When it comes to palaces and castles, Poland is probably not the first place you think of, so most people are pleasantly surprised. But, like many of its European neighbours, Poland has a history filled with royalty, crusaders and nobility.
Some Polish castles were built by the Teutonic Order, a group of warrior monks who, at times, attacked the Polish monarchy with force. Others were spearheaded by King Casimir III the Great, who led the country into prosperous times after ongoing wars. Many Polish castles look like something out of a fairy tale.
During World War II, many of Poland’s castles and palaces were demolished, either for their strategic value or to dampen the hope of the Polish people. After the war ended, the country tried to heal and rebuild. In time, many historic buildings were rebuilt and restored to their former glory.
Today you can explore many of these castles, see the museums inside and in some, even stay the night. Here are 20 incredible best castles in Poland to visit.
- Castles in Poland
- 20 Fairytale Castles In Poland
- 1- Wawel Royal Castle
- 2- Łańcut Castle
- 3- The Royal Castle In Warsaw
- 4- Nowy Wiśnicz Castle
- 5- Malbork Castle
- 6- Gniew Castle
- 7- Kwidzyn Castle
- 8- Gołuchów Castle
- 9- Kórnik Castle
- 10- Niedzica Castle
- 11- Moszna Castle
- 12- Książ Castle
- 13- Krzyżtopór Castle
- 14- Baranow Sandomierski Castle
- 15- Czocha Castle
- 16- Lidzbark Castle
- 17- Pieskowa Skała Castle
- 18- Ogrodzieniec Castle
- 19- Bolków Castle
- 20- Reszel Castle
- 20 Fairytale Castles In Poland
Castles in Poland
20 Fairytale Castles In Poland
1- Wawel Royal Castle
When King Casimir III the Great inherited the Polish throne in 1333, it was unwealthy, depopulated and recovering from a spate of wars.
Throughout his lifetime, he made many reforms, encouraged immigration and built extensively, including ordering the construction of Wawel Royal Castle Krakow’s city centre.
Nowadays, this Polish castle is one of the most important cultural sites in Poland.
It’s home to a museum with exhibits showcasing the royal staterooms, crown treasury and armoury, Asian artworks, archaeological finds, and the castle’s recovery after the Nazi occupation.
Next door is the Wawel Cathedral, which you could also visit on the same day.
Wawel Royal Castle is at Wawel 5, Kraków.
2- Łańcut Castle
Łańcut Castle consists of a complex of historical buildings that four different families owned before becoming a National Historic Monument.
Over time many artists and architects have worked on the castle, creating an impressive collection of art, architecture, and interior decor.
Today it is a museum that showcases what the aristocracy was like in Poland from the 17th century to the start of World War II.
Explore the castle, visit the Castle Carriage House exhibit, and see the largest collection of Ukrainian Orthodox Art left in Poland.
You can also learn about the 10th Mounted Rifle Regiment and stroll through the manicured gardens.
Łańcut Castle is at Zamkowa 1, Łańcut.
3- The Royal Castle In Warsaw
Home to Polish royalty for centuries, the Royal Castle in Warsaw has been the centre of many historic moments.
It was the successor to Wawel Royal Castle and was also where Parliament was located.
In the early days of World War II, a Luftwaffe fighter plane bombed the castle, causing some sections to catch fire.
The Nazis blew it up in 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising.
After the war ended, it was rebuilt and now you can tour through rooms restored to their original designs to see the royal quarters and view two masterpieces by Rembrandt.
There are also temporary exhibits and beautiful gardens to enjoy.
The Royal Castle is at Plac Zamkowy 4, Warsaw.
4- Nowy Wiśnicz Castle
On a leafy green hill overlooking the River Leksandrówka is Nowy Wiśnicz Castle.
Jan Kmita z Wiśnicza, a Polish knight, built for his family in the 14th century.
Since then, it has been expanded, looted by Swedes, burnt, and reconstructed.
Today visitors can explore the castle and its irregularly shaped fortifications. In particular, the chapel is quite beautiful.
There is also a virtual reality experience on offer, which takes you back in time to Nowy Wiśnicz Castle during the 17th century.
Nowy Wiśnicz Castle is at Zamkowa 13, Nowy Wiśnicz.
5- Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle is a 13th-century castle that graces the banks of the River Nogat.
It was founded by the military monks of the Teutonic Order who used it as a fortress base from where they could go out on crusades in Poland and around the edge of the Baltic Sea.
They lost control of the castle in 1457 and today, the Polish state owns it.
