Castles in Europe are like the continent’s collection of eerie, cobweb-draped ancestral portraits.; each one owith its own eerie story. And if you’re interested in this kind of stories, you’ll surely love this article. From the misty highlands of Scotland to the sun-drenched vineyards of Italy, here are the most fascinating haunted castles in Europe that will give you the creeps.
Helpful Tips For Exploring Haunted Castles In Europe
- Research the Legends: Before you go, look up the most haunted castles and the stories behind them. It’s not just about the history—it’s about the mysteries.
- Tour Timing: Opt for evening or night tours if they’re available. The dim light and shadowy corners make for a much spookier atmosphere and a more authentic experience.
- Visit Off-Peak: Try to visit during the off-season or on weekdays. Fewer people can make for a more personal and eerie exploration.
- Talk to Locals: Engage with the castle staff or local townsfolk; they often have the best anecdotes and might share lesser-known tales that you won’t find in guidebooks.
- Join ghost tours that will help you learn about the haunted history of different places. On this link, you’ll find some of our favourite haunted tours in Europe.
- Some of these castles are offbeat and require driving to get there. For that purpose, it might be a good idea to rent a car. You can use our Auto Europe link and compare deals from different car rental companies and save up to 15% on your car rental. For more info, you can check out our honest Auto Europe review.
- Last but not least, don’t forget about travel insurance. I’m personally using and recommending SafetyWing. Unlike some other travel insurance providers that might tempt with low rates but skimp on coverage, SafetyWing ensures a comprehensive shield for all kinds of unexpected things you may come across. For more info, check out our SafetyWing review.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Now, if we were to talk about scary haunted castles in Europe, you’d find Edinburgh Castle jostling for a top spot on that spectral list. Built in the 12th century, it’s been a royal residence, a military stronghold, and a potent symbol of Scottish endurance.
But about those ghostly tales – it seems every nook of this castle has a spectral tenant. There’s the Lone Piper, a boy who vanished without a trace in the tunnels below the castle. They say his piping sometimes fills the air. Is it the wind? Or is the young lad still lost, playing his tunes in the darkness?
Then there’s the Headless Drummer, first spotted in 1650, who apparently heralds danger for the castle. Not to mention the countless prisoners from the Seven Years’ War, the American War of Independence, and the Napoleonic Wars. With dungeons that have held so much despair, you’d be surprised if they weren’t haunted…
If you’re looking to visit the castle and learn its haunted history, check out the Old Town Witches And History tour that includes a detailed guided tour of the castle.
Dalhousie Castle, Scotland
The tale of Dalhousie begins in the 13th century – that’s the 1200s for those who find the counting of centuries a bit of a brain-teaser. It’s the seat of the Clan Ramsay, and they’ve held onto it tighter than a Scotsman holds onto his whiskey. They’ve had their mitts on it for over 800 years, making it the longest continually inhabited castle in Scotland. Aye, that’s no small feat.
But let’s talk about why this regal pile of stones is counted among the haunted castles in Europe. It’s said that the Grey Lady wanders the halls. She’s not your typical chain-rattler or portrait-eyed follower; no, this ghost is believed to be Lady Catherine, a mistress of the castle who perished rather dramatically from a broken heart. Now, she roams the chambers and stairwells, perhaps looking for lost love or just to remind guests that checkout is at 11 am sharp.
Dragsholm Castle, Denmark
Built in the 12th century by the Bishop of Roskilde, this castle didn’t dabble in modesty. It went straight for the opulent. Over the centuries, it has been the home of nobility, the digs of a dastardly prison, and now, a hotel with more stars than a clear night in the Danish countryside.
Dragsholm is the all-you-can-eat buffet of ghost stories. It’s said to be home to no fewer than 100 ghosts, making it as crowded in the afterlife as a midnight sale at a Viking supply store.
First off, there’s the White Lady. Before she was floating through hallways, she was just a regular noblewoman, pining for someone her father decidedly did not want her to marry. Daddy apparently didn’t just say no; he said, “Let’s brick her up within the walls” no. They say her dress rustles against the stones as she searches for her lover.
