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7 of Europe’s most captivating castles

If you’re drawn to lands where time appears to have stood still, these five destinations may be just what you’re looking for. These spots are prime turret-topped territory, endorsed by castle-loving Booking.com travellers in search of a sprawling palace, a petite châtelet, or a centuries-old citadel.* From the legend-bearing hills of southern Ireland to the depths of the Loire Valley, we’ve uncovered accommodation straight out of a story book.

Sully-sur-Loire, France

The romantic beauty of The Château de Sully-sur-Loire

The romantic beauty of The Château de Sully-sur-Loire

The Loire Valley is blessed with beauty, lined with lush scenery and grand abodes. Standing guard downriver from Orléans, the imposing Château de Sully-sur-Loire is no exception. A veritable fortress – complete with keep, drawbridge and impenetrable walls – Charles V’s architect, Raymond du Temple, flourished the castle with dainty turrets and manicured gardens, creating a real imaginative feel. Guided tours uncover the history woven into the ancient palace’s fabric.

Where to have sweet dreams: A 19th-century house with a courtyard, Hotel La Closeraie is just a few minutes’ stroll from Château de Sully-sur-Loire. Booking.com guests rave about the hosts’ warm welcome and terrace, and you can tuck yourself into the lounge or library on cooler evenings.

Azay-le-Rideau, France

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau blends French and Italian design

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau blends French and Italian design

Diminutive Azay-le-Rideau is a tiny treat of a town, cramming a long history into its winding streets. Unusually set – in the River Indre – the lavish lair of Château d’Azay-le-Rideau appears like a graceful vessel, attracting visitors in their droves. A 16th-century masterpiece, its ‘tuffeau’ limestone façade is garnished with French and Italian finishes, and a soaring spire-tipped roof, while interiors are bedecked with Renaissance décor.

Where to have sweet dreams: You couldn’t get a crash-pad any closer to the château than the historic Hôtel de Biencourt. The friendly owners made stays really special for Booking.com guests, who loved the old-world charm and the sun trap of a terrace.

Bojnice, Slovakia

The 13th-century Bojnice Castle overlooks the town

The 13th-century Bojnice Castle overlooks the town

The green peaks of Bojnice Castle reach high above the serene town like a scene straight out of a Disney movie. Visitors can explore the 13th-century Gothic and Renaissance bastion, as well as the labyrinthine cave below it. The castle offers the ideal venue for the springtime Festival of Ghosts and Monsters, which sees all kinds of creatures mingle amongst the fortified walls.

Where to have sweet dreams: Apartmany Hujer looks straight out onto Bojnice Castle, offering roomy accommodation. The castle grounds, a zoo and restaurants are all within a quick walk of the well-equipped property.

Blarney, Ireland

The famous Blarney Stone is said to provide 'the gift of the gab' to those who kiss it

The famous Blarney Stone is said to provide 'the gift of the gab' to those who kiss it

Ireland isn’t short on wild scenery, glorious castles and myths – and Blarney is no exception. A 13th-century keep and tower, it attracts visitors with one mission: to kiss the Blarney Stone, said to bestow eloquence and persuasion (also known as the ‘gift of the gab’). Away from the queues, wander expansive grounds including the Seven Sisters and Himalayan walks, as well as the poison and jungle gardens.

Where to have sweet dreams: After a day’s exploring, you can put your feet up in Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel, just a 10-minute walk from the castle. Guests loved staying in the restored mill building, which features a pub dishing up Irish fayre.

Malbork, Poland

Malbork’s Castle was once home to the Teutonic Knights

Malbork’s Castle was once home to the Teutonic Knights

The impressive form of Malbork’s Castle of the Teutonic Order dominates the River Nogat’s banks. Its red-hued bricks proved sturdy enough for the Teutonic Knights to call it home for 150 years, before the castle suffered the effects of war and siege. Nowadays, the impeccably restored fortress is open to visitors who can wander over a drawbridge and through the majestic Knights’ Hall, under the Gothic Golden Gate doorway and into St Mary’s Church.

Where to have sweet dreams: Just a 10-minute wander from the castle, the apartments at Premium-Pokoje Gościnne were a hit with guests looking for a well-located accommodation option. Breakfasts went down a treat, as did the castle views.

Rheinsberg, Germany

Rheinsberg Castle's design reflects the style of Potsdam's renowned Sansoucci Palace

Rheinsberg Castle's design reflects the style of Potsdam's renowned Sansoucci Palace

Evolving from a medieval stronghold to a fine Renaissance retreat for the future Frederick the Great, Rheinsberg Castle still stands majestically on Lake Grienerick. A playground for the young crown prince, it was flourished with turrets, columns and Rococo flair. Come spring or summer, you can experience a classical music festival, or simply explore the extensive gardens. The seat’s wonderful design is based on the equally elaborate style of Potsdam’s Sanssoucci Palace.

Where to have sweet dreams: Wander across Triangelplatz from Rheinsberg Castle and the lake’s jetty to Gasthof & Fleischerei Endler’s 18th-century guesthouse. Travellers enjoyed the locally sourced, hearty dishes, and the proximity to Rheinsberg’s outdoor beauty.

Postojna, Slovenia

Predjama Castle has featured in films and TV shows

Predjama Castle has featured in films and TV shows

Tiny Postojna sits relatively off the tourist radar, but is loved for the 13th-century Predjama Castle, located 10 km outside. Cut dramatically out of a cliff, the lightly hued palace contrasts against the rock face, making for a somewhat surreal setting. So inspired have visitors been, that it’s acted as a filming backdrop and hosts the annual Erazem Medieval Tournament. Away from the Renaissance marvel, the hillsides make for a great day’s exploring.

Where to have sweet dreams: Just over 100 metres from Predjama’s striking site, Guesthouse Požar can’t be beaten for location. The homely venue serves tasty dishes, with a side helping of great views.

**We’ve chosen these properties based on proximity to a castle. The destinations proved popular amongst travellers who endorsed the destination for 'castles'.