Our favourite castles to visit in the UK

Did you know that the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling OBE’s Harry Potter books and movies has topped the poll of 1,000 kids aged six to 16 – despite not being real?

The study on the top 10 castles that kids want to visit was commissioned by English Heritage ahead of its forthcoming #LoveCastles season, which aims to encourage families to take a trip to one of the nation’s forts.

Fictional castles dominated their bucket lists – although landmarks such as Dover Castle, Edinburgh Castle and Windsor Castle all featured in the top 10:

Top 10 Castles kids wants to visit:

  1. Hogwarts, Harry Potter
  2. Cinderella’s Castle
  3. Elsa’s Ice Palace, Frozen
  4. Beast’s Castle, Beauty and the Beast
  5. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
  6. Castle Doom, Marvel Comics
  7. Far Far Away Castle, Shrek
  8. Windsor Castle, Berkshire
  9. Dover Castle, Kent
  10. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Some of these are easily achievable but others could be done with a little bit of added imagination and here are some of our favourites:

Our favourite castles to visit in the UK:


You won’t be able to head inside the actual castle, however a visit to Warner Bros Studio Tour not only gets you up close to some of the actual movie sets and props, but they also have a magnificent scale model of Hogwarts to see. Sit and watch as night turns to day and vice versa – it really is a magical sight to behold.


Dunnottar Castle

If it’s a Disney Castle you are after, then this ruined medieval fortress, located upon a rocky headland near Stonehaven, is the inspiration behind Merida’s DunBroch family castle from the film Brave.

Dunnottar Castle

This fortress is steeped in fascinating British history and is completely hidden from the road, which gives it an added “WOW” factor as it comes into view. Dunnottar Castle is a must visit if you are visiting Aberdeenshire.

Arundel Castle

A bit of a tenuous link, but Arundel sounds like Arrendell from the movie frozen?

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle is in fact a restored medieval castle and stately home in West Sussex and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. We love it for its events and it hosts lots of different historical activities, including medieval sieges, living history days, jousting and knights tournaments.

Edinburgh Castle

No visit to Edinburgh would be without visiting its famous Castle, sat in the middle of the city on top of an extinct volcano, 135 metres above sea level and offering a panoramic view over Edinburgh.

Make sure you are there for the famous One O’Clock Gun. Crowds gather from around 12.30 to watch the gleaming field gun fire an ear-splitting time signal at exactly 1pm (every day except Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday).


Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle is the nearest castle to us here in Dorset and we visit several times a year as they regularly stage events such as falconry, living history days and our favourite – the teddy zipwire!!

Corfe Castle

Owned by the National Trust, Corfe Castle is one of Britain’s most iconic survivors of the English Civil War and once at the top of the hill, offers amazing views over the Purbeck Hills.

Dragon Corfe Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle has been a central place of power and defence on the Isle of Wight for over 1,000 years and is probably most famous for being the place where Charles I was held prisoner here during the Civil War, shortly before his execution.

Carisbrooke Castle

We loved exploring the ramparts and pretending to do battle with the enemy, but it was Jack that stole the show for us.

Carisbrooke Castle - Donkey

Donkeys have played a role at the castle since the 17th century when they would walk on a tread-wheel to raise water from the well and we got to see a demonstration from Jack who helped raise a bucket up from the 161ft deep well!!

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle is set in Derbyshire and like Dunnottar is a real sight to behold as it sits upon a hill, overlooking the countryside.

Bolsover Castle

Much of it is in ruins which is perfect for a game of hide and seek, but the Little Castle with medieval-style turrets and towers is still intact.

Bolsover Castle

Inside the castle is a labyrinth of sumptuous rooms which has been brilliantly preserved and beautifully restored, with richly coloured wall art, carved marble fireplaces and stunning painted ceilings.

Bolsover Castle

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle has been linked with some of the most important names in English history and was a favoured residence of the Lancastrian kings. Today, with its Elizabethan gardens, its impressive Norman ‘keep’ and John of Gaunt’s Great Hall, it is the largest castle ruin in England, making it perfect for exploring.


This one is a bit tricky if you have a young child, as there are lots of stairs to climb as you explore, but the views are well worth it.


Warwick Castle

Possibly the most commercial castle on my list as it is run by Merlin Entertainments, it is still well worth a visit, even though it is much busier.

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It offers the chance to experience a thousand years of jaw-dropping history including ; great battles, ancient myths, spellbinding tales, pampered princesses, heroic knights, birds of prey and a spectacular trebuchet display.


Dover Castle

It has been a long time since we last visited Dover Castle, but it was our first English Heritage Castle and introduced us to their annual pass.

Dover Castle

Set on top of the famous White Cliffs of the Kentish coast, Dover Castle is worth a visit to witness the drama in the Secret Wartime Tunnels alone and its displays are fascinating, especially for older children as there are interesting displays that cover everything from medieval history up to the Cold War.

Glamis Castle

For families that have a real interested in royalty, Glamis Castle (pronounced Glams) in Angus, is a must visit.

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle is the ancestral home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and birth place of Princess Margaret and during their tours you get to see the magnificent dining hall, hear all about the ghost stories in the secret room and see the private apartments of the Queen Mother.

Glamis Castle

Not in the UK………but

Cinderella’s Castle

To see Cinderella’s Castle you need to head to one of the Disney parks, although their castle is based on castles found on mainland Europe, such as Palace of Fontainebleau in France and Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.

Cinderella's Castle

English Heritage Membership gives you unlimited access to over 400 historic places for a whole year and costs £99 per family. You can also earn 5.25% back by using Top Cashback.

Do you enjoy visiting castles, which should we visit next?

17 thoughts on “Our favourite castles to visit in the UK

  1. I love visiting castles! We have a lovely little one with a moat nearby that we visit often. I also loved seeing the model at Harry Potter.

  2. I love a good castle, there are so many amazing ones in the UK. I actually visited Dunnottor Castle last week, there are some pretty spectacular ones in Aberdeenshire – we also visited Balmoral too which was beautiful! xo

  3. We have visited quite a number of castles in Wales, Ireland and Portugal. I think out of all of them Caerphilly Castle or Raglan Castle would be our favourites! I’ve visited Edinburgh Castle but have yet to see any in England.

  4. You’ve made me so jealous about visiting all of these castles but I have been to the Cinderella one. I need to make use of my English Heritage membership

  5. Oh I love this as my family and I are big castle fans although we have visited mainly castles in Wales although we did come back from Warwick castle 3 weeks ago and it was amazing!! Really want to visit Dover castle soon

    Laura x

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