Germany’s second-largest city and biggest port is known as ‘the gateway to the world’. One of the main centers of the Hanseatic League, it has attracted international trade since the Middle Ages and is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city, including the Spiecherstadt warehouses.
If you’re planning to take a day trip, there’s plenty to see in the surrounding countryside. Within a stone’s throw of Hamburg, there are a number of fairytale villages and medieval castles. Here are some of the most beautiful castles near Hamburg.
7 Great Castles to visit near Hamburg
1. Ahrensburg Palace
This beautiful white castle to the northeast of Hamburg dates back to the 13th century, but its current incarnation was built in 1585. It has been open to the public since 1955, and guests are given special slippers so that they can glide across the mansion’s parquet flooring.
Visitors can also see an impressive collection of art, china, and paintings. As well as the castle’s interiors, the surrounding parks are well worth a visit. There are events throughout the year, including a medieval market.
Where: Ahrensburg, South Schleswig-Holstein
When: 16th century
Open for Visit: Yes. 11:00 – 17:00 Tuesday – Thursday and weekends from March to October. 11:00 – 17:00 Monday, Wednesday, and weekends from November to February.
2. Schloss Reinbek
Built on the site of a monastery, Schloss Reinbek was constructed in the 16th century and has been the home of the aristocracy for many years. Schloss Reinbek is just outside of the Hamburg Metropolitan Area; it’s a 29-minute train ride from the city center.
In the past, it has been used as a hotel and the Institute of Forestry, before being restored in the 1970s. Nowadays, it is a cultural and art center and hosts lots of events. The castle gardens are home to the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and other open-air events.
When: 16th century
Style: Dutch Renaissance
Open for Visit: Yes. Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
3. Plön Castle
Plön Castle is not only one of the largest castles in Schleswig-Holstein, but it’s also the only one located on a hill. The vast castle was formerly the summer home of the Danish Royal Family.
Since then, it has also been a military academy and a boarding school but is now a training center for opticians. Because of this, it’s not always open to the public, but you can still do a guided tour at certain times. You’ll have to book in advance though.
When: 17th century
Open for Visit: Yes – Guided tours on Wednesdays from 19:00 – 21:00 and Saturdays and Sundays 16:30 – 18:30.
4. Schloss Eutin
Along with Gottorf and Glücksburg Castles, Eutin is one of the most important courtly secular buildings in Schleswig-Holstein. Originally founded in the 12th century, it was the residence of the city of Lübeck’s sovereign bishops.
A fire razed the castle to the ground in the late 17th century, but it was then rebuilt into a stunning Baroque park. Nowadays, the public can visit the castle as a museum, and there are festivals held there throughout the summer.
When: 17th century
Open for Visit: Yes. 11:00 – 17:00 Tuesday – Sunday from March to June. 10:00 – 18:00 Monday – Sunday from July to August. 11:00 – 17:00 Tuesday to Sunday, September to January.
5. Ludwigslust Palace
The impressive Ludwigslust Palace was initially built as a prince’s hunting lodge but is so grand that it came to be known as the Versailles of the North – or the Little Versailles of Mecklenburg.
In the castle, you’ll be able to explore an impressive art collection, a silver and art chamber, and a collection of antique clocks. In the summer months, the Golden Hall hosts concerts, while a walk through the grounds in the sun is a favorite activity for many visitors. Ludwigslust Palace is about 2.5 hours on public transport from Hamburg.
When: 18th century
Open for Visit: Yes. 10:00 – 17:00 from October to April. 10:00 – 18:00 from April to October
6. Schwerin Palace
This impressive castle looks like something straight out of a fairytale. Set upon an island in Schwerin Lake, it has long been the home of dukes and grand dukes.
The first traces of a fortress date back to the 10th century; however, the oldest parts of the castle are from the 15th century. Most of what you can see today is from 1857, including the golden dome and façade.
No one lives in the castle anymore, but there is a legend that it’s inhabited by the good-natured goblin Little Peter and the Schwerin Castle Poltergeist. Little Peter is said to have woken good soldiers if they fell asleep on their night watch so that they wouldn’t be punished.
When: 19th century
Open for Visit: Yes. 10:00 – 18:00 April to October. 10:00 – 17:00 October to April. Closed on Mondays.
7. Schloss Bothmer
Schloss Bothmer is the largest preserved Baroque castle in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Reached along an avenue lined with lime trees and surrounded by a wide moat, it resembles a traditional English country house, being inspired by both English and Dutch architecture.
It has, in the past, been used as a hospital for Typhus and Diptheria patients, as well as an old people’s home. Nowadays, there is a castle museum that showcases the history of the castle to guests. There’s a restaurant and café, and it’s also a popular place to get married. The castle’s façade has featured in quite a lot of films, too.
Open for Visit: Yes: 10:00 – 18:00.