Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Wonderful things to do in Warwick

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There is no denying it: Warwick is primarily famous for its gorgeous medieval castle dating back more than 950 years. Yet, this charming town in the heart of England offers more than just knights’ armour (although you might spot a few at the castle). Warwick promises a delightful blend of history, culture, and unexpected delights at every turn. So, grab your sense of adventure and let’s dive into the best things to do in Warwick that make this quaint market town one of the best places to visit in England.

what to do in Warwick

While Warwick might not be on everyone’s must-visit list, this quaint market town in Warwickshire is well worth a visit. This quaint market town offers a fantastic journey back in time with a modern twist.

 

Unravelling the Best Things to Do in Warwick

Having lived in England for over 14 years (yes, we know, we’re practically locals now), we’ve had many opportunities to explore this gorgeous country. And let me tell you this: we’ve had the privilege of discovering some beautiful cities and towns, including Warwick. Taking advantage of both guided tours and the freedom of our trusty car, we’ve dug up some real treasures in this pretty town. Here, we share our firsthand experience and insider tips to help you make the most of your visit to this gorgeous town. These are the best things to do in Warwick you cannot miss.

 

1. Warwick Castle

things to do in Warwick: Visiting Warwick Castle is one of the best things to do in Warwick because this fortress has been a town's symbol for over 950 years. Moreover, this well-preserved castle is today one of the best English castles.

Warwick Castle

 

Let us paint a picture of why visiting Warwick Castle is one of the best things to do in Warwick. This massive battlement-crowned fortress has been a symbol of the town for more than 950 years. Here is a fascinating part: this impressive well-preserved castle is today one of the best castles in England. It’s a hotspot for history enthusiasts who love to uncover centuries of history and secrets buried here.

Warwick attractions: Warwick Castle is one of the best Warwick attractions because this impressive fortress is one of the best English Castles.

When you enter the castle’s grounds, you really get a sense of its vast size. Warwick Castle has an extensive area of parkland with numerous gardens. It takes at least 4 hours to explore the castle and its grounds.

 

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

things to do in Warwick - visit Warwick Castle because it is one of the most famous British castles

But let’s rewind the clock a bit. Back in the world was a bit wilder, and Alfred the Great’s daughter, Aethelflaed, had the brilliant idea to build the first fortress right here in Warwick. The fortification she erected guarded the River Avon and Mercia (one of the three main Anglic kingdoms) from invading Danes. Sadly, her structures no longer grace the skyline today, even though the mottle to the southwest of the present castle got the name “Ethelfleda’s Mound. In fact, this part doesn’t have Anglo-Saxon origin but is a part of the later Norman fortification.

Fast forward to William the Conqueror’s time and the Norman conquest of England. The first Norman king of England with a conquering spirit chose this beautiful spot for the castle’s location. And boom, the Warwick Castle story begins.

Warwick Castle photos

Warwick Castle is a majestic time-traveling machine back to 1068, with the oldest surviving structure being the mound from William the Conqueror’s era. The stone version you can see today dates back to the 12th century.

 

Warwick Castle inside

the castle inside

Once you step inside, history comes alive, and the halls whisper tales of royalty.

 

First stop: the glitzy Great Hall, the largest and the grandest room in the castle, and your jaw just drops. This impressive room from the 13th century used to host banquets fit for kings and queens. Can you imagine the epic parties they threw back then?

Today, the Great Hall isn’t just a pretty space; it’s got weaponry hanging on the walls. It’s so shiny that you can practically see your reflection in it. And get this: they even have armour for horses! Because, you know, even horses should look stylish when charging into battle, right?

pictures of rooms inside

Afterwards, explore the stateroom, where the royals kicked back and entertained their fancy guests. Imagine Queen Victoria sipping tea and King Henry VIII chatting with one of his wives. You can almost hear their laughter and the gossip as you explore these beautifully decorated rooms.

 

Warwick Castle Towers:

things to do in Warwick: Exploring Warwick Castle's towers is one of the best things to do in Warwick because they offer breathtaking views of the castle, the church and the countryside.

The towers here aren’t just for show, they are your ticket to a bird’s-eye view of the world below. During the Middle Ages, they housed visitors and noble prisoners of war. And here is a juicy part: The 16th Earl of Warwick imprisoned Edward IV at the castle’s Ceasar’s Tower in the 15th century.

