Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip

Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip

Updated On: April 21, 2024 by   Eman SamehEman Sameh

Forget Buckingham Palace for a moment. London boasts a rich history that extends far beyond the reign of modern monarchs. Within the bustling cityscape and surrounding countryside lie remnants of a bygone era, where knights roamed, and towers scraped the sky; they are London castles.

This list delves into 10 magnificent structures, each offering a unique account of the city’s past and present. From imposing fortresses to elegant palaces, we’ll explore their architectural marvels, uncover their captivating stories, and discover historic significance to British culture.

Top 10 London Castles

While some magnificent castles, like the infamous Tower of London, stand proudly in central London, others are scattered across the city’s diverse geography. No matter where they are, London castles are such incredible architectural and historical feats that you will never regret visiting.

Hampton Court Palace

Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip
Hampton Court Palace in England, UK

Hampton Court Palace is a magnificent historical residence located in Richmond upon Thames, England. Initially built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early 16th century, it was later acquired by King Henry VIII, who transformed it into a lavish palace fit for a king.

Why is it Special?

  • Tudor grandeur: The palace’s state apartments, built by Henry VIII, are a testament to Tudor opulence. Visitors can wander through the Great Hall, where lavish feasts were held, and admire the richly decorated King’s and Queen’s apartments.
  • Baroque elegance: In the late 17th century, William and Mary commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to add a new Baroque wing to the palace. This section features grand state rooms, including the King’s Drawing Room, the Queen’s Bedchamber, and the famous Mantegna Gallery, housing a collection of Raphael’s cartoons.
  • World-renowned gardens: Hampton Court Palace is surrounded by 60 acres of beautiful gardens, including the Privy Garden, the Home Park, and the famous Maze. These gardens offer a delightful escape from the grandeur of the palace and provide a glimpse into the horticultural skills of past centuries.
  • Royal history: Hampton Court Palace has been home to a long line of English monarchs, from Henry VIII to Queen Victoria. Visitors can learn about the lives and loves of these royals through exhibits, guided tours, and special events.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is a must-visit castle in London. It has played a prominent role in English history for over 900 years, serving as a royal palace, a fortress, a prison, and a place of execution. Some of the most famous people imprisoned or executed at the Tower include Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, and Guy Fawkes.

Today, the Tower of London is a popular tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore the White Tower, the medieval palace, the Bloody Tower, and the Chapel Royal. They can also see the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which are on display in the Jewel House.

Kensington Palace

Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip
The gate of Kensington Palace, London

Kensington Palace is one of the must-visit London castles, particularly for its rich royal history, and it is also the birthplace of Queen Victoria. The palace offers visitors the chance to explore its stunning state rooms, gardens, and exhibitions showcasing past residents’ lives, including Princess Diana.

Kensington Palace, located within the lush greenery of Kensington Gardens, is featured by its rich history intertwined with the lives of British royalty for over 300 years. Originally a modest mansion known as Nottingham House, it was acquired by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1689 as a suburban retreat. Over the centuries, it has been transformed and expanded, becoming a grand and elegant residence fit for young royals.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, a majestic royal residence in London, has served as the official home of the British monarch since 1837. More than just a luxurious dwelling, it symbolises the nation’s heritage, grandeur, and enduring traditions.

Within the palace walls lie 19 State Rooms, each a testament to the craftsmanship and artistry of its time. The Throne Room, resplendent with velvet armchairs and a dazzling crystal chandelier, evokes a sense of ceremonial grandeur. The Picture Gallery, adorned with masterpieces by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt, offers a glimpse into the royal family’s exquisite art collection.

Hever Castle

Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip
Hever Castle Hever England

It was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. This castle boasts beautiful gardens, a picturesque lake, and an impressive maze to explore. Stepping into Hever Castle is like stepping back in time. Explore the opulent staterooms adorned with tapestries, portraits, and antique furniture.

Hever Castle’s story extends far beyond Anne Boleyn. Built in the 14th century, it has witnessed centuries of changing fortunes, evolving from a medieval manor house to a luxurious Tudor palace. Hever Castle is open to the public throughout the year, offering guided tours, self-guided exploration, and a variety of special events.

Leeds Castle

Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip
The majestic Leeds Castle situated in the Kent region of England

Leeds Castle is one of the captivating London castles that transcends the label of a mere “castle.” It lies amidst the serene lakes and verdant woodlands of Maidstone, Kent. However, the magic of Leeds Castle extends far beyond its stone walls. Lush gardens bloom with vibrant hues, painting a breathtaking new masterpiece each season. With its geometric precision, the Culpeper Garden transports you to Tudor times, while the Batty Langley Garden offers a romantic escape into an enchanting wilderness.

