Are you looking for the best castles near London? I am always in search of a good castle, it’s one of the reasons I love the U.K. so much.
I’ve included some of the famous castles near London such as Windsor Castle, Leeds and Hever. I’ve also included some lesser known ones such as Camber Castle and my favorite Scotney Castle.
So if you love all the history, dreaming of days gone by and imagining yourself as a Queen or King, I have you covered.
Sit back and let me walk you through some of the best castle day trips from London.
If this in your first time in London you might want to steal this London 3 Day Itinerary.
Please note I have included the distance via the shortest route but please search as the shortest is not always the fastest route. Also transport change often in the U.K. so check everything before you travel.
11 Fairytale Castles Near London
Distance from London: 78 miles ( shortest route via M2 and A2).
Getting there: If you are going to Dover Castle the train is your best option as it takes just over an hour. If you are going to drive it will take you over 2 hours.
Medieval castles near London don’t come much better than this one. I loved my visit here and the view from this castle is incredible.
Initially built in the 11th century by King Henry II this castle is often names the “Key to England” and is of great historical importance. Dover Castle was also the control center for Operation Dynamo, also called the Dunkirk evacuation.
I found there was so much to see at this site. It also includes a lighthouse, multiple churches, and a Norman castle. You can easily spend all day here.
My tips here are to climb to the roof of the Great Tower as the view is amazing. Also take the tour that takes you to the secret wartime tunnels it’s really interesting.
I also recommend if you can bring some food with you and have a picnic as it’s the perfect location. This is one of the best castles in the London area.
Distance from London: 67 miles ( shortest route via M4)
Getting there: To drive here it will take you about 2 hours. On public transport you will need to get a train to Newbury which takes about 40 minutes, the castle is about a 15 minute taxi ride from the station.
If you like your castles on the more elaborate side than Highclere is for you. When I tell you it is the filming location of BBC’s popular television show, Downton Abbey you know it’s spectacular.
Built upon a 5,000-acre estate, there is so much to explore here and I honestly forgot about the outside world here. Things to do here include the Egyptian exhibit and exploring the gardens, also if you can take a tour I found it so interesting and informative.
My advise is check before you go as opening times here change often and the tours times and dates change too. I would also say buy your tickets in advance as they can sell out.
This is one of the castles to visit near London that you won’t want to miss.
Distance from London: 52 miles (shortest route via A 21)
Getting there: In the car this castle is just over an hour away. Public transport here isn’t as easy and involves a train a bus and walk and takes just under three hours.
I’ve seen many castles in south England and I have to say this is one of my favorites. This 14th century moated castle has such a romantic dreamy feel to it
If you are looking for a fairytale medieval experience this is where you will find it.
There is 78 acres of open parkland, a woodland to roam through, and a adorable walled kitchen garden. The gardens are open from February and the house usually opens in March. They also have a second hand bookshop here, what more could you want?
Distance from London: 23 miles (shortest route via A4 or M4)
Getting There : If you are driving the journey to Windsor Castle it will take you just over an hour. There is a train from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside which runs quite regularly. There are also many buses from various stations taking anywhere between 1 hour 39 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes.
I you visit only one castle near London I would make it this one. It’s one of the easiest to get to and is very impressive. Also it is one of the only castles that is Royal which I think adds a certain something.
I find Windsor such a pretty castle and the town around it is also beautiful. It has all the pomp and ceremony that you won’ find at any of the others.
The changing of the guard happens here at 11 am every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. And if the King is in residence the Royal Standard will be flying.
The castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and has housed Monarchs ever since. It is also the final resting place of many royals including the late Queen and Prince Phillip. I found visiting St Georges chapel where they are all buried very moving.
Due to the fact it is a working castle it isn’t always open so please check before you go. Sometimes it is closed and sometimes some state rooms are unavailable for viewing. If you are driving you will need to park about 10 minutes away as there is no parking on site.
This is one of the closest castle to London. If you want to see a bit of everything and have to use public transport this is the place to go.
Distance from London: 30 miles ( shortest route via A233)
Getting there: Driving from London to Hever will take you approximately one hour 30 minutes. The train from Victoria or London Bridge takes about 40 minutes less. , the castle is then a one mile rural walk from the station.
This is one of the smaller castles but in my mind is one of the better looking ones. Ever view of this castle shows a different framed vista that literally has me screaming in delight. It is also one of the castle hotels near London.
Hever Castle was originally built in the 12th century, but it is known most for its Tudor history. It was the home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII.
The gardens take up 125 acres and there are 4,000 rose bushes, an Italian garden, and a Tudor garden. Oh and if you are here in spring there are over 21,000 tulips. You can only imagine how happy I was with all this to explore.
