The United Kingdom has proud Royal traditions that are known around the world, so it’s only fitting that some of the most beautiful and grand castles in the world are found in England, Scotland and Wales. From the charming idyllic countryside of England to the rolling hills and quaint towns in Wales, all the way up to the stunning and enchanted lands of Scotland, finding a castle to explore in the UK is an easy task.

    With a plethora of castles to choose from, you might find it hard to narrow down your search. Each castle has its own unique and rich history, making each of the castles listed below as fascinating as the next. Have your pick and plan your next magical visit to one of these beautiful castles.


    Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England

    The iconic royal residence

    Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. It’s home of the British royal family and the famous setting of many royal weddings. With the alliance of Prince Harry and American Meghan Markle, American coverage of the event thrusted the castle even more into the spotlight. It’s easy to see why the couple chose this castle, with its gorgeous off-grey exterior built in a Georgian and Victorian design with modern elements - it’s a mixture of tradition and modernity. The view leading up to the castle on the Long Walk is truly a sight to behold – a quintessential fairy-tale setting worthy of a few snaps. The castle can get extremely busy, so make sure to book ahead and get there early.

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    Location: Windsor Castle, Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +44 (0)303 123 7324


    Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland, Scotland

    Found in the magical Highland area

    Dunrobin Castle dates back to the 1300s and is home to the Earl of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland. Overlooking Dornoch Firth, views from the castle are remarkable as sunlight glimmers off the waters of the estuary. The architecture of the castle and its gardens are highly influenced by the French; the gardens are immaculately manicured and draws many similarities to the Gardens of Versailles with its quaint fountains circled by hedges. The castle is adorned with turret roofs, reminding one of the typical castles illustrating your favourite fairytales. A wander around the gardens is particularly picturesque, with the glittering firth in view and the castle positioned at higher ground. There are even trained falcons and owls - it is Scotland after all.

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    Location: Dunrobin Castle, Golspie KW10 6SF, UK

    Open: April–May and October: daily from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. June–September: daily from 10 am to

    Phone: +44 1408 633177


    Caernarfon Castle in Gwynedd, Wales

    The mightiest of King Edward I’s ‘Iron Ring’ castles

    Caernarfon Castle, anglicised as Caernarvon, is a medieval fortress found in North-west Wales and is often noted as one of the most architecturally impressive castles in the country. Decorated with polygonal towers, the castle gives off an air of authority with its location linking the poorer land of North Wales to the ‘gardens of Wales’, Anglesey. Created by King Edward I as symbol of English dominance, the castle is certainly a brute of a fortress, with its massive structure and the intimidating ten-sided Eagle Tower, visible from the bay. Its phenomenal expanse and scale is mirrored in the waters of River Seiont and is especially beautiful during sunset.

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    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)128 667 7617


    Conwy Castle in Conwy, Wales

    A medieval castle fit for Game of Thrones

    Conwy Castle is colossal in every respect – its huge, imposing towers packed one after the other, create such a menacing image that you feel somewhat frightened when you approach. Built for King Edward I, the castle is one of the finest examples of medieval fortification in the UK. Its high towers enhance the castle’s grandeur and exceptional architecture. The interior of the castle features an outer ward containing a great hall, chambers and kitchen and the inner ward contains a royal chapel and more private chambers. Visitors are allowed to walk all along the walls and climb up all the towers. The view from the highest tower offers 360-degree views looking out across the sea and mountains.

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    Location: Conwy Castle, Rose Hill Street, Conwy LL32 8AY, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)149 259 2358


    Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

    World-famous icon of Scotland

    Edinburgh Castle sits atop Castle Rock and dominates the skyline of the city. This historic fortress does require quite of a steep walk to visit, but is definitely worth the sweat with its magnificent views of the old and new towns of the city. Complete with a military museum, the castle holds an importance place in Scottish history as a military stronghold and a royal residence. The castle’s location meant it was easily defended and allowed the city to grow into what it is today. Guided tours are provided by castle stewards as well as audio guides in 8 different languages.

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    Location: Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK

    Open: Summer: daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm. Winter: daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)131 225 9846


    Arundel Castle in West Sussex, England

    Originally built by one of William the Conquerer’s right-hand men

    Over the centuries, Arundel Castle has been remodelled and re-fashioned in an ever-more grand manner. Home to the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel, the castle and its gardens are stunningly landscaped within 40 acres of sprawling, green grounds. The walled gardens can take hours to explore with its many colourful displays of fragrant flowers making it a particularly pretty scenery. The Norman Motte allows visitors breath-taking views across River Arun, the South Downs and West Sussex. The castle also holds an extensive art collection of rare paintings by renowned artists including Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto. Film and TV buffs may recognise parts of the castle from Doctor Who and The Young Victoria. Check the website for the specific opening dates and times, as the castle closes in the winter months.

