How to Tour the 23+ Best Castles in Germany in 2024

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Do you want to add castles to your Germany itinerary? Here are the best castles to visit in Germany!

Neuschwanstein castle

When people think of Germany, many immediately conjure up pictures of beautiful castles with even more breathtaking backdrops. Whether it be sprawling castle complexes, well-preserved royal residences or castle ruins on top of mountains, you’ll find all sorts of castles throughout all regions of the country.

This article will give you a rundown of some of the most famous castles to plan the ultimate tour of the top castles in Germany!

How Many Castles Are There In Germany?

It’s hard to say exactly how many castles there are in Germany because it depends on how you define a “castle.” But there is an estimated 20,000 castles, castle ruins, fortresses, and palace complexes all around Germany.

Why Are There So Many Castles In Germany?

The reason why there are so many castles in Germany has to do a lot with their history. Back in the Middle Ages, castles were built as fortified structures to protect against invading armies or to control vast territories. They also served as residences for the different royal and noble families all over the land.

Eventually as time went on, castles became symbols of prestige and power. Many have been rebuilt or reconstructed after war damages or to keep up with the changing architectural styles.

Nowadays, castles provide us with a glimpse into Germany’s rich cultural heritage and are one of the most visited tourist attractions of the country.

castles map

Where Can I Find The Above Map?

It’s part of our Germany Travel Planner, and it’s your Germany travel planning BFF! Using our custom interactive planning map you’ll be able to quickly see the best sights, castles, hotels, day trips, and more – along with our photos and up-to-date insider tips. Seeing where these things are in relation to each other makes it much easier to plan your overall itinerary, as well as each day of your trip. If you don’t yet have it, click here to get access.

23+ Best Castles To Visit In Germany

Schwerin Castle

1. Schwerin Castle

Schwerin Castle stands in its own island in the midst of Lake Schwerin, the main lake within city. The city of Schwerin is easily reachable by car or public transportation from Berlin or Hamburg.

Surrounded by water and beautiful forests, Schwerin Castle truly looks like a storybook castle, drawing comparison to Neuschwanstein and its fairytale like qualities. Inside you can explore over 600 grand rooms, especially to see the throne rooms and vast collection of weapons and porcelain.

Outside, you can walk through the palace garden which has a green labyrinth and cascades. Every summer, you can find the Summer Gardens event taking place here alongside open-air stage concerts and screenings.

If you’re visiting Hamburg, Schwerin makes a great day trip. Check out other day trips from Hamburg here.

Sanssouci Palace

2. Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam

Sanssouci Palace was the summer residence of Frederick the Great, a former King of Prussia. It’s located in the city of Potsdam, a 40-minute S-bahn ride away from Berlin.

The palace is more intimate than grand, only having 12 rooms but with original 18th century decorations and furnishings. Outside, the lush vineyard terraces welcome you to explore the extensive palace gardens. You will also find other landmarks in the grounds like the New Palace, the Orangery, Chinese House, and the Charlottenhof Palace.

For dining, you’ll find several options in the surroundings like Café Caroline or Café Repin.

It’s easy to visit Sanssouci Palace from Berlin – click here to book a guided tour from Berlin.

Wernigerode Castle

3. Wernigerode Castle

Wernigerode Castle is located in the mountains of Harz, above the town of Wernigerode in Saxony-Anhalt Germany. The climb up to the castle is made easy by a special motorized tourist train in the town.

The castle was originally built as a medieval fort for German emperors in the middle ages. It was then turned into a Renaissance fortress before being rebuilt again in the 17th century in a baroque style after the Thirty Year War.

There are different castle tours offered: classical guided tours, costume tours, and a special tour for children. Keep in mind that guided tours are an additional 2 € on top of the admission ticket.

They have a café located in an authentic historical location called the SchloßCafé where pastries and coffee specialties are served.

