When you’re planning a trip to Europe, especially if it’s your first trip, it can be hard to decide which are the best cities worth visiting. Some enjoy the hustle and bustle of Paris or London. Others prefer to walk through the cobblestone streets of a quaint little town without fighting for some breathing room with a bunch of tourists.
Whether you like big buzzing cities or peaceful destinations that attract smaller crowds, one thing’s for sure: you can’t travel to Europe without visiting these magnificent castles and palaces.
From Romania to France, and Germany, I curated a list of the most unbelievable castles in Europe to add to your itinerary.
1. Hohenwerfen Castle, Werfen, Austria
This 900-year old masterpiece is nestled atop a sharp hill that overlooks the postcard-perfect city of Werfen, an ancient market town in Austria.
Surrounded by the emerald green valleys of the Berchtesgaden Alps, the Hohenwerfen Fortress is one of the most underrated castles in Europe.
Once upon a time, this mighty fortress served as a Nazi education camp, a training camp for law enforcement, and even a prison for aristocrats and noblemen. Today, you’ll find Falconry demonstrations, old weapon exhibits, and a bird-of-prey theme path.
2. Castelbrando, Cison di Valmarino, Veneto
As if you needed another reason to visit Italy, the ancient castle of Castelbrando is a short ride from Treviso, a quaint little town located only 30 km away.
This picturesque rock castle sits high above a dolomite limestone overlooking the beautiful Prosseco hills and houses a museum and a 4-star hotel, complete with a spa, restaurants, wine bars, and guided tours.
3. Mont-Saint-Michel, France
If you’re in France, and there are some amazing small towns that you need to explore in France, you need to drop everything you’re doing and visit Mont-Saint-Michel, one of the most hauntingly beautiful fortresses on the planet. Although technically it’s not a castle, you’ll be awestruck by its opulent early 13th-century architecture and the medieval fortress style of the island.
The magical Mont-Saint-Michel in France has been a source of inspiration for big-budget films like “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” and Disney’s “Tangled”.
4. Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania
There’s something magical about Bran Castle. But does it look oddly familiar? Well, you’re not just seeing things. Bran Castle is known as the Dracula’s home in Bram Stoker’s horror novel, “Dracula”. But did he ever lived there? Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s only partly true!
Rumor has it that the fictional character was loosely based after “Vlad the Impaler,” the ruler of Wallachia who supposedly had a taste for blood. But in reality, “Vlad the Impaler” never actually lived in Bran Castle, although some historians believe he did spend a few months locked up there. If you want to learn more about the castle’s history, make sure to book one of their incredibly virtual tours.
Of course, there are many beautiful castles in Europe that didn’t make the list, like Castle de Haar, the oldest and most well-preserved castle in the Netherlands. Another bucket-worthy destination is Frederiksborg Castle, in Denmark, a 17th-century construction where Danish royalty used to live. And Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, the most postcard-perfect fortress in the whole world. While you probably won’t be able to see them all at once, you can keep these castles in mind next time you’re visiting Europe! You can also check out these fairytale cities in Europe that you must visit and how to save money while traveling in Europe.