Top 10 Stunning Castles in Scotland to Visit (The UK)
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No matter where you go, the best thing about Scotland is that you will always stay around a castle. Its lofty mountains and pristine lochs are the important parts of the Scottish landscape. The castles in Scotland ranked as some of the most beautiful attractions in the world.
If you are wondering how many castles in Scotland, it is believed that there was a time when there were around 3000 castles in Scotland, i.e., at least one castle located in the radius of every 100 miles. It was very difficult for us to narrow down our list to only ten castles.
From well-preserved historic fortresses to serene and romantic ruins atop the cliffs, from haunted tower houses to fairy-tale castles, Scotland is full of awe-inspiring and iconic castles. Steeped in the architectural excellence and legends, reveal the unique tales behind these impressive monuments. Without further ado, we have compiled the list of best castles in Scotland.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Where to stay in Scotland?
- 2 Short in time? Go sightseeing on tour!
- 3 Plan your trip to The UK
- 4 Other destinations to visit in Europe
- 5 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Where to stay in Scotland?
Short in time? Go sightseeing on tour!
Here’s the list of the top castles to visit in Scotland
Built-in the 15th century, Castle Fraser is a fantastic place to feel the charm of old Scotland and its vivid tales. It was built in 1575 to 1636 by Michael Fraser, the 6th laird.
Today, it is maintained by the National Trust for Scotland standing before the largest tower house of the land. Here, tourists can soak in the breathtaking views and quirky features, including hidden trapdoors, secret staircases, a wooden leg, and a spy hole.
It is the most complex Z-plan castle in the country. It boasts ornaments, family portraits, and mementos with their own beautiful stories to share about the lairds. The strikingly beautiful Great Hall is one of the most evocative rooms in the castle. The estate features open farmland and mixed woodland, a flight pond, with two marked paths offering breathtaking views of local hills.
The medieval walled garden features flowers, shrubs, vegetables, and fruits. You can also buy exclusive gifts from a shop here.
It is a historically pleasant, evocative, and romantic ruined castle, perched atop a giant company over the North Sea edges. Once you visit Dunrobin Castle, it is sure that you will never forget that experience.
Be ready to get the unforgettable feel and get introduced to the value of Dunnottar in this castle. This impregnable castle holds a lot of secrets of the vivid past of Scotland. The evocative and dramatic ruined hilltop fortress was home to one of Scotland’s most powerful families, Earls Marischal.
Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace, the future King Charles II and the Marquis of Montrose have visited this castle and graced its charm. A small garrison held at Dunnottar Castle was held out most prominently against the Cromwell’s arms for up to 8 months and saved the ‘Honors of Scotland’, the Scottish Crown Jewels from destruction.
One of the most striking strongholds of Scotland, the Blackness Castle was built by the Chichtons, one of the most influential families of the land in the 15th century. It was expanded massively in the 16th century as a beautiful artillery fortress used as an armament depot, royal castle, prison, and shooting location for BBC’s Ivanhoe and Hamlet.
The Blackness Castle called ‘the ship which never sailed’ because of its magnificent look of a stone ship. You can soak in the striking views of Firth of Forth and Fife from the castle. It also has display boards across the lawn, even though it is hard for visitors who use wheelchairs due to cobbles and uneven ground. It has gravel paths across the lawn, and you may spot some of the best shrubberies in the grounds.
This beautiful fortress offers the setting for the headquarters of Fort William of Black Jack Randall, and it has featured in the heart-warming scene of the incarnation of Jamie.
Duart Castle proudly protects the Isle of Mull sea cliffs and it has been one of the unique and most spectacular castles on the West Coast of Scotland. In 1911, it was restored from ruin and treasures the history of over 800 years which belonged to one of the oldest Clans of Scotland, The Macleans, and it is also one of the privately owned and last surviving Clan Castles of Scotland.
Explore the turbulent history of the Clan, the love stories, and the battles by visiting this castle. Explore the fragrant Rowan Tree located in Castle Courtyard or admire the Clan Crest stone by standing under it.
Also, don’t forget to explore the ghostly dungeons and ancient keep of the 13th century. Browse the quaint surroundings of Edwardian State Rooms and the giant Banqueting Hall. Explore the uninterrupted views across the Sound of Mull by walking in the Battlements.
You can find something more to enjoy the outside views in the Castle grounds, including a promontory Duart Point and Millennium Wood, which you can explore on the trek. Finally, you can enjoy the homemade, homegrown food at the end of the tour in Duart Tearoom or even buy a souvenir at a gift shop “Maclean’s of Duart.”
Duart Castle hosts a lot of Events and Weddings, including Military Re-enactments, Outdoor Theater, Storytelling, Music, Highland Dancers, and Scottish Pipers throughout the summer months.
Discover the prehistoric seat of the Earls and Dukes of Atholl and home to Atholl Highlanders, the last private army of Europe that remains at Blair Castle. Nestled in the sprawls of Highland Perth side, Blair Castle has been home to Murrays and Stewarts of Atholl for over 19 generations.
The history from Mary Queen of Scots’ visit to the Civil War and from the cause of Jacobite to the destruction of Culloden after the stay of Bonnie Prince Charlie, make Scottish castle stand out of the rest.
