For many people the word ”England” it’s always been associated with medieval castles, palaces, knights and queens.
Thanks to the filming industry, English Castles are advertised on a big scale.
It is indeed the land of castles which are spread across the country from sea to sea, and many of them are still standing mightily today!
If you find yourself a castle lover, below you have an ultimate guide to the most beautiful castles you can visit in England.
Each of the buildings has its own magnificent story behind where you can step back almost thousands of years.
1.Windsor Castle, the Queen’s Weekend Home.
Being the home of 39 monarchs since the 11th century, Windsor Castle embodies almost a thousand years of architectural history.
William the Conqueror built Windsor Castle during his campaign in England designed to protect their presence in the outskirts of London.
Like many other castles at that time it was initially a wooden motte-and-bailey castle which later upgraded to stone fortifications.
Windsor Castle had seen all the ups and downs of England’s Middle Ages and modern history, from the Baron’s War up until Second World War when it served as a bombing refugee for the royal family.
To the present day, Windsor is the Queen’s weekend’s favourite residence which is also the world’s longest-occupied palace.
Daily thousands of tourists are heading to the Castle to find out more about its history, enjoy the guided tours or just to have a picnic on the family day.
As it’s located just on outside of M25, it will take you half an hour by car and 40 minutes by train which are running regularly from Paddington train station in central London.
Address: Windsor SL4 1LJ
2.Warwick Castle, a great family escape.
Located in the town of Warwick, Warwick Castle is another famous English fortress which William the Conqueror built during his conquest.
First built in 1068 like Windsor, it began as a wooden motte-and-Bailey type castle located on the bank of the River Avon.
Normans founded Warick with the intent of strengthening and control in the Midlands while William advances his armies to the north.
Warwick was used as a stronghold up until the 17th century when the Greville family converted it into a country house and lived up until 1978 when they sold it to Tussauds Group.
Today Nick Leslau is the owner of the site, but Merlin Entertainments are operating the Castle through a 35-year lease.
Warwick has recommended itself as one of the best family out of Castles in the UK.
Once there, you will experience the guided tour through well maintained inside and out architecture, castle dungeon show with real actors, restaurants, picnic area, Knights Village accommodation and open-air events which include the world’s biggest functional trebuchet.
Warwick is also one of few castles in England that has its doors open for those who wants to spend Christmas in a castle.
Address: Warwick CV34 4QU
3.Tower of London a 900 year-old fortress.
Officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.
Also called a “White Tower” the Tower of London is one of England’s most iconic buildings.
William the Conqueror built the Castle in 1066 to an unprecedented scale to demonstrate the power of the Norman Kingdom.
The Tower of London hosted significant events in England’s history, including the executions of three English Queens.
The Castle is also a surviving example of the best Norman military architecture.
Ones inside it’s hard to realise that our ancestors could build such a tower almost a thousand years ago.
If you are in London for a weekend, we encourage you to check out the White Tower, as it’s easily accessible in the centre among many other attractions.
You can get to the Tower of London by walking about 7 minutes from Tower Hill (Circle & District Line) underground station or about 15 minutes from London Bridges Station(Northern Line).
Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB
4.Bamburgh Castle, a Northumberland Gem.
Another gem on our bucket list was built by William the Conqueror rising overlooking the village Baburgh gracefully on one side and the North Sea on the other.
The originally Celtic Brittonic fort build in 420, later passed between Britons and Anglo-Saxons three times and Vikings wrecked the fortress in 993.
In the year 1095 Normans built a brand new castle which is the core of the present Castle.
As all the castles on our list, Bamburgh has a rich background of events and famous owners.
In 1894 William Armstrong bought and restored the Castle, later he opened it to the public and still belongs to its family.
It’s a great family-friendly castle where you can easily reserve yourself a full day for it.
Getting there early enough will allow you to take advantage of all assets of the Castle; the interior, shop, cafe, a walk on the beautiful beach or even stay overnight in the Bamburgh’s accommodations.
If you’re spending a whole weekend in Northumberland, you might consider visiting Alnwick and Lindisfarne castles; both are 17 miles away.
