Fairytale Destinations: 26 Magical Castles Around The World

Last Updated on June 18, 2022

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Over the last couple of weeks, we have taken a look at Fairytale Destinations: 27 Magical Places To Visit In Real Life and Fairytale Destinations: 22 Magical Places To Visit In Nature. Now, let’s take a look at a different kind of magic with Fairytale Destinations: Magical Castles Around The World.

Castles have always been beautiful architectural accomplishments, serving a range of purposes.
The most important reasons are for military, administrative, and domestic use. Castles were defensive structures and offensive protection for a base of operations in enemy territory.

If you’re skeptical about whether fairytales do exist, these breathtaking and magical castles should prove that they are indeed real:

Photo: Natalie Maguire, Flickr

Schloss Drachenburg Castle, Germany

Schloss Drachenburg Castle is set high up on the hill above Königswinter, just outside of Bonn in Germany. At first glance, it looks as though it’s been there for centuries. Actually, this beautiful building was built in the 19th century and draws on a number of different areas of history. The castle was designed by Baron Stephan von Sarter as his family home but in fact, he never lived there.
The history of Schloss Drachenburg Castle is very varied – at one point it was going to be an amusement park, it was a Christian boys’ boarding school, and has been a training center. During the Second World War, it was an Adolf-Hitler-Schule, home to the elite branch of the Nazis and because of this it attracted the gaze of the allies who extensively shot at it and as a result, much of its original glasswork was destroyed.
Today it feels mysterious and there are numerous examples of architectural trickery – with fake wooden ceilings and even a fake organ on one of the floors. So much of what you see here isn’t quite as it originally seems. If you’re visiting Bonn with kids, then this is a great place to bring them as it has a real Disney feel to it with turrets and towers. It’s a fun walk up to Schloss Drachenburg too, or you can take the little funicular train that runs from the town at the bottom of the hill.
Nichola runs Globalmouse Travels, a guide to traveling around the world with kids from UK weekend breaks to long-haul travel everywhere.
Photo: Fiona, Travelling Thirties

Marienburg Castle, Germany

There are many magical castles around Germany such as Neuschwanstein Castle and Eltz Castle. However, Marienburg Castle also looks like it is straight out of a fairy-tale, minus the crowds of tourists. Just because it is not as well-known as the other castles does not mean it should be missing from your bucket list.

Marienburg Castle is located in a small city called Hildesheim approximately 30km from Hannover. If you are using Hannover as a base, you can use public transport to access the castle. Take the train or the bus to Nordstemmen train station, from here the Castle is 2.7km. While it is possible to walk, it is easier to take a taxi. You can also hire a car or a taxi in Hannover to take you to the castle if you would rather not tackle the public transport.

Marienburg Castle was built by King George V between 1858 and 1867 as a gift to his wife, Queen Marie. The castle was originally intended as a “romantic summer residence” for the royal family. However, King George V and Queen Marie only lived in the castle for one year before the King was exiled to Austria.

The castle is now one of the most well-preserved castles in Europe as no one lived in the castle until 1945.

During your visit, you can choose to take a tour or you can visit the staterooms, the private rooms of the Royal family and the kitchen at your own pace. The most beautiful room in the castle is the Queen’s library, unfortunately, you cannot take photos in the library.

Plan to spend at least 3 – 4 hours at the castle. Your visit inside the castle (and up the tower if visiting in the summer) will take you a few hours. You will want to allow some time to sit in the old horse stable which has been converted to a restaurant and to explore the forest that surrounds the castle.

Marienburg Castle is one of the best places to visit in Germany, especially during the autumn when the leaves are bright colors.

Contributed by Fiona of Travelling Thirties.

Magical Castles
Photo: Ruben Holthuijsen, Flickr

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

There are no magical castles in Germany quite as special as the real-life Disney castle, Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein Castle is the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s creation of his Cinderella castle. It’s perched on top of a hill, with incredible views across the surrounding countryside.

You can visit the castle by bus or organized tour, but the best way to get there is to drive yourself. It’s about 2 hours from Munich. If you’re motorhoming in Germany, there are a couple of great campsites nearby, or there are plenty of hotels and BnBs in the town of Fussen.

Expect it to be busy- millions of people visit the castle every year. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning- before the tour buses arrive. Opening times vary throughout the year, so check on the website.

Don’t forget to buy your tickets at the bottom of the hill before you start going up. Photos inside are forbidden but it’s incredibly opulent, especially the throne room. There’s even a fairy grotto!

If you want the best view and photographs of the castle exterior, you need to walk up the hill past the castle to the Marienbrucke bridge. You can access the bridge by walking to the right of the castle and following the path. I would recommend going here first, before your castle tour, so you can (hopefully!) avoid the crowds which build steadily throughout the day.

