Europe is a place of magic and beauty. The home of many distinct cultures, each with its own proud heritage, cobblestoned walkways, hidden alcoves, historic castles, fortresses and manors. If you want to step down an ancient drawbridge, peek into an ancient throne room or walk through the private rooms of the grand lords and kings of centuries past, there is nowhere better to do so than in Europe.
To that end, we have compiled a list of the seven fairytale castles we think you should visit when in Europe.
Image by Massimiliano Morosinotto
If you are familiar with Neuschwanstein Castle, then it would not surprise you that it makes the top of our list.
Let us start with a fun fact: Neuschwanstein Castle is the original, real life Disneyland.
Walt Disney was so inspired by this majestic, cloud-kissed, forest-ringed castle during his visit that he took it and came up with his own version. One we know better as the Disneyland castle.
Located near the town of Füssen in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle was built by the Bavarian King Ludwig II in the 19th century, who also once lived in it. You can take a guided tour to explore the few rooms, including the throne room, that have been opened to the public. The tour does not cover many rooms because the castle was never finished. You are also not permitted to take any photographs indoors.
Even so, Neuschwanstein Castle is without a doubt a fairytale castle, and who won’t want to visit the original Disney Castle?!
Image by Visit Poland DMC
Moszna Castle in south of Poland tickets all the boxes for a fairytale castle.
Home to a staggering 365 rooms, this 17th century castle covers 7,000 square meters, has 99 towers and spires and even has a sweeping staircase leading up to its doors.
Unsurprisingly, Moszna Castle has a somewhat colourful history. It is rumoured to have been a monastery under the authority of the Order of the Knights Templar. After the Second World War, it was ransacked by soldiers of the Red Army. Nowadays, it has been converted into a hotel and spa so you can even opt to stay in Moszna Castle and experience living in a literal fairytale castle!
Image by Visit Malcesine
Scaligero Castle is a 13th century icon that is the highlight of any trip to Lake Garda in Italy. With an enviable location by the banks of Lake Garda by the town of Sirmione, this castle has many fairytale features to explore.
To access the Scaligero Castle, you will need to go from the town of Sirmione across the drawbridge into the central portico. The lower ground floor and ground floor host the natural history museum, whereas the first floor is often used for weddings and exhibitions.
You can go up 146 steps to the swallowtail battlements before using the renovated wooden staircase leading up to the high tower of Sirmione and Lake Garda. One of the best places to take a photo. There are many other places to explore, including the Goethe room that contains sketches of the Lake Garda and Scaligero Castle, its multiple courtyards, sculptures and frescoes.
Whether it is history, getting lost in its many alcoves and limestone courtyards or just catching a spectacular view of the lake from above, there is something for everything at the magical Scaligero Castle.
Image by Blejski Grad
Dating back to 1004, Bled Castle is the oldest castle in Slovenia and sits comfortably above a 130-meters cliff that overlooks the glacial Lake Bled.
The first castle consisted of a Romanesque tower, with additional towers and a fortification system constructed in the Middle Arches. A Gothic chapel in the upper courtyard was added in the 16th century, renovated with illusionist frescoes before additional architectural details were included in the 1950s.
Today, Bled Castle is an exhibition area. There are display rooms that detail its ancient history from its first excavations to the multiple constructions that made it into the Bled Castle we see today. Apart from the castle itself, there is its stunning view of Bled island, the town of Bled and the wider Gorenjska region.
If ever you wanted to take a picture to commemorate your visit to Lake Bled while ticking off a fairytale castle off your bucket list, it would be at Bled Castle.
This 16th-century Polish castle has undergone multiple constructions, emerging with visible traits belonging to the French Renaissance and Italian style. It consists of a tower house with four octagonal towers enclosing it, a basement, mausoleum and three keeps. Some of the statues were even brought in from Italy and France.
Nowadays, Goluchow Castle is a part of the National Museum in Poznan and is open to the public. Some of the rooms you can explore include the Polish room, ancient room, gothic room and exhibition space showcasing paintings of the Polish royal family. The vast 150 hectares park area is also open for visitors.
If you have been on Instagram, you will likely have come across France’s most picturesque island castle.
Mont Saint Michel is a small island located off the coast of Normandy and Brittany, and contains a stunning, 1000-year-old Romanesque-Gothic abbey at its heart. A UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts millions of visitors on an annual basis.
In the case of Mont Saint Michel, it is not just the building that is fairytale-esque, but the entire island! The architecture in the abbey itself is stunning, and its long columned corridors would not look out of place in Hogwarts Castle. The streets themselves are quaint and seem as though they leapt straight out of Beauty and the Beast. You can also trek on the mudflats located around Mont Saint Michel, which is popular among visitors, but you might wish to dine elsewhere as they are geared towards tourists.
Rounding this list is another French chateau located in the tiny village of Chenonceaux, France.
Chenonceau Castle is unique because it was built on a bridge across the Cher River, but its entire estate is worthy of a full day’s exploration! Stop by its two moats, explore the Maze, pose with the Caryatids (Greek female marble statues), a donkey park, 16th century park, rose garden, vegetable garden, and a children's playground. All before even exploring the insides of this fairytale castle!
To cater to its large group of visitors, the audio guide for Chenonceau Castle comes in 11 different languages and just an extra dimension to visiting this 16th century castle. Take a tour of its spotless kitchen, the long white gallery across the bridge, the green study, drawing room, and the bedrooms of Louise de Lorraine, who was the wife of King Henry III, and Diane de Poitier (the mistress of Henry II, who was forced out after the latter’s tragic death).
Europe has hundreds of castles to its name, each with its own proud heritage, many of which are now accessible to the public or remain as functioning private residences (like Balmoral Castle in Scotland for the Queen of England)!
If you want to know what it is like to step into a fairytale, then put at least one of these seven castles on your travel itinerary. Better yet, go to mayflower.com.my now to check out the latest flight and hotel deals available.
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or https://www.vidadeliya.com