Are you planning to spend a day at Warwick Castle? You’re in for a medieval treat!
The Castle takes you back in time through fun, interactive exhibits and shows, while letting the beauty and history of Warwick Castle speak for itself.
The Castle can get quite busy and has a lot to see and do. So, in this guide, you’ll find all the information you need to plan a day at Warwick Castle so you can focus on the fun and exciting parts of your visit.
How to Spend a Day at Warwick Castle
A day at Warwick Castle is great fun and a memorable way to learn and immerse yourself into medieval history. But, you want to make sure you plan out your day ahead of time.
There’s a lot to see and do at the Castle. So, if you spend some time beforehand, and even when you first arrive, to decide what’s at the top of the list, you’re less likely to miss something you want to see.
Before telling about the things to do at Warwick Castle, let’s get started with some basic history and important logistical information.
Warwick Castle History
From the outside, Warwick Castle’s 13th and 14th-century stonework stands unwavering and impressive. The medieval castle has suffered its share of blows over the centuries, including war, attack, and fire, but nonetheless, it has survived.
The site itself dates back to the time of William the Conqueror and earlier. In 1068, he created a wood and earth fort to build upon a former Saxon defensive position over the village of Warwick.
Today, nothing remains of these early wood and earth fortifications, but for a raised mound where a tower is perched as part of the castle’s defenses.
Throughout much of history, Warwick Castle has been the home for the Earls of Warwick, most notably the Greville family who were given the Castle and the title by James I in the early 1600s and eventually became Earls of Warwick and the caretakers of the Castle until it was purchased by the Tussaud Group and Merlin Entertainments in the late 1970s.
Where is Warwick Castle?
Warwick Castle is located in the town of Warwick in the county of Warwickshire about 2 hours by car northwest of London.
Stratford-Upon-Avon makes a great base in the area. It’s just a 15-minute drive to the Castle from town.
Similarly, from the northeastern Cotswold villages like Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, and even Bibury, it’ll take about 30-60 minutes by car to get to the Castle.
Even places like Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed, Bath, and Oxford aren’t out of reach by car.
I highly recommend basing yourself in this part of the English countryside to maximize your time, not to mention the opportunity to stay in a quintessential English house or cottage by booking through Plum Guide.
All of the properties on Plum Guide have been vetted and are among the best of the best in the area so you can rest easy.
How to Get from London to Warwick Castle
The castle is easily accessed by car off of the M40. If you’re planning a drive into the countryside, just be sure to pick up your rental car from London on the morning you leave. You won’t want to manage a car and parking for your time in London.
If you’re planning a day trip from London, you can also take the train to Warwick Station. The ride on Chiltern Railways takes about an hour and a half from the London Marylebone Station.
From the station in Warwick, you can take a taxi or Uber. It’s also possible to walk. The station is about half a mile from the castle and about a 15-minute walk.
Warwick castle can be especially busy on weekends, with tourists and locals visiting for the day. If you have the flexibility, visit on a weekday during the spring or fall.
What about Warwick Castle Parking?
Warwick Castle has 3 different parking areas. You’ll want to pay close attention to which you use because it means parking just next to the admissions area or having a 15-20 minute walk from your car to the castle.
The Stables carpark is the closest to the Castle entry. It’s located off of Castle Lane in postcode CV34 4QU. The postcode matters because you can enter the name of the parking lot and the postcode into your GPS to go directly there.
The Stratford Road carpark is about a 5-10 minute walk from the Castle entrance in postcode CV34 6AH.
Keep in mind, Stratford Road carpark also has field parking (same postcode), which is a 15-20 minute walk from the Castle entrance. I’ve visited the Castle twice and once had to park here. The walk isn’t hard but I would have much preferred to be a bit closer.
Just be sure to grab everything you need for the day because a return walk to the car will not be fun!
All parking is on a first-come, first-serve basis so the earlier in the day you arrive, the better your chances are to park closer to the Castle. There’s also a drop-off area that can be used if you’re with little ones or a senior.
ProTip: Warwick Castle food and drinks are expensive. I highly recommend bringing a picnic lunch not only to save some money but also as a way to enjoy the castle’s 64 acres of grounds and gardens.
What Kind of Warwick Castle Tickets Should You Buy?
The Castle opens every day except Christmas at 10 a.m. Closing depends on the time of year and any events that may be happening on the day of your visit. It’s best to check the Castle website closer to when you want to visit for the updated information.
Not all tickets are the same. There’s a basic Castle Day Ticket, which includes entrance to Warwick Castle and for all the daily shows on the date of your visit.
If you want to go into the Dungeon, you’ll need a Castle + Dungeon ticket. Keep in mind, due to the frightening nature of the exhibit, the dungeon isn’t recommended for kids younger than 10. If you’re traveling with young children, one adult will need to stay outside while the other adult goes in.
Buying your tickets for the dungeon online will allow you to set your preferred entry time for the Dungeon. It’s a tight space and only so many people are allowed in at one time. You can enter the Castle anytime, though, with your ticket.
