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 the easiest way 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 one of the best castles in Scotland. These are essentially 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 fortress inspiration.
1. Edinburgh Citadel
Edinburgh Citadel wants slightly introduction. As most likely essentially the most well-known fortress in Scotland, the medieval fortress sits on Citadel Rock in proud show within the middle of Edinburgh Outdated City. Edinburgh Citadel is the second most visited attraction within the UK, so that you finest consider that tickets e book out shortly 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 Citadel is best-visited low season. With fewer individuals round, you’ll be able to actually absorb Scotland’s historical past. Edinburgh Citadel has tons of of reveals, together with The Honours of Scotland, aka the Scottish crown jewels.
Admittedly, it might be prison for Edinburgh Citadel to not make our checklist. Not solely is it the medieval fortress that has survived for hundreds of years in Scotland’s capital metropolis. Edinburgh Citadel can also 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 Citadel. And bonus factors for anybody who finds someplace to remain in Edinburgh with views of the fortress on Citadel Rock.
- Hours: 9:30 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $22
2. Stirling Citadel
Stirling Citadel 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 a terrific corridor for balls and feasting and a royal looking lodge. Located in Stirling, Stirling Citadel was additionally tactically used as a stronghold through the Scottish Wars of Independence. Stirling Citadel sits on a volcanic rock on an elevated vantage level. Due to this advantageous place, many battles have been fought round Stirling Citadel, together with Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. Stirling Citadel was a hub of battle.
Immediately, Stirling Citadel is fascinating for guests intrigued by Scottish historical past – particularly associated to the Wars of Independence. It’s surrounded by battlefields. Whereas in Stirling Citadel, guests can tour the totally different rooms and get entangled with the extra entertaining points like making an attempt on interval costumes and chatting with the costumed character actors.
Stirling Citadel 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 some castles in Scotland provide such very important perception into this era of Scottish historical past. So don’t overlook Stirling Citadel.
- Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm
- Entry Charges: $18
3. Dunnottar Citadel
Dunnottar Citadel 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 right now are dated to the sixteenth century. Regardless of its ruined state, Dunnottar Citadel 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 prime Scottish Castles.
Dunnottar Citadel 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 finest 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 advise spending a number of nights there. Particularly since it’s close to the Cairngorms Nationwide Park.
- Hours: 10 am to six pm
- Entry Charges: $11
4. Glamis Citadel
Glamis Citadel is without doubt one of the most lovely medieval castles in Scotland. The fortress has over 650 years of historical past and is alleged to have impressed Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The ancestral house owners of Glamis Citadel 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 Citadel, the Queen Mom additionally gave start to Princess Margaret.
The lengthy hyperlinks to royals bagged Glamis Citadel a spot in our information. It’s participating to go to, with a terrific 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 Citadel
Balmoral Citadel 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 Citadel was famously a favourite spot for Queen Elizabeth II. What most individuals don’t know, although, is that the unique Balmoral Citadel was deemed ‘too small’ for the royal household. Prince Albert truly commissioned a brand new fortress to be in-built 1856. Balmoral Citadel is a stupendous place to study extra concerning the British royals. Its shut hyperlinks to the British monarchy earned it a spot on our checklist.
Balmoral Citadel is positioned within the Cairngorms Nationwide Park close to the village of Balmoral. It’s a lovely place to go to alongside the River Dee, and it’s simple to see why a royal looking lodge was added. Balmoral Citadel is surrounded by nature.
- Hours: April-July: 10 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $20
6. Eilean Donan Citadel
Chances are high you’ve seen an image of Eilean Donan Citadel 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 Citadel is well among the best 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 Citadel 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’ll be able to take excursions of the rooms and reveals. However the primary 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 Citadel
The Seventeenth-century Braemar Citadel 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 also be one of the crucial 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 Citadel 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 Citadel 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 Citadel can be closed inside for renovation. Verify the web site for updates.
- Hours: TBC
- Entry Charges: TBC
8. Cawdor Citadel
Cawdor Citadel is one other ancestral house central to Scottish historical past. Shakespeare followers might acknowledge the fortress from Macbeth’s ‘Thane of Cawdor’. And actually, Cawdor Citadel is rarely removed from legends or tales. That’s the reason we added it to our checklist. The medieval fortress truly includes 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 one of the best place for a brand new fortress, the place it might eternally 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 Citadel is fascinating to go to and has a very participating historical past. You possibly can go to on a self-guided or guided tour, exploring the grounds and inside. Within the tiny village of Cawdor, Cawdor Citadel is round a 20-minute drive from Inverness.
