Scottish castles

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From magnificent city landmarks to mysterious ruins, Scotland is renowned for its iconic castles. Whether you are looking to explore the largest in the country, follow a regional trail or seek out those hidden gems, there is plenty of history to uncover as each castle has a fascinating tale to tell.

Head to Aberdeen City and Shire where you will find Scotland’s only designated Castle Trail boasting 17 highlights to visit. Dunnottar Castle is perched on a cliff-top, a beautiful fortress, while Craigievar is a fine example of Scottish baronial architecture and the striking curtain wall at Balvenie will leave you awe-inspired.

Scotland’s capital is home to Edinburgh Castle, which overlooks the city from an extinct volcano. See the nation’s crown jewels before admiring some of the oldest Renaissance decorations in Britain in The Great Hall.

Step back to a time of James V at Stirling Castle’s recently refurbished Royal Palace and experience a world of lavish colour with rich and elaborate decor. The castle also houses some beautiful tapestries and you can experience what was once a bustling kitchen as well as a Regimental Museum.

Eilean Donan Castle, by the picturesque village of Dornie on the main route to Skye, is one of the most admired castles in Scotland. Ruined in a Jacobite rising, it has now been restored and is the base of Clan McRae.

Many of Scotland’s castles still belong to the clans, including Eilean Donan and Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. Dunvegan has been home of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years and is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.

One of the most romantic castles in the Highlands, Cawdor is forever connected with Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth. Although this 14th century tower house was constructed long after the historical events that inspired the play took place, it has always been the ancestral home of the Thanes of Cawdor.

Wherever you are in Scotland, you’re never far away from a striking ruin or charming castle which will amaze and excite you with its tales of past lives and loves. If you are planning to visit a number of castles, it might be worth your while to buy tickets which allow access in to a number of attractions, such as the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass and Scottish Heritage Pass.

  • The grounds of Craigievar Castle
    Craigievar Castle
  • Doune Castle near Stirling
    Doune Castle near Stirling
  • Looking across to Balmoral Castle from the south side
    Balmoral Castle
Looking along the main driveway to Castle Fraser

Cliff-top ruins and grand fortresses

Explore ‘Castle Country’, a region with more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK.

The white-fronted facade of Blair Castle in rich green surroundings

Great castles to explore

Explore Scotland's historic castles, fortresses and tower houses and discover the turbulent history at first hand.

Craigievar Castle

Scotland's Castle Trail

Follow Scotland’s dedicated trail to discover dramatic stories behind 17 of Aberdeenshire’s castles.