Contributed by Kat from Wandering Bird.

Magical Castles
Photo: Bec Wyld, Wyld Family Travel

Chateau Koenigsbourg, France

Sitting high and proud on a hill overlooking amazing scenery in the Alsace region of France is Chateau Koenigsbourg. This mighty fortress was not only a protector of the area but was also a family home.

Its past is like many other magical castles from all over the world. It was built, loved, conquered, ruined, and then re-built to its former glory. Now it is open for everyone to come and enjoy. You can see how it was able to be a fortress for the people it held as well as a home. There are rooms that are fully furnished. One even has a tiny cradle in it. In the courtyard, you can imagine the family sitting and enjoying life together. In other rooms, you can see what it took to guard the castle with armor and weapons.

Views from the castle rival any from anywhere in the world. In winter you can see the snow through the surrounding forest, in the autumn the colors change through the rolling hills, in the spring there are flowers in bloom, and in the summer on a clear day you can see for miles. Sitting out at the cafe that overlooks the forest is an amazing experience with either a cold drink or a hot one.

Driving through the small towns to get to the chateau Koenigsbourg is one of the best things to do in the Alsace. Many are known as fairytale towns with colored buildings, small picturesque streets, and storks that sit high up on the tip of the chimneys. Overlooking and guarding this is the Chateau.

Contributed by Bec from Wyld Family Travel.

Magical Castles
Photo: Elisa, Travel France Bucket List

Château de Chambord, France

Château de Chambord is one of the most magical castles in France. This magnificent castle is located in the Loire Valley, in central France. Although it is possible to visit Château de Chambord on a day trip from Paris, it is best to spend more time in the Loire Valley, perhaps combining the visit to the château with other castles or medieval villages nearby.

In Chambord, there is a castle since medieval times, but the current château was built in the 16th century in Renaissance style. It was commissioned by the French King Francis I, who wished to have a decent place to stay during his hunting parties in the forest of Chambord. The château was the expression of his political and cultural power, so it had to be the biggest château and the most beautiful.

During his life, the king only stayed in the château a few times, and always for his hunts or to host parties.

Château de Chambord is one of the most famous castles to visit in the Loire Valley. The rooms and halls are beautiful to see, but the best part of the château is the double spiral staircase, located in the castles’ keep. It is said that this ingenious stair was designed by Leonardo da Vinci, who at that time was living in Amboise under the king’s protection.

The château is surrounded by beautiful French-style gardens, perfect for a stroll after visiting the castle. The gardens are set on an elevated terrace built to avoid floods.

We are independent travelers and restless souls with a passion for Paris (our city) and France. Follow us at Travel France Bucket List in quest of the most Awesome Sights & Experiences in France.

Magical Castles
Photo: Ophelie, Limitless Secrets

Château d’Ussé, France

The Château d’Ussé is one of the most magical castles! Located in the Loire Valley in France, the castle used to be a fortress in the Middle Age and was rebuilt in the 15th century. But the architecture and structure mixing gothic and renaissance styles we can see today date back to the 16th/17th century.
You should visit the Château d’Ussé for many reasons. Not only is this castle and its garden magnificent, but it’s also famous for being Sleeping Beauty’s Castle! Indeed Charles Perrault, the French author who has written many famous fairy tales in the 17th century, visited the castle several times and was even a guest here. Therefore, the Château d’Ussé inspired him when he wrote the story of Sleeping Beauty!
Nowadays you can visit the castle and the gardens around it. The interior of the castle is luxurious and nicely decorated. You will discover a magnificent staircase, some 17th-century tapestries, and an exquisite style in the decoration in every room.
The gardens were designed in a French formal style by Le Nôtre, who also designed the ones in the Palace of Versailles. And Vauban, the famous military engineer, created a terrace overlooking the Indre River. Depending on the time you will visit Château d’Ussé you will enjoy different flowers in the gardens. In summer for example you can admire a myriad of colorful dahlias!
Finally, if you head to the Dungeon you will be able to follow the story of Sleeping Beauty. Some of the best scenes of the fairy tale have been enacted in different rooms and it’s a charming way to end your visit to Château d’Ussé!
I am Ophélie, a French travel and food blogger, photographer and content creator based in Paris. I love to travel the world and share my best addresses at Limitless-secrets.com.
Magical Castles
Photo: Catherine, Passports and Adventures.

Caerphilly Castle, UK

One of the most magical castles in Wales that is not to be missed is Caerphilly Castle. A castle with a tower that leans to a greater degree than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it is also Britain’s second-largest castle.

