9 Castles to Visit Across the UK

We all know kids love to play pretend as knights, princesses, kings and queens. All that’s missing is a castle for their royal adventures. In this blog, we're your trusty knights, ready to unveil some of the UK’s captivating castles that make history come alive for children and adults alike. So swap the cape for an insulated jacket and embark on a magical journey through the United Kingdom's enchanting castles, perfect for family days out with young adventurers in tow.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Perched atop Castle Rock in Scotland's capital, Edinburgh Castle is a fantastic destination for families to visit. With a history dating back over a thousand years, this Scottish castle offers a captivating experience for both kids and adults. Parents can immerse their little ones in Scotland's rich past and military heritage with the castle’s interactive exhibits, including the firing of the famous One O'Clock Gun.

During your visit, you can explore the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, both integral to Scotland's history, while enjoying breathtaking views of the city from the castle walls. Throughout the year, Edinburgh Castle hosts events that bring history to life, making it an educational and entertaining visit for the whole family. Don't forget to stop by the on-site cafe for a bite to eat and to soak in the stunning views of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Alnwick Castle, found in the picturesque Northumberland countryside, is a mighty castle is known for its impressive architecture. It’s so impressive in fact, that it’s often been used as a filming location, most notably for scenes in the Harry Potter films. This medieval marvel not only boasts impressive architecture but also a rich history dating back to the 11th century.

Parents can step back in time with their little ones as they explore the castle's magnificent interiors and experience the magic for themselves. Kids can even attend broomstick lessons in the very spot where Harry had his first flying lesson! Additionally, the castle offers enchanting gardens where children can run around and enjoy various activities like crafts, archery, and medieval games. It's a perfect blend of history and whimsy that will leave both parents and children with unforgettable memories of their visit to Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick Castle

Dover Castle, Dover

On top of the White Cliffs of Dover overlooking the English Channel sits Dover Castle. It has a fascinating history and beautiful outdoor scenery, making it a perfect place to visit for families.

For over nine centuries, this historic fortress has guarded the English coastline and offers an engaging journey through time. Let little ones be introduced to centuries of history as they explore the castle's ancient tunnels and secret wartime passages, where interactive displays bring the old world to life. Kids will be captivated by the medieval marvel that is the Great Tower, and they can even dress up in period costumes for a royal adventure. The castle grounds provide ample space for picnics and outdoor play, while the captivating views of the English Channel and the iconic cliffs will leave a lasting impression. Dover Castle is a fascinating mix of history and family-friendly activities that will make your visit an educational and entertaining experience for all.

Dover Castle

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

Located off the coast of Cornwall, St. Michael's Mount is a fascinating destination for families with young children to visit. This iconic island is home to a historic castle and medieval village that can be explored at low tide when the causeway is accessible. Here families and children can be immersed in the castle's history which dates back to the 12th century. Inside, the castle offers intriguing rooms and artefacts that bring the past to life. Climbing to the summit is worth it to take in the panoramic views of the surrounding coastline.

Between the months of October and May, families can explore the quaint village using an online island tour created by Lord St Levan. It's simple - just scan the QR codes at the Pilgrim Steps with your smartphone for fascinating facts about life within the castle walls. The island's unique blend of history, natural beauty, and family-friendly activities make St. Michael's Mount a memorable and educational visit for parents and children. So, if you’re on a trip to Cornwall, St Michael’s Mount is a must-see destination during your visit.

St Michaels Mount

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Bodiam Castle, a picturesque moated castle in East Sussex, is perfect for an educational family day out. Located in the beautiful countryside of East Sussex, this 14th-century castle offers hundreds of years’ worth of history and fairytale charm. Full of well-preserved battlements and picturesque surroundings, there’s plenty for parents and children to explore and learn more about the castle's intriguing history.

Inside, the castle offers a range of activities and exhibitions and displays that transport visitors back in time. The castle grounds offer plenty of space for picnics and outdoor play, so kids can run freely while the grown-ups unwind with idyllic views of the moat and landscape. With something to experience year round, including crafts, nature walks and storytelling sessions, Bodiam Castle is a magical and family-friendly adventure that will leave parents and children alike with cherished memories of their visit.

