All guided Scotland tour packages contain one of the region’s top attractions, the most majestic and breathtaking castles, even though this nation is recognized for its rocky landscape, distinctive culture, and hospitable people.
You have a lot of alternatives to pick from because there are over 3000 of them!
The majority of Scotland’s castles are exceptionally well-preserved and have significant historical or cultural value. You have to start somewhere, even if it is exceedingly doubtful that even the Scottish have seen even a small portion of it.
Check out our picks for the top 5 castles to visit in Scotland below!
1. Scottish Castle
Naturally, Scotland’s most well-known landmark, Edinburgh Castle, is among the most well-known and often visited castles in the country. So let’s see what a comprehensive inspection of this place has to offer!
The house, one of Scotland’s oldest structures, is perched atop Castle Rock and has weathered numerous significant alterations throughout the years. The fortress has fulfilled a variety of functions over the course of history, but it is most recognized for being the Kingdom of Scotland’s stronghold.
Like other Scottish castles, the palace, which has served as a royal home since around the 12th century during the reign of David I, has been the scene of several historical battles. The Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century marked the beginning of Edinburgh Castle’s slow transformation into one of the most assailed and besieged locations in all of Great Britain.
Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland’s best-preserved medieval artifacts despite all of its setbacks and attacks, and visitors are quite welcome. However, you might want to allocate some time to fully appreciate it because, contrary to what you would think, there is a ton to see!
Edinburgh Castle’s Royal Palace, where several queens and kings formerly lived, is among its top attractions. Despite being completely destroyed during the Lang Seige, the palace was successfully reconstructed in the 17th century and is now available for your viewing.
One of the most anticipated attractions in Edinburgh Castle is the Crown Jewels, which are also kept there. It consists of a sword, a scepter, and a jewel-encrusted crown known as the Honours of Scotland. Take a tour right away to see everything up close!
Speaking of, we advise taking a tour. Although you have the option of exploring the castle on your own, guided tours offer a wealth of interesting information. These often have an audio usher who narrates a variety of tales about Edinburgh Castle.
2. Balmoral Castle
The magnificent Balmoral Castle is another of Scotland’s most remarkable and well-visited castles. Follow along to discover more about its beginnings, past, and current use!
Balmoral Castle, a masterpiece of Scottish baronial architecture and a very important location for the British people, is located close to the Aberdeenshire settlement of Crathie. The mansion was designated a “A-list building” by Historic Environment Scotland, which looks after Scottish landmarks.
Initially, Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, purchased Balmoral and its whole estate in 1852. The royal couple immediately realized that the initial structure was insufficient for their enjoyment, so they rapidly ordered a rebuild into what is now known as Balmoral Castle.
Unknowingly, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert initiated some of the Royal Family’s most cherished traditions when they began spending more and more time at Balmoral Castle. Queen Victoria’s practice of going on long nature walks and shooting animals was imitated by succeeding generations.
Contrary to common misconception, Balmoral is neither a Royal Family property and is not a Scottish castle. Even though several kings have chosen to spend their summers there since the 19th century, it still only belongs to one individual and not the entire family. King Charles III is the owner at the moment.
While many architects describe the castle as being commonplace and rather normal, the general population does not perceive it that way. Balmoral is one of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing castles in Scotland and structures in the UK, displaying numerous characteristics from the Victorian era! Despite having the features and principal purposes of a country house, Balmoral will astound you with its beauty.
View the untamed Scottish landscape, immaculate lawns, historical monarchy-themed exhibits, and the renowned Castle Ballroom. The amazing length of 52 bedrooms and several dining areas may also be toured!
Don’t forget to confirm availability! This is important since Balmoral only allows visitors during specified hours depending on whether the Royal Family is on vacation. Balmoral is currently remaining under the Period of Mourning following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
3. Castle Blair
Blair Castle, with its breathtaking historical context and fascinating tales, is located on a property close to the Perthshire community of Blair Atholl. We advise getting some handy Scotland train tickets to make your trip as enjoyable as you can while traveling swiftly and comfortably between the Scottish castles!
One of the most breathtaking things to see as you approach the eastern portion of Scotland is Blair Castle, which is perfectly positioned in the middle of the road heading to the Scottish Highlands. So be sure to stop by if you’re on your way to view some amazing animals!
Blair had a purpose throughout history, much like many other castles in Scotland. For instance, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, senior leader Oliver Cromwell’s army attacked and captured the court, which was subsequently distributed to other war headmen.
However, the fact that Blair Castle was formerly the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, a Highland Scottish clan with strong traditions and links to nature, is likely the most fascinating and intriguing aspect of its history. Although the present duke now resides in South Africa, the Duke of Atholl served as Blair Castle’s ruler at the time.
