25 Best Castles in Scotland You Need to Visit + Map

Castles are an integral part of Scotland’s history – they are dotted around the whole country. Some are perched on volcanic rocks, dramatic seaside clifftops, some have fairytale architecture, some have elegant gardens, some are significantly ruined – each one of them is unique on its own. No trip to this beautiful country would be complete without visiting some of the best and most scenic castles in Scotland.

These castles were mainly built for defence purposes by Clan chiefs and Scottish nobilities. Most of them have gone through trials and tribulations over centuries – they were caught up in battles, rebellion, uprising, sieges, independence. It’s fascinating to see these castles and to learn about the role they played in shaping Scotland’s history.

We have listed down the 25 best castles in Scotland that you can include in your Scotland itinerary. Most of them are easily accessible on a day trip from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In this travel guide, you will find what’s unique about these castles, things to see and do, opening hours, admission prices, intriguing facts, insider tips and how to reach there. 

🤔How Many Castles are there in Scotland?

Though the exact number varies, it is estimated that once there were nearly 3000 castles in Scotland. That is almost one in every 100 square miles. You are never too far from them wherever you are in Scotland. Evidently, Scotland is a heaven for anyone having a keen interest in historic houses. Aberdeenshire, famously known as the “Scotland’s Castle Country” is home to around 263 of them.

Established in 1931, The National Trust for Scotland conserves and owns around 130 castles and estate houses around Scotland. Historic Scotland, founded in 1991, looks after about 65 castles. Also, some of the historic buildings today are owned privately and not accessible to the public. Some have been converted into hotels, where you can spend a night or two.

🌞Best Time to Visit the Castles in Scotland

June to early September is the best time for castle-hunting in Scotland. The weather typically stays relatively dry and warm around this time. However, you can never trust Scottish weather – you can expect some rain any time of the year. All the attractions remain open in summer, and the surrounding gardens in full blooms look stunning. 

Spring is also a good choice, with daffodils, bluebells and rhododendrons bursting into blooms. The days are reasonably long, and it’s not too cold either. If you are okay with the rain, autumn would also be a great choice with lovely brilliant colours all around.

Some of the Scottish castles are open all year round whereas some close their doors during the winter months. So, check the opening hours before you pay a visit.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 25 Best Castles in Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

🏰Why you should visit: Sitting atop an extinct volcanic rock in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town, Edinburgh Castle is one of the best historic castles in Scotland. This medieval fortification is steeped in over 900 years of history and draws in millions of visitors every year. Step inside, listen to its fascinating past and give your eyes a treat to the cracking view of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. The iconic outline of Arthur’s Seat with Salisbury Crag looks very photogenic. Also, you can spot the National Monument of Scotland and Nelson Monument on the top of Calton Hill.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle at night

👑What to See: It houses an amazing display of weapons and armours in the Great Hall, the Honours of Scotland – the oldest crown Jewel in Britain, the Stone of Destiny (a sacred object earlier used in Coronation ceremonies), the 15th Century mighty gun – Mons Meg, National War Museum and the Royal Palace.

You would easily spend a few hours exploring the castle, learning its fascinating past and admiring the stunning view of the city skyline.

⚔️Dive into history:

  • St Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest building in Scotland dating back to the 12th century.
  • It sits on an extinct volcano that had its last eruption 340 million years ago.
  • Many believe it’s one of the most haunted places in the country.
  • It is the most besieged castle in Europe.

Top Tips: While you are here, don’t miss the One O’clock gunfire – once a maritime timekeeper, now a spectacular show that happens every day at 1 pm except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Advance booking is definitely recommended to avoid the queue particularly in summer.

If you are planning a visit in August during the Fringe Festival, you are in luck. Book yourself a ticket in advance and enjoy the spectacular show of world-renowned Royal Military Tattoo on the adjacent esplanade.

How to Reach: This imposing castle lies in the middle of the Old Town of Edinburgh and can be seen from miles. Just a short walk from Waverley train station.

Opening Hours: Open daily except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 1 April – 30 September 9:30 am – 6 pm, 1 October – 31 March 9:30 am – 5 pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £17.50, Child £10.50.

2. Eilean Donan - One of the Prettiest Castles in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: This is one of the most photographed and most famous castles in Scotland near the gateway of the Isle of Skye.

Perched on a small island, where three sea lochs – Loch Long, Loch Duich and Loch Alsh meet each other, Eilean Donan Castle is connected to the mainland by an arched stone bridge.

With so many mountain ranges of Kintail coming into view, no wonder why it’s such a popular spot among Instagrammers and photographers.

Eilean Donan - One of the Prettiest Castles in Scotland

🤓For History Buffs: Eilean Donan (Island of Donan) gets its name from the Irish Bishop, St Donan – who came to Scotland in the late 6th century. When it was originally built in the 13th century, it encompassed the whole island with seven towers and a curtain wall.

Over the centuries, the castle reduced in size, and during the Jacobite Rising, it was blown up by the Government troops. The present-day structure was rebuilt in the early 1900s. Step inside and learn more about its riveting past.

⭐Things to do: History aside, Eilean Donan Castle has an incredibly beautiful and romantic setting. There are many viewpoints to admire the setting and take photos. One of the famous photo spots is near the Dornie Community Hall on the other side of the road bridge over Loch Long. You will have a fabulous view of the castle with the impressive mountains of Kintail in the backdrop. Another famous photo spot is the Eilean Donan Lookout – you will get to admire the stunning view from above.

🤔Did you Know: It has been featured in several movies, music videos, TV series including blockbusters such as the 1999 Bond film – ’The World is Not Enough ‘, 1986 cult classic – ‘Highlander’, 1998 famous Bollywood film – ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’.

