Have you ever traveled to your favorite destination, maybe the Maldives or Dubai, and wondered how life was like back then hundreds of years ago? Well, it was awesome! How do we know? Castles! And the best castles in the world will transport you back in time to forgotten eras.
Visiting a castle should always be near the top of your bucket list. These fortresses still carry their glory and when you step your foot in one, you will stop imagining how life was before and actually start feeling it, living it!
You can experience first-hand the life of kings who conquered many battles, the queens who stood by them, and the people who put their sweat, blood, and in some instances, lives, into constructing these outstanding fortresses that have stood the test of time.
In this article, we are going to put together 16 of the best castles around the world you can visit. The list also includes the best castles in Europe. But first, here’s a summary of the best castles in the world, with more info on each castle following below!
The Best Castles In The World Are:
|1. Neuschwanstein Castle||Hohenschwangau, Germany|
|2. Karlštejn Castle||Karlštejn, Czechia|
|3. Pena Palace||Sintra, Portugal|
|4. Malbork Castle||Malbork, Poland|
|5. Hohenzollern Castle||Hechingen, Germany|
|6. Eltz Castle||Wierschem, Germany|
|7. Eilean Donan Castle||Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland|
|8. Windsor Castle||Windsor, England|
|9. Oberhofen Castle||Lake Thun, Switzerland|
|10. Schwerin Castle||Schwerin, Germany|
|11. Castello Scaligero||Lake Garda, Italy|
|12. Swallow’s Nest Castle||Haspra, Crimea|
|13. Balmoral Castle||Royal Deeside, Scotland|
|14. Chateau de Pierrefonds||Pierrefonds, France|
|15. Chateau de Chambord||Chambord, France|
|16. Hohenschwangau Castle||Hohenschwangau, Germany|
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
This castle stands in the Bavaria Alps in Germany and it was in this place that Ludwig II spent his childhood. The castle attracts over 1.5 million every year making Neuschwanstein one of the most visited places in the world.
Best time to visit. You can visit this castle at any time of the year, be it when its peaks are covered by snow or gleaming-white due to the summer sun. Nevertheless, Neuschwanstein receives around 6,000 daily tourists so it may be best to avoid visiting during the peak months in the summer like July and August.
To beat the long waiting lines, try to arrive at the Ticketcenter Hohenschwangau as early as possible, even before it opens. Alternatively, you can get there any time after 3pm when there are small crowds.
Another useful tip is to plan for your Neuschwanstein Castle visit on weekdays or schedule your tour during the off-season. Additionally, if you want to treat yourself or family to a great experience during the end of the year’s festive seasons, the number of tourists to Neuschwanstein usually drops considerably between the months of November and April.
Interesting fact. Neuschwanstein Castle inspired Disney’s Magic Kingdom castle.
2. Karlštejn Castle
This fairy tale castle is located in Czechia (the Czech Republic) and was built by Emperor Charles IV in 1348AD.
Best time to visit. If you are planning to visit Karlstejn, there is no best time to visit throughout the year—it’s great all year round! The red roof architecture of Karlstejn Castle, with its lush hidden gardens, and the majestic winding River Vltava will constantly provide new charming perspectives every time you visit. Whether it is Spring, Winter, Autumn, or Summer, just pack your bags and get ready for a wonderful experience.
Interesting fact. After Germany took over the Czech Republic in 1939, Adolf Hitler spent the night in the Karstejn Castle “proudly surveying his new possessions.”
3. Pena Palace
Pena Palace is located in Sao Pedro de Penaferrim, Sintra, Portugal. It is nestled on top of the Sintra Mountains overlooking the city of Sintra. This Portuguese gothic castle constitutes one of the major modern day’s expressions of Romanticism.
Additionally, the castle is still used by the country’s president for state occasions. Apart from being a Portuguese national heritage, the palace is also one the country’s Seven Wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best time to visit. The medieval village that surrounds Pena Palace makes it one of the best castles you can visit. But like any astounding place on earth, it’s better before the large crowds arrive. If you want to enjoy your tour best, consider arriving at Pena Palace around 9am to beat the morning crowd or late afternoon around 5pm when the crowd grows thin. This will work especially well if your hotel is in Sintra. And why not? Sintra has one of the most prestigious hotels in Portugal called The Tivoli Hotel Seteais Palace.
Interesting fact. If you are in Lisbon on a clear day, you can actually see Pena Palace.
Take a trip to Central Europe and you will find one of the best castles in Europe. Malbork Castle is also popularly known as the Castle of the Teutonic Order, and this 13th Century Teutonic palace is specifically located in Malbork town of Poland. It was famously enlarged and enhanced when the Grand Master seat was moved from Venice to here. Today, it occupies a staggering 21 hectares, making it the world largest castle by land area.
Best time to visit. Malbork Castle is open to the public all year long, from 9am to 8pm. The area around the Castle features crystal clear lakes and rivers, making Spring to early Autumn the best time to visit.
Interesting fact. Malbork Castle is the world’s largest castle built in brick and the largest brick structure in the world. The castle was originally called Marienburg, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother.
5. Hohenzollern Castle
This castle is located in the southernmost city of Deutschland and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany.
Best time to visit. If you are planning on visiting Hohenzollern Castle, do so between May and September when the days are longer.
Interesting fact. The castle was completely destroyed by Swabian rulers in 1423 but was built again in 1454. This time bigger than before.
