Scotland is peppered with beautiful, mysterious castles, chock full of all the intrigue that accompanies Scottish history. Scotland’s castles are regarded as some of the best in the world, mixing wonderful architecture from multiple periods with all the historical significance and swagger a visitor could want!
A little exploration of these hidden gems uncovers the many facets, twists and turns that have shaped the story of Scotland. From once-great ruins to Scottish castle hotels that are still providing guests with a glimpse into living in the lap of luxury, the range of castles to visit in Scotland is unsurpassed around the world.
It is estimated that on average, there is a castle every 100 of square miles in Scotland. Thus, making the country a must-visit for history buffs, sightseers and those who appreciate the significance of these grand structures.
5 Scottish Castles to Enjoy on Your Tour to Scotland
A tour of Scotland is incomplete without visiting one of its many castles. These wonderfully preserved castles contribute to the uniqueness and aura that permeates throughout the land.
Narrowing down the list is a tough job, but we’ve done our best and here are five such examples that have stood the test of time.
Cawdor Castle is regarded as one of the most beautifully constructed castles in all of Scotland. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Cawdor Castle was said to be the home of the Thane of Cawdor.
Cawdor Castle and gardens were built in the latter half of the 14th century. A dwelling for the descendants of the Clan Campbell, the castle is located in Cawdor, Nairn.
- The Drawing Room has a great collection of family portraits giving a peek into the lives of those who have lived there.
- A grand stone fireplace adds the drama into the opulent dining room.
- A kitchen that is hundreds of years old, coupled with sprawling gardens add even more charm to this magnificent castle.
Cawdor castle is open for tourists from May till early October. The Cawdor castle opening times are from 10 in the morning till 5:30 in the evening.
The entry fee for Cawdor castle is priced at £10.70 for adults and £6.50 for children. A family ticket for two adults and up to 5 children between 5-15 years is priced at £30.00.
Edinburgh Castle has witnessed some of the most gruesome of battles in Scottish history.
Standing tall in the centre of Edinburgh since the 11th century, the castle has seen Scottish history unfold right outside its very gates – from the Scottish Independence wars of the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
Edinburgh Castle is also famous for its state-of-the-art light installations when it becomes the Castle of Light for 5 weeks in the winter. Edinburgh castle lights showcase the history, myths, villains, and heroes of Scottish history through fantastic light installations.
Edinburgh castle concerts are organised every summer, and many renowned artists have performed at this stunning location. Not to mention that it is the home of the globally successful Edinburgh Military Tattoo AND that the castle looks over the Royal Mile – the beating heart of the Edinburgh Festival every August.
- Edinburgh Castle is home to the Mons Meg, Stone of Destiny, and the Scottish crown jewels.
- Edinburgh Castle fires rounds each day at 1300hrs from its “One-O-Clock” 15th-century gun.
- Edinburgh Castle’s top draw is its hill-top location, giving it stunning views over the city.
Edinburgh castle opening times differ for both summer and winter season. The castle is open from 9:30 am till 6 pm during summer lasting from 1st of April till 30th of September. The castle opens from 10 am to 4 pm during winter months running from October to May.
Edinburgh castle tickets must be booked in advance. The tickets are priced at £15.50 for adults, with senior citizens getting a concession price of just £12.40. Tickets for children are priced at £9.30.
Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle is a 13th-century marvel that casts a dramatic shadow over Kyle of Lochalsh in Dornie. Its view over the three lochs separating the mainland from the Isle of Skye is one of many sights that keep visitors coming back year after year.
Famed for the numerous movies that have been shot here. Eilean Donan Castle films include the famed 1986 movie Highlander starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, as well as James Bond films and, more recently, was used in the filming of the global smash-hit TV series Outlander.
- The path to Eilean Donan Castle is as historic as the castle itself. The only way going in and out is an old stone footbridge.
- The Eilean Donan Castle sunset offers picture-postcard views, famous the world over.
- Huge collection of artefacts and weaponry.
Eilean Donan Castle is open daily for visitors from 10 am till 5:30 pm from April to October.
The entry fee for adult is £10 whereas for a child is £6 and senior is £9. Family tickets are priced at £29. Children below five years are treated as complimentary.
Dunvegan Castle is the home of Clan MacLeod and is recognised as the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland. A visit to this castle gives a peek into the oldest clans in Scotland and highlights the highs and lows of that ever-famed Scottish history.
- Tracing back Scottish roots at this ancestral Dunvegan Castle & Gardens is a unique experience.
- A boat ride to Loch Dunvegan is an added attraction providing spectacular views over the Isle of Skye.
- From the gardens to the famed oil paintings, there is plenty of charm and intrigue to this old-world fort.
The latest updated Dunvegan castle opening times for visitors are between 10 am till 5:30 pm daily.
The entry fee is £14.00 per adult and £9.00 for a child between 5 to 15 years. Family tickets are priced at £34.00. Students and seniors are allowed concessions where the per ticket price is £11.00.
Brodie Castle was built in the 16th century around Forres in Morayshire. A past residence of the Brodie family, the castle is now a part of the Scotland National Trust.
Brodie Castle events happen regularly throughout the year and intermingle festivities with the beautiful showcasing of lights and performances.
- Brodie Castle Playful Garden is a sight to behold that also boasts a huge, sculpted bunny!
- The garden comes alive during spring which sees a carpet of daffodils as well as other beautiful floral displays.
- Exquisite art collections and furniture are a big draw to one of the most prominent castles in Scotland.
Brodie Castle is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. The Brodie Castle opening times being from 10 am to 4 pm.
The entry fees being £11 for adults, £6.50 for children, and family tickets run-up to £35.
Scotland is home to thousands of castles. The dramatic backdrops and the picture-postcard views make a Scottish Castle holiday a one-of-a-kind experience.
These castles are windows to the past, and though some have been run down over the ages, their charm is still evident. The sheer opulence and grandeur is a testament to the glory of Scottish history.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How many Scottish castles are there?
The total number of Scottish castles figure between two thousand to four thousand in number. These are, however, rough estimates. However, little is known through historical records.
Does Scotland have the most castles?
Scotland does feature amongst the places with the greatest number of castles. But estimates suggest Germany has built over twenty-five thousand castles which far outweighs any other country.
What’s the oldest castle in Scotland?
Castle Sween and Aberdour Castle are two of the oldest standing castles of Scotland.
Why are there so many castles in Scotland?
The repetitive feuds between noblemen and the civil war during the middle ages led to arbitrary revolts against the king. This led to the process of building castles that would aid in protecting and controlling lands. Castles also popped up as proof of authority over the land.
What is the biggest castle in Scotland?
The largest inhabited castle in all of Scotland is the Floors Castle located in the Scottish borders and River Tweed’s heartland.
What is a Scottish palace called?
Scottish Gaelic history corroborates how palaces were ideally called “Fort” or “Dun”.