The 22 Best Castles In England To Visit

best castles in England

Looking for the best castles to visit in England?

Well, there are plenty to choose from!

England is a country that is so rich in history that you can find a castle within driving distance from anywhere.

So since we’re history nerds and love visiting castles when we get the chance…

We created this list of the best castles in England to visit!

So next time you’re in London or York or Bath…

You’ll want to add these castles to your itinerary!

Check the castles out below!

 

22) Bodiam Castle

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Location: East Sussex

Constructed: 14th century

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century castle in East Sussex, England. The moated castle’s original purpose was to defend against French attacks during the Hundred’s Years War.

The castle’s owner sold the castle and it got demolished after the English Civil War… And the next few owners eventually started restoration projects.

Today, you can take a tour within the castle’s walls to learn about its history. You can also climb to the top of the postern tower for amazing views of the castle and the area surrounding it.

 

21) Raby Castle

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Location: Staindrop, County Durham

Constructed: 14th century

One of the best-preserved medieval castles in England. The interior of the castle shows off some Medieval, Regency, and Victorian architecture. Throughout the inside, you’ll find an art and furniture collection dating back to the 17th century.

Other notable features include the Entrance Hall and the Gothic-style church. And there is also a really neat Coach House that has a collection of 18th and 19th-century coaches and carriages.

Don’t forget to stroll around the outside of the castle too! The area surrounding the castle has a beautiful green landscape with lush trees and a peaceful lake.

 

20) Highcliffe Castle

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Location: Highcliffe, Dorset

Constructed: 19th century

One of the last remaining structures that define Romantic and Picturesque styles of architecture. Right now, the East Wing is currently open for the public to view the original furniture of the castle and a Victorian kitchen from the 1830s.

Outside the castle, you can explore the grounds on the trails made for families or check out the beautiful gardens. Another perk of visiting the castle is that the beach and sea are within walking distance!

 

19) Pendennis Castle

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Location: Falmouth, Cornwall

Constructed: 16th century

Pendennis Castle defended present-day Cornwall from invasions of the French and the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century. A few centuries later, the castle protected Cornwall during World War 1 and 2.

Today, the castle hosts exhibits of the guns and cannons used in the past and historic events that took place at the fortress. The castle also hosts special events like jousting and learning about life in the past.

You’ll want to bring your camera because Pendennis Castle is right next to the sea and has amazing coastal views of the area!

 

18) Chillingham Castle

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Location: Chillingham, Northumberland

Constructed: 14th century

Chillingham Castle has the reputation of the most haunted castle in the country. Many visitors have claimed to have spotted paranormal activity while visiting the castle. We don’t believe in ghosts… but it’s worth checking out, right?

You can even stay overnight in the castle if you’re brave enough!

If ghosts aren’t your thing, then that’s ok too! There’s plenty of things to see in the castle like the armory, the dungeon, the great hall, and the torture chamber.

There’s also plenty to do outside as well. The formal gardens are lovely to stroll through and there are walking trails in the nearby woods.

 

17) Tower Of London

Tower Of London - Best Castles In England
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Location: Tower Hamlets, London

Constructed: 11th century

The Tower of London is one of the most popular attractions in London and attracts over 3 million people each year. It’s also a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site!

The tower tells stories of over 1000 years worth of London’s history and there is plenty to see. The big attraction included with admission is to see the Crown Jewels. The Crown of Jewels comes out during the coronation of the new kings and queens of the UK. This collection has over 23,000 gemstones!

You’ll also want to participate in a Yeomen Warder tour to learn more about the history of the tower. There’s also the prison of the Tower of London that teaches more about the past as well.

A definite must-see attraction when visiting London!

 

16) Lancaster Castle

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Location: Lancaster, Lancashire

Constructed: 11th century

From Scottish invasions of England to the English Silver War… Lancaster Castle has seen its fair share of historical events.

The castle was a prison through much of its history and there are some dark events of the past about the treatment of prisoners. Because of this, there are many prison cells and penitentiaries to see while visiting.

The Keep is a four-story tower that is the largest building of the castle and the Gatehouse is one of nicest in all of England!

The castle just finished refurbishment and offers tours 7 days a week!

 

15) Hever Castle

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Location: Hever, Kent

Constructed: 13th century

Hever Castle is a castle that became more of a residence over time. Multiple families lived in the castle from the 15th century to the 16th century.

Today, the castle is a tourist attraction that hosts events like jousting and archery tournaments. Plus the castle has lovely mazes, gardens, and a lake.

 

14) Totnes Castle

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Location: Totnes, Devon

Constructed: 14th century

Totnes Castle is a well-preserved castle in the town of Totnes. The castle sits on top of a large hill above the town. The location allowed the castle to protect the town from enemies approaching the three valleys around the town.

Today, you can climb the steps to get amazing views of Totnes and the River Dart. You can also take the Moat Walk for a lovely stroll around the wall of the castle. Or you can just relax in the shaded bailey and take in the sights!

 

13) Framlingham Castle

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Location: Framlingham, Suffolk

Constructed: 12 century

Framlingham Castle started as a castle in the 1100s, but it didn’t last long in that role. By the end of the 13th century, the castle turned into a very large home.

Today, you can still take a 2.3-meter walk on the castle’s wall that is over 800 years old and 10 meters high!

 

12) Lincoln Castle

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Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

Constructed: 11th century

Lincoln Castle is 1 out of only 2 castles in England that has two mottes. Mottes are man-made, elevated pieces of land that provide the foundation of castles.

Today, the castle is still used today as a prison and a law court!

