9 Castles and Palaces To See In England, Scotland + Wales

If you’re planning a road trip around Great Britain, I have a great list of castles and palaces you’ll want to check out. These were the stops I made during my time in England, Scotland, and Wales. I loved seeing the different settings and learning about the history of each.

There are so many beautiful castles and palaces to explore in each country, but I only saw a select few. That’s all to say if you do a more extensive castle tour, research to see which ones you want to hit up. But I hope that this list will give you a good start!

If you’re in planning mode now, scroll all the way to the bottom to see a handy map to better plan out your castle and palace visits.


Check out some of the other posts from my England and Scotland adventure:

A Day Trip To Windsor, UK | A Weekend In Edinburgh | The Idyllic Village Of Grasmere | More coming soon!


Windsor Castle

The entrance of Windsor Castle in England.
  • Location: Windsor, Berkshire, England
  • Constructed: 1017
  • Function: Palace
  • Architectural Style: Gothic, Victorian, Georgian
  • Tour: Get Tickets

Did you know Windsor Castle is the largest and longest-occupied castle in Europe? I’ve visited this grand structure twice. The first time, I took a day trip from London to tour the castle. The second time, I stayed in Windsor for the weekend, but it was right after Queen Elizabeth passed, so it was closed. It’s lovely inside, as it should be, being one of the Royal Family’s primary residences, so it’s worth a visit if you haven’t been.

Another view of Windsor Castle in England.

Blenheim Palace

The beautiful Blenheim Palace in England.
  • Location: Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England
  • Opened: 1722
  • Function: Palace
  • Architectural Style: Baroque, English Baroque
  • Tour: Get Tickets

Blenheim Palace was one of my favorites to visit. It’s a beautiful palace with fascinating backstories, from it being the unexpected birthplace of Winston Churchill to its M15 occupancy during WWII (more details on that in my Windsor post). The gardens replicate the ones at the Palace of Versailles in France. So if you visit, get a ticket that includes both entry into the palace and the gardens.

The beautiful gardens at Blenheim Palace.

Bamburgh Castle

The impressive Bamburgh Castle in England.
  • Location: Bamburgh, Northumberland, England
  • Built: 11th Century
  • Function: Castle
  • Architectural Style: Norman
  • Tour: Get Tickets

This impressive fortress has panoramic views from its perch on the cliffs above the North Sea. And it, too, was another favorite of mine to visit. The castle has seen many battles, from its origins as a Celtic fort, being destroyed by Vikings, to its takeover by the Normans who built the structure as we see it today. The tour is self-guided, and there’s so much to see, so it’s worth the stop as you make your way up the coast. Plus, it’s only about 30 minutes from the Scotland border, so we’re going there next.

Panoramic views of the North Sea from Bamburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle

The view of Edinburgh Castle from the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Built: 11th Century through to the 21st Century
  • Function: Castle, Museum, Fortification
  • Architectural Style: Norman
  • Tour: Get Tickets

I loved Scotland and my visit to Edinburgh, but Edinburgh Castle, surprisingly, was one of my least favorite castles to tour. You can’t miss it from its perch on Castle Stone, so in that sense, it’s impressive. But once you climb the hill into the fortress, it’s underwhelming. The history, nevertheless, is quite rich (Mary, Queen of Scots, resided there for some time), and it currently houses the Scottish Crown jewels, which was cool to see.

Cardiff Castle

  • Location: Cardiff, Wales
  • Opened: 55 AD
  • Function: Castle
  • Architectural Style: Gothic, Victorian, Medieval
  • Tour: Get Tickets

The castle with the most beautiful interior has to be Cardiff Castle. Located in the capital of Wales, the castle exterior isn’t anything to write home about. So if you’re planning a tour, it’s to see the inside. That’s because its former owner, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, with the help of architect William Burges, transformed the castle into a masterpiece. Inside you’ll find colorfully themed rooms, intricate woodwork, beautiful stained glass windows, and more. It’s quite the opposite of the other stuffy, old castles you’ll see. I originally wasn’t too excited about Cardiff Castle, but after seeing it, I’m so glad I went!

Tintern Abbey

The Tintern Abbey ruins in Wales.
  • Location: Tintern, Monmouthshire, Wales
  • Opened: May 9, 1131
  • Function: Abbey
  • Architectural Style: Gothic
  • Tour: Get Tickets

Okay, this is not technically a palace or castle, but it still felt like it had a place in this roundup. I visited Tintern Abbey on a misty morning, so it added to the effect of the ghostly Gothic abbey ruins. Once a thriving monastery, Tintern Abbey fell into ruin after Henry VIII disbanded all monasteries and convents during his rule. What remains, though, has been captured by many painters and poets who still find the site beautiful, as do I.

The Tintern Abbey ruins in Wales.

Fun Fact: There used to be trees and vines throughout the ruins, and only recently did they have them cleared out. I wish they would have kept it that way. I feel like it would add to the effect of the place.

Buckingham Castle

A view of Buckingham Palace in London.
  • Location: London, City of Westminster, England
  • Opened: 1705
  • Function: Palace, Official Residence
  • Tour: Get Tickets

In London, you have some of the most famous castles at your fingertips. The biggest is that of Buckingham Castle, where the monarch presides. I’ve toured the palace and watched the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which is a popular thing to do. If you haven’t done either, I’d recommend doing it at least once. It’s always cool to say you’ve been where the King/Queen lives! Once those are off your list, I find the palace a bit too touristy, so I try to avoid it if I can. However, I did swing by on my last visit to pay respects to the Queen after her passing. RIP Queen Elizabeth.

Kensington Palace

The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace with the statue of Diana from behind.
  • Location: London, England
  • Opened: 1605
  • Function: Palace
  • Architectural Style: Jacobean
  • Tour: Get Tickets

Did you know that Kensington Palace was the monarch’s primary residence before Queen Victoria ascended the throne, where she made Buckingham Palace the monarch’s new home? I didn’t know that until recently and thought it was an interesting tidbit. However, my favorite thing about Kensington Palace is the Sunken Garden. Every time I visit London I visit as I find the gardens quite beautiful. Plus, the new statue of Diana is now a must-see.

The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace with the statue of Diana in the distance.

Tower Of London

A shot from inside the Tower of London with the Tower Bridge in the background.
  • Location: London, England
  • Built: 1017; Re-built 1286
  • Function: Palace, Fortress
  • Architectural Style: Jacobean
  • Tour: Get Tickets

The unique history of the Tower of London puts it up there with Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace as must-sees when you’re in London. The stories of beheadings and torture, the “Beefeaters” in residence, and the pet crows that call it home. All these quirks are why this castle is worth a visit in my book. Plus, the fortress also holds the Crown jewels, which is another reason why it’s such a popular tourist destination.


I hope this starter list of castles I visited during my recent trip to England, Scotland, and Wales helps you get an idea of which ones you’d like to see. The best part of Great Britain is that there are so many castles to choose from, so you have options. Happy planning!

Let’s go places,

Sarah

What castles and palaces would you recommend? Share them in the comments below.

Did you love this post? Then make sure you never miss any upcoming travel itineraries. Follow along by subscribing to my email newsletter or following me on Instagram.

Make sure to pin the image below so that you can reference this post later!

Pin me! A list of 9 castles and palaces to see while you're exploring Great Britain.

All photos in this blog post are mine. Feel free to share but please credit me with a link to the blog. Much appreciated, and thank you for your support!

Leave a comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.