Chillingham Castle, England
The castle’s story begins in the 12th century – which, in castle years, is old enough to have seen a lot but still spry enough to keep standing. It’s been through the Wars of Scottish Independence and played host to its fair share of royalty. Edward I popped by in 1298 on his way to battle William Wallace. Fancy, right?
But onto the juicy part: the haunting. Chillingham is quite the spectral hotspot. There’s the Blue Boy, who apparently used to haunt the Pink Room until his bones (and those of a man, possibly his father) were found behind a wall. The bones were given a proper burial, and it seemed the Blue Boy was given a proper rest… or was he?
Then there’s the ghost of Lady Mary Berkeley, left heartbroken and wandering the halls when her husband ran off with her sister. Talk about family drama. Guests have reported feeling her woeful presence and hearing the rustle of her dress in the dead of night.
Windsor Castle, England
William the Conqueror picked the site for its top-notch defensibility—back in the 11th century, it was all about location, location, location. Fast forward to the present, and it’s one of the Queen’s preferred weekend pads—not bad for a weekend getaway.
Now, as for the spooky stuff, Windsor is up there with the haunted castles in Europe. It’s got a lineup of ghostly guests that would even have the Addams Family locking their doors. Take Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I; she’s been spotted by several members of the royal family, pacing around the library. She’s apparently quite the well-mannered specter, though. No book-throwing or anything uncouth; she’s just fond of a good haunt in her former home.
Then there’s King Henry VIII—larger than life and apparently not much quieter in death. His ghost has been said to haunt the Cloisters, often heard hobbling around, possibly due to the ulcerated leg that plagued him in life. Seems even the afterlife can’t cure a bad leg.
Cabra Castle Hotel, Ireland
The castle’s roots dig deep into the 18th century, built on lands that have felt the tread of Norman knights. Yes, among the haunted castles in Europe, Cabra has a particularly chatty ghost or two.
The most famous spectral resident is known as the Green Lady, who is not just content with a fleeting shadow in your peripheral vision; oh no, she’s full-frontal ghostly nobility. She’s said to be a rather intense spirit of a lady who took a tumble down the stairs (or was it a push? The walls keep their secrets). Guests report her wandering the halls, trailing an air of melancholy and perhaps searching for justice or maybe just a good night’s sleep.
And yet, Cabra Castle Hotel isn’t just a haven for those with a taste for the paranormal. Today it’s a luxury retreat where the four-poster beds come without cobwebs, and the only spirits you need to worry about are the ones clinking with ice in your glass at the bar.
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Leap Castle, Ireland
The castle’s origins are as murky as a foggy Irish morning, with construction dates debated, but it’s generally agreed to have been established in the 13th or 14th century. The O’Bannon clan were the original Airbnb hosts, so to speak, although the ownership—and subsequent family feuds—were mostly with the famously feisty O’Carrolls.
The O’Carrolls, bless their quarrelsome hearts, were not the ‘share and share alike’ type. The castle’s chapel, now known as the ‘Bloody Chapel,’ was the site of a particularly gruesome episode when one brother, a priest, was slain by another mid-mass.
And about that reputation for being haunted—well, the castle’s guest list is said to include a fascinating array of the afterlife. There’s the Red Lady, who’s been seen cradling a dagger with an aura of menace about her. Then there are the spirits of two little girls, said to be seen frolicking in the main hall before disappearing into thin air, giggling as they go. Let’s not forget the ‘Elemental,’ a mysterious presence that’s more felt than seen, a shadow cast by no one, leaving a chill in its wake.
Frankenstein Castle, Germany
Let’s get the facts straight first: Frankenstein Castle in Germany dates back to around the 13th century, built by the (perhaps aptly named) von Frankenstein family. They didn’t have a green monster in their coat of arms, but they certainly left a monstrous imprint on the local landscape, ruling over the surrounding land with the kind of iron fist that tends to leave a mark.
Now, as for the hauntings, this place would be the crown jewel in any haunted castles in Europe tour. It’s rumored to be the haunt of the spirits of knights who once clanked their way through its corridors. And then there’s the alchemist Johann Conrad Dippel, born in the castle in 1673, who was said to have been quite the character—dabbling in elixirs of life and concoctions that were the talk of the town (and not in a good way). Some even whisper that his experiments on the dead were an inspiration for Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”
Muiderslot Castle, Netherlands
Let’s rewind the tape to 1285 when Count Floris V of Holland decided to plant his flag (and his fortress) right here, giving the Netherlands one of its most selfie-worthy castles. Muiderslot is a classic example of a medieval castle, complete with towers, a moat, and even a drawbridge that might make you half-expect a knight in shining armor to trot out on his steed.
