Favourite Fortress: The best 10 castles in England
Myths, legends, knights and more await, as we uncover the best castles in England which are really worth a visit. Bursting with history and proud protectors of the realm from years gone by, discover hidden stories, secrets and more in some of the UK’s most impressive buildings.
Featured in films, favoured by royalty and the best place to practice your cameo for Game of Thrones, take a look at our pick of the best castles, which we've mapped out through South, North and the Midlands of England, and don’t forget to let us know your favourites too!
Castles in South England
Windsor Castle, BerkshirePay a visit to the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, which still holds the title of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen! Given the royal seal of approval, you can discover over 900 years of British history at Windsor Castle, explore 13 acres of grounds and maybe even see the changing of the guard if you’re lucky. Windsor Castle earns the number one spot on our list of the best UK Castles.
Best for: Fans of the royal family and all ages
Powderham Castle, DevonThis picturesque castle stands proudly in Exeter, and has something for all ages to enjoy. The guided tour runs throughout the day offering a behind the scenes look at the history and heritage of Powderham Castle, whilst the Play Fort is a must for little explorers thanks to its suspension bridge, nets, slide and even a daring zip wire too.
Best for: Medieval mystery and little adventurers
Mountfitchet Castle, Essex
As well as being one of the grandest named castles in the England, Mountfitchet is also home to grand adventures. Roam around the Norman village hidden behind the castle walls to soak up the atmosphere of years gone by, meet a range of animals across the 10-acre site, and if you’re feeling brave, don’t miss the Haunted Manor! It’s about an hour’s drive from London, but you can find more castles near London here.Best for: A unique castle experience, those wanting to test their bravery
Dover Castle, Kent
There are plenty of castles in Kent to choose from but, perched above the iconic white cliffs, Dover Castle is a place where imaginations can run wild for visitors of all ages. Commanding the gateway to the realm for nine centuries, this iconic castle is a great place to immerse yourself in fascinating history. From exploring secret Wartime Tunnels and climbing the great tower, to meeting a host of costumed characters, there are also plenty of events all year round to captivate the little ones.Best for: Budding historians and war enthusiasts
Bodiam Castle, East SussexIf you asked your kid to picture a castle, it’s likely they wouldn’t come up with something far off Bodiam Castle. With striking symmetry, massive towers and a moat complete with fish, it’s a great place for imaginative kids. See original features and interior ruins at one of Britain’s most picturesque ancient monuments, plus with a programme of kids events during the holidays, it’s great for a family day out.
Best for: Classic castle fun for all ages
In the Midlands
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
We couldn't have a list of our favourite castles in England without including this Medieval treat, where Arthurian legends, mazes and mysteries are the order of the day. Kids will love the re-enactments, catapult, Merlin-themed tower and the Horrible Histories references littered throughout this incredibly preserved site. Check out our listing for Warwick Castle for the latest deals we can offer.
Best for: Getting in touch with your inner Arthur or Guinevere
Castles in North England
Barnard Castle, County DurhamWith fantastic views over the Tees Gorge, Barnard Castle is a great place to visit for a family day out. Turn your visit into a game of I-spy by trying to spot Richard III’s boar emblem carved above a window in the inner ward, before exploring the incredible ‘sensory garden’ and the nearby working town, known as Barney!
Best for: Kids who love sensory play, eagle-eyed family members
Alnwick Castle, NorthumberlandYou may recognize this castle from its various film appearances, including none other than everyone’s favourite, Harry Potter! Alnwick Castle is a day out to fire the imagination, with legends of knights, dragons and wizardry to explore. From broomstick training in the same spot Harry has his first flying lesson in The Philosopher’s Stone, to the ultimate medieval test in Knight’s Quest, adventure definitely awaits at this castle.
Best for: Harry Potter enthusiasts and kids up for a challenge
Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Filled with hundreds of years’ worth of dark tales, myths and more Bamburgh Castle is home to an impressive 14 public areas, so there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. See several grand State Rooms, the Library and Clock Tower, plus The Keep, the oldest surviving part of the castle. With a local sandy beach right outside the castle walls, don’t miss your chance to join fun archaeological excavations during the summer.
Best for: Keen diggers and those looking for a full day out
Wray Castle, Cumbria
With Wray Castle, you not only get the customary castle fun of dressing up, tower-climbing and imaginary sword fighting, but they also have a fantastic Peter Rabbit themed play area AND you can arrive by boat! That's castle hopping in style, if you ask us. Since this National Trust property was bequeathed without furnishings, they've made something suitable for the youngest of visitors with the Peter Rabbit Adventure throughout the rooms. It's also possible to build your own castle - and who wouldn't want to do that?
Best for: Tiny tots and Beatrix Potter fans
Reckon we’re missing one of the fantastic castles in England that should be on this list? Let us know where, and why in a comment below!
How about a princess day out? We're sure both young knights and princesses will enjoy it!