If you’re a history buff or just love castles, consider organizing your travel around a European castles tour. Where to begin? Germany. The country has approximately 25,000 castles. From the Rhine to the Moselle to Bavaria, you’ll find fairytale castles with stunning architecture, captivating stories and gorgeous gardens. Here our some of our favorites to work into your Germany castle tour.
- Originally, the Neuschwanstein Castle – which translates to New Swan Stone castle – was named New Hohenschwangau Castle. It is thought to be a recreation – on a much grander scale – of Hohenschwangau Castle, in which Ludwig II grew up. That original Schloss Hohenschwangau now sits near Neuschwanstein Castle.
- The highest tower at Neuschwanstein Castle is 213 feet tall – not all that high, but the castle’s hilltop perch makes it appear even taller.
- The castle was originally planned to have more than 200 rooms, but just over a dozen were actually completed.
- It is believed that the white and deep blue Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for the Disney castle in Cinderella. It also bears a striking resemblance to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland.
Visit the Castle:
You may only visit the Neuschwanstein Castle as part of a guided, 14-room tour. A member of the Bavarian Palace Administration will lead German- and English-speaking guests, while audio guide tours are offered in a number of other languages. You’ll visit the cave-like grotto, the king’s bedroom, the Singer’s Hall, the Dressing Room with its magnificent ceiling mural, the two-story Throne Room and more. After your guided tour, there will be time to explore the wooded trails around the castle grounds.
Visit the castle anytime of year, recognizing that the most visitors flock here during the summer months of July and August. Get to the ticket center very early or after 3 PM in the afternoon to avoid the crowds (or purchase your ticket online). The least busy time for a visit is between November and April. Castle tickets cost a little over $14 for adults and include the guided tour; tickets for those under age 18 are free.
The castle boasts 635 separate rooms, all exquisitely detailed with balustrades, oriels, columns and gold ornamentation. The throne room, ancestor gallery and magnificent living and ball rooms will wow you. The Schwerin Castle Museum shows off precious artwork and crafts collected by the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg, Schwerin’s most glamorous time period, including a newly opened silver chamber, ducal hunting and parade weaponry and a porcelain collection.
- Some believe that the Schwerin Castle is haunted by a friendly ghost named Petermannchen, who dresses in 17th-century clothing and carries several sets of keys with him. He wanders about the castle and unlocks doors, while protecting against intruders.
- The palace garden is practically as impressive as the castle. It spreads out from the main structure and includes an orangery, grotto and colonnaded courtyard. Enjoy a bite to eat at the restaurant that now sits on the octagonal pavilion from the early 19th-century.
Visit the Castle:
Purchase tickets to visit the castle at the museum office. Take the guided tour to get the most information about the castle, its precious objects and its many rooms. Audio guides are available in a number of languages. The entrance fee is EUR 8.50 per person. The castle is open daily April to October, 10 AM to 6 PM, and for slightly truncated hours in the winter.
Within the Castle Garden, you’ll see the only preserved building of the Stauferburg. Read about the structure and foundation of it in front of the Blasius Chapel. Moving past the castle, you’ll see a private residence and, in the middle of the English park ground, a small Baroque-style garden. Look for the Staufer Column on the north side of the Castle Garden, next to the chapel. The Chapel of St. Blaise is now a memorial to the fallen of both World Wars. Look, too, for the copy of the medieval pogrom stone (the original is in the Rothenburg Museum). The memorial stone honors the death of Middle Ages Jewish citizens who died during the Rindtfleisch pogrom in 1298. Continue through the castle grounds to the former gardener’s house and beyond it to see numerous statues and fragrant flowerbeds.
For further exploration, take the short hike from the Castle Garden to Detwang, with its church and wooden altar by Tilman Riemenschneider. There are other castles that peek out of the trees if you look closely enough, including Toppler Castle.
- Interestingly enough, the castle that was here in the 12th century did not actually have a garden!
- The Hohenstaufen family built their imperial castle here in 1142. King Conrad III was the only ruler to actually use the Rothenburg Castle. The settlement spread out from the castle to include more than 6,000 inhabitants, making it one of the ten largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire.