Here, you will come across the fact how the fortunate inheritance of an island (infested by a smuggler) turned this castle into a cozy home and how Queen Victoria’s visit helped create the only private surviving regiment of Europe, the Atholl Highlanders.
Currently, over 30 rooms are being displayed, which are full of the cultural history of Scotland, antique furnishings, architectural design, landscape paintings, family paintings, and vibrant military past.
Some of the highlands include the well-decorated Victorian Ballroom with its 175 pairs of antlers, the grand Georgian styled Picture Staircase, the Entrance Hall where weapons are stored which used at the Battle of Culloden, as well as the grandeur of State Dining Room and Drawing Room.
The National Trust for Scotland currently maintains this imposing 16th-century castle. For around 400 years, it was used by the Brodie clan as their ancestral home. Discover the designer ceilings, impressive art collections, and beautiful furniture inside. It has a natural trail, well-landscaped garden, and the whole-new tourist attraction named ‘The Playful Garden”.
Brodie Castle surrounded by acres of serene Moray countryside was previously erected in 1567 by Clan Brodie.
This turreted, rose-colored castle stands beautifully on land which is confirmed by Robert the Bruce to the Brodies. See the shape and purpose of the castle, which has changed over time. On one side, this 16th-century closed guard chamber flanked by a comfortable wing which built on the 17th century.
On the other hand, is flanked by a serene Victorian extension. The passageway, rooms, and towers of the castle are troves of unusual artifacts and priceless antiques.
The estate which spread over 71 hectares has its amazing features, including an adventure playground, dazzling exhibitions of daffodils, a nature trail with observatory decks for wildlife exploration, Pictish monument “Rodney’s Stone” and a walled garden.
The castle is positioned well around a small hill Macbeth’s Hillock where a heroic character of Shakespeare’s novel is believed to have met the Weird Sisters. You may visit here to join the grand opening ceremony of Playful Garden – A Magical Experience for families.
Located near Turriff in Aberdeenshire, Fyvie Castle was once a royal stronghold built as a castle in the 13th century. Five powerful families have owned it from generation to generation. Each of those families added their charm to its splendor. In this giant Baronial fortress, they have added a tower.
Admire the luxurious interiors and antique furnishings which are still glorious just like when they installed initially. You can also explore the large sweeping staircase. It may be the most dramatic addition to this palace. However, you can also witness a lot of other treasures here.
Drummond Castle Gardens’
Drummond Castle Gardens’ widely revered as some of the finest and most prominent formal gardens in Scotland. You can reach this formidable tower house over the ridge through a beech-lined avenue spread over a mile. A significant Italianate parterre is a surprise package with the woven iron portcullis.
Originally built in the 17th century and later terraced and revamped in the 19th century, the gardens replanted in the 1950s which are still in the same form. It also preserves the details like the copper beech trees and ancient yew hedges by Queen Victoria to celebrate her visit, somewhere around 1842. A film ‘Rob Roy’ by the United Artists shot in these gardens. The castle is not open for public, but the gardens have beautiful views of the castle and nearby countryside.
It is a world-renowned gem of Scotland and belongs to the New and Old Towns of World Heritage Site of Edinburgh. The British Travel Awards voted it as the top UK Heritage Attraction and #1 paid tourist attraction in Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle is the most famous castle in Scotland with a complicated history. St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest part of the castle dates back to the 12th century. Also, the Great Hall was built around 1510 by James IV. The Scottish National War Memorial built after World War I, and the Half Moon Battery was constructed in late 16th century by the Regent Morton.
The castle exhibits the Crown Jewels (Honours) of Scotland, the well-known Mons Meg (a 15th-century gun), the Stone of Destiny, the National War Museum of Scotland, the One O’ Clock Gun and even more. The castle stewards offer the guided tours along with the audio tour in 8 languages – English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, and Russian. The audio tour explains the architecture of the castle and shares its epic history.
In the Royal Apartments, the Crown Jewel shop offers a beautiful collection of well-designed jewelry. The Bank of Scotland also runs a vehicle to take disabled visitors to the top of the castle. There are a lift and ramps to access the Stone of Destiny, the Crown Jewels, and the exhibition.
You can enter the war memorial through the ramps. There are some Braille text-enabled models of Crown Jewels and a free guide written on Braille text for visitors with impaired vision. Sometimes, the castle remains closed because of extreme weather conditions and other reasons on a short note.
Eilean Donan Castle
It would be best if you visited this iconic monument in Scotland because it is one of the most picture-perfect castles in Scotland. You can find Eilean Donan Castle in several pictures of castles in Scotland. Eilean Donan Castle is the face of Scotland as it has mostly appeared on a lot of calendars and shortbread tins. It is one of the most well-known tourist attractions of the Highlands.
Once you get here, you will understand why it flocked by thousands and millions of tourists every year. It is positioned well on its island facing the Isle of Skye where three sea-lochs connect, beautifully covered by the splendor of majestic forested mountains of Kintail, located in a very breathtaking setting.
You may want to stroll through most of the beautiful interior rooms of the castle having Jacobean artifacts, historic furniture, fine art, and weapon displays, and even more. The castle has no lack of heritage and historical attractions with informative guides who happily share a lot of their knowledge
Other destinations to visit in Europe
Portugal, France, Andorra, Spain, Greece, Italy, Malta, Gibraltar, Monaco, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, The Netherlands, The UK, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia an Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Macedonia.
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