Address: Bamburgh NE69 7DF
5.Bodiam Castle, England’s Most photogenic castle.
The most iconic Castle of England by many reviews, even if you are not a castle lover, you must’ve seen it on the cover of the book, magazines, music videos or movies.
Edward Dalyingrigge built Bodiam in 1385, and it is more of a gorgeous fortified country house rather than a robust medieval castle.
Even though England was going through the Hundred Years War with France at the time, Sir Edward built the Castle more for showing off his influence and surprise the guests rather than to resist an attack of an invasion.
Lord Curzon donated the Castle in 1924 on his death to the National Trust and now is open to the public.
Bodiam Castle is in just 1.5 hours drive from London, where you’ll also enjoy England’s stunning countryside views on the way to the Castle.
By public transport, you need to get a train from Charing Cross to Hastings and the bus 349 to Hawkhurst, the bus stops in front of the main entrance.
Address: Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UA
There is free entry to the castle grounds; however, there is a small fee for those who want to enter the Castle.
Opening Hours: 10:00am -04:00pm
6.Dover Castle, the Key to England.
Also called in the “The Key to England” Dover castle was one of England’s most strategic border garrisons.
It’s an absolute must-see for castle enthusiasts as some sources say it is one of the tallest Castle in England, along with Warwick, Rochester and the Tower of London.
You will step inside Henry’s great tower and explore the recreated WWI interiors, astonishing views for the rooftop over the English Channel.
You can see and feel even the dramatic events of World War Two by experiencing the Castle’s underground hospital and tunnels where the people from Dunkirk’s evacuation are made real.
There is also the oldest surviving lighthouse in the country and an Anglo-Saxon church and many more things to do and see at Dover castle.
It is a great family-friendly castle as you are allowed with your food and just have a picnic in the Castle’s courtyard.
Getting to Dover Castle
If you’re in London, it will take you about two hours drive or by national express buses.
If you take the M2 route, you can have a stopover in Canterbury on the way if you have time, which is a lovely city to visit.
Address: Castle Hill Rd, Dover CT16 1HU
Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 4 pm.
7.Highclere Castle, great for Downtown Abbey fans.
A magnificent country house built in 1679 and famous worldwide as the primary filming location of a historical drama series Downton Abbey.
During the First World War 5th Countess of Carnarvon Converted the Castle Into a hospital for wounded soldiers, and in the Second World War as a home for children evacuated from London.
Highclere Castle is a perfect stopover on your trips to Cornwall or Wales and not far from London.
The palace is an excellent family day out destination where you can explore the grand oak staircase, the estate rooms, and vast gardens recreating every scene from the popular series.
Explore the newly opened Egyptian exhibition, standard and special guided tours or even spend Christmas at the Castle
Address: Highclere, Newbury RG20 9RN
Opening Hours: 9:30 am – 5.00 pm.
8.Leeds Castle, loveliest castle in the world.
Moving back to the east you can visit another beautiful English moated stronghold, the Leeds Castle.
You are probably asking yourself why it is called Leeds Castle? When everyone knows the city of Leeds is 250 miles away in Yorkshire.
But not many people know there is a small village next to the Castle, also called Leeds village.
Like many other English castles, it has all the features that a real castle tourist would love to see; gatehouse, drawbridge, portcullis and a massive lake-size moat which makes it unique.
Leeds Castle is often referred to as the “Castle of Queens” as it was a home for six medieval Queens.
Leeds Castle is just in. One hour and fifteen minutes drive from London and about 30 minutes for Dover ferry port, 4 miles from junction 8 of M20.
Address: Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL
Grounds and Gardens 10:00am – 06:00pm
Castle. 11:00 am – 04:00pm
9.Arundel Castle, stunning architecture and gardens.
Arundel Castle is a restored and remodelled medieval castle in Arundel, West Sussex.
Roger the Montgomery, one of the principal councillors of William the Conqueror, established the Castle in 1067.
Castle experienced severe damage during the civil war and restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Today opened to the public with many fun activities for any age.
You can climb on the stone keep, squeeze through narrow passages and enjoy the view from the top of the walls.
Contemplate the fine art, fabulous furniture, regency library and statues in the staterooms.
