Explore These Creepy European Castles This Halloween

Europe has many spooky castles that are said to be haunted, including Fyvie in Aberdeenshire
Europe has many spooky castles that are said to be haunted, including Fyvie in Aberdeenshire | © william gale / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor13 October 2020

Castles are often at the centre of tales of historic hauntings – and they have an appeal that both fascinates and frightens us. We take a look at where you can find some of the creepiest fortifications in Europe.

This Halloween promises to be unlike any other. With social distancing in place around the world, many of us are looking for ways to go out and explore new destinations away from the crowds. We’ve picked these haunted castles that are perfect for adventurers – and we’ve paired each of them with nearby places to stay.

Bran Castle, Romania

Archaeological site, Building, Museum, Historical Landmark
Map View
A view of the scary Bran Castle, Brasov County, Romania
Bran Castle, Brasov County, Romania | © Marco Taliani de Marchio / Alamy Stock Photo
Every castle in Romania claims to be the inspiration behind the Dracula (1897) story, but Bran Castle has a compelling case to argue. Set in the vast forests of Transylvania, in central Romania, the place doesn’t actually have any links to Bram Stoker’s vampire.Visitors, however, have reported feeling uneasy when wandering around the castle and there is a dark past associated with ancient wars in the area. Clever marketing might have made this place famous, but are you brave enough to visit here at night?

Stay here:The Best Boutique Hotels in Cluj-Napaco

Leap Castle, Ireland

Historical Landmark
Map View

Widely regarded as the most haunted castle in the world, this castle, in Coolderry, County Offaly, Ireland, has featured in a number of TV shows due to its spooky nature. The Red Lady patrols the halls with a dagger, and two young spirits are said to be constantly running up and down a spiral staircase.These apparitions are mere tasters of the sinister entity known as It, which makes its presence known on numerous occasions, so it’s said, via the stench of rotting corpses. It’s no wonder this paranormal activity is actively promoted by the team looking after the castle today.

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The Tower of London, England

Building, Museum
Map View
Tower of London, historic medieval fortress and palace, London England
Tower of London, historic medieval fortress and palace, London | © Frank Vetere / Alamy Stock Photo

It’s hard to believe some of the dark tales about this medieval castle when you visit in daylight. The Tower of London, however, has a gory history. It’s usually busy with tourists who come to see the Crown Jewels and the Beefeater guards, but how many are aware of the numerous ghosts that have been reported in the grounds? The tower not only housed some of the most famous royal prisoners from British history, it was also the place where many criminals spent their final nights before facing the executioner’s axe.

Stay here: The 11 Most Famous Hotels in London

Fyvie Castle, Scotland

Historical Landmark
Map View
Fyvie Castle general view
Fyvie Castle | © Sérgio Nogueira / Alamy Stock Photo

Fyvie Castle, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is where Robert the Bruce once held an open-air court in the 14th century, and the castle has been a royal stronghold since. In recent years, renovations have significantly improved the experience for visitors, but may have disturbed long-dormant spirits. There is believed to be a secret room, sealed up somewhere in the grounds of the castle, that places a curse on anyone that enters it. Good thing it’s a secret then.

Stay here: The Best Boutique Hotels in Aberdeen

Dragsholm Castle, Denmark

Historical Landmark
Map View

One of the few castle you can actually stay in, this baroque building has stood on an islet in the Danish town of Dragsholm for more than 800 years. From the outside, it looks rather unassuming, but it was once a prison for religious and noble inmates. The grounds of the castle are natural expanses of greenery that should be a delight to explore, as long as you don’t run into the phantom Grey Lady. The castle is just over an hour away from Copenhagen, so if you’re spending a few days in the Danish capital, visiting Dragsholm is a great way to see a different part of the country.

Stay here: The 10 Best Boutique Hotels in Copenhagen

Houska Castle, Czech Republic

Historical Landmark
Map View
Houska Castle is an early Gothic castle. It is one of the best preserved castles of the period. Notable features include a predominantly gothic chapel
Houska Castle is an early Gothic castle | © Micha Klootwijk / Alamy Stock Photo

We should all be grateful this gothic castle near Prague exists as it apparently blocks demons from marauding across the planet. Folklore suggests the foundations of Houska Castle were placed on a gateway to hell, and that if anything should happen to the building, all manner of otherworldly nightmares would enter our mortal realm. The castle is now owned by the president of car manufacturer Škoda, but is still open to the public.

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Frankenstein Castle, Germany

Map View
historic buildings
Frankenstein Castle | © Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

If we’re going to start our list with Dracula, we might as well end with his pal, Dr Frankenstein. Set south of Frankfurt, in Hesse, the area surrounding this castle is best known for its vineyards and mild climate. If there are any rogue lightning strikes, however, this might not be the best place to find shelter. A recent Halloween tradition has seen American servicemen host a spooky festival in the ruins, and a nearby restaurant is famed for its Horror Dinner Nights. Locals use the area for hiking whereas Mary Shelley is thought to have taken inspiration from here for her 1818 gothic novel, Frankenstein.

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These recommendations were updated on October 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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