Discover the Most Glorious Castles in the UK
Updated On: November 08, 2023
Where would you find the most glorious castles in the world? We bet you thought about the UK; well, who would argue with that? The United Kingdom has always been synonymous with royalty, grace, and majestic buildings. Scattered between England, Scotland, and Wales, the castles in the UK are like no other!
Whether they are located in the English countryside, over the hills of Wales, or in the charming land of Scotland, there’s a plethora of castles in the UK that are worth a visit.
With so many castles in the UK, it gets tough to decide which ones to visit. From the east to the west, here is our selection of the most majestic castles in the UK.
The medieval castle of Beaumaris was built by King Edward I to strengthen England’s position in Wales. Construction of the Castle began in 1295 under the supervision of Master James of Saint George, who is regarded as one of the best architects of medieval times in Europe.
If the castle’s name sounds somehow unusual to you, that’s probably because of its French origins; ‘le beau marais’ translates to ‘the beautiful marsh.’
Through a bird’s eye view of the castle, you can see that Beaumaris has an almost perfectly symmetrical shape, which has contributed to its invulnerability. Beaumaris Castle is an excellent backdrop to immerse yourself in a stunning medieval atmosphere.
Voted as the “loveliest castle in the world,” Leeds Castle is situated in the southeast of England, near Maidstone in the county of Kent. The castle served the kings, or rather their wives, who enriched the castle’s history.
The magnificent castle has been the location of many movies like Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Moonraker (1958) and Lady Jane (1986). The castle also appeared on the small screen in the 4th serial of Doctor Who, “The Androids of Tara” (1978).
The Leeds castle’s rooms have antique furniture, medieval tapestries, porcelain, and paintings. There are mazes made of plants for children, and the black swans floating in the lake are allegedly descendants of those given to the Castle by Winston Churchill.
The Tower of London
The famous Thames Embankment fortress in the historic centre of London is one of Great Britain’s symbols. The Tower of London was founded in the 11th century as a defensive castle, in addition to serving as the king’s residence. Over the centuries, it has been a palace, zoo—the first of its kind in London— and observatory. But most of all, up until the mid-20th century, the Tower was a prison!
The Tower has an exciting history, filled with spine-chilling stories from when it was used as a prison and the ghosts that roam around. However, it is these stories that attract millions of tourists who come to visit every day!
Dunrobin Castle towers above the spectacular Dornoch Firth. In the 14th century, the castle was the home of the Sutherland clan. Dunrobin Castle, with around 138 rooms, is one of the longest-lived-in castles in the UK.
The architectural style of the castle and park reflects a clear French influence; this is the work of Sir Charles Barry, designer of the Houses of Parliament, and Sir Robert Lorimer from Scotland.
The French influence can also be noticed in the castle’s well-groomed gardens, similar to Versailles’s. The gardens are home to fountains, hedges and ponds, and the pointed roofs and turrets that seem like they came straight out of a fairy tale.
Built at the end of the 12th century, Framlingham Castle is situated in the East of England. The castle has preserved a key historical role in the region, changing hands several times over the centuries.
In the 17th century, the castle was donated to the local college. Today, as one of the most well-preserved castles in the UK, Framlingham Castle, with its high walls and magnificent gardens, attracts many visitors daily.
Caernarfon Castle, anglicised as Caernarvon, is a medieval fortress in northwest Wales and one of the UK’s most unusual castles. The castle stands intimidatingly between the poorer land of north Welsh countryside and the ‘gardens of Wales,’ Anglesey.
The vast fortress has impressive octagonal towers built by King Edward I to affirm and symbolise the English rule. The colossal structure is reflected in the waters of the Seiont River, creating an imposing landscape, especially at sunset.
Warwick Castle was established by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and remodelled several times throughout history. The castle is located in the town of Warwick in central England, standing as a testimonial of the breathtaking beauty of medieval castles. Today, the castle is open to the public with many fun attractions for the whole family to enjoy.
Edinburgh Castle is one of the most legendary castles in the UK. The ancient and once impregnable fortress sits on Castle Rock in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. It’s without a doubt the main attraction in this beautiful city.
The castle contains the Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny, aka Scone of Stone, upon which Scottish and English monarchs were crowned. The castle grounds are home to Edinburgh’s oldest building, St Margaret’s Chapel, built in the early 12th century.
One of the fun activities to do at the castle is to catch the Clock Cannon on the castle wall, which fires a shot every day (except Sundays) at 1 pm.