Wonder through the explosion of colours in the castle gardens where you can also meet the Fitzalan Chapel and the history behind it.
During the guided tours, you will have a chance to transform yourself into a real knight by wearing medieval costumes with a shield and a sword.
Address: Arundel BN18 9AB
Opening Hours: Arundel castle is due to open 1st of April 2021
Framlingham Castle is a Motte-and-Bailey Castle located in the market town of Framlingham, Suffolk.
Built in 1148 and then destroyed by Henry ll in the aftermath of the revolt of 1173 and then rebuilt to a new mighty stronghold by Roger Bigod.
It might not offer as much as the other castles on this list, but it is still worth checking out if you are on a road trip to the east coast or Norwich.
By the reviews of our subscribers, it is a lovely family and dog-friendly castle ideal for a day out!
You can take the audio guide, climb on top of the wall and enjoy the view of the countryside and including the Mere and Framlingham College.
Getting to the Castle will take you about three hours by car and two and a half by train service to Ipswich and bus 118 to the Castle.
Address: Church St, Framlingham, Woodbridge IP13 9BP
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 04:00pm
11.Alnwick Castle, Harry Potter’s filming location.
The fans of Harry Potters and Downton Abbey will recognise these walls almost immediately.
Built in the 11 century is one of the largest castles in England sometimes called “Windsor of the North”.
Normans built Alnwick with the intent to control the border with Scotland during the Norman conquest.
So if you plan to bring your whole family, get some snacks with you cause the kids will want to spend some time here.
Moreover, the castles can be overcrowded according to the latest reviews so allow plenty of time to see everything that Alnwick has to offer.
If you come for far and have a couple of days available in Northumberland check out Bamburgh and Lindisfarne castles which are about 40 minutes drive from Alnwick.
Address: Alnwick NE66 1NQ
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 4:00pm daily
12.Bolsover Castle a 17th-century aristocratic retreat.
The Peverel Family built the first Castle on the site in the 12th century. Later in the 17th century, the Cavendish family reconstructed a new luxurious castle for entertaining influential guests.
Today is in the care of English heritage, and it’s open to the public.
It will entertain you and your family with its lavish rooms of the little Castle, ruined terrace range and views for the wall walk.
The Castle is about 3 hours drive from London and 1,5 hours from Birmingham. By public transport, you can get a train to Chesterfield and then bus A1 to the Castle.
Address: Castle St, Bolsover, Chesterfield S44 6PR
Saturday – Sunday 10am – 4pm
13.Rochester Castle, the castle of great English Sieges.
Construction of the Rochester started in 1087, and it was strategically important as it helped to protect the east coast of England from invasion.
Historians call Rochester the “castle of destruction and rebuilding” as it went through the most bloody sieges in English history.
One of them was the epic siege in 1215 when King John crushed the southern wall down using the fat of 40 pigs to fire a mine, and after two months of battle the rebels finally gave up.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, owners carried out restoration works, and today it is under the protection of English Heritage.
Rochester Castle is a fantastic preserved piece of the Norman military architecture.
It will please any history lover with its history and beautiful gardens, The majestic Rochester Cathedral in the vicinity and the old town with bars and restaurants so obviously everyone loves it.
Rochester is located just one hour drive from London on M2 and only at 5 miles from junction 2.
Address: Castle Hill, Rochester ME1 1SW
14 Durham Castle, a home for students.
Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England, which has been occupied since 1837 by University College, Durham after its previous role as the residence of the Bishops of Durham.
Built in 1072 soon after William the Conqueror arrived in the north there are still debates whether or not Durham castle has initially been a stone or wooden structure.
The Castle stands on the top of a hill overlooking the river Wear and the Durham cathedral.
As the Castle now is used as a home for students, visiting the Castle is only possible through guided tours.
By booking a guided tour, you’ll get to see two chapels, the black staircase, the long gallery Norman doorway arch in the courtyard.
The guides are highly rated by visitors as knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
Address: Durham DH1 3RW
15.Herstmonceux Castle, English fairytale castle.
Yes, this Castle is located in England! as you would think it’s a French castle judging by the name.
