Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

Top Five Castles

There's nothing quite like a castle to spark the imagination. Looming walls and magnificent towers, labyrinthine networks of rooms and tunnels contained within... a good castle seems to hold countless stories in its ancient stonework. There are countless incredible castles to explore the world over, but here are just five of our absolute favourites.

Bran Castle

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Standing high and proud amidst Transylvania’s undulating forested hills, standing sentry over the nearby town of the same name, Bran Castle was the legendary home of Count Dracula, the greatest of all the mythological undead. It’s not hard to see why Bram Stoker chose this fortress as the roost of his archetypal vampire – its grandiose structure dominates the Romanian landscape, towering spires and colossal walls immediately evoking the mythic and mystic.

Take me there: Carpathian Walking & BearsTransylvania Snowshoeing & Winter Walking

The Black Castle

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Matsumoto’s huge castle is an elegant construct of layers and wing-like rooftops, with an imposing outer wall of jet-black stone; this distinctive appearance, at once flamboyant and imposing, earned it the name “Crow Castle”. The Black Castle is considered one of Japan’s national treasures, having stood its menacing watch for over five hundred years, and undergone several careful restorations.

Take me there: Ancient & Modern Japan

Trakai Castle

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On a secluded island, just off the shores of tranquil Lake Galvė in Lithuania, stands the orange-hued castle of Trakai. Don’t be fooled by its quaint demeanour, though – Trakai Castle has a long history of intrigue and warfare, stretching back to the fourteenth century. After crossing the long footbridge to the castle proper, you’ll be greeted by majestic Eastern European architecture and a treasure trove of culture and history, just waiting to be discovered.

Take me there: Stockholm & The Baltics in WinterDiscover the Baltics

Fasilides Castle

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Amidst the ancient ruins of a fortress city, where the Emperors of Ethiopia once held their court, stands one castle grander than all the rest – Fasilides Castle, named after the founder of the city itself. Sturdy and blockish, yet at once intricate and complex, the castle is a remarkable feat of engineering and artistry – its architecture is a unique blend of cultural influences found nowhere else in the world.

Take me there: Discover Ethiopia

Neuschweinstein Castle

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This icon of design is younger than the other castles listed here, but all the more impressive for it. It stands on a high hill, overlooking a land of Alpine foothills that can only be described as fairytale. Walls of glittering white stone ascend from the tops of sheer cliffs, surrounded by tapered turrets in a gorgeous Disney-esque array – after seeing this masterpiece, you won’t be surprised to learn that it was in fact the inspiration behind several Disney castles.

Take me there: Bavaria Winter Discovery or Self-Guided Walking in Bavaria

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