The UK is home to a remarkable range of castles that reflect its rich cultural heritage. If you’re planning a trip to the UK and are an avid history buff, then visiting these castles should definitely be at the top of your itinerary. Some of the must-visit castles include Edinburgh Castle, a magnificent fortress that sits on a hilltop and offers panoramic views of the city; Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world and a favorite residence of the British royal family; and Warwick Castle, which boasts well-preserved medieval architecture, stunning gardens, and a range of interactive exhibits that let you experience what life was like for knights and ladies back in the day.

Whatever your interests and preferences, the UK has a fascinating array of castles that make for unforgettable visits. If you’re planning a trip to England, you’ll want to be sure to check out some of the most impressive castles in the United Kingdom. Castles are a large part of the culture and history of England. From centuries-old ruins to grand fortresses, these majestic structures are perfect for exploring and admiring. Here is a list of some of the best in the UK to visit while traveling around England.

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

English Castles

Castles have always been fascinating pieces of history and culture. In England, they are particularly intriguing, not only for their architectural grandeur but also for their historical significance. England’s history spans over a thousand years, from the Norman Conquest to the Tudor period.

These imposing structures have served a variety of purposes throughout history, ranging from military fortresses to prisons and royal residences. Some of the most famous castles in England include Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, and Warwick Castle, each with its unique history and stories to tell. Visiting these grand fortresses will take you on a journey through England’s rich past and will leave you in awe of their grandeur and historical significance.

Here are the most prominent English castles:


Windsor Castle is one of the oldest surviving royal residences in the world and is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Finished in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, this impressive palace has served as home to 39 monarchs throughout history. Located on 197 acres of picturesque land, Windsor Castle boasts an awe-inspiring range of architecture, from historic Norman and Gothic styles to modern additions such as Queen Victoria’s State Apartments. There are also lavish Royal Apartments, a large Round Tower, St George’s Chapel, and an array of breathtakingly beautiful gardens for visitors to explore.


Located in Kent near Maidstone, Leeds Castle is one of Britain’s most romantic castles – making it popular amongst couples looking for an intimate wedding venue or honeymoon destination. This stunning castle dates back over 900 years when it was built by Robert de Crevecoeur during King Henry I’s reign in 1119. It underwent several renovations throughout history but eventually reached its current state thanks to Lord Thomas Fairfax who purchased it in 1632 and made various alterations that included a beautiful lake and gardens surrounding the building. Visitors can explore this magnificent structure inside out with highlights including quaint bedrooms decorated with antique furniture pieces and exquisite tapestries covering walls throughout its interior spaces.


Warwick Castle is considered by many as one of England’s finest medieval fortifications due to its impressive architecture that dates back nearly 1000 years when it was first constructed shortly after 1068 by William the Conqueror’s cousin Earl Beauchamp on 4 hectares (10 acres) along River Avon banks. There have been several refurbishments throughout time but today visitors can still get lost within its turrets, and battlements walls, and interestingly enough there is even a secret tunnel! Additionally, during summertime, guests can take part in thrilling live events like jousting tournaments plus enjoy spectacular firework displays at nightfall after touring its splendid interiors which are full of antique furniture pieces telling stories about past residents who once lived here centuries ago.


Alnwick Castle situated in Northumberland northeast England knew worldwide because Hogwarts School Magic featured Harry Potter movies but the reality behind these walls is much richer than just movie magic & surely worth visiting if traveling around the region. Although archaeological evidence suggests Alnwick existed since the middle ages real estate actual construction began early twelfth century de Vesci family used stone instead wooden buildings so nowadays we still admire the same stone castles towers, walls gates keep built hundreds of years ago along incredible gardens that attract thousands of visitors every year who come to see 130 species trees spread 140 acres designed way back 1700’s filled surprising features like Grand Cascade Fountain, Maze Ave Oak Tree Labyrinth among other surprises!


The Bodiam, located in East Sussex, England, is a stunning example of 14th-century medieval architecture. Its towering walls and impressive towers evoke a sense of awe and grandeur as visitors approach the castle’s entrance. Built in the late 14th century by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of King Edward III, the castle served as a defensive stronghold but was also a luxurious residence for Dalyngrigge and his family. Today, visitors can explore the castle’s interior and climb to the top of the towers for breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Bodiam Castle is a must-see for anyone interested in medieval history or simply seeking a unique and memorable experience.

Tower of London
Tower of London

Tower of London, A Castle?