The towers here aren’t just for show, they are your ticket to a bird’s-eye view of the world below. During the Middle Ages, they housed visitors and noble prisoners of war.

 

Conqueror’s Fortress

things to do in Warwick: Exploring Conqueror’s Fortress is one of the best things to do in Warwick because it's a marvellous testament to the skill of the Norman builders, as it is more than 950 years old. Although nothing of the original wooden keep remains, the mottle is still visible.

Conqueror’s Fortress

 

Warwick Castle has a little gemthe original mottle where William the Conqueror’s wooden keep once stood. Although nothing of the earliest structure remains, the mottle is still visible. It’s a marvellous testament to the skill of the Norman builders, as it is more than 950 years old! Walk all the way up the Conqueror’s Fortress and enjoy panoramic views of the castle and the surrounding area. From here, you can see why William chose this spot – it’s impressive and also strategic. Such a control gave William to oversee the section of the longest Roman road in Britain.

 

Gardens at Warwick Castle

Pack some snacks - the gardens are a perfect spot for a picnic.

Pack some snacks – the gardens are a perfect spot for a picnic.

 

After exploring the majestic castle, take a stroll through the beautifully landscaped ground. These gardens are like a mini wildlife safari – there is never a dull moment. And who knows, you might even make friends with peacocks or other wildlife.

 

Daily shows and exhibitions

And let’s not forget about the kiddos – they will be in paradise here. With so much space to run around and explore, they will be entertained for hours. Warwick Castle has plenty of exhibitions and activities to entertain youngsters throughout the day at various locations. From archery displays to bird shows featuring eagles, Warwick Castle offers many attractions which allow you to spend the whole day here. And did we mention the largest working catapult in the world and the 14th-century spooky Castle Dungeon? But wait, there is more! They’ve got a new addition for kids – the Horrible Histories Maze, where children must find their way through the maze facing numerous challenges.

 

tips for visiting castle

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • The opening times of Warwick Castle are from 10 am until 4 pm or 5 pm every day. Closing time varies every day – we recommend you check the opening times on their official website for your chosen date.
  • One-day entry to Warwick Castle for an adult costs £22 if you book in advance or £39 on the day (as of March 2024). If you stay overnight, it’s £35 per person, or you can buy a Warwick Annual Pass for £49 per person. Don’t forget you can save money if you come as a group of over 10.

 

TIPS FOR VISITING WARWICK CASTLE:

  • Arrive early in the morning to make the most out of your day.
  • If you want to save money on food and drinks, consider taking a picnic.
  • Since most attractions are outdoors, we recommend to wear waterproof clothes.

 

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2. Explore Old Town Warwick

things to do in Warwick: Exploring the Old Town is one of the best things to do in Warwick because it’s like stepping into a time machine. Many of Warwick’s streets have gorgeous 17th and 18th-century half-timbered buildings.

Once you have seen the castle, it’s time to explore Warwick’s Old Town. Long ago, it wasn’t just a charming cluster of buildings; it was a fortified walled town. Historical records suggest that protective walls encircled the town’s heart as a guardian as early as the 12th century. However, by the early 16th century, much of these mighty walls had crumbled away.

Today, only the remnants of two of four gateways remain. These two historic structures, Eastgate and Westgate, stand proudly beside Lord Leycester’s Hospital. The impressive West Gate, with a tall square tower supporting St James Chapel, gives the Old Town a medieval feel.

Exploring the Old Town is one of the best things to do in Warwick because it’s like stepping into a time machine. Many of Warwick’s streets have gorgeous 17th and 18th-century half-timbered buildings. Sadly, Warwick had its own Great Fire in 1694. This inferno danced through these pretty streets, leaving much of the medieval town in ashes. Yet, in this 5-hour chaos, some buildings miraculously survived, especially around the edges of the town centre.

Also, let’s not forget about the Warwick Charter Market in Market Square. This lively market has been serving up good for over 500 years! Pay a visit on Saturday and sample some tasty treats while exploring the historic town centre. And if you find yourself here during winter, don’t miss Warwick Victorian Evening, featuring themed rides and family fun.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Many of Warwick’s attractions lie conveniently within walking distance of each other in the Old Town. Here’s the fantastic part: you can easily explore the major attractions in one day.

