The precise quantity of castles in Scotland is unknown – the final consensus being round 3,000. There are extra Scottish castles than wherever else within 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 Stunning Castles in Scotland
This information is jam-packed with the perfect castles in Scotland. These are essentially 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 Fortress
Edinburgh Fortress wants a little bit introduction. As most likely essentially the most well-known fortress in Scotland, the medieval fortress sits on Fortress Rock in proud show within the middle of Edinburgh Outdated City. Edinburgh Fortress is the second most visited attraction within the UK, so that you greatest consider that tickets ebook out shortly and crowds flock in peak seasons. We recommend reserving your tickets right here for skip-the-line entry earlier than you go.
Due to this, Edinburgh Fortress is best-visited low season. With fewer individuals round, you may actually soak up Scotland’s historical past. Edinburgh Fortress has lots of of displays, together with The Honours of Scotland, aka the Scottish crown jewels.
Admittedly, it will be prison for Edinburgh Fortress to not make our record. Not solely is it the medieval fortress that has survived for hundreds of years in Scotland’s capital metropolis. Edinburgh Fortress can be one of many best-preserved castles in Scotland. For a full time out with loads of instructional and informative particulars, you may’t go flawed with Edinburgh Fortress. And bonus factors for anybody who finds someplace to remain in Edinburgh with views of the fortress on Fortress Rock.
- Hours: 9:30 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $22
2. Stirling Fortress
Stirling Fortress 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 awesome corridor for balls and feasting and a royal looking lodge. Located in Stirling, Stirling Fortress was additionally tactically used as a stronghold through the Scottish Wars of Independence. Stirling Fortress sits on a volcanic rock on an elevated vantage level. Due to this advantageous place, many battles had been fought round Stirling Fortress, together with Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. Stirling Fortress was a hub of battle.
At the moment, Stirling Fortress is fascinating for guests intrigued by Scottish historical past – particularly associated to the Wars of Independence. It’s surrounded by battlefields. Whereas in Stirling Fortress, guests can tour the totally different rooms and become involved with the extra entertaining facets like attempting on interval costumes and chatting with the costumed character actors.
Stirling Fortress is enjoyable and family-friendly, regardless of its somber historical past. It earned a spot on our record for its hyperlinks to the Wars of Independence. Only some castles in Scotland provide such very important perception into this era of Scottish historical past. So don’t overlook Stirling Fortress.
- Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm
- Entry Charges: $18
3. Dunnottar Fortress
Dunnottar Fortress is without doubt 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 components of the fortress date again to the Early Center Ages, whereas the surviving components that guests see at this time are dated to the sixteenth century. Regardless of its ruined state, Dunnottar Fortress is without doubt 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 high Scottish Castles.
Dunnottar Fortress 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 without doubt one of the greatest locations to expertise historic Scotland. The fortress is positioned within the coastal city of Stonehaven, alongside Scotland’s east coast. It’s a two-hour drive from Edinburgh, however we recommend spending just a few nights there. Particularly since it’s close to the Cairngorms Nationwide Park.
- Hours: 10 am to six pm
- Entry Charges: $11
4. Glamis Fortress
Glamis Fortress is without doubt one of the most stunning 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 Fortress are the Strathmore household, who’ve resided there since 1372. It’s even stated to have hosted Mary Queen of Scots and was the childhood residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mom. At Glamis Fortress, the Queen Mom additionally gave delivery to Princess Margaret.
The lengthy hyperlinks to royals bagged Glamis Fortress a spot in our information. It’s participating to go to, with an awesome perception into historic Scotland. It is without doubt one of the solely castles in Scotland to embrace its literary hyperlinks, too, that includes a Macbeth Path, which brings the play to life. The fortress is located outdoors the village of Glamis, a 20-minute drive north of Dundee.
- Hours: March-October: 10 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $9
5. Balmoral Fortress
Balmoral Fortress 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 Fortress was famously a favourite spot for Queen Elizabeth II. What most individuals don’t know, although, is that the unique Balmoral Fortress was deemed ‘too small’ for the royal household. Prince Albert really commissioned a brand new fortress to be inbuilt 1856. Balmoral Fortress is a gorgeous place to study extra concerning the British royals. Its shut hyperlinks to the British monarchy earned it a spot on our record.
Balmoral Fortress is positioned within the Cairngorms Nationwide Park close to the village of Balmoral. It’s a stunning place to go to alongside the River Dee, and it’s straightforward to see why a royal looking lodge was added. Balmoral Fortress is surrounded by nature.