Bodiam Castle

Leeds Castle, Kent

Often called the "Loveliest Castle in the World," this castle doesn’t live where you’d expect - despite its name, it's actually set on an island in Kent. This historic gem dates back to the 12th century and is an excellent way to get the kids outdoors and treat them to an exciting day out.

When visiting, families will love exploring the castle's impressive interiors, beautifully maintained gardens, and scenic lake. Kids will be enchanted by the castle's playgrounds, maze, and interactive displays that span across more than 500 acres of land. There's even a "Knight's Realm" play area for young adventurers to live out the days of medieval soldiers and royalty, as well as the chance to stay overnight in the Maiden’s Tower which has stood since the 16th century. Leeds Castle regularly hosts family-friendly events and activities, making it an engaging and educational experience for the whole family. Whether you're taking a leisurely stroll around the grounds, enjoying a picnic by the lake, or immersing yourselves in the castle's rich history, Leeds Castle promises a memorable day out for parents and children alike.

Leeds Castle

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

While not a traditional castle, Blenheim Palace is a grand stately home in Oxfordshire known for its stunning architecture and gardens. It is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and the only non-royal country house in England to hold the title of palace. Built between 1705 and 1722, Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

While it may not technically be a castle, Blenheim Palace is still historically significant. Families can immerse themselves British aristocracy as they explore the palace's regal interiors, full of priceless paintings and luxurious furnishings, as well as the surrounding gardens. Kids can let their imaginations run wild as they wander through the Butterfly House, tackle the Marlborough hedge maze, and immerse themselves in the Sensory Garden Adventure. Blenheim Palace is a popular filming location for popular series such as Harry Potter, James Bond, and most recently Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story; when visiting, it’s easy to see why this beautiful building was used!

If you’re near Oxfordshire, Blenheim Palace offers a blend of history, nature, and family-friendly activities promises to create lasting memories.

Stonehenge Wiltshire

Conwy Castle, Conwy

Found in the picturesque town of Conwy in Wales, Conwy Castle is a must-see destination for families who are keen to learn more about UK history. This well-preserved medieval fortress, built in the late 13th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Welsh history and heritage. Parents can introduce their little ones to the magic of medieval times as they explore the castle's towering walls, towers, and battlements. Inside, the castle offers a look at the medieval royal apartments that still stand strong even hundreds of years later.

Kids will also enjoy visiting the smallest house in Britain, which stands not-so-tall at just over 10ft, with a width of 6ft!

The castle's handy location near the coast allows families to take scenic walks along the town walls, enjoying stunning views of the sea and countryside. Visiting Conwy Castle offers a breath of fresh air for both parents and children, who will love the fantastic blend of history and family-friendly activities.

Conwy Castle

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

Situated on the banks of Loch Ness in Scotland, Urquhart Castle offers captivating views of the Loch and a glimpse into Scotland's rich history. Families visiting the Scottish Highlands should definitely visit Urquhart Castle; there’s so much to see and do that it’s easy to make a day out of it. This historic fortress has origins dating back to the 13th century, and today the site has plenty on offer as children and adults alike take a magical journey through Scotland's past.

Parents can introduce their little ones to centuries of history as they explore the castle's ancient ruins, majestic towers, and breathtaking views of Loch Ness – look out for the Loch Ness Monster Nessie herself! Kids can embark on their own adventure, imagining themselves as castle defenders or explorers of the mysterious loch. The picturesque setting and the chance of a Nessie sighting make Urquhart Castle a unique and family-friendly experience that will create lasting memories for parents and children alike.

The Lake District

And there you have it – while we’ve only listed some of our favourites, there are lots of castles to discover around the UK, with each of them offering a rich and unique look into the UK’s medieval and royal history. Castles and historical sites are a joy to visit, as families can enjoy both the historical monuments and the beautiful outdoor landscapes that surround them.

Need more ideas and inspiration for family days outdoors? Check out our guide to Historical Sites Across the UK, or our Adventure Finder guides for location-specific routes and landmarks all across England, Scotland and Wales.

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