The precise quantity of castles in Scotland is unknown – the final consensus being round 3,000. There are extra Scottish castles than anyplace else in the British Isles. Which, contemplating what number of historic UK cities there are with castles, is a formidable title. Visiting castles is the easiest way to immerse your self in historic Scotland, whether or not you decide a medieval fortress, tower home, or royal residence.
Most Beautiful Castles in Scotland
This information is jam-packed with the most effective castles in Scotland. These are probably the most thrilling castles, and all have distinctive claims to fame or tales to their title. Buckle up since you are in for some critical fortress inspiration.
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle wants a bit introduction. As in all probability probably the most well-known fortress in Scotland, the medieval fortress sits on Castle Rock in proud show in the middle of Edinburgh Old Town. Edinburgh Castle is the second most visited attraction in the UK, so that you finest consider that tickets guide out rapidly and crowds flock in peak seasons. We counsel reserving your tickets right here for skip-the-line entry earlier than you go.
Because of this, Edinburgh Castle is best-visited low season. With fewer folks round, you’ll be able to actually take in Scotland’s historical past. Edinburgh Castle has tons of of reveals, together with The Honours of Scotland, aka the Scottish crown jewels.
Admittedly, it could be prison for Edinburgh Castle not to make our listing. Not solely is it the medieval fortress that has survived for hundreds of years in Scotland’s capital metropolis. Edinburgh Castle can be one of many best-preserved castles in Scotland. For a full day trip with loads of instructional and informative particulars, you’ll be able to’t go unsuitable with Edinburgh Castle. And bonus factors for anybody who finds someplace to keep in Edinburgh with views of the fortress on Castle Rock.
Hours: 9:30 am to 5 pm Entry Fees: $22
2. Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle is one other central constructing in Scottish historical past. The fortress dates again to the twelfth century and was as soon as a Renaissance royal palace – stuffed with luxuries like an incredible corridor for balls and feasting and a royal searching lodge. Situated in Stirling, Stirling Castle was additionally tactically used as a stronghold through the Scottish Wars of Independence. Stirling Castle sits on a volcanic rock on an elevated vantage level. Because of this advantageous place, many battles had been fought round Stirling Castle, together with Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. Stirling Castle was a hub of battle.
Today, Stirling Castle is fascinating for guests intrigued by Scottish historical past – particularly associated to the Wars of Independence. It is surrounded by battlefields. While in Stirling Castle, guests can tour the totally different rooms and become involved with the extra entertaining elements like making an attempt on interval costumes and chatting with the costumed character actors.
Stirling Castle is enjoyable and family-friendly, regardless of its somber historical past. It earned a spot on our listing for its hyperlinks to the Wars of Independence. Only a couple of castles in Scotland provide such very important perception into this era of Scottish historical past. So don’t overlook Stirling Castle.
Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm Entry Fees: $18
3. Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle is likely one of the most dramatic castles in Scotland. The fortress stays sit on a 160-foot rock overlooking the North Sea, which is believed to have been the primary fortified fortress. The oldest elements of the fortress date again to the Early Middle Ages, whereas the surviving elements that guests see immediately are dated to the sixteenth century. Despite its ruined state, Dunnottar Castle is likely one of the most well-known castles in Scotland. It speaks to a misplaced period of Scotland and is an completely romantic addition to our high Scottish Castles.
Dunnottar Castle has seen the likes of Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace cross its threshold. And with over 1000 years of historical past, it is likely one of the finest locations to expertise historic Scotland. The fortress is situated in the coastal city of Stonehaven, alongside Scotland’s east coast. It is a two-hour drive from Edinburgh, however we advise spending a couple of nights there. Especially since it’s close to the Cairngorms National Park.
