Where to see Europe's best castles

Friday, 4 January 2015 11:52 AM

One of Europe's greatest attractions is its many spectacular castles; many people choose to tour the continent just to see these fantastic feats of construction. If you're planning a luxury getaway focusing on castles, take a look at our list of the best ones to see.

UK

It makes sense to start at home, especially when the UK is packed with fascinating castles! If you're yearning to see the very image of the perfect moated castle, look no further than Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. This 14th-century structure has everything you could possibly want from a fortress, from a portcullis to battlements and spiral staircases.

Other highlights in the UK include Edinburgh Castle (home to the Stone of Destiny and the Honours of Scotland - the Scottish crown jewels!) and Caernarfon Castle, a sprawling World Heritage Site complete with polygonal towers and the massive King's Gate.

Germany

Germany has an abundance of fairytale castles - think gold decor and tall towers topped with conical roofs, along with spectacular grounds and plenty of pomp! Schloss Neuschwanstein is probably the most famous of these, as it's apparently the castle that Disney used as a template when designing Sleeping Beauty's home - and you can tell why when you see it from the outside.

Many of the country's other scenic castles are located by lakes and rivers, making them the ideal stops on a boating tour of Germany. These include Rheinsberg Castle, Schwerin Castle and the less spectacular but historically fascinating Furstenberg Castle in the Rhineland.

France

France is just as well-endowed with fine castles - or chateaux - as Germany. If you fancy a bit of drama, the perilously perched Chateau de Peyrepertuse is worth seeing just for its location high up in the French Pyrenees, although its medieval interior is also pretty spectacular!

If you don't have a head for heights, the Loire Valley is home to a wealth of charming chateaux that don't seem to have much of a defensive purpose, but do well in pleasing tourists with their aesthetically appealing facades. The 16th-century Chateau de Chambord is often cited as a particularly fine piece of Renaissance architecture, with some claiming it to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Other chateaux you should see if you're visiting this part of France include Chateau Chenonceau, Chateau Montreuil-Bellay and Chateau Villandry, which is most famous for its amazingly decadent gardens.

Romania

If you like your castles spooky and ever so slightly threatening, Romania is the place to go thanks to its vampire lore. Also known as Hunyadi Castle, the Gothic Corvin Castle in south-eastern Transylvania is said by some to be where Vlad the Impaler was once imprisoned - although it is now (apparently...) empty.

The national monument of Bran Castle - which is often referred to as Dracula's Castle, despite the fact that a few other fortresses also lay claim to some part of the legendary vampire's heritage! - is worth visiting for its impressive architecture and interior. The castle served as a royal residence for nearly 40 years in the 20th century and is packed with some fascinating artefacts as a result.

Spain

The great thing about Spain's castles is how diverse they are, reflecting the country's tumultuous history. The Alhambra in Granada is a stunning building from when the country came under Muslim rule, while the Castillo de Coca in Segovia is a mixture of Moorish and western styles.

Elsewhere, the Castle of Pubol in Girona is a picturesque, compact medieval structure that was bought by Salvador Dali. It's now a museum dedicated to the artist.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is home to fantastic castles of all kinds, from the crumbling and ruinous to more modern, smarter fortresses. Prague Castle - which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - is the most popular of the lot, having been founded in the ninth century and taking the form of an impressive walled city situated within Prague itself. Its 70,000 sq m area means there's plenty to take in on a visit here!

Other castles worth exploring on a trip to the country include Cesky Krumlov Castle - which is pretty sizeable and is only dwarfed by Prague Castle - along with the fairytale Hluboka Castle and Bezdez Castle, which occupies a hilltop perch in northern Bohemia.

Book Utrecht boat hire to climb the Dom Tower

Book boat hire in Utrecht and climb the Dom Tower

If you're looking for a luxurious break in Holland, consider boat hire to explore the picturesque city of Utrecht. Travelling by boat allows you to totally relax and do away with traditional holiday irks like noisy neighbours and check-out times; instead you can drift along leisurely and admire the city's medieval Dom Tower, castles and fascinating museums.

Smple Breton cuisine on Brittany boat trips

Partake in tasty Breton cuisine with Brittany boat hire

France is renowned for its excellent cuisine, and if you want to sample some delicious meals consider booking boat hire in Brittany. The region in the north-west of France comprises a network of pretty canals that meander through beautiful countryside and past fairytale-style castles.

Kilmartin Glen is packed with historic sites

Enjoy a history break in Argyll

Scotland is famed for its castles and historic sights, which makes it the perfect place for a holiday if you are interested in learning more about the past. There are many locations in the country suitable for this type of break, but few have the range of attractions available in Argyll.

Stay in a castle like this in lovely Ireland

Feature: Ireland’s castle hotels and country manors

Just a short hop over the Irish Sea, Ireland is a land of rich history, rolling countryside and wild coastline overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its previous conquest by the English, numerous castles and country houses abound.

Unmissable sights in Paphos

Unmissable sights in Paphos

Aside from being a chic destination offering the chance to have plenty of fun in the sun, Cyprus also boasts a wealth of opportunities to learn more about ancient history. If you have planned holidays to Paphos, there are so many unmissable sights to choose from it may be hard to pick one.

See the Roman Baths while in Bath

Everything you need to know about the Roman Baths

By booking a self catering cottage in Bath, you are basing yourself in one of the most famous cities in the country, part of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the most iconic attraction here is the iconic Roman Baths.

Explore rich local history from hotel accommodation in Aberdeen

Explore rich local history from hotel accommodation in Aberdeen

If you're planning a city break somewhere historical and interesting but not far from home, why not consider booking hotel accommodation in Aberdeen?

Enjoy a historical stay in Oxford

Rooms fit for a Knight open in Oxford

There is good for everyone looking to spend a few nights in historic surroundings at the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel, as the hotel opens 12 newly refurbished guestrooms within its historic College House.

ASPIRE

Sign up to aspireholidays.co.uk's ASPIRE.

Subject to terms of use and privacy policy

Review of BBC’s Inside Claridge’s

Claridge's Hotel, London

You might expect a documentary about a hotel to be rather dull, but when it’s one of the most famous and quintessentially British hotels with guests paying up to £6,000 a night, it certainly isn’t.

Scandinavian chic in the heart of Palma de Mallorca

Hotel Tres, Palma de Mallorca

Esme Fox finds a boutique refuge and plenty of culture in Mallorca’s historic capital – Palma.