Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich at Dornie

© VisitScotland / Airborne Lens

Highland castles itinerary

A tour of the Highlands is probably one of the most magical journeys you could make - for many, it really is the trip of a lifetime. Outstanding landscapes, rugged coastline, spectacular wildlife… and the icing on the cake? Why, the many historic castles of course!

The easiest way to see all of the castles is by car. You can hire a car at several locations in Inverness, including the airport. 

Start / Finish
Loch Ness / Armadale
  • Days
  • Distance
    381 Miles

    609.6 km
  • Transport
  • Main theme
Atmospheric castles
Stunning locations
Period features
Areas covered

Day 1 Inverness, Loch Ness and Moray Speyside


Squeeze in three inspiring castles in and around the most northerly city in Scotland, Inverness. Start the day on the banks of Loch Ness to see one of the country's most iconic ruins, before travelling eastwards to discover more history and then driving back to Inverness for the night.

  • Urquhart Castle Loch Ness

    Urquhart Castle viewed from Loch Ness

    © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

    The magnificent Urquhart Castle is located on the banks of the famous Loch Ness. Stand and soak in a thousand years of history - it has witnessed some of the most dramatic chapters in Scotland's past where clan rivalries saw bloody raids carried out in the 15th and 16th centuries. You might even witness a historic event yourself, should you spot the elusive Nessie, Loch Ness's most famous resident.

    Find out more about Urquhart Castle
    Did you know?

    St Columba is said to have worked miracles here in the sixth century.

    Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness, IV63 6XJ
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Parking
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Cawdor Castle Cawdor

    Cawdor Castle and Gardens

    © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

    Travelling eastwards from Inverness, Cawdor Castle is full of history, mystery and legend. If you like your castles to have a literary connection, this is for you - it's the 14th century home of the Thanes of Cawdor. Delve into the old kitchen, which dates from the 19th century, and has original features such as a roasting spit, ice box and butter churn.

    Find out more about Cawdor Castle
    Does it ring a bell?

    You might recognise the name 'Cawdor' from Shakespeare's Macbeth

    Cawdor Castle Ltd, Cawdor, IV12 5RD
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Accessible toilets
    • Parking
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Brodie Castle Forres

    Brodie Castle

    © VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

    Brodie Castle is the ancient seat of Clan Brodie. Shakespeare seemed to really love the idea of Highland castles - Brodie Castle also has literary connections to the playwright's work and is said to be near the hill known as "Macbeth's Hillock" where Macbeth is said to have encountered the Weird Sisters. Inside, it is filled with countless antiques and lavish furnishings - you might be quite tempted to move in!

    Find out more about Brodie Castle
    Brodie Castle, Forres, IV36 2TE

Day 2 North East


If you take away anything from your first day, it'll be the knowledge that no two castles are alike! Explore a castle which looks like it popped out of a fairytale and visit a historic garrison with strong links to the Jacobite Risings.

  • Fort George Inverness

    Fort George

    © VisitScotland / Colin Keldie

    An important garrison in the area's history, Fort George will have you envisioning billowing smoke from cannon fire and the sound of regimented marching of hundreds of soldiers.

    Lying on the road to Inverness, it's the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain. Built in 1746 as the ultimate defence against the Jacobite rising, Fort George is an impressive site, bristling with cannons, muskets, pikes, swords and ammunition. Explore the battlements and gain a fascinating insight into 18th century military life.

    Find out more about Fort George
    Fun fact

    It's also home to one of only two dog cemeteries in Scotland, where loyal regimental mascots and officers' dogs were laid to rest.

    The Common, Fort George, Inverness, IV2 7TD
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Level Access
    • Parking
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Dunrobin Castle Golspie

    Dunrobin Castle

    © VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

    The magnificent Dunrobin Castle is the largest house in the Highlands. Crowned with a myriad of fairytale towers and turrets, Dunrobin is unique for resembling a vast French château rather than the baronial stronghold typical of the Highlands. It has a whopping 189 rooms, making it one of the biggest homes in the country.

    Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, and was home to the Earls and, later, the Dukes of Sutherland. 

    The 3rd Duke was the country's wealthiest aristocrat and a confirmed train fanatic. He personally financed the extension of the Far North Line as far west as Lairg, the heart of what was then Sutherland's profitable sheep-farming industry.

    Its lavishly furnished interior, sprawling formal gardens, and grounds which stretch as far as the sea, are nothing short of breathtaking.

    Find out more about Dunrobin Castle
    Did you know?

    The castle was used as a naval hospital during the First World War, and then as a boys' boarding school from 1965 to 1972. It's even said to have a ghost...

    Dunrobin, Golspie, KW10 6SF
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Parking
    • Cafe or Restaurant

Day 3 Over the sea to Skye

Day 4 Castles on Skye

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