Originally built as a Norman defense in the 11th century, imposing Alnwick Castle has been expanded piecemeal over the years, and encompasses medieval, Gothic, and neoclassical elements. The castle—about 85 miles (137 kilometers) from Edinburgh—has caught the eye of location scouts, who picked it to serve as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films and Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey.
Alnwick Castle still functions as the primary residence of the Duke of Northumberland, Ralph Percy, though the property welcomes visitors for several months every year. The castle is a common stop-off on day tours from Edinburgh, which typically make additional pit stops at key sights in the Scottish Borders, such as the market town of Kelso and the ruins of Melrose Abbey. Other organized day tours travel between Scotland and England, combining a visit to Alnwick Castle with sights south of the border in Northumberland, such as Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island and Flodden Field, where a major battle took place between the English and the Scots in the early 16th century. At Alnwick, you can choose between a castle ticket, a garden ticket, or a combination ticket that provides access to the castle and the gardens.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Alnwick Castle is ideal for history buffs, families, and Harry Potter fans who want to see the real-life setting for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
- Castle tickets are valid for an entire year from the date of visit.
- There is a café on the castle grounds.
- The castle estate is only partially accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Alnwick Castle is located in the village of Alnwick in Northumberland, just off the A1 highway, which connects Edinburgh and Newcastle. The nearest rail station is Alnmouth, which is about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) from the castle. A taxi from the station takes around 10 minutes. The X18 bus also connects Alnmouth to the castle.
When to Get There
The castle is open to the public from April through October. Summer is the best time to explore Alnwick garden. The estate is at its quietest in the morning.
Events at Alnwick Castle
During its open months, the castle not only gives visitors access to the staterooms, dining room, library, and guard chamber, but it also hosts a series of free guided tours, demonstrations, and workshops. You can take part in broomstick flying training sessions, join Harry Potter–themed tours, learn medieval crafts, and watch longbow demonstrations.