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 formidable title. Visiting castles is one of the best ways to immerse your self in historic Scotland, whether or not you choose a medieval fortress, tower home, or royal residence.
Most Lovely 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 citadel inspiration.
1. Edinburgh Fort
Edinburgh Fort wants a bit introduction. As most likely probably the most well-known citadel in Scotland, the medieval citadel sits on Fort Rock in proud show within the middle of Edinburgh Previous City. Edinburgh Fort is the second most visited attraction within the UK, so that you finest consider that tickets ebook out rapidly and crowds flock in peak seasons. We advise reserving your tickets right here for skip-the-line entry earlier than you go.
Due to this, Edinburgh Fort is best-visited low season. With fewer folks round, you may actually absorb Scotland’s historical past. Edinburgh Fort has lots of of displays, together with The Honours of Scotland, aka the Scottish crown jewels.
Admittedly, it might be prison for Edinburgh Fort to not make our listing. Not solely is it the medieval citadel that has survived for hundreds of years in Scotland’s capital metropolis. Edinburgh Fort can be one of many best-preserved castles in Scotland. For a full day trip with loads of instructional and informative particulars, you may’t go unsuitable with Edinburgh Fort. And bonus factors for anybody who finds someplace to remain in Edinburgh with views of the citadel on Fort Rock.
Hours: 9:30 am to five pm Entry Charges: $22
2. Stirling Fort
Stirling Fort 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 – stuffed with luxuries like an incredible corridor for balls and feasting and a royal searching lodge. Located in Stirling, Stirling Fort was additionally tactically used as a stronghold through the Scottish Wars of Independence. Stirling Fort sits on a volcanic rock on an elevated vantage level. Due to this advantageous place, many battles have been fought round Stirling Fort, together with Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. Stirling Fort was a hub of battle.
At the moment, Stirling Fort is fascinating for guests intrigued by Scottish historical past – particularly associated to the Wars of Independence. It’s surrounded by battlefields. Whereas in Stirling Fort, guests can tour the completely different rooms and become involved with the extra entertaining facets like attempting on interval costumes and chatting with the costumed character actors.
Stirling Fort 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. Just a few castles in Scotland provide such very important perception into this era of Scottish historical past. So don’t overlook Stirling Fort.
Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm Entry Charges: $18
3. Dunnottar Fort
Dunnottar Fort 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 components of the citadel date again to the Early Center Ages, whereas the surviving components that guests see as we speak are dated to the sixteenth century. Regardless of its ruined state, Dunnottar Fort 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 prime Scottish Castles.
Dunnottar Fort 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 positioned within the coastal city of Stonehaven, alongside Scotland’s east coast. It’s a two-hour drive from Edinburgh, however we recommend spending a couple of nights there. Particularly since it’s close to the Cairngorms Nationwide Park.
Hours: 10 am to six pm Entry Charges: $11
4. Glamis Fort
Glamis Fort is likely one of the most stunning medieval castles in Scotland. The citadel has over 650 years of historical past and is alleged to have impressed Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The ancestral house owners of Glamis Fort 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 house of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mom. At Glamis Fort, the Queen Mom additionally gave beginning to Princess Margaret.
The lengthy hyperlinks to royals bagged Glamis Fort a spot in our information. It’s 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 Path, 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 five pm Entry Charges: $9
5. Balmoral Fort
Balmoral Fort 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 Fort was famously a favourite spot for Queen Elizabeth II. What most individuals don’t know, although, is that the unique Balmoral Fort was deemed ‘too small’ for the royal household. Prince Albert truly commissioned a brand new citadel to be inbuilt 1856. Balmoral Fort is a stupendous place to be taught extra in regards to the British royals. Its shut hyperlinks to the British monarchy earned it a spot on our listing.
Balmoral Fort 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 simple to see why a royal searching lodge was added. Balmoral Fort is surrounded by nature.