Well, yes and no. Half castle and half prison, but a good stop. The Tower of London has been a part of English history since its construction in 1066 by William the Conqueror. Over time it has served as both a royal residence and a prison for many high-profile criminals including Sir Walter Raleigh and two Queens: Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey. This iconic fortress offers visitors an exciting glimpse into British history with its collection of period armor, interactive exhibits, art galleries, and much more. Be sure not to miss out on seeing one of its greatest attractions – The Crown Jewels – before your visit real castles!

Scottish Castles
Scottish Castles

Scottish Fortresses & Castles

Scotland is brimming with castles, boasting a rich history of battles, royalty, and nobility. These towering structures, often perched upon rocky cliffs, are not only architectural marvels, but they also serve as a window into the country’s past. From Edinburgh- with its panoramic views of the capital city – to Eilean Donan – once a strategic point for controlling the Highlands – every castle in Scotland tells a different story.

Visitors to these majestic fortresses can enjoy everything from guided tours and exhibitions to medieval banquets and even ghost hunting. Whether you’re a history buff, a photographer, or simply seeking stunning landscapes, Scotland’s castles are a must-see for anyone venturing to the land of the thistle. These are the highlights of Scottish castles:


Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Balmoral is a majestic estate that has been a personal residence of the British Royal Family since 1852. The castle, set against a stunning backdrop of rolling hills and tranquil lochs, has served as a haven for monarchs seeking respite from the pressures of public life for over a century. With fourteen beautifully furnished bedrooms, an immaculately landscaped garden, and a collection of precious antiques and artworks, Balmoral Castle is a testament to the rich history and exquisite taste of the royal family. As visitors explore the castle and its grounds, they are transported to a time of grandeur and elegance, where every detail is crafted with an uncompromising commitment to quality and beauty.


Edinburgh Castle dominates Scotland’s capital city from atop its volcanic crag offering visitors stunning views across Edinburgh’s old town while immersing them into centuries past once they step inside. This ancient fortress was first built during Iron Age making it Scotland’s oldest castle, although much later King Malcolm III ordered expansion works that set up today’s property look with buildings like St Margaret Chapel, Great Hall, and Crown Room where Scottish crown jewels were kept safe plus half dozen inner courtyards containing other significant structures such as David’s Tower or Mons Meg artillery piece (originally used against English enemies ).

Furthermore, guests can participate in historical reenactment shows where they witness how people actually lived inside Edinburgh castle all those centuries ago consisting of soldiers, craftsmen & women servants among other groups which amount to more than seven hundred characters recreating old times scenarios completely dressed up with costumes from those eras.


Located in central Scotland, Stirling Castle has a rich history dating back to the medieval era. This impressive fortress was once the residence of Scottish kings and queens, including Mary Queen of Scots. The castle has played a crucial role in many important turning points in Scottish histories, such as the Wars of Scottish Independence. Its strategic location on a rocky hill offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The castle has been preserved and restored over the years, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience its grandeur and significance firsthand. Stepping through the castle gates is like stepping into a time capsule, where you can discover the secrets of Scotland’s past and marvel at the impressive architecture and design of the castle.

Loch Leven

Loch Leven is a historical gem nestled in the Scottish countryside. Located on an island in Loch Leven, this castle is rich in history and has played a significant role in Scotland’s past. Once the site of a 14th-century fortress, Loch Leven Castle later became a royal palace, serving as a residence for Scottish monarchs during the 16th century. Mary, Queen of Scots was famously imprisoned here in 1567 and the castle has since become a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a glimpse into Scotland’s royal history. With stunning views of the surrounding loch and countryside, Loch Leven Castle is a must-visit destination for history lovers and castle enthusiasts alike.


Set atop an imposing cliff overlooking the crashing waves of the North Sea, Dunnotar Castle stands as a testament to Scotland’s rich history and rugged natural beauty. The castle, located near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, was once one of the most important strongholds in the country and played a pivotal role in several key events in Scottish history. Today, visitors can explore the castle ruins and learn about its fascinating past, from its role as a stronghold during the Wars of Scottish Independence to its use as a royal residence for Mary, Queen of Scots. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply looking for a stunning location to visit in Scotland, Dunnotar Castle is not to be missed.

Castles in Wales
Castles in Wales

Welsh Castles

Wales is a place abundant with history – and a perfect example of this is their castles. Castles in Wales were primarily built during the Middle Ages, and today, they stand as a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage. If you’re visiting Wales, you’ll have no shortage of castles to explore; each one tells a unique story of royalty, battles, and legends that have been passed down through generations.

