It probably goes without saying that some of the best castles in Europe are in Germany. For instance, there are loads of fairytale castles in Germany and we’re talking about castles that have actually inspired real fairytales, too. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the best castles in Germany to visit on your next trip.
Now, some of these best castles in Germany are so iconic that you might already know them (without even knowing they were in Germany). Saying that others are fairly off-the-beaten-track and probably a little new to most people.
That being said, they’re all absolutely the most impressive and best castles in Germany you should visit.
By the way, there are some palaces thrown in here for good measure (I just couldn’t resist).
You see, palaces are technically different from Castles as they’re more for Royal families, people of nobility or generally people in power. Whereas, castles were built as defensive structures with battles in mind or as a folly.
In any case, enough waffling from me, I wanted to share some of my very favourite and best castles in Germany you should think of visiting. Have the best trip across the country.
1.) Neuschwanstein Castle
I’ve just gotta start with Neuschwanstein Castle!
You see, Neuschwanstein Castle is easily one of the most recognisable and best castles in Germany to explore.
This Bavarian Castle is the stuff of fairytales and it doesn’t even matter what time of the year you decide to visit. Honestly, it always looks great, seasons regardless.
Plus, it’s just under 2 hours drive from Munich and so makes for the perfect trip from the city for a day (or overnight) stay.
One thing though, understandably, this castle is very popular amongst fellow travellers so tickets to enter sell out very fast. To avoid disappointment when you visit, arrive early in the day or just book your tickets well in advance of getting here.
Oh, and I know this might sound obvious but it’s still worth noting, the best photos of the castle aren’t from the castle itself. It’s from the forest area around the castle and there’s a bridge next to it with some pretty spectacular views. 🙂
2.) Schwerin Palace
Schwerin Palace is one of those German Palaces that started off as a castle (back in 973) and over time was modified and re-modified until it eventually became a palace in the 16th century.
Technicality aside, Schwerin Palace is one absolutely stunning sight to see and definitely one of the best castles in Germany worth setting aside a bit of extra to explore.
Plus, the Palace itself and impressive palace grounds are just too beautiful to miss.
3.) Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle is one of the most impressive and best castles in Germany that’s in ruins. That being said, it shouldn’t stop you visiting.
Standing atop a hill overlooking Heidelberg, this Renaissance castle is grand and impressive, even from afar.
Constructed in Renaissance style, this almost 1,000-year-old castle has actually been destroyed several times. At one time, it was struck by lightning (although that affected mostly the upper part of the castle). Over the years, it’s been rebuilt leaving behind a grand structure for us all to see.
When visiting, you’ll find you need to set aside a few hours to explore properly.
Oh, and by the way, Heidelberg is also a University town which of course means if you’re up for a fun weekend in Germany (with a castle thrown in for good measure), this is where you need to be! 😁
4.) Hohenzollern Castle
Hohenzollern Castle is another one of the best castles in Germany that you’ll recognise straight away. It’s truly beautiful.
Now, one of the best parts of the castles is that it’s a great view on the lead up to the castle itself. Plus, when you’re in the castle itself, you’re right atop a Mount Hohenzollern with amazing views of the Swabian Alps.
Hohenzollern Castle is just over 1 hour away from Stuttgart so is perfectly paired with a visit to that city. Oh, and the museum here is actually pretty incredible so even if museums aren’t really your thing, this is one worth making an exception for.
5.) Cochem Imperial Castle
This impressive castle has been built, destroyed and then rebuilt over almost a thousand years to become what it is today. Home to many fascinating people, it’s one of the best castles in Germany to gain some insight into German history.
Cochem Imperial Castle also sits atop the beautiful, colourful town of Cochem which is a reason in itself to visit.
6.) Lichtenstein Castle
This is another one of those castles we all tend to know thanks to Instagram.
In a lot of ways, it feels reminiscent of Neuschwanstein Castle but couldn’t be more different from it. For starters, it’s a lot smaller and a lot newer. This is especially true as it was only built in 1842 (which is still old but an infant compared to some of the other castles in Germany).
Lichtenstein Castle is located about 40 minutes away from Hohenzollern Castle and so a visit to one is worth trying it with a visit to the other.
7.) Wartburg Castle
This castle was built in the middle ages and is one that’s so impressive, it’s now officially one of Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
It’s also famed as being the home of Martin Luther while he translated the New Testament of the Bible from Greek to German.
From afar, the castle almost looks like several independently constructed building stuck together which is strange as it feels nothing like that once you’re inside. Oh, and when you visit, look out for the amazing Frescos here.
It really is one of the best castles in Germany to explore.
8.) Eltz Castle
Eltz Castle is another one of those standout and best castles in Germany you have to see.
Sitting grandly atop a hill, Eltz castle is one of the only castles that is still owned by the original Eltz family. They’ve owned it for almost a thousand years, meaning it’s been owned by over 33 generations of the family.
Despite the family owning the castle, part of the castle is actually opened to the public to visit, too.
Eltz castle is only about 30 minutes away from the beautiful, ancient city of Koblenz so be sure to pop by Koblenz if at Eltz castle or vice versa.
9.) Braunfels Castle
This impressive castle is another one worth partnering in with a visit to Frankfurt (it’s about an hour away).
The town of Braunfels is also one of the best places to visit in German for its beautiful and colourful traditional German timber houses.