- Hours: April-July: 10 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $20
6. Eilean Donan Fortress
Chances are high you’ve seen an image of Eilean Donan Fortress already. The fortress 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 Fortress is well probably the greatest castles in Scotland for a scenic location. The Thirteenth-century fortress was as soon as the stronghold of the MacRae household. Nonetheless, it was sadly destroyed within the conflict through the Jacobite Rebellion. Solely in 1932 was the Scottish fortress restored to its former glory and opened to the general public.
Eilean Donan Fortress is gorgeous to go to. In the event you do, you need to cease on the a number of scenic viewpoints across the loch shoreline. Inside, you may take excursions of the rooms and displays. However the principle draw is the aesthetic and the truth that such an essential fortress was resurrected from despair with renovations.
- Hours: February-December: 9 am to six pm (varies by month)
- Entry Charges: $13
7. Braemar Fortress
The Seventeenth-century Braemar Fortress is an iconic fortified fortress in the midst of the Cairngorms Nationwide Park. It has had some well-known guests, together with the present British royal household. Clan Farquharson can be one 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 Fortress is thrilling to go to and listen to concerning the different aspect of historical past. The aspect of historical past that concerned on a regular basis individuals, not simply influential figures and the rich.
Braemar Fortress is only a stone’s throw from the Scottish Highland Video games. In the event you go to on the proper time of yr, take into account combining the 2. It’s value noting that for a interval of 2023, Braemar Fortress shall be closed inside for renovation. Examine the web site for updates.
- Hours: TBC
- Entry Charges: TBC
8. Cawdor Fortress
Cawdor Fortress is one other ancestral residence central to Scottish historical past. Shakespeare followers could acknowledge the fortress from Macbeth’s ‘Thane of Cawdor’. And truthfully, Cawdor Fortress isn’t removed from legends or tales. That’s the reason we added it to our record. The medieval fortress really incorporates a tower constructed round a legendary holly tree. In response 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 fortress, the place it will 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 Fortress is fascinating to go to and has a very participating historical past. You’ll be able to go to on a self-guided or guided tour, exploring the grounds and inside. Within the tiny village of Cawdor, Cawdor Fortress is round a 20-minute drive from Inverness.
- Hours: April-October: 10 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $17
9. Culzean Fortress
Culzean Fortress is lavish and opulent – what extra do you might want to know? The fortress dates again to the sixteenth century, and its grounds characteristic a deer park. Households will love getting up near the pleasant deer. Culzean Fortress is the proper place to go to with youngsters for that ‘traditional fortress’ expertise. Inside, the principle options of Culzean Fortress are the attractive drawing room and oval staircase. As soon as owned by Clan Kennedy, Culzean Fortress is now the property of the Nationwide Belief of Scotland. Which means whereas the fortress stays adorned as a personal residence, it stays open year-round for public entry.
Apart from the fortress having deer you may meet, our favourite factor about Culzean Fortress is its clifftop location. The fortress sits overlooking the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran. Simply south of Ayr, Culzean Fortress is a simple day journey from Glasgow, simply an hour’s drive away.
- Hours: 10 am to 4 pm
- Entry Charges: $12
10. Dunrobin Fortress
Dunrobin Fortress is the most important within the Northern Highlands. It’s a personal residence of many titles – from one of many oldest inhabited castles in Scotland to essentially the most northern of Scotland’s nice homes. Dunrobin Fortress 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 Fortress was a naval hospital in WWI. It has hyperlinks to the Homes of Parliament by its shared architect, Sir Charles Barry.
Its historical past goes again even additional, although, for the reason that oldest components of the fortress date again to round 1275. A go to to the fortress’s on-site museum is a should. It is without doubt one of the most informative and traditionally complicated castles to go to in Scotland. Relating to visiting, Dunrobin Fortress is simple to squeeze right into a North Coast 500 street journey. Dunrobin Fortress sits on the coast overlooking the Moray Firth. It’s simply outdoors the east Scottish village of Golspie. Take a look at our Dunrobin Fortress information right here for extra inspiration and important particulars.
- Hours: April-September:
- Entry Charges: $16
11. Craigievar Fortress
Craigievar Fortress is fairly eye-catching. No, significantly, the Scots baronial-style fortress is vibrant pink. The pink Scottish fortress is rumored to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Cinderella Fortress – each youngster’s dream addition to our high Scottish castles. Craigievar Fortress is gorgeous to go to.
