With over 2,000 years of rich history, Germany is home to some of the most beautiful castles in the entire world, a country with more than 20,000 palaces, forts and manors, just waiting to be discovered.
Whether you’re a history buff, just appreciate beautiful architecture or you’re into photography, then castle visits must be on your bucket list.
If you’re not sure which places you should visit first, we’ve made a list with the 15 most beautiful castles in Germany.
- 15. Glücksburg castle
- 14. Burg Altena
- 13. Wartburg Castle
- 12. Löwenburg Castle
- 11. Schönburg Castle
- 10. Mespelbrunn Castle
- 9. Drachenburg Castle
- 8. Hohenschwangau Castle
- 7. Heidelberg Castle
- 6. Reichsburg / Cochem Castle
- 5. Schwerin Castle
- 4. Lichtenstein Castle
- 3. Hohenzollern Castle
- 2. Burg Eltz
- 1. Neuschwanstein Castle
15. Glücksburg castle
One of the most important Renaissance castles located in Northern Europe, the superb Glücksburg Castle sits on the Flensburg Fjord in the town of Glücksburg. It was built on an old monastery site which housed many dukes and nobility since the middle of the 16th century. Since its very close to the Danish border, this castle was also used by many Danish kings throughout history.
Owned by a foundation headed by Christoph, Prince of Schleswig-Holstein, it now operates as a museum which is open to the public. If you happen to be in the vicinity, it’s worth a day trip especially when their gardens are open.
14. Burg Altena
The imposing Altena Castle is located in the small town of Altena, a 40 minute drive from Dortmund. Built in the 12th century on the Klusenberg hill, this medieval castle was owned by the counts of Berg.
The house of Berg eventually abandoned it, the castle was even used as a courthouse and prison at one point in time, and in 1914 Richard Schirmann turned it into a youth hostel, which is still operating today. The hostel is located on the lower castle court yard, while the rest of the rooms have been turned into a museum.
13. Wartburg Castle
This charming hilltop castle, located in the town of Eisenach in central Germany, was designated an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
Over 1,000 years of Germany’s rich history can be still noticed today, as some of its original structures from the 12th and 15th centuries have been beautifully preserved. The interiors were restructured in the 19th century, turning the Wartburg Castle into a must see attraction.
12. Löwenburg Castle
A late 18th century “Castle of Lions “, Löwenburg Castle is a medieval castle which was purposely built as a fortress. Sitting in the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe near the town of Kassel, the Grimm Brothers’ charming city, this castle is also a must see.
From the ruins that have been beautifully preserved to its Baroque style interiors, the armoury and the Neo-Gothic chapel, not to mention the splendid outdoors, this castle offers lots to see.
11. Schönburg Castle
Today, the Schönburg Castle is a fancy hotel-restaurant located in the UNESCO World Heritage site above the medieval town of Oberwesel. Perfect for the foodies, the menu is delectable and their breathtaking views of the Engehöller Valley make it a culinary experience of its own. The building itself has quite a special history as well.
It was first built in the early 900 and it was destroyed in 1689 during the War of the Grand Alliance by French soldiers. It remained in ruins for roughly 200 years when a German-American family restored it, the town council eventually took ownership and since 1957 it is leased to the Hüttl family.
10. Mespelbrunn Castle
About an hour drive from Frankfurt, this late-medieval / early-Renaissance castle is a photographer’s dream. The area around the superb Mespelbrunn Castle is surrounded by woods and the castle sits right on a picturesque lake.
As of today the family of the Counts of Ingelheim are the owners of this magical castle, and still live on-site. Who wouldn’t want that?
9. Drachenburg Castle
This late 19th century private villa / castle, situated about 20 minutes from the city of Bonn and 40 minutes from Cologne, has a very interesting history. If you believe in dragon tales, this one for sure will capture your attention. Siegfried, hero of Nibelungenlied, apparently slayed the dragon Fafnir on those hills, and bathed in his blood to become invulnerable.
