The UK is famous for its historic castles, whether they are fairy-tale castles, Norman fortresses, or crumbling ruins, castles are the perfect way to get your kids’ imagination to run wild (and maybe get them to learn a little bit of history too)!
In the UK, there are hundreds of fantastic castles that you can visit, so it does not matter where about in the UK you are. There are also a range of different types of castles (and plenty of historic houses if that’s something that also takes your fancy), so there is something that suits everyone.
Whether you are after a quick half hour adventure with a smaller castle or want to spend your whole day at a castle site, there are plenty that you can pick from. From old crumbling ruins, to castles that are still partly lived in and let’s not forget about the castles that are just in the middle of nowhere! Big or small there is something for everyone.
There are many castles out there, and you’ll be pleased to know that many of them have a whole programme of events for your kids, including jousting tournaments, medieval re-enactment, treasure trails and so much more!
Your kids will have so much fun at these castles, so the real question is: which castle will you visit first?
Leeds Castle: The Loveliest Castle in the World
Castle: Leeds Castle
Location: Kent, ME17 1PL
Prices: Adult £24.90, Children £16.90, Under 4s FREE
Firstly, do not get this castle confused with the major city of Leeds that is in the north of England, Leeds Castle is nowhere near this location. In fact, Leeds Castle is way down south and is about an hour’s drive from London.
If you live down south, then this castle is a must visit! You can treat yourself to the “loveliest castle in the world”, which has something for everyone to enjoy when they go and explore this castle. Plus, it is the perfect castle to revisit as you can buy a year long ticket for the same price as a normal day ticket!
This is a castle that you can easily spend all day at, so make sure to bring plenty of water and food (snacks are obviously a must – but there are cafes that you can buy food/water from if needs be).
There is so much to do here though, you can enjoy an impressive maze and grotto, falconry displays, punting on the moat and adventure playgrounds that your kids can burn off any remaining energy that they might have!
Warwick Castle: The Most Popular Castle in the UK
Castle: Warwick Castle
Location: Warwickshire, CV34 6AH
Prices: Adult £26.40, Children £23.40, Family of Four £89, Book Online from £18.40, Half Price for English Heritage Members
For a castle that is perfect for a family day out, then Warwick castle tops them all. This is a castle that is owned by the Merlin Group (so it is an attraction based on keeping families entertained).
There is a lot of history behind this castle. To start with, it was once the home to William the Conqueror and still has a working trebuchet (siege engine/giant catapult), which is always a hit with young kids.
During the normal holidays, they will often do epic battle reenactments for family, you can watch the War of the Roses Live, which is great for keeping your kids entertained whilst you can just sit back and relax.
That’s not all the fun entertainment that Warwick castle offers though, you can also have fun with the Horrible Histories Maze, the daily falconry displays and an immersive dungeon experience (a kid friendly, but gruesome experience). So, you can clearly see that there are plenty of things that you can do with your family, meaning that you can easily spend the whole day here.
And of course, there’s the castle to explore as well!
If you decide that you need more then one day at this place, then you can have a great adventure with your family by enjoying “Medieval Glamping” on the same site. This is available from £40pp and it means that you can easily have a weekend away at the castle and what an experience this would be – a medieval experience!
Bolsover Castle: Not One but Two Castles!
Castle: Bolsover Castle
Location: Chesterfield, S44 6PR
Prices: Adult £12.60, Children £7.60, Free for English Heritage Members
Here you will find two castles, so there is a little bit of everything for everyone. You will find that there is a 12th Century ruined medieval castle which is really fun for all to explore (and has some amazing views for everyone to see). There is also a completely intact 17th Century castle that was built by the Cavendish family.
This intact castle has a lot of floors to explore, and so many different rooms to look in. Some of them still have their original grandeur today, so you can enjoy the paintwork on the walls. This “little” castle was certainly one designed to impress, but it doesn’t stop there.
There is also an ornamental walled garden, that contains a few small rooms which apparently would have been used for private romantic dining. There is also a very interesting fountain in the middle of the garden – but it’s best that you go see this fountain for yourself! This is a fountain which will certainly impress you.
If you still have some energy, then you can walk around the castle walls and it well worth the trip. Having recently been restored, it provides you with a variety of views of all different aspects of the castle. From here, you can see that there is a great castle playground for your kids to let off a bit of steam if needs be.
