It’s been a while since my last blog post. A lot has happened. A dear friend came to visit, and I’ll have some subsequent blog posts about some great ideas for staycations around Arizona at a later date. But what has really kept me away from this blog is the fact that I broke my arm in September. And, let’s face it, a broken arm means it is very difficult to type. But now I’m back, and I want to finish up the second part of my post about my favorite castles in Europe.
Last time, I explored castles in Romania, Austria, Spain, Denmark, and Switzerland. Check out that blog post here. Now, I’m going to share with you five other castles that I very much enjoyed.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany was one I wanted to visit since I was a young girl. In college, I had a poster of the castle on my wall. (Yeah some people have their favorite bands, mine were all travel inspirations.) Well, I finally visited it, and let me tell you the outside was just as stunning as the poster. Inside, they didn’t allow photos which was a bummer. There were lots of unique rooms, and I enjoyed the tour, but I thought it was slightly overrated. I think it’s one of those places you should absolutely see once, and then move on to something else. It was a few hours by train from Munich. The train ride was fine, but then you have to take a walk or a carriage ride up to the castle. Again, not a big deal, the scenery is nice.
If you want to go to one of the most picturesque places in Europe (or maybe one of the top 5 greatest places in the world), look no further than Slovenia. And, when you go, be sure to hit up Bled Castle. First of all, the town of Bled rates number 1 in my book. The castle, while not as ornate or as interesting as some of the other castles in Europe, is set within a stunning backdrop.
High up on a hill, you can look up at it towering on a cliff above the lake, or when you go to the top and visit, you can see stunning views of the lake and the church on an island in the middle of the lake. Lake Bled took my breath away, and visiting the castle was a bonus. To get there, we hiked through a path in the forest before arriving. That was a nice touch. And, while you are in the area, you MUST visit Vintgar Gorge which is an easy walk to see some beautiful landscapes and of course try the Bled Crème Cake. I’m still dreaming about that.
Number 8 you say? Why so low? Why not number 1? The Palace of Versailles was another one of those places that I always wanted to visit. I was sad I missed out on it during my first visit to France. Last summer, however, while in Paris, we decided to spend a day there exploring the palace and its immense gardens. To get there, it is an easy train ride from Paris. We had a weirdo on the train that kept burping which was unfortunate, but I did enjoy looking out the window and seeing the scenery on the way out there. The town is enjoyable enough – lots of cafes and little shops. I would have liked to have spent more time here. We bought our tickets ahead of time, but still had to wait in a massive line, and let me tell you, this was a downer. Once we got in, it was very crowded and you shuffled around from room to room. Sure many of the rooms were impressive, but after a while, they all sort of blend together. The Hall of Mirrors was what I expected, but I liked the room with the portraits of all of the great battles. And, with so many people, it really wasn’t that enjoyable to explore.
Now where the palace really shined was the gardens. Oh this was incredible. To just walk around out there and explore. They were having a water show the day we were there, but it seemed that the timing just didn’t work out.
We visited Marie Antoinette’s little country home and palace (Petite Trianon), and that was fun to see. I loved seeing all the little buildings meant to look like a French village. Can you imagine to have that life and to be able to just go hang out in your village in the backyard?!
We ate a baguette at the onsite café and sat out under the trees. It was wonderful. Prices were not as expensive as I expected them to be. Because our time in Paris was limited, we couldn’t stay all day, and wanted to get back to hit a few more Parisian sites before we had to leave the next day. I definitely do recommend visiting the Palace of Versailles, but if you are tight on time, you might want to give it a miss and save it for a longer trip.
Also known as Hamlet’s Castle, this was one of the first castles I visited in Europe. A friend and I took the train up from Copenhagen to check this place out. It looked just like I imagined it. An imposing castle with a wall set by the water built in the 1500’s. I enjoyed seeing the various rooms – imagining what it might have been like to have gone to a ball in the ballroom, etc. But perhaps the most memorable part of my visit was seeing Holger Dankse underneath the castle. Holger Danske is a Danish hero and is asleep. We were told that legend says he will wake up and raise his sword when Denmark is threatened by enemies. I bought a magnet of Holger which current resides on the side of my fridge. This castle is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting Denmark. It’s an easy daytrip from Copenhagen.
So many think of Dracula when they think of Romania. And honestly, there is SO much more to Romania than Dracula. I already told you about my favorite castle, Peles Castle, but while you are in the area, you should also check out Bran Castle. It’s referred to Dracula’s Castle and dates to the 1200s. And, outside of the castle, you’ll find all sorts of Vlad the Impaler items, but there really isn’t a tie to Dracula though Vlad the Impaler might have passed through on a visit a few times. It does look like something you might imagine from a Dracula movie, however. There isn’t much inside in the way of furnishings or memorabilia, but you do have a nice view of the countryside, and it’s worth stretching your legs and taking a peak, especially if you are in Transylvania. It was a cold winter day when I visited, and I’m not going to lie, a little spooky.
There you have my favorite castles and palaces in Europe. If you are looking for some other cool sites to see, I also recommend Chateau Fontainbleau, France; the fortified medieval town of Carcassonne in France, and a castle in Thun, Switzerland.