 

3. Lord Leycester Hospital

things to do in Warwick: Visiting Lord Leycester Hospital is one of the best things to do in Warwick because this gorgeous building is a perfect example of British architecture from the 14th century. This grade I listed building is an internationally famous feature of the town.

Lord Leycester Hospital

 

In the heart of the Old Town on Warwick High Streets is one of the most captivating attractions in Warwick: Lord Leycester Hospital. This well-preserved complex of stunning half-timbered medieval buildings traces its origins back to 1383. It’s like stepping into the pages of a history book, isn’t it?

 

FUN FACT:

Despite its name, Lord Leycester Hospital was never a medical institution. Instead, it served as the base for medieval guilds for nearly two centuries. Afterwards, it took a new role as a retirement haven for soldiers and their spouses. But here’s where it gets interesting. While it still serves this noble purpose, a big portion of the building is open to curious visitors. Beyond its historical significance, Lord Leycester Hospital hosts various ceremonies and private functions. It has even served as a backdrop for film sets.

 

And let’s not overlook the Brethren’s Kitchen. This isn’t your ordinary eatery – it’s a culinary time capsule. Step inside, and you’re instantly transported back 500 years into the past (talk about dining with a side of history).

But wait, there is more!

 

Lord Leycester Hospital is also home to a regimental museum and the gorgeous Master’s Garden. For over 5 centuries, this charming garden has offered peace and serenity from the bustling streets of Warwick. As you wander its pathways, be sure not to miss the ancient device measuring water levels of the Nile River during the flood season. And before you leave, visit the ancient Chapel of St. James the Great.

 

Visiting Lord Leycester Hospital is one of the best things to do in Warwick because this gorgeous building is a perfect example of British architecture from the 14th century. This grade I listed building is an internationally famous feature of Warwick. Lord Leycester Hospital attracts visitors from around the globe, including Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilder, King George V and the Queen Mother.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Lord Leycester Hospital is open every day except Monday between 10 am – 4 pm. The entry ticket for an adult costs £11 (as of March 2024). Kids between 5 – 18 years old pay only £6, and younger children can visit it for free (as of March 2024).

 

4. Collegiate Church of St Mary

Warwick attractions: The Collegiate Church of St Mary is one of the best Warwick attractions because this grade I-listed building houses one of only two remaining ducking stools in England. Also, buried within the walls lies Willaim Parr, the 1st Marquess of Northampton, the brother of none other than Queen Catherine Parr itself!

The Collegiate Church of St Mary isn’t just any old church; it is a grade I-listed building.

 

If you have time to see one more thing, make sure it’s the Collegiate Church of St Mary, just east of the marketplace. This famous landmark is Warwick’s very own phoenix, welcoming visitors from far a wide.

 

Historical relics

Why should you explore it, do you ask? Well, its roots go back nine hundred years, thanks to Roger de Beaumont, the 2nd Earl of Warwick, who laid the foundation stone back in 1123. But what is even more fascinating is what lies within these ancient walls. Ever heard of a Norman Crypt? This time capsule is the only surviving part of the Norman church which de Beaumont had built. The sole survivor of the 2nd Earl of Warwick’s vision houses one of only two remaining ducking stools in England. Now, that’s a quirky bit of history you won’t find just anywhere.

But even great churches have their share of burning trials. Maybe you don’t know, but the Great Fire of Warwick in 1693 turned much of the church into ashes. The fire completely destroyed the nave and tower. Only the chancel and Beauchamp Chapel made it. But fear not, William Wilson rebuilt the church in a Gothic design in 1704.

 

Famous residents

And let’s not forget about its residents. Buried within the walls lies Willaim Parr, the 1st Marquess of Northampton, the brother of none other than Queen Catherine Parr itself! You can also spot Richard Beauchamp’s tomb with a marble sarcophagus in the middle of the chapel.

 

Climb the tower

things to do in Warwick: Strap on your comfy boots because climbing the 40 metre tall tower of the Collegiate Church of St Mary is one of the best things to do in Warwick. Why, do you ask? Because the tower offers breathtaking views of the Old Town, the castle and beyond.