But what’s a castle without a ghost or two? Among the fabled haunted castles in Europe, Muiderslot has its own ethereal guest list. The most notable is perhaps the castle’s very own creator, Count Floris V. According to the whispers that echo off the ancient stones, he was kidnapped and imprisoned in his own castle. Some say you can still sense the Count’s presence wandering the halls, perhaps pondering the trustworthiness of his erstwhile friends or lamenting his taste in dungeon decor.
As the centuries ticked by, Muiderslot served as a courthouse, a prison, and a private residence. It’s even been the muse for poets and the subject of paintings. Each era left its fingerprint, contributing to the rich tapestry that is Muiderslot’s history.
Horst Castle, Belgium
Horst Castle, or Kasteel van Horst as the Belgians call it, stands in stoic grace in the municipality of Holsbeek. This moated castle dates back to the 15th century, but its foundations are rumored to be even older, possibly reaching back to the 1300s. It’s a prime specimen of medieval architecture, complete with a keep, residential buildings, and a farm—all of which have seen better days but still retain a charm that modern buildings can only aspire to.
Now, let’s talk about the ‘haunted’ bit—because what’s a castle without a good ghost story? Legend whispers of the Lord of Rode, who, as the story goes, is seen riding his horse-drawn carriage around the castle at night. They say he’s been doing this for centuries, ever since he left for the Crusades and never returned. His nightly jaunts are, according to the local folklore, an eternal quest to get back to his beloved castle.
Château d’Ancy-le-Franc, France
Commissioned by Antoine III de Clermont, it stands as a testament to the grandeur of its era, a quadrilateral symphony of symmetry and proportion. But behind the elegant façade and the geometrically precise gardens, there’s a rumor that Château d’Ancy-le-Franc is a card-carrying member of the haunted castles in Europe. The tales are more subtle here, more vine than vein—the kind that doesn’t shout at you but rather whispers as you wander through the hallways adorned with murals and frescoes that could give the Sistine Chapel a run for its money.
The haunt in question? Not your run-of-the-mill clanking chains and moaning spirits, but rather the soft rustle of silken skirts whispering along the corridors. The lady in question is said to be Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henry II, who, if the gossips are to be believed, preferred the quiet luxury of the château to the bustling court life.
Château de Brissac, France
Built in the 11th century, the original fortress was given a Renaissance makeover by the illustrious Brissac family in the 15th century, because let’s face it, medieval just wasn’t en vogue anymore. The castle we see today is like an architectural layer cake, with a base of Middle Ages grit and a Renaissance frosting, topped with a 19th-century château-chic flair.
But let’s not forget why we’re here—to whisper about the whispers. The Château de Brissac is a member of the elite society of “haunted castles in Europe”. The ghost of La Dame Verte, or the Green Lady, is said to roam its opulent halls. Who is she, you ask? None other than the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII, who met her untimely demise in the castle—murdered by her husband after he caught her in a scandalous embrace.
They say she’s been wandering the château ever since, dressed in her green dress, with gaping holes where her eyes and nose should be—because even in the afterlife, fashion is forever, but facial features are apparently optional.
Castle of Carini, Italy
Constructed by the Normans (because who else had the flair for building impenetrable fortresses that could stand the test of time and warfare), the Carini Castle is supposedly haunted by the unfortunate Laura Lanza, heir to the castle. Shefound herself in the middle of a 16th-century scandal when her father allegedly caught her in a not-so-compromising position, resulting in him taking matters into his own deadly hands. The Baroness met her end in the castle itself, and it’s said her blood still stains the floor – talk about a tough stain to get out.
Fast forward to the present, and the Castle of Carini stands as a proud member of the haunted castles in Europe. Tourists flock to catch a glimpse of the Baroness’s spirit, which is said to still wander the halls, perhaps in search of a better ending to her tragic tale.