Caerphilly Castle is located approximately 30 minutes north of Cardiff and is one of the best castles in Wales. As well as its leaning tower that is ‘held up’ by a knight, visitors can walk along the battlements, see trebuchets that are often fired during medieval re-enactment events, visit the Great Hall and pretend they are the King and Queen, and discover lots of other parts to this partly ruined, a medieval fortification that dates from the 13th century.

To the rear of the castle, and added in the last few years, is Gilbert’s Maze, a fun maze that kids will love trying to find their way out of. But the most magical thing about this castle is its dragons. Yes, you read right, dragons. Dewi, the red male dragon, arrived at Caerphilly Castle in March 2016 and promptly made it his home. A year later he was joined by a beautiful blue female, Dwynwen and they’ve since had babies.

While they were previously located just outside the ticket office, they have since built a lair near the leaning tower and sometimes fly off on holidays to other castles around Wales. But these four dragons have brought a truly magical feel to this Welsh castle that you won’t find anywhere else. With its close proximity to the Welsh capital and good rail links, Caerphilly Castle and its dragons are a must-visit if you are in South Wales.

Contributed by Cath from Passports and Adventures.

Magical Castles
Photo: Joanna, The World In My Pocket

Hever Castle, UK

Hever Castle is one of the most beautiful fortresses in Kent, dating from as early as the 13th century. Over the years, different owners have renovated parts of the castle in the architectural style of the day, without altering the original Tudor-style building.

Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. A couple of years after giving birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn was wrongfully accused and later on beheaded for treason, by Henry VIII. She is very important in English history because she was the reason why the Church of England broke away from the Vatican.

Visiting Hever Castle you will learn more about the life of Anne Boleyn and her role in the royal court. On the second floor of the castle, you will see original Tudor beams on the ceiling of Henry VIII’s bed-chamber. Also, the original lock he used to carry with him all the time, as he was obsessed about being assassinated, is hanging on the giant doors of the dining hall.

At Hever Castle you can also see one of the most impressive collections of portraits that tell the story of the Tudors, depicting members of the family, but also the six wives of Henry VIII.

The castle has a large estate, with plenty of woodlands, a lake, and beautifully landscaped gardens. It is a pleasure to stroll along the rose or the Italian garden, especially before dusk, when the jasmine flowers spread their sweet fragrance into the air.

You can even stay at the castle overnight, in the luxury B&B built in the newest wing by one of the latest owners, William Waldorf Astor.

Submitted by Joanna from The World In My Pocket. 

Magical Castles
Nichola, Family Hotel Expert

The Tower Of London, UK

The Tower of London is the ultimate magical castle. Steeped in history, full of mystery and intrigue, and somewhere that, particularly if you are coming to the UK, is a must-visit.  The Tower of  London is actually made up of a number of different towers, the oldest of which, the White Tower was built by William the Conqueror in 1066.
Of the 21 different towers, it is the Bloody Tower which holds the darkest secrets, this is the location of one of London’s most notorious prisons and somewhere the two princes disappeared from, rumored to have been murdered by their uncle so he could become king. Another dark place within the castle to visit is Traitors Gate, the spot where prisoners through the centuries would have arrived at the Tower of London by boat from along the Thames.
Not everything about this beautiful building is bleak though. Today it is home to the Crown Jewels, sparkling, beautiful pieces of the country’s history that it is possible to see up close on a visit here. Within the White Tower, you can also see row upon row of shiny armor through the ages, another magnificent site. Don’t forget to stop to spend some time chatting with the colorful Beefeaters who roam the grounds and are full of information, stories, and tales of life within the castle walls. There are some fantastic family hotels in London around the Tower, including some that overlook it for a really special way to see this most historic English castle.
Nichola writes Family Hotel Expert to find the best places for families to stay around the world.
Magical Castles
Photo: Diana, Travels In Poland

Moszna Castle, Poland

Through fields and hills, small towns, and tree-lined roads, visitors to Moszna Castle experience all the beauty of southwest Poland. This magical castle is an absolute fairytale, with gothic architecture and breathtaking towers surrounding the castle.  As one of the most featured castles in the world, Moszna Castle certainly has an exquisite feel to it. Its rich history tells the story of fires, fleeing families, and renowned artwork.  Today, the castle sees tourists staying overnight and new brides taking pictures in the back of the castle with beautiful spires reaching overhead.

The interior of Moszna Castle is a work in progress a bit at a time.  The overnight rooms available to visitors are more in the style of large university rooms and less of a majestic castle, however, the interior tour of the castle showcases the rich beauty and history.  The restaurant has some incredible food with a view of the inside garden.  Outside of the castle, the gothic and neo-baroque architecture showcases the beauty of the castle.  Spires on the left and right wings of the castle show its immense character, while the slanting rooftops and stonework give the castle a historic and majestic feel.