🔥Insider Tip: Just a short walk from Eilean Donan Castle lies a small fishing village, Dornie. This lochside village is lined up with colourful houses that include a small village shop, a hotel and two pubs. We loved having a peaceful stroll around this beautiful village. We would definitely recommend a visit.

🚗 How to reach by car

  • From Inverness 1 hour 45 min / 71 miles
  • From Fort William 1 hour 30 min / 65.4 miles
  • From Inverness 4 hour / 167 miles

🚌 How to Reach by Bus– Catch Citylink bus service 915, 916, 917 from Glasgow, Inverness or Portree on the Isle of Skye. The bus stop is called Bridge Road end. It takes 38 minutes from Broadford and 1 hour 18 minutes from Portree on the Isle of Skye.

Opening Hours: Varies depending on the season. Generally 10.00 am – 6.00 pm during summer months.

💰Entrance fees: Adult £10, child £6 and family £29.

3. Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland

🏰 Why you should visit: Perched on a clifftop overlooking the Moray Firth, you would feel Dunrobin Castle is cut out straight from a storybook. With a magnificent walled garden, conical spires, cracking view over to the sea – every inch of this fairytale castle is just like a postcard.

The overall ambience is so unreal. It’s a must-visit place if you are on NC500 Road trip.

Dunrobin Castle

What to See: Home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 1300s, this is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Scotland. Also, this is the largest one in the North of Scotland with 189 rooms.  The interior is very elegant – you would see a great collection of artefacts from the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland.

The architecture of Dunrobin Castle is best enjoyed from the walled garden, which was built in the style of the Garden of Versailles. Another star attraction here is the Falconry Show. You would very much enjoy the flying and hunting prowess of the resident birds.

For History Buffs: This fairytale castle was originally built as a fortress and significantly remodelled to a Baronial house by Sir Charles Barry who also designed the House of Parliament in London. It was used as boys boarding school for seven years in the late 1960s.

🚗 How to reach by car

  • From Inverness 1 hr 10 min / 53.6 miles
  • From Glasgow 4 hour / 219 miles

🚂 How to reach by Train – Dunrobin Castle station is a request stop in the Scotrail service between Inverness and Wick. The castle is just a short walk from the station.

While at the train, the staff would usually check with you about your destination, so no problem getting down there. For the return journey, you will have to make yourself visible and wave at the train.

🚌 How to reach by Bus – Stagecoach bus X99 from Inverness. Takes 1 hr 24 min to reach Dunrobin.

Opening Hours: Open in specific months only. Daily 10.00 am – 5.00 pm in May-September, 10.30 am – 4.30 pm in October.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £12.50, Child £7.50.

4. Dunnottar Castle - The Most Dramatic Structure in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Nestled on the northeast coast of Scotland, Dunnottar Castle has the most dramatic setting than any others in the country. Sitting on a rocky promontory surrounded by the North Sea, this one is extremely photogenic. This ruined fortification ranks high on the list of top castles to visit in Scotland.

What to See: Like its setting, the gateway to this ruined medieval castle is quite dramatic; First, you will have a steep descend via a narrow winding path and then you will have to climb up through about 200 steps. Totally worth it when you get to see the rewarding view. Step inside and visit the Tower House, Whigs Vault and learn a great deal of history about its tumultuous past.

After visiting the castle, take the coastal path that goes along the cliff to the Stonehaven harbour. As you would walk along, some stunning views of the castle will gradually open up. Dunnottar is a very popular sunrise and sunset photography location.

Dive into history: The Honours of Scotland (Scottish Crown Jewel) was hidden here when Oliver Cromwell attacked this country in the 1600s. It once had a pet lion during the time of the 5th Earl of Marischal.

🚗 How to Reach by car

  • From Dundee 1 hr / 50.8 miles
  • From Aberdeen 30 min / 18.9 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hour / 112 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Stagecoach bus X7 and 107 from Aberdeen stops at the A92, a short walk from the Castle.

🚂 How to reach by train – The nearest train station is Stonehaven. 

Opening Hours: Open daily 361 days of the year. Castle opening times seasonal. Summer 1st April – 30th September 09.00 – 18.00. Winter 1st October – 30th October 10.00 – 17.00, 31st October – 29th January 10.00 – 15.00, 30th January – 26th February 10.00 – 16.00, 27th February – 31st March 10.00 – 17.00.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £8, Child £4.

5. Urquhart Castle, Scottish Highlands

🏰 Why you should visit: An iconic landmark on the shore of Loch Ness – the largest freshwater lake by volume in Britain, this is one of the most visited castles in Scotland. It has more than 1000 years of stormy past over its ownership which passed back and forth between the English and the Scottish. Though mostly a ruin now, the magical setting makes it a must-visit castle destination in Scotland.

What to See: Climb up the Grant Tower and enjoy an open view of the vast stretch of Loch Ness against the backdrop of the mountains. The setting of the Highland castle is hard to top.

Visit the Prison Cell – you can get an idea of how the prisoners were held captive here in medieval times.

Take a boat cruise down Loch Ness and admire the stunning surroundings. Loch Ness is home to Nessie – the famous Loch Ness Monster. So, keep your eyes peeled out in case you can spot this ever-evading creature.

Dive into history: Irish monk, St Columba is believed to have visited the site in the 6th century when Urquhart Castle was a Pictish fort.

Urquhart was caught up in Clan battles. MacDolands attacked this castle, owned by Clan Grant, several times. During the Great Raid of 1545, they, along with their allies, took most of the valuable items including live stocks.

🚗 How to reach by car 

  • From Inverness 30 min / 17.5 miles
  • From Fort William 1 hour 8 min / 48.6 miles
  • From Edinburgh 3 hour 25 min / 174 miles
  • From Glasgow 3 hour 27 min / 186 miles
  • From Aberdeen 2 hour 50 min / 121 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Citylink buses 917, 919, 920 from Inverness bus station. Takes around 30 minutes. 