Now, here’s where the fun begins. Strap on your comfy boots because climbing the 40 (134 foot) metre tall tower of the Collegiate Church of St Mary is one of the best things to do in Warwick. Why, do you ask? Because from up there, you will catch views that’ll make your jaw drop. The tower offers breathtaking views of the Old Town, the castle and beyond.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • The opening times of the Collegiate Church of St Mary vary during the winter opening times (as of March 2024). The church is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays except for pre-booked groups. You can visit it between 10 am and 4 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays or from 11 am on Wednesdays. If you want to explore it on Sundays, you can do that between 12 pm and 4 pm (as of March 2024). The church is free to enter, but you pay a small fee if you want to climb its tower.

 

  • Also, you should know that the Collegiate Church of St Mary has been going through renovation since early 2023. While there was an initial completion date set for the end of 2023, the renovation is still in progress. For that reason, it is not currently possible to climb its tower. We recommend you check their website for current status before you plan your visit.

TIP:

 The Collegiate Church of St Mary is the gorgeous setting for the annual Christmas Tree Festival in Warwick.

 

5. Mill Garden

 

Let us tell you about the Mill Garden – it is an absolute gem nestled on the banks of the charming River Avon. Picture this: a peaceful half-acre oasis just a stone’s throw away from the majestic Warwick Castle. It’s like a dreamy painting coming to life, with lush greenery, blooming plants and the calming melody of the river flowing gently by. Now, if that doesn’t scream fairy-tale setting, we don’t know what does!

What makes the Mill Garden special, do you ask? Well, besides its perfect location, it offers some of the most beautiful views of the castle. That’s why visiting the Mill Garden is one of the best things to do in Warwick.

Imagine lounging on benches, soaking in the beauty of various plants and trees lovingly cultivated over sixty years. Every twist and turn in this garden unveils yet another breathtaking vista, taking in the sight of swans gliding by. From the medieval bridge to the castle’s stone walls and Ceasar’s Tower, this gorgeous garden is the perfect finale to your fairy-tale adventure in Warwick.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Now, here’s the kicker – the Mill Garden isn’t just any old garden. It is a privately owned slice of paradise. But fear not because a small admission of £3 is a small price to pay for a glimpse of this natural wonderland. Trust us, it’s worth every penny!
  • The Mill Garden is not wheelchair friendly, and you need to pay only in cash.
  • Remember, you can visit the Mill Garden only between April and October, from 10 am – 5 pm (as of March 2024).
  • You can access it from 55 Mill Street, Warwick.

 

TIP:

Before you leave Warwick, don’t forget to make a pit stop at the New Avon Bridge. Trust us, the views of Warwick Castle and the River Avon from here are simply to die for!

 

6. See Warwick Castle from the river Avon

things to do in Warwick: One of the absolute coolest things to do in Warwick is catching a glimpse of Warwick Castle from the water because it offers you a whole new perspective of this magnificent fortress while you soak in the beautiful scenery.

Looking for a mini adventure in the heart of Warwick? Well, guess what? One of the absolute coolest things to do in Warwick is catching a glimpse of Warwick Castle from the water. It offers you a whole new perspective of this magnificent fortress while you soak in the beautiful scenery.

Now, let us tell you a little secret. You can access the River Avon from numerous locations in Warwick. However, the best spot to enjoy the river is from the Upper Avon or Warwickshire Avon, from St Nicolas Park. Forget the crowds, stroll past the park’s main hub, and voila! You will find yourself on the banks of the River Avon. This ultimate chill zone, with trails and leafy trees, is a tranquil oasis with gorgeous river views.

But hey, the fun doesn’t stop there! Feeling extra adventurous? Why not pedal your way down the river in one of those swan or dragon-themed pedalos? You will be the captain of your very own floating vessel, cruising under the bridge like a true river royalty. And don’t forget to miss catching sight of Warwick Castle from the river – it’s an absolute must. You can also rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboards from Warwick Boats near the New Avon Bridge. They even have motorboats available for hire.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

 Expect to pay £15 for a kayak or a paddleboard for an adult for an hour (as of March 2024). The price for a motorboat for a family of four is £30 (30 minutes, as of March 2024). Pedalos cost £25 for 30 minutes for a family (as of March 2024). Don’t forget that you cannot hire them during the winter.