It’s also known as the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork and by land area, it is the biggest castle in the world and is open to the public.
You can tour through the castle and look at the huge range of exhibits on display, from military to ceramics.
The best spot to take in the size of the castle is from the other side of the riverbank.
Malbork Castle is at Starościńska 1, Malbork.
6- Gniew Castle
Gniew Castle dates to 1290 and is another Teutonic Order castle.
After the Order left, the castle was used as a family residence, home for the local governor and during World War II, a Nazi Germany prison.
Today it houses Hotel Zamek Gniew, which encompasses three different properties: Gniew Castle, Rozerski Hotel and Marysieńki Palace.
The castle houses the hotel’s luxury apartment rooms, fitness centre, pool, and spa.
It’s possible to visit the castle without staying there, by going on an organised tour through the chapel, defence gallery and torture chamber.
Gniew Castle is at Zamkowa 3, Gniew.
7- Kwidzyn Castle
Also a Teutonic Order style castle, Kwidzyn Castle was built at the start of the 14th century.
Over the years, the castle has hosted many battles and was partially destroyed and deconstructed.
In the late 1800s, the Polish government began restoring it and in 1950 Kwidzyn Castle became a museum.
Visitors can explore the castle, hire an audio guide, and see an exhibit on the biodiversity of Poland.
Kwidzyn Castle is at Katedralna 1, Kwidzyn.
8- Gołuchów Castle
Gołuchów Castle looks like something out of a fairy tale.
The early-Renaissance caste was built around 1550 and used as a stronghold and residence.
In the 19th century, the owners reconstructed it in the style of the French Renaissance and after World War II, it became a national museum.
This Polish castle houses an impressive art collection and visitors can explore the rooms on a guided tour.
Another attractive feature of the castle is it is on the edge of a large nature park with a small wildlife zoo.
Gołuchów Castle is at Działyńskich 2, Gołuchów.
9- Kórnik Castle
Built in the 14th century, Kórnik Castle was remodelled in 1855 to its current neo-gothic design.
The last private owner was Count Władysław Zamoyski, who died in 1924 childless and left the castle, an extensive art collection and Kórnik Arboretum to the state.
Today, visitors can tour the castle, walk over the original floors, and see the chapel, family rooms, dining hall, and lounge areas.
The castle is also home to the Kórnik Library and part of Count Zamoyski’s art collection.
Kórnik Castle is at Zamkowa 5, Kórnik.
10- Niedzica Castle
Sitting 550m above the Dunajec River, Niedzica Castle looks like the stereotypical castle we see in children’s playsets.
Kokos of Brezovica built it between 1320 and 1326 on the site of an ancient stronghold.
The castle’s ownership changed many times until the last owners, the Salamon family, fled during 1943 to avoid the fighting front coming towards them.
After the state came into possession of the castle, they reconstructed it and in 1963, it became a museum.
Exhibits include the torture chamber, private chambers, the Salamon family history, carriage house and granary.
Niedzica Castle is at Zamkowa 2, Niedzica-Zamek.
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11- Moszna Castle
Moszna Castle is another beautiful castle with a romantic design that looks like it belongs in the happy ending of a fairy tale.
The original parts of the castle are from a baroque palace built in 1768 and burnt by a fire in 1896.
The owner, Franz Hubert von Tiele-Winckler, decided to reconstruct and expand the damaged palace, with work beginning shortly after the fire and continuing until 1914.
It has an impressive 99 turrets and contains 365 rooms.
Today you can visit the castle on a tour, with a few different options being available.
The Extreme Tour is the most exciting as it goes through the underground corridors, crypt and up into the higher castle rooms.
Moszna Castle is at Zamkowa 1, Moszna.
12- Książ Castle
The largest castle in the Silesia region, Książ Castle overlooks a large gorge and is protected by the Wałbrzyski Foothills.
There have been castles on the site for hundreds of years since Bolko I the Strict ordered a proper castle built there in 1288.
The current castle was rebuilt in the Renaissance style during the 16th century and was occupied during WWII by the Nazis and then Red Army.
It has since been restored and parts are open to the public.
You can see the castle, its underground chambers and palm house, with an audio guide to explain the history.
There is also a night tour through an underground space created in secret by the Nazis, built using forced labourers and people imprisoned at the Gross-Rosen Concentration Camp.
Książ Castle is at Piastów Śląskich 1, Wałbrzych.
13- Krzyżtopór Castle
The ruins of Krzyżtopór Castle are in the village of Ujazd in southern Poland.