Opening Hours: Open daily. Opening times varies by month. Mostly 9.30 am – 6 pm in summer and 9.30 am – 4.30 pm in winter. 

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £9.60 and child £5.80.

6. Stirling Castle - One of the Best Historic Sites in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Located in the historic city of Stirling, this is one of the most historic and largest fortifications in Scotland.

It was the primary Scottish royal residence in Scotland before the Act of Union with England. Most of the present buildings of this medieval fortress were built in the 15th century. 

It was caught up significantly in the Scottish War of Independence and was besieged many times. With easy access from Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is one of the best castles in Scotland. Also, there are many incredible things to do in Stirling for all travellers.

Stirling Castle Scotland
Stirling Castle inside

⭐What to See: There are plenty of things to see and do here. Explore the Great Hall, the Royal Chapel, Marvel at the grand tapestries of the Royal Palace and learn about a great deal of history about Stirling Castle. The Palace Vaults host a range of interactive exhibits which both the adult and younger visitors would enjoy. There is a small garden on the south side – The Queen Anne Garden where you can sit back and relax.

The castle and the esplanade offer a stunning view of the surrounding Ochil Hills and other important landmarks in Stirling.

Learn the history: Mary Queen of Scots, one of the most important characters in the history of Scotland, was crowned in the chapel here at the age of nine months. World’s oldest football was discovered here.

Castle Esplanade has hosted many open-air concerts, including one of Bob Dylan’s and Runrig’s.

💡Expert tips: Don’t miss the stone statue of Robert the Bruce on the esplanade. Also, a must-visit attraction in Stirling is the National Wallace Monument which you can see from here.

If you are a keen walker, take a ramble around the Back Walk – a very popular walk circling the old town of Stirling. You would get to admire some beautiful panoramic views. There is a beautiful view of the castle from Old Town Cemetery just beneath the esplanade.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Edinburgh 1 hour / 36.3 miles
  • From Glasgow 36 min / 26.3 miles
  • From Dundee 1 hour 4 min / 55.4 miles
  • From Perth 42 min / 33.8 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Stirling is very well connected with all the major cities. First Bus, Megabus, Scottish Citylink run frequent bus services from Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. From the bus station, the castle is around 14 minutes walk.

🚂 How to reach by Train – Stirling train station is 15 minutes walk from the castle. There is frequent Scotrail services to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Opening Hours: Open daily. Hours vary by month. Mostly 9.30 am – 6 pm during summer months, and 9.30 am – 5 pm during winter months.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £16 and child £9.60.

7. Balmoral Castle - The Royal Abode in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: The royal residence in the Scottish countryside in Aberdeenshire, Balmoral Castle is one of the prettiest castles in Scotland. It is believed to be Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite residence. She spent her summer holidays here. Also, it is located near the incredibly beautiful village of Braemar, one of the best villages in Scotland.

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

⭐What to See: It is located inside a huge estate privately owned by the Royals since Prince Albert bought this estate in the mid-19th century.

Take a guided tour, learn about the Royal history here and visit the Ballroom, which is only open to the public. Roam around the ground and admire the beautiful view of Balmoral Castle against the backdrop of the Cairngorm Mountains.

After exploring the castle, do the Balmoral Cairns circuit. It would take about 2.5 hours to complete. There are eleven stone cairns to commemorate special occasions in Royal history.

If you are a fan of a wildlife safari tour, book yourself a luxury Land Rover safari tour on the Balmoral estate. You will get to see the red deer, grouse, osprey. If you fancy staying in the Balmoral estate, you can book one of their holiday cottages. Booking in advance is recommended.

🧐For history buffs: Since 1987, a picture of Balmoral Castle appears on the reverse side of £100 notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

It is one of the two privately owned Royal residences, the other being Sandringham House in Norfolk, England. Queen Victoria spent a significant time of her life here after the purchase of the Balmoral Estate.

🔥Top Tips: Visit Royal Lochnagar Distillery, which is not too far from here. This Deeside Distillery got the Royal warrant after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria visited this distillery in the mid-19th century. You can book a distillery tour and enjoy a wee dram.

Hike up to the nearby Balmoral cairns, erected by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The pyramid-like sculpture of Prince Albert Cairn is unusual, not something you’d expect to see in Scotland.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Aberdeen 1 hr 10 min / 47.3 miles
  • From Aviemore 1 hr 20 min / 50.5 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hr 23 min / 103 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus– Ride a Stagecoach bus 201 Aberdeen bus station to Braemar. Takes 2 hrs to reach Balmoral road end bus stop. From there its a few minutes walk to the castle. 

Opening Hours: Seasonal opening. Access by guided tour only. April – July 10 am-5 pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £15, child £6.

8. Blair Castle, Perthshire

🏰 Why you should visit: Located in Blair Atholl in Perthshire, this one is the ancestral home of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. It has over 750 years of rich Highland history.

Caught up in Jacobite Uprising and the Third Civil War, this Scottish castle is home to the Atholl Highlanders – the only private army in Europe.

Nestled in a huge estate at the southern gateway to the Cairngorms National Park, it is one of the prettiest castles in Scotland.

🤔For History Lovers: The Baronial entrance hall of the castle is very impressive with swords, muskets, targes (shields) hanging from the wood-panelled walls. Some of them were used at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. You will have a total of 30 rooms to explore which includes the magnificent Drawing Room, the grand Tapestry Room, the Victorian Ballroom.

Blair Castle, Perthshire

⭐Things to do: Not only the grandeurs inside, but the castle estate also has a nine-acre beautifully decorated Hercules Garden which includes landscaped ponds, Chinese bridge. If you are fond of walking in nature, explore Diana’s Grove – which houses some of the tallest trees in Scotland. Also, pay a visit to the ruins of St Bride’s Kirk – the final resting place of Bonnie Dundee, a prominent Jacobite leader. Also, don’t miss the Deer Park nearby.

