These European Royals Have Lavish Holiday Homes

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European royals have many things in common. They've all got titles and lots of money. They attend fancy parties and host extravagant weddings. They've also got absolutely stunning homes, as well as holiday hideaways. While the royals can't spend all their time at their vacation houses — they do have obligations at their primary residences, after all — they still manage to carve out some time in their year to escape to their home away from home (or one of their homes away from home, in some cases) for some rest and relaxation. 

However, spending time at a second home is different for the royals than it is for most people (not that most people have a second home, but you know what we mean). These homes aren't run-of-the-mill properties available on Zillow. These are sprawling estates and literal castles. They're the stuff of fairy tales, and some of them are so incredible it's hard to believe they're real, like Queen Sofía's Marivent Palace in Palma de Mallorca.

Marivent Palace has a beautiful garden

Nestled on a cliff in Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands in Spain, is the Spanish royal family's summer residence, Marivent Palace. Previously known as Saridakis Palace, the home was built in 1925 for Juan de Saridakis, a wealthy man with lots of books and art. The home remained Saridakis' until he died, and shortly after his death, his wife relinquished ownership of the residence with the agreement that it would be preserved as a public museum. The agreement didn't last long. Soon, the residence became the Spanish royal family's holiday home, and its name was changed to Marivent Palace.

One portion of the property is available for public use, though — a garden that spans about 9,000 square meters. The garden features a variety of indigenous plants, bronze statues made by Joan Miró that were a gift to the residence, and natural arches. The gardens are open for visitation most of the year, aside from Easter and a couple of months in the summer when the Spanish royal family is visiting. For more than 15 years, the same man, Pere Gomila, worked as the gardener on the grounds, tending to it for the royal family and their guests until the gardens opened to Mallorcan citizens in 2017. "All I want in the future is for people to enjoy the garden," Gomila told In Palma magazine ahead of his retirement.

Parts of Solliden Palace can be enjoyed by everyone

On the quaint island of Öland exists the Swedish royal family's holiday home, Solliden Palace. The understated (in castle terms, at least) yet stunning home was built for Queen Victoria in hopes that the warmer weather of the area would be good for her health. The royal family still spends lots of private time at Solliden Palace, but the surrounding grounds, rife with well-manicured gardens and plenty of space for activity, are available for the public to enjoy as well.

As King Carl XVI Gustaf stated on the palace's website, "Welcome to the beautiful park of Solliden with its luxuriant trees, shrubs and flowers. Solliden is a part of our cultural heritage, which is of special concern to me [...] When my great-grandfather, Gustav V, died in 1950, I inherited the palace. It is my intention to preserve Solliden, so that future generations will be able to enjoy its unique and glorious gardens." Visitors to the palace grounds can take a guided tour, explore one of the many gardens inspired by different countries around Europe, visit a glass shop, or even stop for refreshments at the on-site cafe. While there is a lot for guests to do on the grounds of Solliden Palace, it's only open from May through October.

Balmoral Castle was a haven for the queen

The British royals have a plethora of lavish homes to which they can escape. Perhaps the most notable of all is Balmoral Castle, a Scottish estate that's been privately owned by members of the royal family since Prince Albert bought it in 1852 for himself and Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth was particularly fond of the estate, so much so that she spent her final days at Balmoral. The sprawling castle is defined by its Scottish baronial and Gothic revival architecture, but the home we see situated on the grounds today is not the castle that Prince Albert and Queen Victoria first purchased. The original castle was deemed too small for those two and their children, and it was torn down after the Balmoral castle of today was built.

Apart from its gargantuan size and palatial looks, Balmoral is known for its 50,000 acres of gardens. Thanks to Prince Philip, the property boasts a vegetable and water garden, among other outdoor features, and it even has an online squirrel camera so anyone can watch for the red squirrels that inhabit the residence along with the Windsors. Portions of Balmoral are open to the public at certain dates and times, but its main purpose is as a holiday home for the royal family.

