Castle Hunting in Germany: 10 Classic Castles to Explore

Palais, schloss, burg, palast or festung: These German castles are part of the quintessential Deutschland landscape.

Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle is located in a landscape so picturesque and with a design so intriguing that it became the creative inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland parks around the world and for Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World Resort and the Magic Kingdom. Though it might be the most globally recognizable of all the German castles, there are dozens of beautiful reasons to head down backroads, seeking out these ancient embattlements as you further explore Germany's castles and history. 

So using a list that Germany Travel created of the nation's top 100 sights and attractions, we selected the country's most popular castles. Whether you're #castlehunting on Instagram or are on a grand European tour, put these mesmerizing stops on your travel to-do list. And here's a final tip: The German word "burg" literally translates to "castle."

#1. Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is perched on the north side of the Alps range, in the south of Bavaria. The "fairytale king," Ludwig II, commissioned the castle that was opened to the public in 1886. Neuschwanstein is a good weekend trip when visiting Munich, and it's practically a must-stop experience for travelers in Germany.

 #2. Heidelberg Castle

The Heidelberg Castle is a gorgeous ivy-covered memory of authentic German architecture. You easily can wind through the ruins in an afternoon and then laze in the adjacent gardens. There are also hourly tours offered in German and in English for anyone looking to be immersed in an oral history of the castle.

 #3. Kaiserburg Castle

Kaiserburg Castle, in the heart of Nuremburg, Germany, is one of the most important Medieval sites in the history of Europe. Allegedly, each and every Roman emperor stayed at Kaiserburg—even if only for a single night. A photo from the Kaiserburg Castle rooftops is one of the most sought-after European souvenirs. 

 #4. Eltz Castle

Built upon a rocky promontory, Eltz Castle is nestled back in the hills of southwestern Germany, near Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, and has been owned by the same family for hundreds of years. The best parts of this estate—other than spectacular views—are the public walking trails through the property in addition to the quaint restaurants and cafes.

 #5. Hohenzollern Castle

This Gothic beauty sits high in the Alps of Germany, with incredible views from the top of the surrounding countryside and the town around the castle. There are dozens of restaurants and shops to browse through after a tour of the castle grounds. 

#6. Wartburg Castle

As one of the most important historic sites—and a UNESCO World Heritage Site—Wartburg Castle is the place to be for German history. This 12th century "palais," is the site of many historically-significant meetings and visits for the last dozen centuries.

 #7. Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau was the castle that King Ludwig II grew up in. This small—for a castle—yellow fortress is a dallop of cream atop the hills just across from its larger castle-neighbor, Neuschwanstein Castle. Hohenschwangau is the castle retreat from the castle retreat, if you will.  

#8. Marienberg Citadel

Visit this iconic river fortress in Wüerzburg to see the melding of German history. You're visiting, all at once, the past site of celtic, German and Prussian historical sites when you step into Marienberg. It's also worth the trip for the the history and facts you'll pick up at the Fürstenbau Museum.

#9. Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein is the place to be for fairy-tale views from tall towers and arching battle walls. The pre-19th century castle looks out over Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Though you can only see this via a guided tour, Lichtenstein is definitely worth planning to visit. 

#10. Cochem Castle

The Cochem Castle (sometimes also know as Reichsburg Cochem or Imperial Castle, Cochem) is a riverside fortress has been said to be almost impregnable by outside forces for its high perch above the Moselle River in the small town of Cochem. The castle grounds make for a great hike.

Map: Top 10 Castles in Germany