This is one of the castles in southern England to visit if you have children. Here are two playgrounds that have been created to match the design of the castle, and two mazes to explore. They also have lessons in archery and shield painting, and there are chances to watch jousting on the property.
Distance from London: 42 miles ( shortest route via A2 and M2)
Getting there: The drive to Leeds Castle will take about 60-90 minutes. There is a train from London Victoria which takes about 1 hour 15 minutes, you will then have a 32 minutes walk to the castle.
Leeds castle is not in Leeds, I know its confusing. I don’t know why the U.K. does this type of thing. It has been called the loveliest castle in England and I have to say I agree.
Built in 1119, this palace was used by Henry VIII, and was the private residence of six medieval queens. It is one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain so make sure you pre-book your tickets.
One of the must sees here is the dog collar museum. I know it sounds odd but with 130 dog collars I found it actually really interesting. And the maze is so fun, when you reach the center you return through an underground grotto.
There is so much to so and see here and it’s one of the best castle day trips from London.
Distance from London: 64 miles ( shortest route via A 3 and A 283)
Getting there: The drive here is about a hour and 25 minutes. There is a train from London Victoria which will take about a hour 40 minutes with a change at Horsham.
When it comes to fairytale castles, and I’ve see a few, but this is one of my favorites. Building of the castle started in 1068 and finished in 1189.
The thing what I love most about this castle is that has been passed down solely through female heiresses which is so unusual.
The castle is spectacular and the town that surrounds it is honestly stunning. My tips are to stop and enjoy the views when you are here as they are stunning. Also spend time in the gardens and explore a bit as the views from the castle are incredible. I particularly loved the rose garden and glass greenhouse.
I visited in spring where the property was by 60,000 tulips and it was incredible. This is one of the castles in England near London that you will want to put top of your list.
Arundel is one of the best old English villages.
Distance from London: 31 miles (shortest route via A201 A2)
Getting There : This is one of the shorter drives at 45 minutes. The train from London Victoria takes about 40 minutes.
This is one of the lesser known castles but believe me it is worth a visit. It was originally built in the 12th century and while some of it has fallen into disrepair some of it has been renovated. This is the nearest castle to London.
Rochester has one of the tallest tower-keeps from that period of time that is still remaining today at a height of 113 feet. I loved it here, to me it’s one of the most castle looking castles on the list and well worth a visit.
This is one of the best castles in the UK near London.
Distance from London: 79 miles ( shortest route via A21)
Getting there: The journey here in cars will take about one and half hours and the train from St Pancreas takes about 2 hours 20 mins to Rye and then a 40 minute walk.
This is one of the castles in south England completely in ruins but it’s super unusual and well worth a visit. Also it is surrounded by sheep and I don’t know what it is but I just love sheep.
You can only explore this castle with a tour so you will need to plan and book beforehand. These tours only occur on every first Saturday of the month at 2 pm.
Camber Castle is more of a artillery fort than a castle. It was designed to guard the port of Rye. If you are looking for something a little different and very natural then this is the place for you.
You can’t drive to the castle and there is a mile walk down a clearly marked path.
Distance from London: 105 miles (shortest route via A 13 and A12)
Getting there: The drive will take between 2 hours 10 minutes to 3 hours. Getting here in public transport is fairly difficult so you will want to drive.
Framlingham Castle was built in the 12th century by a powerful Norman family, and over its history, it has been many different things.
From a home of many powerful families, the first woman to be named Duchess to where Mary Tudor was named Queen of England. It has also been a poorhouse and parish hall. This place has history.
It is surrounded by picturesque parkland and beautiful lakes and the wall walks is incredible with stunning views.
The children will love it here as there is lots to explore.
Distance from London: 60 miles ( shortest route via A2 and A21)
Getting there: The drive here is about an hour 15 and train from Charing Cross takes an hour and 30 and you will have an 11 minute taxi ride from the station.
If I was to ask you to conjure up the image of a castle in your head most of you would conjure up something like this one. This is an archetypal 14th century moated castle that is just so adorable.
This 14th century castle is considered one of Britain’s most picturesque and romantic ancient monuments. It has everything from an impressive gate house, a wide moat crossed by a bridge , a tower and ruins.
The castle is open from February but check before you go as timings are different depending on what day you go.
Several castle tours are offered at different times and different days so plan accordingly. This is one of the best castles around London.
I just adore the castles in the U.K. and I hope when you are there you get to visit one of these famous castles near London. They all offer something different and unique from each other.
Whether you visit one of the medieval castles near London or one of the castle hotels near London I’m sure you will love these as much as I do.
Please comeback and tell me about your trip, and have fun.
Here are some more castles in England if you want to see more.
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