While time travel isn’t possible, the well-preserved royal palaces of Europe serve as gateways into periods of the past. As you tour these grand residences that have housed emperors, monarchs, and other important figures, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. With their grand ballrooms, royal staterooms, and extravagant throne rooms, the palaces of Europe bring fairytales to life.
Located all over the continent, from southern Italy to Latvia to Russia, these palaces are a must for any fan of history. Keep reading to find out which European palaces you should visit other than the famous Palace of Versailles.
10 Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany
It’s not the most well-known royal residence in Europe, but you definitely would have seen Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle before. This stunning castle was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland, which is why it seems taken straight out of a fairytale.
Great Value Vacations explains that the castle, located in Schwangau, Germany, was built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as the “Fairytale King." The building was not completed until after the king’s death in 1886. There are no photographs allowed inside this mysterious castle, though the outside is the most photographed building in Germany.
9 Chateau De Chambord, Loire Valley, France
Considered the grandest of the Renaissance castles located in the Loire Valley, Chateau de Chambord was built for King Francois I. It served as the king’s hunting lodge and still boasts long stretches of parklands and a game reserve.
There are more than 400 rooms within the palace, and you can explore nearly 100 of them as a visitor. Points of interest include the Chambord’s kitchen, as well as the collection of traditional horse-drawn carriages. The Loire Valley itself is known for its beautiful historic buildings and phenomenal scenery.
8 Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
One of the seven wonders of Portugal, Pena Palace is the dream location for any traveler interested in art or architecture. The building boasts eclectic, neo-Manueline, neo-renaissance, neo-gothic, and Islamic architectural styles, and is thought of as one of the best examples of 19th-century romanticism. It was designed to be seen from any point in the surrounding park.
Originally, the palace served as the monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena before it was purchased by King Ferdinand. The monarch then planted over 500 species of trees and exotic flowers on the grounds of the palace.
7 Royal Palace, Amsterdam, Netherlands
There was a time when Amsterdam’s Royal Palace was considered the eighth wonder of the world. While its exterior was influenced by Ancient Roman architecture, the inside contains one of the world’s best furniture collections. The ceilings are painted by students of Rembrandt, and the halls are decorated with marble sculptures.
Today, the Royal Palace is the King’s Residence when he’s in Amsterdam, and it’s also used for ceremonies and events. During the Dutch Golden Age of the 17thcentury, when Amsterdam was the largest business hub in the world, the building was Amsterdam’s City Hall.
6 Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
Situated just outside of Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace is brimming with history. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the estate was used as the Imperial summer residence in the 17th century and was also where Mozart performed his first concert at the age of six.
Thought of as one of the most significant cultural landmarks in the country, Schönbrunn Palace was inspired by Versailles and contains many extravagant rooms that visitors can tour. Inside you’ll find private dining rooms, bedchambers, a ballroom, and the private study of Emperor Franz Joseph.
5 Rundale Palace, Pilsrundāle, Latvia
For locals, Rundale Palace is the Versailles of Latvia. Contributing to the opulence is a rose garden hosting more than 2,400 types of roses, a green amphitheater, a banquet hall known as the Great Gallery, elaborate fountains, and 54 rooms.
The palace was first constructed in the 16thcentury on land where a medieval castle once stood. It has since been demolished and refurbished and remained open to the public during the Second World War. Today you can visit the various collections and exhibitions in the museum and tour the surrounding rose gardens.
4 Alhambra, Andalusia, Spain
One of the oldest palaces on this list, Alhambra was built as a small fortress in 899 on grounds that once contained a Roman fortress. Starting in the 13th century, Alhambra served as a residence of the Grenadine Kings. In the late 1400s, the palace became a Christian court and fell into a state of neglect during the 18th century. In 1870, it was declared a national monument.
In the late 20th century, Alhambra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the main points of interest in Andalusia.
3 Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany
Situated in the quaint town of Potsdam, Sanssouci Palace was the summer home of Frederik the Great. Another building reminiscent of Versailles, Sanssouci boasts lavish terraced gardens, more than 3,000 fruit trees, and the Great Fountain as part of its outdoor design.
The name of the palace translates to “without worries” and is an accurate description of the palace during the 1700s when Frederik would escape the Berlin Court at Sanssouci. Today there are day trips running to Potsdam from Berlin, which is only a short train ride away.
2 Royal Palace Of Caserta, Italy
There is one big reason why you should include the Royal Palace of Caserta on your bucket list: it’s the biggest royal palace in the world. Designed by the architect Ludwig Van Wittel, who was later referred to as Vanvitelli, the palace was built in the mid-1700s. Caserta is the capital of the province of the same name, which is located in the Italian region of Campania.
On a tour of the palace, you’ll find extravagant throne rooms and royal apartments, a theatre, and a stage that opens out into the surrounding park and is used for plays.
1 Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
One of the most famous palaces in Europe, the Winter Palace served as the official residence of the Russian imperial family between 1732 to 1917, even though the last two tsars spent more time in other palaces. Following the Russian Revolution, the palace was briefly used as a seat of government. Today it is one of the world’s most popular museums, attracting more than three million visitors every year.
Inside the palace, you can wander through the staterooms, chambers, and reception halls. There are also more than 2.7 million exhibits on display inside the Hermitage Museum.