There are several places worth a visit in the UK’s capital city of London and just outside London. When it comes to history and architecture, London will never fail to impress you. The castles in London are renowned across the world as some of the finest castles in the world and among the most stunning and highly popular among tourists.
Every castle on this list has marvelous architecture and rich history associated with it.
They take you on journeys to the past, display the history, lifestyle, and architecture of the times gone by.
London is home to many palaces that have been well preserved but the castles are a lot more elusive.
List of Top Castles & Palaces in (and near) London
Here are the best castles in (and near) London that have withstood the test of time and are must-visit destinations.
1. The Tower of London
London palace tours remain incomplete without The Tower of London. One of the oldest castles in London and a must-visit for all, the Tower of London was built post the Norman Conquest of England after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Tower of London is a very safe and practical castle with defensive walls and a moat.
The Tower of London has dominated London’s skyline for nearly 1,000 years. Historically, it was used famously as a prison for high profile enemies of the state, even as late as World War II, when it saw the imprisonment and execution of 12 men spying for the Nazis.
The Tower of London is home to British Crown Jewels, which are kept under intense guard and has hosted legion of historical events. It is a highly popular attraction for tourists. It remains an important part of London castle tours. About 2 million people visit the tower each year.
The Yeoman Warders, more commonly (and somewhat erroneously) known as Beefeaters, all former members of the British Armed Forces, guard the tower, the Crown Jewels and share stories of the past to visitors.
The Yeoman Warders also care for the Tower’s other permanent residents; Ravens. Legend has it that if these black birds ever leave the tower the monarchy will fall, so to keep them sweet, the Beefeaters feed the ravens a ration of local beef every day!
The entry fee is £28.90 for adults and £14.40 for children. It’s a great place to visit during Christmas in London with kids.
Timing: 9 am to 4:30 pm
Location: St. Katherine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK
2. Kensington Palace
Well-known and renowned across the world and known for the birthplace of Queen Victoria, Kensington Palace is one of the best castles in London. The Palace has served as the residence of several members of the royal family including Prince William and Prince Harry. Include the Kensington palace tour in your London itinerary. There are various parts of the apartments that are not open for visitors. Apart from that, the entire palace is open to visitors.
This castle in London is a must-visit for all. There is a lot to do and see here, with a focus on Queen Victoria and the Victorian era, when Britain’s global power was near absolute. The entry fee is £19.50 for adults and £9.70 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 4 pm
Location: Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX, UK
3. Hampton Court Palace
Located on the border of Greater London, Hampton Court Palace has a rich royal history associated with Henry VIII and his eight wives. Henry made many alterations in the palace by transforming the huge medieval-style hall, he also constructed a Royal Tennis court and enlarged the kitchens. He certainly made use of the former in his younger years, and more use of the latter in later years!
Thanks to some of these additions, Hampton Court Palace is a maze where anyone can easily get lost. Cheers for nothing Henry. The entry fee is £24.50 for adults and £12.2 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 4:30 pm
Location: Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, UK.
4. Warwick Castle
Built in 1068, the Warwick Castle is known as one of the best castles in London…well it’s not really in London…or even near London, but it is easily accessible by train from London!
Warwick Castle is one of the best days out for anyone interested in medieval and renaissance life. This well preserved castle has informative historical displays, daily reenactments including tournaments, archery, melee combat, knights doing somersaults in plate armor(!), and falconry shows. It’s excellent day out, much like a medieval/renaissance fest, only actually authentic, in a part of the world that actually had the Renaissance!
The castle is located less than 100 miles from London in the West Midlands and is known for the stunning interiors.
About 25 years ago, the generations of Earls of Warwick used to live in the castle. The entry fee is £13.
Timing: 10 am to 4 pm
Location: Warwick CV34 4QU, UK
5. Carisbrooke Castle
The motte-and-bailey Carisbrooke Castle was built in 12th Cenury and is famous as being a prison for Charles I after his capture in the English Civil War. There area a number of exhibits dedicated to the unlucky Charles here.
Again, this castle isn’t in London, in fact it isn’t technically in England, rather it’s on the Isle of Wight, just off the English south coast, but again, very easy to access from London.
It is one of the best tourist attractions on the Isle of Wight, and was in use as a home until 1944, although the castle hosts no monarchs now, prisoner or otherwise! You can wander around the walls and enjoy a pleasant time in the tea room. The entry fee is £11.30 for adults and £6.80 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 6 pm
Location: Castle Hill, Newport PO30 1XY, UK
6. Rochester Castle
Built in 1127, the castle guards the main road to London and the River Medway.
