9 Most Beautiful Castles in the World

Castles are magical! Each one evokes some sort of illustration from a storybook. Let's face it, we may not have liked the inequity of castle living but they sure are fun to visit! In fact, some travelers have no problem building an entire trip around a castle visit. It is a highlight worth any journal entry, that's for sure!

So, what makes one of these stars on the map a family friendly castle? The criteria are simple enough. A good start is that castles that have experiences and don't just look like a bunch of rocks do not make the list! However, dynamic, story-filled, treasure hunting, catapult throwing, falconry flying castles are in!

A few family friendly castles give travelers just a little more, here’s why. Read on to see how these best castles in the world can be well worth your time!

1. Hohensalzburg Fortress, Austria

Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg, Austria is an incredible study in medieval society. It is the biggest preserved medieval castle in Europe. And it chronicles everything from the first Prince Bishops to Hitler’s occupation. Salzburg itself is charming and filled with the sounds of music but it offers so much more in the very heart of Europe.

Don’t miss: music with Mozart! While you may spend the days do-re-me-ing try spending an evening with the master. A graduate level experience!

2. Castel San Angelo, Rome

Castel SanAngelo sits opposite the mighty Vatican in the heart of Rome. It’s prominent place is no mistake. For centuries, the castel has been key through all kinds of tugs of war throughout Rome’s contentious history. Families can roam through dungeons and state rooms, look at priceless artwork and endless city views. Use this journey to connect the religion next door to the city that surrounds it.

Don’t miss: take the tour of the secret passage to the Vatican and watch how the DaVinci code comes to life!

3. Osaka Castle, Japan

Osaka Castle in Osaka, Japan is situated just far enough away from Tokyo that families can get a rather authentic look at the Samurai way of life. So, like most castles, strap on a pair of good shoes and get ready for that hike to the top! Learn about how samurais kept a sharp hold on local prefectures and explore the unique architecture Japan has to offer.

Don’t miss: feeding the MONSTER koi fish at the foot of the castle grounds. These cool fish are trained to take treats just like a friendly pup!

4. The Grand Palace, Thailand

Thailand is an amazing experience that allows families a chance to learn and explore a different global perspective. Learning how others respond to their culture is an enlightening process. Take in the architecture, the cultural vibes and enjoy the moment! A journey to a place like this may take a lot of prep work to understand but go and enjoy the grounds and the Emerald Buddha then go enjoy some Thai noodles!

Don’t miss: the elephant platforms that explain how royalty used the gentle giants as transportation.

5. Malbork Castle, Poland

Europe’s largest brick castle and is an impressive piece of architecture (Mom’s get those cameras ready) but it offers so much more! The armory museum is amazing as is the beautiful St. Mary’s. So what does Malbork offer? A truly amazing look at European history over several hundred years from Teutonic Knights to Hitler’s occupation, Malbork has had first hand experience with it all.

Don’t miss: the truly outstanding renaissance weekends and demonstrations throughout the year.

6. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Head up north to Edinburgh Castle in beautiful Scotland! You won’t be disappointed! Edinburgh is the heart of Scotland and has plenty to share. Stroll up the Royal Mile and take in the sights and sounds. You’re sure to pass a bagpiper or two! Check out the fortifications and start your climb up to the top where you’ll find the national war memorial and the Scottish Crown Jewels, among other things. You’ll be channeling your inner William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in no time.

Don’t miss: the annual military tattoo in August. You won’t be disappointed by this amazing spectacle of all things Scottish!

7. Blarney Castle, Ireland

Not a tourist trap in the sense of buying things, but definitely a tourist trap in the sense it gets overrun by tourists wanting to kiss the Blarney Stone. Which is awesome, no doubt. But it’s really the gardens around the castle that steal the show, especially the Wishing Steps. And while you’re in Cork, definitely take the time to ring the Bells of Shandon. When will you ever get that chance again?

Blarney Castle in the south west of Ireland is a great stop with the kids- as long as you are not afraid of heights! Climb up to the top learning about each space from dungeons to lookouts. Then, figure out why in the world the Blarney came to be known as the gift of gab. Once at the top, take the plunge to kiss the stone and experience the trust in paddy and mike who guide you through the dip! Oh my! Don’t look down!

Don’t miss: the poison gardens on the property. Explore how certain plants were not so medicinal when used by medieval ne’er do wells!

8. Ashford Castle, Ireland

Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland is a very swanky hotel with amazing amenities and vistas on the very site where John Wayne’s “The Quiet Man”. So why does Ashford appeal to families? Well, this former Guinness estate hold a secret deep in its woods. Ireland’s National School of Falconry provides one of the most unique experiences to participants as guides take you through the breathtaking experience of Falconry. Seriously.

Don’t miss: tea at the thatched cottage to practice those all important manners!

9. Mont Saint Michel, France

While not an official castle per se, Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France offers an amazing experience for families. It literally looks like a real life Disney castle. Consider it custom made to run off a ton of energy!

Don’t miss: the guided walk around the island at low tide.
Kalyan Panja