9 Best Castles in England [February 2020]

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England has a timeline that can be traced back thousands of years. It’s a well-documented country that’s steeped in history. This history isn’t just written down either. The UK has a visual past that can be seen in the many relics found throughout the country.

Among the most fascinating relics, are castles. These historic structures are like time capsules that allow you to explore centuries of history. They’re located all over the country and were built at various points through the past 1,000 years.

Considering there are so many, we’ve created a slimmed-down list. So here they are, the best castles in England to visit.

#1 – Windsor Castle

One of the most iconic English castles

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

  • Less than an hour from London
  • The Queen of England makes frequent visits
  • Standard admission is USD $31 for adults / USD $18 for children
  • Plan for around 2.5 – 3 hours visiting time

Windsor Castle was established in the 11th century. It’s one of the oldest and largest occupied castles in the world. This opulent building is full of history and wonder.

Tour the magnificent State Apartments and marvel at the treasures from the royal collection. See the fine French and English furniture and visit St. George’s Chapel, the final resting place for 10 British monarchs. During the winter months, guests can also explore the lavish Semi-State Rooms, created by George IV.

 

#2 – Dover Castle

An English castle in a picturesque location

Dover Castle

Dover Castle

  • One of the charming medieval castles of England
  • One of the largest castles in England
  • Standard admission is USD $27 for adults / USD $16 for children
  • Plan for around 3-4 hours visiting time

Dover Castle was founded in the 11th century. It’s located on the stunning White Cliffs of Dover, along the southeastern shores that connect England to continental Europe. Due to its commanding position, it’s referred to as the “Key to England”.

Step inside and immerse yourself in centuries of history. Explore the underground tunnels used for battle in the 13th century, and again during WWII. Climb the Great Tower and take in the amazing panoramic views over the castle and the sea.

 

#3 – Warwick Castle

A fun castle in the UK for families

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle

  • There is a recreated medieval Trebuchet on the castle grounds
  • The castle offers child-friendly activities
  • Standard admission is USD $17 online and USD $26 at the castle
  • Plan for around 3-4 hours visiting time

Warwick Castle was originally built in 1068 as a wooden fort. It was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. It’s a fascinating piece of history that especially caters to families.

It’s filled with lots of fun attractions that will provide hours of entertainment. Explore the Castle Dungeons, visit the Great Hall and marvelous State Rooms. Walk around and admire the expansive castle exterior. There are also daily live shows, a restaurant, and shops on the property.

#4 – Leeds Castle

One of the most unique castles in south England

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle

  • The castle has a unique dog collar museum
  • One of the most visited castles in Britain
  • Standard admission is USD $35 for adults / USD $24 for children
  • Plan for around 3 hours visiting time

Leeds Castle is one of the most intriguing old English castles. It has a long history with important ties to famous British monarchs. It was used by Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. It has served as both a royal residence and a private home.

The castle is built on two islands in a lake formed by the River Len. Guests can visit a selection of rooms inside the castle. The gardens on the property are another highlight. They’re a beautiful maze to explore that lead to a secret underground grotto.

#5 – Highclere Castle

One of the most recognizable British castles

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

  • Located on a 5,000-acre estate
  • The castle contains a fascinating Egyptian Exhibit
  • Standard admission is USD $22 for adults / USD $14 for children
  • Plan for around 2-3 hours visiting time

Highclere Castle’s history can be traced back to 749. Today, it’s famous for being the setting for the television series, “Downton Abbey”. Many of the rooms from the series can be seen when touring the castle.

Areas of interest include the staterooms, which feature a saloon, library, dining room, music room, drawing room, and smoking room. The extensive castle grounds also contain many beautiful gardens.

#6 – Oxford Castle

One of the most educational UK castle experiences

Oxford Castle

Oxford Castle

  • Marvel at the best views of Oxford from the castle’s Saxon St. George Tower
  • Go on an informative and educational tour
  • Standard admission is USD $17 for adults / USD $11 for children
  • Plan for around 1-1.5 hours visiting time

Oxford Castle is a large Norman medieval castle that was originally built in 1073. Access to the castle is by guided tour only. For one hour, guests will follow a knowledgeable costumed tour guide around the castle.

