Ripley Castle reflected in a pond and green landscaping
Northern England,  South West England,  The Midlands

The 30 Best Castles of England Worth The Journey From London

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With more than 4000 castles, how do you know which are the best castles in England to visit? With the help of travel writer friends, we have created a list of the best castles England has. Castles in Northern England include Alnwick Castle, famous as Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Castles in Southern England include Tintagel which is associated with King Arthur. For central England, there are beautiful castles in East Midlands, castles in West Midland and castles in East Anglia, many of which are steeped in important historical events that shaped the country’s path.

Note! Castles in and near London are discussed separately because they can be done in a day trip from London.

Best Castles of England – Central England

Some of the best castles of England lie in the middle of the country. As armies from the north and the south of England clashed, lots of the beautiful castles in England were left in ruins. There was lots of history made in the castles of the East Midlands, such as Nottingham Castle, and the castles of the West Midlands, such as Tutbury Castle. Castles in East Anglia, likewise, have plenty of history including Norwich Castle which is now a full-blown museum.

Baconsthorpe Castle

One of the most wonderful things about England is that beauty hides around every corner. As you trundle down the farm track towards Baconsthorpe Castle, you’d have no idea that the ruins of this 15th-century manor house are even there.

Located in Baconsthorpe, just outside of Holt in Norfolk, this English Heritage site offers a fascinating insight into the history of the area. Once owned by the highly influential local family, the Heydon’s, the castle was passed down through many generations until too much spending meant that much of it needed to be sold off to pay debts.

The castle sits in a truly idyllic setting, the highlight of which is the impressive moat where it is possible to see swans in the summer. There are also a number of beautiful circular walks nearby.

Unlike many other English castles, Baconsthorpe offers remarkable value for money and is free to enter. The only costs that guests will incur are the cost to park in the car park which is charged at £2. English Heritage members park for free.

Pet owners will also be pleased to hear that Baconsthorpe Castle is dog-friendly. Animals, however, should be kept on leads at all times.

– by Sheree Hooker at Winging The World

ruins of Baconsthorpe, a castle in East Anglia which lies in ruins
Baconsthorpe, one of the castles in East Anglia, lies in ruins but its easy to imagine its once formidable presence (Image credit: Sheree Hooker)

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle is located within the beautiful village of Bolsover, Derbyshire. Set atop a steep hill, you can marvel at the spectacular 17th century fairy-tale mansion as you approach.

The castle itself originates as a gift from William the Conqueror to one of his knights. As you wander around the grounds, you can see remnants of the lavish rooms that were designed to impress and entertain. Explore the fountain garden, the extensive terrace and the little castle. But best of all, gaze at the spectacular views of the countryside from the medieval style turret walls.

Bolsover castle is part of English Heritage and accordingly, to enter the grounds you will need to purchase a ticket on the day, or in advance. There is a visitor centre where you can purchase audio guides for an immersive historical experience. You can also learn a lot from the free leaflets and posters.

However, if you just want to enjoy the view of the castle itself, you can park on the hill, cross the small path and come out into the large open field at the foot of the castle. Best of all this part is free!

– by Kerry Hanson from VeggTravel 

Bolsover Castle in England
Among the best castles England has are the ones like Bolsover which were ordered built by William the Conqueror. (Image credit: Kerry Hanson)

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden is a large castle that is owned and maintained by English Heritage. The castle is located in the town of Kenilworth in the county of Warwickshire.

The gardens had a major revamp at a huge cost of around 2 million but it was more than worth it as the gardens are stunning. They were originally created for Queen Elizabeth 1 by Robert, Earl of Leicester.

In a huge Tudor stable you will find a cafe and next to here the staff often host family-friendly activities such as learning how to shoot arrows and build battle defences. The castle itself is largely ruined but that doesn’t mean there’s not much to explore.

Some of the ruin has staircases and platforms now installed so that you can climb high up and enjoy some impressive views. The ruined Great Hall is also incredibly impressive with some fabulous views of the gardens from the Castle Keep.

In the gardens, there are some lovely statues, flowers, plants and herbs that you can rub to smell. There is a cute aviary with canaries and other small birds.

The centrepiece is a fountain made entirely out of marble. You can also look around Leicester’s Gatehouse which is an intact part of the castle with some interesting reconstructed rooms that you can look around. Kenilworth Castle is one of our favourite days out.