Craigowan Lodge sits near Balmoral Castle

The aforementioned Balmoral Castle is an incredible estate. It's so incredible that there's another entire home on the property called Craigowan Lodge. Though much less talked about, Craigowan Lodge is seemingly just as beloved a residence in the British royal family as their other properties, and it has reportedly served many of the members well over the years. Set in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Craigowan Lodge now belongs to King Charles, but it was Queen Elizabeth's when she was alive. The queen was reportedly quite fond of the entire Balmoral estate, including Craigowan Lodge. As Princess Eugenie said in the 2016 documentary "Our Queen at Ninety," "It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands."

Back when he was Prince Charles, the king and his then-wife Princess Diana reportedly stayed at Craigowan Lodge when they were visiting Balmoral, and the two took engagement pictures on the lawn. But aside from the few pictures taken over the years of Craigowan Lodge, not much of it has been seen. The residence is not available for the public to visit, unlike many of the other secondary homes owned by the Windsors.

Sandringham House is the site of the British royal family's Christmas celebration

Another stunning private residence of the British royal family, Sandringham House served a special purpose for the Windsors while Queen Elizabeth was alive. Sandringham House was long the site of the royal family's traditional Christmas celebration. Starting in 1957, Queen Elizabeth delivered her Christmas Broadcast from Sandringham House, and her immediate family joined her for royal holiday festivities. And as her former chef, Darren McGrady, detailed to the Daily Mail, the celebration was very traditional. "[T]here is no shortage of Christmas 'tat' elsewhere at Sandringham," McGrady said. Although King Charles delivered his first Christmas Broadcast in 2022 from Windsor Castle, it was reported that the royal family again spent the holidays that year at Sandringham for the first time since 2019.

When the royals aren't celebrating Christmas there, Sandringham House is open to the public, and in a much more transparent way than Balmoral Castle. While visitors can only tromp around Balmoral from April to July, guests are welcome to visit inside Sandringham House on certain dates from April until October. In addition to portions of the ground floor, visitors are welcome to explore the gardens and St. Mary Magdalene Church. They can also eat at the on-site restaurant and do a little shopping. There are some seasonal events, too, like a 10k race and apple orchard picking.

King Charles gave up Llwynywermod

In the summer of 2023, King Charles shocked his subjects by announcing that he was giving up his Welsh home known as Llwynywermod. The king purchased the residence in 2007, and he often talked about it with fondness. "I come whenever I can [...] I've always felt that it's an important part of holding this particular title," King Charles told the BBC in 2021, the title in reference being Prince of Wales. King Charles served as Prince of Wales from 1958 until 2022 when he became King of the United Kingdom. As of 2022, the title Prince of Wales now belongs to Prince William, as does Llwynywermod. King Charles continued paying rent on Llwynywermod, but he reportedly told the Duchy that he would relinquish the lease when it expires in 2023.

King Charles has long been passionate about eco-friendly living, and in the past, he's defended Llwynywermod as a bastion of sustainability. "Traditional homes — from the humblest to the grandest — were built to conserve as much precious fuel as possible, through solid walls, windows in the right places and of the right size, sounder foundations, stronger roof trusses, stouter doors and (most important) an ability to change, making them adaptable from generation to generation," then-Prince Charles wrote for "Green by Design," as reported by House & Garden.

Gråsten Palace is a large Danish abode

Like many royal estates, Gråsten Palace — a holiday home of the Danish royal family located in Gråsten, Denmark — has portions that are open to the public, but only when there aren't royals on the grounds. And if you were wondering when and for how long these royals actually use their holiday homes, you're not alone. While it varies from family to family, Queen Margrethe is reportedly at Gråsten Palace for just a few weeks during the summertime. The property has been in the Danish royal family since 1935 when Crown Prince Frederik IX and then-Crown Princess Ingrid received it as a wedding gift. It was left to Queen Margrethe upon Queen Ingrid's death in 2000.

Queen Margrethe's return to her summer residence is something she looks forward to. As she said to visitors of the palace in 2021 (as reported by Royal Central), "It is a great pleasure to be back. I look forward to these days I will have at Gråsten, but I also look back 10 days when I was here. Not at Gråsten though, but in southern Jutland. It was a unique experience. It hit me right in the heart. I wish you all a really good summer."

