11 Best Castles to Tour in London and Nearby Cities

Are you looking for the best castles to tour in London and nearby cities?

London may be a massive, urbanized city, but at its heart is its rich history and the fact that it is home to the Royal Family.

There may be modern structures and skyscrapers, but for tourists around the world, the image of London will always involve fairy tale castles and towers.

If you’re visiting the English capital soon and planning to immerse yourself in the Old World, here are the best castles to tour in London and nearby cities.

Best Castles to Tour in London and Nearby Cities

Best Castles To Tour in London

London Castle Tours Within London

1. Buckingham Palace

Castles To Tour in London
Buckingham Palace

Location: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, UK
— Open from 9:30 am to 3:15 pm on scheduled days

The King of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as many other Commonwealth countries, hosts state banquets at Buckingham Palace, where he welcomes ambassadors, confers knighthoods, and damehoods, and attends state receptions.

The King’s weekly talks with the Prime Minister also take place here. It’s not open to the public all year round, only in July and August, so those are good months to visit.

Several times a day, the palace hosts the ritual of the Changing of the Guard. During this ceremony, the music of the Brigade of Guards bands will be playing in the background. This is a must-see event steeped in history so check schedules to time your visit.

2. Eltham Palace

Location: Court Yard, London SE9 5QE, UK
— Open from 10 am to 5 pm

Eltham Palace is a fascinating example of Art Deco design, having transformed from a Tudor manor to a 1930s house by rich couple Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the early 20th century.

From medieval grandeur to postmodern Swedish architecture, the outcome is an incredible mix of styles that includes a heated area for their pet lemur.

English Heritage renovated and reopened the house and its 19-acre gardens in 1999, making them accessible to the general public.

Visit Virginia’s rebuilt walk-in wardrobe to see period clothing, hats, and other accessories. A trip to the Eltham Palace is also one of the best non-touristy things to do in London.

3. Hampton Court Palace

Castles To Tour in London
Hampton Court Palace

Location: Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, UK
— Open from 10 am to 4:30 pm

Hampton Court Palace is located outside of the center of London, yet it is still inside the city’s borders.

Even though getting there requires some work in terms of transportation, it is well worth it.

Since Henry VIII lived there, Hampton Court Palace has had a rich royal history, even though it is not currently home to the British royal family.

During his time, King Henry expanded the kitchens and installed a huge medieval-style great hall, as well as the Royal Tennis Court.

These days, guided tours of the Palace are available, as are various events.

There’s also a 17th-century maze where you may have a good time exploring.

4. Kensington Palace

Castles To Tour in London
Kensington Palace

Location: Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX, UK
— Open from 10 am to 4 pm

Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria, is one of the best-known castles in London and a popular tourist destination.

Members of the royal family including Prince William and Prince Harry have lived in this palace.

When planning a trip to London, don’t forget to include a stop at Kensington Palace. Visitors aren’t allowed into all of the apartments. Otherwise, the palace is available to the public.

Kensington Palace is a must-visit in London. There is a lot to do and see here, with a focus on Queen Victoria and the Victorian era, when Britain’s global influence was in its golden era.

5. The Tower of London

Castles To Tour in London
Tower of London viewed from the River Thames
© Bob Collowan | CC-BY-SA-4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Location: St. Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK
— Open from 9 am to 4:30 pm

The Tower of London is the most historic of London’s fortifications, built in the years following the Norman invasion and conquest of England. It was constructed for royalty when there was a need for a fortified palace in which to reside.

It is a strongly fortified castle, with not one but two walls protecting it, as well as a moat.

The Tower of London is the location of many important historical events and is also the place where the English Crown Jewels are kept.

Among the most notable historical events that took place there was the execution of 112 people, including Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn, who are said to haunt the castle. (To know more about these hauntings, click here!)

With its rich history, the Tower of London has developed into a highly well-liked destination among vacationers in the modern world.

6. Windsor Castle

Castles To Tour in London
Windsor Castle

Location: Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK
— Open from 10 am to 4 pm

This particular castle is not only the oldest but also the largest that can be found anywhere on the entire planet.

The King of England makes his home in this imposing palace.

