Central Europe is one of the most exciting places to visit for your next trip. Full of historical sites, marvelous cityscapes, distinct European culture, and cuisine, no one can resist its charm.
Whether you seek entertainment, love art, or have a history buff inside of you, we recommend you start planning a Central Europe travel itinerary.
While museums are a great way to get to know the country’s history and culture, they are not for everyone. Some travelers prefer other means of learning, and we totally agree that there are more than enough different ways to gain knowledge.
Today, we are focusing solely on palaces & castles.
There are more than 10 thousand historical castles in Europe, and Central Europe in particular has a significant number of them. If you are planning your journey through Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, or some of the other amazing central European countries, you’ll find this article helpful.
So, without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the best palaces you should add to your Central Europe travel plans;
While it has a just as beautiful namesake in Copenhagen, today we are visiting Berlin and all it has to offer.
Full of history, rich architectural displays, and the most gorgeous surroundings, Schloss Charlottenburg, is one of the most stunning places to visit in Germany. And while there are other significant heritage sites here, there is something so charming about Schloss Charlottenburg that you simply cannot miss.
Built in the 17th century, the palace was commissioned by the wife of Friedrich I and designed by the famous Johann Arnold Nering. Both the commissioner and the architect had a great impact on what Charlottenburg is today, even though it overcame some major and dramatic changes from the past.
The whole establishment is the perfect display of Baroque and Rococo architectural styles, with the most stunning exterior and internal pieces to prove it. That includes a lot of lavish decorations and the most wondrous art pieces. The facade was decorated with Corinthian pilasters, and on the top was a statue-heavy cornice.
Many artists contributed to Charlottenburg, donating various works and artifacts. Painters were commissioned to paint the walls and ceilings, making the palace as lavish as it is. You will see plenty of frescoes and even unusual expressions of art.
Speaking of unique expressions, you can visit the Amber Room, which is exactly what it sounds like. Its walls are surfaced in decorative art, giving it a dazzling gleam and spark.
Unfortunately, an extensive part of the castle was destroyed during World War II. The Germans were able to rebuild the whole thing and make Charlottenburg even more impressive than it was before.
So, hesitate no more, order your tickets and prepare for an adventure.
2. Hluboka Castle, Hluboka nad Vltavou
Carrying on with your central Europe travel quest of finding the most spectacular palaces in Europe, and jump on the high speed train from Berlin to Prague.
From there, you can easily navigate your way to the towns of Hluboka nad Vltavou. While quite small and relatively insignificant, it is home to one of the most beautiful places in the Czech Republic.
The historic chateau is one of the most visited places in the country, and for good reason. Its first construction took place in the 13th century and has since adapted to the Gothic, Renaissance, and even Baroque architectural styles, making it very diverse and unique.
It only reached its current appearance in the 19th century, but you can still see evident traits from six hundred years ago.
Initially a royal castle, Hluboka represented romantic structures and was even inspired by Windsor Castle. So, if you inspect more closely, you will be surprised by how many similar features there are to the most famous palace in the UK. However, there are several traits that are distinctly Central European.
The interior is pretty much what you would expect from your typical 19th-century European castle, but there is plenty of exciting stuff to see. Hluboka is actually filled with rich decorations, intricate woodwork, a chandelier, stained glass, and even pottery.
Make sure to take your time while moving through the palace, every little detail is worth exploring.
For that, we also suggest guided tours. There are plenty of groups or individual tours to join, all led by a well-competent fellow. While an audio guide would be just as generally informative, you cannot miss out on the legends, secret stories, and additional information a guide can provide you with!
The Czechs like to say that Hluboka Castle is perfect for romantics and history buffs, and we entirely agree. The lover in you will relish in these cozy designs and soft palettes, and if you are up for a history lesson, you will learn all there is about Hluboka’s development since the 13th century and its role in the Czech Republic.
3. Belvedere Palace, Vienna
It comes as no surprise to anyone that Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe and is famous for its gorgeous establishments and locations. Well, let’s skip the artsy districts and the Vienna State Opera House. Today, we are Belvedere!
Undoubtedly the most visited palace in Austria, Belvedere thrives on being a museum, as well. From general grounds, exhibition sites, and numerous stunning gardens, the court is all of the touristy entertainment combined in one.
The whole establishment consists of two Baroque castles, the Upper and Lower Belvedere, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. You can tour it all, but make sure to have enough time to enjoy it, sprinting through the rooms and the gardens is not an option here. To really learn about Belvedere, you must inspect it thoroughly.
The historical building complex was initially built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy but, over time, was also home to archdukes, monarchs, rulers, and all kinds of specimens of the Upper Class.
Much of the extensive sites and the castles’ lavishness was due to the fact that it was constructed during a period of Vienna coming into its own. So, you will definitely see a lot of fascinating sites from the 18th century.
