Did you know that there are more castles in Europe than there are Burger Kings in North America? Pretty impressive stuff, but what’s more impressive is the castles themselves.
If you want to soak up some history while making your way around Europe, you should add a few castles to your ‘must-visit’ list.
With thousands of castles worth touring, narrowing down your options can be challenging. So, to help you decide where to go, here’s our list of the best castles in Europe.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
This unique Romanesque revival-style castle looks like it came straight from a fairy tale. Incidentally, it served as the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Its construction was commissioned by King Ludwig II. Unfortunately, because the castle took over two decades instead of three years to build, the King only lived here for about six months before passing away.
Built in the 19th century, Neuschwanstein isn’t the oldest castle on our list, but it’s certainly one of the most impressive. And the surrounding forests and greenery only add to its tourist appeal. Each year, over a million people visit Neuschwanstein Castle. During the busy summer months, thousands of tourists head to this magnificent building daily. Best of all, it’s only a short trip away from Munich.
Eilean Donan, Scotland
Eilean Donan is one of the most spectacular castles in Scotland and the UK. You’ve probably already seen it on the big screen – it featured in The World Is Not Enough and Highlander.
Originally constructed in the 13th century, the castle was destroyed during the 17th century and rebuilt in the 20th century. It sits atop an island in the Scottish Highlands, and it’s surrounded by three lochs – Loch Long, Loch Alsh and Loch Dutch.
Bran Castle, Romania
While there are plenty of beautiful castles in Romania, Bran Castle is our favourite. It's commonly referred to as 'Dracula's Castle' and there's a strong connection between the castle and Bram Stoker's famous Dracula novel.
Bran Castle was built in 1382 for the purpose of defending Transylvania's border, and is now one of Romania's most popular national monuments.
When you hear the word ‘castle,’ you probably imagine something that looks like Gravensteen. This remarkable building, just a little outside of Bruges, was built in the 12th century and remains in pristine condition today. Like many medieval castles, Gravensteen has a fortified, oval-shaped enceinte, a keep, a moat and bartizans.
Don’t feel silly if this castle sends a shiver down your spine – it was intentionally designed to look threatening. We’re sure the Counts of Flanders felt secure here.
Castillo de Coca, Spain
The 15th-century Castillo de Coca is one of the finest examples of Mudejar brickwork in Spain. Unlike most castles in the nation, this castle doesn’t sit on top of a hill. Instead, it’s protected by a moat and a three-tier defence system.
Due to its historical significance, most of this castle is off limits to the public. However, it’s exterior alone makes it worth a visit, and you can explore the central keep, the chapel and the weapons room.
To visit these great locations and more, take a look at our Coach Travel Network map and visit some of the continent’s best medieval cities.