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Top 11 Castles to Visit in the United Kingdom

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Conwy Castle in Wales

Conwy Castle, Wales

Home to over 4,000 castles in stunning landscapes and with captivating stories, you can enjoy the long list of experiences offered when exploring the 11 best castles to visit in the United Kingdom.

In breathtaking countryside havens or standing proudly in towns and villages, castles in Scotland, Wales, England, and the Republic of Ireland will captivate you with drama and charm.

The United Kingdom brings history to life with spectacular grandeur and architecture. This handful of eclectic and exciting castles reflects the diversity of the region’s past.

  1. 1. Edinburgh Castle • Scotland
  2. 2. Windsor Castle • England
  3. 3. Penrhyn Castle • Wales
  4. 4. Donegal Castle • Northern Ireland
  5. 5. Conwy Castle • Wales
  6. 6. Warwick Castle • England
  7. 7. Stirling Castle • Scotland
  8. 8. Alnwick Castle • England
  9. 9. Caernarfon Castle • Wales
  10. 10. Belfast Castle • Northern Ireland
  11. 11. Dunrobin Castle • Scotland
  12. Explore the Best Castles to Visit in the UK

1. Edinburgh Castle • Scotland

Fountain with Edinburgh Castle in the background, Scotland


Proudly set on Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle can be found in the city's center, at the end of the Royal Mile. As one of the top things to see in Scotland, the castle has been the home to kings and criminals, and tales of heroes, pirates, and royalty are told in fascinating fashion as you walk around the castle grounds.

Climb Castle Hill to feel like you are walking in the footsteps of greatness, stopping just before the entrance to catch the spectacular views over the city and its surroundings. Explore St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Great Hall, and the One O’Clock Gun as you step back in time to enjoy a reenactment at the Half Moon Battery.

2. Windsor Castle • England

 Windsor Castle gardens in England


Windsor Castle is the world’s oldest occupied castle and said to be the largest too. The beautiful residence has been home to over 30 monarchs and remains the royal family’s private residence.

Visiting castles in England is one of the best experiences to have when traveling the country. Treasures and artworks fill the halls, with rich red and gold decor setting the scene.

The Gothic St. George’s Chapel, with its magnificent stone ceiling, is set within the grounds and holds the tombs of King Henry VIII and monuments created to remember past royalty.

3. Penrhyn Castle • Wales

Penrhyn Castle entrance in Wales


Noted as one of the most popular castles to visit in Wales, Penrhyn is in the city of Bangor. This famous estate opens its doors and gardens to guests looking to explore Victorian kitchens, the railway museum, the ground floor of the castle, or simply marvel at its remarkable architecture.

Discover the history of sugar and slate empires, and admire the impressive art collection in the hallways. Penrhyn has the added draw of allowing you to venture off the grounds and onto nature trails. Bog gardens, a formal walled garden, and a cafe bring you further delights. Penrhyn Castle, which is among the most exciting places to visit in the UK, embodies the beauty you can find in Wales.

4. Donegal Castle • Northern Ireland

Donegal Castle in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Wooden roofs, stone interiors with ornate features, and remnants of a rich Gaelic past make Donegal Castle a joy to visit. Restored in the late 20th century to the treasure it is today, guided tours take you through beautiful rooms that are simplistic in outline, but detailed in decor.

Learn about the history of Donegal through fascinating storytelling panels as this medieval estate invites you to explore its secrets and navigate its uneven spiral staircase, designed to confuse enemies. The castle is perched above the North Atlantic Ocean.

5. Conwy Castle • Wales

Conwy Castle in Wales

Conwy Castle, Wales

The well-preserved Conwy Castle stands tall above the town of the same name, with the Snowdonia mountains in the background.

You can walk around its basement after following the renovated spiral staircase to marvel at how well the castle demonstrates the country’s medieval royal apartments. Listed as a World Heritage Site, you can step inside the passages used by castle staff or take it slow and steady up the winding staircase to experience the king’s Great Chamber.