Plus, you can take part in plenty of activities like Luxury Highland Pony Picnics, Fishing, Beaver Tours in this huge estate.

🔥Did you Know: Blair castle opened its door to the public in 1936. It was one of the first stately houses in the UK to do so.

Atholl Highlanders, the only private army in Europe, escorted and guarded Queen Victoria during her visit to the Highlands in mid-19th century. She commissioned regiment Colours for them being impressed by their service.

Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette, an international scouting event, is held every two years on the ground of Blair Castle.

🚗 How to reach by car

  • From Edinburgh 1 hr 35 min / 77.6 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hr 38 min / 90.1 miles
  • From Perth 50 min / 33.9 miles
  • From Dundee 1 hr 15 min / 58.3 miles

🚌 How to reach by Bus – local bus company Elizabeth Yule runs Bus 87 from Pitlochry stops near the castle.

🚂 How to reach by Train – The nearest train station is Blair Atholl. The castle is a few minutes walk from there.

Opening Hours: 10.00 am – 5:30 pm

💰 Entrance fees: House and Gardens – Adult £15, Child £9. Gardens only – Adult £7.70, Child £4.

9. Culzean Castle, Ayrshire

🏰 Why you should visit: Located in South Ayrshire, Culzean castle is one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Firth of Clyde, it offers some of the best views of the west coast of Scotland.

This former country house of Clan Kennedy is considered one of the masterpieces of the famous 18th-century Scottish architect Robert Adam. It is a perfect place to visit on a day trip from Glasgow.

Culzean Castle, Ayrshire

⭐What to See: Culzean Castle is nestled inside a huge estate of more than 600 acres. Step inside and marvel at Robert Adam’s Oval Staircase. Explore the walled garden, orangery, lush woodland, swan pond, ice house. Above all, the view across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran, Ailsa Craig and Mull of Kintyre is magnificent.

There is a sandy rocky beach just beneath the castle. You would be able to appreciate the grand architecture of the building from there.

🤔For History Buffs: The top floor of Culzean Castle was presented to President Eisenhower for his contribution to World War II. He visited here four times including the one when he was president of the US.

A picture of this Scottish fortification appeared on the reverse side of £5 notes issued by Royal Bank of Scotland from 1972 till 2015.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Glasgow 1 hour 10 min / 49.7 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hour / 95 miles

🚌 How to reach by public transport– Catch a train from Glasgow to Ayr. From Ayr, Stagecoach bus 60 towards Girvan.  

Opening Hours: Castle opening seasonal. See their website for opening hours.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £18.50

10. Craigievar Castle - Best Fairytale Building in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Some say this historic tower house is one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. Built in the 16th century, this fairy-tale building was the former seat of Clan Sempill.

It is considered one of the best-preserved tower houses in Scotland. The pink tower house against the rolling hills is truly a hidden gem in Aberdeenshire, the castle county of Scotland.

Craigievar Castle - Best Fairytale Building in Scotland

⭐What to See: Admire the Scottish Baronial architecture of this tower house set amidst the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire. The interior of the caste is very nice as well having a superb collection of artworks. It has one of the best plasterwork ceilings in Scotland. After visiting the castle, walk around the surrounding woodland which is very scenic. You will have some great photo opportunities.

🙋Interesting Facts: The upper floor doesn’t have any artificial light installed as the previous wanted to have it this way. You would see all artefacts in natural light. Craigievar Castle is believed to be haunted.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Aberdeen 45 min / 27.1 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hour 45 min / 126 miles
  • From Glasgow 3 hour / 144 miles

Opening Hours: The estate is open daily. Access to inside the castle is by guided tour only. Open Apr-Oct time various.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £14.50. 

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 More Fairytale Castles in Scotland

11. Cawdor Castle, Nairnshire

🏰 Why you should visit: Nestled in Nairnshire, north of Scotland, this is one of the prettiest Highland castles in Scotland. Built around a 15th-century tower house, it was originally inhabited by the Calder family. The ownership of Cawdor passed to Clan Campbell in the 16th century. It is popularly connected to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where one of the characters was Thane of Cawdor.

Cawdor Castle, Nairnshire
Cawdor Castle inside

🤔What to See: Step inside and marvel at the magnificently colourful interiors – The Tapestry Bedroom, Yellow Sitting Room, Pink Bedroom, Dining Room. 

Cawdor Castle has some of the glorious gardens in Scotland. Explore the Walled Garden (the oldest garden), Flower Garden (has a French influence) and the Wild Garden. If you are a keen walker, take a ramble around the surrounding woodland – The Big Wood.

If you are hungry, pop into their in-house Café, The Courtyard Café. They have a great selection of cakes, soup and sandwiches.

🌺Dive into history: The most intriguing part of this historic house is the legendary 500 years old holly tree at the base of the Old Tower. There is an interesting story about how the castle was built. Legend has it, after receiving the royal license, the then Thane of Cawdor (then known as Calder) had a dream that he should fasten a bag of gold on the back of a donkey, and a castle would be built, where the donkey would first stop to rest. Apparently, the donkey stopped near the holly tree. 

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Inverness 22 min / 13.9 miles
  • From Edinburgh 3 hour 10 min / 175 miles
  • From Aberdeen 2 hour / 92.3 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Catch Stagecoach bus 13 from Inverness bus station to Cawdor village.

Opening Hours: Daily from 30th April – 3rd October. Castle 10am – 4pm, Gardens and Grounds 10am-5.30pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £13.50 and child £7.50.

12. Inveraray Castle, Argyll

🏰 Why you should visit: Tucked away on the shore of Loch Fyne in Inveraray, this one is the ancestral home of the chief of Clan Campbell and one of the must-visit castles in Scotland. They are one of the most well-known Scottish clans across the world. 