Château de Marchais has been in Monaco's royal family for over a century

Another fabulous European royal holiday home, Château de Marchais is a secondary residence of the royal family of Monaco. The home has been in the family's possession since Prince Charles III was reigning. As Prince Albert II, the son of Prince Ranier III and Grace Kelly and the current monarch of Monaco, told Hello Monaco in an interview, Prince Charles III's wife, Antoinette of Verona, was homesick for Belgium, and while searching for a residence to satisfy her, the couple came across Château de Marchais, which was for sale. Prince Charles III died at Château de Marchais, and his son, Prince Albert I, had his first wedding there.

When Prince Albert was a child, his family visited Château de Marchais regularly, allowing him and his siblings to explore the abode, which has grounds that cover almost 1,500 hectares and includes a wine cellar that's big enough to eat in. Today, Prince Albert enjoys the estate for different reasons. "I like to come here to hunt, but also to recharge myself and be a little further from the tumultuousness of the Principality. This castle is also a little like a museum, because of its historical elements," he said.

Marselisborg Palace is kept mostly private

Another home for the Danish royals, Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik would spend time at Marselisborg Palace. Located in Aarhus, Denmark, Marselisborg Palace has a rich history. The original palace built on the land was torn down, and at the turn of the 20th century, when Prince Christian and Princess Alexandrine had just gotten engaged, the land was gifted to the royal family. Soon after, the current structure was built. When Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik got married in 1967, they were given Marselisborg Palace, and they renovated it using money they were gifted from Danish citizens. Since then, the queen has continued using the stunning residence — which has ponds, a rose park, and an herb garden, among other luxurious features — during the summer.

While portions of Gråsten Palace, along with parts of other residences owned by Queen Margrethe, can be accessed by the public, Marselisborg Palace is mostly private. If the royal Danes are not at Marselisborg Palace, the park is open for the public to use, but the public is not allowed inside. If you happen to be by Marselisborg Palace and are curious whether the royal family is there, look for a guard. There is a changing of the guard ceremony every day at noon while Queen Margrethe is visiting.

Drakensteyn Castle is a very unique structure

Perhaps the most unique holiday home of all the royal abodes (and that's quite the feat) is Drakensteyn Castle, which is located in Lage Vuursche. It is a true geometric marvel. Replete with a moat, the castle is shaped like an octagon, and the property has some serious history accompanying it. There's been some sort of structure at Drakensteyn since 1360, and the octagonal home sitting there now was built in 1640. In the mid-20th century, Princess Beatrix purchased the residence from Frederik Lodewijk Bosch van Drakestein, and she lived there from 1963 until 1981 after making some renovations.

Some photos of the castle's interior have been released, showing that it's certainly fit to house a royal family. But aside from that, not much is known about this royal retreat, especially compared to how much information we have about several other European royal family holiday homes. We do know, however, that Drakensteyn Castle was renovated once more around 2013 in time for Princess Beatrix to move back into it after voluntarily abdicating the throne to her son, Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands.

Château de Cayx produces wine

While many of us love to discuss how luxurious the lives are of the British royals, the Danish royals aren't living too bad, either. In fact, they've got just as cool a list of properties as the British royals — perhaps even cooler. Take Château de Cayx, the royal Danes' summer home. Located in the Cahors vineyard in southern France, Château de Cayx is an entire winery. And yes, it does produce wine that you can purchase and drink. In 1974, Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik, two people who clearly had good eyes for real estate, purchased Château de Cayx. The château sits on 24 hectares of land, and thanks to the work of the queen, it's once again a fruitful winery.

But don't worry — the residence isn't just a business. It's also a place for the Danish royals to retreat and relax. Back in 2020, the family snuck away to the French estate amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We imagine there are worse places to wait out a global pandemic than Château de Cayx. But then again, we'd be able to slum it at any one of these estates. Magnificent, grand, and rife with history, each of these residences serves as proof that every European royal has an eye for a holiday home.