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The Downton Abbey tv series by Julian Fellowes is one of my all-time favorites! As soon as the opening credits roll, I get goosebumps. And when I found out that you can visit Downton Abbey filming locations, I promptly started planning a trip! This post is all about the 5 best tips for visiting Highclere Castle!
This post has information for solo travelers on getting to Highclere Castle, the best tours to take, the closest airport, and the best restaurants. As well as some great day trip ideas if you are staying in Newbury, England!
Highclere Castle hosts events for the public every month, including tickets to the Egyptian exhibition. Don’t just turn up at Highclere Castle. It is required that you will have purchased tickets in advance to visit the property.
>> BOOK TOUR TO HIGHCLERE CASTLE FROM LONDON
5 Best Tips For Visiting Highclere Castle
To visit Downton Abbey filming locations you must plan ahead! I recommend you purchase admission tickets for Highclere Castle a couple of months ahead of the event and castle opening.
Highclere Castle tip #1, purchase Downton Abbey Tour tickets early! Also, don’t wait to book accommodations if you plan to stay near the castle. To purchase a ticket, you will need to register as a user on the website.
I planned my trip to Downton Abbey about four months in advance of visiting. Tickets to the castle are very inexpensive, and that surprised me.
You can purchase tickets on the Highclere Castle website. Or book an organized tour that includes your entry fee. If you are a Downton Abbey fan, I would book a tour.
Be advised that not every event on the website has admission to the interior of the castle, so you want to read the details carefully.
>> BOOK DOWNTOWN ABBEY DAY TRIPS
Visit Highclere Castle at Christmas Time
With a castle as beautiful as Highclere Castle, any time of year is an excellent time to visit. Highclere Castle does have Christmas events, so if you are visiting during Christmas, you can expect that extra festive feel and holiday cheer. However, the Highclere estate has beautiful gardens that are less impressive as everything is leafless and bare.
Since Christmas is my favorite holiday, I was pleased to have visited the castle in December even with the cold, damp weather.
Visiting Highclere Castle at Christmas was made special by all the holiday decorations and Gluhwein. The huge Christmas tree in the main foyer looked just as it did in the holiday episode of Downton Abbey!
Since there is limited availability to visit Highclere castle, plan to purchase tickets in June or July.
#1. Find A Hotel Near Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle, located in Newbury, My biggest regret on my trip to Highclere Castle was the accommodation I chose. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my bed and breakfast, because it was charming and lovely. The downfall for me was its location. Transportation in the area was an issue that I hadn’t considered.
If you are renting a car, then you have a lot of choices on where to stay. But, if you are going to rely on taxis or public transport, then read carefully. There is no Uber’s in this part of England. I wasn’t expecting that when I arrived at the Newbury central train station on a rainy day.
Depending on where you are traveling from, you might be challenging the strength of your internet connection. Take it from me, someone who stood in the rain, for 10 minutes without an internet connection.
Save the contact of Cabco Newbury Taxi on your phone ahead of time.
My suggestion for travelers not renting a car is to book accommodations in the center of Newbury.
If you choose a quaint bed and breakfast in the surrounding countryside, you will be spending a lot of money on taxis.
This is why accommodations are number one on my list of 5 best tips for visiting Highclere Castle. A good number of nights for your solo visit to Highclere Castle is three!
Best Hotels Near Highclere Castle in Newbury
The Dolphin –
This hotel is right in the center of town, and located 5 miles from Highclere Castle. Transportation to Highclere Castle is approximately 25-30 British Pounds. It is a perfect location for a solo traveler!
Newbury is a small place, and although there are more places to stay, this one of the nicer hotels. The hotel offers rooms of Deluxe Double Rooms with a private bath and free wifi.
>> CHECK PRICES AT THE DOLPHIN
George House Newbury Luxury Apartments
The George House Newbury is located just a few minutes’ walk into town. A lovely and modern one-bedroom apartment that sleeps 3 people.
Since this is an apartment you should book in advance! When there are special events, all the hotels near Highclere Castle book up quickly!
>> CHECK PRICES AT GEORGE HOUSE NEWBURY
Bed & Breakfast’s Close to Highclere Castle
If you are renting a car, then I would choose to stay in one of these lovely B&B’s. However, if you are traveling solo, you could feel a little isolated.
It was my experience that these B & B’s are filled with couples. I am comfortable enough being the only single person at breakfast, and if you are too, then go for it!
The Furze Bush Inn
I stayed at this charming bed & breakfast. I would highly recommend this historic inn if you have a car. There are not many or reliable public transportation options in this area.
The Furze Bush Inn is located 3 miles from Highclere Castle and 4 miles from Newbury City Center. Enjoy the on-site restaurant and bar in the coziest of atmospheres. They offer a double bedroom, twin bedroom or superior bedroom. All with free wifi and free private parking.
