Best castles to visit when staying in a Northumberland holiday cottage

Tuesday 26th October, 2021 by Host & Stay

Top Castles to Explore from Your Northumberland Cottage

Northumberland is famed for its night skies, its rugged coastlines and, of course, its castles.

In fact, the county is home to an impressive 70 castle sites – more than any other region of the UK.

That’s largely down to its position; on the border with Scotland and with 40 miles of rugged coastline, historically it was a magnet for invaders. 

Its castles range from the ruined to the lived-in, and can be found in towns, the countryside and along the coast – in short, there’s a castle for every occasion.

So, if you’re staying in a Northumberland holiday cottage, you’re probably going to want to visit at least one – but which to choose?

We’ve rounded up five of the best…


Probably the most famous of them all, Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England, after Windsor Castle.

Home to the Percy family for generations, it is still lived in by the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, who are responsible for turning it into the tourist attraction it is today.

Now largely known as the setting for Downton Abbey and Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, the castle offers an enchanting mix of the old and the new, while its stunning gardens, opened 20 years ago, combines sculpture, water features and beautiful plants to create a welcoming family attraction.

Children can try their hand at broomstick riding or archery while adults can marvel at the stunning state rooms, or admire the view over the town that bears its name.


Along with Alnwick, Bamburgh must be another of the best-known castles in the county.

Towering high above its village namesake, with the sea on the other side, Bamburgh is a truly imposing sight from any angle.

After years of fighting took their toll, it was brought back to life in 1894 by visionary industrialist and philanthropist William Armstrong, whose ancestors still call it home today.

Head to the oldest surviving part of the castle, the Keep, the walls of which are 11ft thick, or take a walk through history in the state rooms, which contain artefacts and heirlooms from past generations. 


Further inland is the aptly-named Chillingham Castle – and it’s not one for the faint-hearted.

Known as Britain’s most haunted castle, it is reputed to have the highest levels of paranormal activity in the country, with visitors reporting frequent sightings of spectres and apparitions.

If that’s not enough, the castle also features its very own torture chamber, which displays a variety of macabre instruments of punishment, including a stretching rack, cages, a bed of nails, nailed barrel and spiked chair.

For those who prefer their attractions to be less spine-tingling, the castle is also home to the only wild cattle in the world, the only survivors of the herds that once roamed the forests of Britain, and which are rarer than the panda or mountain gorilla.


There’s little left of Dunstanburgh Castle, which surveys the North Sea from its clifftop position between the villages of Craster and Low Newton.

Inaccessible by car, the walk from either direction is all part of the experience; the coastal path from the fishing village of Craster to the castle is often hailed as one of the most spectacular journeys in the UK.

Approaching on foot with sheep on one side and crashing waves on the other, it’s easy to imagine how formidable it must have appeared to invaders in centuries gone by.

Dusntanburgh was the focus of attacks during the War of The Roses, twice besieged and captured by Yorkist forces, but subsequently fell into decay – a state in which it remains today.


Ask a child to draw a castle, and Warkworth will be pretty similar to what they come up with.

With towers, a drawbridge and nearly intact walls, it’s a classic example, and kids of all ages will love exploring the ruins.

Both the village and castle occupy a loop of the River Coquet, around a mile inland from the coast.

Keep an eye out for the lion badges carved throughout; that was the crest of the aforementioned Percy family, whose ancestors owned Warkworth as well as Alnwick.  

And before you leave, why not pay a visit to the nearby hermitage, a ruined chapel on the banks of the river Coquet, accessible only by boat. 

If you choose a holiday cottage in Northumberland, make sure you take a step back in time and put at least one of these stunning castles on your itinerary

Get in Touch

We provide lots of accommodation and places to stay in Northumberland to act as a base for you to explore the area. 

Take a look at the self-catering accommodation we provide in and around the Northumberland area. Feel free to give us a call on 0191 731 4600 to find out more about the best places to stay in the picturesque Northumberland region.

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