Herstmonceux is a brick-built castle dating from the 15th century in East Sussex, and one of the oldest buildings in the country built from such material.
Herstmonceux Castle has seven gardens listed as Grade ll in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Moreover, the Castle also operates as an International Study Centre for Queen’s University in Canada, where students are coming every year to study in such a chill place.
It’s well worth seeing with the whole family, a brilliant stopover on your trip to the south coast.
England’s fairytale castle as many visitors describes it surrounded by fantastic woodlands.
Herstmonceux is child and dog friendly, has a coffee shop, information Center, and a shop.
Address: Hailsham BN27 1RN
16.Lindisfarne Castle, a fortress on the Holy Island.
Lindisfarne is a 16th-century castle used as a border garrison with Scotland, an area which was fought not only by English and Scots but also by Vikings.
The Castle sits on the highest point of the island, on a whinstone hill called Beblowe.
Building the Castle started in 1550 when the local Priory went out of use and the stones from its masons were used as a building material for Lindisfarne Castle.
After the death of Queen Elizabeth the Castle lost its strategic importance, skipping a few centuries by the end of the 19th century it fell into disrepair.
The Castle is well worth a visit even though the rooms are empty of furniture and art at the moment.
All interior belongings have been taken away during the major restoration 2016-2018 and have not yet been returned.
Lindisfarne Castle, it’s unique and has its spectacular feeling and look when you explore it from the outside and also enjoy the view of the harbour, village and Cheviot Hills from the Upper Battery.
The Castle is open mid-February to the end of October or the first week of November (exact dates vary, but the Castle is closed for winter). Opening times vary by day, depending on tide times you can check on their website.
You can quickly drive to the Castle but allow yourself plenty of time to fit between the tides; otherwise, the tide will force you to stay on the island overnight.
If you plan to stay overnight on and enjoy the dinner while everyone rushes to leave the island, there are some great guest houses to choose from.
Address: Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2SH
17.Lincoln Castle, a great medieval walk.
Lincoln Castle is another crucial castle built by William the Conqueror on top of a pre-existing Roman court.
Built in the 11 century Lincoln is different from other castles which William the Conqueror constructed at the time.
The Castle has two mottes (main building in the Medieval Castle) there are only two such castles in England, the other one is in Lewes, East Sussex.
Things to do and see at the Lincoln Castle
Lincoln Castle’s grounds are open even during England’s lockdown and are a perfect area for the rest, picnic and explore the Castle’s history.
Medieval Wall Walk
We encourage you to take advantage of the unique experience of walking on the Lincoln castle curtain wall.
It costs 10£ and is accessible by a spiral staircase or lifts and where visitors can walk the whole circumference enjoying the stunning view of the city and Lincoln Cathedral.
Georgian and Victorian Prisons
You can also explore the prison built in 1788 the only original of its kind left in the world.
DAVID PJ ROSS MAGNA CARTA VAULT
The Castle is home to Lincoln’s Magna Carta 1215 and Charter of Forest 1217.
Lincoln Castle is the only place where you can see these two documents together which shaped the society that we know today.
Address: Castle Hill, Lincoln LN1 3AA
Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm
18.Warkworth Castle, a home of Percy family.
Now we are moving back to Northumberland where mighty Warkworth Castle’s waiting for its visitors on a loop of the River Coquet, less than a mile from England’s northeast coast.
The actual date of Warkworth’s foundation is uncertain. However, It was first documented in a charter of 1157–1164 when Henry ll granted it to Roger Fitz Richard.
Warkworth has been a home for many Noble families including the Percy family, whose lion budges can be seen on many parts of the stronghold.
English Heritage is looking after the site since 1984, which is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
What tourists love about Warkworth is that the staff is friendly at the entrance and the shop, the audio guide is free and informative.
The Warkworth village itself is beautiful, with late medieval cave Hermitage and chapel of a solitary holy man half a mile away.
Address: Castle Terrace, Warkworth, Morpeth NE65 0UJ
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 16:00
19.Carisbrooke Castle, Medieval Fortress on Isle of Wight.
Strategically located in the middle of Isle of Wight, village Carisbrook, (near Newport), Carisbrooke Castle is a Motte and Bailey castle also.
