Whether you fancy learning more about the past or hope to explore ancient ruins in picturesque grounds, there is an interesting range of castles to visit during a getaway to the Norfolk coast and countryside.
From medieval forts to a 90-foot tower that can still be climbed to the top, here is a guide to some of the best castles in Norfolk.
#01 Norwich Castle and Museum
First built as a royal castle 900 years ago, Norwich Castle is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. Much of the castle has been rebuilt several times over the years but the original Norman stone keep has remained intact. Used as a prison for over 500 years, Norwich Castle was transformed into a museum in 1894 and today is filled with fascinating artefacts, artwork and exhibits.
- Be transported back to medieval life in the original castle keep and take a look around the basement dungeons, where you can listen to tales of crime and punishment from the past.
- Take a guided tour of the castle and museum or explore at your leisure via a series of interconnected stairways and passages that lead from the main rotunda to the different exhibits and galleries.
- Climb an original Norman staircase from the castle keep for a stunning panoramic view over Norwich.
Address: Norwich Castle, Castle Hill, Norwich, NR1 3JU
Stay nearby: The Coach House - Mulbarton | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs
#02 Castle Rising Castle
Castle Rising is one of the UK’s best-preserved medieval castles, surrounded by 12 acres of earthwork and grounds which you can explore at your leisure, with a four-legged friend by your side. Highlights of the English Heritage-managed site include well-preserved moats and ramparts, original spiral staircases and tunnels, plus a series of remarkably intact rooms.
- Head inside the inner bailey walls to see the remains of a hidden Norman church that predates Castle Rising.
- Climb a set of stone stairs next to the castle’s gatehouse and walk along the top of the earthworks for a wonderful view of the magnificent grounds.
- An audio tour is available to guide you around the castle, where you can see the remains of Queen Isabella’s once luxurious apartments and the castle’s lavishly decorated great hall and waiting rooms.
Address: Castle Rising, Lynn Road, Kings Lynn, PE31 6AH
Stay nearby: Thorpland House | Sleeps: 8 guests plus 2 dogs
#03 Castle Acre Castle and Bailey Gate
You can explore the remains of an entire Norman settlement on a visit to Castle Acre near Kings Lynn, with plenty of mounds and stone remains for little ones to clamber over and hide behind during a visit. Along with the walled motte-and-bailey castle, you’ll find ancient gatehouses and the extensive ruins of a large monastic priory. Follow a series of pathways and bridges around the site to find information boards where you can learn more about the history of Castle Acre.
- Take part in an Adventure Out game around the castle grounds, which involves a series of challenges to tackle and clues to solve to see if you are ready to join the Castle Acre army.
- The pretty village of Castle Acre is just a short walk from the castle and priory - you’ll find a lovely green here with a couple of good pubs to call in to for refreshments.
- The dog-friendly grounds are free of charge to explore and you can enjoy wonderful views over the surrounding area from the top of the castle mound, which makes a great place to stop for a picnic.
Address: Castle Acre Castle, Pye's Ln, Castle Acre, King's Lynn PE32 2XB
Stay nearby: The Granary Annexe | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs
#04 Thetford Castle
While the medieval fort is now long gone, it’s still well worth visiting the site of Thetford Castle. The motte where the castle would once have stood is the largest example of its kind in the UK, and you can climb up steps to the top for a wonderful view of the surrounding Norfolk countryside.
- The area around Thetford Castle is rich with history and you can still see original Iron Age ramparts, with what was once the temple of Boadicea close by.
- The medieval site is part of Thetford Castle Park, which is a large grassed recreational area with a play park that’s ideal for children to run around and let off some steam.
- Thetford Forest is close to the castle and play park so you can combine visiting the two attractions for a family-friendly Norfolk day out.
Address: Thetford Castle, Castle St, Thetford IP24 2HG
Stay nearby: Kingfisher Hut | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 1 dog
#05 Burgh Castle Roman Fort
Managed by English Heritage, the walls of Burgh Castle Roman Fort date back to the 3rd century. It is one of the UK’s best-preserved Roman monuments, with three of the original stone walls still standing. The dog-friendly site is free to visit and has a wonderfully scenic Norfolk Broads location with panoramic views over Breydon Water.
- Watch out for local wildlife from a boardwalk that runs between the Breydon Water reedbeds and the fort - it’s wheelchair friendly so accessible to all.
- The long-distance Angles Way footpath from Thetford to Great Yarmouth runs through the site of Burgh Castle so you can combine a visit to the fort with a scenic Norfolk walk.
- Find out more about the history of the Roman Fort by visiting a permanent exhibition in the nearby church, then head for refreshments in the Burgh Castle village pub.
Address: Burgh Castle Roman Fort, Butt Ln, Burgh Castle, Great Yarmouth NR31 9QB
Stay nearby: Rainbows Reach | Sleeps: 8 guests plus 2 dogs
#06 Caister Castle
This 15th-century moated brick castle comes with an impressive 90-foot tower, which can still be climbed to the top, and an on-site museum with the largest private collection of motor vehicles in the UK. Dogs on leads are welcome to explore the pretty castle grounds with you, and there are several places at Caister Castle where you can stop for a picnic.
- The motor museum at Caister Castle includes vintage cars, motorbikes and bicycles, and features a world-championship-winning Lotus.
- Enjoy a nature-filled walk from the grounds of Caister Castle with a series of pathways to follow through the surrounding woodland.
- Caister-on-Sea, where the castle is located, is a Norfolk seaside village with a beautiful, peaceful stretch of beach that’s sheltered from the wind by sand dunes. It’s a lovely spot if you fancy spending a day at the coast.
Address: Caister Castle, Castle Ln, Caister-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth NR30 5SN
Stay nearby: Tidal Sands | Sleeps: 6 guests
#07 Baconsthorpe Castle
Located around 5 miles from the market town of Holt are the sprawling remains of Baconsthorpe Castle, a moated 15th-century manor house that was originally built by the Heydon family during the War of the Roses. The castle was expanded over the next couple of centuries before a change in the family fortunes led to much of the building being demolished - only the turreted outer gatehouse of the castle remained standing and was still lived in until 1920.
- Take a wander around the extensive grounds of the ruined remains at your leisure; the free-to-access site includes various panels with more information on Baconsthorpe Castle.
- Follow the Heydon Walk to the nearby village church, where you can see some original stained glass window panels from the castle which feature the family’s coat of arms.
- Baconsthorpe Castle is a little off-the-beaten-track so you may well have the site to yourself as you explore. The surrounding moat is home to ducks and swans, making the castle grounds a very picturesque spot for a picnic.
Address: Baconsthorpe Castle, Castle Lane, Baconsthorpe, Holt NR25 6LL
Stay nearby: Jazmine Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs
Plan your Norfolk getaway
If you have been inspired to seek out some of these wonderful castles during a short break or holiday to Norfolk, you’ll find a range of holiday cottages that make ideal bases for exploring the surrounding coast and countryside.
For even more inspiration on things to do during your getaway, read our guide to the best National Trust sites in Norfolk.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.