Close Icon
Sunrise over Castle Corfe

Transport back in time with this stunning collection of Castles in Dorset. Imagine crumbling ruins, opulent homes, and ancient forts to unveil the past.

Wander around landscaped gardens for a leisurely stroll and enjoy uninterrupted views. Many of these castles allow you to tour the stately interiors too! Browse large rooms with décor from another time and see how the wealthy lived.

How many castles are there in Dorset?

It’s reported that there are 9 official castles in Dorset. However, this does not include the ruins of Sandsfoot Castle and Christchurch Castle.

Continue reading to learn about the magical castles in Dorset…

1) Corfe Castle, Corfe

castle ruins, Corfe Castle

First on our list of the best castles in Dorset is the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle.

Is it worth visiting Corfe Castle?

Yes, it is! This striking castle is over 1000 years old, brimming with a rich history. Tours offer spooky tales and stories of treachery!

This imposing castle was established by William the Conqueror and destroyed in 1646. Corfe Castle was attacked during the English Civil War; admire the surviving walls as you survey the castle.

Another key feature of the castle is the rolling countryside surrounding it. Absorb sweeping views of the Purbeck Hills, and the quaint village below, Corfe Castle.

Price: Adult- £10, Child- £5 (children under 5 go free)

Car park: BH20 5DR

2) Highcliffe Castle, Highcliffe


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Highcliffe Castle (@highcliffecastle)

This Grade I listed building is one of the most important Dorset Castles. Retaining its Picturesque and Romantic architecture, this beautiful castle is worth a visit.

Admire far-reaching sights over the sea, all the way to the Isle of Wight. Afterwards, learn all about the riveting history, from fires and restoration.

Built around 1831 for Lord Stuart de Rothesay and hosting many famous guests, this castle has an intriguing past. Now, the castle is a scenic setting for a walk, picnics, and events throughout the year.

Price: Adult- £7, Student £6.50, Child- £3

Car park: BH23 4LD

3) Sherborne Castle and Gardens, Sherborne


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sherborne Castle (@sherbornecastle)

With décor dating back to 400 years, this Tudor Mansion is like stepping into a time machine. Built by Sir Walter Raleigh, you can walk in his shoes as you wander around the magnificent interior.

Tour the Tudor kitchen, splendid staterooms, and a museum to learn more. Or, get outside in the fresh air and have a brisk walk around the Grade I listed gardens. Here, you can see the work of Capability Brown and his creation of the English Landscape Garden.

Enjoy the peaceful serenity of the landscape as you escape reality for a moment or two.

Price: Adult- Castles & Gardens £14.50, gardens only £10, child- £4

Car park: DT9 5NR

4) Sherborne Old Castle, Sherborne 

Autumn family walk with kids on parents shoulders

Surrounded by sweeping countryside, Sherborne Old Castle is idyllic for a romantic stroll. Settle down for a picnic where Sir Walter Raleigh entertained as you bring history to life.

Walk through the great gatehouse, once home to earls and kings. This impressive gate was designed to amaze, as well as discourage enemies.There is also an English Heritage shop to grab gifts and souvenirs to remember your trip.

Price: Adult- £6, child- £3.60

Parking: DT9 5NR

5) Lulworth Castle and Park, Lulworth

Regarded as the most beautiful castle in the South, you can see why Lulworth Castle features on our Dorset castles list. With its four striking turrets and stone-design, this castle is steeped in history.

Lulworth Castle was constructed in the 17th century, intended as a hunting lodge. The hunting lodge entertained royalty and aristocrats, which is reflected in its grand design.

Today, Lulworth Castle hosts yearly events, including the wedding ceremonies and the much-loved Camp Bestival. For more shows in Dorset, visit our blog: 2023 Festivals in Dorset. Why not stay nearby in a West Lulworth cottage?

Prices: Adults- £7, child £5

Car park: BH20 5QS

6) Brownsea Castle, Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island

Settled on Brownsea Island, this castle in Dorset is a spectacular sight. Hop aboard a ferry from Poole Quay and see the castle grow as you approach the shore.

As one of Henry VII’s coastal forts, this castle has a fascinating past. The castle, also known asBranksea Castle’ has a grey, brown, and red exterior and has been restored many times. Despite it being built as a fort, Brownsea Castle became a private home in 1726. Learn more about this unique island with The Ultimate Guide to Brownsea Island.

Price: Free, although you can’t enter the property

Car park: BH13 7QN (before boarding ferry)

7) Nothe Fort, Weymouth

Weymouth Harbour

Nestled on the end of the Nothe Peninsula, outside the seaside town of Weymouth, is Nothe Fort. Enjoy panoramic views of the rugged Jurassic Coast and relive the past.

Delve underground to discover secret passages, a nuclear shelter and combat weaponry. The littles ones can embark on diverting trails whilst the adults refuel at the café.

Nothe Fort also offers exciting events all year round. Join in the festivities with the Elf Hunt and admire Royal Memorabilia.

Price: Adult- £9.50, children- £4

Car park: DT4 8UD

8) Sandsfoot Castle, Weymouth


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mark Simons (@p0000m)

Visit the crumbling ruins of Sandsfoot Castle, which overlooks the sea at Weymouth. Constructed in 1539 as a defense for Portland Castle, this castle in Dorset has great significance.

Before its destruction, the castle had two storeys and a basement. Now, your young ones can play hide and seek in the secret alcoves.

To the front, is a charming garden area; here you can unwind to the sound of the waves below. The spectacular views stretch from Portland harbour to the 18-mile, Chesil Beach.

Price: Free

Parking: On-street

9) Portland Castle, Isle of Portland

Authentic display of food in Tudor kitchen

Another one of Henry VIII’s coastal defences is the artillery fort, Portland Castle. Built to protect England from Spanish and French invasions, this Dorset castle is ideal for a day trip!

Embark on an ancient adventure, where an audio tour will tell you stories that are 450 years old. Listen to Tudor tales and the frightening events of the First and Second War.

Head up to the gun platform, where you can enjoy splendid sea views. There is also a lovely ‘herb garden’ outside! Or venture inside to the Tudor kitchen and see how staff would have cooked and prepared meals.

Price: adult- £7, child- £4.20

Parking: DT5 1BD

10) Christchurch Castle and Norman House, Christchurch


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Hurley💙 (@realhurleydog)

This 12th century motte-and-bailey castle was constructed to safeguard the river and town’s access to Wessex. The Norman House is a chamber block and is the oldest chimney in the country.

The area between the castle and Norman House would have been filled with buildings. Today, the space is a bowling green, where visitors can take fantastic shots of the ruins.

Like many of the castles in Dorset, Christchurch Castle was attacked during the Civil War. The remains of the Norman House is an impressive remnant of Norman domestic architecture.

Price: Free

Parking: BH23 1BY

11) Durlston Castle, Swanage

Young man star gazing

Discover Victorian history and breath-taking landscapes at Durlston Castle. Settled in 320 acres of stunning grounds, this castle makes a superb day out.

As the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, Durlston is great for those adventurers. Admire craggy sea cliffs, woodland trails and wonderful wildlife.

From the car park, learn about the history of the castle with its riveting timeline. As well as an interesting past, Durlston has scientific interest. When the sky grows dark, watch space twinkle from above and see galaxies from far away!

Price: Free

Parking: BH19 2JL

Has this list of the best castles in Dorset inspired you? For a holiday with plenty of sight-seeing, why not book a Dorset holiday cottage? Check-out our blog: 11 of The Best Walks in Dorset to see more of this wonderful county.