6. Eltz Castle
Another one of Germany’s medieval castles. This 12th Century castle was built above a 70m tall hill surrounded on three of its sides by the Elzbach River in Wierschem, Germany.
Best time to visit. Eltz Castle can be best explored when you arrive early in the morning, between 9.30 and 11.00 or late afternoon between 3.30 and 5.30. Tours of the castle normally begin every 15 minutes.
Interesting fact. Despite Germany being hit heavily during the two world wars, Eltz Castle was never touched and is one of the best-preserved castles in Germany.
7. Eilean Donan Castle
This is one of the castles you can visit in Britain. It is located on Eilean Donan Island in Scotland. If you are Scottish, you have probably seen it on shortbread tins and calendars!
Best time to visit. Just like many of the world’s best castles, the best time to visit Eilean Castle is very early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The castle has varying opening and closing hours so check the official site for up to date info.
Interesting fact. Eilean Castle is currently owned by the Macrae family, the Highland Scottish clan. Many people are familiar with the castle from seeing it in movies, as it has been featured in close to ten movies.
8. Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in the world. It is located in Berkshire, England, and this castle is a royal residence of the British royal family.
Best time to visit. Unlike other castles in this list, Windsor castle has limited public access, but you can still visit. If you want to catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, arrive at the place at 11.30 or earlier. There is no Changing of the Guard on the Lord’s day (the Guards deserve a day off to tour the castle too!)
Interesting fact. Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in the world.
9. Oberhofen Castle
This castle is located on the shores of Lake Thun in Switzerland, was built around the 13th Century, and is the home of a living museum.
Best time to visit. The castle is only open between May and October, from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am-5pm. In July and August, the castle closes at 6pm.
Interesting fact. The castle features a tower that is actually in the lake!
10. Schwerin Castle
Schwerin Castle is located in the city of Schwerin, Germany and has been the home of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg. With so many German castles making this list we’d not be surprised if you began to wonder which country has the most castles in the world. (Surprisingly the answer is actually Wales, not Germany!)
Best time to visit. The castle is open from March to November between Tuesday and Sunday. There are usually no large crowds in Schwerin Castle so you can visit any time of the day or year and enjoy it without the fuss!
Interesting fact. Schwerin Castle can be seen in the movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
11. Castello Scaligero
The only Italian castle to make this list of the best castles around the world, it’s nonetheless fully deserving of its place. Located in the Lombardy region of Northwest Italy, Castello Scaligero is one of the best preserved of Italy’s thousands of castles.
Owned by the noble Scaligeri family, the Lords of Verona, this castle was built in the 13th Century. Strikingly beautiful as it is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Garda, this castle has had a rich and full history having been in the hands of the Italians, French and Austrians at various points.
There is a lot to learn about the history of this castle and region by visiting here. And, what’s even better, making your way to the top of the tower will reward you with an exquisite view of Lake Garda.
Best time to visit. Since it can still be a bit wet and cold here even as late as April, we’d recommend visiting Castello Scaligero from May to September.
Interesting fact. In 1924 tombstones were discovered with Latin markings to the pagan goddess Iside, indicating that the ancient Etruscans were perhaps the first inhabitants of the area surrounding Lake Garda.
12. Swallow’s Nest Castle
This castle is located in Gaspra, Ukraine. Built between 1911 and 1912, Swallow’s Nest castle hangs on top of Aurora Cliff, 40-meters high.
Best time to visit. Swallow’s is open between 9am-7pm from May to October and 9am-4pm from November to April. The castle is closed on Mondays.
Interesting fact. The Swallow’s Nest castle was first built by a wounded general who visited Crimea while seeking treatment after being given the land by the empire.
13. Balmoral Castle
Another Scottish castle making the list. Balmoral Castle is situated in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Best time to visit. The castle is not usually crowded so if you are planning for a visit, it opens at 10am and closes at 5pm.
Interesting fact. Did you know that Balmoral Castle is royal property and that Queen Victoria personally laid the castle’s foundation stone back in September 1853? Now you know.
14. Chateau de Pierrefonds
This medieval structure is situated in the County of Valois, France and it was built in 1328AD.
Best time to visit. The castle is open daily from 9.30am-6pm between May and August, and 10am-1pm between September to April. It is closed on Mondays.
Interesting fact. The entrance to Chateau de Pierrefonds is located in the weakest part of the wall.
15. Chateau de Chambord
This castle is located in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France. It was built in 1519 and is one of the world’s most popular chateaux.
Best time to visit. Planning for a tour of Chateau de Chambord? It is open from 10am-5pm from October to March. The castle opens every day except for Christmas and January 1st.
Interesting fact. There are over 400 rooms in the Chateau de Chambord, and 84 staircases.
16. Hohenschwangau Castle
Hohenschwangau Castle is a half hour walk away from Neuschwanstein Castle (the 1st castle mentioned on this list). Built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria in the 19th Century, this is where King Ludwig II of Bavaria stayed as a child.
Best time to visit. The castle is open from 10am-4pm during Winter and 9am-6pm during Summer, but is closed on December 24th and January 1st. Visit during the Summer for the best odds for a fantastic day, but seeing it in the snow around December-March would also be a great choice!
Interesting fact. The castle was first mentioned in 1397 under the name of “Schwanstein”, meaning that at some point in the 19th Century it switched its name with Neuschwanstein Castle.
What do you think is the best castle in the world? Did it make the cut in our list? Did we miss it out? Leave a comment below.
Suggested next reading: 6 Of The Best Castles To Visit In England That Have Incredible History