Many are surprised to find bonny Scotland is home to around 3,000 castles. Built at various times and for various purposes, Scotland’s castles range from large to small. Perhaps just as stunning as the castles themselves is the scenery in which they can be found. Here is a by-no-means-exhaustive guide to some of Scotland’s best castles:
Scotland’s best castles
There are some 3,000 castles in Scotland, each one different from the next. Here is a guide to some of the best.
Eilean Donan Castle
Perched on its own wee island, Eilean Donan is best known for its looks. The picturesque castle is a mecca for the snap-happy and is one of Scotland’s most photographed castles. The castle was a victim of the 18th-century Jacobite up
risings, but was thankfully restored two centuries later. It’s now home to the clan McRae and lies just 8km from Skye.
One of Scotland’s larger castles, Stirling Castle is nestled high on volcanic rock and overlooks the infamous Bannockburn battlefield. As per usual, the castle has been added to over the centuries, but much of it dates from the 15th to 18th centuries. Most of Stirling has been extensively restored and the castle is well set up for tourists.
If you’re a real castle enthusiast, then Tioram is for you. Situated on a small island in Loch Moidart on Scotland’s west coast, the castle is well off the tourist track. Tioram means ‘dry’ in Gaelic - a nod to the fact the castle can only be reached at low tide.
Dunvegan Castle can be found on a rocky outcrop in the Isle of Skye. A tourist-friendly castle, Dunvegan has well-established gardens, and tourists can even stay in one of the castle’s cottages. In a time when many of Scotland’s castles are now only museums, it’s worth noting Dunvegan is Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited castle. The chiefs of Clan MacLeod have been calling Dunvegan home for 800 years.
No account of Scottish castles could be deemed complete without mention of Edinburgh Castle. Home of the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most famous attraction. First built in the 11th century, the castle has evolved over time and currently operates as military barracks, a fortress, a war memorial and palace, making it quite the hybrid.
Unlike Dunvegan Castle, tourists aren’t able to stay in Edinburgh Castle, but there are of course many holiday lodgings in Edinburgh. If you don’t fancy staying in a hotel, then websites such as Wimdu allow you to rent out an apartment for your holiday. No matter what your tastes, with 3,000 castles to choose from, you’re sure to find at least one that enchants.