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Man the forts! The best castles in Kent

Ready for a right royal day out? We've rounded up 12 of the coolest castles in reach of Kent that are open for business. Tiara at the ready, let's go!

Hever Castle, Kent

This 13th-century stunner and childhood home of Anne Boleyn has everything you’d want from a castle – towers, a moat, and a royal haunting thanks to rumours that Anne’s ghost still resides in the chambers. The spectacular castle is now open, and the gardens (including playgrounds and water maze), plus there’s food and ice cream options aplenty. The 38-acre man-made lake offers lovely vistas, nature walks, and even boat hire. Booking essential. Adult tickets from £15.55, child from £9.75, under-5s go FREE.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Sissinghurst

A must-do! Sissinghurst Castle is one of the most famous gardens in England IN the Garden of England. The garden at Sissinghurst Castle is among the most famous gardens in England and should be on your to-do list. Stroll around the gardens and gaze up at the 4-storey red-brick Elizabethan tower as you go. Booking essential. Adult tickets £15, children £7.50.

Dover Castle, Dover

Explore 2000 years of history during an action-packed day out at Dover Castle. Step inside the Great Tower and discover the grandeur of Henry II’s medieval palace – make sure to climb to the rooftop for unmissable views across the English Channel! There are over 80 acres of castle grounds to explore so you won’t be bored here. Booking essential. Adult tickets from £10.43, Child tickets from £7.05 (Currently 50% off!).

Walmer Castle, Deal

Explore over eight acres of award-winning gardens, situated in the grounds of a picturesque coastal castle with a fascinating history. Walmer Castle was once a Tudor artillery fortress that became a stately-home. Admire the tranquil setting of the Queen Mother’s garden (pictured), see the kitchen garden bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables, play in the Natural Play Area and stroll through the wildflower meadows and woodlands. Booking Essential. Adult tickets from £10.43, Child tickets from £6.30.

Chiddingstone Castle, Chiddingstone

An historic house in West Kent with 400 years of history, their grounds are open every day of the year, providing enchanting woodland walks with spectacular views across the Kent countryside. Make sure to stop at The Tea Room, view The Victorian Orangery and view their impressive collection of Ancient Egyptian, Japanese, Jacobite and Stuart, and Buddhist objects. Please donate £3 or more in the honesty box at the car park. No need to book, donate £3 or more in their honesty box in the car park or donate online here.

Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst

Scotney Castle has got it covered for that quintessential English outing. Steeped in history and all contained within a beautiful wooded estate, with over 770 acres for you to explore, plus your four-legged friends too. Relax in its picturesque garden with the glorious backdrop of the fairytale castle behind you, and why not bring lunch along to eat in its woodland picnic area to complete your day? Booking essential. Adult £10, Child £5.

Rochester Castle, Rochester

This impressive fortress is still standing after destruction and then being rebuilt, with dramatic views across the River Medway which can be seen from its great keep, one of the tallest in the country! Explore the grounds and don’t forget your picnic. Adult tickets £7.20, children £3.10.

Deal Castle, Deal

Built by the order of King Henry VIII, Deal Castle is one of the finest Tudor artillery castles in England, and a must see on your visit to the quirky seaside town of Deal! Explore the castle from the storerooms and tunnels below up to the circular rooms above. With displays, children’s activities and fascinating artefacts, the whole family can enjoy the rich and varied history of the castle. Booking essential. Adults, £8.70, children, £5.20 and under 5s free.

Leeds Castle, Maidstone

Perched on an island in the middle of the River Len, five miles southeast of Maidstone, this castle has a lot on offer for a jam-packed day including – deep breath – playgrounds, mini golf, pretty gardens, the Birds of Prey Centre, maze, and shops. Plus takeaway kiosks and The Castle View Restaurant are open for refreshments. Tickets are on the pricier side (adult £28, child £19.50), but you’ll be able to visit again as many times as you want in the next 15 months. Booking essential.

Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford

Lullingstone Castle is one of England’s oldest family estates, dating back to the time of Domesday. The Manor House and Gatehouse overlook a stunning 15-acre lake, which Henry VIII and Queen Anne were once regular visitors of. Hidden in the grounds is Queen Anne’s Bathhouse, an 18th century Ice House. After that, walk through The World Garden which is home to a wide variety of plants from around the globe – hence its name! Open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday including Bank Holiday Mondays until the 31 Oct, 12 noon – 5pm. Adult tickets, £9 and children, £4.50.

Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex

This 14th-century moated castle was built to impress. It’s one of Britain’s most picturesque and evocative castles, set in the heart of an historic landscape with stunning views from the top of the towers. Set on the border of Sussex and Kent near to the village of Robertsbridge, Bodiam Castle has been a brooding symbol of power for over 700 years and possesses all of the key ingredients –  spiral staircases, battlements, portcullis and a surrounding moat with a ruined interior that will fire up anybody’s imagination. The grounds and castle courtyard (limited capacity) are open. Wharf tea room and Castle view cafe are open and serving hot food and drinks (take away only). Bookings in advance are a must.

Arundel Castle, Sussex

Arundel Castle looks like something out of a storybook with its old motte perched high (100 feet to be exact) on an artificial mound overlooking the beautiful West Sussex countryside and the River Arun. The grounds are open to explore, though the castle’s interior won’t open until 18 May at the earliest. If you visit now, the gardens will be resplendent with one of the largest displays of tulips in the country, thanks to its annual Tulip Festival. The castle is also looking to host a Medieval event on 17-18 April, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Booking essential. Adult tickets from £12, child tickets £6.

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