The castle stairs in the back lead down to a small pond surrounded by flowers.  Further out, there are hundreds of hectares of walking trails through trees, as well as a small playground.  The castle is a perfect photo-taking opportunity for any occasion and the pictures truly come out beautiful.  Flying drones is also an option and can easily capture the full effect of the gothic castle.

Contributed by Diana from Travels In Poland

Magical Castles
Photo: Caroline Muller, Veggie Wayfarer

Borrekens Castle, Belgium

Hidden in the North of Belgium, surrounded by lush forest is one of the most magical castles the country holds – Borrekens Castle. What makes this castle idyllic (aside from the obvious fact it is a castle in the forest) is that to this day it is still lived in by the noble family Borrekens who acquired the castle through marriage in the late 19th century. The original castles date back to the 12th century and were built in this location to defend the trade route between Cologne and the dukedom of Brabant. Over the various centuries, the castle changed hands and with it underwent continuous renovation. The castle you see today dates back largely to the 19th century and is Neo-Gothic in style with a touch of Romanticism – which was all the rage back in the day.

As the castle is privately owned, you cannot visit it – Not unless you happen to know anyone of the Borrekens family. The surrounding park is absolutely beautiful and it makes for a wonderful walk. Walk around to the western side of the castle to catch the beautiful reflection of the castle in the water through a hole in the hedge. There is a large wooden bench (well, of sorts) that you can sit on and take in the view. The sun comes up behind the castle in the morning and illuminates the foliage and the turrets of the castle in a warm glow of soft yellow light. Listen as the forest wakes up and watch the light as it starts making its way through the foliage surrounding the castle. You will be transported back to the 19th century before you even realize it. This is but one of the 3000 castles you can find in Belgium, but there are plenty more to explore if you have the time.

 Submitted by Caroline Muller from Veggie Wayfarer.

Magical Castles
Photo: Jürgen and Martina, PlacesofJuma

Predjama Castle, Slovenia

One of the most magical castles in the world is definitely the Predjama Castle in Slovenia. It is located only a few kilometers from the world-famous Postojna Cave and is a real insider tip for any trip through this country. The name Predjama means something like “in front of the cave” and that is exactly how this castle is located. Its entrance is in a huge grotto, which gives this cave a very special mysticism.

This imposing castle was already built over 800 years ago and still today it sits enthroned in the middle of a 123-meter-high cliff. It is the only preserved cave castle in Europe and offers a unique insight into the building techniques and ingenuity of people who lived in the Middle Ages.

Not only impressive from the outside, you should also visit this castle from the inside! Here you will find a lovely museum that leads through old knights’ halls, ancient bedrooms, and even a chapel. You will learn a lot about the rich history of the area and the former leaders. In any case, don’t miss walking the way down under the castle; there is another cave worth seeing!

The easiest way to reach this castle is by a day trip from Ljubljana, from Piran, or from Lake Bled. You can go there easily by rental car or book a guided tour from Ljubljana.

The Predjama Castle opens daily from Opening 09:00-19:00. The entrance to the museum is about 15,- Euro per person. There are combo tickets for Cave and Castle available.

Submitted by Martina & Jürgen from PlacesofJuma. 

Magical Castles
Photo: Tess, Tess Somewhere

Pena Palace, Portugal

Visiting Portugal’s Pena Palace, located in Sintra about 45 minutes out of Lisbon, is a magical experience.

Like something out of a fairy tale, Pena Palace is perched atop a hill accessible by a steep, winding road. When we visited early in the morning, the top half of the hill was covered in a thick fog covering the castle and its surrounds. As the fog lifted, we were left with the vision of a colorful castle, complete with elaborate stone ornaments and turrets, surrounded by a lush thick green forest around the castle grounds.

The Pena Palace, also known as the Palacio Nacional da Pena, was built in the 19th century as a summer home for the Portuguese royals. These days, it is one of the most popular attractions in Portugal, for good reason!

This magical castle is like no other with its different colored sections, including purple, red, and yellow, and a unique architectural mix of several styles including Moorish and Romanticism influences. Visitors can also explore the opulent castle interiors, however, our visit was focused on exploring the exterior of the castle, including the outdoor terrace and surrounding castle grounds.

Other than visiting the palace, visitors can also explore the Pena Park gardens. Covering almost 200 hectares, the gardens are a labyrinth that again looks like they might be home to fairies. I’d recommend a gentle hike from the castle entrance to explore the park. The most gentle hike also has a short uphill section that rewards adventurous hikers with a stunning viewpoint, providing a 360-degree view of the castle and surrounding Sintra.