The duke donated Blair Castle and its properties to charity after deciding to settle in South Africa. If anything, it was done to keep the establishment under Scottish authority and safeguard it from inheritance taxes. This is also what enables you to enter the mansion!
Blair Castle maintained its regal appearance and construction during both quiet and violent eras, and you may see it all for yourself while traveling. The court is completely equipped and kept to act as a time machine back to the 18th century because it was once home to politicians, farmers, and even warriors.
If you enjoy well-kept landscaping, stroll around Blair’s impressive gardens. The popularity of the home is mostly due to the external decorations and landscaping work! Blair Castle’s outside is equally as amazing as its inside, including well-maintained plants and animals, gorgeous patterns, and serene grooves.
4. Castle Inveraray
Inveraray is a must-stop if you’re still searching for Scotland’s greatest castles. You’re in for a treat with this one if the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Scotland is dismal landscapes, recognizable stonework, and harsh workmanship. Inveraray Castle is a striking Gothic Revival structure located in the region of Argyll. Surprisingly, there aren’t that many of them in the nation—at least not as many as Scottish Baronial or even French Renaissance structures!
Inveraray is the ideal location if you want to explore the building farther away from the bustle and commotion of the city. Inveraray hamlet was destroyed and moved farther away by the Scots in the 18th century to provide the castle with a more remote location and independence from its surroundings. simply for some separation!
The castle has always been referred to as bleak, unattractive, and even intimidating, yet it is nevertheless a favorite among people. Although some people find the abundance of grey stone a little disconcerting, we promise you’ll have a fantastic time here! Just remember to have an open mind and that your main goal is to learn! Inveraray, no matter how little, is incredibly significant and an integral part of Scotland’s history as the home of the Duke of Argyll. Even when there are open visitations, it is doubtful that you will stumble across the Duke and his family, although they do continue to reside in the private apartments. You should thus keep one eye open since you never know.
One of the Scottish castles with the most recognizable and spectacular collections of tools and weapons is Inveraray. Over 1300 pikes, muskets, swords, and other weapons are among them. Take your time touring Inveraray if you’re eager to explore these kinds of displays! Did you know that the castle is well-known in the media as well? Perhaps you’ve seen it before. In the UK, a few popular TV programs are admired and cherished.
Yes, Inveraray Castle was a part of the acclaimed Downton Abbey television drama production. Although it may be difficult to immediately recognize the settings, we advise rewatching the Christmas episode from 2012. Then, create a mini-game and begin hunting for well-known locations!
5. Castle Cawdor
Last but not least, let’s travel to Cawdor in Nairnshire and tour this famous, historically significant, and thrilling court of Cawdor for the most beautiful castles in Scotland. Prepare yourself for some interesting trivia, sensitive settings, and beautiful architecture! Although the precise date for the castle’s construction is still unknown, the first records come from 1454. Even though we now have all the information, architectural historians have put a lot of effort into figuring out Cawdor’s birth year. They finally determine the late 14th century after much investigation.
When the mansion was initially constructed, it had some fantastic legends and tales that both locals and tourists adored! It was found, oddly enough, that the castle had been constructed around a real holly tree. Folklore has it that a donkey carrying money made the decision to rest beneath the tree and issued the order to erect a castle there.
Whether or not the story is true, the tree’s ruins are still visible! Scientists believe that the main body of Cawdor Castle perished in the fourteenth century, although there are still some remnants that may be seen there. You might as well accept the myth of the donkey carrying wealth at this point! Cawdor, the seat of several earls, counts, and lords, is reputed to be one of the most interesting castles in Scotland, particularly when one is aware of the numerous fascinating and intertwined tales. We have stories of battle, love, family, and betrayals. If you pay close enough attention, you might just hear about some of the numerous events that have taken place here.
There are eleven rooms in the mansion to explore, and they each contain some unique and intriguing items. Would you anticipate seeing a minstrel gallery or an ancient leather wheelchair, for instance, in the center of a medieval castle? Check it out for yourself! You’ll be happy to learn that Cawdor was never assaulted, keeping it mostly in its original condition and authenticity.
However, if you enjoy classic literature, you probably recognize the name Cawdor. The Thanes of Cawdor, a dynasty made famous by William Shakespeare in his play Macbeth, still govern it and still claims ownership of it. Unfortunately, the timeframes of actual events and Shakespeare’s magnificent fiction do not coincide. Macbeth was, in fact, the Thane of Cawdor. Even nonetheless, it’s awesome that the castle contributed to such a crucial project!