Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incomplete without enjoying the wealth of history and clan legend on offer at award-winning 5* Dunvegan Castle & Gardens. We are pleased to announce that Dunvegan Castle & Gardens will be undertaking a partial reopening on 1 August 2020. Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and to keep our visitors, staff and local community as safe as possible, we have introduced new COVID-19 protocols and have published further guidance and opening details for our visitors on this page which will be updated regularly: https://www.dunvegancastle.com/visitor-information/
Sir Reginald MacLeod (27th Chief) was the first Chief to open Dunvegan to the public in 1933 for charitable purposes two days a week. Since then, the number of visitors has risen from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands. Despite such numbers crowding into a space that was designed to keep people out, we do everything we can to maintain this atmosphere of a family home while sharing our passion for Dunvegan’s historic collection with you. Your support is greatly appreciated. It will help us to preserve, develop and share this iconic part of Scotland’s heritage for future generations to enjoy.
Visitors can enjoy tours of an award winning castle and Highland estate steeped in history and clan legend, delight in the beauty of its formal gardens, take a boat trip to see the Loch Dunvegan seal colony, charter one of its traditional clinker boats for a fishing trip or Loch cruise, stay in one of its charming Victorian holiday cottages, enjoy an appetising meal at the MacLeod Tables Cafe or browse in one of its four shops offering a wide choice of high quality Scottish products.
On display are many fine oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies. Another of the castle's great treasures is the Dunvegan Cup, a unique 'mazer' dating back to the Middle Ages. It was gifted by the O'Neils of Ulster as a token of thanks to one of our most celebrated Chiefs, Sir Rory Mor, for his support of their cause against the marauding forces of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1595. We also have a small collection of Jacobite and Bonnie Prince Charlie relics on display including the Prince’s waistcoat and a lock of his hair, a Jacobite amen glass, Flora MacDonald’s corset and pin cushion etc.
Dunvegan Castle's five acres of formal gardens began life in the 18th century. In stark contrast to the barren moorland and mountains that dominate Skye's landscape, the gardens are a hidden oasis featuring an eclectic mix of plants as you make your way through woodland glades, past shimmering pools fed by waterfalls and streams flowing down to the sea. After experiencing the Water Garden with its ornate bridges and islands replete with a rich and colourful plant variety, wander through the elegant surroundings of the formal Round Garden featuring an ilex crenata parterre as its centrepiece overlooked by a Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana). The Walled Garden is well worth a visit. In what was formerly the castle’s vegetable garden, is now a diverse range of plants and flowers that complement the attractive features including a water lily pond, Garden Museum, Memorial Gazebo, 17th century lectern sundial, Larch Pergola, Glass House and the ‘Dunvegan Pebble’, a rotating 2.7 ton Carrara marble sculpture. There is also a herbal border and traditional raised vegetable beds to illustrate the Walled Garden’s original function to provide food for the Chief, his family and clansfolk. A considerable amount of replanting and landscaping has taken place over the last forty years to restore the gardens to their former glory and provide a legacy which future generations can enjoy.
Over the centuries, we have given a warm Highland welcome to visitors including Sir Walter Scott, Dr Johnson and Queen Elizabeth II and we look forward to welcoming you.