There is a moment in life when one gets a bit over the whole “we need to take the DLR, the Tube, a bus, a train, run 5k, ride a camel and then take another bus to get from Point A to Point B”. My husband and I reached that point last year after we found out that getting to Scotland by train would set us back £400. As you might have guessed, we stayed home that week!
We love to travel though, so after weighing the pros and cons for almost a year, we bought our car last winter. Nowadays we are always on the hunt for interesting places to visit by car and last month we found an absolute jewel of a place: Hever Castle, located in Kent and only a short drive away from the city.
If you’re looking for a cool place to visit near London, I totally recommend it: Hever has beautifully landscaped gardens, a 750-year-old castle and plenty of fun for both grown-ups and children.
Do you want to know more about the castle and its attractions? read on!
How to get to Hever Castle
Hever Castle is located 30 miles from central London, 3 miles southeast of Edenbridge, in the village of Hever.
It can be reached via junction 10 of the M23, and is signposted from junctions 5 and 6 of the M25 and the Hildenborough exit of the A21.
Use this post code on your sat-nav: TN8 7NG. The parking is free and accesible parking is available.
When we arrived, the first thing we saw was the lake, shining under the summer sun. Families and friends were rowing on the small boats you can rent -I think we paid £15 to rent one for 1 hour of absolute fun. I laughed so much while on the boat that my ribs hurt afterwards: trying to get my husband and one of our friends to row in the same direction and in a coordinated manner proved to be quite the challenge.
After our maritime adventure, we headed to the piazza which is located next to the lake. The whole place was inspired by the Trevi fountain and it is absolutely stunning, with its golden stone stairs and arches. While walking in the piazza I felt I was no longer in England but in Italy, taking a walk around Lake Como. I closed my eyes and for a split second, I could almost taste fresh olives and sweet Italian wine. Not too shabby for a place only a few miles away from the city!
We didn’t find wine or olives but we did find ice-cream, and with a mint-chocolate cone in hand, we walked around the Italian Gardens. The gardens are so pretty that we almost forgot for a second that we were there to visit the castle.
The castle itself
The 750-year-old castle was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. According to the historians, a lot of the courtship between Anne and Henry VIII happened between its walls.
Inside the castle, you can step back in time while wandering around its rooms. You can visit Henry VIII’s bedchambers and see Anne’s childhood room. One section of the castle is dedicated to the Edwardian Period and the Astors, the legendary aristocratic family that made the castle their home during the 20th century.
Eating, events and attractions
If you are worried you might get hungry and won’t find a place to eat after all the rowing, walking and sightseeing, fear not! At Hever, there are plenty of restaurants, kiosks, cafés and even a recently inaugurated prosecco bar. Due to its proximity to the lake, my favourite place to grab a bite was definitely the Guthrie Pavilion. The food was good and not particularly expensive.
If you’re visiting with kids, Hever has many attractions for them: at weekends they can give archery a try, they can paint shields and there is a playground in the shape of a castle.
After our visit, we think we are definitely going back. Even if we already know the place, there’s always something happening at Hever; from jousting tournaments to concerts. They even have their own Christmas Market.
Tickets for both the grounds & the castle are £16.75 for adults. There are also concessions and the children pay a bit less. I recommend buying them online the day before -we didn’t wait in line and saved some money. Take a look at the whole list of prices here.
Hope you enjoyed this post and if you know any other nice places not too far from London, please leave me a comment! 😊