Visit the Castle Garden:
Rothenburg’s Castle Garden is open all day, every day, with the exception of during the fireworks display on Saturday of Imperial City Days.
erched upon a 200-foot-high rock and towering above miles of luscious Romanian landscape, Bran Castle is one of the most gorgeous and fascinating strongholds in the whole of Europe.
Very much famous and renowned for its association with the myth surrounding Bram Stoker’s iconic novel Dracula, Bran Castle exudes Gothic charm, and has a vast and thrilling heritage, making it the perfect spot for those with an interest in history, or even just those who can appreciate some exquisite architecture and breath-taking views.
Here is everything that you will need to know when planning a visit to Dracula’s castle in Romania.
Perhaps the greatest attraction of Eltz Castle is its remarkable architecture – the bay windows, half-timbered structures and mansard roofs, all so representative of the medieval castle. Within the inner courtyard, you can see evidence of 500 years of Eltz family building history and how three family lines lived together in a tight space. Visit the armory and treasury, renowned throughout Europe for its porcelain, jewelry, glass, ivory, coins, weapons, gold and silver dating back through 850 years of family ownership. In the Knight’s Hall, you’ll see the original coat of arms frieze and important armor. Marvel at the mostly unchanged Rodendorf kitchen, which will conjure up images of bustling cooks in the Middle Ages.
- The Eltz Castle and the namesake family are named after the Elzbach, which refers to the black alder trees typical of river valleys.
- Heads of fools were hung on the walls of the Knight’s Hall, standing for freedom of speech during the Middle Ages.
- The “rose of silence” is also in the Knight’s Hall and in the canopy of the bed in the Rubenach bedroom – it symbolizes a promise that whatever is said in that room stays in that room.
- Between 1961 and 1995, Eltz Castle was portrayed on the 500-DM note.
Visit the Castle:
Castle tours begin at regular intervals in the upper castle courtyard. Translations are available in several languages. Guided tours in English are offered as required. A separate ticket is required for the treasure chamber.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the visit to this medieval castle is the approach. From a lower parking lot, you can walk a gently sloping footpath (easiest option if walking). Or, take the road from the parking lot (best for strollers, and also serviced by shuttle bus). If you want a more demanding hike, opt for the Eltzer Burgpanorama. The trail leads around Eltz Castle, through the Elzbachtal, the Eltzer Forest and the southern heights of the Maifeld. Other options include the “Romantic Elzbach,” a 35-minute hike from Ringelsteiner Muhle in Moselkern, along the Elzbach, through the Eltzer Wald nature reserve, to Eltz Castle; the Vom Mudener Berg zur Burg Eltz, a steep, 35-minute hike that showcases neighboring castles; the Karden path with views of the Moselle, Hunsruck and Maifeld von Karden; and the hiking trail between Burg Eltz and Burg Pyrmont through the Elz Valley.
The castle was originally built as a residence in 1412 and later fortified with towers, walls and a moat. The only remaining structure from the 15th century is the castle’s round tower. The family of the Counts of Ingelheim still reside in the southern wing of the castle – the main rooms are open to the public.
During a guided tour of Mespelbrunn Castle, you’ll have opportunity to see the red sandstone Knight’s Hall, the late Gothic-style chapel, the Banquet Hall and its large collection weapons, the Ancestors Hall, the bedroom and more.
- The castle has been remodeled many times since 1412, but most of the current structure was built by Peter Echter between 1551 and 1569.
- The Castle remained in the Echter Family until the last male in their line, in 1665. Then by marriage, the Counts of Ingelheim took over ownership.
- The castle is one of the few in Germany to have survived the 30-Years War.
Visit the Castle:
Visitors may take guided tours of the interior of the castle only. You can certainly visit the Mespelbrunn Castle grounds and courtyard without a tour, but consider joining one if you’d like to see inside. Purchase tickets at the stand just outside the property (EUR 5 per person). The tour is only given in German, but there are printed materials for purchase in major languages.