It is almost impossible to visit Europe and not check out a castle or a palace and learn about the past rulers and how they shaped our history.
History aside, these buildings are among some of the most beautiful and extravagant structures you will see in Europe; and here are our top six!
1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, GERMANY
One of the most photographed castles in the world, King Ludwig II of Bavaria built the Neuschwanstein Castle as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner, where many of the rooms in the castle were inspired by Wagner’s characters. The name of the castle itself means New Swan Castle, which references one of Wagner’s characters, the Swan Knight. This castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle takes roughly 2h30m via Füssen.
2. The Palace of Versailles, Paris, FRANCE
The Palace of Versailles, located about 20km southwest of Paris, was the principal royal residence for France from 1682 – 1789. Today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the 3rd most visited monument in the city after the Louvre the Eiffel Tower. It’s also the finest example of 18th century French art. The Hall of Mirrors, a spectacular gallery featuring more than 350 mirrors, is probably the most famous room in the Palace.
Paris to Versailles takes only 14min.
3. Pena Palace, Sintra, PORTUGAL
King Ferdinand II of Portugal built the Pena Palace in Sintra in the 19th century as a summer residence. The eclectic design of the Palace has been described as one of the greatest examples of 19th century Romantic architecture. It denotes Moorish, European Baroque and Portuguese late Gothic influences among other styles. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace is surrounded by a park, which consists of manicured gardens, a forest and trees from around the world.
Lisbon to Sintra takes 40min.
4. Windsor Castle, Windsor
Windsor Castle in Windsor, the favourite castle of Queen Elizabeth II, sits just outside of London. It is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world with history of more than 1000 years. It was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, sprawls across 13 acres of land, and has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Visitors should note that the castle might sometimes be closed at short notice as it is a working royal palace.
London to Windsor takes about 52min.
5. Corvin Castle, Transylvania, ROMANIA
When legend has it that Dracula was imprisoned here, how can a visit to Romania not be complete without a visit to Corvin Castle? The castle is located in the heart of Transylvania, Romania, and looks like something out of children’s story book. Corvin castle was built in the 15th century and boasts a Renaissance-Gothic style. However, due to decades of neglect in the 16th century, it was later restored and redesigned by workers in the 17th to give it its fanciful look today.
Transylvania is an overnight train away from Bucharest via Targu Mures.
6. Resenborg Castle, Copenhagen, DENMARK
Christian IV, one of the most famous Scandinavian kings built the Rosenbord Castle in 1606 as a country summerhouse. It was one of the king’s many architectural projects. Sitting majestically in the Kings Garden in Copenhagen, not only is it home to the crown jewels and the royal crowns; it’s also where the Throne Chair of Denmark is kept. Go in the warmer months and enjoy the garden when the flowers are in full bloom.
Copenhagen is 35min away from Malmo at the tip of Sweden.
Did you know you can dart around Europe easily and conveniently with a Eurail Gobal Pass?