– by Suzy McCullough at Yorkshire To Do With Kids

Kenilworth Castle and Gardens
Kenilworth, one of the most beautiful castles in England, thanks to its amazing gardens is one of the castles of West Midlands. (Image credit: Suzy McCullough)

Norwich Castle

What Norwich Castle lacks in beauty, it makes up for with history. It is a Grade I-listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The castle was founded by William the Conqueror sometime around 1067. Up until the mid-12th century, when Henry II built Orford Castle, Norwich was the only major royal castle in East Anglia.

Today only the castle keep still stands on a hill in the middle of the Norwich city centre. Since 1895, it has been a museum. Norwich Castle is one of the best things to do in Norwich and perfect for a day out with the kids. Allow at least two hours to visit Norwich Castle.

Inside the keep nothing remains of the medieval layout. You can walk around the castle and learn about its history through interactive displays. They also offer tours of the dungeon and the battlements.

In the exhibition area next to the keep, they have a diverse collection of fine art, including costume, textiles, jewellery, glass, ceramics, teapots, and silverware. There are also displays about Boudica (Queen of the Iceni), and the Romans, Anglo Saxons and Vikings. You will also find a section about the Egyptians as well as a Natural History Gallery.

– by Anisa Alhilali of Norfolk Local Guide

Norwich Castle in East Anglia
Norwich Castle, one of the castles of East Anglia, is now a museum (Image credit: Anisa Alhilali)

Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle definitely comes under the bracket of epic castles in England. Although the castle doesn’t have impressive turrets or battalions that other castles have it is overflowing with historical significance and is one of the top Nottingham attractions.

Nottingham Castle was originally built as a wooden structure in 1068 on top of a sandstone cliff known as ‘Castle Rock’ which was a huge vantage point. The wooden castle was replaced with a much stronger stone castle during the reign of Henry II.

This castle was used as a royal residence and served as one of the most important fortresses in England due to its strategic position near a crossing point of the River Trent. For this reason, Nottingham Castle was used as a secondary location for parliament to be held.

In 1642 Charles I chose Nottingham Castle because of its defensive capabilities as the rallying point for his armies at the start of the English Civil War. After many skirmishes at the site it was left in a semi-ruined state, and after Charles I was executed the medieval Nottingham Castle was razed to the ground to prevent it being used in future uprisings.

The current Ducal Mansion was built on the foundations of the previous Nottingham Castle by the Duke of Newcastle between 1674 and 1679 and today it houses various art collections and galleries on the history and archaeology of Nottingham.

– by Stephanie Jackson from Book It Let’s Go!

Statue Of Robin Hood at Nottingham Castle, Nottingham, UK
A statue of Robin Hood, at Nottingham Castle, one of the most historic castles in East Midlands

Oakham Castle

All that is left of Oakham Castle is its Great Hall which has survived from Norman times. Unlike Pevensey Castle, it was not fortunate enough to have a Roman base which could withstand the test of time. The Castle is conveniently located in the center of Oakham, the county town of Rutland, the smallest county in England.

One of the unique things about Oakham Castle is its collection of horseshoes. No one knows where this tradition started but every visiting nobleman or royal has to provide a horseshoe to hang on the wall of the Great Hall on their first visit to Oakham Castle. The oldest horseshoe belongs to Edward IV from the 15th century. There are over 200 horseshoes now including horseshoes given by Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria.

The Great Hall at Oakham Castle is surrounded by a large field where the Castle’s outbuildings would have stood. The defensive walls are also still in place. From the top of the hill for the wall, you have fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.

The horseshoes at Oakham Castle
The horseshoes at Oakham Castle, one of the best castles in England because it is small, picturesque and unique.

Rockingham Castle

Rockingham Castle stands on the “Rock” high above the River Welland Valley close to the border of Northamptonshire and Rutland.

Rockingham Castle is a motte and bailey castle (which comes from the Norman French words for mound and enclosed land) and was built around 1070 by King William the Conqueror.

Several Kings and Queens have stayed at the castle, including Richard the Lionheart, King John, and Edward I during its 900+ years.

In 1544 the castle passed into private hands when Henry VIII gave Rockingham Castle to Edward Watson who turned the Castle into a family home. Since then Rockingham Castle has remained in the hands of the Watson family, undergoing many changes throughout the years, who still own it today as their private home.

Rockingham Castle is open to visitors several times a year and its Civil War Themed Events are very popular.

