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Tintagel Castle

tintagel castle courtyard gate

The Magic Of Tintagel Castle – England’s Legendary Camelot

Perched on Cornwall’s rugged northern coast surrounded by myths of kings and wizardry lies the dramatic ruins of Tintagel Castle. Believed to be the site of King Arthur’s fabled court Camelot, Tintagel’s history-steeped headland has sparked imaginations for over 1000 years.

Read our complete guide on how to experience the magic of mysterious Tintagel Castle with kids and discover the truth behind the legends.

Getting to Tintagel Castle

The Castle clings to a headland on Cornwall’s unspoilt Atlantic coastline just north of the town sharing its name. Use postcode PL34 0HE for satnav directions.

By Car – From the A39 Atlantic Highway take the B3263 signposted to Tintagel. The village centre has several reasonably priced pay and display car parks. Castle Road leads down to the entrance.

By Bus – The 595 and 597 bus services operate daily routes connecting Tintagel to Wadebridge, Boscastle, Bude and other Cornish towns. Alight at the Tintagel Social Hall stop, a short walk from Fore Street.

Entry Prices and Opening Times

Tintagel Castle is managed by English Heritage with tickets valid for one year from date of purchase.

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Open daily:
1st April – 30th September, 10am – 6pm

1st – 31st October, 10am – 5pm

1st November – 31st March, 10am – 4pm (Note the castle may close early on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or New Year’s Eve) Check the website for details

Admission Fees:

Adults – £16

Children (under 18s) – £9.50

Concession £14

Family Ticket (2 adults + 3 children) – £41

What to See and Do at Tintagel

The current castle ruins largely date to the medieval period. However archaeological digs prove settlements existed on this dramatic headland as far back as the Roman occupation. Tintagel has long held spiritual significance.

Today English Heritage sensitively manages the site to balance public access with conservation needs. Interactive displays in the new exhibition centre highlight how the remains reveal more about those who once called this place home. Don’t miss the huge 3D model illuminating how Tintagel would have looked in its prime.

Outside, carefully laid paths lead visitors through numerous castle levels and interior spaces now open to fresh Cornish air. Scramble through narrow rock-cut passages, crane to peek into ancient water cisterns, or gaze through arrow slit windows out over surging seas – evocative experiences transport you back centuries through time.

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The Bridge at Tintagel Castle

Venture over the new footbridge connecting the mainland entrance to the castle’s island gateway for picture-perfect views down the valley to the sea. Here beachcombers hundreds of feet below resemble ants scurrying over giant boulders flecked white by booming breakers.

The bridge is a marvel that seamlessly blends ancient history with modern engineering. Spanning a 190-foot gorge and connecting the mainland to the historic castle ruins, this iconic structure evokes a sense of awe and mystery. Constructed in 2019, the bridge replaced a previous structure and was designed to mirror the castle’s medieval grandeur while providing a safe and accessible passage for visitors.

The bridge’s architecture harmonizes with the dramatic landscape, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rocky cliffs below. Its cantilevered design gives the illusion of floating, adding a touch of magic to the visitor’s experience. The choice of materials, such as weathered steel, ensures the bridge weathers naturally over time, further integrating it into the historic surroundings.

Beyond its engineering prowess, the bridge serves as a symbolic link to Tintagel’s legendary past, often associated with the tales of King Arthur. Visitors crossing the bridge find themselves transported to a mythical realm, connecting with the rich history and folklore that enshrouds Tintagel Castle. The bridge at Tintagel is not merely a physical crossing; it’s a portal through time, inviting exploration and wonder amid the ancient ruins and coastal beauty.

tintagel castle bridge

The Island Garden

Nestled within the historic confines of Tintagel Castle, the island garden stands as a living testament to the passage of time. Enclosed by ancient stone walls, this horticultural haven is a harmonious blend of history and natural beauty. As visitors step into the garden, they are transported to a bygone era, where the air is fragrant with the scent of blooming flowers and the whispering echoes of centuries past.

Vivid bursts of color paint the landscape, as the garden showcases an array of vibrant blooms that have been carefully curated to thrive in this coastal environment. The juxtaposition of lush greenery against the rugged backdrop of Tintagel’s cliffs creates a mesmerizing tableau, offering a glimpse into the resilient beauty that has flourished here for generations.

The island garden is a sanctuary, a respite from the winds that whip across the cliffs. Visitors can wander along cobbled paths, bordered by weathered stones that have borne witness to the ebb and flow of history. The carefully manicured flora, ranging from aromatic herbs to delicate blossoms, invites exploration and contemplation.

From the garden’s vantage point, panoramic views of the dramatic coastline unfold, providing a breathtaking backdrop to the historical splendor. The synergy between the ancient walls and the thriving garden encapsulates the enduring spirit of Tintagel Castle, where the past seamlessly converges with the present in a celebration of nature, history, and the enduring human connection to the land.

tintagel castle in ruins

Discover The Myths and Legends of King Arthur

Undoubtedly Tintagel’s biggest draw lies in its links to the legends of King Arthur. Believed to be the mythical castle Camelot, Tintagel forms the epicentre for tales of Round Tables, noble knights, Excalibur swords and the wizard Merlin.

