The World's Most Romantic Castles

Castles bring to mind kings riding out into battle, delicious court feasts, jousting tournaments and perhaps a few ill-fated battles. These rich, historical places have the ultimate pull over our imaginations. If you’re looking for the world’s dreamiest castles, there are so many places to start. Whether you want to see the resting places of elegant women, the rough and tumble castles of armed warriors or the fairytale palaces of 19th-century barons, here’s where to go for the most romantic castles: 

Kellie’s Castle [Batu Gajah, Perak, Malaysia]

Kellie’s Castle, Malaysia | Everyone agrees; Kellie’s Castle is haunted. This crumbling combination of Moorish, Scottish and Indian architecture was never finished. Its builder, the Scottish engineer William Kellie Smith, died of pneumonia while his dream was still under construction. Even as the jungle encroaches on the towered building, tourists pour in to look for the ghosts of William Kellie Smith and his wife Helen. It’s said that William was building the castle for his son – a long awaited heir. After his father died, Anthony Kellie Smith never returned to the castle that had been built in his honor. He later died in WWII. When you visit, see if you can be the person to find the rumored secret passageways. 

Larnach Castle, New Zealand | Is Larnach Castle New Zealand’s only palace? Most people agree that this grand building is one of the most opulent private residences in the country. Even though a family lives on site, you can still explore castle, go through the outbuildings and enjoy yourself in the garden. The castle is constantly being restored. You’ll find its rich wood interiors, historical treasures and period furniture take you right back to the 1870s when it was built. If you’re still on the ghost hunt, the castle’s beautiful ball room is said to be haunted by Kate – the daughter of William Larnach who died of typhoid four years after the ballroom was given to her as a birthday present.  

The Imperial Castle in Cochem [Germany]

Cochem Castle, Germany | Cochem Castle was once a Romanesque defensive structure perched on a hill above the River Moselle, but war and time wore it down. The current castle with its turrets and towers was the neo-gothic fantasy of a wealthy European businessman who had it built in the 1870s on the foundation of the old castle. Whether or not you dislike the 19th-century interpretation of a medieval castle (some people hate it), you have to admit that the view from the sun terrace offers a stunning perspective on the river valley. Keep your eyes peeled for the Witches’ Tower – one of the only remaining pieces incorporated from the medieval castle. In the 11th and 12th centuries women were thrown from the tower for being witches.  

Chateau de Challain, France | Chateau de Challain is a French chateau in the Loire Valley that you can actually stay in. The building used to be a crumbling ruin until it was repurposed as a wedding destination. While not one of the Loire’s more famous castles, and a 19th-century neo-gothic reproduction, Chateau de Challain has all the romance you’d require a castle to have – especially for your big day. 

Castle Lichtenstein [Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany]

Lichtenstein Castle, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany | If ever a castle looked straight from a fairytale, this one is it. Perched precariously on an enormous crag, Lichtenstein Castle has crenelated roof-tops, spires and a huge tower. While an ancient castle once stood on this spot, this fanciful little number was built in the 1800s as a hunting lodge. Lichtenstein Castle isn’t anywhere near one of Germany’s most famous castles, but that makes it that much more delightful to visit. Minus the crowds of tourists, you can stand on the parapet and enjoy breathtaking views of the Swabian Alps completely uninterrupted. 

Castle Torrechiara, Italy | Castle Torrechiara defended a hillside of Langhirano and also served as a pleasure palace for Bianca Pellegrini – Count Pier Maria II Rossi’s lover. The inside of this 15th-century castle is decorated with frescos ranging from the 14th to 16th centuries. One room is famous for its nude dancing acrobats. The Camera d’Oro contains a fresco showing Pier Maria II Rossi’s courtly love for Bianca Pellegrini. The room got its name from the pure gold that used to trim the walls.

Castle Hohenschwangau [Bavaria, Germany]

Hohenschwangau Castle, Germany | Yet another 19th-century Germany castle, Hohenschwangau was the childhood home of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. When the Bavarian king went on to build the opulent Neuschwanstein Castle nearby, he must have had his parents’ castle in mind. Today, Hohenschwangau belongs to Franz, Duke of Bavaria, but the castle is open for tourists on guided tours. The yellow building with a red roof looks over two picturesque lakes and the looming Neuschwanstein. 

Leeds Castle, England | Leeds Castle in Kent has been the home of kings and queens for 900 years. When you visit today, you can wear out your feet exploring the vast gardens and admiring the carefully revamped interior. Then you’ll want to visit attractions on topics as eccentric as dog collars through the ages and falconry. Save time for the medieval playground just for kids and maybe a zip line tour through the canopy. It’s not all stuffy, historical interiors at Leeds Castle.

Castle of the Teutonic Order [Malbork, Poland]

Malbork Castle, Poland | When you stand at the river’s edge at Malbork Castle, you can almost imagine Teutonic Knights leaning out into the river to extract tolls from passing ships. This enormous defensive structure is the world’s largest brick castle and its imposing size helped the Teutonic Order cement its control over Poland. Unlike many of Europe’s more fanciful looking castles, Malbork was built for a medieval army and has three distinct castles separated by dry moats and towers. Visit this lovely red castle at dusk when the slanting reddish light of the sun bathes the grounds in a beautiful hue. 

Can’t get enough of castles? Here are 10 Fairytale Castles You’ve Probably Never Heard Of


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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.