Found in the namesake town of Rochester in Kent (again, not in London, but not too far from it…relatively speaking), Rochester Castle has seen several battles and sieges throughout history.
It was damaged by the forces of Simon de Montfort and was ransacked in the Peasant’s Revolt. It has been open since the 1870s as public gardens. The entry fee is £7.00 for adults and £3.50 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 4 pm
Location: Castle Hill, Rochester ME1 1SW, UK
7. Buckingham Palace
The moment you think of the British Royal Family, you will think about Buckingham Palace. This London castle is one of the most popular and famous palaces in the world. No first time London tour is complete without a Buckingham palace tour.
King Charles III, King of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and many Commonwealth nations receives ambassadors, dubs knights and dames, and holds banquets in state at Buckingham Palace.
Most royal duties also take place here, including the King’s weekly meetings with the Prime Minister. It is not open the entire year for visitors. However, you can visit the place during July and August.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at the palace several times a day. Watching these red-coated, bearskin-wearing warriors (or any regiment that has the honor of “mounting the guard”) is a fantastic sight.
Just bear in mind that these are highly trained, professional soldiers, protecting a national monument and a head of state; if you interfere with or mock a Guardsman, you will regret it!
The music Bands of the Brigade of Guards will always be playing to accompany the change. The bands also have something of a sense of humor when it comes to their choice of music – pay a visit and you might be in for a treat!
The entry fee is £26.50 for adults and £14.50 for children.
Timing: 9:20 am to 3:15 pm on scheduled days
Location: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, UK
8. Hever Castle
One of the most popular castles outside of London, Hever Castle is only at a distance of an hour’s rtain ride from London, in Hever, Kent.
It is a double moated castle where Henry VIII’s 2nd wife, the ill fated Anne Boleyn, used to live. Hever Castle consists of three floors filled with prayer books, antiques, and a collection of Tudor portraits.
It is spread in an area of 125 acres and there are 3 mazes to get lost in the castle. One is the water maze where you need to get to the center and make sure that you do not get wet, the second is a tower maze which is very much like a children’s adventure playground and the third is a yew tree maze that had been planted in 1904. There is an entry fee of £17.25 for adults, £14.50 for students and £9.75 for children.
Timing: 10:30 am to 6 pm
Location: Hever Rd, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG, UK
9. Leeds Castle
Located in Kent (rather than Leeds – yeah, I know), Leeds Castle can be reached in 2 hours from London by train. Built in the 12th Century, the castle is spread in an area of 50 acres and has several activities during the year.
Leeds Castle has two playgrounds, a dog collar museum, and falconry displays. It was once a home to Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon.
The castle has a maze which is very popular. It is a lot of fun to get lost in the maze and you will be rewarded for the efforts you put in at the end of the maze. The entry fee is £24.90 for adults and £21.90 for Senior citizens.
Timing: 10 am to 3 pm
Location: Maidstone ME17 1PL, UK
See Related: How to Explore the Grand Union Canal
10. Highclere Castle
The leading star in the famous drama series of the British Period, Downtown Abbey, Highclere Castle attracts tourists eager to walk this filming location. When the creator of the series wrote it, he had this castle in his mind due to it’s stunning exterior and well preserved interiors.
Highclere Castle has many things to see, inclusing 300 rooms and a huge grounds of 5,000 acres in Hampshire, southwest of London.
There are several Egyptian artworks and jewelry in the castle. It is still a residence and is open only for about 60 to 70 days in a year. The entry fee is £120.
Timing: 10:30 am to 1:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Location: Highclere Park, Highclere, Newbury RG20 9RN, UK
See Related: Interesting Nicknames for the United Kingdom
11. Windsor Castle
The largest inhabited castle in the world, Windsor Castle tour is a must-do. The castle in outside of London, located in the small town of Windsor in Berkshire, is one of the oldest castles in the UK (being built in the 11th Century) and was the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II.
The castle is one of the most important tours of London castles. Queen Mary’s Dolls’ house in the castle is very famous across the world.
The State Apartments have been furnished with the Royal Collection and the private apartments of George IV are also worth seeing.
You will also find the Guards in and around Windsor Castle, as well as parading around the town of Windsor. Remember; never cross a Guardsman!
