Historic Europe With Kids – The 8 Best Castles to Take Your Kids To

There are few places in the world with as much culture, charm, history, and good food as Europe. With 27 countries in the EU, most people won’t get to venture through half of their bucket list destinations in their lifetime. While there are just as many places in Europe that many parents won’t consider an ideal family vacation destination, we feel that as many museums, resorts, and castles fit for just about any family. With thousands of spectacular castles to choose from that offer endless hours of exploring for everyone in the family, you can hardly go wrong. Here’s our list of the top eight European castles that the young and young at heart will love.

1. Neuschwanstein Castle

With its picturesque views and stunning exterior, Neuschwanstein Castle is at the top of every castle-goers list, and for a good reason. Constructed in the 19th century over twenty years, the Neuschwanstein Castle sits atop a cliff, overlooking the valley on one side and the Alps on the other. Although 19th strongholds were largely unnecessary at the time of construction, the Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned as much for comfort as it was for status. Originally intended as a summer residence, the castle was never fully completed before Louis died in 1886.

Why we think your kids will love it: With its fairy-tale charm, Neuschwanstein Castle has long been regarded as Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Whether they’re into playing princesses and knights, we think they’ll appreciate the pop culture reference and exploring the endless halls in the fairy tale castle on a cliff.

2. La Maison Forte Reignac, France

The stunning valley of the Périgord region in southwest France is also home to France’s only castle built into a side of a cliff. While modestly sized from the outside, La Maison Forte Reignac spans well beyond its exterior visage. Built-in the 12th century on a prehistoric site, the medieval castle offers historic components for groups of all ages. La Maison Forte Reignac was privately occupied until the early 20th century wherein it was taken over by the state and open to the public ever since.

Why we think your kids will love it: Come for the castle and stay for the prehistory. The Périgord region also boasts some of the earliest settlements in France with signs of occupation dating back 20,000 years ago. The nearby caves also house some of the earliest cave drawings in the region. With so much to offer, we think families of all ages will get a kick out of it.

3. Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark

Denmark is home to some of the world’s most stunning fairy-tale castles. With turrets, moats, and draw bridges galore, it’s really difficult to pick just one. Top of our list is Frederiksborg Castle, located outside of Copenhagen. The Renaissance dwelling is one of the most stunning castles in the world and at the top of most Scandinavian travel bucket lists. Situated on three islands and surrounded by a lake, the green metal roof glints off the surrounding water, creating a uniquely picturesque view for your family to ‘oo’ and ‘aw’ over. While the proximity is only part of the appeal, sneaking away from Copenhagen for a day trip makes it easy for travelers from anywhere to visit.

 Why we think your kids will love it. The gardens adjacent to the castle are almost as stunning as the castle itself. With many paths and a maze-like design, kids of all ages love to run around and explore the various plants and statues adorning the grounds.

4. Caerphilly Castle, Wales

Moats? Check. Draw bridge? Check. Ruins? Check. With over 427 castles adorning the tiny island, Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe, ensuring that if you’re looking for a medieval adventure, Wales will not disappoint. The majority of the castles were constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries as a massive stronghold for King Edward I to fortify his strength in the region and keep the Welsh uprisings at bay. Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales and the second largest in the UK. Surrounded by a large moat, the massive fortress was built by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century and would have been impossible to penetrate.

Why we think your kids will love it. With over 30 acres of a medieval castle and ruined castle grounds, any kid with an air of mystique will love to play make-believe inside the storied grounds.

5. Urquhart Castle, Scotland

Nestled in the highland mountains, surrounded by sprawling heather, and overlooking the fabled Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle feels like the walls could come alive and tell stories about the past. With a history spanning almost 1000 years, it has been an essential stronghold for the Scottish and the English monarchy until it was partially destroyed in the 17th century. Since the early 20th century, however, the castle has passed under the control of the Scottish government and continues to be one of the most visited castles in Scotland.

Why we think your kids will love it: The medieval castle is an exciting place to explore for kids of all ages with its drawbridge and partially collapsed, albeit perfectly safe, a tower overlooking the highlands. The real draw, however, is the lake. While you may or may not get a view of the Loch Ness monster, the nearby gift shop has plenty of kitschy items your kids will love to take with them.

6. Warwick Castle, England

It’s impossible to mention a family-friendly castle without mentioning the sprawling expanse of one of England’s largest, Warwick Castle. Built in 1068 by William I (the Conqueror), the original fortress was made of wood. The castle was improved with stone in the 13th century at the same time as similar castles were being built. Passing through the hands of the everchanging Earl of Warwick, the castle was an important stronghold for the English monarchy. Now owned by a private entertainment company, Merlin Entertainment Group, Warwick Castle is a tourist destination with programs and experiences offered almost every day of the year.

Why we think your kids will love it: Jousting, falconry, a gory dungeon, and medieval feasts are just the beginning. Warwick Castle offers not only a glimpse into a piece of history but a medieval experience for people of all ages. Also, if spending a full day exploring the castle isn’t enough, you can rent a lodge in the Knight’s Village for an extended medieval experience.

7. Bran Castle, Romania

Set high above a Romanian village in Transylvania sits one of the most famous medieval castles in Europe. Visible from all angles, the imposing stature of the legendary castle continues to add an air of myth and spectacle to the friendly Romanian landscape below. As legend would have it, Vlad the Impaler (who Bram Stoker based his Dracula) was imprisoned in Bran Castle in Transylvania, setting the setting for the Victorian novel.

While that may or may not be true, and the likelihood of Vlad the Impaler being a thousand-year-old vampire is small, the legend and mystique that surrounds the castle remains.

Why we think your kids will love it: Aside from the charming countryside and friendly people, Romania is known for its beautiful towns and legendary castles. While this may be enough for most families exploring Europe, the legendary castle offers everything you’d expect for a castle etched in myth and preserved in time. Kids will love seeing where the legend took hold and imagine whether a dark and sinister monster is lurking beneath the castle. We recommend going during the day unless your kids are up for a bit of a scare.

8. Castillo de Colomares, Spain

While technically a monument and not a castle, we thought the sprawling structure fit the theme of interesting structures that most kids would want to explore. Built in the late 20th century, the monument is the newest structure on our list. The Castillo de Colomares was commissioned as a dedication to Christopher Columbus, the 15th-century Spanish explorer, and the colonization of the Americas. With its beautiful turrets, impressive scenic views, and proximity to Málaga make it an idealistic day spent by Spain’s famous coastline.

Why we think your kids will love it: Both educational and beautiful to behold, Castillo de Colomares offers information about 15th-century exploration and facts about the discovery of the new world. You and your kids will also enjoy pointing out various facts about Columbus’ voyage to the Americas, including the three ships used on the voyage and the smallest chapel in the world.

Whether you’re exploring Renaissance castles in Denmark, thousand-year-old medieval castles in the Scottish highlands, or stunning monuments to Renaissance’s most notorious explorer, your kids will love getting to step back in time and imagine what life was like centuries ago. Ultimately, history is meant to be uncovered and there’s no better way to do that than through exploration.

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