And if you just fancy taking a minute to sit then the best part about this castle is that normally through April to September there is a Riding School on site that is brought to life at one of their Cavalier Horsemanship displays which is played to Baroque music. This is a must, and your kids (and you) will love it – there’s nothing quite like it and it is spectacular!
Tintagel Castle: A Place of Myth and Legend
Castle: Tintagel Castle
Location: Cornwall, PL34 0HE
Prices: Adult £16.00, Children £9.60, Free for English Heritage Members
This is a castle that will delight everyone. Set on a dramatic Cornish cliff top, this 12th century ruin is not one to miss! It is a place of legend and myth, and quite possibly it is the place where King Arthur was conceived – King Arthur and the story of Merlin is one that your kids will love!
There is plenty for you to do/see at this castle. There is now an outdoor exhibit that tells the 1500-year-old history of the castle – and that is something which every visitor has loved when they have visited. There are also regular shows by a troupe of performers who successfully bring the story of Arthur to life – something which your kids will love!
If you are in Cornwall, then this a castle that you need to visit. There’s a picture-perfect beach nearby, with rock pools to be explored, the perfect landscape for you and your family to spend all day out and about really!
Alnwick Castle: A Favourite for Harry Potter Fans
Castle: Alnwick Castle
Location: Northumberland, NE66 1NQ
Prices: Adult £15.50, Children £7.20, Family (two adults and up to four children) £37.80
This is a castle that will be very familiar to fans of the Harry Potter films and in fact, if you and your kids are Harry Potter fans, then this is a castle that you need to visit! You can stand exactly where the flying lessons took place, take part in your own flying lessons and see the backdrop of Hogwarts in the early films.
It’s not all just about Harry Potter at this castle though – there is also a majestic stately home that you can explore, with a cultural programme ranging from theatre to live concerts. Enjoy the events and exhibitions that they have, which are designed to bring history to life, so that you and your family can learn more about the castle’s past.
Watch the jester shows or get messy with the medieval craft sessions – you can learn how to make traditional soap and even your own magic wand! You can also get completely dressed up and live your day as a princess or valiant knight as you explore around the castle’s grounds.
If that’s not enough to keep you busy, then you can spend the rest of your time exploring the spectacular gardens and impressive foliage, which is conveniently right next door to the castle. You can enjoy the views, whilst your little ones run freely through the winding paths. Making Alnwick castle a perfect place to visit with your kids!
Caernarfon Castle: The Most Impressive Castle in Wales
Castle: Caernarfon Castle
Location: Caernarfon, LL55 2AY
Prices: Adult £9.90, Children £6.00, Family £28.90, Free for CADW Members
This castle is huge and it’s perfect for families who kids’ have a wild imagination! Wales is the perfect spot to take your kids if you want to go explore some old, ruined and basically amazing castles.
These castles are huge and there are so many that you can easily spend a couple of weeks exploring the castles in Wales and doing nothing else. However, if you are pushed for time then Caernarfon is one that you MUST visit.
Built by Edward I, from 1283, it is an incredible castle to visit. You can get lost inside the many rooms and corridors that are still accessible. Wander through the impressive castle walls, climb the many towers that it has (and there are a lot) and enjoy the views across Caernarfon at the top of the towers.
To make it extra enjoyable for your kids, you can get a children’s activity sheet that involves finding small plaques all around the castle. So that is something that definitely helps keep your kids entertained!
Also, if you are a fan of a bit more modern history, or maybe have been binge watching The Crown recently (or just love the Royal Family), then this is the castle that in 1969, the investiture of the current Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles took place – now that is pretty impressive!
Once you’re done exploring this castle, then you can relax outside and enjoy an ice cream from one of the many shops (the jaffa cake ice cream is a must)! A perfect end to the day really!
Conwy Castle: The Greatest Fortress of Medieval Europe
Castle: Conwy Castle
Location: Conwy, LL32 8AY
Prices: Adult £8.95, Children £5.80, Family £26.60, Free for CADW Members
Another fantastic castle in Wales that you need to visit. This is a castle that has been described by the Welsh Historic State as “one of the great fortresses of medieval Europe” and you can clearly see why when you see this castle.
The castle – accessed by a bridge – is quite a sight, with its looming walls and towers. It’d be quite hard to miss this castle, and when it was first built it’s easy to see why people found it so intimidating. Now it’s just an incredible piece of history.
If you are planning on taking your family here, then you need to visit during the summer months. On the 1st of June there is normally the celebration of Wales’ oral traditions with storytelling based on its myths and legends.
