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Scotland’s Top Castles

Looking across the lawn to the castle, with large topiary in the foreground.

Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate, Aberdeenshire

We’ve been on the hunt for the best castles in Scotland! In a fitting finale to the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, we asked over 2000 people in Great Britain which Scottish castles are, in their opinion, the most famous, most haunted, most romantic and best*. Find out which of our picturesque ruins, grand tower houses and mighty fortresses was crowned the king of Scottish castles and see if you agree.

Scotland’s most well-known castle

Edinburgh Castle

Perched upon the cliffs of a former volcanic rock, in the heart of the city, you can’t really miss the capital’s castle.

And what makes Edinburgh Castle so famous? Well, it’s home to the Honours of Scotland, which are the UK’s oldest crown jewels, the One o’clock Gun, which is still fired ceremonially every day, and the Stone of Destiny, which is still used in coronation ceremonies to this day.

Add the stunning views across the city, the National War Museum and St Margaret’s Chapel – the oldest building in Edinburgh – and you’ll see why this castle rates so highly.

Runners up: Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, and Stirling Castle

See more famous Scottish castles.

Scotland’s most haunted castle

Slains Castle

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It’s easy to see why this roofless, abandoned castle, near Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire, leaves people feeling a little spooked.

Originally built in 1597, Slains Castle went through a number of reconstructions before it was sold by the Earl of Errol in 1919. Its tale is perhaps not as eerie as people might think – the roof was removed in 1925 for tax purposes.

However, it must have always had a bit of an air of mystery, as it’s said to have inspired the vampire’s castle in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, which he wrote following a visit in the 19th century. You can discover more of Aberdeenshire’s impressive castles with the Scotland’s Castle Trail eBook.

Runners up: Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire, and Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park, Isle of Arran

See more haunted sites in Scotland.

Scotland’s most romantic castle

Dunrobin Castle

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Much of the romantic visual appeal of Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie in Sutherland, is due to 19th century remodelling by architect Sir Charles Barry and interior work by Sir Robert Lorimer in the early 20th century.

The fairytale turrets and landscaped gardens are styled like a French château. The original building dates back to the 1300s, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited castles in the country, and it’s currently home to the 24th Countess of Sutherland.

Tour the castle and garden before having a well-earned break at the tea shop. If you really get caught up in the romance, the castle is also available for weddings!

Runners up: Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate, Aberdeenshire, and Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands

See more fairytale Scottish castles.

The best castle in Scotland


We have a winner! Edinburgh Castle, with its impressive Half Moon Battery, cobbled walkways and fascinating history, has been overwhelmingly voted the overall best.

Find out more about Scotland’s castles, including handy itineraries, visitor attractions, and even castle accommodation ideas.

Don’t agree with the results? Tell us which castle you think deserves to be on this list by commenting below, or join the debate on the iKnow Community.

*Total sample size was 2194 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 21st February 2017.  The survey was carried out online by YouGov Plc. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). 


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