Visiting a castle is a great way to learn about the history of a country and see some great views of a place’s surroundings while you’re at it; the majority of castles are built on hills and in strategic positions, which also makes them ideal if you are thinking about doing a walking holiday in Europe.
So, if you’re keen to rub up on your history knowledge, keep reading for some of the best castles that can be visited in Europe, and where to find them.
The castles in Germany are nothing short of a fairy tale. Particularly Neuschwanstein, the most iconic of German castles. Neuschwanstein was commissioned by the “Mad” King Ludwig of Bavaria to be a fantasy escape from the ordinary world – something that comes across in the castle’s mix between neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic styles. Lichtenstein Castle is another glorious example of fantasy architecture, with towers and turrets perched up on rocky mountain ridge.
Aside from Neuschwanstein and Lichtenstein, there are also plenty more castles in Germany worth visiting. Take Hohenzollern Castle for example, the ancestral home of the imperial family of Germany, the House of Hohenzollern. After their monarchy ended when Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the throne at the end of World War I, the castle became a place to display many of the dynasty’s royal artefacts, like items belonging to Frederick the Great – and the Prussian royal crown.
France is more than just endless vineyards, crunchy baguettes – and of course, the Eiffel Tower. The country is also infamous for its influx of grand châteaus. If you’re spending a long weekend in Paris, don’t miss your chance to visit Château de Chantilly, a stunning French château with gardens comprised of lakes, woods, and picturesque canals.
As well as several incredible châteaus, France is also famous for its grander castles – namely, the Palace of Versailles. Previously, the former seat of power for France, visitors to Versailles can now immerse themselves in French history by visiting the palace’s museum. Just remember to book tickets for the palace in advance to make your way through the queue quickly!
As well as the countless castles found across Europe, there are also plenty closer to home here in the UK. In Scotland, the striking Edinburgh Castle dominates the city’s skyline and quickly became the Scottish capital’s most iconic landmark. The castle has well and truly earned its place on any itinerary for visiting Edinburgh, with plenty also to do and see inside Edinburgh castle itself. Try and get your timings right so you’re there when the famous 1 o’clock canon being fired.
Just south a little, Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland is also worth a visit for those keen to learn more about the Anglo-Saxon period; the museum houses a collection of extraordinary Anglo-Saxon finds like the intricate gold Bamburgh Beast and a rare pattern welded sword. The beaches at Bamburgh are worth a visit in their own right, with towering sand dunes surrounding the castle and endless sea stretching out before you.
A surefire way to immerse yourself in the history and culture of a place, castle visits are quickly becoming the best way to give yourself a brief history lesson. Just remember to pack your jumper for any chills!