Scottish castles, Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish castles, UK

Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish castles. Photo by Diliff.

Eilean Donan, the most famous of all Scottish castles, squats on an island at the intersection of three sea lochs in the Scottish highlands. The first fortified castle was built there in the 13th century to guard the lands of Kintail. The castle lay in ruins for 200 years until John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and restored the structure, a 20 year labour.

Eilean Donan is a charming little fortress on an island in Loch Duich in the west Highlands. It’s connected to the mainland by a footbridge and is situated about half a mile from the village of Dornie. The castle has been restored and welcomes visitors, at a price. There’s plenty of car parking nearby but no disabled access.

Today tourists can explore nearly every part of the castle and take walks in the magnificent surroundings. Dornie is on the main tourist route to the Isle of Skye, centre-west coast of Scotland.

Staying in – or at least visiting –  Scottish castles

Scattered around Scotland are dozens of dramatic, sturdy fortresses of stone, built during hundreds of years of clan warfare and banditry.

The more affluent or romantic visitors should certainly stay at least a couple of nights in a castle, many have been beautifully converted and are fascinating places to stay. Some smaller castles (e. g. not Floors castle! ) are often privately owned Bed and Breakfast places with the owners doing the grunt work such as serving drinks, so the experience can be both fascinating and sociable, though hardly cheap.

Alternatively, at least pay a visit to a couple of the more famous Scottish castles…

Popular Scottish Castles

Castle Fraser

Castle Fraser, Scottish castles, UK

Castle Fraser photo by Karora.

Castle Fraser, completed in 1636, is located near Kemnay in the Aberdeenshire. The castle stands in over 300 acres of landscaped grounds, woodland and farmland which includes a walled kitchen garden of the 1800s and many ghosts. It’s is open to visitors from Easter to October.

Stirling Castle

The Great Hall of Stirling Castle, Scottish castles, UK

The Great Hall of Stirling Castle. Photo by Kilnburn.

Stirling Castle, built in varied stages between the 11th and 15th centuries, is one of the great Scottish castles, home to many Stuart kings and a popular tourist attraction. It offers many historical displays, a superb, restored 4-storey Great Hall, the Royal Palace – the finest Renaissance building in Scotland and much more.

Stirling Castle is open all year, seven days a week except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. April to September: 9. 30 to 18. 00. October to March: 9. 30 to 17. 00. Stirling Town is 1 hour’s drive from Edinburgh on the M9 or 40 minutes from Glasgow on the M80.

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness, Scotland, UK

Once one of Scotland’s largest home-fortresses Urquhart Castle is now just a ruin perched over Loch Ness and the Great Glen. Photo by Nilfanion.

Loch Ness is in the Highlands of Scotland near Inverness, a lush, wild area offering a range of activities and accommodation.
The remains of Urquhart Castle command splendid views of Loch Ness and the Great Glen and have a café and informative visitor centre.

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle, Scotland, UK

Balmoral Castle photo by Cp111.

Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852. The Castle is an example of Scottish castles Baronial architecture and is open to the public when the Royal Family is not in residence. Opening times are from 10. 00 a. m. until 5. 00 p. m.

Floors Castle, in the Borders area is the largest inhabited castle in Scotland and a major tourist attraction. The Castle is host to many events throughout the year, from massed pipe band days, Highland games and car rallies to snowdrop walks and Easter egg hunts. It’s open to the public from Easter to October. Opening times: 11am to 5pm.

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle, Scotland, UK

Glamis Castle photo by Fabthetall.

Glamis Castle, Angus, dark setting of murder and mayhem in Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’, as well as being the childhood home of the Queen’s mother and apparently many assorted ghosts. It’s open for visitors in May.