Scotland is home to a plethora of castles – so much so, the lofty fortresses are an integral part of the wild and undulating landscape, along with pristine lochs and towering mountains. Castle enthusiast David Weinczok estimates that around 2000 castles are scattered across the ancient land. From ruins to visitor-friendly heritage sites to refurbishments into hotels, there’s plenty of ways to visit these beautiful castles, too. Here’s the C&TH pick of the beautiful Scottish castles to visit – or, if you’re lucky, book yourself into for a regal holiday.
Scottish Castles To Visit
Scottish Castle Ruins To Visit
Set against a watery backdrop and perched on an ocean outcrop, this cliff-top stronghold – dating back to the middle-ages – is breathtaking at sunset. Visit by walking along the Aberdeenshire coastline from the pretty, nearby Stonehaven harbour town. dunnottarcastle.co.uk
Also known as Strathbogie Castle, the magnificent Huntly Castle ruin dates from the 12th century, serving as a baronial residence for five centuries. historicenvironment.scot
Dumfries & Galloway
Another dramatic coastal castle, the raggedy Dunskey Castle was once a massive tower house, but has sat derelict since 1700. Arrive by walking along the coastal path – and continue south past the castle to the pretty town of Portpatrick with its picturesque harbour and pastel houses. visitscotland.com
Scottish Castles To Stay In
The fictional Balmoral in Netflix’s The Crown, this 19th century Gothic home near Inverness has the same brooding turrets and gloomy air as the real Balmoral, just with a slightly lower profile. It makes for a lovely and tranquil staycation destination – across a variety of on-ground cottages, ranging from a pretty lodge to an eco pod. ardverikie.com
Stepping inside Dairsie Castle is like stepping back in time. Once the site of secret Scottish parliaments, military sieges and even the hiding place of James VI from his Ruthven captors in 1583, the property has a colourful history. Today, the six-bedroom castle with six-acres of grounds – including a walled garden, orchard and parkland – is the perfect place for a weekend break. dairsiecastle.com
Highlands & Islands
Refurbished by Andrew Carnegie in 1898, Skibo was sold to hotelier Peter de Savary in 1982. Madonna and Guy Richie married here in 2002. It’s now owned by a mega-rich American keeping a low profile.
It’s technically possible to stay in the magnificent Skibo Castle, but, as a private members club, it’ll set you back a hefty £30,000 in joining fees, £9,000 in annual membership fees, and £1,500 to actually stay the night. Worth it? Read the C&TH review to find out. carnegieclub.co.uk
Featured Image: Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland (via Getty)