Hours: 10 am to 6 pm Entry Fees: $11
4. Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle is likely one of the most lovely medieval castles in Scotland. The fortress has over 650 years of historical past and is claimed to have impressed Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The ancestral homeowners of Glamis Castle are the Strathmore household, who’ve resided there since 1372. It is even stated to have hosted Mary Queen of Scots and was the childhood dwelling of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. At Glamis Castle, the Queen Mother additionally gave start to Princess Margaret.
The lengthy hyperlinks to royals bagged Glamis Castle a spot in our information. It is participating to go to, with an incredible perception into historic Scotland. It is likely one of the solely castles in Scotland to embrace its literary hyperlinks, too, that includes a Macbeth Trail, which brings the play to life. The fortress is located exterior the village of Glamis, a 20-minute drive north of Dundee.
Hours: March-October: 10 am to 5 pm Entry Fees: $9
5. Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle is a royal residence – aka a part of the gathering of royal castles belonging to the British royal household. Prince Albert purchased the fortress for Queen Victoria in 1852, and Balmoral Castle was famously a favourite spot for Queen Elizabeth II. What most individuals don’t know, although, is that the unique Balmoral Castle was deemed ‘too small’ for the royal household. Prince Albert really commissioned a brand new fortress to be constructed in 1856. Balmoral Castle is a ravishing place to be taught extra concerning the British royals. Its shut hyperlinks to the British monarchy earned it a spot on our listing.
Balmoral Castle is situated in the Cairngorms National Park close to the village of Balmoral. It is a ravishing place to go to alongside the River Dee, and it’s simple to see why a royal searching lodge was added. Balmoral Castle is surrounded by nature.
Hours: April-July: 10 am to 5 pm Entry Fees: $20
6. Eilean Donan Castle
Chances are you’ve seen an image of Eilean Donan Castle already. The fortress sits on a tidal island amidst a confluence of three lochs. The loch setting is magical (who is aware of, perhaps the Loch Ness monster has a cousin?), and Eilean Donan Castle is well among the finest castles in Scotland for a scenic location. The Thirteenth-century fortress was as soon as the stronghold of the MacRae household. Still, it was sadly destroyed in the struggle through the Jacobite Uprising. Only in 1932 was the Scottish fortress restored to its former glory and opened to the general public.
Eilean Donan Castle is gorgeous to go to. If you do, you could cease on the a number of scenic viewpoints across the loch shoreline. Inside, you’ll be able to take excursions of the rooms and reveals. But the primary draw is the aesthetic and the truth that such an necessary fortress was resurrected from despair with renovations.
Hours: February-December: 9 am to 6 pm (varies by month) Entry Fees: $13
7. Braemar Castle
The Seventeenth-century Braemar Castle is an iconic fortified fortress in the center of the Cairngorms National Park. It has had some well-known guests, together with the present British royal household. Clan Farquharson can be some of the famed clans in Scotland, so visiting their ancestral household house is a should.
The fortress has seen many ‘background’ figures of Scotland, from the usual bearer for Mary Queen of Scots to warriors of the Battle of Culloden. Braemar Castle is thrilling to go to and listen to concerning the different facet of historical past. The facet of historical past that concerned on a regular basis folks, not simply influential figures and the rich.
Braemar Castle is only a stone’s throw from the Scottish Highland Games. If you go to on the proper time of 12 months, think about combining the 2. It is price noting that for a interval of 2023, Braemar Castle shall be closed inside for renovation. Check the web site for updates.
Hours: TBC Entry Fees: TBC
8. Cawdor Castle
Cawdor Castle is one other ancestral dwelling central to Scottish historical past. Shakespeare followers could acknowledge the fortress from Macbeth’s ‘Thane of Cawdor’. And actually, Cawdor Castle isn’t removed from legends or tales. That is why we added it to our listing. The medieval fortress really contains a tower constructed round a legendary holly tree. According to legend, the unique Thane of Cawdor dreamed a couple of donkey carrying a coffer of gold. In his dream, the donkey laid down at the most effective place for a brand new fortress, the place it could ceaselessly prosper. The thane did the one logical factor – reenacting his dream and constructing the brand new fortress on the holly tree the place the donkey stopped.