 

7. St Nicholas Park

Gorgeous St Nicolas Park is a perfect place to stretch your legs and breathe the fresh air.

Gorgeous St Nicolas Park is a perfect place to stretch your legs and breathe the fresh air.

 

If you’re craving a green escape in Warwick, St Nicholas Park is the place to be. This expansive green oasis on the town’s eastern side offers 40 acres of pure bliss, a perfect escape from hustle and bustle.  St Nicolas Park is nature’s remedy for a stressed-out mind and a haven for relaxation.

But why is St Nicolaus Parks so fantastic, do you ask? Well, besides being a prime spot for picnics and leisurely strolls, it is a playground for families. St Nick’s has many attractions – there is something for everyone here. From a fun park with rides and games to adventure mini-golf, kid’s play areas and even an outdoor pool. It’s like stepping into a wonderland of outdoor entertainment.

And there’s more to St Nicolas Park than just fun and games – it’s also a place for relaxation. Picture yourself chilling in a cosy pagoda or renting a rowboat for a leisurely paddle down the river. Plus, there is a quaint café onsite, perfect for those unpredictable British weather days.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

St Nicolas Park is just a short walk from the castle, and if you are driving, parking is available onsite. You might even catch a musical concert in the park during the warmer months.

 

8. Warwickshire Museum: Market Hall

things to do in Warwick: Exploring the Market Hall Museum is one of the best free things to do in Warwick because this 17th-century building houses ancient artefacts and quirky exhibits on social history, geology, and even natural history.

Explore the past at thWarwickshire Museum – one of the best Warwick attractions.

 

Hey there, history buffs and curious minds! Get ready to step back in time and discover the mysteries of Warwickshire at the Warwickshire Museum. Trust us, this place is not your average museum – it’s like getting two attractions for the price of one! Wondering why? Because you can explore the iconic Market Hall Museum and fascinating St. John’s House in one thrilling adventure.

 

The Market Hall Museum

Now, let’s talk about the Market Hall Museum, shall we? This place isn’t just a museum – it’s one of Warwick’s famous landmarks, dominating the Old Town since the 1600s. Originally, it sheltered traders bustling about in the lively market. Now it’s home to a treasure trove of early historical wonders. We are talking about ancient artefacts and quirky exhibits on social history, geology, and even natural history.

Have you ever seen an Irish Deer Skeleton or a giant Stuffed Bear? If not, you’re in for a treat! They even have dinosaur bones and the 16th-century Sheldon Tapestry – it’s like stepping into a time capsule and experiencing history firsthand. Discover the secrets of this 17th-century building over the centuries. Ever wondered what it was like to be locked up in a city jail cell? Well, now’s your chance to find out! But wait, there is more!

Don’t miss out on a new family-friendly exhibition on the ground floor, showcasing fascinating stories of life on Warwickshire’s waterways. This temporary exhibition opens on World Water Day (Friday, 22nd March 2024) and will run until 18th January 2025.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Admission to the museum won’t cost you a single penny! That’s right, exploring the Market Hall Museum is one of the best free things to do in Warwick. The Market Hall Museum is open from 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. You will also find a charming café and a souvenir shop on-site. While the museum doesn’t have its own car park, you can find on-street metered parking in the town centre.

 

9. A day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon from Warwick

things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon: A visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace is one of the best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon, because you can learn more about Shakespeare's family background. Therefore, it should be on your itinerary.

Walk in the footsteps of Shakespeare in Stratford.

 

If you spend more than one day in Warwick, we recommend visiting Stratford-upon-Avon. This gorgeous medieval market town in the West Midlands is world-famous as Shakespeare’s hometown. But dig a little deeper, and you will uncover hidden gems. Stratford is an ideal day trip for everyone who loves breathtaking scenery, British history, and butterflies. 

READ MORE:

Stratford-upon-Avon day trip from Warwick

 

Now you know what the best things to do in Warwick are!

Warwick attractions

Have you been to Warwick in England? Did we miss any Warwick attractions? Please let us know in the comments below. If you like our post, please save it to Pinterest.

 

Pin the best things to do in Warwick for later!

 

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Last updated: 08/03/2024


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