The Furze Bush Inn has an onsite restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
>> CHECK PRICES AT THE FURZE BUSH INN
The Carnarvon Arms
The Carnarvon Arms is a lovely country inn located 4.7 miles from the city center of Newbury. It is only 0.8 miles from Highclere Castle!
This is an excellent choice in Bed & Breakfast with free private parking, if you have a vehicle. This historic inn has 18 rooms and an onsite restaurant. It is the perfect stop for Downton Abbey fans on their way to Highclere Castle!
>> CHECK PRICES AT THE CARNARVON ARMS
Bel & The Dragon Kingsclere
This superb bed & breakfast is located in Kingsclere, which is 4.8 miles from Highclere Castle and 6.3 miles to Newbury.
>> CHECK PRICES AT BEL & THE DRAGON KINGSCLERE
#2. Choosing the Airport Closest Airport to Highclere Castle
My recommendation on how to get to Highclere Castle is based on flying in particular for this trip.
Flying into London Stansted will give you the best transit option for going to Newbury. Directly from the airport, it will be two trains. You will take the train to the central station in Reading, and then from there a train to Newbury.
The journey in total from the airport to Newbury is approximately 2 hours. With such reasonable transit times and minimal connections, I decided against renting a car.
The choice is yours, renting a car will give you more freedom to explore the incredible English countryside. When I return to Highclere Castle someday, I will likely get a car.
The London Airports
#3. Research Restaurants Near Highclere Castle
Tip number 3 of 5 of the best tips for visiting Highclere Castle is all about the food! I rank finding good food as my number one concern when traveling. The experience I have on my travels is always enhanced by having a great meal.
If you are a vegan/vegetarian, you will need to pay attention and do some research. The United Kingdom has not been known to have the most vegan or vegetarian options. It is starting to change, and you will find more plant-based selections. Vegan options in London are becoming more plentiful!
If you go to Highclere Castle looking for food there are some options. They do have a cafeteria both in the basement and outside behind the building. I found that there were no options for vegans, but a couple of options for vegetarians.
Things like soy milk for tea were not something offered at the time of my visit. My advice is to come prepared with your own vegan snacks in case you get hungry.
If you are planning on afternoon tea at the castle, the website noted that there are no vegan options. I hope this changes in the future.
Vegan options have become more popular around the United Kingdom, so I will be crossing my fingers.
Best Restaurant in Newbury
Bill’s Bar & Restaurant
Staying in Newbury there are a couple of great restaurants in the city center. I enjoyed the vegan and vegetarian options at Bills Bar. Booking ahead is smart if you are visiting in peak travel times.
#4. Know What To Expect In Highclere Castle
When your special day has finally arrived and it’s time to go to the castle, there are a few things to know!
The visiting hours for the castle tour are within the hours you can visit the property. Predicting the best time to go into the castle is tricky. When I arrived there was no line at all, then 1 hour later there was a line of at least 30 people.
It might come as no surprise, but it is disappointing to hear that no pictures are allowed inside the castle. Exterior shots are permitted, but sadly no interior shots. You must take mental pictures inside this magnificent place.
The tour itself through the first two levels of this castle is speedy. I would say it’s around 15 minutes. It is truly a special moment when you get to walk through the study, drawing room, and some of the bedrooms of your most beloved Downton Abbey characters.
After touring the Downton Abbey filming locations within the castle rooms, you have access to the basement for the Egyptian Exhibition (if you purchased an Egyptian Exhibition ticket).
This Egyptian Exhibition is a collection of the findings of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. In 1922 he famously discovered the Tomb of the Egyptian Boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun.
The collection of artifacts is quite impressive. This underground tour of the exhibit is self-guided. The tour ends by walking out to the back of the property, passing by the indoor cafeteria and afternoon tea rooms.
The gift shop, as well as the restrooms, are located in the back courtyard. I enjoyed a lovely cup of tea and strolled around the property before leaving for the day.
#5. Make Time For A Day Trip to Bath
The surrounding countryside near Highclere castle is like straight out of a picture book!
Taking a day trip to Bath was a highlight on my mini-break holiday to the UK. The journey to Bath from Newbury city center was 2 hours by train.
If you visit during Christmas time, you will arrive at a festive and fully decorated city center. The Christmas markets will be in full swing serving up Gluhwein and roasted chestnuts!
Bath has approximately 83,000 inhabitants and is 29km in size. As soon as I arrived in Bath, I went for a walk around to take pictures.
Bath is one of the most idyllic British towns that I have ever visited. Every corner I turned was a picture-worthy opportunity.
Some of the Main Attractions in Bath Are:
- The Roman Baths– A Roman bathhouse, museum, restaurant, and temple.