From local walks to cute shops – there are many wonderful things to do in Inveraray.

Inveraray Castle, Scotland

🌼What to See: Step inside and discover the colourful past of this 18th-century green castle. You would get to know a great deal of history about Clan Campbell, their role in Scottish independence and Jacobite Rising. On the walls of the Armoury Hall, you will see the weapons (muskets, pikes, swords) used in the wars Clan Campbell got involved in. That includes the Battle of Culloden. Armoury Hall has one of the tallest ceilings in Scotland.

It has a gorgeous garden that is famous for its rhododendrons. A must-do thing after exploring the castle would be hiking to Dun Na Cuaiche Viewpoint. It’s an 18th-century watchtower over a nearby hill. It’s one of the best short hikes in Scotland with gorgeous view.

🧐Did you know: It was featured in the ITV historic drama Series, Downton Abbey as Lady Rose’s parental house in one of the Christmas episodes.

Present Duke of Argyll (also the chief of Clan Campbell) and his family still live in Inveraray Castle.

🌻Best tips: Hike to the nearby Dun Na Cuaiche viewpoint for the cracking panoramic view over Loch Fyne, Arrochar Alps and the Inveraray town. For another smashing view of the castle, walk to the stone-arched Inveraray Bridge beside Loch Fyne.

🚗 How to reach by Car

  • From Glasgow 1 hr 27 min / 65.5 miles
  • From Oban 1 hr / 37.5 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hour 20 min / 110 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Scottish Citylink operates regular bus service to Inveraray from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. Travel time is approximately 1hr 47 minutes. 

Opening Hours: 28 Mar – 31 Oct, 10am- 5pm

💰 Entrance fees: Castle & Gardens – Adult £14 , Child £10. Gardens Only – Adult £7.

13. Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries & Galloway

🏰 Why you should visit: Located near the southern coast of Scotland in Dumfries, Caerlaverock Castle is one of the best moated fortifications in Scotland. Triangular defensive walls with twin towers front make its shape very unique. Due to its proximity to the English border, it got caught up in wars over the centuries and was besieged many times. Once a stronghold of the Maxwell family is now a well-preserved ruin.

Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries & Galloway

What to see: This medieval castle was built in the 1200s. The most intriguing feature of Caerlaverock is the moated triangular defensive walls which are made of red sandstone. Step inside and witness the historic ruins.

The castle lies at the northern edge of the Caerlaverock National Natural Reserve. Take a peaceful walk in the woodland adjacent to it. In winter, this natural reserve is home to waterfowls and wading birds. You may be able to spot Barnacle Geese – they migrate here in Scotland from Svalbard, the famous Norwegian island near the North Pole.

After exploring the Caerlaverock Castle and the woodland, pop into their café. They serve a superb selection of soups and sandwiches.

Did you know: Caerlaverock was significantly damaged several times in the war between its Catholic owners and Protestant rulers of England.

It was featured in the 2011 romantic comedy, The Decoy Bride, which starred David Tenant and Kelly Macdonald.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Dumfries 20 min / 8.2 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hour 42 min / 84.5 miles
  • From Carlisle 45 min / 31.4 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Ride DGC bus 6a from Dumfries. Takes 22-34 minutes to reach the Road end bus stop. 

🚂 How to reach by Train – The nearest train station is Dumfries. Re

Opening Hours: Open daily. 1 April – 31 March, 10am to 4pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £6 and child £3.60.

14. Glamis Castle - One of the Most Haunted Places in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Located in the Scottish village of Glamis in Angus – 12 miles north of Scottish city, Dundee, this is one of the prettiest castles in Scotland. This is the childhood home of The Queen Mother and the birthplace of Queen Elizabeth II’s only sibling – Princess Margaret. It is the ancestral home of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne having over 1000 years of fascinating history.

You can visit Glamis on a day trip from Edinburgh.

Glamis Castle, Angus

What to see: Book a guided tour and learn fascinating stories about the castle steep in 1000 years of history. Step inside and marvel at the grandeur of the interiors. 

It boasts of having some gorgeous gardens and well-marked walking trails. The Walled Garden features a variety of lovely flowers, fruits and vegetables. The Italian Garden displays some beautiful geometric hedges. The Nature Trail next to the Italian Garden is a perfect way to commune with nature. You may be able to spot red squirrels, deer. Though all of them are beautiful, our favourite one is the Macbeth Trail which has amazing wooden arty sculptures to evoke the mood of Macbeth. 

The surrounding landscape gets more beautiful in spring with the dazzling display of daffodils all over the ground.

👻Did You know? Glamis Castle is believed to be the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Macbeth. It also has a reputation of being one of the most haunted buildings in Scotland.

Princess Margaret, the sibling of the present Queen, is the first royal to be born in Scotland after the 17th century.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Dundee 26 min / 13 miles
  • From Perth 45 min / 26.6 miles
  • From Aberdeen 1 hour 10 min / 58.8 miles
  • From Edinburgh 1 hour 40 min / 74 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hour 45 min / 92.3 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – From Dundee 20 or 20c Stagecoach bus will take you to Forfar. From Forfar, catch the local bus service 125, operated by JP Coaches, to Glamis Castle. 

Opening Hours: Opening days seasonal. 10 am – 5 pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £15.50, Child £7.50

15. Kilchurn Castle - Best Picturesque Ruined Site in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit:Tucked away on the shore of Loch Awe, this is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. Constructed in the 15th century by the Campbells of Glenorchy as a five-storied tower house, it was a power base of the Campbells for about 150 years. After the Campbells of Glenorchy relocated in Perthshire, it was converted to a garrison fortress. Kilchurn is now an incredibly beautiful, ruined castle amidst an astounding setting.

