Let all your childhood fairytale fantasies come true today. Known for some of the world’s most antiquated and beautiful palaces and castles, Eastern Europe is the region to visit for those who wish to know what it means to live like royalty of old.
With some of its oldest parts built more than a millennium ago, this opulent castle prides itself as “the largest coherent castle complex in the world”, so vast that guided tours are split into three different circuit categories. But Prague Castle isn’t just a massive plot of land – virtually every corner you turn is a postcard in itself. Is it any wonder that this was the site used in the opening scenes of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol?
Sure, not everyone gets to be of royal birth. But while you’re there, why not be your own action movie star against the backdrop of St. Vitus Cathedral’s grand steeple?
119 08 Prague 1, Czechia
Opening hours and guided tour tickets vary with seasons (visit the official Prague Castle websitefor a comprehensive list of tour and admission packages available)
Český Krumlov, Prague
Being a large castle is one thing, but being demarcated as an entire castle district? Now that’s another. Located at the outskirts of Prague, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a quaint Bohemian state-owned town that tax-paying locals proudly claim they are part owners of.
Can you blame them? With magnificent bridges and buildings of varying architectural styles from the Gothic to the Renaissance, I’d certainly do the same. A slow 45-minute walk in Český’s premises, and a strange sense of calm is bound to arrest your senses. Perhaps that’s how the King used to clear his head before making decisions pertaining to matters of the court.
381 01, Czechia
Opening hours and guided tour tickets vary with seasons (visit the Český Krumlov website for a comprehensive list of tour and admission packages available)
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
Ahh Vienna, the city of music, poise and beauty. Right in the heart of Vienna, Schöbrunn Palace epitomizes any conception you may have of a royal palace. With either a 22-room and 40-room tour to choose from, enjoy an intimate walkthrough of how the legendary Queen Maria Theresa of Spain (and well, most of Europe, actually) and her family passed their time in luscious rooms lavished with velvet, gold and china.
Not a fan of material extravagance? No worries, the backyard of Schönbrunn Palace boasts 1.2km2 of vineyards, gardens and nature’s finest, so expansive it once served as the royal Hasburg family’s hunting ground. With rows of neatly pruned trees on end, covering the entire area as the Hasburgs used to would take a ton of stamina – it certainly isn’t a walk in the park.
Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Wien, Austria
Opening hours and guided tour tickets vary with seasons (visit the Schönbrunn Palacewebsitefor a comprehensive list of tour and admission packages available)
Fisherman’s Bastion & Matthias Church, Budapest
Okay, this one isn’t exactly a castle – but just look at it! Located on Castle hill, Budapest, Fisherman’s Bastion overlooks and gives you a breathtaking view of the River Daniel and the entire city of Budapest. Its neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque terrace architecture is so timeless it looks like it popped right out of a fairytale!
Aside from statues that illustrate the life and conquests of King Stephen I of Hungary, adjacent to the Bastion is the Matthias Church towering over 80m on top of the hill. If this isn’t the perfect symbol of royal grandeur, I don’t know what is.
Budapest, Szentháromság tér, 1014 Hungary
Open to public
If you’ve ever seen Budapest in an action movie, chances are you’ve caught a glimpse of Budapest Castle. Located along the River Daniel in the heart of the city, this commanding structure is lit in warm hues at night, and is probably one of the main reasons why Budapest has been dubbed the Paris of Eastern Europe.
You probably won’t be able to grasp just how colossal the Castle is when inside its premises, so a better way to do so would be to take a boat ride from one of many vendors along the River Daniel and view the Castle from a distance. Coupled by the wind in your hair while on the boat, you’ll certainly be blown away by the building’s majesty.
Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary
Opening hours and guided tour tickets vary with seasons (visit the Budapest Castlewebsitefor a comprehensive list of tour and admission packages available)
As Royal As It Gets
Granted, there’re many other palaces and castles around the world that are just as majestic and beautiful as those listed above. But the best part about visiting these royal buildings is that they’re all within driving distance from one another, so you get to go castle-hopping with just one plane ticket!