Caernarfon, for instance, was built by King Edward I and remains one of the most impressive fortresses in the land. Beaumaris Castle, on the other hand, was never fully completed but stands as an engineering feat with its moat and concentric rings of defense. So whether you’re a history buff or simply enjoy a good story, visiting the castles of Wales is a must-do activity that will leave you fascinated and awed.

Visit these Welsh castles to step back in time:


Let’s start at Caernarfon Castle as it is an impressive fortress located in North Wales. Built n the 13th century by King Edward I, this castle is one of the most significant examples of medieval military architecture in all of Europe. The castle played a vital role in Welsh history, acting as a royal palace and a powerful stronghold during times of war. The complex design of the castle includes polygonal towers, intricate stonework, and stunning views of the Welsh coastline. With its rich history and striking appearance, a visit to Caernarfon Castle is a must for anyone interested in Welsh history or medieval architecture.


The Conwy stands tall in the heart of North Wales, overlooking the stunning Conwy Castle. Built by King Edward I during the late 13th century, the castle is a testament to the incredible engineering feats of the period. Its imposing walls are made from local grey limestone, which was transported up to the castle by boat and wagon, an incredible feat considering the technology of the time. Visitors can explore the castle’s eight towers, battlements, and inner courtyard, and traverse the historic suspension bridge dating back to 1826. With its rich history and impressive architecture, a visit to Conwy Castle is a must-see for anyone interested in Welsh history.


Beaumaris Castle is a remarkable medieval fortress that stands majestically on the beautiful island of Anglesey, Wales. Built by the English monarch, Edward I, in the late 13th century, it was designed by the famous architect, James of St. George. The castle was constructed using advanced military technology of the time, giving it a sturdy defense against enemies. What makes Beaumaris unique is its symmetrical layout and polygon shape, which includes over 100 rooms and distinct architectural features. The castle’s magnificent exterior, high walls, moat, and towers will take your breath away as you wander around its grounds. Given its historical significance and awe-inspiring beauty, it’s no wonder Beaumaris Castle is a popular tourist attraction that brings people from around the world to Wales to experience a piece of history firsthand.


The amazing part of Harlech is a medieval fortress. Built in the late 13th century, this castle was originally intended as a symbol of English power and domination over the Welsh. Despite being besieged multiple times throughout its history, Harlech Castle is known for its impressive and well-preserved architecture. Visitors can explore a variety of rooms and areas within the castle, including its great hall and impressive gatehouse. From atop the castle walls, visitors can also take in breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and coastline. Harlech Castle is truly a remarkable piece of history and a must-see destination for anyone visiting Wales.

Irish Castle
Irish Castle

Irish Fortresses

Castles in Ireland are one of the country’s most iconic and historic features. With a rich cultural and architectural heritage, these castles tell the story of Ireland’s past and are a testament to the people who built them. From the turreted towers of Blarney to the sprawling ruins of Dunluce Castle, each fortress has its own unique story to tell.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about medieval architecture, Ireland’s castles are sure to captivate and intrigue you. So why not take a step back in time and explore these magnificent structures for yourself? You’re sure to be impressed by the grandeur and beauty of Ireland’s castles, and the stories they have to tell.

These Irish castles are standouts:


Carrickfergus stands stoically on the shores of Belfast Lough, just 11 miles north of Belfast City. As one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Ireland, it is not surprising that this imposing fortress has witnessed countless historical events over the past 800 years. Built by the Norman knight John de Courcy in 1177, the castle was occupied by the Scottish in the 14th century, played a pivotal role in the Williamite War, and even sheltered French emigres during the Napoleonic wars. Visitors can stroll around the castle’s walls and towers, learn about its fascinating history and marvel at the stunning views across the lough. No visit to Carrickfergus Castle is complete without a stop at this magnificent stronghold.

Blarney (of course!)

Blarney Castle is a magical fortress nestled in the lush green landscape of Ireland. Built in the early 15th century, it sits atop a hill overlooking the stunning River Martin. The castle is famous for its iconic Blarney Stone, which legend has provides the gift of eloquence to whoever kisses it. Visitors can climb to the top of the fortress and lean back over a dizzying drop to reach the coveted stone. The gardens surrounding the castle are equally stunning, with winding paths and a tranquil lake. It’s no wonder Blarney is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting visitors from around the world who come to experience its rich history and enchanting allure.

The Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel is a historical gem located in County Tipperary, Ireland. This iconic landmark is perched high on a hill and boasts some of the most dramatic views of the Irish countryside. The Rock of Cashel has a rich history dating back to the 4th century, and it served as the seat of the Kings of Munster for centuries. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by impressive ruins including the 12th-century Gothic cathedral and a round tower. The Rock of Cashel is awash with stunning architecture, intricate stonework, and intricate Celtic adornments that have stood the test of time. As a result, it’s no surprise that this site is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland. A visit to the Rock of Cashel is a window into some of the most interesting periods of Irish history, and its stunning beauty will leave you in awe.


