Europe’s castles hold a central place on many travelers’ itineraries. These amazing buildings are attractive both for their design and picture-worthiness and also for their amazing sense of history. Yes, you can find these historic buildings in most European countries, but not all castles are great tourist attractions. The continent’s best castles are well-kept and easy to visit, in addition to being spectacular examples of Renaissance and Medieval architecture.
What are the best castles for tourists on the continent of Europe? These are the standouts both for their visitor-friendliness and overall attractiveness:
This German castle is known for its design. For tourists seeking a castle that appears like it is straight out of an illustrated fairy-tale book, Neuschwanstein has to be at the top of the list. This castle is perched on the top of a high hill. Germany’s snow-capped mountains sit in the background, while forests sit below the castle. With its towering spires and arching windows, this is probably the most picture-worthy castle on this list.
This Romanian building has a long, somewhat colorful history. Bran is a storied castle that sits in the province of Transylvania. Yes, it is the castle made famous by the fictional character Count Dracula. Though there is no evidence to suggest that author Bram Stoker even knew about this castle prior to penning the famous story, a ruthless and rather bloodthirsty ruler, Vlad the 3rd, did call Bran home and could have been an inspiration for the Dracula story. The castle is, in fact, a great attraction for those interested in Romania’s non-fictional history. Bran was built in the 13th Century and contains a museum that explains the real (as opposed to fictional) story of the colorful and violent history of Romania.
Like the Neuschwanstein Castle, this one is located on a hilltop. It is one of the most famous castles in Austria and is surrounded by the country’s trademark mountain/forest landscapes. Unlike Neuschwanstein, however, Burg Hohenwerfen is not a fairy-tale castle; it is a more menacing structure. Visitors might not be surprised therefore, to learn that it was a prison for much of its 1,000 year history. However, it is no longer a jail. In fact, it is a popular tourist attraction, not just for castle-seekers, but also for general tourists. Concerts and events are regularly held in Burg Hohenwerfen. These performances range from classical music shows to animal shows, including a “birds-of-prey” exhibition featuring European hawks and falcons.
Mont Saint Michel
This amazing castle near the Normandy area of Western France is a popular tourist attraction. It tops a hill in the area and is easily recognizable because of a tall spire that towers over therest of the castle. Castle-seeking tourists will enjoy visiting this castle because of its history and stunning design, but can also enjoy some amazing views of the surrounding countryside.
Windsor Castle is arguably one of the most well-kept castles in Europe. Located in the English countryside outside of London, this castle is the perfect example of the UK’s legendary royal country estates. It was built in the late 11th Century by William the Conquerer, the Norman ruler who captured much of the British Isle. It was originally a military building, but has been renovated and expanded over its long history. Many of England’s most famous rulers had a hand in some of the buildings that now make up the Windsor Castle compound. The castle has been modernized and is now a huge complex of buildings. This is a great place to visit because you can see the history of European design in the various structures that still stand around Windsor.
This Slovenian castle is one of the most popular attractions in this scenic central European nation. Predjama sits in the shadow of a high cliff. This is a simple structure in terms of its design, but its amazing location makes it a worthwhile stop on any castle-related tour of Europe. In fact, Predjama has had a very colorful history and has been rebuilt twice since Renaissance times because it was damaged by war. It now houses an interesting museum that shows what life was like in Medieval times.