Cawdor Castle is fascinating to go to and has a very participating historical past. You can go to on a self-guided or guided tour, exploring the grounds and inside. In the tiny village of Cawdor, Cawdor Castle is round a 20-minute drive from Inverness.
Hours: April-October: 10 am to 5 pm Entry Fees: $17
9. Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle is lavish and opulent – what extra do you want to know? The fortress dates again to the sixteenth century, and its grounds characteristic a deer park. Families will love getting up shut to the pleasant deer. Culzean Castle is the proper place to go to with kids for that ‘classic castle’ expertise. Inside, the primary options of Culzean Castle are the gorgeous drawing room and oval staircase. Once owned by Clan Kennedy, Culzean Castle is now the property of the National Trust of Scotland. This signifies that whereas the fortress stays adorned as a personal residence, it stays open year-round for public entry.
Aside from the fortress having deer you’ll be able to meet, our favourite factor about Culzean Castle is its clifftop location. The fortress sits overlooking the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran. Just south of Ayr, Culzean Castle is a straightforward day journey from Glasgow, simply an hour’s drive away.
Hours: 10 am to 4 pm Entry Fees: $12
10. Dunrobin Castle
Dunrobin Castle is the most important in the Northern Highlands. It is a personal residence of many titles – from one of many oldest inhabited castles in Scotland to probably the most northern of Scotland’s nice homes. Dunrobin Castle has housed the identical household for over 700 years. We love what number of ties it has to Scotland’s historical past and the historical past of the UK. Dunrobin Castle was a naval hospital in WWI. It has hyperlinks to the Houses of Parliament via its shared architect, Sir Charles Barry.
Its historical past goes again even additional, although, because the oldest elements of the fortress date again to round 1275. A go to to the fortress’s on-site museum is a should. It is likely one of the most informative and traditionally complicated castles to go to in Scotland. Regarding visiting, Dunrobin Castle is simple to squeeze right into a North Coast 500 highway journey. Dunrobin Castle sits on the coast overlooking the Moray Firth. It is simply exterior the east Scottish village of Golspie. Check out our Dunrobin Castle information right here for extra inspiration and important particulars.
Hours: April-September: Entry Fees: $16
11. Craigievar Castle
Craigievar Castle is fairly eye-catching. No, significantly, the Scots baronial-style fortress is vivid pink. The pink Scottish fortress is rumored to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle – each baby’s dream addition to our high Scottish castles. Craigievar Castle is gorgeous to go to.
The fortress’s magnificence is what bagged it a spot on our listing; it is likely one of the finest castles in Scotland if you would like a singular aesthetic. And situated in Alford, a village between Cairngorms National Park and Aberdeen, it has a scenic location in the Scottish Highlands.
Craigievar Castle dates again to 1626 and has Jacobean touches all through. Having lived via the combat for Scottish independence, Craigievar Castle is filled with thrilling reveals about Scotland’s historical past. Visitors can tour the numerous rooms and reveals. And when you’ve explored inside, you’ll be able to head out to spot wildlife like pine martens and deer exterior on its grounds.
Hours: Dawn to nightfall Entry Fees: $17
12. Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle is a shocking Scottish fortress on the Isle of Skye. The fortress is the property of Clan MacLeod and, like many castles in Scotland, is shrouded in custom and tales of magic. The most valued possession in Dunvegan Castle is the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, which is claimed to maintain magical powers of assured victory in battle.
The silk flag is believed to date again to the 4th century and comes from Syria or Rhodes. Dunvegan Castle is likely one of the most fascinating castles in Scotland. Occupied by the identical household for over 800 years, it is filled with tales and legends handed via generations. It can be believed to be the oldest repeatedly inhabited fortress in Scotland.
