The UK is known for having a history as rich and diverse as its landscapes. Each country is studded with unique castles and fortresses that reflect centuries of strife and peace. But with more the 4,000 strongholds to choose from, which are the best castles to visit in the UK?
If you’ve already chosen your castle and want to gain a deeper understanding of the surrounding city, choosing the right tour to enhance your experience is important. So, why not try one of our award-winning tours of the UK’s cultural capitals?
At Invisible Cities, our guides are experts at providing engaging and informative tours from a perspective like no other. As a social enterprise, we invest in all of our team – most of whom have experienced homelessness or social disadvantage at some point in their lives.
If you have any questions about the work we do, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you.
But for now, let’s explore some of the UK’s best castles.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Occupied since the Iron Age, Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest castles in western Europe. Now the epicentre of Scotland’s capital city, visitors can climb the heights of Castle Rock to explore the castle’s tower and tapestries.
Angus is our local expert on his tour of The Royal Mile – From Huts to High Rise. He’ll paint a vivid picture of how this central Edinburgh street developed from timbered medieval buildings to the bustling street of today.
Dover Castle, Southeast England
Sat atop the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, this castle has a fascinating past. Built shortly after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Dover Castle is also the site of a Roman lighthouse and medieval tunnels.
The castle’s network of tunnels is three miles long and has been in use since the Napoleonic Wars! Housing over 2,000 soldiers in World War II, the tunnels played a key part in Operation Dynamo during the Battle of Dunkirk. The tunnels were also selected as one of 12 Regional Seats of Government, to be occupied in the event of nuclear war in the 1960s.
Visitors can take in epic views of the cliffs and see across the channel to France from its rooftops. Find out why Kent is the gateway to England in your visit to this breathtaking historical monument.
York Castle, Northeast England
Why not head to the UK’s Viking capital and explore the city’s heritage from the top of this fortress? York Castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England; it was built as a stronghold in his military campaign the Harrying of the North, and still stands today.
The famous Clifford’s Tower at York Castle has occupied many roles in its 400-year history, having been a royal mint, a medieval stronghold, and a Civil War garrison. Located on the south side of the River Foss, it offers unparalleled views of York’s skyline from medieval buildings to the Minster.
Cardiff Castle, Wales
Our penultimate Castle has over 2,000 years of history and is located in the heart of Cardiff’s city centre. Born out of a series of forts constructed by the Romans in the 1st century AD, the Castle was updated in the 11th century by the Normans who installed the Keep.
This 12-sided keep towers over the landscape and greets visitors when they enter the grounds. There are roughly 50 steep stone steps leading up to the Keep, but the view alone is worth the effort!
Once inside, take in the lavish Victorian splendour and visit the eerie Black Tower to hear the history of the forgotten Welsh medieval hero Llywelyn Bren.
Warwick Castle, the Midlands, England
That William the Conqueror was certainly a busy chap! Warwick Castle was also built under his instruction in 1068. It was constructed on the bend of the meandering River Avon. Not only is this castle a great day out for families, but you can also sleep over in the summer.
Aside from Warwick Castle’s interesting architectural past, the most powerful trebuchet – a medieval launching weapon – also lives there. In 2006, this record-breaking device launched a 29lb missile at 160mph! Luckily, it’s no longer in use.
And if that doesn’t sate your thirst for turrets and trebuchets, you can visit Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Gardens, which is a 17-minute drive north of Warwick Castle.
Though our list is barely scratching the surface of the UK’s plethora of castles, we hope it’s given you an insight into some of our favourites. If you’re keen to soak up some more local history, whether online or in person, our award-winning walking tours in the UK are ideal.
Across Scotland, Wales, and England, our tour guides are as knowledgable as they are captivating! So meet the team and choose your convoy to lead you around the UK’s most exciting cities.
If you have any castle-related questions or want a little more information about what we do at Invisible Cities, get in touch. We’re always happy to help and welcome your interest in our enterprise.