Krzysztof Ossolinski, a local noble and military leader, built the castle sometime during the early 1600s.
In 1655, the invading Swedish army pillaged the castle and structurally damaged some sections.
In 1770, it was seized by Russians, who continued the destruction. Then during WWII, an invading army once again ransacked the castle.
So far, attempts to reconstruct Krzyżtopór Castle have been unsuccessful but it’s still worth exploring the complex to imagine what it would have been like.
An audio tour and app help you to understand the history.
Krzyżtopór Castle is at Ujazd 73, Ujazd.
14- Baranow Sandomierski Castle
Baranow Sandomierski Castle is a Polish Mannerist style castle built between 1591 and 1606.
Successive owners expanded the castle, but it suffered severe damage from a fire in 1848, another fire in 1898 and the fighting during World War II.
Today the castle has been restored and serves a variety of purposes.
For day visitors, there are tours through the castle, and the French gardens can be explored.
The castle also hosts weddings in its chapel and some rooms are used by Restauracja Magnacka (restaurant) and Zamek w Baranowie Sandomierskim (hotel).
Baranow Sandomierski Castle is at Zamkowa 22, Baranów Sandomiersk.
15- Czocha Castle
The construction of Czocha Castle began in 1241 on the orders of King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, who wanted the castle in place to defend the Bohemia-Lusatian border.
The castle was ransacked during World War II and in the 1950s, it was used to host Greek refugees before later becoming a military resort for holidaying Polish soldiers.
These days, castle tours are popular and you can stay in the castle hotel.
It is also home to the Czocha College of Wizardry, a large Live Action Role Play game where participants can live out their Hogwarts inspired fantasies over several days.
Czocha Castle is at Sucha, Leśna.
16- Lidzbark Castle
One of Poland’s most famous castles for holidaymakers is Lidzbark Castle, a palace stronghold from the 14th century.
It has a defensive moat, 14 level tower and remnants from the time the Teutonic Order owned it during the 1400s.
Visitors can explore the castle independently or enjoy it as part of a group tour.
Some of the highlights are the dungeon, Polish art gallery and remnants from the Warmian bishops.
It is also possible to stay in a four-star hotel housed in one of the outer buildings next to the castle.
Lidzbark Castle is in the town of Lidzbark Warmiński.
17- Pieskowa Skała Castle
Pieskowa Skała Castle sits on Pieskowa Skała, a limestone cliff that overlooks the River Prądnik.
This castle was built by King Casimir the Great during the 14th century as part of his chain of defensive castles and is one of the best-preserved examples of a Polish Renaissance defensive castle.
Today it houses an extensive art collection and exhibitions from the collections of Wawel Royal Castle.
Pieskowa Skała Castle is at Sułoszowa 5, Pieskowa.
18- Ogrodzieniec Castle
Ogrodzieniec Castle was built in the 14th century and today lies in ruins.
Originally, it was a Neo-Gothic castle that was mostly replaced with a Renaissance castle in the 1500s.
From 1655 to 1657, the castle suffered a significant amount of damage from Swedish troops.
In later years, that damage was partially fixed, but in 1702 the Swedes attacked it again, and half of the castle burnt to the ground.
Today the castle is considered permanent ruins and is set up for visitors to explore.
There are guided tours, a castle museum, an armoury exhibit and a torture room.
Ogrodzieniec Castle is at Zamkowa, Podzamcze.
19- Bolków Castle
Another set of castle ruins, Bolków Castle has had a long and dramatic history.
The first version of the castle, completed in 1293, was a significant stronghold designed to protect the trade routes that ran nearby.
The castle then underwent a few transformations; it was enlarged during the 1300s, rebuilt in the 1500s, reconstructed in the 1700s and partially rebuilt in the 1900s.
Today visitors can explore the ruins, see the view from the castle tower, visit the castle museum and learn about its history.
Bolków Castle is at Zamkowa 1, 59-420 Bolków.
20- Reszel Castle
Reszel Castle was built between 1350 and 1401, with influence from the Teutonic Knights and Warmian bishops.
In the early 1500s, Nicholas Copernicus often visited the castle and in 1806, and again in 1807, it caught fire.
During the mid-1800s, the castle became a church and from the 1950s, its modern transformation began.
Today visitors can explore the castle museum, which focuses on medieval torture, climb the tower, and view a modern art gallery.
It is also possible to stay in Zamek Reszel, an affordable hotel with a restaurant located inside Reszel Castle.
Reszel Castle is at Podzamcze 3, Resze.