Europe is beautiful for so many reasons, but its castles really do set it apart from the rest of the world. And the best castles in Europe allow you to step back in time while admiring their magnificence.
Wars were fought, kingdoms created and alliances formed in castles across Europe. If you fancy yourself as a history buff, or simply want to marvel at their spectacular designs, you’ve come to the right place.
I don’t know about you, but I was always obsessed with fairytale castles. Whenever I’m visiting a new destination I always look for castles as there is just something magical about them! Anywhere I travel, I seek out castles to have a look at. I’m not sure I can pinpoint the moment it started but I have always been fascinated by them.
There are many beautiful castles scattered around Europe so no matter where you go, you will almost always find a new castle to visit. Sometimes romantic, sometimes sinister, Europe’s best castles evoke a palpable sense of both melancholy and wonder.
There is something hauntingly beautiful about castles and palaces. For some, it is their location. For others, it is the history attached to them or their sheer size. And for yet others, it is because they are simply out of a fairytale.
Each castle is unique and a combination of all their attributes is what appeals to me. I am a lover of history and admire architecture and like looking at art (even though I’ve got no clue about the two latter ones and every expert would probably shudder at my definition of what great art and architecture are). And in castles, it all comes together – it’s the perfect blend.
However, truth be told, I would never want to own a castle as I have read too much about castles and the struggle to keep them up to want one. I can see the beauty without worrying how to fix the roof, polish the lustres and keep everything in shape. It is a beautiful world from the outside but it can be quite daunting when you have a closer look.
Instead, I enjoy the walk through history that a castle visit provides. May it be in the footsteps of the Swan King, Ludwig II of Bavaria, Friedrich the Great and his palace “without worries”, the fortifications built by the Holy Roman Emperors or the Moorish architecture of the Iberian Peninsula. Visiting a castle is like diving straight into another period of history.
It’s by walking endless corridors clad with armour, discovering magnificent ball rooms and everything in between, that brings you many encounters with tales of war and tales of peace, tales of honour and of romance, tales of sanity and of insanity along the way. It’s easy to dive into history of long ago and more recent times as you stroll through hallways once and maybe still travelled by royal and noblemen.
Every room holds a story, every stone tells a tale and many of the pieces on display whisper their own secrets of a bygone era. Luckily for me, the supply of splendorous palaces, beautiful castles and impressive fortifications is almost impossible to exhaust.
Castles are the past brought to life, a visceral reminder that quests and battles and chivalry weren’t always the exclusive province of fantasy novels. Go medieval on your next trip with a visit to one of those castles where ancient history is alive and well.
What to pack for a castle trip
Trekking from castle to castle often involves a lot of walking. You may find yourself traversing narrow cobbled streets, crossing ancient bridges, or climbing stairways up steep hills. Make sure you stay hydrated.
Wandering the hallways of castles and the gardens is a beautiful proposition—but it can also be a sweaty one, especially if you are travelling during the hot summer months. Even if you are visiting castles during winter or fall, you are bound to get hot simply from climbing up and down stairs and various walkways. Deodorant wipes help you keep fresh on the go.
One of the most spectacular aspects of castles is the view they offer. You’ll want to view the castle from afar, as well as take in the scenery from within its soaring towers. Make sure you bring a set of binoculars that will allow you to gather in all the breathtaking sights.
Lightweight warm gloves
It is an often overlooked truth that you can remember to keep every other square inch of your body warm, but if you’ve forgotten your hands, you’ll still feel cold. Make sure your fingers are kept toasty warm with lightweight gloves. You’ll be glad to have them even during the warmer summer months, when evenings can still get chilly.
Windproof travel umbrella
Whether you are travelling to Italy or Scotland, Wales, or Denmark doesn’t matter much—rain falls just about everywhere in Europe. If you are travelling to greener climates (such as Ireland) rain is almost a certainty. Make sure you are prepared for drizzle with a lightweight umbrella that is easy to carry.
Travel Day bag
Be sure to carry a bag that will comfortably store all your essentials for the day.
From doorknobs to ticket kiosks, odds are that you will be touching a lot of public surfaces as you travel from castle to castle. Make sure you pack hand-sanitizing wipes to protect yourself from germs.