Spain’s exciting and complicated history has made it home to over 2500 castles today. These range from fairytale-like palaces to much more oppressive looking fortresses.
A stop at one (or all) of these beautiful castles will be a memorable addition to any Spain trip. While some have been beautifully preserved, others veer closer to impressive historical ruins.
As there are so many great options – it’s not easy deciding which attraction to add to your Spain itinerary. This guide will serve to highlight some must-see spots.
Whether you are looking to expand your historical knowledge, get some beautiful vacation pictures or simply upgrade your Spain Itinerary – you are in for a treat with some of these famous Spanish castles.
Alcázar de Segovia – The Real Life Fairytale
Alcázar de Segovia is an incredible piece of architecture located in the city of Segovia. It has a very distinctive shape, resembling the bow of a boat. Today it is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was originally built as a fortress but later housed Spanish royals. Today it is a museum that thousands of tourists visit for its beauty and rich history.
Segovia is a great day trip for anyone staying in Madrid. It should be an easy 25-minute train ride from Madrid station and thereafter just a quick 10-minute bus ride into the village.
It’s best to wear comfortable shoes as there will be a slight walk from the parking area to the castle. However, the views from the hilltop will be well worth it! Particularly if you can catch a magical sunset.
The tour of this palace-castle is very accommodating with the option of hearing it in English, Chinese or Spanish.
On this tour, you’ll visit the throne room where Christopher Columbus made an attempt at asking Queen Isabelle for the funding to travel to the Americas. Another one of its claims to fame is that it was one of the big inspirations for the castle of Disney’s Snow White. So although there are many stairs to the top of the tower, this would be your moment to feel like a fairy tale princess.
And for those who are drawn to battle or weaponry, the ancient artillery museum in the castle will be of real interest.
The interior is beautifully decorated with mosaics and so much history to be seen all around. The exterior of the palace is also really something special. It boasts an array of beautiful ponds, terraces and gardens for strolling around. You will also be able to enjoy some delicious tapas, wine and coffee in the palace grounds.
While visiting Segovia, definitely go to Restaurant Maribel for lunch – the suckling pig there is a tasty choice.
Tip: Try to get there as early as possible before the many tour groups and busses start pouring in around 10:30 am.
It’s certainly no surprise that this is one of the most popular castles to visit in Spain and should certainly be on your itinerary.
The Peniscola – The Castle on the Sea
The Peniscola is very well preserved, with a style representative of the moorish castles in Spain. It’s located in a beautiful old town and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.
Inside the castle grounds you can expect quaint winding streets with great views. There are also lovely restaurants and bars so don’t miss out on a delicious lunch at the local cafes.
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes as the walk can be rather inclined and potentially slippery. This would not be the day to wear your heels as the cobbled streets would make walking very awkward and uncomfortable.
Once at the top you can expect some breathtaking views of Peniscola and the ocean scenery. The stunning panoramic views will provide plenty of backdrop for those picturesque vacation photos. And in addition the self-guided tour of this castle is both entertaining and informative.
For any Game of Thrones fans this will be an exciting spot to put on your itinerary, because parts of the famous TV series were filmed at this Spanish castle.
In this beautiful medieval-feeling area, you may also be lucky enough to stumble upon a market and some lively music. All in all, this idyllic spot is a must-see when you are visiting the castles of Spain.
Tip: It would be advisable to check the weather forecast beforehand as this castle is quite exposed to the elements.
The Santa Bárbara Castle
This is a wonderful attraction to visit in Spain for those travelling on a budget as entrance here is free! It has a rich history dating back to as early as the 9th century.
This historic castle located in central Alicante, Spain, stands on Mount Benacantil. From the top of the castle you will get to enjoy spectacular 360° views of the city. It is also a great spot to relax and have a drink. Having sundowners while watching the sun set over Alicante will certainly make you fall in love with this beautiful city
You can also choose to do a 30-minute walk to the top. If you opt for this, there is a great footpath to take under the shade of the trees, perfect for a leisurely stroll. However, for those looking to have a slower-paced day, it is possible to drive to the top. Otherwise there is a third option to take a very inexpensive elevator ride up.
Tip: Taking the elevator up and walking down is also a great option that many choose to do to broaden the experience of the trip.
This castle is ideal in how accessible it is to anyone who wishes to enjoy some beautiful views and Spanish history. This is a great choice for the whole family.
There are very well maintained bathrooms and other facilities at the top. You can also expect to have superb views and cafes with refreshing drinks and authentic tapas.
The Alcazaba Spanish Fort
The Alcazaba is located in Almería in the South of Spain. This fortress dates back to the 10th century. It is one of the most well-preserved and refurbished forts in southern Spain and is no doubt a landmark of the city.
This is another great budget-friendly sight to put on your itinerary as there is no entrance fee. You can easily get there by catching a tourist bus from the city. The walking route to the castle meanders through historic streets and past a beautiful cathedral.
Surrounding this fort there is a beautifully maintained garden area boasting some lovely water features. This can be a nice cool spot to come relax and escape the heat of the city.
While in Almeria this is a must-see – it’s sure to be a highlight of your visit.
This Spanish castle is an old military fortress in Barcelona and can be traced back to the 1640’s. Today it simply serves as a municipal site in Barcelona. But it no doubt makes for a great sightseeing trip.
This castle is not too far from downtown and is conveniently accessible by bus and subway.
It’s recommended to take either a taxi or the cable cars, as the walk can prove to be a little challenging. However, for those eager for a hiking challenge or some exercise, this would be an ideal opportunity to get those steps in.
Tip: Be sure to take note of the cable car times as they may stop going around 6pm, depending on the season and the day.
From up there you can enjoy some fantastic views of Barcelona. There are also some great cafes to grab a bite to eat. It’s a popular spot to come kick back with a beer and watch the sunset over the city. The architecture and landscaping is also a great attraction and provides lots to admire.
Castle of Belmonte
The Castillo de Belmonte is a medieval castle on the hill of San Cristobal. It is a beautifully restored piece of architecture with lots of artifacts and a rich history to admire. This is a great pitstop to make if travelling between Valencia and Madrid.
The Castle of Belmonte is surrounded by some beautiful countryside views and makes for an excellent cycling and walking area. If you have wisely rented a car (with plenty of rental options here) during your trip, this would be an excellent roadtrip stop off. It is a great place for kids and simply for the whole family to enjoy.
Final Words on Castles in Spain
Spain is a country with so much rich history to offer that a trip to this vibrant place would not be complete without visiting the incredible castles and fortresses that mark this complex history.
So whether you are looking for a fun day trip for family and friends or looking to expand your historical knowledge; you simply must visit some of these famous castles in Spain. We’re sure that in this diverse list, you’ll have found something that suits your tastes perfectly.
Whether it’s a fairytale moment or a knight-like one, you can live out your dreams in the towers and courtyards of Spain’s best castles.