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    Location: Arundel Castle, Arundel BN18 9AB, UK

    Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (closes in some winter months)

    Phone: +44 (0)190 388 2173


    Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, England

    A castle floating on water

    Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle that will captivate you from the moment you lay eyes on it. The structure offers visitors a peep into the medieval splendour of its time. The site features a quaint bridge across the moat that leads to the entrance, which is marked by looming towers. The shape of the castle is reflected in the moat’s waters and makes for a magnificent view of the castle at any time of the day. 

    On sunny days, bring a picnic to enjoy on the grass overlooking the castle and revel in the majestic atmosphere of the castle (picnics are only allowed in certain areas and picnic benches are available outside the tea-room and next to Castle View Café). Walk along the moat and you may see carp come to the surface looking for food. An entry fee applies for castle visits.

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    Location: Bodiam Castle, Bodiam, Robertsbridge TN32 5UA, UK

    Open: Monday – Friday from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)158 083 0196


    Kilchurn Castle in Dalmally, Scotland

    A scenic castle on the shores of Loch Awe

    Kilchurn Castle is possibly one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. The structure’s ruined appearance adds to the dramatic, rocky scenery which it is set in. Built in the mid-1400s by Sir Colin Campbell, the castle comprised a 5-storey tower house located at one corner of an irregular-shaped courtyard. Tower house still stands overshadowing the rest of the mostly ruined structure. A visit to the castle is perhaps most effective if you’re looking to take in the magical atmosphere of the Scottish countryside. Kilchurn Castle is set among enchantingly beautiful mountains, which are capped with powdery snow in the winter and coated with clouds of mist in the early autumn mornings. Without a doubt, a picture-postcard setting.

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    Location: Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Dalmally PA33 1AF, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm (closed in winter)

    Phone: +44 131 668 8999


    Penrhyn Castle in Llandygai, Wales

    A vision in red

    Penrhyn Castle is a 19th-century neo-Norman castle which sits between Snowdonia and the Menai Strait. Originally a medieval fortified manor, the castle is now packed with fascinating items, which are on display, such as a 1-ton slate bed made for Queen Victoria, elaborate carvings, mock-Norman furniture, plasterwork and an excellent collection of paintings. In summer, the outside of the castle is covered in a blanket of green as vines grow upwards and across the exterior of the castle. In autumn, watch the castle light up in a flurry of bold red. The interior is intricate in every respect with an ornate staircase and stained-glass windows. Wear comfortable shoes as there are plenty of stairs within the castle.

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    Open: Daily from 12 pm to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)124 835 3084


    Warwick Castle in Warwickshire, England

    Experience 1,000 years of British history

    Warwick Castle, as it is today, was developed from an original structure built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Found on the banks of River Avon, the castle survived an attack in 1264, besiegement in 1642 and a fire in 1871 – and still remains one of the most well-preserved examples of medieval castles in the UK. Owned and resided in by the Earl of Warwick, the family enjoyed a lavish lifestyle which is evident through the sophisticated 17th Century Great Hall and the State Rooms, which holds the castle’s most prized possessions. 

    A tour of the castle takes you through the well-manicured gardens, to the medieval vaults and the private residence of the Earl. Climb to the top of the tower and take in glorious views of Warwickshire. Check the website for special events such as jousting tournaments.

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    Location: Warwick Castle, Warwick CV34 4QU, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)871 265 2000


    Glamis Castle in Angus, Scotland

    The legendary setting for Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’

    Glamis Castle is an overwhelming arrangement of towers upon towers surrounded by the deep green of the Scottish countryside. You’ll find yourself in a sublime setting as you gaze upon the ostentatious exterior of the castle. The structure is fit for a prince and you can’t help but imagine one gallivanting on a horse across the great, green expanse encircling the castle. The castle’s turrets and towers can be seen afar from the Queen Mother Gates and this sense of majesty will only culminate throughout your visit. There are a number of walks around the castle that see different styles of gardens.

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    Location: Glamis Castle, Angus DD8 1RJ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)130 784 0393


    Stirling Castle in Stirling, Scotland

    A shining example of Renaissance architecture

    Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both architecturally and historically. Once upon a time, nobles, foreign ambassadors and knights would flock here to revel in its resplendent gardens and grand halls. As a favoured residence to the Stewart kings and queens, grand celebrations were held at the castle, which are now brought to life by the costumed staff who immerse you in 16th-century life. Its  history is palpable as soon as you ascend into the castle – once home to Mary, Queen of Scots. Look out from its high stone walls to where countless great medieval armies fought to decide the nation’s fate.

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    Location: Stirling Castle, Castle Esplanade, Stirling FK8 1EJ, UK

    Open: April–September: daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm. October–March: daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)178 645 0000

    Sophia Macpherson | Contributing Writer

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