6 fairytale worthy castles to visit in Europe's winter

Lake Bled Castle, Slovenia, frozen, europe, winter, snow

We thought we’d create a list of fairytale worthy castles which are especially exciting to visit during the European winter.

With the recent release of Disney’s Frozen II, you may be itching to visit your very own wintry castle like Arendelle Castle or Elsa’s Ice Palace. 

While these castles may only exist in fiction, there are indeed fairytale-looking castles that you can visit this winter that are truly magical. So grab your beanie and mittens and let it go, let it go! Don’t hold back the urge to see one of these great winter fairytale castles anymore. 

And while the cold may not bother you, just remember to secure your travel insurance to make certain your fairytale travel plans won’t turn into a something straight out of a horror story if things don’t go smoothly.


Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle 

Germany’s 19th-century Neuschwanstein Castle is beautiful year-round, however, in winter it takes on a truly fairytale-like feel when covered in snow. 

Winter is also the best time to visit Neuschwanstein Castle if you’re looking to avoid the huge crowds that normally visit the castle, which can sometimes reach 6,000 people per day during the summer months. This is the castle that helped inspire Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. 

Originally built for the reclusive King Ludwig II, it was opened up to the public shortly after his death. You can set foot inside this magical castle by booking a guided tour, but note that photography is restricted so you’ll want to be sure to really take in the experience and lock it in your memory. 

The castle sits high above the village of Hohenschwangau where it is surrounded by snow-covered pines in the winter and the impressive Poellat Gorge Waterfall which no doubt produces some striking winter icicles. 

The best views of the castle can be had at Mary’s Bridge, which only closes in winter during severe weather when covered in heavy snow and ice.


Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

Alcázar of Segovia 

Just outside of Madrid, you’ll find the especially regal-looking Alcázar of Segovia. 

This Spanish fortress comes complete with a moat and drawbridge. It is said to date back as far as the 12th century where the site began as a Roman fort. While the majority of the original structure no longer exists, the castle’s renovations and restoration over the years has made it a truly impressive piece of architecture. 

Be sure to prepare your legs for climbing the Tower of Juan II’s 152-step spiral staircase. Like Neuschwanstein Castle, it is also thought this castle inspired parts of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. 

The castle sits near the Guadarrama Mountains, above the confluence of two rivers. During winter, snow makes it even more photogenic and you can take advantage of the nearby ski resorts such as Valdesqui or La Pinilla which are both within an hour’s drive.


Bled Castle, Slovenia

Bled Castle 

Slovenia’s oldest castle, the medieval Bled Castle, is perched atop a 130-metre cliff on the north shore of Lake Bled. 

During winter, the town is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and during especially cold years the lake freezes over. The castle is home to some interesting museums that showcase the history of Lake Bled and a tower gallery features monthly exhibitions. 

In the middle of the lake is an island, which houses the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria. Access is usually by traditional row boats know as pletnas, but when the lake freezes over, you can make the pilgrimage on foot or ice skates. 

Climb the 99 steps to the top of the church and inquire about the The Legend of the Sunken Bell. Ice skating on Lake Bled is a real treat since it isn’t guaranteed to freeze over every year. 

However, there is a man-made ice rink that pops up along the lakeshore each winter, which guarantees you can still skate. Ice skate rentals are available at the nearby lakeside restaurant.


Gamlehaugen Castle, Norway

Gamlehaugen Castle 

Gamlehaugen Castle is a castle-looking mansion that houses the Norwegian Royal Family when they reside in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city. 

The snow-white castle overlooks the beautiful Nordåsvannet Bay and is surrounded by English-landscaped parkland, having been built to resemble a Scottish baronial style castle. Come winter, a blanket of snow turns the site into a pure white winter paradise. 

The mansion was designed and built just at the turn of the 20th century, having been the previous residence of Christian Michelsen, Norway’s first prime minister. The surrounding park is open to the public and offers many great views of the castle. 

The ground floor state rooms are sadly only open to the public during the summer months but there are a number of other winter activities to enjoy. Take a winter boat tour through the fjords, enjoy some downhill skiing, warm up with some delicious reindeer sausage, and say hello to the loveable penguins at the Bergen Aquarium.


Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle 

The largest ancient castle in the world, Prague Castle covers an area of roughly 70,000 square metres. 

The castle has come a long way since its humble beginnings as the simple Church of the Virgin Mary back in the 9th century. Once home to kings, crown princes, and the Holy Roman Emperor, the castle is now the official office of the Czech President. 

The castle is home to four churches, of which St. Vitus Cathedral holds the heavily guarded Czech Crown Jewels. Prague Castle is overrun with tourists during the summer months, but crowds tend to thin out greatly during winter. This allows you to experience the castle and its courtyards much more freely. 

The Gothic architecture and many Prague attractions like Charles Bridge also become very photogenic during the winter months, especially when enveloped by fog. 

Warm up with some local sauerkraut cabbage soup and enjoy a quieter experience at Prague Castle which featured as a pit stop in a season of the Australian Amazing Race. 



The Snow Castle of Kemi, Finland

The Snow Castle of Kemi 

Kemi’s Snow Castle may not exactly be ancient, but it is actually made up entirely of snow and ice. 

Since 1996, Finland’s small town of Kemi has been constructing real life snow castles every winter, using sea water from the Gulf of Bothnia as glue to bond the snow and ice together. 

Considered to be the world's largest snow castle, it takes around five weeks to build each year and regularly features walls over 3.5 metres tall. Some parts of the castle have even reached three stories tall in the past. 

The castle is usually open between January and April each year. It is home to a Snow Hotel, which allows you to sleep overnight, using Arctic-rated sleeping bags for warmth. The hotel rooms are completely made of ice and each features incredible ice sculptures. 

There is also a Snow Restaurant, where everything from the tables to the glassware are made from ice. The castle also features an art gallery, Snow Chapel, and fun slide made of ice. 

The temperature inside the castle and Snow Hotel may hover around -5 degrees Celsius but you can warm up in the sauna or relax at the Sea Lapland Day Spa. This year’s castle is scheduled to be open from January 18 to April 15, after which it will once again melt and have to be rebuilt when winter returns.