Today, the castle is fully restored and opened to the public on the weekends. Its architecture is unique and even though it’s not as big as other castles in this list, it deserves to be ranked as one of the most famous castles in Germany.
8. Hohenschwangau Castle
The mighty Hohenschwangau Castle is not only one of the most beautiful castles on this list, but its surrounding area is truly breathtaking as well. This castle is situated in the county of Ostallgäu, in southwestern Bavaria, close to the Austrian border.
The great King Ludwig ll of Bavaria lived in this palace in the late 19th century. His father King Maximilian ll rebuilt and redecorated the castle in a stunning Gothic Revival style, which is still preserved today.
7. Heidelberg Castle
What makes this castle so popular with tourists? The Heidelberg castle was built in the early 1200s, but was struck by lightning in 1537 and never fully recovered. It still sits on partial ruins, even though the castle was expanded by 1650. In 1764 another lightning bolt destroyed some of the rebuilt sections.
If you’re interested in guided tours of the courtyard, terrace and its surroundings, it is recommended you book your visit in advance, as this is one of the most popular palaces to visit in Germany. For the interior of the palace tickets are available on site.
6. Reichsburg / Cochem Castle
This Imperial Castle thrones over the Mosel River valley above the colorful town of Cochem, and it’s one of the largest medieval castles in the area. If you want that picture-perfect photo and a unique cultural experience, this is the site you may want to visit.
During the summer, there are lots of events which immerse the visitors into the medieval life at the castle, but at Christmas there is a special ‘Cochem Castle Christmas’, with traditional preparations and festivities.
5. Schwerin Castle
Since 1857, the extraordinary Schwerin Castle is state owned, but before that it housed dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg. It is an old castle which dates back to the early 900s, but more records can be found from the 1800s on.
Throughout the centuries this castle went through many updates, and only parts of the building dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries were retained. This beautiful piece of architecture is surrounded by lakes and forests in the northern part of Germany.
4. Lichtenstein Castle
This spectacular Gothic Revival castle is another privately owned castle, and it’s located in southern Germany, about an hour drive from Stuttgart. The unique history of the superb Lichtenstein Castle dates back to the years 1100. It was destroyed at least twice and rebuilt in the 14th century about 500 metres from the original ruins.
It had a few different owners throughout the centuries and went through countless restorations. Its rich history and its picturesque setting is probably the reason why it is one of the most popular castles in Germany.
3. Hohenzollern Castle
Another privately owned castle, the Hohenzollern Castle is the ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern, sitting pretty on top of Mount Hohenzollern, about an hour southwest of Stuttgart. It was originally built in the 11th century and it also went through several updates and restorations.
The last one dates back to 1867, when architect Friedrich August Stüler got his inspiration from the English Gothic Revival architecture and the Château of the Loire Valley. The castle is a must-see not only for its incredible architecture but also for the panoramic views it offers.
2. Burg Eltz
Burg Eltz is probably the world’s most beautiful “Ganerbenburg”, a castle which belongs to several heirs and descendants of the Elz family. This stunning hill castle is very well preserved, a statement of the gorgeous Romanesque and Baroque architectural style.
Two thirds of the castle are open to the public and the third is being used by a branch of the family as their private residence. It is a grandiose palace, hidden in a forest, that’s definitely worthy of a visit.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
This idyllic 19th century Romanesque Revival palace is situated near Füssen in the southwestern part of Bavaria, a few steps away from the Hohenschwangau castle. King Ludwig II of Bavaria built this palace out of his personal funds in honour of Richard Wagner, and today it is state owned. It really is a breathtaking piece, with an architecture that inspired the castle in the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty.
Since it is a very popular attraction, their rules for guided tours and photos are pretty strict, but there are a few special platforms from where you can take that picture-perfect photo.
This is a guide meant to show you the endless possibilities of beautiful castles to visit in Germany. It can definitely get overwhelming, but depending what your itinerary is, you are bound to find one on your next trip.