From Britain’s grand estates with imposing ramparts, to Bavaria’s fairy tale palaces, Europe’s castles are the best in the world. Steeped in history that’s both romantic and grisly in equal measure, they’ve seen centuries of both regal splendour and fierce conflict. These ten spectacular European castles will catapult you back in time to an era of magic and mystery.
Chillon Castle, Switzerland
Sitting on a rock on the far eastern shores of Lake Genva, Chillon Castle is Switzerland’s most visited historic building, and it’s easy to see why. The grand mediaeval fortress has the most beautiful façade, in an unbelievably jaw-dropping location.
Visit it on: Best of Switzerland
Wawel Castle, Poland
With is gleaming orange tile roof and ornate green turrets, Wawel Castle is Krakow’s crowning architectural glory. Harmonising baroque, Renaissance and medieval architecture, it’s unusually eclectic in appearance..
Visit it on: Pilgrimage to Poland
Château Chenonceau, France
A castle like no other, Château Chenonceau spans the River Cher on the foundations of an ancient mill. Its Gothic spires and immaculate gardens make it a truly romantic location.
Visit it on: Best of France
Örebro Castle, Sweden
Occupying a tiny island on the Svartån River, Örebro Castle was conceived as a defence fortress in the 13th century. Rebuilt in 1900 in a French Renaissance style and framed by four cylindrical towers, it’s a utterly beautiful historic stronghold.
Visit it on: Highlights of Scandinavia
São Jorge Castle, Portugal
Lisbon is home to many castles, but none quite as commanding as São Jorge. Towering over the city, the 11th century Moorish fortification is visible from almost every direction. Scale its ramparts and you’ll be rewarded with a show-stopping 360-degree panorama over Lisbon.
See it on: Highlights of Spain and Portugal
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
The inspiration for Walt Disney’s enchanting Magic Kingdom, Neuschwanstein Castle is a fairy tale palace come to life. Perched atop a leafy Bavarian mountain, the castle was commissioned by Ludwig II in the 1800s as an homage to composer, Wagner.
Visit it on: Best of Germany
Ashford Castle, Ireland
One of the Emerald Isle’s most majestic dwellings, Ashford Castle is an 800-year old medieval masterpiece on the banks of Lough Corrib. Its rugged ramparts and vast gardens make it both breathtaking and dramatic.
Visit it on: Iconic Ireland and Ashford Castle
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Proudly commanding the Scottish skyline, Edinburgh Castle has been keeping watch over the city since the 12th century. Home to kings and queens of yore, today the historic castle is the backdrop for concerts and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Visit it on: Castles and Kilts
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world. The vast site features ecclesiastical buildings and sky piercing towers with gothic and Romanesque modifications. You can stroll around Prague Castle’s courtyards and roam through its stunning palaces.
Visit it on: Prague, Vienna and Budapest Winter
Windsor Castle, England
The family residence of British royalty for over one thousand years, Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world. Not only is it impressive on the outside but inside there’s a wealth of amazing artwork by Renaissance painters like Rembrandt and Rubens. If the flag is flying that means the Queen’s at home.
Visit it on: Best of Devon and Cornwall.
We visit all of these ten magnificent European castles, if you’d like to explore the majesty up close click here to discover a fantastic Trafalgar tour.