Skip to Content

10+ Beautiful Castles in Europe that are Straight out of a Storybook

Last Updated on 31st January 2022 by Sophie Nadeau

From romantic ruins to Renaissance architecture, and from medieval fortresses to gothic palaces, there is no shortage of impressive (and often magical) castles dotted throughout the European landscape. So whether you’re interested in history, architecture or simply want to see a little fairytale magic for yourself, here are the most beautiful and best castles in Europe

Guide to Vianden, Luxembourg: Things to do and what to see and visit: best viewpoint

Kasteel Duivenvoorde, The Netherlands

Located in the very heart of the Dutch countryside, around 12 km from The Hague city centre, you’ll find one of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. Kasteel Duivenvoorde can be found in South Holland and is characterised by its red-brick façade and moat surrounds.

Read more: An easy day trip from Leiden or The Hague to Kasteel Duivenvoorde

Kasteel Duivenvoorde: An Easy Day Trip from The Hague or Leiden, Holland, The Netherlands

Malbork Castle, Poland

If you’re looking for the largest castle in the world, then you can’t miss it if you head to Malbork, a small city just an hour’s train ride away from Gdansk in Northern Poland. Built by the Teutonic Knights, this castle is not only the largest castle in the world but also the biggest building built entirely from bricks.

If you plan to visit the castle, then make sure you allocate plenty of time to see its many exhibitions, green spaces and turrets. In order to see everything fully (including listening to the very thorough audio guide), you’ll need to set aside at least three hours plus!

Read more: Best cities for a European autumnal getaway. 

Best castles in Europe: Malbork Castle

Palace of Pena, Portugal

Pretty in Portugal, the Palace of Pena is impossibly beautiful and located in the very heart of the Sintra mountains above the equally beautiful town of Sintra. When the weather is clear, the castle can be seen from as far away as Lisbon.

This UNESCO world heritage site was built during the middle ages and many parts of the palace still date back to this period. In the 19th-Century Romantic style additions were added, meaning that it easily wins a place in the best castles in Europe.

Palace of Pena, Portugal, Europe

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

If you’re looking for the best castles in Europe, then you should totally head to Luxembourg. After all, Luxembourg is full of beautiful castles, many of which are open to the public. And in the north of Luxembourg, a small Grand Duchy sandwiched between France and Germany, you’ll find the fairytale-like town and castle of Vianden.

While the town itself is well worth a visit, if only to wander its cobbled lanes and storybook houses, the real attraction is the imposing castle set high above the River Our. Vianden Castle started out as a Gallo-Roman castle.

Gradual additions over the centuries meant that the castle served various functions over the years- including a stint at housing royalty. By the 19th Century, the castle had fallen into ruin and was eventually restored to its former glory in the 1970s by the Luxembourg government.

Read more: A quick guide to the fairytale town of Vianden.

Guide to Vianden, Luxembourg: Things to do and what to see and visit: castle

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

If you’ve spent any time looking for fairytale castles on Instagram (raises hand!), then no doubt you’ll have come across the insta-famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Known in English as ‘new Swanstone Castle’, this 19th-Century castle was built in the Romanesque revival style for Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Although the castle, built in homage to iconic composer Richard Wagner, was intended to be a home of Ludwig, the King sadly died just a few years after its completion. Shortly after Ludwig’s death, the castle was opened to the public and has been open to visit ever since. Also, make sure to here if you love Disney as Walt Disney cited Neuschwanstein Castle as his inspiration for the Magic Kingdom!

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Château de Chambord, France

Of all the best castles in Europe, Château de Chambord is easily one of my favourites. Located in the Loire Valley, it’s thought that parts of Château de Chambord were designed by Italian genius Leonardo da Vinci himself. One visit here, and it’s clear to see why many people think this- the architecture is incredibly advanced considering that Chambord was built during the 16th-Century.

Read more: Loire Valley road trip from Paris.

Best castles in Europe: Château de Chambord, Loire Valley, France

Raglan Castle, Wales

Ancient, enticing and medieval, Raglan Castle is the kind of place you’ll want to wander around for hours. Located at the midway point between the ancient towns of Abergavenny and Monmouth, the ruins of this fortified castle date all the way back to the 15th-Century (although a grand manor house had been on site for a few centuries prior). Make sure to head here if you love history, photography and British culture!

Read more: Best of the South West- Three days in England and Wales.

