Leeds Castle Best Tips for Visiting
8 Tips for Visiting Leeds Castle
Don’t be fooled by the name! You won’t be venturing up north on a visit to Leeds Castle, as this beautiful, historic fortress actually lies just outside Maidstone in Kent (sorry Northerners).
Confusing as its name may be, its nickname makes perfect sense – Leeds Castle is dubbed “the loveliest castle in the world’ and one look at its majestic turrets, set on a landscaped island in the middle of a clear and tranquil lake makes it pretty clear why.
Originally a Norman stronghold built in 1119, Leeds Castle soon became a favoured royal residence, inhabited by King Edward I in the 13th Century and Queen Catherine of Aragon, wife of King Henry VIII in the 16th Century. The castle has been remodelled and rebuilt countless times over the years by its various owners though, and the present imposing structure largely dates to the 19th Century.
Want to make the most of your visit to Leeds Castle? From saving money on tickets to taking advantage of free events, read on for our top tips…
1. Time Your Visit
Leeds Castle is open all year round, but when’s the best time to visit? That depends on you! If you’re travelling with children you might want to visit between July and September as there are plenty of family-themed activities going on during the school holidays, from falconry displays to creative art workshops.
Travelling solo, or just with friends? Visit in springtime to early Autumn to enjoy the scenery without the crowds. If you can be flexible, weekdays are always better than weekends for beating the crowds, and arrive as early as you can in the day for speedy entry before the queues start to build.
2. Book Online
Do you like saving money? Yep, us too. That’s why we did some digging and found out that you can save cash if you buy your tickets online ahead of your visit – they’re guaranteed to be cheaper than on the gate, and it’s also a great way to beat the queues on busier days.
The only thing you need to do to take advantage of this money-saving measure is book at least one day before visiting.
3. Buy The Right Tickets
Entrance to Leeds Castle is already pretty budget friendly, as all tickets are annual – meaning you can visit as many times as you’d like within a year and only pay once. However, you can also make sure you’re getting the best deal by buying the right kind of ticket.
Senior citizens, children 4 to 15 (kids under four are free) and students all get a discount, so if your child is about to turn 16 or that student ID’s going to expire, get in just before it does to reap the benefits for a whole 12 months.
Adults and children with a disability are also entitled to a discounted rate and their carer goes free. 15 or people going (hey maybe you have more friends than us)? Be sure to book as a group to get cheap tickets, as you could save approaching 50% on normal rates.
4. Skip The Audio Tour
Like most attractions, the castles offers an audio guide, but why pay when conversation is free? There a loads of friendly staff every area of the castle who’ll be happy to give you more information about anything that piques your interest.
Plus, if you don’t follow the same route as everyone else, you should end up hitting all the main areas when they’re less congested. Our top tip? Visit the gardens first. Most other visitors will head outside last, so you’ll have more space and time to stop and smell the roses – literally.
5. Bring Lunch
The castle courtyard is the perfect place to enjoy a scenic spot of lunch. It’s cheaper to grab a sandwich and a snack from one of the many kiosks rather than opting for a sit down meal at the on-site restaurant or cafe, but these small shops will still be charging a hefty mark-up on your chicken salad sub.
Do lunch on a budget by stopping at a supermarket on the way for meal deal dining, on for a properly cheap day out, prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch by packing a picnic before you travel.
6. Get Your Gifts In Town
You’ll inevitably want to fill your pockets at the gift shop, but try resist!
While there are many fascinating history books and striking postcards and prints for sale in the shop, you’ll likely be able to get the same thing elsewhere – try popping into the centre of Maidstone and visiting a local bookshop instead.
7. Get More For Your Money
Leeds Castle has a full roster of events on all year round, many of which are free to attend. So if you can, try to time your trip with an activity you’d like to try out or a special display you’d like to see.
Leeds Castle also offers tours of certain areas which are usually out of bounds a couple of times a year for only a few pounds, complete with knowledgeable guide, so it’s well worth booking on one of these days to maximise your experience without breaking your budget.
8. Where To Stay
Leeds Castle offers a range of accommodation options for travellers from further afield, including a bed and breakfast and various holiday cottages, but remember, you can find budget accommodation in Maidstone itself for a cheaper rate and travel in to the castle on public transport.
Alternatively, you could compromise by taking advantage of the castle’s ‘glamping’ site and stay within the castle grounds in a tent in a traditional medieval design! It’s probably better to aim for warmer weather if this is your plan, but it could certainly add some realness to your experience.