Fans of breathtaking historic architecture are spoiled for choice in the UK. From the regal brilliance of Windsor to the fairytale towers of Dunrobin, our shores are home to some of the best castles in the world.

However, with so many spectacular ones to visit close by, it’s easy to forget that there are also plenty of captivating castles abroad.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 17 of the most beautiful castles in the world – from Denmark to Japan, India to Lithuania.

1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Nestled in the Bavarian Alps at the top of a rugged hill is Neuschwanstein castle. With its dizzying towers, blue turrets, and white limestone walls, this awe-inspiring fortress looks straight out of a fairytale.

It was commissioned by Bavaria’s ‘mad king’ Ludwig II in 1868, and the final towers were completed in 1892. Today, Neuschwanstein is one of the most visited castles in the world, in no small part due to its famous cameo in 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

But that’s not all Neuschwanstein is famous for. Walt Disney thought it was so beautiful that he modelled his Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty Castles in Disneyland on it.

2. Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle, Romania

Undoubtedly the most famous and iconic castle in Romania, Bran Castle is a 13th-century fortress. Perched on top of a steep cliff, it guards what was the most important mediaeval trade route between the historic regions of Wallachia and Transylvania.

Bran Castle is often referred to as Dracula’s castle, as many believe it to be the inspiration behind the Count’s home in Bram Stoker’s famous novel. And while there’s no evidence that this was the case, it’s not difficult to imagine vampires prowling around its gothic halls.

Construction of the castle was completed in 1388. Over the years, it’s been used as a trading route, military fort, royal residence, and hospital during World War II.

3. Château de Chambord, France

Château de Chambord, France

Set within the largest enclosed park in Europe and surrounded by a 32km wall, France’s Château de Chambord is a magnificent sight to see.

Originally built in 1519 to serve as a hunting lodge for King Francis I – an enthusiastic hunter and lover of the arts – the château became one of the largest and most iconic symbols of the French Renaissance.

Known and admired worldwide for its elegance and opulence, the Château de Chambord has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981.

4. Alhambra Palace and Fortress, Spain

Alhambra Palace and Fortress, Spain

The Alhambra is a famous castle-turned-royal-palace in Spain. Overlooking the lively city of Granada, its exotic design and backdrop of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains make it the most popular attraction in all of Spain.

Construction of the Alhambra occurred between 1238 and 1358, but other sections were also added later in the Renaissance style. Alhambra means ‘the red’ in Arabic, which is likely a reference to the reddish colour of the fortress’ outer walls.

The surrounding park – which is full of beautiful roses, myrtles, and oranges, as well as a dense wood of English elms – makes the Alhambra even more enchanting.

5. Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Matsumoto Castle is one of the most complete, historically rich, and beautiful of all Japan’s original castles.

Its unusual design gives the structure a highly unique look, and its striking black panelling has earned it the nickname ‘Crow Castle’.

Matsumoto’s main body and its second, smaller tower were built between 1592 and 1614. These are both well-fortified because peace in Japan hadn’t been fully achieved at the time they were constructed. However, in 1635, when military threats had passed, a third, barely defended turret was added to the castle, as well as another specifically for moon viewing.

During springtime, Matsumoto Castle and its spacious grounds are popular for spotting cherry blossoms.

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6. Mont Saint-Michel, France

Mont Saint-Michel, France

Located on a magical tidal island within a beautiful bay shared by Brittany and Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel is one of Europe’s most unforgettable sights.

The mount can be spotted from a great distance and is home to a fortified medieval town with winding streets, which lead up to its breathtaking abbey.

Mont Saint-Michel’s well-established defences meant that it remained unconquered by the English during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). Interestingly, it was also used as a state prison during the French Revolution.

The beauty of Mont Saint-Michel has captivated people throughout the centuries – serving as inspiration for various works of art and literature – and more recently in film. Historically, it has also served as one of Europe’s most popular pilgrimage sites.

7. National Palace of Pena, Portugal

National Palace of Pena, Portugal

As one of the world’s greatest expressions of 19th-century romanticism, the National Palace of Pena is famous for its striking colour and decorative design.

It was originally built as a monastery on the site of a medieval chapel. However, following damage sustained by the Great Lisbon earthquake in the 18th century, the castle was reconstructed to serve as a royal residence for King Ferdinand II of Portugal.

In 1889, it was then purchased by the Portuguese State and later classified as a national monument. Today, it’s recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of its hilltop location above the town of Sintra, on a clear day, you can spot the National Palace of Pena all the way from Lisbon.

8. Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Located near the German border of Luxembourg, Vianden Castle is recognised as one of Europe’s greatest historical monuments and the most beautiful castles from the Gothic and Romanesque periods.

The castle’s main structure was built between the 11th and 14th centuries, but its origins date back to the 4th century, when it’s thought to have served as a Roman military camp.

Despite falling to ruins in the 17th century, Vianden Castle was fully restored in 1990.

9. Peleș Castle, Romania

Peleș Castle, Romania

The modern country of Romania was formed in 1859, and its first king, Carol I of Hohenzollern built this next entry as his summer residence between 1873 and 1914.