Whilst in Sintra, make sure to also check out the nearby eccentric Quinta da Regaleira palace, which comes complete with grottos, caves, secret tunnels, and a below-ground well.

I’m Tess, sharing my Australian travel experiences at Tess Somewhere. Based in Perth, Western Australia, I’m happiest when out exploring, taking photos, and planning future local adventures. 

Magical Castles
Photo: Sheree Hooker, Winging the World

Armadale Castle, Scotland

When it comes to magical places, you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere more enchanting than the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Many visitors don’t know it but there are a number of magical castles on the Isle of Skye with Armadale Castle being arguably the most wondrous of them all.

This castle, located close to the Armadale ferry terminal in the south of Skye is set in 40 acres of woodland and is a beautiful place to spot the local wildlife.

Armadale Castle has long been the seat of Clan Donald and although it has fallen into a state of ruin after a fire, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture what it would’ve looked like in its heyday.

The castle remains remarkably intact and the gothic architecture which characterizes this building has lived on. Visitors love the contrast between the intricate stonework and the wild foliage which has begun to reclaim the structure. The fusing of man-made and nature makes it feel like a real fairytale castle from some far-off fantasy land.

To learn more about the history of the castle, don’t forget to download the Candide app where you can get a free audio guide to accompany your visit.

Unlike many other ruined castles, there are plenty of facilities onsite at Armadale Castle. Public toilets are available and there is also a bistro and bar where you can grab a bite to eat. The accommodation is also owned by the Clan Donald Lands Trust is close by for visitors looking for a local base.

Sheree is the hapless wanderluster behind Winging the World. She documents her misadventures around the world to show that even the most useless of us can travel. 
Magical Castles
Photo: Anuradha, Country Hopping Couple

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Eilean Donan is one of the most visited attractions and one of the magical castles in Scotland. If you are traveling to Scotland, you cannot afford to miss visiting Eilean Donan Castle. Set on a tidal island at the intersection of three lochs with a stunning backdrop, Eilean Donan is one of the most photographed castles in the world.

The word Eilean Donan in Gaelic means “Island of Donan”, which is named after the Irish saint Donnan who is believed to have lived here during the 6th century. The first fortifications of the castle were built only during the 13th century by the then Scottish king Alexander II.

Fast forward to the events of Jacobite rising in 1719, the castles were partially destroyed and left to ruin for another 200 old years. It was in 1911 Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island and started the restoration works of the castle. After 20 years of hard labor, the castle was finished, although it was opened to the public only in 1955.

The castle can be accessed by a photogenic stone bridge, not too far from the visitor center. Inside the castle, you can explore the banqueting halls, courtyard, bedrooms, kitchen, and a small museum. Not to forget the dramatic views of the lochs and mountains. There is a car park near the visitor center.

The castle is located in a village called Dornie, along the main A87 that connects to Kyle of Lochalsh, and it is impossible to miss the sight of the castle.

Contributed by Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple.
Photo: Sophie and Adam, We Dream Of Travel

Glenapp Castle, Scotland

Tucked away in the rolling Scottish countryside along the Ayshire Coast is Glenapp Castle.  Not only is it one of the best castles in Scotland, but it is also one of the most amazing hotels in the UK.  Yes, you can actually stay in this magical castle!

Here, you can spend the night feeling like royalty and living out your fairytale dreams.  In fact, you can’t visit the castle unless you’re a guest, which further adds to the magical feeling when you arrive.

Glenapp Castle provides an exceptional blend of history and Victorian charm with all the luxury and amenities expected from a 5-star hotel.  The beautiful ivy-clad turreted castle awaits you at the end of a mile-long, tree-lined sweeping driveway.  As you enter the castle, the warm and friendly staff, along with the rows of wellies for guest use, provide the feeling that you’ve arrived home… albeit a rather grandiose one!

The castle is also a destination in its own right, with an estate comprising over six acres of grassland and woodland.  Here you can explore and look for the resident deer and red squirrels.  There are also many sports and activities on offer, both on and off the site, including a Hebridean Sea Safari, deer stalking, kayaking, distillery, and castle tours.

Contributed by Sophie and Adam of We Dream Of Travel.

Photo: Veronika Primm, Travel Geekery

Prague Castle, Prague

Prague Castle is the no. 1 landmark in Prague. Its position near the picturesque Charles Bridge makes for the most magical castle setting.

The historical and cultural significance has been confirmed by UNESCO, too. The Prague Castle has also made it to the Guinness World Records Book, being the largest ancient castle complex in the world.

