What to do at the Weekend: Visit Warwick Castle
In our first major touristy activity of the year, we finally made use of our Merlin passes and headed down to Warwickshire to visit Warwick Castle.
What we did at the weekend:
Visited Warwick Castle
Location: Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Our rating: 7.5/10
Our Visit to Warwick Castle
Having both been before, we knew the jist of what to expect.
It’s an educational, feel-good kind of tourist trap with the magnificent castle itself at the heart of everything.
It is not difficult to see why Warwick is so popular, it is a beautiful structure, and what everyone imagines a medieval English castle would look like.
Like something out of a fantasy novel.
Capturing the Imagination
For anyone with an interest in this part of history, this is a must-visit.
From the moment you walk through the iron portcullis along the kill zone corridor and out into the inner grounds, there are wow moments.
For a youngster, capturing the imagination and feeling like a knight for the day, is probably something that will keep them coming back into adulthood – Ben speaking from experience here.
The Complete Castle
Warwick is one of, if not the most complete standing castles in the country.
This is owing to its lack of historic battle activity, role as a party house throughout its life, and dereliction in the early 1900’s.
The fact that Merlin Entertainments purchased it in the 70’s, restored it, and turned it into the tourist destination you see today, probably helped too!
In this sense, its story is not dissimilar to Merlin’s other star attraction, Alton Towers.
Five Tips for Visiting Warwick Castle
Visiting Warwick Castle is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon, we put together a few tips to consider before you head back in time.
Take a Picnic
Warwick Castle is a great visit all year round, but it truly sings in the summer.
Its central green at the heart of the courtyard is a superb place to sit with a picnic and an ice cream, and watch the world go by (or people watch).
Remember to take plenty of sunscreen and water with you though, it’s a real sun trap too.
It can get quite busy here, but you won’t be stuck for places to sit.
There are various lush areas to chill with a sandwich in amongst the grounds.
Sitting on the banks of the river Avon towards the back of the property, is also a great spot.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Standard comment perhaps but if you intend to see everything, you should be prepared to walk a good way.
During our visit, we clocked up almost 20,000 steps, so wearing comfortable shoes is massively advised.
Depending on what you want to see, you’ll be walking up and down hilly terrain and climbing up and down stone steps.
Also , when you first arrive bear in mind that it’s a bit of a walk from the car park to the castle itself.
It is mostly flat but there are a few hilly moments too along the way.
All told, it’s a 15-20 minute walk for most people.
Do the Free Tours
Because why not? We have a tendency to try anything that is free (or included in the ticket price).
We did the Stately Splendour tour.
This guided tour took us around the state rooms, of the castle, where we learned a whole lot more about life at the castle, the family that owned it, and the royals that visited Warwick Castle over the years.
Plus, this particular tour seems (from what we could tell) wheelchair accessible, as it only takes place on the downstairs level.
Go to the top of Guy’s Tower (if you are able)
One of the most striking features of Warwick Castle is Guy’s Tower.
You can climb the stone spiral staircase to the top of this 29 metre (95 foot) tall tower and check out the amazing views around the surrounding Warwickshire countryside.
Guy’s Tower was built in the 14th century and was used to host guests of the Earl of Warwick.
Despite appearances, Guy’s Tower is actually only the second tallest part of the castle behind Caesar’s Tower, in which you can actually book to stay the night.
Head Directly to Gaol (Jail)
Want to get a taste of what it was like to be locked away in a dungeon in medieval times?
Well, when we put it like that, it actually doesn’t sound too appealing.
But still, it’s another interesting part of the castle that you might overlook as it is tucked away and maybe one of the less glamorous parts.
The narrow stone passageway down into the gaol (the old English spelling) culminates in a dingy, damp, and dark dwelling where many unfortunate souls have been held throughout history.
Definitely worth a look if you aren’t too bothered by enclosed spaces.
The Warwick Castle Bird of Prey Show
If you’re visiting Warwick Castle, you must make a point of seeing the Bird of Prey Show at least once in the day.
There are two shows a couple of hours apart, so you should be able to hit one of them.
The show is spectacular, informative, and has been slightly different every time we have been.
For instance, Flash the Peregrin Falcon actually clocked up his personal best speed during a dive in the morning demonstration we attended.
During the show you’ll see vultures, falcons, and owls and watch these beautiful and powerful birds performing natural aerobatic behaviours in the shadow of the castle.
Up until and including 31st March, you can enjoy the scaled back Winter Birds show but from 1st April the
Falconer’s Quest show kicks in for the rest of the year. Here, the falconers have up to 60 birds of prey in the show at any given time.
Horrible Histories Maze at Warwick Castle
This is definitely something that kids and big kids (like us) will enjoy.
This interactive walk-through maze experience makes a great half an hour addition to your visit.
Traversing through historical time periods such as the Vicious Vikings and Frightful First World War, we enjoyed getting lost in this warren of wicker whilst collecting stamps from each period of history.
Access to the Horrible Histories Maze is included in your ticket price, so why not give it a try?
Inside Warwick Castle
Inside the castle itself, you’ll find the Great Hall , State Dining Room, and other grand rooms. You will be treated to some amazing historical artifacts from Warwick Castle’s (and indeed England’s) history.
If you take the guided tour, you’ll discover some of the secret quirks of the rooms and items you see, and history of some of the eccentric previous owners of Warwick Castle.
Each room tells a different story of a bygone era, chronicling the castle’s history from the 16th century through to modern times.
The Warwick Castle Trebuchet
Unfortunately, as we visited in the low season, the Warwick Castle Trebuchet was being refurbished at the time.
But, having seen the trebuchet fire in previous years, we would recommend checking it out when you visit.
After all, you don’t see a genuine-sized mediaeval siege weapon firing every day.
We were happy to learn recently that Britain’s biggest siege machine will return to Warwick Castle in a brand-new show that launches on 1st April (no it’s not a joke).
Head on down towards the rear of the castle and towards the river if you want to see the show.
If you want to know more, check out the trebuchet web page.
The Knight’s Village Lodges at Warwick Castle
Although we’ve never been lucky (or wealthy 😉 enough to stay overnight at Warwick Castle, you can do so by staying in one of the Knight’s Village Lodges.
Sheltered within a secluded woodland grove, the Knight’s Village is home to twenty-four cosy Woodland lodges and four large Knight’s lodges.
An Immersive Stay
The Woodland Lodges sleep up to 5, with a double bed and bunk beds.
The Knight’s Lodges have all of this but feature an open-plan layout and an additional mezzanine level above.
In the centre of the village, is the mediaeval banqueting hall that offers an immersive dining experience and in the evening, you can join Warwick Castle’s knights in a host of entertaining activities.
Parking Charges at Warwick Castle
The closest car park to the castle is the Stables Car Park (CV34 4QU) just off Castle Lane. The charge is £10.00 for the day.
The Stratford Road Car Park (CV34 6AH) offers standard parking, which is a 5 to 10 minute walk from Admissions. This is priced at £6.00 for the day.
If you are a Merlin Gold Pass Holder like us, parking is free of charge.
Warwick Castle Entry Fees
Tickets to Warwick Castle start at £24 per person, but be careful because the prices change throughout the year.
It is more expensive during summer school holidays (for example).
You can book via the Warwick Castle website or Get Your Guide – who sometimes have special offers and discounts.
Entry into Warwick Castle is included for free if you have a Merlin Annual Pass.
As we said earlier, we have Gold passes, which works out well for us because we’re always doing things!