No matter which ticket you buy, purchase online at least a week ahead of time to save money. You’ll also skip any ticket lines at the entrance on the day of your visit when you choose an e-ticket or print your tickets at home.
Group tickets for families and groups of 7 or more are also available and offer bundled savings.
Should You Visit the Warwick Castle Dungeon?
The Castle Dungeon experience takes you back to medieval times when the last place you’d want to be was inside a castle dungeon. The interactive experience lasts for about an hour with live enactments playing out on a walk through narrow passageways and enclosed dungeon rooms.
In planning for my Warwick Castle visit, the information about the dungeon visit said it was only for the bravest people. It went on to ask if I would survive the dungeon…
As terrifyingly interesting as that sounds, it was a pass from me. I sent my husband in, though. 😉
I won’t retell everything but the dungeon walls have initials and dates scored into the rock by former prisoners who spent years confined by the damp and murky underground. As you’d expect, it’s dark, with only a single shaftway, now window, for light.
And apparently, there have been ghostly sightings in the dungeon including an apparition of a man wearing a tunic and trousers.
With that, I’ll let you decide whether the heading down in the Castle Dungeon is right for you.
What to Do When You Arrive at Warwick Castle
Once you’re inside the Castle walls, start by grabbing a map. The Castle and grounds are vast and this will help you know where everything takes place.
If you’re traveling with an aspiring princess who wants to visit the Princess Tower, be sure to get your timed tickets at the entrance of the Princess Tower. They’re free but on a first-come-first-served basis. And unfortunately, the Princess Tower is only open on weekends.
You should also check out the schedule of tours and shows for the day you visit. Signs will be posted and some of this information will also be available on the Warwick Castle website before you visit.
It’s inevitable you won’t be able to see and do everything, but luckily, some of the shows repeat at multiple times throughout the day in case you’ve got a conflict with something else.
ProTip: If you’ve purchased a Castle + Dungeon ticket, remember to factor in your timed entry to that experience.
Inside Warwick Castle
Merlin Entertainments Group has spent over $20 million dollars in castle restoration work. However, nowhere is this more evident than in the Great Hall, the Library, the Staterooms, and the bedrooms, where careful research has been done to accurately restore the living quarters.
The restoration goals were to spotlight the castle’s history, but also to provide interactive exhibits allowing visitors to experience the centuries of history that have taken place within the castle walls.
You can join in a Castle tour if you time it right. Otherwise, you’re able to tour around the rooms open to the public on your own.
As you walk around the rooms, placards provide information and encourage visitors to ask their questions to any of the well-placed history team experts.
Beware, though! I asked a question about a secret door and passageway and got an unexpected answer that involved adultery, murder, and paranormal activity!
Exploring the Towers and Ramparts
Climb over 600 steps to explore the castle’s defensive wall and numerous towers. It’s in this part of the Castle where your imagination can really take over!
As you walk past the bow and arrow openings, you can’t help but imagine what it must have been like during an attack! Today, visitors maneuvering the narrow ramparts can simply enjoy the views from Guy’s Tower and not worry about scanning for invaders or avoiding an enemy’s arrow.
Back in the Middle Ages, soldiers would have raced to the gatehouse to ward off an attempted castle siege by strategically hurling stones, hot liquids, and human waste on fearsome invaders below.
Glad all I had to was peek through the murder holes and even gladder I wasn’t around for an attack like that. Human waste?!
Daily Shows & Activities at the Castle
Part of the fun of a day at Warwick Castle are the shows and demonstrations that take place. The events are designed to be super family-friendly, engaging, and teach something about life and defense in Medieval times.
A calendar of events is posted on the castle’s website and updated closer to the actual date so you have an idea of what’s on even before you arrive.
I’ve seen jousting matches along the river, birds of prey demonstrations, and bowman shows. But the most exciting of all was the trebuchet demonstration!
It’s a real-life replica of a catapult that would have been used during Middle Age sieges. And during the live trebuchet demonstrations, giant rocks and other projectiles are catapulted over 900 feet away! You get to see firsthand how devastating this would have been for objects to crash through castle walls with such force.
In addition to these shows, visitors can go through the Horrible Histories Maze and collect passport stamps as they go through different ages. Time Tower brings you into the history of Warwick Castle with an interactive media exhibition. Kingmaker shows you what it was like to prepare for battle. And the 64 acres of gardens and grounds offer places to picnic, practice your archery, and even admire the resident peacocks.
Some say the castle’s shows and exhibitions are campy and a bit too gimmicky. There’s a reason, though, the British Tourist Authority continues to rank Warwick Castle among the Top 10 Historic places in England.
I guess, purists would rather a less glitzy atmosphere, but for a nerdy teacher and history buff like me (with an overactive imagination), spending a day at Warwick Castle is a must. It combines history and great fun to create an unforgettable learning experience no matter what you age you are!
Are you planning to visit Warwick Castle?
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