When I studied abroad in England, I wanted to see as many castles and palaces as possible. Every castle I saw was absolutely breathtaking, but here is my list of best palaces and castles in England and Scotland that I saw during my time there.
1. Buckingham Palace – London, England
If you are in London during the summer, touring the inside of Buckingham Palace is an absolute must. A beautiful display of class and extravagance are showcased throughout the royal palace. Walking through the palace is like taking a step through history and into the life of the royal family. My absolute favorite palace that I saw. Tours book up quickly – purchase tickets in advance!
For more information visit: Buckingham Palace
2. Palace of Holyroodhouse – Edinburgh, Scotland
My favorite palace that I saw in Scotland! At the very end of the royal mile in Edinburgh, this underrated palace was once the home of Mary Queen of Scots and is the current royal residence for Queen Elizabeth. Not only is it currently a modern royal palace showcasing modern Scottish traditions, but you can step into the bedroom of Mary Queen of Scots and walk through old abbey ruins. Not to be missed on a trip to Edinburgh!
For more information visit: Palace of Holyroodhouse
3. Windsor Castle – Windsor, England
Known as Queen Elizabeth’s favorite castle and her “home,” Windsor castle lies just outside of London in the quaint town of Windsor. The beautiful staterooms rival those of Buckingham Palace. Windsor Castle is home to St. George’s Chapel and Queen Mary’s Doll House. While small, the doll house has running water and is much nicer than any house I will ever live in. If you are unable to see Buckingham Palace, Windsor should be on your list!
For more information visit: Windsor Castle
4. Leeds Castle – Kent, England
Visiting Leeds Castle is like walking into a story book. Known as the loveliest castle in the world, it has been around since 1119. It combines medieval, Tudor and modern styles to create a breathtaking castle. It is even equipped with a moat!
For more information visit: Leeds Castle
5. Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh, Scotland
The iconic Edinburgh Castle that sits high above the rest of the city is steeped in history. From the classically Scottish Great Hall equipped with live music to the crown jewels the castle is a sight to be seen. On the tours you can even see the Stone of Destiny. While it may look like just a rock, centuries of Kings and Queens have been enthroned on this stone.
For more information visit: Edinburgh Castle
6. Highclere Castle – Newbury, England
If you ever watched the show Downton Abbey, you will know the iconic castle. Highclere castle is just as marvelous in person as it is on the TV. The castle itself is beautiful with its own history. My favorite part of the castle was that I felt as though I was immersed in the Downton life.
For more information visit: Highclere Castle
7. Blenheim Palace – Oxford, England
Blenheim Palace is known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, but this castle is much more. The palace has been home to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough for over 300 years. It is full of Baroque architecture, extravagant décor and quintessential English gardens.
For more information visit: Blenheim Palace
8. Hampton Court Palace – East Molesey, England
Once home to King Henry VII, there is much to see and do. There is the magnificent Tudor areas of the palace that were primarily improved upon by King Henry VIII and his wives and also the baroque areas created by William III and Mary II. You can even venture through the many kitchens and see what life was like for the servants as well. There are even traditional English gardens and a maze that you can experience!
For more information visit: Hampton Court Palace
9. Kensington Palace – London, England
Originally the home of William III and Mary II, the home is a beautiful more subdued royal residence. It has beautiful, traditional gardens as well that are worth exploring. The Kensington gardens are adjacent to Hyde Park, making a wonderful stop if you are in the area.
For more information visit: Kensington Palace
10. The Royal Pavilion – Brighton, England
This unique palace was unlike any I saw during my entire time in England. The former royal palace and creation of George IV has many extravagant oriental influences. His successors tried to dull down the palace, but much of the sparkle and shine still remain throughout the palace. If you are taking a day trip to Brighton, it is worth the time to tour it!
For more information visit: The Royal Pavilion