You’ll visit the 900-year-old crypt, the historical exhibition wing, the 18th-century Debtors’ Tower, and more. After the tour, you’ll enter the castle’s prison, where you’ll be able to explore at your own leisure.

#7 – Alnwick Castle

One of the best castles in northern England

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

  • Featured as ‘Hogwarts’ in the first two Harry Potter films
  • Beautiful scenic paths surround the castle
  • Standard admission is USD $22 for adults / USD $12 for children
  • Plan for around 3-4 hours visiting time

Alnwick is one of the most visually stunning medieval castles in England. Because of its magnificent architecture, it has been featured in the TV series “Downton Abbey” and the film series “Harry Potter”.

Harry Potter fans will recognize the Outer Bailey, where Harry and his classmates first learned to fly broomsticks. You’ll also be able to visit a nearby area where Harry played his first Quidditch match.

Step inside the castle and admire the Renaissance-style interiors of the lavish State Rooms. Don’t forget to set aside time to wander the lush castle grounds and Artisan’s Courtyard.

#8 – Newcastle Castle

One of the haunted castles of England

Newcastle Castle

Newcastle Castle

  • Enjoy scenic views over the city and the River Tyne
  • The castle is known for its resident ghosts
  • Standard admission is USD $11 for adults / USD $7 for children
  • Plan for around 2 hours visiting time

Newcastle is a medieval fortification that serves as a reminder of England’s turbulent history. You won’t find any stately homes here, but rather murder holes, prisons, and execution sites. It provides insight into the brutal royal authority of the past.

With that being said, the castle caters to all ages. You’ll find informative displays related to the history of the castle and the town of Newcastle. Guests are free to explore the castle at their leisure.

#9 – Bodiam Castle

A moated castle in England

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle ( Photo Credit – bodiamcastle.uk)

  • Guided tours available
  • Walking trails surround the castle
  • Standard admission is USD $14 for adults / USD $7 for children
  • Plan for around 2-3 hours visiting time

Bodiam Castle was built in the 14th century to protect England’s south coast from French invasion. Because it was built as a moat castle, it has an exceptionally picturesque and photogenic exterior.

The inside of the castle is in ruin, but guests can climb two of the towers and view an amazing vista around the local countryside. If you’re looking for ancient crumbling English castles, look no further than Bodiam Castle.

FAQs About England Castles

If you’ve never visited England castles before you might not know what to expect. Here are some fun and informative questions and answers about castles in the UK.

How many castles are in England?

It’s hard to say exactly what structures in England fit the mold as true castles, therefore, there is no official number. This is, in part, due to the fact that there are many ancient sites where remains of what were once castles lay in ruins.

However, it is generally agreed that there are around 800 medieval castles that have visible remains.

How many free castles are in England?

All of the functioning castles in England cost money to enter. However, some castles have a policy where you pay for a single day ticket, and you’re allowed unlimited free visits for the rest of the year.

Alnwick Castle, Leeds Castle, and Windsor Castle are some of the castles with this policy.

What can I bring in England castles?

Less is more. Bring yourself and a regular-sized purse or backpack. Water is allowed, but other drinks and food are usually not permitted. Guide dogs are also allowed. Some castles have secure cloakroom where you can check your larger items.

Conclusion of the Best Castles England is Known For

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best castles to visit in England. These structures have played a huge role in the country’s past. Because of this, they’re highly educational and there is so much to learn while visiting them.

In addition, the castles are all located on massive grounds. They’re perfect for nature walks and outdoor exploring – with a marvelous view. Each castle will provide you with an informative and enjoyable experience. They’re perfect for fans of history, architecture, design, and scenery.

They’re each so uniquely different, yet they provide a rare glimpse into England’s long and fascinating history.

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About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.