Kilchurn Castle, Argyll

🌼What to See: This is one of the most photographed castles in the UK due to its stunning setting. Admire the view of this lochside castle with Ben Cruachan in the backdrop. Climb up the battlement and enjoy a stunning view over Loch Awe.

Also, look out for the engravings on the front door. Those are the initials of the 1st Earl of Breadalbane (IEB) and his wife, Countess Mary Campbell (CMC), dated in 1693. Also, visit the St Conan’s Kirk, not too far from the train station.

🌷Did You Know: Famous English painter, J W Turner, painted this castle in the 19th century. Sometimes, when the water level is high in Loch Awe, the building is not accessible, and you would have to admire the view from the distance.

⛰️Best Viewpoint: For the best view of the castle, pull off along A819 right across the loch. There is a small parking spot on the road. Walk down the field to the shore. Click here for the exact location.

🚗 How to reach by car 

  • From Oban 40 min / 22.5 miles
  • From Fort William 1 hour  20 min / 59.2 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hour 45 min / 74.8 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hour 25 min / 99.7 miles

🚂 How to reach by train – The nearest train station is Loch Awe. Train from Glasgow to Oban stops here. From the station, walk 35 minutes to reach Kilchurn.

🚌  How to reach by bus – Scottish Citylink bus 975 from Glasgow to Oban and West Coast Motors bus 403 from Oban to Dalmally stops near the train station.

Opening Hours: Daily. 1 April to 30 September, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Free

16. Braemar Castle, Aberdeenshire

🏰 Why you should visit: Located in the foothill of rugged Cairngorms Mountains in Aberdeenshire, this is one of the best historic castles in Scotland. It was originally built as a hunting lodge by the Earl of Mar in the 17th century. Braemar has a turbulent Highland history of more than 400 years and played a prominent role during Jacobite Uprising. After the Government Garrison left in 1830, it became the family home of the Clan Farquharson.

Braemar Castle, Aberdeenshire

🌷What to See: Braemar Castle is an L-shaped tower house surrounded by Curtain walls resembling a star. Step inside and learn about the riveting Highland history. You will get to see the personal belongings and memorabilia of the chiefs of Clan Farquharson. On three floors, there are about 12 rooms you can visit inside this tower house. This is currently run by local volunteers.

👑Brief History: After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Braemar Castle housed a garrison of Government troops until 1830. The building was burnt down significantly by the Black Colonel, John Farquharson of Inverey (a staunch Jacobite) during the Jacobite Uprising.

The present form of the Braemar Gathering first started in 1832 at the ground of Braemar Castle and it was attended by Queen Victoria. Since 1906, the Braemar Gathering is held at Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in Braemar.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Aberdeen 1 hour 30 min / 55.7 miles
  • From Perth 1 hour 25 min / 50.6 miles
  • From Aviemore 1 hour 30 min / 58.4 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hour 15 min / 94.3 miles

🚌How to reach by bus – Stagecoach bus 201 from Aberdeen bus station. Takes 2 hours 15 minutes.

Opening Hours: The Castle is currently closed for restoration, but the ground is open daily.

💰Entrance fees: Adult £8, child £4.

17. Floors Castle - A Grand Structure in South of Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Floors Castle is located just outside the vibrant market town, Kelso in Scottish Borders. Built in the early 18th century by prominent Architect, William Adam, it is the seat of the Duke of Roxburghe. This historic building has an incredibly beautiful setting overlooking the River Tweed. It is considered a gem of Scottish Borders.

Floors Castle Scottish Borders

🌸What to See: Floors castle houses some of the finest paintings by Raeburn, Picasso. Step inside and marvel at the paintings, Gobelins tapestry, grand furniture, collections of porcelains.

Floors is famous for its gorgeous gardens. Stroll through the Victorian Walled Garden, which has a kitchen garden and glasshouses. Admire the French-style parterre in the Millennium Garden. From the raised terrace in the garden, you can find the intertwined initials of the 10th Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe.

🍁Things to do: Floors Castle and the Roxburgh estate offer some great opportunities for nature trails. If you are fond of walking, take the long route and walk by the River Tweed. You will get a stunning panoramic view.

👑Did You Know: Floors is the largest inhabited castle in Scotland. Sir Walter Scott, 18th-century Scottish literary genius, was so impressed that he called it ‘a kingdom fit for Oberon and Titania to dwell in’.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Edinburgh 1 hour 10 min / 43.6 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hour 45 min / 88 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Catch Borders Bus 67 from Galashiels towards Kelso. Galashiels have regular train and bus service from Edinburgh. 

Opening Hours: 1st May – 30th September 10:30am – 5:00pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £15

18. Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye

🏰 Why you should visit: Nestled on the northwest shoreline of the Isle of Skye, this is one of the best castles in Scotland. Originally built in the 13th century, Dunvegan is the ancestral home of the chief of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. It is most famous for the Fairy Flag, which is claimed to have possessed many magical powers.

Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye Scotland

🌼What to See: There are many things to do and explore in Dunvegan Castle. The main attraction is the Fairy Flag. There are many interesting stories about this magical flag. It’s believed to be a gift from the faeries – mythical creatures found in Scottish folklore. Legend has it Fairy Flag has many magical powers, including its ability to multiply the number of men on the battlefield, bringing herring into the Loch Dunvegan.

One story goes that if it’s waved three times in a row, it may lose its magical power forever, even it may disappear. Fairy Flag was unfurled in Clan battles, and it’s believed to have brought victory in past centuries. Other treasured possessions are the Dunvegan Cup and Sir Rory Mor’s Horn.

Dunvegan Castle has a magnificent garden. Take a stroll and explore the water lily pond, Glass House, Memorial Gazebo. It lies on the shore of Loch Dunvegan, which has amazing wildlife.

👑For History Lovers: Dunvegan is one of the longest inhabited castles in Scotland. The Chiefs of Clan MacLeod has been living here for over 30 generations.        

