Best royal palaces in Europe you can visit post-pandemic to see how royals live

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Royal palaces can make for a brilliant day out. After all, not only do they offer a glimpse into where royals live, but they're steeped in history, boast ridiculously beautiful rooms and often have picture-perfect gardens too.

There are some incredible royal palaces in Europe, and the good news is that they often open their doors to the public.

Some palaces are still active royal residences so they only open for a few months each year, while others are inactive but are so spectacular they're worth having on your radar. (The obvious caveat – opening times may differ during the pandemic).

We've rounded up some of our favourite ones from the iconic Palace of Versailles to breathtaking royal palaces in Oslo, Stockholm and Brussels.

We haven't included UK palaces in this round-up, although we do have a guide to the Queen's royal residences which open to the public throughout the year.

In the meantime, check out our top pick of the best royal palaces in Europe below…

1. Drottningholm Palace, Sweden

A view of Drottningholm Palace
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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This breathtaking 17th century palace in Drottningholm is not only the permanent residence of the Swedish royal family, but it's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its impressively preserved castle, theatre and pavilion.

The palace and park are open to the public year-round, while the 18th century theatre hosts performances during the summer as well as guided tours.

It's currently closed due to the pandemic. You can find out more and get updates on visitstockholm.com.

2. Royal Palace of Oslo, Norway

The Royal Palace in Oslo
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The official royal residence for the Norwegian royals, this beautiful palace boasts neo-classical architecture and landscaped gardens complete with ponds and eye-catching statues.

As for exploring the palace's interiors? During the summer months the palace opens to the public on guided tours, which include beautiful staterooms including the Bird Room, Mirror Hall, the Ceremonial Hall and the Banqueting Hall.

The palace is closed during the pandemic – you can find out more on visitoslo.com.

3. Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain

A view of the Palacio Real
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While the Palacio Real is officially the royal residence, nowadays the Spanish royals choose to live in the Zarzuela Palace instead, with the Madrid palace used predominantly for state ceremonies.

There are over 3,000 rooms in this breathtaking palace making it one of the largest in the world, with approximately two million visitors flocking to explore it each year. Highlights include the royal armoury, kitchens and the painting gallery, while the Changing of the Guard ceremony never fails to be a hit with tourists.

You can find out more on patrimonionacional.es.

4. Palace of Versailles, France

The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)

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If you're after a palace that's ridiculously luxurious, then the Palace of Versailles needs to be on your list.

The world-famous French Château is all about glamour, whether you're wandering through the magnificent Hall of Mirrors or taking in the King's Grand Apartments.

France hasn't had a royal family since the French Revolution in 1789, but this palace offers a glimpse into how the former royals lived, as well as serving as a museum paying tribute to France's rich history.

You can find out more on chateauversailles.fr.

5. Stockholm Palace, Sweden

Night view of The Royal Palace in Stockholm.
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

One of our top picks of the best things to visit in Sweden, this beautiful palace in Stockholm is the Swedish royal family's official residence, and often proves to be the setting for most of the monarchy's official receptions.

Open to the public, it boasts 600 rooms and five museums to explore, so if you're in Stockholm you'll definitely want to leave space on the itinerary to wander around the opulent halls and soak up the rich history and culture on offer.

The impressive building is open to the public and boasts over 600 rooms and five museums, so it's definitely worth dedicating at least a couple of hours to wander through the opulent halls and take in the incredible history and culture on offer.

You can find out more on kungligaslotten.se.

6. Royal Palace of Brussels, Belgium

The Royal Palace of Brussels
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Although the royals themselves don't reside here, the palace remains the headquarters for the Belgian monarchy. It's also where most ceremonies and state banquets are held.

Every summer since the 1960s, the palace doors have been opened to the public, with tours and visits allowed to a number of the opulent staterooms to be found here. Expect giant crystal chandeliers, marble floor, antique furniture dating back centuries, and even some contemporary art.

You can find out more on visit.brussels/en.

7. Amalienborg, Denmark

Amalienborg Palace and Square at night
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Located in Copenhagen, Amalienborg is actually made up of four palaces – but only two are open to the public.

These house the Royal Danish Collection with heaps of artefacts and exhibitions about the royal family's history dating back over 250 years, as well as access to staterooms and even royals' former offices and dining rooms.

Meanwhile the main square is where visitors can watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

You can find out more on kongernessamling.dk.

8. Schonbrunn Palace, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Serving as the main summer residence for Austrian royals in the 1700s, nowadays this UNESCO World Heritage Site and its landscaped gardens are open to the public.

You can take tours of the opulent staterooms, see artefacts from the 18th century, and even get a sneak peek inside the royal private apartments. Oh, and for families there's a children's museum that's sure to be hit.

You can find out more on schoenbrunn.at/en.

9. Palace of Fontainebleau, France

The Palace of Fontainebleau
(Image: De Agostini via Getty Images)

This French Château looks like it belongs in a storybook with its impressive architecture, luxurious interiors and beautiful lush green surroundings. It served as a residence for French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III, but nowadays it's a historic landmark and museum.

There are over 1,500 rooms in the palace, with highlights including rooms once occupied by Marie Antoinette and the state apartment of Napoleon I. Visitors can wander around the palace freely but there are some parts opened only to the official guided tours, such as the Imperial Theatre and the Petits Appartements.

You can find out more on chateaudefontainebleau.fr/en/.

10. Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

Caserta Royal Palace on a sunny day
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli in 1752, the Royal Palace of Caserta is open to the public every day, with guided tours of highlights including the royal apartments, the Grand Staircase, galleries and the impressive theatre.

Meanwhile, the landscaped gardens offer up beautiful floral arrangements, picture-perfect lawns and impressive fountains, not to mention there's even an English Garden.

You can find out more on reggiadicasertaunofficial.it/en.

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