The underlying landscape seems to reinforce Tintagel’s mystical roots too. Follow the coast path south towards Rocky Valley’s tiny church enveloped in dense jungle-like foliage hiding a waterfall said to contain magical Excalibur-forging powers.

Further signs of ancient spiritual connections? Locals still leave ribbons tied to bushes or niches in rocks as tokens of wishes yet to be granted near the castle.

The association between King Arthur and Tintagel is rooted in medieval literature, notably Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Historia Regum Britanniae” (History of the Kings of Britain) written in the 12th century.

According to legend, Tintagel is believed to be the birthplace of King Arthur, conceived through the union of King Uther Pendragon and the enchantress Igraine. Merlin, the legendary wizard, played a pivotal role in Arthur’s conception by magically disguising Uther as Igraine’s husband. This magical conception was central to Arthur’s destiny as the future king who would unite Britain.

arthur at tintagel

The castle ruins, dating back to the 13th century, evoke the mythical ambiance of Arthurian legends. The site’s dramatic setting, with its towering cliffs and expansive views of the Atlantic, adds to the mystique surrounding Arthur’s connection to Tintagel.

While historical evidence confirming Arthur’s existence is scarce, the enduring allure of the King Arthur legend has transformed Tintagel into a symbolic and iconic site associated with the Once and Future King. The ruins, including the remnants of a medieval fortress, serve as a tangible link to the legendary past, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the tales of chivalry, magic, and destiny that have been woven into the fabric of Tintagel Castle and the Arthurian legend. The castle, with its mythical connections, stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the enchanting allure of King Arthur’s legacy.

Refuel in The Beach Cafe

Work up thirst and appetite clambering across Tintagel’s wild coastal landscape. The Beach Cafe by the castle’s lower entrance offers picturesque panoramas down to Galapagos Beach through floor-to-ceiling windows. Recharge tired kids on freshly prepared lunches, sweet waffles with local ice cream or Cornish cream teas.

The glass-walled indoor dining space is cosy for stormy days while the split-level outdoor terraces host al fresco dining in the summer sun. Just note only cold snacks and drinks are available to purchase actually inside castle grounds.

Continue Exploring Tintagel Village

Allow time before or after your castle visit to also explore pretty Tintagel village centred around its Old Post Office. This row of traditional Cornish slate cottages now house locally run craft shops and galleries brimming with unique handmade gifts showcasing the area’s talents.

Kids will appreciate the numerous fudge sellers while King Arthur buffs should pop into The Excalibur Shop specialising in movies, books and memorabilia devoted to the legendary hero.

Nearby beachside pubs and tearooms offer further places to refuel around Tintagel too. And if weather allows, don’t miss the opportunity to explore stunning spots like Trebarwith Strand or Bossiney Cove just a couple of miles up the coast.

tintagel village

Useful Visitor Tips

A few extra pointers worth noting:

  • The 1/3 mile walk from village car parks down to Castle Beach involves a steep climb back up. Those with mobility issues can be dropped at the entrance by pre-booking.
  • Only assistance dogs are permitted inside castle grounds. Other dogs can use the adjacent beaches.
  • Ensure kids wear sturdy shoes as the coastal paths involve uneven and slippery sections.
  • Tintagel gets very busy in peak summer so visiting in Spring or Autumn means fewer crowds.
  • The castle closes by 6pm so arrive well before then to allow sufficient exploring time.

Nearby Attractions to Combine With Tintagel

Immerse the family deeper into Cornwall’s history and legends by pairing a trip to Tintagel Castle with:

  • Newquay Zoo – Located around 25 minutes’ drive from Tintagel, this zoo enables close-up animal encounters with sloths, meerkats, lemurs and endangered species. There’s also a tropical house, gardens and play areas.
  • The Eden Project – Just under an hour’s drive away, this iconic attraction consists of huge biomes containing impressive global plant life displays from tropical regions worldwide.
  • St Nectan’s Glen and Waterfall – Take the steep walk down into this magical fairy glen with enchanting waterfalls, rivers, dense woodlands and wildlife.
  • Trebarwith Strand – This popular surfing beach has great waves, golden sands, a small sea cave to discover and the quaint Port William Inn overlooking the ocean.
  • Bossiney Beach and Haven – A peaceful, sheltered harbour and beach neighboured by a cluster of thatched fishing cottages in this tranquil coastal village near Tintagel with coastal views.
  • Port Isaac – Recognisable as the fishing village setting of TV’s Doc Martin, Port Isaac has winding narrow lanes dotted with cafés which lead down to a picturesque tiny harbour.
  • Padstow – Take a 25 minute drive from Tintagel to enjoy Rick Steins famous seafood restaurant in Padstow harbour or wander through the pretty town with pastel coloured Georgian houses.

Evoking imagination just like it would have done for ancient Celts, Tintagel brings medieval myths of King Arthur’s Camelot dramatically alive against Cornwall’s stunning sea cliffs.

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