Hours: April-July: 10 am to five pm Entry Charges: $20
6. Eilean Donan Fort
Chances are high you’ve seen an image of Eilean Donan Fort already. The citadel 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 Fort is definitely among the finest castles in Scotland for a scenic location. The Thirteenth-century citadel 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 citadel restored to its former glory and opened to the general public.
Eilean Donan Fort is gorgeous to go to. For those who do, you have 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 primary draw is the aesthetic and the truth that such an essential citadel was resurrected from despair with renovations.
Hours: February-December: 9 am to six pm (varies by month) Entry Charges: $13
7. Braemar Fort
The Seventeenth-century Braemar Fort is an iconic fortified citadel in the course 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 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 Fort is thrilling to go to and listen to in regards to the different aspect of historical past. The aspect of historical past that concerned on a regular basis folks, not simply influential figures and the rich.
Braemar Fort is only a stone’s throw from the Scottish Highland Video games. For those who go to on the proper time of 12 months, think about combining the 2. It’s value noting that for a interval of 2023, Braemar Fort can be closed inside for renovation. Examine the web site for updates.
Hours: TBC Entry Charges: TBC
8. Cawdor Fort
Cawdor Fort is one other ancestral house central to Scottish historical past. Shakespeare followers could acknowledge the citadel from Macbeth’s ‘Thane of Cawdor’. And truthfully, Cawdor Fort isn’t removed from legends or tales. That’s the reason we added it to our listing. The medieval citadel truly includes a tower constructed round a legendary holly tree. In response 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 citadel, the place it might eternally 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 Fort is fascinating to go to and has a extremely participating historical past. You may go to on a self-guided or guided tour, exploring the grounds and inside. Within the tiny village of Cawdor, Cawdor Fort is round a 20-minute drive from Inverness.
Hours: April-October: 10 am to five pm Entry Charges: $17
9. Culzean Fort
Culzean Fort is lavish and opulent – what extra do you could know? The citadel dates again to the sixteenth century, and its grounds characteristic a deer park. Households will love getting up near the pleasant deer. Culzean Fort is the right place to go to with kids for that ‘traditional citadel’ expertise. Inside, the primary options of Culzean Fort are the attractive drawing room and oval staircase. As soon as owned by Clan Kennedy, Culzean Fort is now the property of the Nationwide Belief of Scotland. Which means that whereas the citadel stays adorned as a non-public residence, it stays open year-round for public entry.
Apart from the citadel having deer you may meet, our favourite factor about Culzean Fort is its clifftop location. The citadel sits overlooking the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran. Simply south of Ayr, Culzean Fort is a straightforward day journey from Glasgow, simply an hour’s drive away.
Hours: 10 am to 4 pm Entry Charges: $12
10. Dunrobin Fort
Dunrobin Fort is the biggest within the Northern Highlands. It’s 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 Fort 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 Fort was a naval hospital in WWI. It has hyperlinks to the Homes of Parliament via its shared architect, Sir Charles Barry.
Its historical past goes again even additional, although, for the reason that oldest components 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 advanced castles to go to in Scotland. Concerning visiting, Dunrobin Fort is simple to squeeze right into a North Coast 500 highway journey. Dunrobin Fort sits on the coast overlooking the Moray Firth. It’s simply outdoors the east Scottish village of Golspie. Try our Dunrobin Fort information right here for extra inspiration and important particulars.
Hours: April-September: Entry Charges: $16
11. Craigievar Fort
Craigievar Fort is fairly eye-catching. No, critically, the Scots baronial-style citadel is vivid pink. The pink Scottish citadel is rumored to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Cinderella Fort – each little one’s dream addition to our prime Scottish castles. Craigievar Fort is gorgeous to go to.
The citadel’s magnificence is what bagged it a spot on our listing; it is likely one of the finest castles in Scotland in order for you a novel aesthetic. And positioned in Alford, a village between Cairngorms Nationwide Park and Aberdeen, it has a scenic location within the Scottish Highlands.