Moosham Castle, Austria
Originally the administrative center for the archbishops of Salzburg, it was a hub of power – the kind that comes with heavy tax ledgers and the clinking of coins. It was the Middle Ages version of Wall Street, minus the stock exchange and with a whole lot more armor. But it’s not its financial acumen that Moosham is known for. Oh no. This castle is infamous for its tenure as the ‘Witches Prison’ during the witch trials of the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s said that the halls of Moosham saw more than its fair share of accused witches and wizards.
The castle is renowned as one of the most haunted places in Europe, with locals and visitors reporting all sorts of supernatural shenanigans. There’s talk of footsteps when no one’s walking, whispers when the air is still, and a chill that lingers a bit longer than it should. And then there are the deer. Yes, you heard that right. It seems the castle also played host to a series of rather mysterious and unsavory deer murders in the 1800s.
Predjama Castle, Slovenia
This list of haunted castles in Europe couldn’t be complete without Predjama. The castle’s most famous tenant, Erazem of Predjama, was a bit of a rogue knight—think Robin Hood, but with less giving to the poor and more feasting with his merry men. For over a year, Erazem was besieged by the Habsburgs but he wasn’t bothered. The castle had secret tunnels that led to freedom (and the occasional grocery run), which meant Erazem could thumb his nose at his attackers while enjoying fresh produce—medieval siege warfare at its finest.
But every tale has its twist. Erazem met his untimely end courtesy of a servant and a cannonball while he was in a rather… delicate position. Let’s just say even castles with in-built caves can’t protect you from treachery or ill-timed bathroom breaks.
Houska Castle, Czech Republic
Houska Castle isn’t your typical fortress. There are no kitchens, no source of water, no fortifications that make any strategic sense, and its chapel is located right over the supposed hell-hole. Some might say it’s overkill; others, divine intervention. The chapel was likely there to keep the demons at bay because when you’re dealing with hellish pitfall, you want more than just a strong padlock.
SS took over the castle during World War II, and it’s whispered they conducted occult experiments and dark rituals. The kind of stuff that would make Indiana Jones raise an eyebrow and maybe, just maybe, rethink his day job. In addition to this, there are enough spectral sightings and eerie occurrences to make even the most skeptical raise a ghostly white flag. People have reported seeing a vast array of apparitions, from a headless black horse to a woman in an old dress wandering the courtyard, not to mention strange human-animal hybrid creatures that seem to come straight from the pages of a fantasy novel—if that novel was penned by someone very, very disturbed.
Cachtice Castle, Slovakia
This castle was the preferred abode of one Countess Elizabeth Báthory, reputed to be the world’s most prolific female serial killer. ‘The Blood Countess’, as she was charmingly nicknamed, allegedly believed that bathing in the blood of virgins would preserve her youth.
The countess’s penchant for the macabre led to her confinement within Cachtice’s walls, not in a dank dungeon as you might expect, but in a set of rooms befitting her noble status. From 1610 until her death four years later, she was walled in, presumably with enough time to reflect on whether her skincare routine was worth it.
And if the spirits of hundreds of young women, whose lives ended within these walls, aren’t enough to chill your bones, the presence of the countess herself might do the trick. There’s something about a desolate castle with a backstory involving a body count that attracts the paranormal like moths to a flame. Visitors often report a feeling of being watched, sudden drops in temperature, or just an unshakeable sense of dread.
Bran Castle, Romania
Last but not least, we wrap this list of haunted castles in Europe with Bran Castle, often associated with the blood-sucking Count Dracula of Bram Stoker’s fame, which, let’s face it, is a hard association to shake off.
Built in the 14th century, Bran Castle served as a fortress to protect against the Ottoman Empire and later became a customs post on the mountain pass between Transylvania and Wallachia. Over the centuries, it’s been everything from a royal residence to a hospital during World War II, before finally settling into its current role as a museum and major tourist draw.
Now, as for its haunted reputation, let’s just say that Bran Castle has all the essential ingredients for a classic ghost story: a Gothic architectural masterpiece, an eerie atmosphere, a historical penchant for the macabre, and a backdrop of dark, dense forest.
How did you like this list of the most haunted castles in Europe? Did you ever get the chance to visit any of them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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