The fortress’s magnificence is what bagged it a spot on our record; it is without doubt one of the greatest castles in Scotland in order for you a singular aesthetic. And positioned in Alford, a village between Cairngorms Nationwide Park and Aberdeen, it has a scenic location within the Scottish Highlands.
Craigievar Fortress dates again to 1626 and has Jacobean touches all through. Having lived by the struggle for Scottish independence, Craigievar Fortress is filled with thrilling displays about Scotland’s historical past. Guests can tour the various rooms and displays. And when you’ve explored inside, you may head out to identify wildlife like pine martens and deer outdoors on its grounds.
- Hours: Daybreak to nightfall
- Entry Charges: $17
12. Dunvegan Fortress
Dunvegan Fortress 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. Essentially the most valued possession in Dunvegan Fortress is the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, which is claimed to carry magical powers of assured victory in battle.
The silk flag is believed so far again to the 4th century and comes from Syria or Rhodes. Dunvegan Fortress is without doubt 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 generations. Additionally it is believed to be the oldest repeatedly inhabited fortress in Scotland.
You’ll be able to take a self-guided or guided tour by Dunvegan Fortress. It’s a fantastic 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 five:30 pm
- Entry Charges: $19
13. Flooring Fortress
Flooring Fortress is without doubt one of the greatest castles in Scotland on the Scottish borders – simply an hour from Edinburgh. Set on a gorgeous property, the 52 acres characteristic a Victorian Walled Backyard and Millennium Backyard. Loads of woodland and riverside trails zigzag the property’s grounds. Flooring Fortress is as a lot a day outdoor as an indoor attraction. This says rather a lot contemplating Flooring Fortress is the most important inhabited home in Scotland. We love how a lot there’s to do at Flooring Fortress, and its myriad of pop-up occasions and actions is another excuse we added it to our information.
Flooring Fortress dates again to the 18th-century. It was initially handled by the primary Duke as a ‘nation home’ or bolt gap when escaping the calls for of Parliament in London. 9 Dukes later, the fortress was lastly opened to the general public in 1977. It’s an thrilling fortress, at all times internet hosting a brand new exercise or occasion.
- Hours: Could-October: 10:30 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $21
14. Blair Fortress and Gardens
Blair Fortress is without doubt one of the most historic of Scotland’s castles. Residence to the Atholl household for over seven centuries, it has lived by a few of Scotland’s darkest hours. The fortress’s 30 rooms have seen a number of the most influential politicians and troopers. Relationship again to 1269, Blair Fortress 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 record.
Blair Fortress and Gardens is positioned close to the tiny village of Outdated Blair, simply beneath the Cairngorms Nationwide Park. It’s vastly scenic to go to. The nationwide park backdrop is one thing else. When you have just a few days to spend within the space, Cairngorms Nationwide Park is well-combined with Blair Fortress. Inside, the fortress’s design spans a number of eras. Some options whisk you again to medieval Scotland, whereas others converse to newer Victorian kinds.
Touring Blair Fortress is fascinating as a result of it has such an extended historical past. You’ll be able to clearly see the totally different influences of every period. It’s a incredible Scottish fortress with exhibitions all through for a museum-like expertise.
- Hours: April-October: Monday-Sunday 10 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $20
15. Inveraray Fortress
Inveraray Fortress is without doubt one of the greatest 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. Additionally it is so stunning that it was chosen because the set for the 2012 Downtown Abbey Christmas particular. We had so as to add it to our record.
Slightly than being at all times accessible, like Edinburgh Fortress, visiting Inveraray Fortress is rather more intimate. You’ll tour all of the personal rooms and flooring, studying extra about its previous homeowners and designers. The fortress itself has stunning Scottish baronial structure.
The fortress is close to the village of Inveraray, on the outskirts of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Nationwide Park. It’s attainable to go to as a day journey from Glasgow, Oban, and even to include it right into a Scottish street journey.
- Hours: March-September: Thursday-Monday 10 am to five pm, October: Thursday-Monday 10 am to 4 pm
- Entry Charges: $19
- Mauchline Fortress: An oblong tower home in East Ayrshire.
- Caerkaverock Fortress: A moated triangular fortress close to Dumfries.
- Duart Fortress: 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 inconceivable – or needs to be thought of as such – to depart them out of a Scotland itinerary.
Searching for extra inspiration forward of your go to to Scotland? Take a look at our North Coast 500 information and our final information to the greatest cities in Scotland. In any other case, get pleasure from visiting as many of those greatest castles in Scotland as attainable. You received’t remorse it.