There’s always been something magical about castles that spark our imagination. Sometimes we fantasize about being royalty, or perhaps we are in awe at the feats of centuries-old architecture and construction that rivals our own modern designs, or mayhaps you might dream of being an adventurer in a fantasy world of dragons and magic!
Whatever the case, there’s no denying that castles are awe-inspiring things, standing firm through the fires of war and the test of time, chock full of history and culture; we just can’t help but imagine what it would be like to walk through their halls and look down through the battlements like they did back in the medieval times.
But did you know, you don’t have to imagine being in a castle! There are a surprising amount of castles that you can visit- and even sometimes stay in! Consider this a royal invitation to some interesting castles that you should definitely consider visiting:
Colchester Castle is a wonderful English castle, steeped in rich history and brimming with stories just waiting to be heard. Located in Colchester, Essex, one of the oldest recorded towns of Britain, Colchester Castle is truly a sight to behold.
The museum housed within the walls of the Castle preserves much of the surrounding region’s history, as well as the history of the castle itself. You can expect to venture into the halls of this ancient Norman keep and be educated on the over two thousand year history of the castle by the various informative displays and with the help of the tour guides of the castle. You can expect to roam around the roman vaults under the castle, as well as partake in various events that the museum offers, like costumed characters and storytelling. The events on offer change on a daily basis, so be sure to check if the event you fancy is happening on the day of your visit!
For the more adventurous of you, the museum also offers special night tours and events, giving you the eerie feeling of venturing a castle at night, especially as the Castle as well as the town that surrounds it has a history of ghost stories and other haunted sightings, perfect for ghost hunters!
Colchester offers a variety of hotels to stay in, but if that’s not your cup of tea (hehe), the town also has many sites for camping and caravanning, so you’re never short of accommodation options on your visit.
Tickets for Colchester Castle start at 11.25£ for adults, and 6.25£ for children; students get a discount too!
Looking for something with a little more medieval flair? Warwick castle has got you covered! Located a little over an hour away from London, Warwick Castle is more than just a beautiful castle by the river; the Warwick resort offers many events and hands-on activities to scratch that medieval fantasy itch. From archery demonstrations to live jousting and even a live reenactment of the War of the Roses, Warwick castle is chock full of educational entertainment that’s sure to keep you occupied during your stay. Not to mention, there’s a fully functioning trebuchet on the castle grounds! Be sure to visit the Conservatory Tea House found in the Peacock Garden, as well as the Undercroft Cafe for a bite to eat and some tea to drink.
Accommodations are worry-free, as the resort lets you stay in a tent or a lodge within the castle grounds, so you can maximize your time at the castle. But if that’s not your thing, there are many campsites nearby for your optimal medieval glamping needs, as well as some wonderful hotels and taverns that ooze with that medieval English vibe.
Warwick Castle is open most days from 10 AM to 4 PM, with tickets starting at 24£ for a one day pass and 48£ for an overnight stay. Warwick Castle also offers an Annual pass for 49£, perfect if you want to come back to check out the other events at the Castle!
If fairy tale-esque castles are more your thing, then Hluboka Castle should definitely be on your itinerary! Built in the 13th century, this castle is brimming with fantastical charm that feels ripped straight out of a fairy tale book! Located in Hluboká nad Vltavou in the Czech Republic, this charming and enchanted castle on a hill is one of the most popular castles in the world, and with good reason! The park surrounding the castle is free to visit, while guided tours in English are available, guiding you through the history and life of the Schwarzenberg family, the last family to own the castle-and the ones responsible for rebuilding the castle into what it looks like today.
This enormous castle contains 140 rooms and 11 towers to explore, so you’re sure to get your money’s worth should you visit this quaint bohemian castle and the town it crowns. Unfortunately you cannot stay in the castle, but there are many accommodations nearby, especially since the town of Cesky Krumlov is just a stone’s throw away.
Hluboka Castle is open from 9 AM and closes between 4 and 5 PM, and is usually closed on Mondays except during peak season which usually happens around July and August. English-language guided tours of the castle start at 150 CZK (about 7 USD) and go up to 320 CZK (about 15 USD), but if you want to save some cash and don’t mind reading from a brochure, non-english (Czech) tours are apparently a little cheaper.
Okay, technically, technically, Takeda Castle is a castle ruin, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a pile of rocks that isn’t worth visiting, no no. Takeda Castle is quite the literal Castle in the Sky, and many people do compare it to the Miyazaki film of the same name. The (former) Castle was built on Mount Shiroyama during the Sengoku Period of Japan (around 1443) and was abandoned and eventually disintegrated around 1600 after the battle of Sekigahara. Amazingly, the stone foundations of the castle still stand today even after centuries of being exposed to the elements.
What makes Takeda Castle truly interesting is its location; its mountaintop real estate offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and, under the right conditions and during the right time (usually in the early mornings in autumn), clouds of mist form around the castle, giving the illusion that it floats above the sky. Spring is also a wonderful time to visit, with cherry blossoms blooming on the grounds, while the vantage point provides a magical view of the cherry blossoms by the river. No matter the season, Takeda Castle is sure to give you a breathtaking view.
Don’t forget to visit the nearby Kinosaki, famous for its hot springs, just a few train stations away.
Takeda Castle charges a small fee of 500 yen, but that’s a small price to pay for such amazing views.
The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is probably the best way to describe Bishop Castle, because, despite looking quite old, it’s only a little over 50 years old! That’s quite youthful for castle standards. Located in the San Isabel forest in Colorado, the castle has a wonderfully colorful history. Bishop Castle started construction in around 1969, when Jim Bishop, the castle’s namesake, decided he’d start building his own home from scratch. He started off gathering rocks in the nearby mountains with the intention of building a nice little mountain cottage, then, after being jokingly asked “are you going to build a castle?” Jim Bishop decided that yes, he would be building a castle. And so he did. Now it’s a wonderful tourist attraction that’s not only unique to look at, but comes with amazing history that should be appreciated, probably being the largest one man architectural project in the world. The Bishop family still lives in the castle, and even now they constantly build upon and expand on the foundations of Bishop Castle, so you’re sure to hear much about the Castle’s history from the family themselves. The castle features many functional rooms with three large stained glass cathedral windows as well as some towers you can climb up into and see the wonderful forests surrounding the castle grounds.
Oh, did we mention there’s a fire breathing dragon made of metal on top of the castle?
Visits to Bishop Castle are free, but donations are very much welcome.