Bodiam Castle is located in East Sussex near Robertsbridge village. Built in the 14th century, Bodiam Castle is another example of a classic medieval castle in the UK.
Today, the castle still looks fabulous with its seven high towers and water all around. However, the castle’s interior is in ruins; it was destroyed during the Civil War in the 17th century and never recovered. Despite that, Bodiam Castle remains one of the most majestic castles in the UK.
The costumed actors on the ground are probably the main highlight of the castle; they help bring on a unique atmosphere, taking you on a journey to medieval times.
Another one of the most well-known castles in the UK is Windsor Castle. The castle is a symbol of Great Britain’s monarchy and is located in the county of Berkshire, in the town of Windsor, on the River Thames.
Windsor is the longest perpetually lived-in castle in the UK and Europe. The castle has been the residence of the English royal family for years, and it was a favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The royal family have celebrated numerous weddings here, including the famous wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The castle is a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity, reflecting Georgian and Victorian styles mixed with more innovative elements. It is a top-rated tourist destination, so it would be better to book your visit in advance and arrive there early.
Standing since the 11th century in the county of Northumberland, northern England, Alnwick Castle is the second longest-lived-in castle in the UK after Windsor.
The castle played a crucial role in defending the border throughout its history. Besides being one of the must-visit destinations on the bucket list of many tourists, the castle was the filming location of many hit works like the Harry Potter films, Transformers: The Last Knight, and the popular Downton Abbey series.
The next stop in our journey through the most beautiful castles in the UK is Arundel Castle. The castle is located in Arundel, West Sussex, South East England. It was built in 1067 and was remodelled several times in the following centuries.
In the 18th & 19th centuries, when the fashion for medieval architecture returned, the castle was renovated. It acquired a neo-Gothic architectural style that gave it more majestic vibes.
Inside the castle is one of the finest art collections, including some rare works by Van Dyck and Canaletto, among others.
Glamis Castle is an impressive set of towers in the lovely Scottish countryside. The castle has a majestic appearance, so much so that it inspired Shakespeare’s production of Macbeth and deserved to be printed on the £10 note by the Royal Bank of Scotland in the 1980s.
Already from afar, you will see the towers and turrets looming majestically. Throughout your visit to the castle, you will feel the regal aura surrounding it. When you’re done, take a walk around the extensive grounds of the residence and admire the stunning gardens.
If we are to talk about charming castles in Scotland, we can’t go past Kilchurn Castle. The castle was built in the mid-15th century and is the proud holder of the longest surviving barracks in the UK.
Kilchurn Castle is nestled between mountains covered with snow in the winter and shrouded in mist in the early morning hours in autumn. A visit to Kilchurn Castle is a must for anyone looking for the magical atmosphere of castles in the UK.
Conwy Castle is one of the largest castles in the UK; it is grand from all points of view! The imposing Welsh castle is the work of Master James of Saint George, one of the most respected architects of medieval times.
On the inside, the castle was split into two areas: the Outer Ward, which had the Great Hall and other administrative rooms, and the Inner Ward, which had the private royal chapel and private rooms.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site considers Conwy Castle one of Wales’s most epic castles, if not the whole kingdom.
The nineteenth-century Neo-Norman Penrhyn Castle is located between Snowdonia and the Menai Straits. The castle was established by the Pennant family who lived there.
Aside from its lavish gardens and rooms, the castle is famous for what it contains; there is a fine collection of paintings, faux-Norman-style furniture, sculptures, and, of course, the single slate bed built for Queen Victoria.
Like many of the castles in the UK, Penrhyn Castle has been the filming location of many films and TV series, including HBO’s hit Watchmen (2019).
Stirling Castle in Stirling
Sterling Castle is one of the most notable castles in the UK and Scotland. Its grand halls and magnificent gardens once welcomed nobles, ambassadors and knights.
It was the residence of kings and queens of the Stuart dynasty and where solemn celebrations were held, such as coronations, which are now brought to life by performances with costumed actors.
On entering the castle, you feel like you are touching history. It is worth mentioning that Mary, Queen of Scots, grew up here. The surrounding countryside was the scene of crucial battles that decided the nation’s destiny.
Between England, Scotland, and Wales, it’s safe to say that the castles in the UK are like no other in any place in the world. It doesn’t matter which one you visit; you will go through a thrilling journey to medieval times that will take your breath away! If you’re looking for a thrilling yet royal adventure, check out the top haunted castles in Scotland.