15 Greatest Castles in Scotland to Go to in 2023
The precise quantity of castles in Scotland is unknown – the overall 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 simplest ways to immerse your self in historic Scotland, whether or not you decide a medieval fortress, tower home, or royal residence.
Most Stunning Castles in Scotland
This information is jam-packed with the very 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 severe fort inspiration.
1. Edinburgh Fort
Edinburgh Fort wants somewhat introduction. As in all probability essentially the most well-known fort in Scotland, the medieval fort 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 imagine that tickets e book 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 individuals round, you possibly can actually soak up Scotland’s historical past. Edinburgh Fort has tons 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 fort 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 possibly can’t go mistaken with Edinburgh Fort. And bonus factors for anybody who finds someplace to remain in Edinburgh with views of the fort 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 fort dates again to the twelfth century and was as soon as a Renaissance royal palace – stuffed with luxuries like an amazing corridor for balls and feasting and a royal looking lodge. Located in Stirling, Stirling Fort was additionally tactically used as a stronghold throughout the Scottish Wars of Independence. Stirling Fort sits on a volcanic rock on an elevated vantage level. Due to this advantageous place, many battles had been fought round Stirling Fort, together with Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. Stirling Fort was a hub of battle.
Right now, 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 get entangled with the extra entertaining points 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 fort stays sit on a 160-foot rock overlooking the North Sea, which is believed to have been the primary fortified fort. The oldest elements of the fort date again to the Early Center Ages, whereas the surviving elements that guests see immediately 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 high 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 fort is situated 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 lovely medieval castles in Scotland. The fort has over 650 years of historical past and is alleged to have impressed Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The ancestral homeowners of Glamis Fort are the Strathmore household, who’ve resided there since 1372. It’s even mentioned to have hosted Mary Queen of Scots and was the childhood residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mom. At Glamis Fort, the Queen Mom additionally gave delivery to Princess Margaret.
The lengthy hyperlinks to royals bagged Glamis Fort a spot in our information. It’s participating to go to, with an amazing 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 fort 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 fort 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 fort to be in-built 1856. Balmoral Fort is a lovely 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 situated 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 straightforward to see why a royal looking 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 fort 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 Fort is well probably the greatest castles in Scotland for a scenic location. The Thirteenth-century fort was as soon as the stronghold of the MacRae household. Nonetheless, it was sadly destroyed within the warfare throughout the Jacobite Rebellion. Solely in 1932 was the Scottish fort restored to its former glory and opened to the general public.
Eilean Donan Fort is gorgeous to go to. In case you do, you need to cease on the a number of scenic viewpoints across the loch shoreline. Inside, you possibly can take excursions of the rooms and displays. However the primary draw is the aesthetic and the truth that such an necessary fort 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 fort 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 vital famed clans in Scotland, so visiting their ancestral household house is a should.
The fort 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 facet of historical past. The facet of historical past that concerned on a regular basis individuals, not simply influential figures and the rich.
Braemar Fort is only a stone’s throw from the Scottish Highland Video games. In case you go to on the proper time of 12 months, think about combining the 2. It’s price noting that for a interval of 2023, Braemar Fort will likely be closed inside for renovation. Verify the web site for updates.
- Hours: TBC
- Entry Charges: TBC
8. Cawdor Fort
Cawdor Fort is one other ancestral residence central to Scottish historical past. Shakespeare followers could acknowledge the fort from Macbeth’s ‘Thane of Cawdor’. And actually, Cawdor Fort isn’t removed from legends or tales. That’s the reason we added it to our listing. The medieval fort truly includes a tower constructed round a legendary holly tree. In line with legend, the unique Thane of Cawdor dreamed a few donkey carrying a coffer of gold. In his dream, the donkey laid down at the very best place for a brand new fort, the place it might eternally prosper. The thane did the one logical factor – reenacting his dream and constructing the brand new fort on the holly tree the place the donkey stopped.
Cawdor Fort is fascinating to go to and has a very 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’ll want to know? The fort dates again to the sixteenth century, and its grounds function a deer park. Households will love getting up near the pleasant deer. Culzean Fort is the proper place to go to with kids for that ‘basic fort’ expertise. Inside, the primary options of Culzean Fort are the gorgeous drawing room and oval staircase. As soon as owned by Clan Kennedy, Culzean Fort is now the property of the Nationwide Belief of Scotland. Because of this whereas the fort stays adorned as a non-public residence, it stays open year-round for public entry.
Other than the fort having deer you possibly can meet, our favourite factor about Culzean Fort is its clifftop location. The fort 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 essentially 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 by means of its shared architect, Sir Charles Barry.
Its historical past goes again even additional, although, for the reason that oldest elements of the fort date again to round 1275. A go to to the fort’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 straightforward to squeeze right into a North Coast 500 street 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 fort is vibrant pink. The pink Scottish fort is rumored to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Cinderella Fort – each youngster’s dream addition to our high Scottish castles. Craigievar Fort is gorgeous to go to.
The fort’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 singular aesthetic. And situated 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 by means of the struggle for Scottish independence, Craigievar Fort 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 possibly can 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 fort on the Isle of Skye. The fort 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 Fort 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 Fort 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. Additionally it is believed to be the oldest constantly inhabited fort in Scotland.
You may take a self-guided or guided tour by means of Dunvegan Fort. It’s a fantastic spot to get a extra intimate style of Scottish historical past. We love the ingredient 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 lovely property, the 52 acres function 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 outside as an indoor attraction. This says so much contemplating Flooring Fort is the biggest inhabited home in Scotland. We love how a lot there’s to do at Flooring Fort, and its myriad of pop-up occasions and actions is another excuse we added it to our information.
Ground 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 fort was lastly opened to the general public in 1977. It’s an thrilling fort, 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 Fort and Gardens
Blair Fort is likely one of the most historic of Scotland’s castles. Residence to the Atholl household for over seven centuries, it has lived by means of a few of Scotland’s darkest hours. The fort’s 30 rooms have seen a few of the most influential politicians and troopers. Relationship 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 situated close to the tiny village of Previous Blair, simply beneath the Cairngorms Nationwide Park. It’s massively scenic to go to. The nationwide park backdrop is one thing else. If in case you have a couple of days to spend within the space, Cairngorms Nationwide Park is well-combined with Blair Fort. Inside, the fort’s design spans a number of eras. Some options whisk you again to medieval Scotland, whereas others converse to newer Victorian types.
Touring Blair Fort is fascinating as a result of it has such an extended historical past. You may clearly see the completely different influences of every period. It’s a unbelievable Scottish fort 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 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 lovely that it was chosen because the set for the 2012 Downtown Abbey Christmas particular. We had so as to add it to our listing.
Slightly than being at all times obtainable, 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 homeowners and designers. The fort itself has lovely Scottish baronial structure.
The fort is close to the village of Inveraray, on the outskirts of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Nationwide Park. It’s potential 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 Fort: An oblong tower home in East Ayrshire.
- Caerkaverock Fort: A moated triangular fort close to Dumfries.
- Duart Fort: A fort 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 fort 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.
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 potential. You received’t remorse it.