During the Bombing mission in Second World War, Fairy Flag is believed to have brought luck to some members of the Clan, who carried a photo of the Flag in their pocket.

⛵Pro Tip: Take a cruise on the traditional clinker boats and see the Seal Colony. You would enjoy a marvellous view of the Outer Hebrides as well. Tour runs daily between 10 am and 5 pm and costs adults £10 and children £7. No advance booking is required.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Portree 32 min / 22.4 miles
  • From Inverness 3 hour / 128 miles
  • From Fort William 2 hour 50 min / 123 miles
  • From Glasgow 5 hour 15 min / 230 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus Limited stagecoach bus service 56 from Portree, Isle of Skye.

Opening Hours: Seasonal Opening. Daily 14 May – 15 October, 10am – 5.30pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Castle and Gardens- Adult £14.00, Child £9.00. Gardens only- Adult £12.00, Child £7.00

19. Doune Castle - A Popular Tourist Attraction in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Situated in the village of Doune in Stirlingshire, this is one of the historic buildings in Scotland. The present castle was built in the 1300s by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and the regent of Scotland. It is most famous for its portrayal as Winterfell in the super-popular fantasy drama, Game of Thrones.

You can easily add Doune with a trip to the beautiful city of Stirling.

Doune Castle Stirlingshire

🌹What to See: The most impressive part of this ruined castle is the Great Hall which is shaped like a cathedral. Inside the Duke’s Hall, there are Musician’s Gallery, a carved oak screen and a double fireplace. From the battlement, you would get to admire a spectacular view of the River Teith and the nearby mountains.

After visiting this medieval fortification, take a stroll along the banks of River Teith. You would get a stunning view.

💡Did You Know: Though Doune is most popular for its feature as Winterfell in Game of Thrones, many other films and TV series were filmed here including Outlander, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Studies indicate that Doune Castle was much bigger than what we see today.

🚗 How to reach by car 

  • From Perth 38 min / 33.6 miles
  • From Stirling 15 min / 8.6 miles
  • From Glasgow 40 min / 33.9 miles
  • From Edinburgh 1 hour / 44.1 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Catch First Bus 59 from Stirling. The bus takes 27 minutes to reach Doune village. The castle is within walking distance from the bus stop.

Opening Hours: Daily. 1 April to 31 March, 10am – 4pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £9 and child £5.40.

20. Blackness Castle, West Lothian

🏰 Why you should visit: Tucked away on the shore of the Firth of Forth, this is one of the popular castles in Scotland. Built in the 15th century by the powerful Crichton families, Blackness has the appearance of a stone ship. Some Say Blackness is ‘the ship that never sailed’. It offers one of the best views of the Forth Rail Bridge – an engineering marvel and one of the World Heritage sites in Scotland.

Blackness Castle, West Lothian Scotland

🌸What to See: Climb the towers and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Firth of Forth with the iconic Forth Rail Bridge in the backdrop. You would be able to know a great deal of history about how the castle was transformed from a royal residence to a garrison fortress, and then to a state prison. After visiting the Blackness Castle, take a stroll along the adjacent beach.

🍁Did You Know: Blackness was a state prison for many centuries. It was featured in the popular TV series, Outlander. This historic house was portrayed as Fort William headquarters in that historic drama.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Edinburgh 35 min / 16.4 miles
  • From Glasgow 45 min / 39.5 miles
  • From Stirling 30 min / 24.4 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – The Bo’ness Community Bus runs a minibus from central Edinburgh to Blackness. Bus F49 and C19.

Opening Hours: From 1 April to 23 December Daily except Friday and Saturday, 10am to 4pm. From 5 January to 31 March Daily except Friday and Saturday, 10am to 4pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £6 and child £3.60.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 More Historic Castles in Scotland

21. Drummond Castle, Perthshire

🏰 Why you should visit: Set in picturesque Perthshire, this castle is best known for its magnificent terraced garden. It was built as a tower house in the 15th century by 1st Lord Drummond. The garden was added in the 17th century. Drummond Castle Garden is one of the finest gardens in Europe.

Drummond Castle, Perthshire

🌳What to See: Marvel at the parterre of this beautifully adorned garden from the upper courtyard near the entrance of the garden. Admire the yew hedges and topiaries of this renaissance garden. There is a nice pond as well, where you can spot some ducks. Although the garden looks beautiful at any time of the year, it gets more spectacular in autumn when the colours pop up in the trees.

🌸Did You Know: Drummond Castle Garden was used in the popular TV Series, Outlander to portray the garden at the Palace of Versailles. The Garden was featured in the 1995 film, Rob Roy.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Perth 40 min / 23.6 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hour / 45.5 miles
  • From Edinburgh 1 hour 20 min / 55.7 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Stagecoach East Scotland bus from Perth.

Opening Hours: Open Daily 1pm – 6pm on Easter Weekend and then from 1st May until 31st October 1pm to 6pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £10, child £4, family £22.

22. St Andrews Castle - A Famous Medieval Landmark in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Unlike most of the other castles in Scotland, this was not built by any royals or clan chiefs. Rather, the bishops and archbishops of St Andrews resided in this historic building in the Middle Ages. Located at St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland, it was built around the 12th century, and many infamous events happened here during Scottish Reformation.

Also, St Andrews makes a great day trip choice from Edinburgh.

St Andrews Castle Scotland

🌹What to See: Explore the medieval mine and counter-mine – underground passages built during the religious reformation of Scotland.  Peep into the bottle dungeons – this is one of the infamous medieval castle prisons in the whole of Britain.

Also, admire the Hamilton Façade. This was built by Archbishop John Hamilton in the 16th century, to give the damaged castle a new look. Lastly, soak up the view of this historic ruin sitting over a headland on the shore of the North Sea.

