We can’t all be born royal but wandering these magnificent castles is the next best thing. In this blog post we’ll be counting down our picks for the 5 best castles of Europe you can visit.
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Bran Castles (Dracula’s Castles) – Romania
Surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend of Count Dracula, Bran, also known as Dracula’s Castle, is Romania’s most visited landmark. It is located about 30 km from the city of Brasov. Bran Castle was built between 1377 and 1388 on top of a high rock.
From 1920 to 1948 Bran served as royal residence. The people of Brasov gifted the Castle to Queen Marie of Romania due to her devotion to the Romanian crown. The Queen restored and transformed the fortress into one of her favorite residences.
Castle owes its fame to its history, imposing towers, and the myth created around Bram Stocker’s fictitious character Dracula. It’s widely believed that Vlad III Dracula, known by the nickname Vlad the Impaler, has served as an inspiration for Stoker’s character, Count Dracula.
Born around 1430, Vlad III was a Wallachian Prince who led several campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. In 1992, Bram Stoker’s Dracula horror film was released, directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola.
In the courtyard, there is a well, at the bottom of which, according to legend, there is an entrance to a maze of underground passages. Visitors can buy an extra ticket to see the medieval torture instruments exhibition.
You can also buy an extra ticket to go through the Time Tunnel, which is accessed by an elevator. You will enjoy an interesting multimedia show. Going out of the tunnel you will find yourself in a beautiful garden with a small pond. In front of the Castle, there is an area for buying gifts and souvenirs, as well as several restaurants.
Glamis Castle – Scotland
Glamis Castle is in the east of Scotland and about 30 minutes away from Dundee. It’s known as a 17th century castle which is the legendary setting for William Shakespeare’s Macbeth so they have seven wooden sculptures of the major scenes of the play. Also the childhood home of queen Elizabeth the queen mother.
This castle has been the Ancestral sea to the earth of Strathmore and King Horn since 1372 and was only open to the public in the 1950s.
If you have an old 10 pound Scottish note, the castle is actually featured in the reverse side of it. The Walled Garden of Glamis Castle has a lot of amazing plants and flowers.
Hohensalzburg Fortress – Austria
One place that you must go when you visit Salzburg Austria is the Hohensalzburg Fortress that was built in 1077. It is certainly one of the most important landmarks in this beautiful city.
You have to take the funicular to get up to the fortress. The ride only takes 54 seconds and the view is pretty cool along the way. You have a panoramic view of the entire city and you can use your Salzburg card to go to the fortress. Otherwise if you want, you can buy tickets for adults and kids.
The tickets include the funicular rides with a guided tour with audio guide in 11 languages to the salt storeroom, torture chamber, lookout tower the Salzburg bull which is a mechanical oregon, the fortress, the rana regimen and the marionette museum, the Fortress precinct and the on passage.
There’s quite a lot to see at the Fortress even if you don’t visit other museums. A view from the Fortress is already worthwhile plus the fun funicular ride.
Château de Chenonceau – France
Château de Chenonceau is the most visited and photographed chateau of the Loire Valley in France. It is often described as the lady chateau as throughout its history it is they who have most influenced its design and history.
It was not always a chateau that we see today, a Renaissance masterpiece with its white walls and curved turrets and with an elegant and feminine style.
The best time to visit is the summer to truly appreciate the gardens. Fun fact between 1914 to 1918 this chateau was actually transformed into a military hospital.
Pena Palace – Portugal
The picturesque town of Sintra is located 30 kilometers to the west of Lisbon in the center of Portugal. Home to ancient castles, extravagant palaces, and beautiful natural scenery,
The cheapest way to get to Sintra is by train. The train leaves from the Rossio train station in downtown Lisbon once or twice per hour. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Sintra.
The castles only open their doors at 10 AM. Pena Palace is only a 15-minute walk from the Moorish Castle and is less crowded at the end of the day. This is the most famous attraction in all of Sintra for a good reason. The palace stands in a 200 hectare park, filled with colorful flowers, small ponds, and beautiful viewpoints.
Once you step inside the palace itself, you’ll be amazed by the blend of vibrant colors and beautiful architecture. And you can also explore the interior and get an idea for the history of this palace, which once served as a holiday residence for the Portuguese Royal Family.
The Pena Palace looks like a fairytale castle, just out of the Disney movie.