The Castle itself is almost 1,000 years old and has changes architectural styles over the centuries as it’s been rebuilt over and over again, following a period of ruin.
Now an integral part of the city, Braunfels as a whole, along with the castle, is one place you have to visit in Germany.
10.) Glücksburg Castle
Glücksburg Castle is perhaps one of the lesser-known but still one of the best castles in Germany to see. Plus, it’s a totally gorgeous example of Renaissance castles in Europe.
Now, interestingly, the history of Glücksburg Castle goes back and forth between the Danish and the German. Which, in fact, which makes sense as it’s pretty much on the border Denmark and Germany. Honestly, you’re literally less than a 30-minute drive to Denmark from here.
It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking to explore, more alternative castle architecture in Germany. By the way, the best view of the castle is from across the fjord and especially so around sunset.
11.) Mespelbrunn Castle
Even architecturally this castle straddles two genre, Medieval and Renaissance. So, it comes as no surprise that Mespelbrunn is one of the more distinct and best castles in Germany to visit.
Now, the castle is actually still owned by the Ingelheim family but has been opened to the public for decades now to ease the financial pressure on the family of owning such a stately home.
(* This happened a lot in the UK and I guess Europe as a whole where wealthy families found the upkeep of these old stately homes being less and less affordable to the point where the homes ended up in ruins. Some families like the Ingelheim, found a way to make money from their stately home allowing them to keep it in the family).
Also, the best view of the castle is from across the water, where the reflection makes for the most spectacular sight.
12.) Wernigerode Castle
When you find yourself in Hanover or indeed in Leipzig, Wernigerode Castle is one of those places worth making the extra time to visit. It’s easily up there as one of the best castles in Germany to see, especially if you’re already in the area.
Built in a similar style to Neuschwanstein Castle, this hill-top Castle is absolutely beautiful and is one that is so steeped in fantastic ancient German history.
Honestly, it’s worth visiting for not just the pretty sights alone but for even more of fascinating insight into German culture (and history).
13.) Sababurg Castle
This stunning castle, nicknamed the Sleeping Beauty castle is the perfect example of an idyllic fairytale castle.
It’s not necessarily the biggest castle but its ivy-covered walls, make you realise as soon as you get here why the Grimm Brothers chose this as the home of Sleeping Beauty. Well, that and the amazing Reinhardswald forest surrounding the castle itself.
It’s absolutely beautiful and easily one of the best castles in Germany to explore.
14.) Schloss Berg
This smaller but still impressive castle is one that’s now technically private property and for some, perhaps best worth appreciating from the outside.
See, the castle is now a hotel, so of course, you can actually visit properly and perhaps even call it home for a few nights (check the prices out here). It’s certainly one of the best castles in Germany to stay in if you want to experience an older property.
15.) Nordkirchen Castle
Nordkirchen Castle is one of those palace-castles that technically straddles bother genres and quite frankly, I just had to include. This is mainly because of how amazing it is and it’s easily up there as one of the best castles in Germany to explore.
Also, just for reference, some places are still referred to as castles to date. This is not because they architecturally are castles but because they’ve been rebuilt or revamps on a place where ancient castles existed. I suppose as a folly, in some instances.
Nordkirchen Castle is totally vast and one of the most expansive German castles to see. It’s also a beautiful example of Baroque architecture and is surrounded by a moat on all sides that have stood for centuries. It’s about 300 years old and has been liked to Versailles, thanks to its impressive architecture.
Location-wise, Nordkirchen Castle is about 30 minutes away from Munster and 40 minutes away from Dortmund so if you’re in either city, it’s absolutely worth popping by the castle.
16.) Burghausen Castle
Fun fact, Burghausen Castle is the longest castle complex in the world (a fact I only recently found from our trip here). This castle actually sits on the border of Germany to Austria and you can actually see Austria from right up here in the castle.
In fact, in a roundabout way, you’ll probably find that arriving at the castle from Salzburg in Austria is probably the most convenient way of getting here from most other European cities (Salzburg being a major city and all).
This gothic castle is definitely one of the most impressive in Germany and definitely one worth prioritising if you’re short on time.
17.) Hohenschwangau Castle
When you visit Neuschwanstein Castle, you absolutely have to visit Hohenschwangau Castle. For starters, not only is this just down the road from Neuschwanstein, you can actually see Hohenschwangau from Neuschwanstein Castle itself.
With the recent structure being built more like a palatial home that a defensive castle, the interior of Hohenschwangau Castle is totally impressive and easily one of the best castles in Germany to see.
18.) Drachenburg Palace
Another castle-cum-palace, Drachenburg Palace sits at the top of, get this, Dragon Rock!
Throw in the fact that this castle actually looks like it was plucked right out of the pages of a fairytale, it easily becomes of the best castles in Germany to visit.
Honestly, this fairly young (under 200 years old) palace is one place worth visiting when you’re in Cologne (it’s about 30 minutes away) or when you’re in the city of Bonn (which is just 15 minutes away).
19.) Dresden Castle
Dresden Castle was, once upon a time, the ancient home of the Kings and Queens of Saxony. Nowadays, however, it’s home to the Art Museum that’s totally incredible to see.
This all which means you’ll want to visit not just for the castle alone but for the stunning art collection inside. Particularly, as it’s home to works from Rembrandt right through to Picasso.
It really is one of the best castles in Germany to explore if you also love art.