There are several Windsor castle tours from London. The fee is £21.20 for adults, £12.30 for visitors under 17, and £19.30 for senior citizens and students.
Timing: 10 am to 4 pm
Location: Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK
12. Clearwell Castle
An ideal castle in London for a wedding, the Clearwell Castle is located in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, which again, isn’t exactly “near” London…my bad.
This gothic-revival castle is straight out of a fairytale. It features a 75 ft long aisle and has a ballroom with beautiful leaded glass windows. The grounds are ideal for photo sessions. The entry fee is a little steep at £94 per person.
Timing: 5 am to 12 am
Location: Clearwell, Coleford GL 16 8LG, UK
13. Pendennis Castle
Set up on the Cornish coast (flipping miles and miles away from London – again my bad), the castle is an ideal location for those who wish to have a romantic wedding.
The beautiful castle has large grounds ideal for photos and drinks before dinner, and is a popular site for events. The entry fee is £10.50 for adults and £6.30 for children.
Timing: Open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm
Location: Castle Dr, Falmouth TR11 4LP, UK.
See Related: 25+ Fun, Interesting Facts About London
14. Dover Castle
One of the most iconic castles of England, Dover Castle is a 90 minute drive, or 60 minute train ride from London. It was once a commanding getaway to the English south coast for more than nine centuries, hence why the castle is known as the “Key to England”.
The castle is close to the sea and is an exceptional defensive structure, built above a steep cliffside. It proved to be one of the most efficient castles protecting England from enemies.
Built at the site of a lighthouse in the 1180s, the castle used to provide residence to foreign monarchs and dignitaries who visited England. The entry fee is £21.30 for adults and £12.80 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 6 pm
Location: Castle Hill Rd, Dover CT16 1HU, UK
15. Hastings Castle
Known for it role in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the Hasting castle played a strong role in the battle of Hastings. At this castle, you can enjoy a 20-minute audiovisual program about the history and origin of the castle. It was built by William of Normandy.
The castle was heavily bombed by the Germans in the Second World War and a lot of it is in ruins. However, it is a place of historical importance and the ruins itself attract a lot of tourists. The entry fee is £4.95 for adults and £3.95 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 4 pm
Location: Castle Hill Rd, Hastings TN34 3JL, UK
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16. Corfe Castle
A three-hour drive from London, Corfe Castle is strategically located on the top of a hill, in Dorset. The castle was built using limestone in the 11th and 12th century and it is 20 meters in height.
In the English Civil War, the castle was defended by Royalist Lady Mary Bankes. Her leadership allowed the garrison to hold out for a stagering 2 years against Parliamentarian forces before the garrison surrendered in 1645.
The savagery of the assaults can bee seen in the interiors of the castle, which have been damaged by shot. Despite the damage, you can still see the arrow holes and murder slits. The entry fee is £12 for adults and £6.00 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 5 pm
Location: Corfe Castle, Wareham, UK
See Related: Best Things to do in London, United Kingdom
17. Framlingham Castle
Framlingham Castle is a three-hour drive from London in Suffolk, and it has 13 towers and a stockade that attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year.
The castle played a crucial role in the medieval, and Tudor periods, as well as potentially being a stronghold against possible German invaders in World War II.
You can see the history of the castle at an exhibition which is open to visitors. It was built in 1160 and it made an appearance as the Castle on the Hill in Ed Sheeren’s song of the same name.
Funnily enough, the castle attracted many tourists after that. The entry fee is £11.30 for adults and £6.80 for children.
Timing: 10 am to 6 pm
Location: Church Street, Framlingham, Suffolk, IP13 9BP
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18. Bodiam Castle
Located in East Sussex, the Bodiam Castle is one of the best castles in London…alright, near London…okay, fine, in the same country as London.
It is an ideal example of a late medieval fortress. Built in the 14th Century, the castle has the features of a medieval palace, while still posessing practical defensive features, such as a moat, turrets and a gatehouse rich with murderholes.
The interiors are in ruins but the exteriors present an outstanding view. The entry fee is £9.80 for adults and £4.95 for children.
Timing: 10:30 am to 3:30 pm
Location: Bodiam, Robertsbridge TN32 5UA, UK
To enjoy the best tours of castles in or near London, include these stunning castles in your London itinerary. Each castle has a unique history and past that will take you back in time.