- Hours: April-October: 10 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $17
9. Culzean Citadel
Culzean Citadel is lavish and opulent – what extra do it is advisable know? The fortress dates again to the sixteenth century, and its grounds function a deer park. Households will love getting up near the pleasant deer. Culzean Citadel is the right place to go to with youngsters for that ‘basic fortress’ expertise. Inside, the primary options of Culzean Citadel are the attractive drawing room and oval staircase. As soon as owned by Clan Kennedy, Culzean Citadel 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’ll be able to meet, our favourite factor about Culzean Citadel is its clifftop location. The fortress sits overlooking the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran. Simply south of Ayr, Culzean Citadel is a simple day journey from Glasgow, simply an hour’s drive away.
- Hours: 10 am to 4 pm
- Entry Charges: $12
10. Dunrobin Citadel
Dunrobin Citadel is the most important within the Northern Highlands. It’s a non-public residence of many titles – from one of many oldest inhabited castles in Scotland to essentially the most northern of Scotland’s nice homes. Dunrobin Citadel 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 Citadel 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. Concerning visiting, Dunrobin Citadel is straightforward to squeeze right into a North Coast 500 street journey. Dunrobin Citadel sits on the coast overlooking the Moray Firth. It’s simply outdoors the east Scottish village of Golspie. Try our Dunrobin Citadel information right here for extra inspiration and important particulars.
- Hours: April-September:
- Entry Charges: $16
11. Craigievar Citadel
Craigievar Citadel is fairly eye-catching. No, severely, the Scots baronial-style fortress is brilliant pink. The pink Scottish fortress is rumored to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Cinderella Citadel – each baby’s dream addition to our prime Scottish castles. Craigievar Citadel is gorgeous to go to.
The fortress’s magnificence is what bagged it a spot on our checklist; it is without doubt one of the finest castles in Scotland if you’d like 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 Citadel dates again to 1626 and has Jacobean touches all through. Having lived by the combat for Scottish independence, Craigievar Citadel is filled with thrilling reveals about Scotland’s historical past. Guests can tour the various rooms and reveals. And when you’ve explored inside, you’ll be able to head out to identify wildlife like pine martens and deer outdoors on its grounds.
- Hours: Daybreak to nightfall
- Entry Charges: $17
12. Dunvegan Citadel
Dunvegan Citadel is a surprising 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. Probably the most valued possession in Dunvegan Citadel is the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, which is alleged to carry magical powers of assured victory in battle.
The silk flag is believed thus far again to the 4th century and comes from Syria or Rhodes. Dunvegan Citadel 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. It’s also believed to be the oldest repeatedly inhabited fortress in Scotland.
You possibly can take a self-guided or guided tour by Dunvegan Citadel. It’s a great 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 Citadel
Flooring Citadel is without doubt one of the finest castles in Scotland on the Scottish borders – simply an hour from Edinburgh. Set on a stupendous property, the 52 acres function a Victorian Walled Backyard and Millennium Backyard. Loads of woodland and riverside trails zigzag the property’s grounds. Flooring Citadel is as a lot a day outdoor as an indoor attraction. This says so much contemplating Flooring Citadel is the most important inhabited home in Scotland. We love how a lot there’s to do at Flooring Citadel, and its myriad of pop-up occasions and actions is another excuse we added it to our information.
Flooring Citadel 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, all the time internet hosting a brand new exercise or occasion.
- Hours: Might-October: 10:30 am to five pm
- Entry Charges: $21
14. Blair Citadel and Gardens
Blair Citadel is without doubt one of the most historic of Scotland’s castles. Dwelling 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 among the most influential politicians and troopers. Relationship again to 1269, Blair Citadel 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 checklist.
Blair Citadel 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 a number of days to spend within the space, Cairngorms Nationwide Park is well-combined with Blair Citadel. Inside, the fortress’s design spans a number of eras. Some options whisk you again to medieval Scotland, whereas others converse to more moderen Victorian types.
Touring Blair Citadel is fascinating as a result of it has such a protracted historical past. You possibly can clearly see the totally different influences of every period. It’s a implausible 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 Citadel
Inveraray Citadel is without doubt 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 lovely that it was chosen because the set for the 2012 Downtown Abbey Christmas particular. We had so as to add it to our checklist.
Moderately than being all the time out there, like Edinburgh Citadel, visiting Inveraray Citadel is rather more intimate. You’ll tour all of the non-public rooms and flooring, studying extra about its previous house owners 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 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 Citadel: An oblong tower home in East Ayrshire.
- Caerkaverock Citadel: A moated triangular fortress close to Dumfries.
- Duart Citadel: 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 unattainable – or must be thought-about as such – to depart them out of a Scotland itinerary.
On the lookout for 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 attainable. You gained’t remorse it.