trieste in northeast Italy. Construction finished in 1860 and was used by the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian and his wife Charlotte of Belgium. Situated directly on the coastline, the grounds feature cliffs and a seashore park. The grounds include tropical foliage and spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea.
Visitors can walk the park for free or buy a ticket to enter the castle to find out about the history of the building and view the exhibitions. It has been a tourist attraction since 1955 and the room still include the original furnishings and adornments.
Gripsholm Castle, Sweden
Gripsholm Castle is in Mariefred, Södermanland, in south-central Sweden, located by Lake Mälaren. It was originally a fortress built in the 1370s. It became a royal residence in the 16th century when the castle was built by King Gustav Vasa. It was used by the Swedish royal family until the 18th century when it became a museum.
The castle features beautiful red brick towers and romantic grounds. The museum exhibits a number of pieces of furniture and other ornaments. It also houses the Swedish National Portrait collection which features portraits of famous Swedes. Tickets can be bought for visitors to view the castle, with guided tours available.
When you plan your trip to visit Europe’s best castles, don’t forget to get international travel insurance. Expatriate Group’s international travel health insurance covers all nationalities, travelling all across Europe and the rest of the world. Get a quote for your travel insurance today.