UK Castles: Best Castles to Visit
England is renowned for its magnificent castles. They are an incredibly important part of the nation’s history and several of them have witnessed battle, secrets, tangled politics and changing fortunes over the centuries.
Sudeley Castle, Cotswolds
Situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, the breathtaking Sudeley Castle is surrounded by extensive gardens. Although the castle is now a private residence to Lady Ashcombe and her family, it was once used as a home for royals.
Ralph Boteler, Baron of Sudeley, constructed the present castle in 1442 but during the War of the Roses, he was forced to pass Sudeley Castle to the King, Edward IV. Notable royals that have lived at the castle include Richard III and Queen Katherine Parr, the sixth (and surviving) wife of Henry VIII. King Henry VIII himself visited the castle in 1535 with his second wife Anne Boleyn.
Sudeley Castle boasts not one, but ten stunning gardens to explore and enjoy! There are a number of exhibitions to see which explain more about the castle’s interesting history. Children will love the adventure playground which is accessible as part of the entry fee.
10 min drive from our Winchcombe Club Site
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
The history of Warwick Castle goes back 1100 years, having been first built as a wooden motte and bailey castle in 1068 by William the Conqueror. During the 12th century, the castle was rebuilt in stone with further buildings added in the 14th and 15th century.
Over the years, the castle has seen plenty of turbulent events, including battles, siege, murder, various power struggles and fire damage!
Warwick Castle is a must-see family attraction! Enter the Castle Dungeon (if you dare), explore the Horrible Histories Maze and even join the Kingmaker in battle! Grown-ups will appreciate the castle’s magnificent interior and 64 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.;
37 min drive from our Clent Hills Club Site
Tamworth Castle, Staffordshire
The wonderfully preserved Tamworth Castle has Anglo-Saxon origins and boasts over 900 years of history and stories to tell. The site has been home to fortifications since Anglo-Saxon times to defend Tamworth against the Vikings in 913.
After the Normans invaded in 1066 the castle was built upon the fortifications in the typical Norman motte and bailey fashion. Visit today and walk the 15 fully furnished rooms which move through different significant periods on the castle's historical timeline.
The tower, if you fancy venturing up it, gives 360-degree views of Tamworth including the castle grounds. If you still have some energy to burn off after exploring the Castle, why not venture into the grounds? Within the grounds you’ll find a children’s play area and a pleasant walk by the river with plenty of benches along the way if you’d like to stop and admire the view.
10 minute drive from our Drayton Manor Club Site
Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire
Standing proud and tall in beautiful Lincolnshire countryside is Tattershall Castle. It was built in striking red brick – at a time when such a material wasn’t often used for castles.
Originally, the site was thought to be a fortified manor house, built by Robert de Tattershall in 1231. It was during the 15th century that it was expanded and rebuilt as it is today, in brick, by Lord Ralph Cromwell the Treasurer of England.
Tattershall Castle has been described as one of the finest examples of English medieval brickwork. It really is a well-kept storybook castle. Climb the Great Tower stairs to see fantastic views from the top and listen to an audio tour which explains more about the castle’s history.
12 min drive from our Woodhall Spa Campsite
Nottingham Castle, Nottinghamshire
The face of Nottingham Castle has seen a few changes over its lifetime. It started out as a motte and bailey castle in 1067, under orders of William the Conqueror. A century or so later, it was largely rebuilt in stone by King Henry II.
Nottingham Castle has associations with Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw. Learn the tales of Robin Hood and see the castle’s caves that Robin apparently used to escape back to Sherwood Forest! The castle is home to collections of Fine and Decorative Arts as well as the Museum of the Mercian Regiment (WFR Collection), which explains the history of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire soldiers from 1741 to today.
43 min drive from our Teversal Club Site
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
For much of its 900 years, Kenilworth Castle has been right at the forefront of England's affairs, offering a long and interesting history.
At Kenilworth you have the opportunity to explore not only the Castle, but also the Elizabethan Gardens. Walk along the paths that the former Queen would have taken through the beautiful gardens, and make sure you don’t miss the stunning marble fountain. If you’d like to feel even more like royalty, why not ascend the steps in the tower? Imagine the rooms filled with every luxury and enjoy the views across the estate.
30 minute drive from our Kingsbury Water Park Club Site
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Currently home to the Duke of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle is one of Britain’s most iconic castles.
There are many fine examples of art and antique furniture to see at Alnwick Castle, including work by Canaletto and Van Dyck in The State Rooms. The world’s only surviving pair of Cucci cabinets are also on display at the castle. These are from the Palace of Versailles and they were originally created for Louis XIV. In addition, Harry Potter fans will enjoy seeing some familiar locations from the films – in particular the spot where Harry Potter had his first Quidditch lesson.
