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Must-Visit Castles and Gardens in the United Kingdom

by Angelique Platas

Jan 7, 2018

© Johanna Cuomo | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

Whether the kids are history and fantasy fans or you’re looking to stroll through the Jane Austin-worthy gardens and sprawling grounds of the United Kingdom’s National Trust Estates, this list will keep you busy on your family trip across the pond.


Leeds Castle

With more than 900 years of history, Leeds Castle in Kent is one of the most visited in Britain. The grounds extend 500 acres, boasting lush gardens complete with hedge mazes and a grotto. Water, complete with a mote and drawbridge, encompasses the castle. Leeds hosts various events and tours year-round for visitors, from falconry displays and jousting competitions to fireworks and classical music performances.

© Emanuele Leoni | Dreamstime.com



Bamburgh Castle sits high above the Northumberland coastline on nine acres of steep, rocky terrain. This ancient castle dates back to the time of the Anglo Saxons and is one of the largest in England. The incredible architecture includes stained-glass windows, looming towers and ornate interior designs. The castle’s ancient mythology draws visitors to stay, explore and host events in this “King of Castles.”


Dover Castle

Dover Castle was erected in Kent during the 11th century and remains a must visit for history buffs. This medieval castle played many parts throughout history, from the Roman and Saxon era to a World War I military base, Operation Dynamo, and the set of Into The Woods in 2014. Visitors can expect in-depth tours through the castle’s Great Tower, Underground Hospital and Medieval tunnels.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle will reopen after its winter hiatus March 31, and will be one of the top castles to visit this spring. Known as one of the most iconic in Britain and a featured set on BBC’s Downton Abbey, Alnwick boasts opulence and history. The incredible staterooms, art, ancient cellar, coach house, on-site museum and WWI exhibit showcase the castle’s timeless charm.

Alnwick Castle in Winter

Alnwick Castle in Winter. Photo: Gail Johnson | Dreamstime.com




Bodiam Castle

Take afternoon tea moat-side at one of Britain’s idyllic 14th-century fortresses: Bodiam Castle. Bodiam visitors can expect a rich history and impressive castle layout complete with spiral staircases, original wooden portcullis, ancient monuments, towers and ruins.


Since 1884, the United Kingdom’s National Trust has protected thousands of acres of land. The trust protected more than 700 miles of coastline, as well as historic estates, gardens and wildlife.


Blickling Estate, U.K.

Blickling Estate. Photo: Ian Dyball | Dreamstime.com




Blickling Estate

Blickling Estate has been part of the National Trust since 1940, and remains one of the most popular grounds among visitors. Sprawling gardens in full bloom surround the incredible red brick estate with an array of vibrant spring blossoms. Blickling gardeners provide tours of the grounds and gardening tips for guests.


Dunwich Heath

Dunwich Heath is surrounded by blooming wildflowers and lavender groundcover, boasting picturesque footpaths through the garden grounds. Bird watching’s peak season is March–August, when visitors explore incredible flora and fauna along the Suffolk coastline.


Alfriston Clergy House Polegate

Alfriston Clergy House Polegate, in East Sussex, comes to life in the springtime. This unique estate exists among a colorful garden and ancient architecture, as the Clergy House was the first building saved by the National Trust. Orchards of muscari and pulmonaria flowers line the property, providing a beautiful spring display.


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