Hever Castle and Gardens, Kent, review for families
In a nutshell
A historic castle in Kent with lots to offer modern families, including an adventure playground, water maze and boating lake, but the optional extras can make this a pricey day out
What we tested
- Fun for kids
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Fun for parents
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Worth the money
3.5A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Family friendliness
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Amazing play castle, fun mazes, beautiful grounds, picture-perfect castle, free parking
- Food and drink is expensive, some areas not buggy friendly, optional extras such as boating and archery are pricey
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What’s Hever Castle like since Covid-19?
Hever Castle is operating as normal now Covid restrictions have lifted. However, if you cannot attend due to contracting Covid or if you have to self-isolate you can request to change your booking to alternative date or cancel your book and apply for a refund. To do this, email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is sanitiser at the entrance to the playgrounds and equipment was cleaned regularly. There is no timed entry or maximum limit to the playgrounds.
Face masks are not essential but welcomed.
When we visited:
Journalist and parenting writer, Lynsey, visited Hever Castle with her three children Jacob age 7, Olive age 5 and Ivy age 2, as well as her husband Nick, on a warm, sunny day at the start of half-term in May 2022.
What age is Hever Castle best for?
Best for: Children aged 4-10 years old
Still good fun for: Children aged 1-3 years old
How much does Hever Castle cost in 2022?
If you book in advance you will pay 10% less of the ticket price, so if you’re able to plan ahead this definitely works out cheaper. You can either buy a ticket to visit the Castle and Gardens, or just the Gardens.
Castle and Garden:
- Gate prices: Adults £21.80, children 5-17 £12.40, under 5s free.
- Online prices: Adult £19.80, children 5-17 £11.25, under 5s free.
- Family saver tickets (valid for 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and three children): £52.65 online or £57.95 at the gate.
- Gate prices: Adults £18.00, children 5-17 £11.30, under 5s free.
- Online prices: Adults £16.35, children 5-17 £10.25, under 5s free.
- Family saver tickets (valid for 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and three children): £44.90 online or £49.40 at the gate.
Are there discounts or cheap tickets available for Hever Castle?
As well as booking in advance online there are other ways to save money when visiting Hever Castle and Gardens.
- Tesco Clubcard vouchers can be exchanged for a Reward Partner code to visit Hever Castle and Gardens. If using the code, all admission tickets must be booked online. You discover other UK attractions you can visit using Tesco Clubcard vouchers here
- RHS members can visit for free on certain dates Monday to Friday, from February to November. Click here for details.
- Discounts are available to Armed Forces Personnel at certain times of the year.
- Check Picniq for special offers.
- If you’re thinking of staying overnight, look for deals combining accommodation and tickets on Holiday Extras.
Any extra charges once I’m there?
There are lots of optional extras to entice you, which of course cost more, include rowing boats, pedalos and archery.
Archery cost £5 for five arrows or £6 for 10 arrows and you can only pay in cash – so if you’d like to give it a try make sure you have some money on you when you visit.
Rowing boats cost £19 per hour and pedalos £22 per hour.
Once you are inside, the food and drink are expensive, but it’s very easy to take your own picnic.
Are there any special events?
There are various special events that run throughout the year at Hever Castle, with plenty packed into school holidays and notable dates.
Jousting events and falconry displays often take place during school holidays and are scheduled for a number of dates in July and August this year. Hever Castle is also running ‘Spellbound Summer’ which is a magic-themed series of hands-on activities throughout the school summer holidays (included in the ticket price).
How long will we spend at Hever Castle?
I think this would be a full day out, which would allow you to take your time and see and do everything. We arrived at midday and didn’t leave until 5pm, but we could easily have stayed longer.
What’s Hever Castle like for families?
Hever Castle is a 700-year-old castle in Kent which was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, so it has lots of really interesting history. It’s set in 125 acres of grounds which now include a huge adventure playground, yew maze, water maze and boating lake.
I visited with three children and felt there was something to keep each of them entertained.
What shouldn’t be missed?
Highlights for us were:
- The Castle itself was really beautiful and interesting to go around with plenty to see for a variety of ages.
- Tudor Towers is a huge adventure play area designed like a castle fort with ladders, climbing nets and slides. Buttons have been added which play music inside the castle, which was fun and different to anything I'd seen before. It has a secret dungeon which kids can try and navigate their way out of.
- Acorn Dell is a natural play area designed for children up to the age of 7. My youngest loved the willow tunnel, the sand pit and the stones dotted around to climb and sit on.
- A separate area for children has been revamped with new swings, rocking wooden horses and a zip wire.
- The water maze, where you are encouraged to make your way to the centre without getting wet. It was really fun and a great way to cool down on a hot summer’s day.
- My son loved trying his hand at archery, so we felt it was worth the additional cost.
Is it easy to make your way around Hever Castle with young children?
You’re given a map as you enter, and it is easy to navigate your way around. But be aware the grounds are sprawling so it can be a long walk for little legs and you could end up carrying them around.