You can take a self-guided or guided tour via Dunvegan Castle. It is an excellent spot to get a extra intimate style of Scottish historical past. We love the ingredient of magic and superstition.
Hours: April-October: 10 am to 5:30 pm Entry Fees: $19
13. Floors Castle
Floors Castle is likely one of the finest castles in Scotland on the Scottish borders – simply an hour from Edinburgh. Set on a ravishing property, the 52 acres characteristic a Victorian Walled Garden and Millennium Garden. Plenty of woodland and riverside trails zigzag the property’s grounds. Floors Castle is as a lot a day outside as an indoor attraction. This says so much contemplating Floors Castle is the most important inhabited home in Scotland. We love how a lot there’s to do at Floors Castle, and its myriad of pop-up occasions and actions is another excuse we added it to our information.
Floor Castle dates again to the 18th-century. It was initially handled by the primary Duke as a ‘country house’ or bolt gap when escaping the calls for of Parliament in London. Nine Dukes later, the fortress was lastly opened to the general public in 1977. It is an thrilling fortress, all the time internet hosting a brand new exercise or occasion.
Hours: May-October: 10:30 am to 5 pm Entry Fees: $21
14. Blair Castle and Gardens
Blair Castle is likely one of the most historic of Scotland’s castles. Home to the Atholl household for over seven centuries, it has lived via a few of Scotland’s darkest hours. The fortress’s 30 rooms have seen among the most influential politicians and troopers. Dating again to 1269, Blair Castle has a formidable show of armory all through – a becoming nod to Scotland’s turbulent previous. Its historic significance is exactly why it made our listing.
Blair Castle and Gardens is situated close to the tiny village of Old Blair, simply beneath the Cairngorms National Park. It is massively scenic to go to. The nationwide park backdrop is one thing else. If you might have a couple of days to spend in the realm, Cairngorms National Park is well-combined with Blair Castle. Inside, the fortress’s design spans a number of eras. Some options whisk you again to medieval Scotland, whereas others communicate to more moderen Victorian types.
Touring Blair Castle is fascinating as a result of it has such a protracted historical past. You can clearly see the totally different influences of every period. It is a implausible Scottish fortress with exhibitions all through for a museum-like expertise.
Hours: April-October: Monday-Sunday 10 am to 5 pm Entry Fees: $20
15. Inveraray Castle
Inveraray Castle is likely one of the finest castles in Scotland. Why? It has been dwelling to the Clan Campbells for generations. The present Clan Campbells maintain the title of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. It can be so lovely that it was chosen because the set for the 2012 Downtown Abbey Christmas particular. We had to add it to our listing.
Rather than being all the time obtainable, like Edinburgh Castle, visiting Inveraray Castle is far more intimate. You’ll tour all of the personal rooms and flooring, studying extra about its previous homeowners and designers. The fortress itself has lovely Scottish baronial structure.
The fortress is close to the village of Inveraray, on the outskirts of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. It is feasible to go to as a day journey from Glasgow, Oban, and even to incorporate it right into a Scottish highway journey.
Hours: March-September: Thursday-Monday 10 am to 5 pm, October: Thursday-Monday 10 am to 4 pm Entry Fees: $19 Mauchline Castle: An oblong tower home in East Ayrshire. Caerkaverock Castle: A moated triangular fortress close to Dumfries. Duart Castle: A fortress by the Sound of Mull owned by Clan Maclean.
From the Scottish Highlands to the middle of action-packed Edinburgh, the castles in Scotland are one thing else. Visiting a Scottish fortress is a ceremony of passage. Castles are so intertwined in Scottish historical past that it’s close to unimaginable – or must be thought-about as such – to depart them out of a Scotland itinerary.
Looking for extra inspiration forward of your go to to Scotland? Check out our North Coast 500 information and our final information to the finest cities in Scotland. Otherwise, get pleasure from visiting as many of those finest castles in Scotland as doable. You gained’t remorse it.