Take a walk on the medieval wall and check out the victorian prison while you’re there!

 

11) Highclere Castle

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Location: Highclere, Hampshire

Constructed: 17th century

Highclere Castle is the country seat to the Earl of Carnarvon… but we don’t expect you to know what that means.

You might recognize this castle from the comedy series Jeeves and Wooster, and the drama series Downtown Abbey.

The castle hosts tours and special events the public can purchase tickets for.

 

10) Rochester Castle

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Location: Rochester, Kent

Constructed: 11th century

Rochester Castle has seen a lot of action since the 11th century. There was the Rebellion of 1088, the First Baron’s War, Second Baron’s War… and the castle got taken over many times.

But despite all the battles the castle has seen, the stone tower of the castle is one of the best-preserved in the country.

The castle also saw some repairs during the 19th and 20th century and it is now open to the public.

 

9) Warkworth Castle

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Location: Warkworth, Northumberland

Constructed: 12th century

Warkworth Castle spent a lot of its history under the possession of the Dukes of Northumberland. The castle has several great architectural features like the motte and bailey, the tower keep, and collegiate church.

You’re going to want to check out the Cross-Shaped keep and the Duke’s Rooms while you’re visiting.

You can also take a half-mile walk outside of the castle to visit a medieval, private chapel carved out of a rock. It’s a nice and peaceful way to explore the area surrounding the castle.

 

8) Lindisfarne Castle

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Location: Holy Island, Northumberland

Constructed: 16th century

Lindisfarne Castle lies on an area that used to be a Scottish and English border area. So the castle naturally saw a lot of fight involving the Scottish and English. The castle also saw attacks from the Vikings too!

In the early 20th century, the castle became a family home. And it recently completed 2 years worth of renovations in 2018.

So now is the time to check it out!

 

7) Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle - Best Castles In England
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Location: Alnwick, Northumberland

Constructed: 11th century

Alnwick Castle is the residence of the 12th Duke of Northumberland. But that’s not exactly why this castle is a popular one to visit.

The castle is a filming location from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. You might see a resemblance in the castle and some of the exterior of Hogwarts.

The castle now holds many Harry Potter events and attracts fans from all over!

 

6) Windsor Castle

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Location: Windsor, Berkshire

Constructed: 11th century

Windsor Castle is one of the most impressive castles you’ll see in England. It’s open to the public but only with limited access. This might be due to the fact that the castle is still used as a host for state events and Queen Elizabeth II likes to use the castle as a weekend home.

The castle lies on 13 acres of land and it has features that include fortified walls, a palace, and a small town. There is also a giant park, Windsor Great Park, that occupies 5000 acres of land near the castle.

Needless to say, Windsor Castle is a huge tourist attraction with plenty of things to see and do!

 

5) Leeds Castle

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Location: Leeds, Kent

Constructed: 12th century

Leeds Castle is a beautiful castle built on islands in a lake near the village of Leeds. The islands formed from the River Len that runs right next to the castle. It is a really peaceful place to visit!

You can also have some fun on the castle grounds while visiting. There is a giant maze to get out of, a golf course, and a dog collar museum!

 

4) Arundel Castle

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Location: Arundel, West Sussex

Constructed: 12th century

Although the name sounds similar, Arundel Castle is not the castle Disney drew inspiration from for the movie Frozen. You can read about that castle here!

Arundel Castle is originally from the 12th century… but it’s the 18th and 19th-century restorations that helped make it the beauty that it is today. You can thank the English Civil War for that!

Make sure you stop at the castle’s museum and stroll through the gorgeous gardens while you visit.

 

3) St. Michaels Mount

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Location: Mount’s Bay, Cornwall

Constructed: 12th century

St. Michael’s Mount may have started as a monastery as early as the 8th century, but the actual castle wasn’t built on the summit until the 12th century.

The castle itself lies on a tidal island that you can walk too from the mainland. But it’s important to note that you can only reach the island on foot during low and mid-tide. It’s safe to say you won’t visit another castle like it!

Oh and don’t forget about the amazing views of the surrounding area at the summit of the island.

 

2) Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle - Best Castles In England
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Location: Bamburgh, Northumberland

Constructed: 11th century

If you’re a history buff, then you’re going to love Bamburgh Castle

Not only is this a beautiful castle in a stunning location in England…

But there is evidence there have been people in the area since 10,000 BC!

Here you’ll find burials from the Bronze Age and pottery shards from the Iron Age…

Oh, and there is an amazing castle too!

There is no shortage of activities. Go for a walk on one of the trails, dig up some treasure at the archaeological site, and hang out at some great beaches nearby!

 

1) Dover Castle

Dover Castle - Best Castles In England
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Location: Dover, Kent

Constructed: 12th century

Dover Castle is the largest castle in England. And in our opinion, it’s the coolest too!

There’s no shortage of sites to see and things to do here. Check out the underground tunnels of the castle and the WWII Underground Hospital.

Or there’s the rich furnishings of the Great Tower and the recreated fire command post from WWI. There’s also a brand new escape if you and you’re smart enough to escape.

Alright, I’m sure you get it… there’s so much to do at Dover Castle. So that’s why we made it our best castle in England.

Oh, and you’ll also want to check out the White Cliffs of Dover nearby!

 

Conclusion

Don’t those castles look amazing?

Anytime your visiting England, all the castles listed above make for a great day trip.

Just make sure to check out each castle’s website for their hours of operation before you go!

Have you ever visited any of the castles listed about?

Tell us about your experience in the Comment Section!

Do you love castles and plan on visiting as many as you can?

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

 

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