I’m a sucker for a good castle, especially when they’re all so beautiful. I’ll always try to find at least a few to visit. From the beautiful castles of England to the historic castles of Germany, I’ll always try to find some of the best castles in Europe to explore.
Obviously, these gorgeous buildings were often born out of necessity, protection and overt flamboyance of wealth, though you no longer need to be an artist or a kitted up knight to (try) and gain entry.
Nowadays, a large majority of castles in Europe are open to us peeking peasants itching for a little look!
Obviously, with hundreds of castles to choose, it can be hard to narrow down your quest for the best castles in Europe to visit. This is exactly why I wanted to share a few favourites dotted all across the continent.
Take a look, below, at some of the best castles in Europe to explore on your next trip. Have the best time.
1.) Mont Saint-Michel, France
Perched on the northern coast of France, Mont Saint-Michel is one of the region’s most iconic sites and easily one of the best castles in Europe to see.
Make sure to visit early in the morning when crowds are less and take the free shuttle bus over to the castle itself – though, if you’re looking for a great photo op, too just take the stroll instead and get snap happy.
It really is a gorgeous place to explore, especially when exploring more of northern France.
2.) Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta, San Marino
The tiny country of San Marino, totally surrounded by Italy, is a gorgeous place to visit when exploring this region of Europe.
Once here, make sure to explore Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta that are two of the most iconic sites of San Marino and definitely shouldn’t be missed.
You can easily spend a day in San Marino and drive here whilst visiting the gorgeous Italian countryside that surrounds it. It really is one of the best castles in Europe that’s pretty easy to see on a drive through the region.
3.) Semur en Auxois Castle, France
Perched in mid-eastern France, Semur en Auxois is a small and quaint commune that has one of the best castles in Europe to explore.
The castle was built over 700 years ago and it’s still worth seeing some of the impressive sites in the commune itself. Make sure to visit the Tour de la Prison and the impressive Tour de l’Orle d’Or which is still over 40 metres high.
4.) Peles Castle, Romania
This neo-renaissance castle in Romania is one of the best castles in Europe that’s actually relatively new.
Finished around 100 years ago, it might not be the oldest but it certainly is one of the prettiest you can visit when in Romania. The castle itself is around 50 miles, or so, from the capital city of Bucharest and can easily be visited on a day trip. Don’t forget to visit the murals within the inner court, too.
5.) Chateau de Chenonceau, France
Perched within the Loire Valley, Chateau de Chenonceau is one of the region’s most iconic chateaus.
Now, being as beautiful as Chateau de Chenonceau attracts quite a few visitors, so make sure you visit first thing in the morning and try to avoid peak times on weekends.
Make sure to visit the Gallery (on the bridge) and try finding your way out of the maze within the grounds itself. Although called a chateau, this is still one of the best castles in Europe that you’ve gotta see whilst here.
6.) Castle Stalker, Scotland
Thankfully, not quite as scary as it sounds, Castle Stalker is an island keep a historic fort that has found its home within Loch Laich.
With over 700 years of history, this gorgeous place is well worth a peek if you’re close by Glencoe. Plus, you may even remember Castle Stalker from Monty Python?
7.) Sintra, Portugal
Spend a day (or two) exploring the incredible palaces, castles and homes that perch themselves on the hills overlooking the region. Honestly, their some of the best castles in Europe that almost look like they’re out of a fairytale.
You won’t be the only traveller here, so if you’re looking for quieter times, visit as early as you can in the morning. Oh, and make sure to visit: Pena Palace, Monserrate Palace and the Castle of the Moors
8.) Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark
For a relatively small European country, Denmark packs a hefty punch of the best castles in Europe with Frederiksborg Castle being one of the best.
Now, being Almost 300 years old, this castle is one pretty incredible place to explore and is totally iconic. Once here, make sure you visit the stunning chapel and incredible Great Hall.
9.) Warwick Castle, England
Built by William the Conqueror, this crazy-big castle is still in good nick (as castles go). Make sure to visit Ceaser’s Tower and see the pretty dark dungeon tools like the gibbet that were used in and around the castle itself.
Now, it is a little more expensive than some other castles to visit, but it’s still we worth a day trip.
10.) Caernarfon Castle, Wales
Almost 1,000 years old, Caernarfon Castle is one of the best castles in Europe to visit when exploring the beautiful castles of Wales.
The very first castle was actually built here by the Romans, but its full development didn’t happen until much later. Once you arrive, make sure to visit the famous King and Queen’s Gates and explore the local area too. You can even make a trip to Snowdonia National Park if you fancy.
11.) Kylemore Castle, Ireland
Kylemore Castle (or Abbey) is one of the best castles in Europe to see when in Country Galway.
Also, make sure to also visit the Victorian Gardens too. There’s a shuttle bus that runs from the visitor centre, with the Abbey usually staying open until around seven. There are so many beautiful places in Ireland to visit, you’ll have the best time.
12.) Chambord Chateau, France
Probably one of the most famous Chateau’s in the whole world, Chambord Chateau is just too amazing to miss.
Now, being Almost 500 years old, this gorgeous estate has to be seen to be believed. Once here, make sure to visit Louis XIV’s stunning sleeping quarters and the double spiral staircase.
It really is one of the best castles in Europe to explore.
13.) Alhambra, Spain
This absolutely stunning Islamic palace was built by the Moorish population that lived in and around the region of Granada.
Honestly, the whole estate is stunning to explore. Just book your tickets early (at least a few days in advance) if you want to gain full access to the grounds and buildings.
Also, don’t forget to see the arabesque pavilion and archways that have been so intricately created. It really is stunning. Spain has so many gorgeous places to experience and explore.
14.) Hohensalzburg Castle, Austria
Perched right on top of Festungsberg, Hohensalzburg Castle overlooks the region around Salzburg.
This impressive castle is one of Austria’s most iconic to visit and one of the best castles in Europe if you love medieval history.
Oh, and don’t forget to visit the inner courtyard and explore the Golden Chamber.
And last but not least…
Built near Füssen, it’s the perfect fairytale idea of a castle and is apparently the inspiration for Disney’s castle itself. Once here, make sure your trip includes a visit to the Throne Hall, which is just stunning.
Neuschwanstein Castle might not be as old as some of the others mentioned but it sure is a picturesque beauty that’s hard to miss and the views are incredible across the mountains.