Wartburg Castle

4. Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Castle is located in the state of Thuringia, on a cliff overlooking the small town of Eisnach. It’s walking distance from the town center, approximately taking 30 minutes though it’s a steep climb.

It was the first of many German castles to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. With many of its original exterior structures dating back to the 12th century, the castle stands as a symbol of over 1,000 years of German history.

If you are looking for a unique castle hotel experience, you can stay at the Romantik Hotel, located at the foot of the Wartburg Castle. The 5-star hotel has 37 individually designed rooms and hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year. You can also get a taste of Thuringian hospitality through the two restaurants in the castle: Inn For Cheerful Folk and Landgraves’ Room.

Burg Eltz Castle

5. Burg Eltz Castle

The Burg Eltz is one of the few medieval castles in Germany that has never been destroyed by world war. It has even stayed under ownership of the same family since the 12th century for 34 generations. Part of the castle interior has been turned into a museum with well-preserved artifacts, treasury, and art from the last 850 years.

The castle is perched atop a mountainous forest that overlooks the Elzbach River on the north of the Mosel. The scenic location makes the short hike to the castle worth it, though you can also reach the castle by taking one of the shuttle buses (the hike is beautiful, though!).

To add to the experience, you can dine in a medieval setting in the two restaurants located in the outer castle. Full meals and snacks are served with a stunning view over the Eltzbach Valley.

Mespelbrunn Castle

6. Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle is a moated castle in the town of Mespelbrunn. It’s located in between Frankfurt and Würzburg, around an hour travel time by car away from both cities.

One of the most fascinating Bavarian castles, it’s located deep into the forest and surrounded by water with a background of the town’s rolling hills. To this day, the castle is a private residence of the Counts of Ingelheim who live in the southern wing. But it has been opened to the public. To see the inside of the castle, you must go on a guided tour.

Reichsburg Castle (Cochum Castle)

7. Reichsburg Castle (Cochem Castle)

The Reichsburg Cochem is a neo-Gothic style castle that towers 330ft over the Mosel River in the town of Cochem. The town center is easily reached by train or car but like the other castles on a hill, there’s a short hike involved to get to the top.

The castle has a long history of being rebuilt over several decades in different styles. Aside from traditional guided tours, the castle holds several events. On some Fridays and Saturdays, you can participate in a medieval-style dinner complete with period costumes, entertaining performances, and even a knighting ceremony.

If you don’t have time for a full medieval feast, you can check out the castle tavern. You can order refreshments or pastries while taking in panoramic views of the Mosel Valley and the surrounding vineyards.

Heidelberg Castle

8. Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle is one of Germany’s most famous castle ruins. This impressive castle dominates the views over the roofs of the old town of Heidelberg. To get to the castle, you can ride the funicular since it’s located high up.

Besides admiring its exterior, you can visit the beautiful gardens found in the castle grounds. Open to the public any time of the year, the garden terraces are a great place to catch views of the Neckar valley.

Some interesting things to see here include the Heidelberg Tun or the world’s largest wine barrel found in the cellars. In summer you can also watch the castle lighting, where a fireworks show is done in memory of when the castle burned down.

Read our guide for visiting Heidelberg Castle here!

Hohenzollern Castle

9. Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle is the ancestral seat of Prussian royals. It’s located on the hilltops of the Black Forest. The easiest way to get here is by car, following the roads through the forest that lead to the parking lot of the castle. Once there, you can easily reach the top by taking a shuttle which is part of the entrance fee.

The castle has over 140 rooms. Highlights include the gilded coffered ceilings, a vast jewel collection, and marbled columns. It also hosts special events like open-air cinema screenings, exhibitions, concerts, and its own Christmas market.

Hohenzollern Castle and Lichtenstein Castle both make great day trips from Stuttgart. See more day trip ideas here!

Lichtenstein Castle

10. Lichtenstein Castle

Built in the 19th century, Lichtenstein Castle is located in the Swabian Alps of southern Germany. This historical castle is said an homage to medieval times as seen by the romanticism of the furnishings and architecture.  