Craigievar Fort dates again to 1626 and has Jacobean touches all through. Having lived via the combat for Scottish independence, Craigievar Fort is stuffed 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 Fort
Dunvegan Fort is a shocking 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. Probably the most valued possession in Dunvegan Fort is the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, which is alleged to carry magical powers of assured victory in battle.
The silk flag is believed to this point again to the 4th century and comes from Syria or Rhodes. Dunvegan Fort is likely one of the most fascinating castles in Scotland. Occupied by the identical household for over 800 years, it is stuffed with tales and legends handed via generations. It’s also believed to be the oldest constantly inhabited citadel in Scotland.
You may take a self-guided or guided tour via Dunvegan Fort. It’s a fantastic spot to get a extra intimate style of Scottish historical past. We love the component of magic and superstition.
Hours: April-October: 10 am to five:30 pm Entry Charges: $19
13. Flooring Fort
Flooring Fort is likely one of the finest castles in Scotland on the Scottish borders – simply an hour from Edinburgh. Set on a stupendous property, the 52 acres characteristic a Victorian Walled Backyard and Millennium Backyard. Loads of woodland and riverside trails zigzag the property’s grounds. Flooring Fort is as a lot a day open air as an indoor attraction. This says lots contemplating Flooring Fort is the biggest inhabited home in Scotland. We love how a lot there may be to do at Flooring Fort, and its myriad of pop-up occasions and actions is another excuse we added it to our information.
Flooring Fort 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 citadel was lastly opened to the general public in 1977. It’s an thrilling citadel, all the time internet hosting a brand new exercise or occasion.
Hours: Could-October: 10:30 am to five pm Entry Charges: $21
14. Blair Fort and Gardens
Blair Fort is likely one of the most historic of Scotland’s castles. Dwelling to the Atholl household for over seven centuries, it has lived via a few of Scotland’s darkest hours. The citadel’s 30 rooms have seen a number of the most influential politicians and troopers. Courting again to 1269, Blair Fort 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 Fort and Gardens is positioned close to the tiny village of Previous Blair, simply beneath the Cairngorms Nationwide Park. It’s vastly scenic to go to. The nationwide park backdrop is one thing else. When you’ve got a couple of days to spend within the space, Cairngorms Nationwide Park is well-combined with Blair Fort. Inside, the citadel’s design spans a number of eras. Some options whisk you again to medieval Scotland, whereas others communicate to newer Victorian kinds.
Touring Blair Fort is fascinating as a result of it has such a protracted historical past. You may clearly see the completely different influences of every period. It’s a implausible Scottish citadel with exhibitions all through for a museum-like expertise.
Hours: April-October: Monday-Sunday 10 am to five pm Entry Charges: $20
15. Inveraray Fort
Inveraray Fort is likely one of the finest castles in Scotland. Why? It has been house to the Clan Campbells for generations. The present Clan Campbells maintain the title of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. It’s also 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 listing.
Relatively than being all the time accessible, like Edinburgh Fort, visiting Inveraray Fort is way more intimate. You’ll tour all of the non-public rooms and flooring, studying extra about its previous house owners and designers. The citadel itself has stunning Scottish baronial structure.
The citadel is close to the village of Inveraray, on the outskirts of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Nationwide Park. It’s doable to go to as a day journey from Glasgow, Oban, and even to include it right into a Scottish highway journey.
Hours: March-September: Thursday-Monday 10 am to five pm, October: Thursday-Monday 10 am to 4 pm Entry Charges: $19 Mauchline Fort: An oblong tower home in East Ayrshire. Caerkaverock Fort: A moated triangular citadel close to Dumfries. Duart Fort: 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 unattainable – or ought to be thought of as such – to depart them out of a Scotland itinerary.
In search of extra inspiration forward of your go to to Scotland? Try our North Coast 500 information and our final information to the finest cities in Scotland. In any other case, take pleasure in visiting as many of those finest castles in Scotland as doable. You received’t remorse it.