Kilkenny Castle is a majestic medieval landmark located in Kilkenny, Ireland. With a history dating back over 800 years, the castle has been involved in numerous battles and was even burned to the ground in the 18th century. Today, the castle serves as a reminder of Ireland’s rich history and culture. Visitors can explore the various rooms, including the Long Gallery and the Drawing Room, which are filled with beautiful artwork and furniture. The castle’s sprawling gardens and parklands are also a must-see, featuring a rose garden, a lake, and various walking trails. Whether you’re a history buff or simply seeking an enjoyable outing, Kilkenny is a must-visit destination.


Donegal is a magnificent example of medieval architecture in Ireland. Designated as a national monument, the castle is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Irish history and culture. Completed in the 15th century, this fortress has been witness to centuries of political and social upheavals and has survived attacks, sieges, and even fire. Located on the banks of the River Eske, the castle boasts a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles, with its imposing towers, stunning stonework, and intricate carvings. Visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms, including the Great Hall, the Kitchen, and the Tower Room, and learn about the castle’s fascinating history through various exhibits and displays. With its impressive structure, rich history, and stunning setting, Donegal is a true gem of Ireland’s architectural heritage.

Castles in Ireland
Castles in Ireland

Castles in the UK FAQs

What is the history of castles in the UK?

Castles have played a significant role in the history of the United Kingdom. The first recorded castle in Britain was built by the Normans in 1066, after the Battle of Hastings. Castles were used for various purposes, from providing protection against invasions and rebellion to serving as a symbol of power and wealth. Many of these fortresses were built during the medieval period and underwent various changes throughout the centuries, reflecting the architectural trends of the time. Some castles, such as the Tower of London, have become iconic landmarks and national treasures, attracting visitors from all over the world to witness the rich history and legacy that they represent. Whether constructed for defensive or aesthetic purposes, castles remain a fascinating part of the UK’s cultural heritage.

How many castles are there in the UK?

The United Kingdom is home to an extraordinary number of castles, estimated to be over 1,500. These magnificent fortresses stand as a testament to the rich history of the country, reflecting centuries of wars, power struggles, and peaceful times. Each castle carries an individual tale, highlighting the unique architecture and design of its time. The oldest castle still standing is believed to be the Tower of London, which was built in the 1070s during the Norman Conquest of England. From ruins to royal residences, visiting castles has become a popular tourist activity in the United Kingdom, attracting millions of visitors each year. With so many to choose from, it’s impossible to pick just one favorite!

When is the best time of year to visit the castles in the UK?

The United Kingdom is home to some of the most breathtaking and historic castles in the world. From the majestic Windsor Castle to the charming Edinburgh Castle, there are plenty of options to choose from for all castle enthusiasts. The best time to visit these magnificent structures, however, is during the summer months. The weather during this time of year is relatively warm and sunny, creating the perfect backdrop for exploring. Additionally, many of the castles offer special events such as outdoor concerts, plays, and medieval reenactments, making the experience even more memorable. So if you’re planning a trip to the UK, be sure to pencil in a visit to one of its many castles during the summer months for an unforgettable adventure.

What UK city has the most castles around it?

If you are a fan of castles, then the United Kingdom is a dream destination. From the picturesque Scottish Highlands to the historic Welsh countryside, it seems like every region has its own castle to explore. But if you want to see the most number of castles concentrated in one area, then head to the city of Chester. This charming city in northwest England is known for its ancient city walls, black-and-white timbered buildings, and – most importantly – its rich medieval history. In fact, there are more than 100 castles within 40 miles of Chester, making it the UK city with the most castles around it. So grab your camera and your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore this magical corner of the UK.

Why Visit Castles of the UK?

If a traveler is looking for a unique and memorable experience, then visiting the grand castles of the United Kingdom is certainly a great way to go. With their remarkable history, lush gardens, and awe-inspiring architecture, the castles are sure to give you the ultimate travel journey and insight into the past.

There’s something special about getting to know the stories behind a castle – from kings and queens to legends and hauntings – that cannot be replicated in any other place or time. Plus, many of these castles offer fascinating tours with interactive displays, ensuring there is always something new to uncover. From Dover Castle to Edinburgh Castle, all travelers should feel encouraged to discover these stunning beauty spots for themselves.

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