The gardens, set in 18 acres, are worth touring where a 400 year old Yew Hedge known as the “Elephant Hedge” is a prominent feature as well as seventeenth century terraces, a circular rose garden and a nineteenth century woodland garden.

An interesting side trip you can make is a walk down Rockingham Hill to the village where you can see many tudor houses lining the road and even have a Pint in the 16th Century Sondes Arms Public House.

– by Dave at the Silver Backpacker 

Rockingham Castle viewed from Great Easton in England
Beautiful castles in England to visit include Rockingham Castle, one of the castles in East Midlands (Image credit: Silver Backpacker).

Shrewsbury Castle

Shrewsbury is a very historic town in the county of Shropshire and at the heart of it is the castle. Shrewsbury castle dates back to 1067 just after the Norman conquest, thus it has quite a story to tell.

The Castle is a key attraction in Shrewsbury and is one of the first thing visitors see when arriving by train or road. They built Shrewsbury castle with red sandstone on some higher ground overlooking the River Severn.

Shrewsbury castle dates back to 1067 when William the Conqueror ordered it to be built. William aimed to use it as a defensive fortification and base of operations for forays into Wales.

The castle is open to visitors to explore the castle grounds or visit the Shropshire Regimental museum that calls the castle home. The museum is very interesting and contains uniforms, weapons and medals relating to the regiment. In the basement, there is an exhibit is about the castle’s history which is interesting.

The grounds and outer fortifications are a haven for photographers and artists, these are free to explore. However, to enter the principal building and museum costs £4.50 for adults or £2 for children. There are also lots of things to see and do in Shrewsbury, a great town if you enjoy seeing historical buildings.

– Richard Meek of RJ on Tour

weapons display inside Shrewsbury Castle Museum
Shrewsbury Castle, one of the castles in the West Midlands, displays memorabilia related to the Shropshire Regiment. (Image credit: Richard Meek).

Tutbury Castle

Tutbury Castle, located in the Staffordshire countryside offers a fascinating opportunity to explore castle ruins whilst it is still being discovered. Large parts of this castle are still being unearthed, its fascinating history being pieced together, telling stories of British Kings and Queens.

Following the Norman invasion Tutbury Castle was originally built in 1071. The castle later became an important medieval fortress in the rebellion against Henry II. It is currently owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.

It is best known for being Mary Queen of Scots prison. She was imprisoned at Tutbury several times by Queen Elizabeth I. Its hillside location in the middle of the country far away from Scotland meant guards could easily watch for her supporters who may try to free her.

The Castle is now a popular tourist attraction in the small town of Tutbury. The ruined walls are fascinating to explore and the views across the surrounding countryside to the River Dove are breathtaking. It is home to an authentic Tudor Garden and the “haunted” Great Hall.

It is just £2.50 to visit and there’s a lovely tea room and bar during weekend evenings. Tutbury holds regular events such as historic re-enactments and fireworks displays and can be booked as a unique wedding venue.

– by Karen Quinn of Marvelous Middle England

Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire England
Tutbury Castle, one of the castles in the West Midlands, is associated with the tragic life of Mary Queen of Scots (Image credit: Karen Quinn).

Warwick Castle

Warwick castle is a majestic English castle located along river Avon in Warwickshire. Founded by William the conquerer, the castle holds a rich thousand year history in its sleeve. Several wars have been fought around the castle. Many kings and famous people have been hosted as guests and struggled as prisoners.

There are plenty of things to do inside the castle, enough to keep you occupied for a day. And if you are travelling as a family, there are interesting things to keep the kids occupied. Don’t miss out the Horrible Histories Maze, Princess tower, Trebuchet, and Castle dungeons.

Explore the tower and ramparts and soak in the views from the castle. If you are travelling with a young princess, don’t forget to get the timed tickets for Princess Tower.

The Trebuchet in the castle is one of the largest replica siege machines in the world. Don’t miss out the live demonstration of Trebuchet. The castle gardens are huge so be sure to picnic if the weather is good. There are also seasonal shows that run in the castle. Be sure to check their website for up-to-date information.

Warwick can be explored by car or public transport. It is only 15 minutes from Stratford upon Avon and 45 minutes drive from Birmingham.

by Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple

river and Warwick Castle in England
One of the mighty castles in West Midlands, Warwick Castle is one of the best castles in England to visit with kids (Image credit: Country Hopping Couple).

The Best Castles in Northern England

In terms of castles, Northern England seems full of them. In fact, Northumberland has the most castles of any county in England. The troublesome Scots were always raiding from across the border which explains all the castles in Northern England.