It’s believed that the history of Carisbrooke dates back to the Roman invasion, where they might have built fortifications, but historians never proved.
Carisbrook is an Anglo-Saxon stronghold in the 8th century with a curtain wall built by the year 1000 as a defence against Vikings raids.
Carisbrooke Castle hosted Charles l as a prisoner for 14 months before his execution, and princess Elizabeth died here.
Now the Castle is under the care of English Heritage and is open to anyone visiting the island.
Shame to miss Carisbrooke Castles if you visit the island as it’s very engaging for both adults and children.
You can explore the history, walking around the walls, views the surroundings and have a nice picnic area.
Children will love the Castle’s activities, enjoy watching the donkeys operating the wheel, sword fitting and museum can keep them captivated for hours.
The Isle of Wight is easily accessible by ferry from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington to which trains are heading from London regularly.
Address: Castle Hill, Newport PO30 1XY
Opening Hours: 10:00am- 4:00pm
20.St Michael’s Mount, the Cornwall’s top tourist attraction.
At first glance, St Michael’s Mount looks like a smaller copy of the Mont Saint-Michel in France, which is just about 500km away across the English Channel.
Usually, St Michael is why many people are heading to Cornwall, one of the prettiest travel destinations in the UK among Lake District and Snowdonia in Wales.
Some records are saying there might have been a monastery from the 8th to early 11th centuries on the site.
Ancestors founded the monastic buildings, and the Castle during the 12th century, since then St’ Michael’s Mount went through an endless list of rulers and challenging events.
Today both National Trust and the St Aubyn family are managing the Mount together bringing a unique experience for anyone willing to visit the island.
The Mount has a designated car park at your disposal in the town Marazion from where you take the causeway when the tide is out.
We recommend getting there a little earlier when the causeway is not accessible to get some stunning shots before many tourists arrive.
Booking the tickets in advance and checking the weather is essential as can be a quite a windy place sometimes.
The Mount is closed during the winter.
21.Lancaster Castle, discover England’s dark history
Another English medieval castle located in Lancaster with unclear early history is Lancaster Castle.
Some chronicles say that Lancaster originates in the 11th century, built on the site of a Roman fort overlooking a crossing of the River Lune.
Lancaster Castle is the oldest standing building in the region, and the first owner used it as a prison in 1196.
Fully functional HM prison until 2011 and in the next year The Duchy of Lancaster (Her Majesty the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster) regained the ownership of the stronghold, and major restoration works started.
We recommend Lancaster Castle to any history enthusiast who wants to discover this magnificent medieval building and its importance in English history.
An excellent family castle where you’ll enjoy an entertaining and informative guided tour, a well-presented courtyard, Priory and a Roman bathhouse.
Address: Castle Grove, Lancaster LA1 1YJ
Lancaster Castle is open seven days a week.
Opening Hours: 9:30 – 5:00 pm
22.Belvoir Castle, “The Crown” series filming location.
The last on our list but not an unpopular one, Belvoir Castle is frequently appearing on TV in recent years.
Belvoir is a historic castle and a stately home 10km west of the town of Grantham, Leicestershire.
Built immediately after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and since the following owners rebuilt the Castle at least three times.
Today the Manners Family owns a corner of the Castle, and the rest of it is open to the public and filmmakers who are usual guests here.
Belvoir Castle played a significant role in films like;
If you are on a trip to East Midlands, Belvoir Castle is well worth a visit with the whole family.
It offers everything you would expect from a castle plus its unique architecture is well maintained throughout.
Beaver Castle’s interior it’s easy to explore, has gorgeous gardens and great food in the cafe.
Many people don’t know that can spend Christmas at Belvoir Castle
Believe me or not, you can also spend Christmas at Belvoir castle, what an incredible experience it could be.
Address: Grantham NG32 1PE
Opening Hours: 10:00am- 4:00pm (Monday-Sunday)
Thanks for stopping by and we hope the bucket list above was helpful to you!
We always add new guides and information about castles all over the world, and you can explore more interesting facts and history in our blog section any time you want to sit down with a cup of coffee.