Later in June, the castle hosts “The Tournament”, a living history event with plenty of swords clashing together. You’ll also get to experience a celebration for all medieval skills, crafts and characters.
Enjoy the family fun days during the summer, which involves opportunities to try archery, sword fighting and even the chance to get up close to birds of prey!
Arundel Castle: A Fantastic Castle for your Kids to Explore
Castle: Arundel Castle
Location: Arundel, BN18 9AB
Prices: Adult £22 (for castle and gardens), £11 (just for the gardens)
With 1000 years of history to explore, Arundel is the perfect castle for families who love history! You can walk along Norman battlements, see the keep of the original building, learn how people fought during the Civil war and enjoy the newer part of the castle by exploring the stately home.
This is a castle that has belonged to the same family, the Howards, for nearly all of its history. If you recognise the name, then that would probably be because the Howards have played a prominent role in British history – why? Because Anne Boleyn was a Howard on her mother’s side.
If you are planning on visiting though, then you should go during the Spring when you can see the annual tulip display. Even if you don’t visit during the Spring, you should still explore the gardens as they are just breathtaking.
You’ve got dainty water features, amazing carved wooden buildings and some beautiful plants to enjoy (one of the best gardens in England really)!
Framlingham Castle: Castle on a Hill
Castle: Framlingham Castle
Location: Framlingham, IP13 9BP
Prices: Adult £8.90, Children £5.30, Family £23.10, Free for English Heritage Members
This is a castle that is famous for many reasons, one of them is thanks to Ed Sheeran’s hit song “Castle on a Hill”. Not only this though, but it is a castle that is distinctive for its 13 towers that are dotted with ornamental chimneys.
This is a castle that you can easily spend all day at. You can walk around the 10-metre high castle walls and enjoy the surrounding countryside views. There is plenty to see and do here, and it is not one to miss.
If you want a castle that has a little bit of everything, then if you live close by, or are happy to plan your time depending on events going on at this castle, then they hold plenty of events. You’ve got outdoor cinema screenings, performances of Shakespeare’s play and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
For your kids, if they fancy something a bit different, they can enjoy watching jousting displays, knight battles and sieges. So, as you can see, there is plenty for you to do and see at this castle, and you will be easily entertained!
Kenilworth Castle: From Medieval Fortress to Elizabethan Palace
Castle: Kenilworth Castle
Location: Kenilworth CV8 1NG
Prices: Adult £13.90, Children £8.40, Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) £36.20, Free for English Heritage Members
Kenilworth castle is a castle that has been at the centre of England’s affairs for much of its 900-year history and thankfully there is plenty that you can see of this. You can marvel at the mighty Norman keep and imagine the majesty of the Great Hall that would have played host to medieval monarchs.
Although much is now a ruin, you can still climb up to the top of many of the towers thanks to the modern staircases that have been safely installed. Stand at the top of one of the greatest keeps, and easily imagine yourself going back in time.
You can walk in the footsteps of the great Tudor queen, marvel at her bedroom (she even had her own private staircase installed so she could do as she pleased) and enjoy the immaculate garden and splendour of the Elizabethan Kenilworth.
There is plenty to do at Kenilworth, and it also ties in nicely if you would like to visit Warwick Castle as well, as the two are within driving distance. If you are planning on visiting these two castles though, then make sure to book a couple of days off – these castles aren’t something that you can rush around.
Like most castles, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for your kids to let off some steam. At Kenilworth you can enjoy some explorer quests, fight like a knight plus so much more! It’s a perfect castle for families to visit whose kids have active imaginations.
These are only ten of the castles in UK that you can (and should) visit with your kids, but there are so many more! You’ve got Carreg Cennen, Harlech, Cardiff, Pembroke, Powis in Wales, and that doesn’t even cover the whole list. Then you’ve got Edinburgh, Stirling, Dunnottar, etc, in Scotland, so as you can see the list is pretty much endless.
If you and your family are huge castles lovers, then you can easily plan a holiday somewhere. Wales and Scotland have plenty to pick from, from ruins to medieval keeps, to full on battlements, you’ll be easily entertained.
So, enjoy and just have fun! Let you and your kids’ imaginations run wild and you will create some amazing memories!
About the Author
Isobel blogs over at castlesandturret.com detailing historical houses, castles, and general day trips. Isobel also loves books and films; give her a historical romance and it would be a perfect afternoon. When it comes to her days off work, you can find Isobel outside and exploring as many places as she can with her partner!