Seeking an escape worthy of a fairtytale? Scroll through these awe-inspiring fortresses around the world, all of which have withstood the test of time and lived to tell their tales. Will any of them make your bucket list for future travels?
Neuschwanstein Castle — Schwangau, Germany
We’d be remiss not to start our roundup with this idyllic castle near Germany’s border with Austria, one of the most famous in the world. And for good reason—it’s a stunning sight against the backdrop of the Alpine foothills. Shy King Ludwig II built it as a refuge to escape from the public eye in the late 19th century.
Osaka Castle — Osaka, Japan
Tucked among the high rises of Osaka, this 16th-century castle played a major role in the unification of Japan during its samurai era. Today, surrounded by cherry blossom trees and picturesque gardens perfect for a leisurely stroll, it holds a historical museum with different exhibits on all eight of its floors.
Chateau de Chillon — Veytaux, Switzerland
The most visited historic site in Switzerland, this castle nestled along the shore of Lake Geneva was built in the 12th century to control trade and traffic between the Western Alps region of Savoy and Italy.
Dunnottar Castle — Stonehaven, Scotland
These medieval fortress ruins along a jaw-dropping cliff in northeast Scotland evoke imagery of battles long gone. In its heyday, Dunnottar is where the Scottish crown jewels were hidden from invader Oliver Cromwell during his 17th-century siege.
Conwy Castle — Conwy, Wales
More Game of Thrones than Magic Kingdom, this castle’s impressive fortress contains the walled city that shares its name. Built in only four years, from 1283 to 1287, the castle also holds the most well-preserved set of medieval royal apartments in Wales.
Miramare Castle — Grignano, Italy
The white towers of this palatial estate perched on a seaside cliff stand out against the azure waters of the gulf below. The Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian commissioned its building in 1856 as a retreat for himself and his wife; its impressive grounds showcase a variety of tropical plants.
Pena Palace — Sintra, Portugal
This colorful castle nestled atop a hill overlooking the Portuguese city of Sintra embodies the Romantic period. Once a monastery, it was converted into a summer residence for German royals in the early 1800s. On a clear day, it can be seen from Lisbon, more than 20 miles away.
Chateau de Chambord — Chambord, France
The design of this sprawling chateau was heavily influenced by Leonardo da Vinci. A luxe symbol of the French Renaissance, the castle also boasts a special engineering feat: Its famous double helix staircase allows a visit to go up one side without seeing the person descending on the other.
Mont Saint-Michel — Normandy, France
Though technically an abbey, we’re finishing our roundup with this iconic island commune just off the coast of France. This 8th-century medieval monastery was constructed after a bishop first built a sanctuary there when he saw a vision of the archangel St. Michael; the abbey pays homage to its otherworldly heritage by seeming to rise straight from the water.