The 10 best castles in Germany to visit: history and beauty

German castles are something else and are often just like something out of a fairytale, not surprising since many fairytales originated in these areas.  They are picturesque but more than that they are full of amazing history.  Some look older than others but are actually quite new and some are really old yet are famous for more recent history.

The best castles in Germany that I think you should visit are:

  1. Neuschwanstein Castle
  2. Eltz Castle
  3. Drachenburg Castle
  4. Hohenzollern Castle
  5. Heidelberg Castle
  6. Schwerin Castle
  7. Colditz Castle
  8. Cochem Castle
  9. Meersburg Castle
  10. Wartburg Castle

There is a mix here between fairytale castles that you might expect in Germany and also some really interesting historic castles that you’ll just enjoy learning so much more about.  Sometimes you’ll hear the word Burg or Schloss when talking about castles and perhaps you’re wondering why the difference in term since they both mean castle.  Burg is given to older castles that were built around the middle ages where Schloss is more for the newer castles built in a chateau style.

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10 of the best and most beautiful castles in Germany for your European vacation. From Neuschwanstein to Eltz castle and so many more whether you like the interiors, the history or just the fairytale like beauty you'll find some great examples of German castles here.

Neuschwanstein Castle

neuschwansteing castle in germany

Probably the most famous castle in Germany, Neuschwanstein is a must on any trip to the Bavarian region, which is is in the South of Germany.  It’s sometimes known as the real life Disney castle and thought to be the inspiration for Sleeping Beuaty’s castle in the film.

The castle was built in the 19th century in the romantic style by Ludwig II of Bavaria.  He was a bit of an eccentric and when he commissioned this castle it was to be in honour of the composer Richard Wagner of whose operas he was extremely fond of.

Tip: if you’re on a budget you can still have a great day and some great views of the castle without entering.  Going into the castle is only via the conducted tours and you can actually get right up to the gate without paying and enjoy the amazing views.

If you are going to visit inside then you must purchase tickets at the village below the caste, Hohenschwangau.  Do not attempt to walk up the hill and get them there!  Tickets are €13 each and under 18 go free.  It’s advisable to book tickets in advance if you are visiting in high season or at weekends.

Eltz Castle

burg eltz castle

I have a bit of a soft spot for these turreted German castles on hills as you can see by the next entry.  This is Burg Eltz or simply sometimes known as Eltz castle and it is a medieval castle, built in the 12th century so much older than Neuschwanstein!  It’s based in just west of Frankfurt and is a stunning example of a German castle – it’s incredibly picturesque and a favourite with Instagrammers.

What’s interesting about this castle is that it has stayed in the same family for 33 generations now which just blows my mind, especially with our British castles often swapping owners multiple times throughout their history!

Tip – if you like to walk and it’s good weather when you visit then I recommend taking some of the hikes nearby to get some stunning views of the castle!

Tickets are €10 for adults and €6.50 for children and a family ticket is also available – guided tours take place throughout the day.

Drachenburg castle

drachenburg castle

Situated near the banks of the Rhine and very near the city of Bonn in western Germany lies Drachenburg castle.  It’s a fairly small castle and that’s because it’s actually a private residence that was made to look like a castle when it was built in the 19th century and actually only took 2 years to build.

Being so close to the city of Bonn it’s a good one to visit if you’re without a car in Germany.  It’s a must see attraction if you’re interested in old buildings like this – it’s quite spectacular inside with some stunning state rooms.

Tip – they have a number of tours available, including some family friendly ones which are a great idea to keep little ones from being bored.

Tickets are €7 euros for adults and €5 euros for children.  You get to see inside the state rooms, a museum dedicated to the castle and also the parkland.

Hohenzollern Castle

hohenzollern castle germany

You can see this castle from miles around as it perches on the top of a hill in central Germany.  It’s in the Baden-Württemberg region and lies about 30 miles south of Stuttgart.

The castle itself has a history that goes back to the 11th century and there has been a castle on the site since then, but the one that you see today was actually built in the 1800s and was built as a family memorial.  It’s important in Prussian history as it’s the ancestral seat of the Prussian royal family including Kaiser Willhelm II.

Tip – dogs are welcome in the castle grounds although not inside the rooms themselves so a great attraction if you’re looking for dog friendly castles in Germany.

Tickets are €12 per afdult and €6 for children if you want to see inside as well as the general complex but with cheaper tickets, if you don’t want to go inside.  You get them at the car park next to where the shuttle bus is.

Heidelberg castle

heidelberg castle

Unusually, at least in this list, Heidelberg castle is a ruin.  Most castles in Germany seem to have been rebuilt over the years even if the original was ruined many years prior – not so with this one, although there have been restoration works in some of the rooms, it’s most well known for being a ruined palace.  It’s hey day was in the renaissance era and it’s incredibly impressive in stature.  I actually visited here in my teens and it’s just as I remember!

Heidelberg is a city in the South-west of Germany on the Neckar river about 50 miles south of Frankfurt.

Tip – the tickets also include a visit to the apothecary museum and also the funicular which gets you to the castle.