- Bath Abbey – 7th-century church of England, former monastery Benedictine.
- Thermae Bath Spa – A day spa for bathing in a variety of pools containing mineral-enriched waters.
- The Jane Austen Centre – Museum of Jane Austen’s life & tearooms.
I spent 4 hours walking around and taking pictures, thinking about how much I wanted to return someday and spend more time.
>> BOOK A WALKING DAY TOUR OF BATH
An alternative to taking a day trip on your final day could be walking about Newbury. The village of Newbury is tiny but perfect for strolling around, and maybe having lunch.
Newbury is very quiet and not filled with tourists. You can get a taste of real village life here in Newbury. Without a car, you can walk the small streets and enjoy the quaint feel of this adorable town. I would recommend bringing a book or a camera to fill your time reading or taking pictures. It takes approximately 40 mins to walk all of the city center.
St. Nicolas Church is located in the center of Newbury. This 16th-century church is an example of Gothic-style architecture. It’s situated by the main bridge over the River Kennet.
If you do have a car, you can take a 10-minute drive and visit Donnington Castle. Walking to the castle takes only 35 minutes, and it would be lovely in good weather.
Another idea would be to spend time strolling around Victoria Park. The park is located just across the River Kennet. The park has lovely gardens and gazebos, a perfect spot to read a book.
Best Day Tour to Highclere Castle
There are options if you are staying in London and just want to make a day trip to Highclere Castle. I highly recommend doing a day tour when traveling solo. It is far less stressful than trying to line everything up yourself.
>> BOOK DAY TOUR TO HIGHCLERE CASTLE ESTATE
Traveling Solo to Highclere Castle
It took me a long time to go on adventures alone. I had always been looking at traveling solo as something sad. But I was wrong! After a few trips, going by myself, I’d started to prefer it over going with someone else.
Going solo means you can go at your own pace. I learned that I have a somewhat short attention span. When visiting museums, I prefer to move fast and don’t enjoy reading every plaque I come across. However, my travel companion could be the opposite. When you travel solo, you don’t have to make any compromises!
There are so many castles to explore in England and going solo was something I really enjoyed. I do wish I had come a little more prepared with a tripod and remote for pictures. However, I had a very satisfying solo trip.
I hope after you’ve read are read 5 Best Tips For Visiting Highclere Castle you are ready to book your trip!
Planning to Stay in England?
Maybe you are looking to visit the 15 Most Beautiful Cotswolds Villages?
>> BOOK A PRIVATE TOUR OF THE COTSWOLDS
Or perhaps you want to visit the north of England? For ideas on how to spend a perfect weekend in Manchester, check out the post. Manchester is located just north of Newbury and is easily reachable by train.
Highclere Castle FAQs
Highclere Castle is open to the public, but only at certain times of the year. To tour the inside of the castle you will need to buy tickets in advance. Day tours to Highclere Castle is also a great way to visit.
Tickets to Highclere Castle, the secret garden, and the Egyptian Exhibition are £24 for adults, £22 for those over 60, people with disabilities, and students. Children 4 to 16 pay £14.
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Wow this place looks incredible! I haven’t seen Downton Abbey yet (I know, shame on me), but I would still looove visting. The entire area looks lovely. Great post Melissa, definitely saving this for my future UK trips 🙂
Sarah Barthet says
Fantastic post! Good to know that vegan food options can be a little tricky in Newbury, I live in London and it’s really easy here, but I often forget that it’s not so easy outside of the capital!
I love this! I lived in London for two months this summer and had no idea how beautiful Highclere Castle is I will definitely add it to my list for the next time I’m in the UK.
I haven’t seen Downtown Abbey yet but I love traditional British things! This seems so lovely!
Suvarna Arora says
This looks so beautiful and definitely on my list now.
Sarah | Travel for a Living says
promised my niece we’d go there next time she is over. Thanks for the great overview, will pin for reference when we can finally visit.
Jiayi Wang says
I’ve been to Bath but didn’t get to see this castle! Thanks for helping me discover it, I’ll keep this handy for when the lockdown is over! 🙂
Vanessa Shields says
What a beautiful post! I’ve been to Bath twice and loved it but haven’t explored Newbury or the castle which look amazing! I agree, traveling solo can actually be better sometimes. I hope to get back to England and explore more of it!
Agnes Ng says
Love your post. Making my way to the castle in July. Would appreciate your advice for a 4-day itinerary after the castle visit. Renting a car from London and staying in Kingsclere for a night. Was looking at Surrey, Guildford and Windsor but not quite sure if worth the drive. I had already visited Bath, Cotswold and York back in 2018.
Melissa Byron says
Thanks for reading my post!! I personally haven’t been to any of the ones you are considering, but I would suggest Wales or Brighton! Enjoy the castle it is such a lovely place!