Last Updated on June 5, 2023 by Louise

Are you looking for the nearest castles to York for an amazing day out?

Look no further. Find a list of some of the most magnificent castles in Yorkshire which are all between 30 and 90 minutes drive from York.

These are some of the most fascinating castles in the country with an extensive history behind them.

Cliffords Tower

Clifford Tower is nearly all that remains of the York castle constructed by William the Conqueror. It’s one of Yorkshire’s most popular attractions due to the breath taking views of the historic city of York. Throughout its history, the tower has served as a prison, a royal mint, and a place where Henry VIII publicly displayed the bodies of his enemies.

Find out more at Cliffords Tower

Castle Howard

Castle Howard is situated just under 17 miles (about a 30 minute drive) from York.

Castle Howard isn’t actually a castle but a historic house. The term “castle” is sometimes used in the name of an English country house built on the site of a former castle so it just about qualifies for a place in this list.

It’s an stunning stately home, set in a thousand acres of sweeping parkland dotted with statues, temples, lakes, and fountains, based only 15 miles from York.

The private residence and has been the Carlisle branch of the Howard family’s home for over 300 years.

On a day out here, explore the parklands, take the land train to the Great Lake for boat rides and visit the adventure playgrounds. During the school holidays, children can do trails to help them learn about the incredible history of the house and gardens.

Find out more at Castle Howard

Ripley Castle

Ripley Castle is approximately a 50 minute drive from York (24 miles) and about 3 miles from Harrogate.

It was once a Tudor Castle that was converted into a Tudor House in the 18th century.

You can book a tour of the castle and there’s even a tour dedicated to children.

The parkland around Ripley Castle is ideal for outdoor activities. Kids will love the adventure play area and even try archery and learn bushcrafts skills.

Other things to do include a stroll around the deer park which is home to 1000 year old oak tress. Walk around the ornamental lake and across the waterfall. There are many events that take place in the Castle grounds throughout the year including car and motor shows, warrior races and summer fairs.

Check out the Ripley Castle website to see what’s going on.

Conisborough Castle

Just under an hour’s drive from York find  the ruins of Conisborough Castle.

The ruins of this romantic castle has magnificent views over Conisbrough. Built of local limestone in 1108AD, the tower was saved from destruction during the Civil War. With floors and roof restored in the lofty circular keep you can fully imagine the brilliance of the original 12th century building.

Within he keep there are various staged displays hidden that are great for kids to find. There’s also a 3D model of the castle at the visitor’s centre.

Imagine the medieval world of Lord and Lady de Warenne. Walk the grassy areas around the castle walls and enjoy games and picnics.

Find out more at Conisborough Castle

Wentworth Castle Gardens

Photo credit: Phil Bartle / Flickr

About 50 miles (an hour’s drive) away from York, you’ll find Wentworth Castle Gardens. Unfortunately the house itself is closed to visitors as it’s home to Northern College which provides adult and residential courses.

The history here is interesting but also shameful. When a cousin inherited his family home, Wentworth Woodhouse, in 1695, royal diplomat Thomas Wentworth was incensed. Wentworth was known for his fierce ambition, and he was committed to outdo his rival by creating this spectacular place, which was once known as “the finest garden in England.”

Wentworth’s fortune was inextricably linked to empire and the slave trade. He was a key negotiator in the Treaty of Utrecht, which established the United Kingdom as a supplier of enslaved Africans to Spanish colonies in the New World.

In spite of it’s disturbing history, this stunning landscape now offers opportunities for relaxation, reflection, and enjoyment of nature and beauty. It is now the only Grade I registered landscape in South Yorkshire.

Find out more at Wentworth Castle Gardens

Pontefract Castle

A 30 mile (approximately 40 minute) drive from York is Pontefract Castle.

It’s a ruinous castle with the inner bailey, the gatehouse and parts of the curtain wall still in tact. The castle grounds are beautifully kept and it’s free to enter.  Excitingly, you can also tour the dungeon during weekends for just a few pounds. Book online in advance to make sure you get a place on a tour.

In addition, there are numerous events that take place here throughout the year.

The castle has many tales to tell. Most famously it was the place where King Richard III was imprisoned and died.

Find out more at Pontefract Castle


Scarborough Castle

Scarborough Castle is just over an hour’s drive from York.

It has a 3000 year history and started life as an Iron Age Fort. It was occupied by the Romans, became a Viking settlement and reached it’s most prominent status during the time of Henry II. It was also fought over during the English Civil War and came under bombardment during the 1st World War. Scarborough Castle has the most amazing views across the dramatic Yorkshire coastline. Visitors can look at artefacts which span the Castle’s history at the exhibition in Master Gunner’s House.

During your visit enjoy a treat at the coffee shed or ice cream van to top off your visit.

Plan your visit at Scarborough Castle website

Boston Castle

Photo credit: Darren Flinders / Flickr

Boston Castle is about 60 miles and a 1 hour and 10 minutes drive away from York.

Learn about the Earl of Effingham and the construction of Boston Castle. The Castle is a two-story cuboid building that stands on one of Rotherham’s highest points and gives stunning and panoramic views over Sheffield and Rotherham.

The Castle stands in the grounds of Boston Park and Gardens.

In 1775, the Earl of Effingham used Boston Castle (now a Grade 2 listed building) as a hunting lodge. To commemorate the Boston Tea Party, it was given the name Boston Castle. Boston Castle is now a small attraction that includes historical information and displays about the Castle’s history and children’s costumes and games. There are also a range of events and activities throughout the year.

Find out more at Boston Castle and Park.

Richmond Castle

Just under 49 miles and about 1 hour and 11 minutes in the car from York, you’ll find the ruins of Richmond Castle.

Richmond Castle is an amazing place to visit in North Yorkshire, thanks to its truly stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales. The castle was originally built to subdue the unruly North of England and is one of Britain’s most impressive Norman fortresses in Britain.

Some of the things you must do while here include a walk around the secluded Cockpit Garden and a visit to the interactive exhibition to discover about the castle’s history.

Before you go, check out the castle’s fun and exciting events schedule to see what’s going on while you’re there. The castle often host live action events. Bring a picnic and have a great day out.

Find out more at Richmond Castle.

Middleham Castle

Photo credit: Jon Pinder / Flickr

Middleham Castle is just under 49 miles from York and is a journey of about 1 hour and 15 minutes by car.

The ruins of the fascinating castle are brilliant to explore.

It was originally Richard III’s childhood home. Despite the lack of a roof, extensive remains of the fortified palace remain. There’s plenty of space for children to run around and explore the ruins.

The ruins are extensive and there are lots of exhibition boards to explain the history.

Bring a picnic as there is no cafe on site, however there is a vending machine for hot drinks.

Find out more at Middleham Castle 

Skipton Castle

Photo credit: Tim Green / Flickr

42 miles and around 1 hour and 15 minute drive from York, you’ll find Skipton Castle.

It’s over 900 years old and one of the most well preserved medieval castles in the whole of England.

There’s so much you can explore that’s intact. View the Banqueting Hall, the Kitchen, the Bedchamber and Privy. Climb from the bottom of the dungeon to the top of the Watch Tower.

Find out more at Skipton Castle

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