Is it pushchair-friendly?
A buggy is useful, but even in the grounds you will encounter lots of steps! It is worth noting however that there is no pushchair access in the Castle and the stone spiral steps in places were very steep and challenging for younger children.
There are many gravel paths and tracks which are great fun to explore, but not easy with a pushchair. I had to collapse the buggy and carry it across some stepping stones over a stream at one point.
What do you need to know before you visit Hever Castle?
- This place has great history behind it, so talking to your children about it before you leave makes the day all the more special. It really brought history alive for our 5-year-old, who is fascinated by Henry VIII!
- The food and drink on offer are expensive.
- Inside the Castle may not appeal to all pre-schoolers and could be challenging to get around for little legs.
- Access to the Castle is limited for those with mobility issues.
- No scooters or bicycles allowed within the grounds.
What to bring?
- If you are taking a baby and wish to go around the Castle, a baby carrier or sling would be very useful.
- Refillable water bottle as there are plenty of places to fill this up for free and on hot days they even provide ice.
- Swimsuits and towel for the water maze.
- Cash – many of the outlying kiosks were cash-only, although the central ones and restaurants accepted cards.
What are the food and drink facilities like at Hever Castle and Gardens?
There is a good selection of places to eat including two main eateries and kiosks scattered throughout the grounds – including a coffee stand by the kids’ play area. However, these kiosks are only open at the weekends and during the school holidays.
I found the quality of the food to be quite good. There were burger and hot dog stalls, an ice cream hut and an amazing doughnut van serving treats near the Castle. It was very expensive though. Expect to pay at least £3 for a coffee. A single scoop of ice cream was £3, and you’ll need an extra 70p for the flake.
There is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with highchairs readily available. There’s also free water and ice available at all the restaurants.
Can you take a picnic?
Yes, and we’d advise taking a picnic as there are loads of beautiful spots for you to eat within the grounds and close to the Castle. Although there are picnic benches available, some of the most beautiful picnic spots are best enjoyed with a picnic blanket so I’d pack one of those too.
What are the toilets like?
The toilets were clean and good condition. Not all toilet blocks had baby changing facilities unfortunately.
How well does Hever Castle and Gardens cater for disabled visitors?
- Motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters are not permitted inside the courtyard or Castle due to the historic nature of the building.
- Wheelchairs cannot be taken up staircases inside the Castle.
- Accessible toilets are near the main ticket office, the Moat and Pavilion restaurants, and near the Courtyard Shop.
- Inside the Castle, the stone spiral steps are very steep in places.
- For more information see Hever Castle’s access statement
Opening dates and times:
Hever Castle’s grounds open at 10:30am and the Castle opens at noon. Final entry is at 4.30pm and it closes at 6pm until October 29. From November, it closes at 4.30pm.
The Castle is open daily from 27th March to 29th October. From 30th October to 18th November, it is open Wednesday-Sunday. The Christmas season runs from 19th November to 2nd January and you can view the opening times here.
What’s the best time to visit Hever Castle and Gardens?
Hever Castle is busiest on Saturday 12-4pm, and quietest Mon-Thurs.
How to get to Hever Castle:
Hever Castle sits on the Kent/Surrey/Sussex border, 30 miles outside London
- We drove to the Castle without issues and it’s easily found via SatNav using postcode TN8 7NG.
- Once you get closer, it’s well sign posted.
- By train, you’ll need to get a taxi from Edenbridge Town Station as there is no bus service to the Castle.
Do you have to pay for parking?
Parking is plentiful and free.
Is it worth a long car journey?
We travelled an hour in order to reach Hever Castle and it certainly felt well worth it. I don’t think it would be worth staying overnight for though – unless we could have afforded to stay in the Hever Castle B&B which looked amazing!
Which hotels or holiday accommodation are near Hever Castle?
There are lots of family-friendly accommodation options near to Hever Castle, including:
- Right on the grounds, Hever Castle’s luxury B&B offers family rooms with super-plush décor that’ll make your little prince and princesses right at home
- The characterful Hever Hotel is a 20-minute walk away, and offers comfortable family rooms
- For a home-away-from-home feel, look for deals on Vrbo and Airbnb.
- Find family-friendly hotel deals near Hever Castle on Booking.com
Nearby attractions for a longer day out:
If you’re not castled out, country house and museum Chiddingstone Castle is an 8-minute drive away, or Penshurst Place & Gardens is 15 minutes. Or change things up a gear and let them charge around Manic Monsters soft play, just 11 minutes away in the car. Young children will love Diggerland Kent (40 minutes away).
We had a wonderful day at Hever Castle. The highlight was the beautiful grounds where the children could build dens, play hide-and-seek and play with sticks. All three loved the huge choice of play equipment and we were able to enjoy a relaxing coffee while they amused themselves.
The water maze was a hit too. All three children are asking when we can make a return visit.
Visit Hever Castle’s website