Since the castle is relatively small, the tour guide takes you through the first and second floors of the castle in half an hour. Some highlights include the armory and the knight’s hall.

In the surrounding area, you’ll find two restaurants (Old Forester’s Lodge and the Castle’s Tavern) that keep in with the medieval theme.

Linderhof Palace

11. Linderhof Castle / Linderhof Palace

Though Linderhof Castle is the smallest of the wonderful castles of King Ludwig, it is the only one he lived to see in its finished state. If you’re making your way through the Bavarian countryside to visit various castles, we recommend booking this day tour that takes you both to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof.

This royal palace draws in visitors with its beautiful landscapes and eye-catching symmetry. Though the interiors are luxurious, the park is also a sight to behold and one of the best places to go for a stroll. You’ll stumble upon a grotto, several pavilions, and fountains with fun water shows. In the greater surrounding area, you can also find a hotel and restaurant called Schlosshotel Linderhof.

Burg Rheinstein

12. Burg Rheinstein

Rheinstein Castle is a hillside castle the overlooking the Rhine river. It’s filled with carefully restored attractions such as a working drawbridge, medieval knights’ armor and weaponry, and romantic gardens with views of the Rhine valley.

During the holiday season, the castle turns festive and holds special tours where you can spend a magical Christmas in the castle grounds. You can also visit their restaurant Kleiner Weinprinz for a romantic night with locally sourced wine in the rose garden or the panoramic terraces.

Neuschwanstein Castle

13. Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein)

No list of the best castles in Germany is complete without Neuschwanstein Castle. This fairytale castle is said to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for his famous Cinderella castles. It’s also a popular day trip to take from Munich since it’s less than the 2 hours away. However, we suggest spending a full day here to make the most out of it.

Neuschwanstein was one of King Ludwig of Bavaria’s main architectural projects and one of the causes behind his nickname “Mad King Ludwig.” Before suffering a mysterious death, he spent his last years dedicated to building his own fantasy world through grand castles.

Aside from the iconic exterior and backdrop of the Bavarian Alps, the highlights of Neuschwanstein include its golden throne hall with no throne and Marienbrücke, a pedestrian bridge over a cliff with the best view of the castle.

Neuschwanstein is a popular day trip from Munich! Click here to read how to plan a day trip from Munich and here if you’re planning to visit in the winter.

If you’re looking for a great place to stay near Neuschwanstein, read our review of a hotel we loved in Füssen.

Hohenschwangau Castle

14. Hohenschwangau Castle

While you’re in Neuschwanstein, you can easily make your way to the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle. This castle was built by King Ludwig’s father, King Maximilian.

A visit to Hohenschwangau Castle includes going for a walk through the romantic castle garden and enjoying beautiful views of the Alpsee and the Bavarian Alps. You can also make your way to the village of Hohenschwangau, filled with charming streets straight out of a storybook.

Nymphenburg Palace

15. Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace is an inner city palace located near the city center of Munich and easily reached by bus or tram. The palace is filled with fun, cultural activities, from museums dedicated to royal carriages to classical music concerts.

Exploring the palace grounds is also an activity in itself. Discover cascades, streams, a lake, and even smaller castles scattered around. You’ll find several pavilions like a hunting lodges and a sauna hall.

You can grab a quick bite in between sightseeing at the café in the park or inside by the south wing of the palace.

Herrenchiemsee Palace

16. Herrenchiemsee Palace

Herrenchiemsee Palace is located in a small island in Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria. You can only reach the castle via boat.

Aside from its unique location, Herrenchiemsee Palace is known for being largely inspired by the Palace of Versailles. The interiors are decorated lavishly as an homage to the Sun King. There is even an exact replica of the famous Hall of Mirrors, complete with ceiling frescos and sparkling chandeliers.