What people usually associate the Prague Castle with is actually the St. Vitus Cathedral located in the heart of it. But the whole castle complex is made up of 3 courtyards and several buildings of different architectural styles including palaces, churches, and chapels. Large gardens enclose its Northern side.

The majestic St. Vitus Cathedral is a wonderful work of Gothic art. It was constructed in the 14th century. There are remnants of buildings in the Prague Castle that date back as far as 880.

When visiting the Prague Castle, you shouldn’t leave out the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, the St. Vitus Cathedral, and the charming Golden Lane.

I think the most magical time to visit Prague Castle is either early in the morning, or late in the afternoon towards the closing hours. You’re then most likely to avoid the crowds. In winter especially, in the last hour of the opening time, the Christmas markets slowly close down and you can wander around, having it nearly to yourself.

Other than visiting the castle premises, make sure to take a good look from afar. I can highly recommend climbing the Old Town Bridge Tower. It offers the best view of Prague Castle, with the Charles Bridge beautifully extending towards it.

Veronika Primm is a travel blogger based in Prague who loves to explore not just places near and far but also her own backyard. You’re most likely to find her sipping a cappuccino in a European city or hiking the trails in Southeast Asia. Her blog is TravelGeekery.com.

Photo: cjnzja, flickr

Scaligero Castle, Italy

In the town of Sirmione, next to Lake Garda, you find Scaligero Castle. This is a beautiful old fortress that was built in the 13th century. More specifically, it was created when the larger city of Verona ruled over the area where you can find the castle. What’s great is that the castle is really well-preserved. This makes it a great place to visit as you can get a better impression of what the castle looked like in the past. What makes this castle magical is that it is still important nowadays. That’s because the only way to get into the town of Sirmione is through the castle.

Sirmione is located on a peninsula that is connected to the mainland by a small strip of land. You find the castle between the town and the strip of land. There’s a museum in the castle where you can learn more about the history of the castle. Furthermore, you can get to many parts of the castle, including the highest tower of the castle, from where you have a beautiful view of the town of Sirmione and its surroundings. For example, you can see the neighboring towns at Lake Garda from here.

Going inside the castle is not free, however. There is an admission fee that is 6 euros. There are many great places to visit around Lake Garda. For example, you can do a day trip from Verona, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The castle is very easy to reach. There is a bus connection, you can go there in your own car, and there is a ferry that takes you to the town and thus the castle.

Contributed by Dymphe from dymabroad. 

Photo: Nirmal and Jyoti, Story At Every Corner

Kilkenny Castle, Ireland

Kilkenny Castle is one of the most magical castles, located in the quaint town of Kilkenny in Ireland. It was originally built and completed in 1192 by the Butler family that ruled this region for many generations and arrived here with the Norman invasion. In the early 1900s, the castle started to go into decline and disarray. After decades of decline, it was eventually sold to the city for a ceremonial charge of £50. Along with that, the Butler society was created and the land around it was purchased so the grandeur of the castle could be maintained for future generations. 

Since its original roots, and fairy tale stories the castle is now run by the city. It is a venue for exhibitions, graduations, and many prestigious ceremonies. It is also a museum and open to visitors. The display of artworks restored from the original castle line the big hall, like the one in the Palace of Versailles. The rooms are restored to period furniture and styling. The grounds are manicured and open for walks. They make for perfect walks and are not a bit crowded. The castle is a must in any photo gallery of Ireland for its beauty and how it has been given a new life, resurrected from the ashes. 

Next to the castle is the Butler house, a mansion now turned into a boutique hotel. The bedrooms are converted into guest suites and tastefully decorated. One can stay in the Butler home and visit the castle a various times of the day. 

The grounds also host studios for artists and galleries for visitors to purchase fine art. The restaurant by the studio offers delicious meals. 

One must experience the entire stay to really understand the charm and the magic of the Kilkenny castle. 

Nirmal and Jyoti love to travel and share stories of places, people, cultures, and vegan food. They hope to inspire you to travel, go beyond the obvious, and discover yourself. 

Photo: Catherine, Travel Around Ireland

Blarney Castle, Ireland

Have you ever been stuck for words and wished you weren’t? Well, by visiting magical castles in Ireland like this one, this may never be a problem again. There is a magical stone located in a beautiful castle in Blarney in southern Ireland that legend has it will bestow those who kiss it with the “gift of the gab”. Meaning, that if you kiss it, you will never be stuck for words again.