⚔️Did You Know: Protestant preacherGeorge Wishart was burnt alive here in the 16th century, and as an act of revenge, the protestants murdered Catholic Cardinal, David Beaton.  

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Edinburgh 1 hour 25 min / 52.6 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hour 40 min / 73.4 miles
  • From Dundee 25 min / 13.7 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Catch Stagecoach bus X59 from Edinburgh bus station. The journey takes approximately 1 hr 55 min.

🚂 How to reach by train – The nearest train station is Leuchars, around six miles from the town. From Edinburgh, it takes approx 1 hour to reach Leuchars. There are regular Stagecoach buses from the station, and it takes 10 minutes to reach the town centre.

Opening Hours: Daily, 1 April to 30 September, 9.30am to 5pm and 1 October to 31 March, 10am to 4pm.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £9 and child £5.40.

23. Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries & Galloway

🏰 Why you should visit: Set inside a 90,000-acre estate in Dumfries and Galloway, this is home to the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry. Constructed in the 17th century, Drumlanrig castle is one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Scotland.

In the acclaimed television drama series Outlander, Drumlanrig was shown as the Duke of Sandringham’s estate.

Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries & Galloway

🌺What to See: There are plenty of things to see and do in Drumlanrig. Book a castle tour and marvel at their collection of paintings (which include Rembrandt’s An Old Woman Reading, family portraits by Alan Ramsay), furniture and silvers.

Drumlanrig Castle lies inside the massive Queensberry Estate. There are some great biking and walking trails in this estate that are properly waymarked, and colour coded.

🌳Don’t miss– Don’t miss the Drumlanrig Sycamore. It is over 300 years old and the largest in the UK. This estate is famous for its wildlife as well. Keep your eyes peeled out for Red Squirrels, Roe Deer, Barn Owls. Also, there is an adventure playground for the younger visitors.

🚗 How to reach by car 

  • From Edinburgh 1 hour 45 min / 64.4 miles
  • From Glasgow 1 hour 15 min / 61 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Catch a Stagecoach bus from Dumfries town centre. It takes 31 minutes to reach the Drumlanrig Castle Road End bus stop. From there, it’s a 25 minutes walk. Dumfries has direct trains from Glasgow.

Opening Hours: Estate Walks, trails are open all year round. The castle is only open on special dates.

24. Castle Stalker - One of the Best Photo Locations in Scotland

🏰 Why you should visit: Standing on a small islet on Loch Laich in Argyll, this was originally built in the 14th century by the chief of Clan MacDougall – the then Lords of Lorn. The ownership of the castle changed hands a few times, and Clan Campbell acquired it in the 17th century. Due to its stunning setting, this is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.

Castle Stalker, Argyll

🌹What to See: To visit this ruined fortification, you will have to book a tour operated by a member of the Stewart Allward family – the present owner. The tour typically lasts about two hours, including the boat trip to the castle. Booking must be made in advance.

⛵Best viewpoint: One of the popular viewpoints is the Castle Stalker View Café. You would get a stunning panoramic view of Loch Linnhe and the surrounding landscape.

⛰️Did You Know: Campbells gained ownership of this historic site as a result of a drunken bet in 1620. It was featured in the 1975 British comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Oban 28 min / 18.4 miles
  • From Fort William 40 min / 25.5 miles
  • From Glasgow 2 hour 30 min / 101 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus West Coast Motor and Citylink bus from Oban. Takes 38 minutes.

Opening Hours: Access to the castle is by tour only on specific days in summer.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £20, child £10.

25. Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire

🏰 Why you should visit: Located in Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, this is one of the finest Z-Plan castles in Scotland. Originally built in the 16th century by Michael Fraser – the 6th Laird of Fraser, it went through several renovations and reconstructions over centuries.

Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire Scotland

🌻What to See: Inside the Fraser Castle, you would find several family portraits made by famous Scottish artists, including Raeburn. Also, you would get to admire many family furniture, ornaments and other collections. Look out for the hidden trapdoors and secret staircases as well. Also, visit the walled garden adjacent to the castle. There are some great walking opportunities in the huge estate encompassing building.

💡Did You Know? Castle Fraser is one of the largest tower houses in Scotland.

🚗 How to reach by car – 

  • From Aberdeen 32 min / 16.3 miles
  • From Inverness 2 hour 15 min / 92 miles
  • From Edinburgh 2 hour 35 min / 136 miles

🚌 How to reach by bus – Not easily reachable by public transport. The nearest bus stop is at Inverurie Road End, which is approx 2-mile away from the castle. Bus 220, 421 passes through there.

Alternatively, take a train to Inverurie from Aberdeen. Then a local taxi to come here.

Opening Hours: Garden open daily, 10.00–16.00. Castle 30 Mar–1 Nov Mon–Sat 10.15–15.15, Sun 10.00–16.00. Guided tour only, 2 Nov–13 Dec Sat & Sun, 11.00, 12.00 and 13.00. Click here for up-to-date times.

💰 Entrance fees: Adult £14.50

📍Map of 25 Best Castles in Scotland

Here is a map of 25 must-visit castles in Scotland. Click here to open in Google Maps. Save the map on your phone. You can also use it offline.

Map of Scottish castles

Hope you have enjoyed reading our travel guide to 25 Best Castles in Scotland. 

Love, Moumita & Sankha.

6 thoughts on “25 Best Castles in Scotland You Need to Visit + Map”

  1. Great information! I have been to Scotland once with a group and we only had the chance to see a few castles. Now…. I know I must return for another visit soon to see more castles. Thank you!

  2. At last l now live in Scotland and intend to see a lot of the castles mentioned. The map that has been created giving the locations and distances away from major cities is great. Can’t wait to start exploring this summer.

  3. Pingback: 16 Epic Day Trips from Inverness You Must Visit 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *