Beautiful castles in Scotland to visit

Days out

Posted by Hannah on 27th July 2022

Scotland castles

There are many castles to visit in Scotland which represent the very essence of the country's heritage and people throughout its proud history. From luxurious and ornate furnishings to imposing fortresses and beautifully grand and unique architecture; if you're enjoying a holiday in this ancient land, make the most of your time and explore the top castles in Scotland.

For a little inspiration, we’ve put together a collection of castles to see in Scotland or, if you are ready to book your trip, browse through our collection of holiday cottages in Scotland and find a magical place to stay. 

Retreat to Scotland

Have a read through this photographic guide to the most beautiful castles in Scotland and begin planning your visit to one of these magnificent, beautiful, fairy-tale fortresses. We've even picked out some nearby castles within our collection, so you can enjoy living like kings and queens!

Scottish castles Q&A

Before we dive into the best castles to visit in Scotland, let's explore a few of the most popular questions about Scottish castles.

There are more than 1,500 castles in Scotland, from ruins to impressive fortifications which have stood the test of time. It has been estimated that there have been over 2,000 castles, but some are only known about through historical records.

It is thought that Castle Sween is the oldest castle in Scotland, built in 1100s. The next oldest castle is thought to be Aberdour Castle, of which parts date back to 1200. Dunvegan is the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland, having been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan McLeod for over 800 years.

The largest castle in Scotland is Edinburgh Castle, and the largest inhabited castle in Scotland is Floors Castle.

Cawdor Castle

Having been described as one of the most romantic castles in the Highlands, Cawdor Castle lies just outside of Nairn and has an enchanting connection to the writings of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. With grand tapestries, beautifully kept gardens and acres of surrounding woodland, it’s a historic jewel for culture lovers.

Stay in a castle nearby: Craigmoy | Sleeps 4 

Cottages in Nairn

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

One of the most famous castles in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle stands atop the volcanic Castle Rock. People come to Scotland just to see this beautiful landmark dominating the skyline of the capital. It stands as a stunning backdrop to the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo and has become an iconic symbol of both Edinburgh and Scotland. It's also a good option for a rainy day adventure, as there's plenty to see indoors, as well as out.

Stay in a castle nearby: The Castle - Selkirk | Sleeps 10 + 2 dogs

Cottages in Edinburgh

Stirling Castle

Known as the favourite residence of Scotland’s kings and queens, Stirling Castle was the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots, and towers over some of Scotland’s most imposing battlefields including Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge. It's one of the best castles in Scotland to learn about the royalty of the past.

Stay in a castle nearby: The Jacobite's Rest | Sleeps 12 + 2 dogs

Cottages in Stirling

Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle

The red sandstone fortress of Inverness Castle you see towering over the River Ness today was built by architect William Burn in 1836. Although the castle itself is not open to members of the public, the grounds are free to walk around.

Stay in a castle nearby: Grants of Freuchie Castle | Sleeps 10 + 2 dogs

Cottages in Inverness

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

Recently starring in the popular period drama of Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey, Inveraray Castle is the current home to the 13th Duke of Argyll and his family. Unique in its grand architecture (the first of its kind in the west of Scotland), visitors can tour many historic rooms and admire the beautiful gardens on the surrounding estate.

Cottages in Inveraray

Glamis Castle

The childhood home of the Queen Mother, Glamis Castle has witnessed more than 600 years of history and has an exciting and fascinating history full of legends and magical connections to Shakespeare’s writing. Enjoy wandering through the ornately-decorated rooms and halls lined with suits of armour, and when you get around to exploring the castle grounds, there are formal gardens and a lovely nature trail to enjoy.

Stay in a castle nearby: Airlie Castle | Sleeps 14 + 2 dogs

Cottages in Angus

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle

Located 12 miles south of Ayr, Culzean is one of Scotland’s best-loved castles. Taken care of by the National Trust for Scotland, the castle perches on a clifftop with spectacular views across the Firth Of Clyde to the mountains of the Island of Arran. The castle lies in the heart of Burns' Country, within the Culzean Country Park, and offers a lovely family day out, perhaps with a scenic coastal walk. If you're looking for beautiful castles in Scotland, this one would be up at the top of the list!

Stay in a castle nearby: Castle Wing | Sleeps 16 + 2 dogs

Cottages in Ayrshire

Caerlaverock Castle

With its twin-towered fortress and fairy-tale-like moat, the unique triangular architecture of Caerlaverock Castle is a fine example of a Scottish medieval stronghold. The castle has a fascinating story and history of great sieges, as the long English/Scottish border wars continued over the decades. It's not one of the most popular castles in Scotland to visit, but there's a lovely tearoom and an adventure play area for kids. 

Cottages in Southern Scotland

Drumlanrig Castle

Drumlanrig Castle

Affectionately named ‘The Pink Palace’ for its red sandstone construction, Drumlanrig Castle is regarded as one of the finest examples of 17th-century architecture in Scotland. With an exquisitely decorated interior, that includes fine tapestries and stunning paintings, allow yourself to travel back through centuries touring the grand rooms. If you're looking for castles to visit in Scotland with kids, it's a great option, with its woodland adventure playground, gardens and walks. 

Stay in a castle nearby: The Castle - Selkirk | Sleeps 16 + 2 dogs

Cottages in Dumfries

Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle 

A true fairy-tale castle with spires reaching for the sky and pretty, pale stonework, the majestic fortress of Dunrobin holds the title of the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and is set on the east coast of the Northern Highlands, overlooking the Moray Fifth. An outstanding setting complete with fantastic views provides the perfect backdrop to your visit, while a museum, shop and tea room offer places to stop by as your tour the castle grounds - don't forget to include a stroll around the exquisite garden! 

Cottages in Golspie

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle

Within the Cairngorms National Park, Balmoral is another of the most famous castles in Scotland, due to it being the Scottish residence of the English royal family. Balmoral Castle is open to the public from April to July each year. Group visits can sometimes be arranged outside of that period if no royals are in residence. Explore the grounds, gardens and exhibition, before stopping for refreshment in the coffee shop. Keep an eye out for special events throughout the year.

Stay in a castle nearby: Port An Eilean | Sleeps 25 + 2 dogs

Cottages in Aberdeenshire

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Romantic and mysterious, Eilean Donan Castle sits on an island at the point where three huge sea lochs merge together. The 13th-century fortress is regarded as one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland due to its magical remote location. Inside, discover historic artefacts, antique furniture, and even cannonballs from the 1719 bombardment.

Cottages in The Highlands

Our map of the best castles in Scotland

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Stay in Scotland

Have a look at our lovely properties in Scotland and you could treat yourself, family and friends to a stay in an elegant mansion or grand castle for a week or two. Find your dream holiday cottage in Scotland... 

Cottages in Scotland

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.