Balmoral Castle

Scotland's Castle Trail

With over 260 castles, stately homes and ruins, Aberdeenshire is known as 'Scotland's Castle Country.' It has more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, and you can discover 19 of the most famous and dramatic castles in Aberdeenshire.

Get inspiration from our suggested 6-day itinerary. Look for the brown and white Castle Trail road signs which point to them.  

Start / Finish
Stonehaven / Alford
  • Days
    6
  • Distance
    229Miles

    366km
  • Transport
    Car
  • Main theme
    Castles
Highlights
History
Landscapes
Period features
Areas covered
North

Day 1Stonehaven, Banchory & Drumoak

There are plenty of castles near Aberdeen, so you can easily base yourself in the city for your first day on the trail, which takes you to the impressive ruins of Dunnottar Castle, on to the fairytale Crathes Castle and finishes at Drum Castle, a fine Jacobean mansion house.

  • Dunnottar Castle Stonehaven

    Dunnottar Castle on top of cliffs

    Disney castle

    Dunnottar Castle is also said to be the inspiration for the DunBroch family home in Disney Pixar's Brave

    The well-preserved ruins of Dunnottar Castle are perched on a dramatic cliff some 160 ft above the North Sea. This once impregnable fortress was visited by legendary historic figures including William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell and in more recent times Mel Gibson in Franco Zeffirelli's 1991 film, Hamlet.

    If you're lucky, you may even see puffins or dolphins from the castle ramparts.

    From Dunnottar Castle you can catch the service 107 bus to Montrose, and then hop on the train down to Dundee, taking roughly 1 hour 55 minutes.

    Explore Dunnottar Castle
    Dunnottar Castle,Stonehaven,AB39 2TL
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • On Public Transport Route
    • Pets Welcome
  • Crathes Castle Banchory

    Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate

    © National Trust for Scotland

    Crathes is a classic fairytale castle standing in superb grounds with a range of woodland trails on offer to help you explore. Inside, spiral staircases lead to rooms famous for their Jacobean painted ceilings and resident ghost, the Green Lady. Outside, the gardens feature large yew hedges and a colourful double herbaceous border. The wider estate offers six separate walking trails to enjoy, as well as a Go Ape! treetop adventure park and children's adventure playground.

    Find out more about Crathes Castle
    Crathes Castle,Crathes,Banchory,AB31 5QJ
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Drum Castle Banchory

    Drum Castle, Garden & Estate

    Drum Castle combines a unique mix of a late 13th century tower, fine Jacobean mansion house and later Victorian additions. Superb furniture and paintings are on display while the estate's woodland trails and exceptional walled rose garden are well worth exploring.

    Find out more about Drum Castle
    Drum Castle,Drumoak,Banchory,AB31 5EY
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point

Day 2Sauchen, Tarves & Methlick

Day two on the trail takes you west and north of Aberdeen. Head to Castle Fraser and enjoy the splendid interiors of this grand castle before travelling north through the beautiful Grampian countryside to Tolquhon Castle and on to Haddo House, an elegant mansion house.

  • Castle Fraser Kemnay

    Castle Fraser, Garden & Estate

    Don't miss

    Visit the tearoom and enjoy homebaked cakes in the ambience of the 19th century castle kitchen, before browsing the shop.

    About 16 miles west of Aberdeen, near Sauchen, stands Castle Fraser, one of the grandest castles of Mar. This magnificent building contains an evocative Great Hall, fine furniture and paintings. Enjoy the beautiful secluded walled garden, extensive woodland walks with fine views of the castle plus a children's adventure playground.

    Find out more about Castle Fraser
    Sauchen,Kemnay,AB51 7LD
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • Pets Welcome
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Tolquhon Castle Pitmedden

    Tolquhon Castle

    Described as one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland, Tolquhon Castle is an impressive ruin located just outside of Oldmeldrum, near Pitmedden. Admire the intricate carvings and fine detailing across the castle, explore inside the ruined walls, and see if you can find the secret compartment above the laird's quarters, where he hid his valuables. As you wander around the extensive castle grounds, look for the initials TL (Thomas Leiper) on the exterior of the main house - it was rare for a medieval architect to sign his work like this in these times.

    Step back in time at Tolquhon Castle
    Tarves,Pitmedden,AB41 7LP
  • Haddo House Pitmedden

    Haddo House

    Haddo House near Methlick is an elegant mansion house boasting sumptuous Victorian interiors beneath a crisp Georgian exterior. Noted for fine furniture and paintings, including artworks by Sir Thomas Lawrence and James Giles, the historic home designed by William Adam also has a terraced garden. Explore the grounds and adjacent country park with its lakes, walks and monuments.

    Find out more about Haddo House
    Haddo House,Methlick,Pitmedden,AB41 7EQ
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Cafe or Restaurant

Day 3Turriff, Delgaty & Fraserburgh

Day 4Banff, Huntly, Elgin & Dufftown

Day 5Huntly, Alford & Corgarff

Day 6Braemar, Ballater & Craigievar

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