Drachenburg Castle

17. Drachenburg Castle

Drachenburg Castle is one of the most beautiful castles located along the Rhine river. It sits atop the Drachenfels hill in a small riverbank town called Königswinter. It was built fairly quickly in the 19th century, only taking two years. Currently, the castle is owned by the State Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia.

It has an interesting history since it was never occupied by the original owner. It was then used as a summer palace and a Catholic boarding school before its ruin during the second World War. The current castle has been restored and visitors can visit it through guided tours. Some highlights include the chapel’s stained glass windows and of course, the breathtaking panoramic views of the Rhine and the Siebengebirge area.

Burghausen Castle

18. Burghausen Castle

Burghausen Castle is known to be the longest castle complex in the world. It stretches for a length of a little over 1 kilometer. It’s located in the town of Burghausen in Upper Bavaria, along a hill overlooking the Salzach River.

The castle was built in the 11th century and historically, it served as an impressive medieval fortress. The complex is divided into the main castle and five large courtyards. The original structure showed that each area was protected by moats and drawbridges. The main castle is now home to the State Castle Museum which showcases Gothic paintings from the Bavarian State Picture Collection. 

19. Schloss Johannisburg

Schloss Johannisburg is a Renaissance castle built in the 17th century found in the city of Aschaffenburg, Bavaria. It’s located in the center of the city and overlooks the River Main. 

Today, the castle houses the State Gallery of Aschaffenburg, which features an impressive collection of art and artifacts from Bavaria’s history. Visitors can admire the castle’s beautiful architecture and its beautiful gardens. Some of the highlights include the Renaissance Hall, the Archbishop’s apartments, and interestingly enough, the world’s largest collection of architectural models made from cork.

Burg Altena

20. Burg Altena

The Burg Altena is a medieval castle located in western Germany, more specifically in North Rhine-Westphalia. The castle is built on a hill overlooking the Lenne. The castle walls and towers follow the contours of the rock, giving it a unique and distinct appearance.

In the early 1900s, the first youth hostel was established within the castle. To this day, the hostel is still up and running. It’s also quite accessible since there’s a tunnel with modern multimedia installations that leads to the adventure elevator. This elevator then takes you up to the castle courtyard where you can explore exhibitions and even grab a bite at the castle restaurant.

21. Braunfels Castle

The Braunfels Castle is a picturesque fairy tale castle towering on the crest of a basalt rock in Braunfels, a city located in Hesse.

Highlights include the museum and Knight’s Hall which showcase collections of weaponry, armor, art, sculpture and medieval furniture. Visitors can even tour the chambers and state rooms within. The counts’ and princes’ of Solms-Braunfels private collection is on exhibit at the separate Family Museum. 

The castle also hosts open-air operas and other cultural events against the breathtaking backdrop of the castle’s inner courtyard and its gardens. 

22. Sigmaringen Castle

Sigmaringen Castle is situated in the state of Baden-Württemberg. It has a stunning location, rising over the Danube river on a towering hill known as Schlossberg or Castle Rock in English. The Schlossberg rises up to 115 ft above the river with steep cliffs. The castle features a Gothic revival style though it incorporated other elements like Baroque and Renaissance as it was reconstructed over the years.

The castle now is an important tourist attraction where visitors can tour the castle rooms full of ornate furnishings and historic art. One of the highlights of the castle is the Hall of Weapons, which is one of the largest private weapon collections in Europe. The castle also houses another museum called the Marstall Museum which showcases the royal fleet of carriages.

Nuremberg Castle

23. Nuremberg (Nürnberg) Castle

The Nuremberg Castle, also known as the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg, is a complex of medieval fortresses located in the heart of the Old Town of Nuremberg. The impressive castle and city walls are a great symbol of medieval architecture as well as the power of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages in the city. 

Nuremberg Castle is made up of three sections: the Imperial castle (Kaiserburg), the Burgraves’ Castle (Burggrafenburg), and the buildings erected by the Imperial City (Reichsstädtische Bauten). 

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One Comment

  1. Raj Bhide says:

    2023 plan included. thanks.

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