Tickets are priced ar €8 for adults and €4 for children.

Schwerin Castle

schwerin castle germany

If you’re travelling in the North of Germany then a visit to Scloss Schwerin is going to be a must. It’s situated about 70 miles East of Hamburg and situated on an island on the lake in the town of Schwerin.

The palace dates to the 19th century so a fairly new building on this list! It’s a stunning example of romantic historiscism (which means it was built in the romantic style) and the setting on the lake really just makes it a fairytale castle despite the fact it is a new one!  Some people refer to it as the Neushwanstein of the North and I can definitely see why!  It currently is still used to seat the government of the area.

Tip – the whole area around this castle is just remarkable – take some time to really enjoy the surroundings!  The palace gardens are free and open to the public.

Tickets are €8.50 for adults and €6.50 for children.

Colditz Castle

Visiting colditz castle, Saxony Germany

Colditz castle is famous in Germany not for being the most beautiful and although it’s certainly nice, you wouldn’t call it stunning, but for its history and more specifically the history of the castle during World War 2.  It was used as of a prisoner of war camp and was often escaped from, not least because many of the prisoners held there had previous attempts at escaping the Germans!  It was believed to be impossible to escape from but as you can see that simply wasn’t true.

Colditz lies in eastern Germany and as such isn’t as often visited as many of the other castles on this page but we loved the history of the area and it was a great day trip from Dresden.  You can see more about our trip to Colditz here.  If you’re at all interested in WW2 then do visit as you’ll learn all about the history in the castle.

Tip: it’s not a particularly easy castle to get to – driving yourself is the best way to get there.

Tickets are €4 euros (€3 for children) to visit the museum and they have some guided tours that cost a bit more throughout the castle which are also excellent.

Cochem castle

cochem castle

Cochem castle or Burg Cochem is a small hilltop castle that was first built in the 11th century.  Unfortunately the original castle was completely destroyed by the French in Nine Years War in the 17th century and lay in ruins until almost 200 years later when it was bought by a wealthy businessman from Berlin who had it reconstructed in the gothic revival style.  It’s definitely one of the lesser known castles but well worth the trip to see – it looks absolutely majestic as it perches high above the winding Mosel river and surrounded by forests.

Cochem lies in the west of Germany so this would be a great castle to add to your itinerary if you’re exploring around there – it’s around 80 miles west of Frankfurt.

Tip – tours are mostly in German although there are a couple of English speaking tours through the day.  You can learn a lot through the pamphlets they have though.  They also have some fun looking childrens tours and themed tours and events too.

Regular tickets are €6 for adults and €3 for children.

Meersburg castle

meersburg castle germany

Perched on the hillside and overlooking Bodensee (or Lake Constance) and the Alps in the distance is Meersburg castle which is the oldest inhabited castle in Germany.  The oldest part of the castle dates back to the 7th century so definitely has some stories to tell!

It’s not the biggest of castles so it shouldn’t take you too long to visit and if you want to do a self guided tour you can purchase a leaflet in your own language for €1 that should help you know what is what.

Tip – if visiting the area you can enjoy a trip on Bodensee lake as there are many boat trips available.  We loved walking around the town, eating apple strudel and ice cream and gazing at the alps!

Tickets are €12.80 for adults and €8 for children.

Wartburg Castle

wartburg castle germany

Finally we have Wartburg Castle which is a UNESCO heritage site and was added to the list in 1999.  It was first constructed in the mid 11th century and many of the original building still exists which is unusual for these castles!  Most of the interior dates to the 19th century though.  One of the castle’s important bits of history is that it was the place where Martin Luther translated the New Testament in to German in 1520/1521.  You can see the room where this took place and this attracts numerous visitors each year.

Wartburg is situated in the centre of Germany in the state of Thurungia near the town of Eisenach.

Tip – families might love this castle for the slightly different addition of donkeys on the site with donkey rides available for children to take them up to the castle.

Ticket prices include a guided tour and access to the museum and are €10 for adults and €5 for children.

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beautiful german castles
10 of the best and most beautiful castles in Germany for your European vacation. From Neuschwanstein to Eltz castle and so many more whether you like the interiors, the history or just the fairytale like beauty you'll find some great examples of German castles here.
10 of the best and most beautiful castles in Germany for your European vacation. From Neuschwanstein to Eltz castle and so many more whether you like the interiors, the history or just the fairytale like beauty you'll find some great examples of German castles here.
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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

2 thoughts on “The 10 best castles in Germany to visit: history and beauty”

  1. I shaved lived in Germany for 3 years my dad was in the Army and we traveled all over been to a lot of castles even went the where Adolf Hitler sat at a round table and conducted business

  2. Also many Germans do not know
    the difference between a “Burg” and a “Schloß”:
    A Burg served to protect and defend all who were in it.
    A Schloß was always (at least temporarily) the residence of a king/nobleman and served to display his possessions/wealth.
    Sometimes a Burg later became a Schloß when defense was no longer necessary.

    Greetings from München 🙂


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