The actual quantity of castles in Scotland is unknown – the overall consensus being round 3,000. There are extra Scottish castles than wherever else in the British Isles. Which, contemplating what number of historic UK cities there are with castles, is a powerful title. Visiting castles is one of the simplest ways to immerse your self in historic Scotland, whether or not you choose a medieval fortress, tower home, or royal residence.
Most Beautiful Castles in Scotland
This information is jam-packed with the perfect castles in Scotland. These are probably the most thrilling castles, and all have distinctive claims to fame or tales to their identify. Buckle up since you are in for some critical citadel inspiration.
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle wants slightly introduction. As most likely probably the most well-known citadel in Scotland, the medieval citadel 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 imagine that tickets e-book out rapidly and crowds flock in peak seasons. We recommend 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 a whole lot of reveals, together with The Honours of Scotland, aka the Scottish crown jewels.
Admittedly, it could be legal for Edinburgh Castle not to make our checklist. Not solely is it the medieval citadel 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 time out with loads of instructional and informative particulars, you’ll be able to’t go incorrect with Edinburgh Castle. And bonus factors for anybody who finds someplace to keep in Edinburgh with views of the citadel 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 citadel dates again to the twelfth century and was as soon as a Renaissance royal palace – filled with luxuries like an ideal 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 get entangled with the extra entertaining facets like attempting 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 checklist for its hyperlinks to the Wars of Independence. Only a number of castles in Scotland provide such 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 citadel stays sit on a 160-foot rock overlooking the North Sea, which is believed to have been the primary fortified citadel. The oldest elements of the citadel date again to the Early Middle Ages, whereas the surviving elements that guests see as we speak 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 totally romantic addition to our prime 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 citadel is situated in the coastal city of Stonehaven, alongside Scotland’s east coast. It is a two-hour drive from Edinburgh, however we propose spending a number 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 citadel 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 mentioned to have hosted Mary Queen of Scots and was the childhood residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. At Glamis Castle, the Queen Mother additionally gave beginning to Princess Margaret.
The lengthy hyperlinks to royals bagged Glamis Castle a spot in our information. It is participating to go to, with an ideal 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 citadel is located outdoors 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 citadel 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 truly commissioned a brand new citadel to be constructed in 1856. Balmoral Castle is a good looking place to study extra concerning the British royals. Its shut hyperlinks to the British monarchy earned it a spot on our checklist.
Balmoral Castle is situated in the Cairngorms National Park close to the village of Balmoral. It is a good looking 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 citadel sits on a tidal island amidst a confluence of three lochs. The loch setting is magical (who is aware of, possibly the Loch Ness monster has a cousin?), and Eilean Donan Castle is well the most effective castles in Scotland for a scenic location. The Thirteenth-century citadel was as soon as the stronghold of the MacRae household. Still, it was sadly destroyed in the conflict through the Jacobite Uprising. Only in 1932 was the Scottish citadel restored to its former glory and opened to the general public.
Eilean Donan Castle is gorgeous to go to. If you do, you will need to 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 vital citadel 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 citadel 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 one of the vital famed clans in Scotland, so visiting their ancestral household house is a should.
The citadel 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, contemplate combining the 2. It is value noting that for a interval of 2023, Braemar Castle will probably 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 residence central to Scottish historical past. Shakespeare followers might acknowledge the citadel from Macbeth’s ‘Thane of Cawdor’. And actually, Cawdor Castle is rarely removed from legends or tales. That is why we added it to our checklist. The medieval citadel truly incorporates a tower constructed round a legendary holly tree. According to legend, the unique Thane of Cawdor dreamed a few donkey carrying a coffer of gold. In his dream, the donkey laid down at the perfect place for a brand new citadel, the place it could endlessly prosper. The thane did the one logical factor – reenacting his dream and constructing the brand new citadel on the holly tree the place the donkey stopped.
Cawdor Castle is fascinating to go to and has a extremely 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 citadel dates again to the sixteenth century, and its grounds function a deer park. Families will love getting up shut to the pleasant deer. Culzean Castle is the right place to go to with youngsters for that ‘classic castle’ expertise. Inside, the primary options of Culzean Castle are the attractive drawing room and oval staircase. Once owned by Clan Kennedy, Culzean Castle is now the property of the National Trust of Scotland. This implies that whereas the citadel stays adorned as a non-public residence, it stays open year-round for public entry.
Aside from the citadel having deer you’ll be able to meet, our favourite factor about Culzean Castle is its clifftop location. The citadel sits overlooking the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran. Just south of Ayr, Culzean Castle is a simple 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 non-public 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 by means of its shared architect, Sir Charles Barry.
Its historical past goes again even additional, although, because the oldest elements of the citadel date again to round 1275. A go to to the citadel’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 straightforward to squeeze right into a North Coast 500 street journey. Dunrobin Castle sits on the coast overlooking the Moray Firth. It is simply outdoors 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, critically, the Scots baronial-style citadel is brilliant pink. The pink Scottish citadel is rumored to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle – each little one’s dream addition to our prime Scottish castles. Craigievar Castle is gorgeous to go to.
The citadel’s magnificence is what bagged it a spot on our checklist; it is likely one of the finest castles in Scotland if you need a novel 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 by means of the battle 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 outdoors on its grounds.
Hours: Dawn to nightfall Entry Fees: $17
12. Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle is a surprising Scottish citadel on the Isle of Skye. The citadel 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 by means of generations. It can be believed to be the oldest constantly inhabited citadel in Scotland.
You can take a self-guided or guided tour by means of Dunvegan Castle. It is an excellent spot to get a extra intimate style of Scottish historical past. We love the aspect 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 good looking property, the 52 acres function 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 quite a bit contemplating Floors Castle is the most important inhabited home in Scotland. We love how a lot there may be 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 citadel was lastly opened to the general public in 1977. It is an thrilling citadel, 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 by means of a few of Scotland’s darkest hours. The citadel’s 30 rooms have seen a few of the most influential politicians and troopers. Dating again to 1269, Blair Castle has a powerful show of armory all through – a becoming nod to Scotland’s turbulent previous. Its historic significance is exactly why it made our checklist.
Blair Castle and Gardens is situated close to the tiny village of Old Blair, simply beneath the Cairngorms National Park. It is vastly scenic to go to. The nationwide park backdrop is one thing else. If you have got a number of days to spend in the world, Cairngorms National Park is well-combined with Blair Castle. Inside, the citadel’s design spans a number of eras. Some options whisk you again to medieval Scotland, whereas others communicate to newer Victorian types.
Touring Blair Castle is fascinating as a result of it has such an extended historical past. You can clearly see the totally different influences of every period. It is a unbelievable Scottish citadel 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 residence 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 checklist.
Rather than being all the time obtainable, like Edinburgh Castle, visiting Inveraray Castle is far more intimate. You’ll tour all of the non-public rooms and flooring, studying extra about its previous homeowners and designers. The citadel itself has lovely Scottish baronial structure.
The citadel 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 street 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 citadel close to Dumfries. Duart Castle: A citadel 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 citadel is a ceremony of passage. Castles are so intertwined in Scottish historical past that it’s close to not possible – or needs to be thought of 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, take pleasure in visiting as many of those finest castles in Scotland as potential. You gained’t remorse it.