Updated: May 21, 2015
Warwick Castle - UK:One of the greatest examples of a medieval castle in all of England is Warwick Castle which was built in 1068. The castle itself is still pretty well intact after 1000 years and I was able to make a visit in March 2009. My previous trip to the castle was back in 1996 and a few things have changed since then. Some of the best views of the castle are along the River Avon in the town of Warwickshire as the castle sits on a bluff above the river. William the Conqueror is the man responsible for Warwick Castle and the history of this place is long and tied to many major events in English history. Many people compare Warwick to Windsor Castle but to me Warwick seems more authentic with it's towers, dungeon and massive catapult on the grounds. You can even witness a real joust on site during certain months of the year. I must say that Warwick Castle has become a bit more touristy over the last decade and it has lost some of it's mystique in my eyes. The new shows and events are great for school kids and families, but for someone that really likes history, the changes have "cheapened" the castle a bit.
What's there to do at Warwick Castle? The official brochure says you should set aside 4 hours for your visit but we say 1 1/2 hours is more than enough. If you are visiting on days when the jousting or Trebuchet (catapult) are offered then give yourself some extra time. The castle map can be found online in PDF format Here. You enter through the main gatehouse on the east front and one of the first things I like to do is enter the dungeons at Warwick Castle which are off to your left. The dungeon entrance is down steep stairs and you go into a holding cell with torture racks and other devices that were used to keep the prisoners unable to get out. In April 2009 The Castle Dungeon will be opening with an added admission cost and the opportunity to experience life in the castle back when the plague was devastating Europe in 1345. I saw advertisements for this opening when I was there in March and it did look cool. If you cross the Castle courtyard towards Clarence Tower you will see the entrance to Ramparts Walk. This will take you up to Guy's Tower where you can ascend quite a few steps up to the top where the views are tremendous. Once you come down from the tower continue along the castle walls past the gatehouse and over to Caesar's Tower. The views are awesome and worth the effort to climb all those stairs. Take your time since the steps are quite steep and you could fall. Be sure to stop and take pictures along the way as those of us from America don't get too many chances to get photographs of an authentic medieval castle. The Mill & Engine House are down below the castle closer to the river and they too are interested to see. It only takes a few minutes to walk down there from the main castle entrance. As for the Trebuchet and Island, on days they are offering events down there it's worth the time to take the trip, otherwise they have the catapult located near the castle (at least they did on my trip). The official website for Warwick Castle is at Warwick-castle.co.uk and from there you can follow the latest events and entertainment schedules for the year. Those traveling with kids - I would recommend the Castle for anyone 4 or older. Younger children may not get as much out of the castle, but visually it's impressive.
Warwick Castle Map - Location:We have posted a map showing the location of Warwick Castle near the River Avon If you are approaching from the M40, take the junction #15 and you will be less than 2 miles from the Castle. The A429 takes you towards Warwick and you will see signs posted along the road. I drove up from Stratford Upon Avon and the drive was quite short 15 minutes or so. Parking is available in 2 spots and I approached from the Stratford Road area so that was the car park for me. You don't pay to enter (you pay when you leave). Parking was very reasonable ($3.50 GBP). What you do is buy a parking token at the castle (don't forget) and then when you leave the property you are required to put your token into a machine and the gate will open up.
If you are traveling by train, get off at the Warwick Station which is only about 1 mile away. Catching a taxi is easy and they can drop you off at the castle entrance. Even if you want to come out from London for a visit, it's probably worth it since Stratford Upon Avon is so close by. Many people try to do both things in the same day. The train ride from London is about 1 hour and 45 minutes out to Warwick.