Cruising to the Castles of Europe

Cruising to the Castles of Europe

A castle is defined as “a large building or group of buildings fortified against attack with thick walls, battlements, towers, and in many cases a moat,” but what that definition fails to mention is the absolute beauty that some of these buildings still exude today.

From fairytale exteriors to lavish interiors and grounds suitable for the highest of nobility, you should definitely consider venturing out to one of these gorgeous sights on your next Holland America Line cruise in Europe.

Dover, England:

Leeds Castle in Kent, England, is one of the most attractive medieval castles in the region.

Leeds Castle in Kent, England, is one of the most attractive medieval castles in the region.

On the Leeds Castle tour, guests visit the ancient, yet romantic structure, regarded as the ‘most English of castles.’ In the 9th century, it was the site of a manor of the Saxon royal family. Since, it has been a Norman stronghold, a royal residence to six of England’s medieval queens, a palace to Henry VIII and a private home. Today, you will find some magnificent medieval furnishings, paintings and tapestries. The grounds, situated on two small islands in the middle of a lake, exude history.

Copenhagen, Denmark:

Frederiksborg in North Zealand, Denmark, is an exquisite Renaissance-style castle.

Frederiksborg in North Zealand, Denmark, is an exquisite Renaissance-style castle.

There is not one, but many, castles to be discovered during a call at Copenhagen, and the Castles of North Zealand shore excursion is the way to see them all. This lovely tour will take you through the lush Danish countryside, following the Danish Riviera and offering a picturesque view of the sea on one side and beautiful manor houses on the other. Your first stop will be Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerod, a magnificent Renaissance castle which now serves as the National Museum of History. The oldest organ in the world is still in use at the castle’s chapel.

From Frederiksborg Castle you will head to Fredensborg Castle, also known as the Versailles of Denmark. Fredensborg is the summer home of the Danish royal family. The castle was designed in Baroque style by architect Johan Cornelius Krieger, per request of King Frederick IV at the end of the Great Northern War.

The tour will then continue north to the town of Elsinore to visit Kronborg Castle, better known as Hamlet’s Castle, as it was chosen by the great author William Shakespeare as the setting for his famous play. The castle houses the largest banquet hall in northern Europe and is regarded as one of the most important Renaissance castles in the region.

Rosyth (Edinburgh), Scotland:
There’s no city more famous for its castle than Edinburgh. On the Edinburgh Highlights and Castle tour, guests explore Edinburgh Castle, home of Scottish kings and queens for centuries, perched on its rocky site 445 feet above the city. Inside, don’t miss the 15th-century Old Royal Palace, which houses the Scottish Crown Jewels. See the apartment in which Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to the future King James VI of Scotland who also became James I of England. This castle has witnessed many tense moments in its thousand-year history.

Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland:

Inverary Castle

The iconic Inveraray Castle was built on the site of a 15th-century fortress in the county of Argyll, Scotland, and serves as one of the earliest examples of Gothic revival in Britain. On the Inveraray Castle & Loch Lomond shore excursion, guests can explore this beautiful castle, as well as the famous inland loch, known as the Queen of Scottish Lakes (and noted for its fishing). It is the largest loch in Great Britain.

Inverary Castle’s fairytale exteriors are equally as impressive as its gracious interiors, highlighted by fine 18th-century French furniture, English and Continental china and an armory hall that contains 1,300 pieces. The family artifacts form a unique collection that spans the generations.

Liverpool, England:

When you step into Conwy Castle you will feel as though you stepped back into Medieval times.

When you step into Conwy Castle you will feel as though you stepped back into Medieval times.

Conwy Castle dominates the entrance of the fine medieval-walled town of Conwy on the north coast of Wales. This castle, the mighty fortress of Edward I, was built in 1283 and today serves as a stunning landmark with eight great towers, four on the north and four on the south. The castle is one of the finest medieval fortifications in Britain, still standing today. Explore North Wales & Conwy Castle on your next cruise to Liverpool.

Malaga, Spain:

The 14-century Gibralfaro Castle is the first stop of the Andalusian Highlights shore excursion. Located on the summit of a mountain, the castle overlooks the Spanish city of Malaga. Gibralfaro Castle was conquered in 1487 by Catholic kinds who used it as a prison for the Muslims they had defeated. It was later destroyed by the French Army and abandoned in 1812 but has recently been restored. You will also be able to visit Antonio Ordoqez Bullfighting Museum and also learn about the Flamenco!

Getting There:

ms Ryndam will homeport at Dover this summer, so you have the opportunity to visit Leeds Castle at the beginning or end of cruises or in between longer collection itineraries. For example, the 18-day Norwegian Fjords & European Jewels itinerary departs from Dover Aug. 23 and also calls at Dover Aug. 30.

ms Eurodam, ms Prinsendam, ms Rotterdam and Ryndam will all call at Copenhagen sometime this year on shorter itineraries like Eurodam’s 12-day Baltic Adventure departing Stockholm, Sweden, July 27 which features an overnight call at Copenhagen Aug. 7, and longer itineraries like Prinsendam’s 28-day North Cape, Kiel Canal & Baltic Explorer itinerary departing Ijmuiden Aug. 10, calling at Copenhagen Sept. 5.

Rotterdam will call at Greenock Aug. 21 as part of the 14-day Fjords, Highlands & Ireland and 21-day Highlands & Norwegian Fjords itineraries departing Rotterdam, The Netherlands Aug. 16.

Prinsendam will call at Liverpool July 18 as part of the 34-day North Cape & Celtic Explorer itinerary departing Ijmuiden, The Netherlands, June 23 and 14 day-Celtic Explorer itinerary and 28-day Celtic & Icelandic Adventure itineraries departing Ijmuiden July 13.

Ryndam, Rotterdam and ms Noordam will all call at Malaga this year. Noordam will do so Oct. 22 as part of the 26-day Passage from Rome itinerary departing Civitavecchia, Italy, Oct. 8; 15-day Spanish Passage itinerary; and 25-day Spanish Passage & Southern Caribbean transatlantic itinerary departing Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 19.

Which castle would you like to visit? Tell us in the comments below.


Join the Discussion


  1. Katherine Drew July 21, 2014 at 4:09 am - Reply

    Why does HAL not offer an excursion to the Royal Palace in Oslo? It seems to me that any palace in any port qualifies as a “castle” and is worthy of a visit.

  2. BARBRA February 3, 2015 at 6:29 pm - Reply


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