Kissing the Blarney Stone is one of the main reasons thousands of visitors flock to Blarney Castle every year. This castle is situated about 20 minutes from Cork, Blarney Castle is a medieval ruined castle, at the top of which lies the Blarney Stone. Those wishing to kiss the stone must climb 99 steps to the top of the castle, lie backward, and with the help of staff, reach backward and down to kiss the stone, upside-down. This in itself is a feat but if legend holds true, as mentioned you will be bestowed with the gift of the gab.

As well as visiting the castle and kissing the stone, Blarney Castle has incredible gardens to explore during your visit. There is a poison garden beside the castle with plants such as Wolfsbane, Opium, Mandrake, and more, and care should be taken when visiting this garden, especially with kids. There are also fern gardens, herbaceous borders, a bog garden, and more. There are two waterfalls and plenty of trees to enjoy around the gardens which will take you a few hours to explore.

If you are planning to visit Blarney Castle, arrive for the opening and make your way to the top of the castle first to avoid the long queues later in the day. You will then have plenty of time to explore the grounds at your leisure. If you are looking for a magical castle to visit in Ireland, Blarney Castle is a must.

Contributed by Cath from Travel Around Ireland.

Photo: Chrysoula, Historic European Castles

De Haar Castle, Netherlands

De Haar Castle is the largest, and one of the most magical castles in the Netherlands. Situated near Utrecht, the castle has the reputation of being one of Europe’s most luxurious castles and gained this reputation when it was popular with the international jet-set in the 1960s. As well as the stunning castle, there are its landscaped gardens and its woodland, where there is a small private chapel and it is not unusual to spot deer. This is a great place for walks and picnics. This magical castle is an amazing venue for many different exhibitions and theatrical events throughout the year.

De Haar Castle is easy to visit as it is just 30 minutes from Amsterdam. It is everyone’s idea of a fairytale castle as it has towers, turrets, and moats.  Interestingly, the original castle dates from the 13th century, but it was extensively repaired and renovated in the early 20th century. Its restoration was commissioned by Baron Etienne Van Zuylen Van Nijevet, who lavishly furnished the interior and decorated the walls with fine paintings. It is the tradition that the family lives in the castle throughout September and hosts many elaborate parties (the castle remains open).

The Castle stands in pretty French-style gardens, with flowers, herbs, and aviaries. A very special feature is the rose garden containing 79 different types of roses – including several rare and exceptionally beautiful varieties.

Submitted by Chrysoula from Historic European Castles.

Photo: Dean and Laynni, Routinely Nomadic

Peles Castle, Romania

One of the most famous and magical castles in Europe, Peles Castle, is one of the more beautiful buildings in Romania, which is definitely saying something. Located in the gorgeous ski resort town of Sinaia in the famous Transylvania region, Peles Castle boasts a classic look and unique, elegant Neo-Renaissance architecture.

Commissioned by King Carol and initially completed in 1883, it remains lovingly maintained today. While views of the castle from the surrounding gardens (which are free to visit) should be the focus of any visit to Peles Castle, paying to explore the lavish interior (30 lei = €6) is also highly recommended, although you do have to see it as part of a guided group. Some of the top highlights are the teak furniture of the Music Room, the fascinating frescoes of the Theatre Hall, the stained glass of the Hall of Honour, and the classic weaponry of the Grand and Small Armouries.

Another unique feature that sets Peles Castle apart from the stiff competition in this part of the world is the enchanting Pelisor Castle, located on the same grounds. This slightly smaller – yet still highly picturesque – sister castle was built by King Carol’s successor, King Ferdinand, and his wife, Queen Marie. It is an interesting mix of Byzantine and Celtic architecture, the latter owing to Queen Marie’s Scottish heritage.

Located in the heart of the spectacular Bucegi Mountains, there are plenty of terrific outdoor activities to combine with your visit to the castle, including outstanding hiking and mountain biking, or wonderfully scenic cable car rides for those looking for a less strenuous route to the best viewpoints.

Dean and Laynni at Routinely Nomadic have been traveling nearly full-time since 2008, hitting 76 countries and all 7 continents along the way. Their latest focus is on long-term stays in outdoor adventure destinations.

Photo: Pedro Albuquerque, Flickr

Ehrenberg Castle, Austria

The Ehrenberg castles and fortifications sit on a promontory high above the town of Reutte in the Ausserfern region of the Austrian Tyrol.

Originally constructed to guard one of the important trade routes through Austria to present-day Germany, the castles were rebuilt and extended during conflicts in the Middle Ages with the Bavarian neighbors.

Not only were they located at an important strategic position on the borders of the Tyrol, but whoever controlled the trade route received important income from the tolls and other fees that they could charge merchants on the trail.

As military strategy changed, the concept of impressive ‘castle-style’ fortifications fell into disfavor and the Ehrenberg ruins were left to decay in the winter snows until local inhabitants led a successful campaign to restore the historic buildings.

