Creative Content Writer & former Tour Guide at HAGGiS Adventures. Scottish travel blogger and adventure lover. Kay enjoys travelling Scotland solo, and has visited 42 Scottish Islands. She loves to live up to stereotypes by dying her hair ginger, and regularly consuming haggis and whisky. A Scottish history geek and all-around chatterbox, she can literally talk for Scotland.
Awesome European Castles
In a world that’s changing so quickly, it’s nice to take a wee trip back in time by visiting some of the most important historical structures in Europe. In the not so distant past, tribes from across Europe were always trying to raid and invade each other’s territories. The best line of defense? A fortified castle.
Despite being centuries old, some of Europe’s most amazing castles still stand tall and proud today. But which ones should you explore? Here’s our pick of the best.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
If you’re asked to imagine a Scottish castle, Eilean Donan is probably the image that springs to mind. This beautifully restored castle dates back to the 13th century. Architecture aside, you’ll be amazed by the surrounding highland landscapes and its natural defensive system. Eilean Donan is enclosed by Loch Dutch, Loch Alsh and Loch Long. The scenery here alone makes Eilean Donan well worth a visit.
If this castle seems strangely familiar, it’s probably because it’s featured in blockbuster hits such as Highlander and The World is Not Enough.
Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
Hohenzollern Castle looks as if it belongs in a fairy tale, not just because of its architectural style but also its surrounding landscapes. Thanks to its hilltop location, you can see as far as 100km on a clear day. It’s not the oldest of European castles (the current structure was built in 1850), but it’s certainly one of the prettiest. Hohenzollern Castle is just a few miles out of Stuttgart, so if you’re in the city make sure you take a day trip out there.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Before we move away from Scotland, we need to give Edinburgh Castle a mention. The original site of this impressive structure dates back to the Late Bronze Age, though the looming fortress you can see and visit today was constructed during the 12th century.
Edinburgh has changed dramatically over the past nine centuries, but the Castle still dominates the city skyline. Go on a guided tour to learn about the battles that took place near this stronghold. Whether you decide to go inside or just observe the castle from below, make sure you include a visit to Edinburgh Castle when planning your trip to Scotland.
Castillo de Coca, Spain
Castillo de Coca is a combination of Gothic, Western and Moorish architectural styles, giving it a unique appearance. Built in the 15th century, it’s one of the best examples of Spanish Mudejar brickwork. Unlike most fortifications constructed around the same time, Castillo de Coca doesn’t sit atop a rocky outcrop. Instead, it’s defended by a moat and a three-tier defence system.
Castillo de Coca has been a national symbol since the 1920s. Areas that are open for public tours include the weapons room, the central keep and the chapel. Trust us – you don’t even need to go inside this castle to be amazed by it (but we recommend that you do).
Dunrobin Castle, Scotland
At a first glance, you wouldn’t believe this castle belongs to Scotland! The French-inspired architecture looks like something from a fairytale, thanks to its turrets and vibrant gardens. Dunrobin Castle is the ancestral home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, and there are recordings of the castle as early as the 13th century. A magical stop on our 7-day Coast to Coast tour.
Burg Kreuzenstein, Austria
If you plan a trip to Austria, you should add the Burg Kreuzenstein to your itinerary. It’s just six or so miles from Vienna, meaning it’s the perfect destination for a day trip from the capital. Burg Kreuzenstein was built in the Romanesque style during the 12th century. It’s had many medieval features added from the far reaches of Europe since, which is why we believe it’s one of the most visit-worthy castles in Austria.