Alnwick Castle

Dating from Norman times, Alnwick Castle has been home to the Duke’s of Northumberland for the last 700 years. As England’s second largest inhabited castle (after Windsor Castle), Alnwick holds an important defensive position in the north of the country on the border with the Scots.

One of the best castles of England, Alnwick Castle rose to fame as the setting for Hogwarts on the Harry Potter movie series. Alnwick Castle has also been featured in the Downton Abbey film as well.

There is plenty to see and to do in Alnwick Castle including a large collection of Old Masters collected by the Dukes over the years. The Alnwick Castle gardens are extensive and the latest Duchess has created an intriguing Poison Garden.

Alnwick Castle is great with children too. There is broomstick training for Harry Potter fans, Peterkin the Jester demonstrates medieval comedy and Knight School for budding wannabe knights.

Alnwick Castle in Northumbria
Many consider chasing Harry Potter locations (such as Alnwick Castle pictured here) one of must have experiences in England.

Bamburgh Castle

You really can’t miss Bamburgh Castle on Northumberland’s coast, it towers over the village of Bamburgh, holding an incredible defensive position with marvellous views to both Holy Island and the Farne Islands.

There has been a defensive building here since the Celtic fort of the year 420 and today’s Grade I listed building dates from Norman times, passing eventually into the ownership of the Armstrong family in 1894 where it remains now.  The castle has been used as a private residence, a free school and a pharmacy over the years and can be seen for miles around.

There’s a lot to see within Bamburgh Castle and you should plan a full day to visit, have lunch at the café or bring a picnic, there’s lots of space here to enjoy the magnificent views from the walls and gardens.  There are even apartments that can be rented as holiday lets.

Tickets to Bamburgh Castle cover access to all the open areas and there are fabulous activities for families during school holidays and weekends too. The State Rooms are particularly beautiful and kids will have great fun dressing up in the armour and chain mail.

A visit to Bamburgh Castle is one of the top things to do in Northumberland, England’s most northerly county and shouldn’t be missed!

– by Sarah Carter at A Social Nomad

Bamburgh Castle as seen from the village
Castles in the north of England include Bamburgh Castle (Image credit: Sarah Carter)

Chillingham Castle

Dating back to the 12th century, Chillingham Castle in the North of England was initially built as a monastery. It is still owned by descendants of the Chillingham family.

It was used as a fortress for English armies during the England and Scotland border wars. Plenty of captured soldiers were kept and tortured in the dungeons and are said to have never left. Chillingham Castle is notorious for being the most haunted castle in England.

Now, parts of Chillingham Castle England are open to the public for tours. The tours include a display medieval torture instruments. It’s also possible to spend the night in one of the eight en-suite rooms located inside the castle.

We took a ghost tour of Chillingham Castle and sadly did not encounter any paranormal phenomena.

aerial view of Chillingham Castle
When you seee Chillingham Castle from above, it hits you how big it is.

Dunstanburgh Castle

The ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle are managed by the National Trust. Built in the 14th century, Dunstanburgh was built to show off positively in comparison to nearby Bamburgh Castle.

Dunstanburgh Castle was strategically important during the War of the Roses of the 15th century. The castle never recovered from these battles and fell into disrepair. When the Scottish and English thrones merged, the importance of castles in Northern England fell away.

The ruins of this most beautiful castle in England, standing in its isolated grandeur on a cliff overlooking the North Sea, attracted artists to feature it in their works. J.M.W. Turner featured Dunstanburgh Castle heavily in his works.

You can visit the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle by a 1.5 mile coastal walk from nearby Craster. Alnwick Castle is a mere 8 miles away.

Dunstanburgh Castle on top of hill near body of water
Dunstanburgh Castle, is one of the castles Northern England has that lies in ruins.

Durham Castle

The city of Durham is about 220 kilometers away from Edinburgh and merely 30 kilometres away from Newcastle upon Tyne. It is a university city with historic Romanesque features in England that may not be known to a lot of tourists. However, Durham is perfect for a day trip from Edinburgh or Newcastle upon Tyne. Take a train in the Waverley Station getting there from Edinburgh, trains depart every hour and the journey takes about two hours.

The city’s skyline is defined by the striking Durham Cathedral, which has a history of over one thousand years. Together with the Durham Castle on the opposite side, these UNESCO World Heritage Site are open to the public for free unless they are used for ceremonies and events, including the congregation of Durham University.

