The 6 Best Castles in Europe
The continent of Europe was once home to thousands upon thousands of castles, and today hundreds of them still stand. On our six-month European road trip, we had the privilege of encountering many of these ancient monuments. These are what we think are the six best castles in Europe.
1. Berg Eltz, Germany
The Berg Eltz castle is about as untouched as castles can get in this century. The castle was built in the middle of the Mosel River Valley on top of a seventy-meter high rock formation and was constructed for the purpose of securing the Mosel-Maiffeld-Eiffel Trading Route. The reason it has stood the test of time is because it has only been attacked once and has remained in the possession of the same family for over 850 years.
Reaching the castle requires hiking 15 minutes through the forest, adding to the mystery and excitement of visiting this historic wonderland.
The exterior of this castle is by far the most stunning we’ve ever seen. Not a brick is out of place and the spires look to be newly made and vivid in color, complimenting the gorgeous green forest that encompasses the castle.
Entering the castle, we were entranced by the 3 towers, each embellished with red bavarian designs. Seeing the interior was worth participating in the paid tour, which was informative and entertaining. The inside was as amazing as the outside with art pieces, historic furniture, and a plenty of medieval weaponry from history and cultures reaching from France to Turkey.
Price: Free to see the exterior; 6-10 EU per person to see the interior
2. Pembroke Castle, Wales
In the heart of the quaint town of Pembroke, a massive castle stands. It has stood for nearly a thousand years and could easily take you the whole day to fully absorb. Though the castle dates back to Henry VII, many of the towers, walls, and halls are still intact.
We enjoyed the beautiful views of the river and trees winding through Pembroke from atop the towers.
This was one of the largest castles we visited due to its very large courtyard in the center in which special events are held. We happened to be visiting during a falconry exhibition which my 8-year-old son loved. Click here to see Pembroke’s schedule events.
It was easy to be transported back in time while walking the cold, stone hallways and steep, winding towers. If you want to get a sense of what living in a medieval castle was like, I highly recommend visiting this one.
Price: 6.00 GBP for ages 16+; 5.00 GBP for ages 4-15; Free ages 3 & under
3. King John’s Castle, Ireland
Just a short drive from Dublin, in the city of Limerick, you will find one of the best castles in Europe, King John’s castle.
Using modern technology, like touch screens, 3D models, computer animation, in-depth videos, ghost projections, and interactive games, the castle’s exhibits were entertaining for our younger kids while still providing educational lessons in Ireland’s history, including Celtic, Viking, and Anglo-Norman invaders, as well as Native Irish culture.
Through outstanding role playing positions by castle employees, we had the pleasure of meeting a blacksmith, who entertained us by describing the rigors of working as a smith, and also what kind of social status he had, as well as a painter and the constable of the castle.
As an added bonus, standing on top of the castle walls provided panoramic views of beautiful Limerick and perspective of the importance that this castle played in guarding the port.
Price: 13.50 USD for Adults: 11.20 USD for kids 6-16; Free for kids under 6
Note: We had trouble getting tickets upon arrival so we highly recommend booking in advance at Viator since they offer the lowest price
4. Neues Schloss, Germany
In the 12th century, a castle, Neues Schloss, was built, lying on the edge of the Black Forest and near Baden-Baden. The hiking here, naturally, is stellar and interweaves through the forest and city.
The castle is uniquely astounding due to the ruined glory of it. Only about half of the castle is still intact yet the vineyards, which creep up the stone walls, and the extraordinary views that reach all the way to France, overpower the desolate appearance castle.
You will truly feel as if you went back in time as you wander through these romantic ruins nestled in the forest. The best part is that parking and entrance are free.
While you are here, don’t miss the pretty town of Baden-Baden (and get coffee and a pastry at the famous Cafe Koenig in town).
5. Carreg Cennen Castle, Wales
In the rolling pastureland in southern Wales lies “The Castle on the Rock Above the Cennen River,” according to the direct translation.
Despite its ruined state since 1492, it poses grandiose views of open skies and dark green forests. Externally, it stands out against the green grass due to the large granite rock it sits upon.
The castle is more secret than others in Europe but exceeds those in many ways. The best part of this castle is the dungeon you can walk in which runs about 200 meters under the castle. Note: Our phones provided enough light, however, you can rent a flashlight at the entrance if you need one to help you see better while underground. In addition to exploring the dungeon, the kids enjoyed tromping through the courtyard and over all the still standing bridges and towers.
This castle is right by the amazing national park of Brecons-Beacons which has stunning nature and mountains and is worth visiting.
Price: Adult 5.50 Pounds; Kids under 16- 3.30 Pounds; Under 4- Free; Family (2 adults, 3 Kids) 16 Pounds
Related blog: Why You Should Visit Wales
6. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
You can see this castle up close by taking the overly crowded, paved road or you can do like we did and enjoy the beautiful surrounding forest as you hike around both this castle and King Ludwig’s famous Schloss Hohenschwangau.
If you feel adventurous and want to see the view that’s often portrayed in popular images of Neuschwanstein Castle, you take a roundtrip hike of eight miles through a secluded, rural, and beautiful forest to Marienbrücke. There are many different ways to get there so I suggest looking at a trail map and choosing the route that suits you best. This hike can be done in all seasons but dress appropriately.
The castle is the most contrasting in the fall, intensely beautiful in winter, and is vibrant in spring and summer.
Price: Free to hike to and around; 13 Euros per person and under 18 is free
Note: In peak season, the line to see the castle is often very long (around an hour or two). We highly recommend getting skip-the-line tickets instead.
What’s your favorite castle in Europe? Let us know in the comments below!
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