Travelling around the world, but not really getting enough royal treatment? These castles will draw you in and add a touch of majestic nobility to your next holiday.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
It’s probably the most commonly-recognised castle in the world, but few know that the Neuschwanstein in Bavaria was built by Ludwig II as a homage to composer Richard Wagner. It’s also been open to the public since 1886. Just in case you were wondering, this is also the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty’s own in Disney World.
Travel tip: You will need to participate in a 30 minute guided tour to visit this royal gem and tickets must be purchased in advance.
2. Windsor Castle – England
So many royal figures have dwelled in this extraordinary castle, from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II and you’ll literally be following in their footsteps. While it’s breathtaking on the outside, the state apartments and the state rooms are amazing to walk through.
Travel tip: This year, incredible artefacts like Napoleon’s cloak and the Waterloo chair are on display to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Waterloo.
3. Mont Saint Michel – France
Another famous one on the castle trail, the Mont Saint Michel rests in Normandy and is perhaps best known for being set on an island. An abbey, a fortification and a prison (until 1863) all rolled into one, the Mont Saint Michel boasts a wealth of significance for France’s history and culture.
Travel tip: While it is possible to drive here (about 4 hours from Paris), heading there by rail or bus is recommended.
4. Bojnice Castle – Slovakia
This castle is so traditionally pretty that it’s possible Cinderella once lived here! Located in central Slovakia and built in the 12th Century, the Romantic Bojnice is one of the most-visited destinations in the country.
It sports a zoo, and is also home to cool events like the International Festival of Ghosts and Monsters.
Travel tip: While it’s common to visit during the day, night tours of the castle are also possible.
5. Matsumoto Castle – Japan
One of Japan’s most exquisite castles, Matsumoto (situated just a short trip outside of Tokyo) is a hirajiro – a castle built on flat land. What makes it stand out as a travel destination, however, is the fact it is surrounded by gorgeous cherry blossoms and glorious snow-capped mountains.
Travel tip: If you happen to visit in April, make sure you’re a part of the Moon Viewing Festival, part of which takes place inside the castle.
6. Kilkenny Castle – Ireland
Kilkenny Castle came into being in 1195 and helped defend the town from invasion and occupation. Today, it’s a sight to behold and the castle itself, along with the surrounding gardens, can all be explored. The tower can also be booked out for private events and conferences (if you’re rich enough!).
Travel tip: If you’ve got time, make sure you grab a cuppa in the tea room! Also note that photography and filming here is not allowed.
7. Bellver Castle – Spain
On the Spanish island of Majorca, this incredible circular castle was built in the 14th Century for King James II and served as a residence for many kings to follow. Surviving two sieges, it later became a prison and today is a museum and venue governed by the city of Palma.
Travel tip: This castle is generally open every day except Mondays, from 10am. There is 1 tour per day conducted in English and booking in advance is recommended.
8. Dunnottar Castle – Scotland
Scotland is famed for its amazing castles, including Dunrobin and Inverary, but Dunnottar is truly one of the most magnificent, thanks to its cliff-top setting. Overlooking the northeastern coast, this medieval castle and stronghold has seen the likes of William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots and many early Vikings.
Travel tip: It will cost you £6 to enter this castle; make sure you bring a torch too, if you want to see the darker chambers!