The architecture largely embraces a neo-Renaissance style, incorporating elements like colonnades and decorative facades. And while you could spend all day taking in Peleș Castle’s marvellous exterior, there’s plenty to discover within its hallowed halls too.

Inside you’ll find a museum showcasing unusual pieces of art like ceramics, clocks, and glassware – much of which belonged to King Carol I’s personal collection.

10. Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania

Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania

Famous for its special location and gothic architecture, Trakai Castle sits on an island in Lake Galve, one of Lithuania’s deepest lakes.

Construction of Trakai Castle began in the 14th century and it served as a residence for the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. And while it fell into ruin during the 17th century, it was successfully rebuilt in 1951.

Using a wooden bridge to reach it, Trakai Castle appears like something out of a dream. In summer, medieval festivals and events are held in the courtyard and, in winter, the lake freezes over to become a magical natural skating rink.

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11. Bojnice Castle, Slovakia

Bojnice Castle, Slovakia

Considered one of Slovakia’s most romantic architectural delights, Bojnice Castle is so breathtaking that many pictures of it fail to look real. Its beauty makes it one of the most visited castles in Europe.

Constructed on the site of an 11th-century medieval fortress, Bojnice was inspired by the designs of romantic castles of France’s Loire Valley. It was reconstructed by Hungarian architect J Hubert towards the end of the 19th century.

12. Amber Palace, India

Amber Palace, India

Built with pale yellow and pink sandstone with touches of white marble, the extensive Amber Palace (also known as Amer Fort or Amber Fort) is located around 11km from Jaipur. It’s certainly one of the most eye-catching sites in India.

Overlooking Maota Lake, this extravagant palace is divided into four main sections, each featuring its own courtyard.

The Amber Palace was first built in 1592 but was added to and expanded over the centuries. Perhaps most famously, Amber Palace was the residence of ruler Raja Man Singh who had a total of 12 queens and had 12 rooms – one for each of them.

13. Scaligero Castle, Italy

Scaligero Castle, Italy

Appearing to float atop the crystal clear water of Lake Garda, Scaligero Castle is Italy’s most well-preserved medieval fortress.

Construction of Scaligero’s enchanting structure began during the mid-13th century over the remains of an ancient Roman fortress and took over a century to build.

Its unique location on Lake Garda means that, apart from by boat, the only way into the Scaligero Castle is through two drawbridges.

14. Moszna Castle, Poland

Moszna Castle, Poland

With 99 turrets, an eclectic mix of architectural styles, and expansive parkland all around, Poland’s Moszna Castle is a common feature of most beautiful lists – and it’s not difficult to see why.

Moszna Castle was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style, which incorporates contrasting elements and dramatic, decorative features. However, other styles have been added throughout the centuries too. For example, the neo-gothic eastern wing was added around 1900, followed by the neo-renaissance western wing 12 years later.

The castle’s interior is just beautiful, with opulent chambers featuring intricate chandeliers and moulded ceilings.

15. Eltz Castle, Germany

Eltz Castle, Germany

Located in the middle of a dense forest, Eltz Castle is full of charm and beauty. Spanning 33 generations, this storybook structure has remained in the same family for over 850 years and its history takes you right back to the Middle Ages.

The Eltz family first moved into the castle during the 12th century but continued to make renovations for centuries – and it wasn’t completed until sometime between 1490 and 1540.

Because of the castle’s prime location within the woods, the surrounding area is home to a number of unique animals and plant species. Many people enjoy hearing the sweet birdsong as they walk along the castle path.

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16. Corvin Castle, Romania

Corvin Castle, Romania

Designed as a prison and defence fortress against the Ottoman Empire in 1440, Corvin Castle (also known as Hunyadi Castle) is one of the biggest castles in the world.

Only accessible via a long bridge, which is set over a small creek, Corvin Castle is a gothic architectural masterpiece.

It was built in 1446 by leading Hungarian military and political figure John Hunyadi but also received restoration in later centuries. It’s split into three large areas – the Knight’s Hall, Diet Hall, and the circular stairway.

In popular culture, Corvin Castle has inspired a number of television shows and video games, such as Underworld and Most Haunted Live. And, alongside Bran Castle, it’s believed by many to have inspired Bram Stoker’s famous novel, Dracula.

17. Egeskov Castle, Denmark

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

Egeskov is one of Europe’s best-preserved Renaissance moated castles. First recorded in the 1400s, Egeskov was originally a regular manor house. However, in 1554, Danish nobleman Frands Brockenhuus transformed it into a highly fortified stronghold set upon a foundation of oak pilings.

Ownership of Egeskov was taken by the Bille family in 1784 – and it’s still inhabited by their descendants to this day.

Final thoughts…

It’s tricky not to be blown away by the beauty and magnitude of these castles – each with its own unique history, location, and architecture. And while we couldn’t include all of the beautiful castles from around the world on this list, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading and perhaps gained some travel inspiration along the way.

For similar content, why not head over to our history and travel sections? You can also find travel deals to the countries listed here and so many more by using the button below.

What do you think are some of the most beautiful castles in the world? Which are your favourites from our list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.