The Best 5 Castles to See in Scotland
Updated: Sep 9
The truth is, we could talk all day about the best castles in Scotland and still be left with a ten or twenty-strong shortlist. You see, there are hundreds of castles in this part of the world and at one time, there were said to be three-thousand castles in Scotland.
With this in mind, the following list was incredibly hard to decipher and there are many more impressive castles that you should also consider. That being said, the following castles are certainly some of the most magical castles that you will find in Scotland.
The Best 5 Castles to See in Scotland
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is the most famous in Scotland for good reason. Sitting on top of an extinct volcano and surrounded by a bustling city, this landmark really does pose a magnificent sight. What’s more, you can even witness gunfire at one o’clock each day, which really helps the visitor step back to a time when the castle was in operation. Meanwhile, inside you will find the Stone of Destiny, Mons Meg and the Crown Jewels, and a series of impressive walls which demonstrate the strength of the castle. In fact, Edinburgh Castle was constantly under siege throughout the years and this mighty structure was most often home to whomever held power of the rest of Scotland.
2. Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan is located on a small island next to Loch Duich and this beautiful structure is the most photographed castle in Scotland. That being said, this castle is famous all over the world and not just for the enchanting appearance. You see, many famous movies were shot around Eilean Donan including the popular Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert epic – Highlander. For this reason, you can expect green scenery in every direction and quintessentially Scottish surroundings in general. At the same time, there is also a fascinating story behind the castle and Eilean Donan, for the castle was strategically placed to protect against viking raids and nefarious clans. Keep in mind, Eilean Donan is a reconstruction and was built in the 1920s on the site of a ruin.
Eilean Donan Castle
3. Stirling Castle
Surrounded by rugged cliffs on three sides, Stirling Castle is one of the best examples of a strategically placed castle in Scotland. As if that’s not enough, the castle has two ramparts that overlook the battlefields of Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge, on which many famous battles took place. With both English and Scottish elements intact, the design is intriguing and a multi-million pound restoration has created a truly awe-inspiring castle to explore. That is to say, many of the rooms, guns and walls have been restored and the staff are dressed as maids, officials and bodyguards. With this in mind, Stirling Castle is the best option for families that want to impress the little ones.
4. Castle Fraser
You might remember a recent movie with Helen Mirren called “The Queen”? Castle Fraser was featured in this movie and is arguably the most romantic castle in Scotland. It’s true, you can even climb the steps of a nearby round tower for a birds-eye view and walk amidst nature in the landscaped gardens. Castle Fraser also has one of the biggest tower houses in the country and a plethora of features inside such as secret doorways, hidden staircases and treacherous trapdoors. Once again, children tend to love this particular castle and with such an accessible location near Aberdeen, Castle Fraser is more than worthy of a spot on any travel itinerary for Scotland.
5. St. Andrew’s Castle
St. Andrews Castle sits on a coastal cliff with treacherous ditches on the inland side. Needless to say, this makes for a remarkable sight and photograph opportunity, but that’s just part of the story. Aside from the dungeon, St. Andrew’s Castle has a series of underground tunnels which were created back in the 1500s and the Hamilton Facade provides one of the most striking fronts that you will ever see on a castle. Believe it or not, this castle was once a palace for the local bishop down through the years, and a protective fort as well as a makeshift prison. Either way, St. Andrew’s is worth the visit and a fantastic encounter for those who value the exterior as much as the interior.
St. Andrew’s Castle
As already mentioned, these are just a few of the hundreds of castles in Scotland. However, not every castle was created equal and these are certainly some of the most interesting that you will find in the world, not to mention Scotland.