Castles can make for pretty fascinating days out.
Having stood tall for centuries they offer a glimpse into history, often house quirky artifacts, and sometimes just offer spectacular architecture and views.
But there are some castles that just have that extra ‘wow’ factor, looking like something directly from a storybook – some have even inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle .
The good news is that they’re not actually from a land far, far away – in fact, they’re closer to home and can be found all over Europe, in the likes of France, Spain and Germany.
Think tall towers, spectacular settings and jaw-dropping architectural feats, which you can go and visit.
We take a look at some of Europe’s most beautiful castles you won’t want to miss…
1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Named after the Swan Knight from one of Wagner’s opera characters, this Bavarian castle has some serious fairytale credentials.
Think high towers, opulent interiors, beautiful gardens and even a two-storey Throne Room (which ironically doesn’t contain a throne).
This 19th century castle was originally built to be a home for King Ludwig II, but he only spent a grand total of 11 nights in the castle. It was opened to the public weeks after his death in 1886.
It’s incredibly cheap to visit, with tickets starting from €1.80 per person (Approx £1.62). There are also plenty of guided tours on offer which last approximately 30 minutes.
Stay nearby: You can find rooms in nearby Munich from £36 a night on Lastminute.com .
2. Windsor Castle, UK
The Queen lives there for a month each year, usually from March through to April, but the rest of the time the castle tends to be open to the public, unless there are special events.
(It’s worth double checking the dates you’re planning to visit).
Highlights include the opulent State Apartments and Grand Reception room, as well as Queen Mary’s Doll House , built to be an exact replica of the castle as possible, filled with thousands of miniature items from the 1920s.
Stay nearby: We’ve got a round-up of the best hotels in Windsor for a quintessentially British weekend with prices from £86 per night.
3. Mont St Michel, France
The medieval abbey of this island commune has long drawn in visitors from all over the world thanks to its spectacular Gothic architecture and fortifications.
Located in Normandy, you can reach the island by shuttle bus or on foot, where you’ll find plenty of local shops and restaurants, and even a few hotels.
Stay nearby: TripAdvisor has a round-up of cheap hotels in Mont St Michel with prices from £53 per night.
4. Château de Chaumont, France
Founded in the 10th century this beautiful château in Chaumont-sur-Loire boasts some seriously beautiful apartments to visit, as well as landscaped gardens.
Not to mention the turrets and intricate architecture look like this could be straight from a storybook.
The stables are also well worth a visit – there are plenty of luxurious touches include a display of harnesses designed by high end brand Hermes!
Tickets start from €18.00 per adult and €6.00 per child during high season (May through to November).
Stay nearby: Booking.com has hotels close to the castle which cater to a wide range of budgets.
5. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
Located south of Hechingen, Hohenzollern Castle overlooks the landscape from its hilltop location, and could easily be something from a fantasy film set.
Highlights include the Treasury packed with everything from delicate china to snuff boxes which belonged to Frederick the Great, and the Prussian Royal crown.
Guided tours of the castle last approximately 45 minutes
Adult tickets from €12, child tickets from €6 and family tickets from €28 for admission to the complex and the interior rooms.
Stay nearby: Hotels.com can be a good source for cheap hotels near Hohenzollern Castle .
6. Chateau de Chambord, France
This majestic castle’s French Renaissance architecture has made it one of the most recognisable in France – and it’s not difficult to see why it keeps attracting crowds of visitors.
Located in Loir-et-Cher, you can easily spend a whole day exploring the castle grounds, opulent interiors and the surrounding estate with its lush park and fun activities (think boat rides and cycling paths).
Adult tickets from €14.50, children under 18 go free. Adults aged 18-25 who are members of the European Union also go free.
Stay nearby: Expedia offers cheap hotels nearby with prices from £45 per night.
7. Pena Palace, Portugal
This spectacular 19th century Romanticist castle, sits in the Sintra hills and offers opulent interiors, intricate architecture, ornate furniture, hidden pathways, landscaped gardens… the list goes on and on.
Oh, and then there are the incredible views of the landscape to take in too!
A word of warning – this is a hugely popular attraction that can get busy so go early if you can to try and beat the crowds.
Adult tickets start from €14 for both the park and palace, while child tickets start from €12.50.
Stay nearby: If you’re making Lisbon your base then check out our top picks of cheap hotels in the Portuguese capital for a budget-friendly break.
8. Castle of Coca, Spain
Built in the 15th century by Alonso de Fonseca, the archbishop of Seville, you can easily spend a few hours exploring the castle’s square grounds, walled enclosures and moat.
Inside, you’ll find lavish interiors intricate mosaic designs, colourful touches and highlights from the Army Room to the lookout points from which you can take in the spectacular surroundings.
Tickets cost €2.70.
Stay nearby: TripAdvisor has a round-up of cheap hotels in Coca from £36 per night.
9. Pierrefonds Castle, France
Dating back to the 14th century, Pierrefonds Castle is surrounded by dense green forests which makes you feel like you are wondering through a land far, far away.
Hailed to be a ‘castle reborn’, it was taken down in the 17th century and left in ruins until Napoleon III commissioned an architect to rebuild it into the ideal château.
The result? Grandiose halls, picture-perfect rooms with breathtaking views and enviably landscaped gardens.
Tickets cost €8.
Stay nearby: Whether you’re on a budget or after something a little more special, Hotels.com can be a good source for cheap hotels in Pierrefonds .
10. Bran Castle, Romania
Nicknamed ‘Dracula’s Castle’ because of its close location to Transylvania, this castle makes quite a dramatic offering with its burnt orange rooftops and impressive turrets.
Although it’s often associated with the story of Count Dracula it’s not actually the location for Bram Stoker’s novel.
Inside you won’t find any vampires, although there is a museum dedicated to displaying art and furniture.
Tickets cost €8.5.
Stay nearby: Booking.com has a handy round-up of the best hotels near Bran Castle .