The Windsor Castle is home to many well-known attractions, including Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, which is well-known all over the world; the State Apartments, which have been furnished with pieces from the Royal Collection; and also, the private apartments of George IV, which are worth seeing.

After you’ve finished seeing the castle, you should make it a point to explore the rest of Windsor town if you still have any time left over.

A stroll along the River Thames is an enjoyable way to spend the day.

London Castle Tours: Easy Day Trips from London

6. Clearwell Castle

Castles To Tour in London
Clearwell Castle
© AHFilms Adam Huckle Films via Wikimedia Commons

Location: Clearwell, Coleford GL 16 8LG, UK
— Open from 5 am to 12 am

Clearwell Castle is a 1727 Gothic Revival mansion in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean.

This is the first Georgian Gothic Revival castle in England, built by Thomas Wyndham to the designs of Roger Morris. It predates better-known examples of medieval fortification and palaces like Strawberry Hill House by more than 20 years.

A devastating fire nearly destroyed the Clearwell Castle, which had been home to the Wyndham family for more than 150 years.

Frank Yeates, the son of a former gardener at the castle, bought the castle in 1952 and helped restore it, which was a lengthy rehabilitation process.

The Clearwell housed and operated a recording studio and rehearsal space in the 1970s. Some of rock’s biggest names — including Led Zeppelin and Mott the Hoople, as well as Black Sabbath and Queen — were recorded in the castle.

Until the 1980s, the castle was owned by the Yeates family. It had been sold and converted into a popular venue for weddings since.

8. Hever Castle

Castles To Tour in London
Hever Castle

Location: Hever Road, Hever, Edenbridge, TN8 7NG, UK
— Open from 12 pm to 5 pm

By train, Hever Castle is just over an hour away from London. This castle with two moats was where Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, once stayed during her courtship of the Tudor king.

An Anne Boleyn prayer book collection, Tudor portraits, and antiquities adorn the three stories of this castle. This collection is considered to be one of the best Tudor portrait collections to emerge after the one at the National Portrait Gallery.

Three mazes cover an area of 125 acres at the castle, and visitors can explore these three when they visit.

There’s a water maze where the goal is to avoid getting wet, a tower maze that looks like something out of a children’s playground, and a 1904-planted yew tree maze.

9. Highclere Castle

London Castles
Highclere Castle

Location: Highclere Park, Highclere, Newbury RG20 9RN, UK
— Open from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm

Tourists flock to Highclere Castle, the filming location of the hit British period drama, Downton Abbey.

The creator of the series had this castle in mind when he penned it, thanks to its magnificent exterior and impressive internal preservation efforts.

Highclere Castle in Hampshire, southwest of London, features 300 rooms and 5,000 acres of grounds to explore. The castle contains many Egyptian artifacts and jewelry.

There are only roughly 60 to 70 days a year when it is open for visitors, so check schedules online to time your visit.

10. Leeds Castle

London Castles
Leeds Castle

Location: Maidstone ME17 1PL, UK
— Open from 10 am to 3 pm

The Leeds Castle proudly proclaims that it is “the loveliest castle in the world,” and anyone can certainly see why they would say so.

It is indeed a breathtaking sight to see something like this adrift in the middle of a lake.

The majority of what is currently on display goes back to the 19th century, even though there has been a castle on the grounds at some point since the 12th century.

For several decades, it has served as a famous filming location; and most recently, it was included in the widely acclaimed television series Doctor Who.

11. Dover Castle

Castles To Tour in London
Dover Castle

Location: Castle Hill Rd, Dover CT16 1HU, UK
— Open from 10 am to 6 pm

It takes 90 minutes by car or 60 minutes by train to get to Dover Castle, one of England’s most famous landmarks.

The castle was built in the 1180s on the site of a lighthouse. For more than nine centuries, it served as a commanding refuge to the English south shore, making it known as the “Key to England.”

Fortress-like in design, the castle was perched precariously on a very dangerous cliffside just yards from the water. In terms of protecting England from intruders, it was one of the most effective fortresses.

Today, Dover Castle serves as a guesthouse for foreign nobles who come to England.

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