Top Castles To Visit In Germany

February 14, 2020

Germany is famous for its rich history and charming castles which have inspired stories from Frankenstein to Sleeping Beauty. Feel like you’re starring in your own fairytale with a visit to some of the most charming, gothic and spooky castles you’ll ever see, you can even stay the night in one! Here’s our run down of the best.

1. Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle seems to appear out of the lake like a mirage. Originally built as a remote farmhouse in the 1100s, fortifications and a tower were added in 1427. Surrounded by water, it’s not the usual sort of castle one might think of but it carries it’s own mystical charm and beauty. Located within the Spessart forest between Frankfurt and Würzburg, the castle is privately owned so don’t expect bustling tours and coach loads of tourists. In fact, if you’re not bothered about seeing inside, a visit here might be a more tranquil affair than some of the busier castles in Germany. A walk through the castle grounds is a delight and available all year round and if you’d like to see inside, the owners open their doors to visitors throughout the year.


2. Lichtenstein Castle

Inspired by Wilhelm Hauff’s novel “Lichtenstein” Count Wilhelm of Württemberg had Lichtenstein Castle built in 1840-42. The neo – Gothic castle is located on a clifftop in the Swabian Alps near Honau and is accessible via a stone bridge. It is composed of a chapel, an ample garden and a romantic courtyard, as well as several turrets and a fortresses. It was built to honour the medieval knights and now houses a museum of historic weapons and armour.

There are several hiking routes surrounding the castle, a ropes course through the tops of the trees for the outdoorsy types and an Old Forester’s Lodge close by for a bite to eat.


3. Schwerin Castle

Sitting on its own island in the middle of a lake, the 19th century Schwerin Castle is surrounded by glassy water and lush forests, making it the perfect relaxing residence for grand dukes, as it was originally built for. Since then it has been used as a teacher’s college, a museum and even a hospital. Surely staying somewhere like this would make you feel better!

Today the castle serves as a museum and as a government building for the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament

Take a stroll through its grounds, considered one of the most impressive baroque gardens in northern Germany. Make your way through the castle’s magnificent halls and rooms seeing painting, hunting weapons and fine china and silver. If you’re lucky, you might even see the resident ghost!


4. Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg castle is a hotchpotch of architectural styles thanks to its turbulent history. One of the most important renaissance structures north of the Alps, the earliest castle to be built here was in the 13th century and was destroyed during the Thirty Years War. In the 17th century the French plundered it and it was struck by lightning in 1764. The various rebuilding over time has created a charmingly unique castle with a rich blend of architectural styles.


5. Neuschwanstein Castle

Nestled in the Bavarian Alps, overlooking Hohenschwangau Valley sits one of the most photographed castles in the world. Neuschwanstein Castle was never built for defence but more as a relaxing retreat for Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Used as a model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle and flown over in the famous Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, it has now become a symbol of a typical ‘fairytale castle.’

Explore the decadently decorated rooms within the castle, marvel at the beauty of the exterior and head behind the castle to Mary’s Bridge which crosses a waterfall. For some breathtaking views which you can capture on camera, walk up to the Marienbrücke (the suspension footbridge behind the castle).


6. Hohenschwangau Castle

Before he built Neuschwanstein Castle, Ludwig II grew up in another stunning abode, Hohenschwangau Castle. The bright orange castle is decorated with scenes from medieval legends and poetry and was used as a hunting lodge and summer palace by his father Maximillian II. The stunning neo-Gothic castle sits atop a hill looking over the town below. The mountain setting provided hours of activity for Queen Marie of Bavaria who would hike in the hills until she died. Over 300,000 visitors pass through the castle each year and guided tours are available in multiple languages.


7. Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz is only one of three medieval castles in the Rhine region that hasn’t been destroyed or rebuilt over time. Nestled in the hills above the Moselle River, it sits atop the hill like a fairytale castle and it has been in the same family since 1157.

It sits in the heart of the Eltz Forest, a protected nature reserve filled with natural beauty, rare flora and fauna and great hiking routes.

During weekends over the summer you can get to the castle by bus. However, if you want to visit outside of these times, you can hire a rental car or hike from nearby Moselkern. Hiking to Burg Eltz is an authentic way of seeing the medieval castle in all its fairytale form as thousands of others have done in centuries gone by.


8. Burg Frankenstein

Burg Frankenstein is a hilltop castle overlooking the city of Darmstadt. It was originally built in 1250 and provided the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein. While on a cruise down the Rhine river, Shelley heard of the local folklore regarding Johann Conrad Dippel, an alchemist who set up a lab in the castle and produced animal oils he would sell which he promoted as the elixir of life. Shelley was no stranger to fairytales either, as her step-mother was a translator for the Brothers Grimm who are famous for their dark tales.

These days annual Halloween parties take place in the castle and the onsite restaurant regularly holds medieval banquets and spooky dinners. You can even get married there!


9. Wartburg Castle

The UNESCO World Heritage Wartburg Castle, has a rich history, starting from its beginnings in 1067. By the 13th Century, it became one of the most important castles in the region after attracting many famous poets and hosting the annual Minstrels’ Contest. In 1521, religious icon Martin Luther stayed there after his ex-communication from the Pope and completed his translation of the bible in just 10 weeks.

Today you can see the medieval banquet hall where the Minstrels Contest would have taken place and where summer concerts are now performed, the room where Martin Luther stayed and worked as well as many beautiful frescoes and intricate designs around the castle.


10. Schönburg Castle

Have you ever wanted to stay overnight in a fairytale castle? You can at Schönburg Castle which is now a family run hotel.

For many centuries the castle was well preserved thanks to it being kept in the same family and at one point in the 1300s there were 250 people from 24 families living there – that’s plenty of people to do the housework!

Sitting high above the Rhine river, a stay here is a true retreat, with traditional furnishings, a medieval banquet hall, terraces overlooking the river and a beautiful castle garden to explore.

The Tower Museum gives visitors an insight into the rich 700 year history of the castle too!


Visit the castles of Germany on a ferry crossing with DFDS. We run several routes to Europe including Dover-France and Newcastle-Amsterdam. Find out more here.

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