If you’re a Downton Abbey fan (and we are big time), you won’t want to miss seeing the “real Downton Abbey” the next time you visit London. Highclere Castle is the real-life inspiration and setting for the popular Emmy-award winning show. Since 1679, the Carnarvon family have lived in the castle (keep a lookout for the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon when you visit). The beautiful Victorian castle is located in Hampshire about 90 minutes (depending on traffic) from London (see Google map) – after watching the TV show, we were curious exactly where Downton Abbey was located in relation to London, so we added the map with the castle location highlighted.
Highclere Castle is open to the public for only a few days each month.
Here are three options to see Downton Abbey: Group Tour, Private Tour or Self-Guided Tour (rent a car and drive yourself):
Downton Abbey Tour
Travel by air-conditioned coach on this fun day-long Downton Abbey Tour. Visit the Oxfordshire village and see the film locations as featured in the Downton Abbey TV drama – Cogges Manor Farm and Bampton (the setting for Downton Village), the local church and Grantham Arms pub. Watch episodes of Downton Abbey as you travel between locations and get interesting anecdotes about the show, the actors, and the history of the places you visit. Explore the rooms of the magnificent 19th century Downton Abbey house, including the Drawing Room, Main Hall and Music Room. Take a peak inside the bedroom where Lady Mary was seduced by the Turkish diplomat. And enjoy a leisurely stroll around the castle’s picturesque grounds. Feel free to take pictures throughout the day.
Private Tour: Downton Abbey Film Locations Tour by Private Chauffeur
Travel in style (like the Earl of Grantham and Lady Mary) on a three-hour Private Tour of Downton Abbey Film Locations by private chauffeur. Step back into the Edwardian era as you enjoy a private tour of the stately Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey up close) and the scenic village of Bampton in Oxfordshire (the real Downton village). This tour is perfect for people who like their privacy, have a small group of their own, or just don’t like group tours. The duration of the tour is about 8 hours. Minimum of two people. Pick-up and drop-off at your central London hotel.
Note: The Private Highclere Castle Tour will sell out, so be sure to book it well in advance. Entrance fees to the grounds and gardens of Highclere Castle are included in the booking price, however, entrance fees into the castle and exhibit are not included due to limited availability.
Self-Guided Downton Abbey/Highclere Castle Tour
(Rent a car and drive yourself)
Many people prefer to rent a car and travel at their own pace. If a group or private tour isn’t your thing, consider renting a car and driving yourself. Keep in mind that Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) is an extremely popular tourist attraction and it may sell out. Tip: We like Priceline to book travel in the UK. Use Priceline Rental Cars in London to save up to 40% off Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz & more.
If online tickets are sold out, however, a limited number of walk-up tickets are available each day, subject to castle capacity. Note that Highclere Castle is closed Fridays and Saturdays.
Who Is Your Favorite Downton Abbey Character?
If you’re a “Downton Abbey” fan, you must have a favorite “Downton Abbey” character – who’s yours? Our hands-down favorite is Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (played brilliantly by Dame Maggie Smith). Share your favorite below.