How to spend three days in England and Wales: a 72 hour road trip around gems of South West England and Southern Wales: Brecon Beacons, Wells, Tretower, Castles, Hay-on-Wye etc.: Raglan Castle

Craigmillar Castle, Scotland

Often referred to as Edinburgh’s ‘other castle’, Craigmillar is located just a few miles outside of the Scottish capital. The ruins of this medieval castle date all the way back to the 14th-century and are well worth a walk around, if only for a few hours. Craigmillar is one of the best preserved medieval castles in all of Scotland and even has links to royalty- it’s thought that Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here on at least one extended occasion.

Read more: Amazing day trips you can easily take from Edinburgh.

craigmillar castle day trip from edinburgh

Versailles, France

France is the land of castles. And the Île de France region (where Paris is based) is no exception. Versailles is not only one of the best castles in Europe, but one of the most famous palaces in the entire world. Each year, over six million people head to the palace to soak up some history and see the Sun King’s (Louis XIV) creation for themselves.

While at Versailles, make sure you don’t miss the rest of the Versailles town (full of cafés, museums and boutiques) and the Hameau de la Reine (where Marie Antoinette headed to play dress up on a farm with her ladies in waiting). other highlights of the Versailles estate include the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon.

Read more: Versailles: the perfect day trip from Paris.

reflections at versailles

Bran Castle, Romania

In the very heart of the Transylvanian mountains, high up in the misty slopes, you’ll find Bran Castle, legendary home of Dracula. Although it’s thought that Bram Stoker probably never even heard of Bran when he imagined his legendary figure (loosely based on Wallachian Prince, Vlad the Impaler), the spooky castle is still well worth a visit!

Read more: A visit to Dracula’s Castle, Transylvania.

A visit to Dracula's Castle: Bran Castle in Bran, Transylvania, Romania (an easy day trip from Brasov!)

Clervaux Castle, Luxembourg

The magical castle of Clervaux dates all the way back to the 12th-Century and is overlooked by a large church and ancient monastery. Although much of the castle was tragically destroyed by a fire during WWII, Clervaux has now been restored to its former glory and contains three museums.

The most famous of the three museums is that of the Family of Man, a moving and incredible collection of portraits taken all over the world during the 1950s. While in Clervaux, be sure not to miss the charming Luxembourgish architecture and beautiful church in the heart of town.

Read more: How to spend three days in Luxembourg.

reasons to visit Luxembourg, all the museums

 Château de Chantilly, France

And of course, no post about fairytale castles in Europe would be complete without a quick mention of my favourite one of all, that of Chantilly in the Picardie region of France. Although this French château (located just half an hour from Paris’ Gare du Nord) was never inhabited by royalty, it is nevertheless impressive.

Construction of the château began in the 14th century and gradual additions were made right up until the 19th century. Today, the castle is home to Musée Condé (one of the largest art collections in France- second only to the Louvre) and the hamlet which inspired Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine at Versailles.

Read more: Château de Chantilly, a fairytale daytrip from Paris, France. 

Paris day trip to Chantilly, France

Lichtenstein Castle, Germany

The fairytale-like turrets of Lichtenstein rise up from the rocks in an almost impossible way. Situated on the very edge of a jagged gorge, Lichtenstein Castle is easily one of the most beautiful castles in Germany, if not all of Europe.

Built in the Gothic Revival style, this 19th-century castle is often referred to as the ‘fairytale castle of Würtemberg’ and ‘Lichtenstein’ is quite literally translated as ‘shining stone’.

Lichtenstein Castle, Germany

Enjoyed reading about the most beautiful and best castles in Europe? Pin now, read it again later!

10+ Beautiful Castles in Europe that are Straight out of a Storybook
12 amazing and beautiful and very best castles in Europe you'll absolutely love! Medieval, Renaissance and ruined European Castles

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Thursday 3rd of December 2020

Hi Sophie, I am glad you included Bran Castle from Romania in this list. However, I'd suggest taking a look at Peles Castle in Sinaia, Romania. It is the first electrified castle in Europe, the first to have central heating and a vacuum cleaning system. Many tourists say that is is the most beautiful they've ever seen. The interiors are just fascinating. Visiting Peles Castle is a must in the list of things to do in Brasov. Here are other places to visit if you're visiting Brasov. Oh, and an advice: don't book just two days in Brasov. Book at least 4-5, even more, and start exploring the surroundings. Hiking, cycling, fishing, wildlife tracking, bear watching... I could continue for days.

Tilly Horseman

Wednesday 21st of February 2018

We're spoilt for castles in the UK, but there are some amazing ones on the continent that I'd love to get to, especially those in Luxembourg and Germany. Not been to Raglan either - I've been round most of the Welsh castles, but that one has escaped me so far! Not sure how I would compile my list of favourite castles - too many to include!!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.