Visitors can now hike to the highest ruins, the Schlosskopf, and admire the wonderful panorama over the town of Reutte and the valley of the Lech river as it flows towards the German border. The Schlosskopf also offers great views onto the oldest buildings, the original Ehrenberg Castle, where the history goes back to the 13th century. Those who would rather not face the climb can also reach the castle by a funicular railway.

An airy suspension bridge, not for those with a fear of heights, links a third fort that protected the hill on the other side of the valley. There are charges for the funicular, the suspension bridge, and the car parking, but the entrance to the ruins themselves is free (unless one of the regular ‘tournament’ re-enactments is being held).

Contributed by Steve Rout of Austria Direct.

Photo: Adriana Plotzerová, Svatbeni.cz

Karštejn Castle, Czech Republic

Karštejn is one of the most visited and most magical castles in the Czech Republic. It is a majestic Gothic castle, strategically placed on a hill overlooking the beautiful Czech forests. Karlštejn holds an exceptional position among Czech castles because it was founded in 1348 by the Czech king and Roman Emperor – Charles IV as a private residence and a safe place for the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire.

You can still find the replica of the famous St. Wenceslas crown there, which is a crown of Czech kings. In the Chapel of  Holy Cross, there is a world unique paint collection of Master Theodoric, the court painter of Charles IV. The chapel of Holy Cross was a very safe place because it was locked by 9 locks and protected by four thick iron-plated doors!

Nowadays, Karlštejn can be visited every day except Mondays, and there are several guided tours to choose from, depending on your interest and preferences. You can visit just the Great tower or join longer tours to explore representative rooms of Emperor Charles IV, or choose the most exclusive tour which takes you even to the famous Chapel of Holy Cross.

Karlštejn Castle can be easily reached by train from Prague Main Station (Praha Hlavní nádraží) in only 40 minutes. If you have extra time, you can do a nice walking trip from Karlštejn Castle to quarries Velká Amerika and Malá Amerika. It’s about 5 kilometers to get to the lake at Velká Amerika quarry.

Contributed by Adriana Plotzerová from Svatbeni.cz, a wedding and honeymoon destination site. 

Photo: Melissa, Parenthood and Passports

Ice Castles

While most castles are built from stone, one particular “castle” found in North America is known as the castle that melts. Ice Castles is a magical winter wonderland built entirely from ice each winter. Although it doesn’t resemble a typical castle, the winter attraction built from handcrafted, hand-placed icicles, is a majestic fortress worth visiting.

With ice caves, tunnels, fountains, slides, and thrones built for an ice king or queen, Ice Castles is only around during the months of January, February, and in a good winter, parts of March.

Because the castle is built and rebuilt winter after winter, the company that creates the attraction has multiple Ice Castles locations in the United States and Canada, all found in cold-weather climates like Utah, Colorado, New England, the Midwest, and Alberta.

Often compared to Elsa’s castle in the Disney movie ‘Frozen’, Ice Castles is a fun and picturesque place to visit for people of all ages, but this winter playground is especially popular for those traveling with kids. The acre-sized attraction is an other-worldly experience where you’ll walk between massive towers of spiraling ice and beneath archways of icicles that dangle overhead like chandeliers. At night the ice glows brilliant shades of blue, pink, and purple, as LED lights embedded in the ice slowly change colors, creating an enchanting atmosphere to wander and let your imagination run wild.

Although Ice Castles would be beautiful any time of year, perhaps part of what makes this attraction one of the most magical castles around the world is that it can only be experienced for a few weeks each year.

Contributed by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports.

Disney Castles

It is no surprise that the castle at each Disney Park is a flagship attraction. Cinderella Castle is the icon at the center of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Sleeping Beauty Castle is the icon for Disneyland. Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (the Castle of the Beauty in a Sleeping Wood) is iconic at Disneyland Paris. The Castle of Magical Dreams is the highlight at Hong Kong Disneyland, and last but not least, the Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland.

Disney castles have all been inspired by real castles that are scattered around the globe but are just as mesmerizing themselves. It is hard to not feel that same magic when you’re standing in front of a Disney castle that you would feel elsewhere at another grand castle. The castles that inspired these Disney versions are not always castles, but rather hotels and fortresses of war.

Disney castles are even inspiring when lit up at night, with their jaw-dropping firework shows that are also full of projections, lasers, and lights. Also, running through the castle during a RunDisney event is another magical feeling like no other.

Each of Disney’s magical castles has its own charm and are special places to witness. While they may not be full of interesting history like the magical castles that inspire them, they still deserve their own iconic status and they all encompass that indescribable Disney magic.


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