Admire the peaceful and quaint stained glass windows in the haunting chapel.

6. Warwick Castle • England

Warwick Castle, England


For those looking to experience more than a step back in time, exploring Warwick Castle during your England tour can introduce you to rich history on a day visit or overnight stay. It offers a variety of activities, including a bird show called the Falconer’s Quest, and boasts over 1,000 years of mystery and magic.

Originally built from a fort made of wood by William the Conqueror, the Motte-and-Bailey structure was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century and lies along a bend in the River Aron. Its strategic location enabled the castle to defend itself in times of battle. Brave its dungeon and venture into a place filled with dark secrets as you journey through centuries of history.

7. Stirling Castle • Scotland

Stirling Castle entrance in Scotland


Grand celebrations took place at Stirling Castle, a venue where Stewart kings and queens lived lavishly. Enjoy a day in the past as you spend time walking through the vaults, great kitchen, and great halls.

Discover the tapestry room and its beautiful pieces, ending your visit to the former home of Mary Queen of Scots with time in the gardens. Performers in costumes often pass through the grounds, taking you to another era as you enjoy the view from Castle Hill. You can find more such experiences when exploring our Scotland Travel Guide.

8. Alnwick Castle • England

Alnwick Castle in England


Alnwick Castle is grand and glamorous. Located in Northumberland, England, it has featured in many movies, including Harry Potter, and the television series Downton Abbey. The grounds boast room after room of historical glory, capturing the essential charms, history, and drama you can expect when looking through our England Travel Guide.

Dating back to the Norman era, Alnwick is the second-largest inhabited castle in the United Kingdom and has served as a teaching college and military post. The walls of the fortress add to the medieval charm of the castle, which has kept inhabitants safe for centuries. Its upkeep over the years has ensured this magnificent home can be shared with visitors.

9. Caernarfon Castle • Wales

 Caernarfon Castle entrance in Wales


Strategically located on the southern end of the Menai Strait, Caernarfon Castle is set on the water’s edge, with access to the lush lands of nearby Anglesey.

First a Roman fort and then a Motte-and-Bailey, King Edward I created a site where English influence mixed with previously rich Welsh tradition. The castle’s defenses comprised its walls and those of the town.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Caernarfon is one of the best-preserved castles in Europe, with towers and walls that stand strong against the boundaries of modern life. Small boats float gently on the outskirts, adding to the ambiance.

10. Belfast Castle • Northern Ireland

Belfast Castle in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Belfast Castle is an important feature of the city’s history and after the original structure burned to the ground, the current castle was rebuilt and completed in 1870.

A popular wedding venue and a wonderful option for afternoon tea, it sees visitors from all over the world who come to admire its beautiful finishes, such as the oak fireplace in the Shaftsbury Room or the Victorian-style cellar.

Take a walk through the Cat Garden to take advantage of the good fortune promised to all who visit. You can find images of the feline in various forms, from topiaries to mosaics.

11. Dunrobin Castle • Scotland

 Dunrobin Castle in Scotland


Take a drive one hour north of Inverness and discover the breathtaking scenery that makes up the east Scottish Highlands and the home of Dunrobin Castle during your Scotland vacation.

Formerly a keep that stood empty for over two centuries, the solid walls were eventually joined by a staircase and house, and became home to many an earl and duke. Conical spires rise into the Scottish sky above the French Chateau-style residence, with its grand rooms draped in tapestries and filled with furniture from a time gone by.

Take a walk to the bottom of the garden, enjoy the gentle sound of water, and glance up at the white-washed magnificence.

Explore the Best Castles to Visit in the UK

View of Edinburgh Castle from Castle Hill in Scotland


Royal residences have inspired awestruck visitors for years and the United Kingdom certainly has its fair share of exquisite and unique castles to explore.

Some display amazing gardens, others have decor that transports you back in time, and all are set in breathtaking locations.

You can find the information you need to help envision the right castle visits for you with our UK Tours & Vacations.

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