I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my travels, especially my travels to Europe as I look toward planning future trips. What is it I still want so see in Europe? What do I enjoy seeing? There is so much, but one thing that peaks my interest are castles and palaces. Therefore, I’m going to recap my top 10 favorite castles and palaces in Europe. Today, we will start with my top 5.
1. Peles Castle, Romania
2. Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Chillon Castle, Switzerland
4. Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
5. Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
1. Peles Castle
My ultimate favorite castle is Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania. Talk about incredible. We went several years ago in April, and when our driver pulled up to the castle, it was covered in a fog. Talk about spooky, but cool. We walked up, and because it wasn’t tourist season, we didn’t have to wait. And, our English speaking tour was just us. So we donned our little construction booties and took off to tour the castle. We saw all the old armor, the library, and more. Read more about the history of the castle here. We asked if there were secret passage ways and were told there wasn’t, but I’m guessing there were. It wouldn’t be a real castle without them, right?! It was the most enjoyable site I visited in Romania, and I highly recommend checking out Peles Castle if you are traveling through Transylvania.
2. Rosenborg Castle
Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen was my first castle experience in Europe. I remember my friend taking me there one afternoon, and I was just in awe of this 400 year-old castle. The coolest part of this experience? Seeing the crown jewels. That was fantastic! I found it more rewarding to see than the crown jewels later in the trip at the Tower of London. Check out the gardens and stand in the rooms and imagine what it must have been like to live there. It’s worth the visit. While you are in Copenhagen, be sure to stop by Amalienborg Palace and watch the changing of the guards at 12 p.m. every day.
3. Chillon Castle
Chillon Castle in Switzerland is a treat to visit. When planning to visit Switzerland, I looked up cities I wanted to visit and sites to see. Chillon is situated on Lake Geneva near Montreux. The setting was just jaw-dropping. I could only imagine what it would have been to live in this castle, which has elements that date back to around 1005. We wandered through and really enjoyed taking in the views of the lake. The inside wasn’t as stunning as it could be, but we still found it enjoyable. Switzerland has an efficient train system that allows you to quickly get around while also see some great views. We visited this on a daytrip from Thun, I’m sure you go do the same from many other Swiss cities.
4. Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna is a must visit. This place is huge. My mother and I went last February. It’s a short train ride from Vienna City Center. It’s also very much populated with tourists so go early as it gets crowded. I bet the grounds would have been even more spectacular in the spring and summer. I walked up the hill to get a great view of Vienna and the palace. Inside, there were ornate areas. I enjoyed the Great Gallery and the Blue Chinese Room. After visiting the Royal Apartment in Vienna the day before, I was a bit palaced out, but it was cool to see all the different rooms and learn more about the life of Emperor Fran’s Joseph and Elizabeth and Marie Therese and her family.
5. The Royal Palace
When in Madrid, I highly recommend taking a tour of the Royal Palace. While you can only visit a very small amount of 3,000 rooms in this Palace, the guided tour was insightful, and you get a good look into how the Spanish royalty lived back in the day. They also offer self-guided tours and audio guides. It’s a very ornate Palace, and photography is only allowed in certain areas. I liked the armory and the royal library.
Coming up next time, some of my other favorites in Slovenia, Germany and beyond.