24 min drive from our Beadnell Bay Club Site
Barnard Castle, County Durham
Built in the 12th Century, Barnard Castle was named after its founder, Bernard de Balliol, who was an Anglo-Picard baron. During the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, the castle was taken over by Richard III and was used as one of his preferred residences.
Set in an elevated position above the River Tees in Teesdale, Barnard Castle is a fine example of a medieval ruin. There are spectacular views to be enjoyed over the Tees Gorge and a beautiful sensory garden to explore. Visitors can also look out for Richard III’s boar emblem, which is visible above one of the windows. The interesting market town of Barnard Castle is close by and also worth a visit.
9 min drive from our Barnard Castle Club Site
Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Situated on a rocky plateau 150 feet above the sea, Bamburgh Castle is a stunning sight on the Northumberland coastline, with grounds that span nine acres.
Inside this inhabited castle, there are 14 rooms to explore with more than 3000 artefacts on display, including fine art, furniture, porcelain and armour. There are a number of myths and legends associated with Bamburgh Castle that include dragons and ghosts! The castle is also believed to be the setting of “Joyous Garde”, Sir Lancelot’s fictitious castle.
23 min drive from our Dunstan Hill Club Site
Muncaster Castle, Lake District
Muncaster Castle, set in the idyllic surroundings of the Western Lake District, is home to the Pennington Family whose ancestors have lived there since 1208.
Muncaster Castle is magnificent historic house, with breathtaking views over the Ravenglass estuary. There are many things to see and do at Muncaster Castle, including exploring the castle’s public rooms and seeing some of the original medieval features. If you enjoy a spot of ghost hunting, you may be interested to know that Muncaster Castle is one of Britain’s most haunted castles! Visitors can take part in a scientific ghost vigil, these are held once or twice per year and you can learn more about the castle’s spooky residents, accompanied by paranormal specialists. Contact Muncaster Castle directly for details of when their haunting experiences are available!
5 min drive from our Ravenglass Club Site
Pevensey Castle, East Sussex
Pevensey Castle was built inside the ancient Roman Fort of Anderitum, which was built around 290AD. In 1066, William the Conqueror’s army famously landed there at the start of the Norman Conquest.
There are many things to see and do for both adults and children alike at the impressive ruins of Pevensey Castle. Visitors can explore the dark dungeons and perhaps catch a glimpse of the “Pale Lady of Pevensey”, the castle’s alleged ghost!
7 min drive from our Normans Bay Club Site
Arundel Castle, West Sussex
Arundel Castle is a magnificent motte and bailey castle situated in Arundel, West Sussex. It has been the seat to the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for more than 850 years.
Arundel Castle is full of fascinating history, beautiful furnishings and interesting artefacts. Visitors can spend several hours exploring the many rooms that are open to the public as well as taking a stroll in the stunning gardens. Look out for the legendary Victoria Rooms, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed during a 3-day visit in 1846.
9 min drive from our Slindon Campsite
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
Windsor Castle in Berkshire was built by William the Conqueror more than 900 years ago. 39 monarchs have lived there, starting with King Henry I who reigned from 1100-35. It’s now the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II and is actually the world’s largest inhabited castle!
A royal residence for centuries, Windsor Castle is reported to be one of the top visitor attractions in Britain. Visitors can view the splendid State Apartments, which contain many fascinating pieces from the Royal Collection. A particular highlight to look out for is Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, a world famous miniature masterpiece.
23 min drive from our Chertsey Club Site
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
Tintagel Castle is situated on the north coast of Cornwall at Tintagel Island. The site where the castle stands has an ancient history, having thought to have been inhabited during the late Roman period.
Visitors can discover the legend of King Arthur at Tintagel Castle and explore the dramatic ruins of the castle itself, including what would have been the Great Hall. Only fragments of the castle now exist due to it falling into disrepair over time; however the parts that you’ll see are original and date back to the 13th century.
20 min drive from our Bude Club Site
St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
St Michael’s Mount is a fascinating little island, with a castle and small village at its heart. It’s located in Mount’s Bay, with the sea separating the island from the town of Marazion, Cornwall.
Discover the captivating history behind the castle walls at St Michael’s Mount and how it’s changed over time to become the family home of the St Aubyn family. They have lived there since the 17th century. Visitors can explore the delights of the castle gardens, where a great range of unexpected plants and flowers thrive. Finally, witness first-hand what island life is like for the community of around 30 islanders that currently live at St Michael’s Mount.
22 min drive from our Sennen Cove Club Site
Scotland’s castles are a treasured part of the country’s extensive history. It’s thought that up to 3,000 castles have been built in Scotland at one time or another, with a large number of them still in existence today.
Stirling Castle, Stirling
Historically, Stirling Castle was seen as the key to the kingdom of Scotland. It’s situated on Castle Hill, an expansive volcanic rock, above the river Forth where the Lowlands and Highlands meet.
There are a number of castles in Stirling, but this is one of the most important ones to see and explore because of its role in times of Scottish feuding. Discover the Great Hall, the largest banqueting hall built in Scotland, which was used for feasts and dances. Also a highlight is the Great Kitchens, where pies, venison, salmon and beef were often prepared for the castle’s royal inhabitants.
44 min drive from our Milarrochy Bay Club Site
Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire
Balmoral Castle is the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family and has been ever since it was purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852.
Most of the rooms at Balmoral are the Queen’s private rooms; however visitors can explore and admire the magnificent Castle Ballroom, the largest room in the castle. It’s still used for dances today. There are a number of exhibitions on display, including works of art by Landseer and Carl Haag and artefacts from within the Castle. For the green-fingered amongst you, the extensive gardens at Balmoral Castle are well worth a visit. You’ll find a kitchen garden, commissioned by The Duke of Edinburgh, and a beautiful water garden along with three acres of formal gardens.
Balmoral Castle is open to the public for just a few months of the year, usually April, May, June and July. Visit the Balmoral Castle website for full details about when the castle is open.
28 min drive from our Tarland by Deeside Club Site
Culzean Castle, South Ayrshire
Set on a dramatic cliff top and surrounded by the grand estate of Culzean Country Park, Culzean Castle has been part of the National Trust since 1945. It was formerly the home of an ancient Scottish family – the Kennedys – who were descendants of Robert the Bruce.
A family friendly attraction, visitors can explore the Round Drawing Room, the magnificent Oval Staircase and the Armoury, which contains a fantastic collection of swords and pistols. Outside, you can take a wander in the colourful, formal gardens or explore the three miles of sandy and shingle shoreline that is close by. Children will love the adventure playground and interesting wildlife within the country park.
Within the same grounds as our Culzean Castle Club Site
Standing impressively on great rock, Edinburgh Castle has witnessed many great events over the years. Bronze Age settlers arrived at the site in 900 BC and during the Iron Age, a hill fort was built, which was probably visited by Romans.
Edinburgh Castle, with its rich and royal history, is one of the most famous sites to explore in Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh Castle is also home to St Margaret’s Chapel, which is Edinburgh’s oldest building, built during 1130 – 1140. In the 1600s, the castle became a military base and nowadays, Edinburgh Castle hosts the National War Museum and the Scottish regalia (the Honours of Scotland). It’s without a doubt one of the best castles to visit in Scotland.
46 min drive from our Lauder Club Site
There are more than 600 castles in Wales and “powerful”, “impressive” and “daunting” are three words that could be used to describe many of them. Particularly those built during the 13th century, when the English monarch Edward I invaded Wales.
Criccieth Castle, Gwynedd
Built in the 13th century on a rocky peninsula overlooking Tremadog Bay, Criccieth Castle is one of the most spectacular castle ruins to visit in Wales, not least for its amazing views.
It was once wanted so very badly by Welsh princes and English monarchs and even now that it lies in ruins, Criccieth Castle is a fascinating landmark to see. Scorch marks can still be seen on some of the stonework where it was burned down.
On a bright sunny day, visitors can see as far as Snowdonia when looking to the north and the Llyn Peninsula to the west. The castle’s beautiful and almost romantic setting has inspired the work of various artists, including JMW Turner, whose painting of storm-wrecked mariners includes a portrayal of the castle in the background.
5 min drive from our Llanystumdwy Club Site
Dolwyddelan Castle, Conwy
If you appreciate spectacular scenery, Dolwyddelan Castle shouldn’t disappoint. It’s a magnificent keep that blends beautifully into the surrounding rugged landscape.
Visitors can enjoy amazing views across the valley from the roof level of the remaining tower and find out more about the castle’s history via information displays.
48 min drive from our Bala Club Site
Caernarfon Castle is an imposing stone fortress built by Edward I, who used it as his administrative centre during his invasion of Wales in the 13th century. It was previously the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle.
This is an Edwardian castle that has been awarded World Heritage status. Part of Edward I’s “Iron Ring” of castles, its impressive architecture alone is worth a visit.
There are various exhibitions and displays to see at the castle, including the opportunity to explore the polygonal towers, which are simply magnificent.
27 min drive from our Llanystumdwy Club Site
Harlech Castle, Gwynedd
Standing impressively on elevated rock near to the Irish Sea and surrounded by magnificent views, Harlech is a Welsh castle not to be missed.
Harlech Castle is classed as a World Heritage Inscribed Site. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) deem it to be one of Europe’s finest examples of military architecture built during the late 13th and early 14th century. The twin-towered gatehouse at Harlech Castle is still more or less intact and visitors can enjoy outstanding views of Snowdonia from its tall battlements.
29 min drive from our Llanystumdwy Club Site
View more holiday ideas and advice.