From its earliest incarnation as a Saxon stronghold in 857 AD, Leeds Castle has evolved through centuries, echoing the changing tides of history. Each era left its mark: the Normans with their formidable stone fortifications, King Edward I with his luxurious royal palace, and Henry VIII with his idyllic retreat for Catherine of Aragon. Today, the castle is a harmonious blend of architectural styles, whispering tales of medieval grandeur and abundant living.

Highclere Castle

Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip
Highclere Castle. Jacobethan-style country house, seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. The setting of Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle is a monument to architectural grandeur and historical fascination, nestled amidst the rolling hills of Hampshire, England. But for many, it’s become synonymous with the award-winning drama Downton Abbey, offering a captivating glimpse into the luxury of the Edwardian era.

Born as a medieval palace for the Bishops of Winchester in the 8th century, Highclere was transformed into a magnificent country house under the Carnarvon family in the 17th century. The 19th century saw architect Charles Barry, renowned for the Houses of Parliament, redesign the castle in the Neo-Gothic style, giving it the grandeur we see today.

Windsor Castle

Discover the Top 10 London Castles for Your Next UK Trip
Details on Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle’s origins stretch back to William the Conqueror in 1070, making it the world’s oldest and largest inhabited castle. From its imposing motte and bailey beginnings to the opulent additions of successive monarchs, every stone breathes history. The castle is also located near Windsor Great Park, offering stunning views and opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities like walking or picnicking.

For almost 1,000 years, Windsor Castle has served as a royal residence, witnessing the reigns of 39 monarchs. It’s not just a backdrop for coronations and celebrations; it’s a home, a sanctuary, and a symbol of enduring power. Walk through the magnificent State Apartments and envision Elizabeth I holding court, George IV hosting extravagant banquets, and Queen Victoria cherishing quiet moments with her family.

Clearwell Castle

Built in 1727 by Thomas Wyndham, Clearwell Castle started as a family residence, its elegant facade overlooking the serene beauty of the surrounding countryside. But its story took a captivating turn in the 20th century. Following a devastating fire and ownership changes, the castle found new life as a recording studio, welcoming legendary bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Black Sabbath within its walls.

While weddings take centre stage, Clearwell Castle also offers a glimpse of its multifaceted charm to other visitors. Enjoy afternoon tea in the Drawing Room, soaking in the castle’s elegance. Hike through the surrounding Forest of Dean, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the green landscapes. Or simply relax in the tranquil gardens, letting the castle’s enchanting aura wash over you.

Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle is an ancient fortress located in Cornwall, England. It has a rich history and offers breathtaking views of the coastline. Born from Henry VIII’s anxieties about foreign invasion in the 16th century, Pendennis rose from the ground as a formidable artillery fort. Its circular keep and gun platform, a testament to the “Device Fort” style, were designed to unleash hellfire upon any approaching enemy ships. Later, as the Spanish threat loomed, the castle expanded its defences with a ring of extensive stone ramparts and bastions, transforming it into an impregnable fortress.

Pendennis did its duty admirably, weathering sieges and standing firm against naval attacks. But with time, its focus shifted from war to peace. It sheltered troops during the First World War, housed prisoners during the Second, and ultimately blossomed into a popular tourist destination, sharing its rich history with curious visitors.

Essential Tips and Tricks for Planning Your Visit

Planning a trip to see some of these magnificent castles involves several factors, depending on your interests and time constraints. Here’s a general framework to get you started:

  • Interests: Consider what interests you most in a castle – history, architecture, gardens, family activities, specific historical periods, etc. This will help you shortlist which castles best suit your preferences.
  • Number of castles: Be realistic about how many castles you can visit within your timeframe, considering travel distances and opening hours.
  • Transportation: Research transportation options between London and your chosen castles. Trains, buses, and car rentals are all viable options, depending on budget and flexibility.
  • Tickets: Book tickets online in advance for popular castles to avoid queues and disappointment, especially during peak season.
  • Opening hours: Check individual castle websites for opening hours and closed days. Some castles have timed entries for specific areas.
  • Tours: Look into guided tours, which offer insights and anecdotes you might miss on your own.
  • Plan for downtime: Include rest days in your itinerary to avoid castle fatigue and enjoy other aspects of your trip.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the remarkable castles in London during your UK trip. From Hampton Court Palace to Windsor Castle, each castle holds a unique historical significance and offers a glimpse into British culture and heritage. Plan ahead, get your tickets, and embark on an unforgettable journey through these iconic landmarks.


How can I get to Hever Castle from London?

Take a 40-minute train ride from London Bridge, then follow this with a taxi ride.

Can I take day trips to these castles near London?

Yes, you can plan your day trips to visit these famous castles in and around London and explore the medieval castles nearby.

What is the ticket price of Hampton Court Castle?

The ticket price for Hampton Court Castle ranges from £26 to £29, depending on the season.

What is the entrance fee to Windsor Castle?

The adult fee ranges from £28 to £30, and the children/disabled fee ranges from 15.50 to 16.50.

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