10 Great Scottish Castles 

One of the best things about Scotland is that no matter where you find yourself, a castle is never far away. As integral to the Scottish landscape as its lochs and mountains, the country’s castles rank amongst the most iconic in the world. There were once up to 3,000 castles in Scotland, so it's tough for us to narrow our favourites! Here’s our pick of the ones which never fail to impress.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Set atop a craggy extinct volcano high above Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh Castle is unquestionably Scotland’s most famous and important castle. This sprawling complex houses the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny and Mons Meg. Make sure to get there in time for the spectacular firing of the One O’ Clock Gun!

Photo: Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

2. Balmoral Castle

Queen Victoria lovingly described Balmoral as her "dear paradise in the Highlands", and it remains a private home of the Royal Family. When the Royals are not in residence, visitors can enjoy exhibitions in the Castle Ballroom, the largest room in the castle, and wander through the charming gardens and grounds.

3. Stirling Castle

Meticulously restored to its original Renaissance glory, Stirling Castle was the favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens. Bring the kids along to meet costumed courtiers, bodyguards and servants and step into a rarefied world filled with decadence, plots and intrigue.

Photo: Stirling Castle, Scotland

4. Dunnottar Castle

Dramatic doesn’t even begin to express the impact of this formidable cliff-top stronghold. Perched atop an immense rocky outcrop overlooking the north east coast, Dunnottar has witnessed many pivotal moments in Scotland’s history. The sight of it silhouetted against the setting sun is truly spellbinding.

Photo: Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, United Kingdom

5. Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan has to be one of the most photographed castles in the world. Boasting a perfect picture-postcard setting on an island at the entrance of Loch Duich, Eilean Donan is steeped in Jacobite lore. Among the rare artefacts on display is a sword said to have been wielded at Culloden. 

Photo: Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, United Kingdom

6. Glamis Castle

The red sandstone walls of Glamis have been home to many colourful characters throughout the centuries, not least of them the late Queen Mother. It also famously features in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Crowned with battlements and pointed turrets, Glamis is the epitome of baronial grandeur a short trip from Dundee. 

7. Braemar Castle

Nestled amongst the majesty of the Cairngorms National Park, the 17th century fortress of Braemar Castle ticks all the boxes; castellated turrets, winding spiral staircases and a bottle-necked dungeon. Explore the grounds and find out more about the history of Clan Farquharson.  

Photo:  Braemar Castle

8. Inveraray Castle

The intricate façade of Inveraray Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Argyll, conceals a sumptuous interior which embodies the pinnacle of 18th century neoclassical elegance. Admire the priceless Beauvais tapestries in the Drawing Room and outstanding views of Loch Fyne.

Photo: Inveraray Castle, Inveraray, UK

9. Cawdor Castle

The fictional home of the Thane of Cawdor in Shakespeare's Macbeth, Cawdor Castle ranks among Scotland’s most enchanting castles. Celebrated for its fairy-tale edifice, its dramatic history and romantic gardens - parts of which are over 300 years old - a visit here is like stepping into bygone age.

10. Blair Castle

The white-washed Blair Castle stands proudly against a backdrop of wooded hills rising above the River Garry. The ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl, it is also the home of Europe’s last remaining private army, the Atholl Highlanders. Explore its opulent rooms and its sprawling estate.

Photo: Blair Castle, Pitlochry, Scotland

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