The Durham Castle is a Norman castle dated back to the year 1072; it was previously the residence of the Bishops of Durham, and a fine example of Norman architecture of citadel – round arches and massive proportions. Today, the castle served as a museum, and part of Durham University’s campus and dormitory, which visitors may take a guided tour to see the chapels and halls.

– by Kenny Chow of Knycx Journeying

Durham Castle
Durham Castle, one of the best castles of England to visit (Image credit: Kenny Chow)

Raby Castle

Raby Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in England, has a picture perfect setting among a couple of hundred acres of deer park near Durham England. The castle is still privately owned by the Barons Barnard.

Raby Castle has a famous collection of paintings, including Old Masters, that have been collected by the owners. For children, there is a woodland adventure playground as well as special events, like open air cinemas and theatre, that are held at Raby Castle.

Raby Castle has appeared on film inthe 1999 Oscar-winning movie Elizabeth and the television drama series, Victoria.

Raby Castle is only open to the public during the summer. You can visit on your own or through a guided tour. The gardens are extensive with both a walled garden and a kitchen garden. You can rent bikes to pedal through the parkland to see the deer up close.

Raby Castle reflected in a pond and a parklike setting.
Raby Castle, one o the most beautiful castles in England, is surrounded by acres of parkland.

Ripley Castle

Ripley Castle, a 14th century castle located near Harrogate and the Yorkshire Dales, has been owned by the Barons Ingilby for 7 centuries. That’s 26 generations of the family that have called this place home!

Ripley Castle is open to the public for guided tours including a special children’s guided tour geared towards making a castle tour fun. It’s one of the castles in the best castles in England if you want to see a priest’s hiding hole.

The castle grounds are extensive and include various gardens like a walled garden and hothouses for a tropical garden. Ripley Castle puts on special events like the House & Garden Fair and outdoor concerts. The castle grounds are home to the national Hyacinth collection.

The grounds are also great for kids because there are a lot of outdoor activities available, such as archery and kayaking. The park walk is beautiful and includes deer (naturally) and an ornamental lake.

Ripley Castle reflected in a pond and green landscaping
If you love castles, North England has more than you can ever visit.

Skipton Castle

The Yorkshire market town of Skipton isn’t necessarily the first place you would think of when considering grand castles in England. And granted, Skipton’s offering is more about functionality rather than finery, but it is definitely not one to overlook.

At over 900 years old, Skipton Castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England. On your visit, you will have a unique opportunity to explore the whole castle from top to bottom. Some notable highlights include the grand Banqueting Hall, the impressive Bedchamber, and the depths of the dungeon.

Your tour is self-guided using a comprehensive information sheet, which is available in 10 different languages. Along the journey, you will discover how Skipton Castle was able to survive a three-year siege during the Civil War. You can also admire the pretty yew tree in the courtyard that was planted in 1659 to celebrate the restoration of the castle.

To make the most of your visit to Skipton, you will also want to spend some time exploring the quaint market town. It is full of independent stores and a bustling market feel. You can also explore Skipton Castle Woods, a 36-acre ancient woodland, now maintained by the Woodland Trust.

– by Hannah Ackroyd of Get Lost Travel Blog

Skipton Castle in Yorkshire
Skipton Castle in Yorkshire sone of the castles in Northern England (Image credit: Hannah Ackroyd)

Spofforth Castle

Spofforth Castle was once the seat of the prominent Percy family who now have a seat at Alnwick Castle further north in Northumberland. Although riginally constructed in the 11th century, the ruins seen today date back only to renovations done in the 14th and 15th-century.

Entry to the ruins of Spofforth is free. Spofforth Castle has an important backstory since it is where the rebel barons met to write the Magna Carta, a charter of rights for the nobles that has become an important part of the British constitution. The barons then went south to meet King John at Runnymede to force his hand.

Any castle ruins this old is bound to have a ghost story or two. People have reported seeing the figure of a phantom woman throwing herself from the ramparts in despair.

Spofforth Castle ruins
The ruins of Spofforth Castle show how grand it would have been before its destruction.

Wray Castle

Despite its name, Wray Castle is not actually a castle. It is a private home that was built in the Gothic Revival Style in 1840 along the shores of Lake Windermere in Low Wray, England. Wray Castle is possibly most famous as the holiday and summer home of Beatrix Potter, the author of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.”

Visitors can explore Wray Castle’s elaborate hall, private rooms, towers, turrets, and more. While none of the original furniture remains, many photos of the original home are prominently displayed. The castle also has mock ruins, hidden doors, and the Peter Rabbit Adventure to explore. Outside, visitors can enjoy a pleasant walk along the shore of Lake Windermere. There is also a cafe on-site, with large grounds and gardens to explore while enjoying a treat.

The Castle is easily accessible via car from the nearby town of Ambleside. Parking at Wray Castle ranges from £5 (6.94 USD) for two hours up to £7.5 ($10.41 USD) for four or more hours. Visitors can take a fifteen cruise from Waterhead Pier, just outside Ambleside. Note: because of COVID-19, there are limited cruises being offered. It would be best to check what cruises are available while planning your trip.

Visiting the grounds outside Wray Castle is free, with pets welcome to explore the area. Entrance to the Castle will cost you £10.40 ($14.45 USD) for adults and £5.20 ($7.22) for children. Wray Castle offers a group discount for groups of at least fifteen people.

The most popular time to visit Wray Castle is during the summer. The warm evenings make watching the sunset nearly magical. Wray Castle is open year-round and hosts several seasonal events. No matter when you visit, Wray Castle is a destination not to be missed.

– by Catalin Geangos from Travel Trained

Wray Castle, the summer home of Beatrix Potter
Some of the best castles England has are faux castles such as Wray Castle or Highclere Castle (Image credit: Catalin Geangos)

The Best Castles of Southern England

There’s a variety of castles in Southern England to visit from the haunted ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle in Devon to the world class art contained at Longford Castle in Wiltshire. Then there are the castles in Southwest England that are tied to legend (Tintagel Castle) or located on their own island (Mount Saint Michael).

Berry Pomeroy Castle

Although maintained by English Heritage, Berry Pomeroy is still owned by the Dukes of Somerset.

Berry Pomeroy Castle was built in the 15th century to keep order in the area because Devon at the time was hotbed of unrest.

The Pomeroy sold it to the Seymours (the Dukes of Somerset) eventually. The Duke of Somerset was the Lord Protector for England because his nephew, Henry VIII’s son, Edward VI, was still a young boy. The Seymours kept enlarging it because they wanted to show their wealth and power. Then the Seymours abandoned Berry Pomeroy without actually finishing it.

Berry Pomeroy was a favourite of the Victorians who loved their romantic ruined castles. Lots of ghost stories were promoted about Berry Pomeroy Castle which still lead people to believe that it is haunted today.

Berry Pomeroy is a short distance from both Dartmouth Castle and Totnes Castle. The castle ruins are cool and the grounds are great for exploring.

Berry Pomeroy Castle
Berry Pomeroy is one of the haunted castles in south west England.

Carisbrooke Castle

If you’re looking for the best castles in England you can’t miss Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

This evocative stone building has had various uses through the centuries, from fortress, a king’s prison right through to a royal summer retreat. Carisbrooke has been a key building on the Isle of Wight for over 1000 years.

It’s probably most famous for being the prison of Charles I who was held here during the Civil War before being taken back to the mainland for his execution. Charles I attempted to escape from the castle but wasn’t able to get through the bars. It’s very atmospheric to see where he would have been held and how desperate he must have felt.

Today you can have a picnic on his bowling green which he had constructed. If you’re visiting on a family holiday to the Isle of Wight, the castle put on lots of events which kids will love.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy winding their way through the rooms and discovering history through the ages in the various quarters. Walk along the battlements for some of the best views of the Isle of Wight.

Carisbrooke also have a relatively new garden designed by the award winning garden designer Chris Beardhsaw, the Princess Beatrice Garden which is inspired by Edwardian times. So even today it is evolving and giving so much pleasure to countless visitors.

– by Nichola West at Globalmouse Travels

Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight
One of the castles in Southern England, Carisbrooke Castle (Image credit: Nichola West)

Corfe Castle

Built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, Corfe castle is one of the most beautiful castles in England. Located in the stunning Dorset countryside, this picturesque castle is part of the Purbeck Heritage Coast.

Once upon a time, this castle stood at the top of the hill as a sturdy fort, yet now only ruins remain. However, these ruins are some of the most beautiful castle ruins around, making this site one of the most visited historic structures in the whole of England.

With over a thousand years of history, this castle is an epic day out for everyone. From children to adults everyone can enjoy the unique history lesson as well as the incredible scenery.

We advise that the best way to visit Corfe castle is by staying at one of the quaint campsites in Swanage and taking the steam train to the castle.

The heritage railway at Swanage is one of the most popular heritage railways in Britain, with trains running every day between April and October. You will love arriving at the train station in Corfe as it is a postcard-perfect station with magnificent views of the castle and takes just 22 minutes to get to from Swanage station.

– by Breanne Fleat of Family Camping Europe

Corfe Castle and Railway
Get to one of the castles in the south of England, Corfe Castle, by heritage railway (Image credit: Breanne Fleat)

Dartmouth Castle

The salty remains of Dartmouth Castle cling to the cliffs above the entrance to the River Dart in South Devon. Unlike many English castles, it has never been home to kings or courtiers. But since the 14th Century it has played an important role in protecting the nearby port of Dartmouth.

French raids were common in the area, so over the centuries towers and batteries were added to the fortifications, giving the guns longer range into the English Channel. A chain could also be drawn across the river mouth between Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear to stop unwelcome vessels entering.

Today you can visit the castle’s battery, casemates and gun tower where troops were stationed periodically right up until the Second World War. It’s also fascinating to wander around the gravestones of St Petrox Church, which has stood in the same location for nearly 200 years longer than the castle.

One of this castle’s very best features are the panoramic views over the sea and down the River. Stand on the top of the gun tower and you’ll be able to see the Britannia Royal Naval College perched on the hill above Dartmouth and the comings and goings of hundreds of sailing boats.

– by Claire Hall of Devon with Kids

Dartmouth Castle in Devon
Dartmouth Castle, one of the castles in Southwest England (Image credit: Claire Hall)

Longford Castle

Salisbury is the perfect city to see an amazing English estate. It is the perfect English city and offers everything you’d expect from a travellers imagination from middle class town market to world class sites like the Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge as well as the spectacular Longford Castle.

To get here, takes a quick 2 hour train ride from London Waterloo or Clapham Junction stations on South Western Railways.

The best part is Salisbury is the beautiful Longford Castle. It is the same castle that is shown as the Castle of fictional Genovia in Princess Diaries movies. In reality, however, it is the seat of the Earl of Radnor.

It is one of the most beautiful castles in England and definitely worth a visit. It is built in a hexagonal shape with all towers linked to each other. The gardens around the castle are vast and beautiful and perfect for a summer picnic or an evening stroll.

If you want to visit the castle you must book it in advance though through their website and the tours happen only 28 days a year.

– by Ucman Scher of Brown Boy Travels

The town of Salisbury in England
Longford Castle is one of the best castles of Southern England thanks to its important art collection, some of which is on loan to the National Gallery in London. (Image credit: Ucman Scher)

Powderham Castle

One of the beautiful castles in England, Powderham Castle, has been owned by the same family for hundreds of years. Lying near Exeter in Devon, Powderham Castle was built in the 14th century. 

Powderham started off as a fortified manor house and got upgraded to the castle designation in the 17th century. It’s still missing elements that would make it a proper castle like a moat even though castle-like elements were added in the 19th century.

There are plenty of things to do in Powderham Castle. You can take tours of the castle interiors, and visit the gardens. There are guided tours of the gardens or alternatively, just go on a ramble of the grounds. Among the gardens to see are the walled garden, the American garden, the rose garden and the secret garden. The Belvedere Tower on the grounds, formerly used as a ballroom, gives great views over the countryside.

You may recognise Powderham Castle from the 1993 movie, The Remains of the Day.

Powderham Castle in Devon
Powderham Castle, one of the castles of South England, is owned by the Earls of Devon.

Saint Michaels Mount

Saint Michael’s Mount located in Cornwall, is one of the rare tidal islands in the U.K. that you can get to via a short walk. When the tide is high, the island sits detached from land, in the middle of the sea and is inaccessible.

Located in Mount’s Bay near Marazion in Cornwall, the pathway to get to the island is actually man-made and can be used when the tide is low.
The island is managed by the National Trust and contains a castle, chapel, and gardens.

St. Michaels Mount, which looks quite similar to the Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, is actually its cornish equivalent.

Legend has it that the castle here was home to Cormoran the giant, of Jack the giant slayer fame. Till date, some believe that the boulders and scattered tree trunks around are due to the giant!

Currently owned by the St Aubyn family, the castle has quirky items scattered all over. There’s a clock that tells the time of the tide as well as the time of day, a piece of Napoleon’s coat which he wore at the battle of Waterloo and even a mummified cat!

It is also believed that St. Michaels Mount is haunted so if you like such places, the legend, history and all the mystery make it a must visit!

– by Lavinia Dsouza at Continent Hop

Saint Michaels Mount in Cornwall
In terms of castles, south west England has plenty but none with the cool setting of Mount Saint Michael (Image credit: Lavinia Dsouza)

Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle is a beautiful attraction in the Cotswolds AONB in England. Located near the village of Winchcombe, Sudeley Castle is a great place to spend a few hours while in the area.

The history of the castle dates back to the 15th century and is associated with King Edward IV, King Richard III and King Henry VIII, and is also the burial place of a queen. The long and trembling history of the place is explained in detail in the indoor exhibition, while the Castle Rooms present an extensive collection of art pieces and other objects.

Outdoors, visitors to the castle will be able to enjoy a large area of green space, featuring several gardens with various flower collections. Wander in the White Garden, the Secret Garden or even the Ruins Garden that is created around the remains of an old section of the castle.

Nested in the gardens, you will find St Mary’s church. It is a small church that was hugely destroyed during the Civil War and it was restored in the 19th century.

Bird enthusiasts will be able to find more than ten species of pheasants, many of which are globally endangered in the outdoor pheasantry.

The easiest way to reach Sudeley Castle is by car; however, it is still possible to visit it using public transport. To do so, you need to take the train or bus to Cheltenham Spa, and from there you need to take bus W to Winchcombe. The castle is about 15 minutes on foot from there.

– by Elina Michaelidou at Empnefsys & Travel

Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds
One of the best castles in England is Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds. (Image credit: Elina Michaelidou)

Tintagel Castle

There is something magical and evocative about the medieval fortification that is Tintagel Castle. Set on Cornwall’s rugged north coast, the ruined Tintagel Castle is managed by English Heritage and has been open to tourists since the middle of 19th century.

Built in 1233 by Earl Richard, the castle is prominently known for its connection to the legendary King Arthur. After Earl Richard, Edward, the 1st Duke of Cornwall, reworked the hall into smaller buildings. But over the years the castle remained largely deserted and became dilapidated as the following Earls of Cornwall were not interested in it. It was only in the 19th century that interest was renewed in the castle ruins, mainly due to Arthurian legends, and it became a tourist attraction.

Today, visitors can follow in the footsteps of Tintagel’s medieval inhabitants, explore the ruins, enjoy outdoor works of art, take in the stunning scenery or relax on the lovely beach below the castle.

Because of its clifftop location, there are some steep slopes and uneven surfaces to reach the top. But the dramatic views more than make up for the not-so-easy climb up.

After you are done exploring, you can head to the Beach Café to enjoy tasty local dishes while enjoying the views out to the sea.

– by Deeptha at The Globetrotter

Tintagel Castle in Cornwall
One of the cool castles in Southwest England is tied to the legend of King Arthur (Image credit: The Globetrotter).

Star Castle

Visiting the Scilly Isles? Star Castle Hotel is a must – whether you stay or just go for afternoon tea.

Built in the reign of Elizabeth I in 1583, it was intended to provide fortification and an early sighting of potential Spanish invaders! Thanks to its island setting, it became a Royalist stronghold and was a refuge for the Prince of Wales (later crowned Charles II) in 1643.

Now, it’s a charmingly restored hotel with the dungeon converted to a bar and with quirky rooms where you can stay in the look-out towers.

– by Fiona Maclean of London Unattached

Star Castle on the Scilly Isles
Stay in a castle in England at the Star Castle (Image credit: Fiona Maclean)

Map of the Best Castles in England

Here’s a map for your planning convenience that shows the best castles of England that are more than a day trip from London. Our choices of the best castles in England including beautiful castles in East Anglia, castles in East Midlands, castles in West Midlands, castles in Northern England and castles in Southern England.

Map of the Castles of England Longer than a Daytrip from London
Map showing castles of England that are more than a day trip from London.

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Pinterest image of a castle in England with the text: Best Castles in England
Want to do an England castles tour as part of an England vacation itinerary? These England travel tips give you a list of the best England castles to visit from Northumberland England castles such as Alnwick Castle from Harry Potter to Cornwall England castle (the Camelot Castle in Cornwall England). Take your pick of must see castles in England, including royal castles in England, beautiful castles in England and even haunted castles in England.

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