Belvedere would be a lot like any colorful Pinterest picture if you were to look up fairytale castles. With a bright facade and decorative fountains, and flowerbeds, the palace is certainly one to admire.
All of the architecture and design stay true to the Baroque style, and Belvedere is considered to be one of the best displays of the style in Austria!
So, take the tour and find yourself deep within the historical artifacts, wealthy interior, fascinating stories, and perfectly-trimmed natural grounds. Belvedere is a must-see part of your Central Europe travel plans for 2023.
4. Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg
While we are still in Austria, let’s explore some more. Take the fast train from Vienna to Salzburg and get ready for yet another European gem, full of history, architecture, culture, traditions, and generally fun stuff to see.
Today, we are in Hohensalzburg.
The large medieval fortress sits atop the Festungsberg, an Austrian mountain of 542 meters in height. The unusual location and the means to match the Festungsberg’s magnitude make Hohensalzburg one of the most enormous palaces in Europe.
Construction began at the very beginning of the 11th century when Salzburg’s archbishops were solid and influential political figures due to their stance in the Holy Roman Empire.
It was archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein who commissioned Hohensalzburg, though what you will see today is pretty far from what he had in mind.
Initially, it was supposed to be a primary bailey with wooden walls, and it was only the influence of the steaming Austrian conflict between Helfenstein and Emperor Henry IV that was the initial force for the palace to expand.
Of course, additional pieces and wings were added over time, enlarging the fortress till it could rank among the biggest ones in Europe.
Naturally, Salzburg did not avoid the European international conflicts, leading to Hohensalzburh Palace being quite affected and damaged. However, even being in the middle of many wars and uprisings, the fortress really came under siege only once, and that was during the German Peasants’ War in the 16th century.
Apart from that, the outer effect was not enough to destroy Hohensalzburg, and Austrians like to joke that the palace will always kick back no matter what you throw at it.
Well, we have to agree since it has precisely ten centuries of age under its belt and is still considered one of the best-preserved sites in Europe!
Prepare to explore the Prince-Bishop’s apartment and tour the once-private rooms. A little glimpse into the lavish Austrian life during the middle ages will actually tell you more history than any museum can. It is all about their proud Austrian heritage and an excellent way for you to develop knowledge.
Apart from the private apartments, visit the Golden Hall and Golden Rooms, both meeting the expectations of their names, the chapel, and bedchambers. There is a whole tour you can take, but knowing Hohensalzburg’s size, we suggest audio for our guided tours.
5. Buda Castle, Budapest
Lastly, let’s pack our bags for our central Europe travel trip and make our way to Hungary, where the cityscape is brimming with gorgeous facades, lit-up castle tops, and the most beautiful nightlife terrain.
With a name not so unlike the capital city itself, the Buda Castle is definitely the most popular site in Hungary, and probably the most beautiful.
The historical palace and building complex was once home to the Hungarian Kings, and it certainly lives up to the royal name. First constructed in 1265, it changed quite a lot during the years, and most of what you will see now was actually from the 18th century when it was updated to display the true Baroque architectural style.
Apart from a close-up look at the Hungarian royal residence, there is plenty else to explore. Buda Castle houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Historical Museum, helping you kill three birds with one stone. Though, the expansive grounds will require a whole afternoon from you, so keep that in mind while planning your time.
Buda Castle is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Hungary, and its impressive architecture, along with historical artifacts, makes it one of the best Palaces to visit in Central Europe.
Make sure you visit the National Library to admire old books and documents, as well as furthering your way into the exhibition hall to see thousands of authentic historical Austrian artifacts.
Keep in mind that you should check the schedules and visiting times carefully. They usually vary due to a number of conditions, so the castle isn’t open all day, every day. Just check their website, and you will be fine.
While in Budapest you should make the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Historical Museum part of your central Europe travel plans also.
Central Europe Travel – Summary
Europe is filled with history and culture and a trip through Central Europe will be a highlight for even the most seasoned travelers and digital nomads.
If you’re a castle or history buff, we’ve only skimmed the surface with the palaces included in this article. There is so much more to do and see on your Central Europe travel expedition.
We hope we’ve inspired some bucket list items for you to include in your plans.
Before confirming your travel, check opening times and, if relevant, book tours, etc, in advance. While these sites are not usually overcrowded, it’s good to know they’ll be open when you get there!
Have an amazing trip, and be sure to take lots of pics!
Viktorija Oksaite is currently working as a copywriter and tenders writing services online in Lithuania. More often than not, she creates engaging articles about traveling and planning trips. Viktorija has been writing articles for a few years now, giving her insight into the client’s needs and allowing her to pay more and more attention to details. The aim of her work is to help people pick the perfect destinations and arrange a fulfilling holiday!