Scotland is a mecca for castles, with over two thousand castles and some of the oldest dating back to 1200AD. You might have heard of a few from the television series Outlander or from films such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It might be hard to choose which of the Scottish historic castles to visit first. Here are some of my favourites and the best time to visit.
Visiting Scottish Historic Castles
One of Scotland’s most dramatic castles – Dunnottar Castle is a medieval fortress standing on the rocky headland outside of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.
The surviving buildings date between the 15th and 16th centuries. Discover where the lion was kept and stories of when William Wallace and his troops captured the castle.
You can reach the castle by car, tour bus or train with a scenic walk up to the headline.
Eilean Donan Castle
Standing on the shores of Loch Duich is the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle. One of the most recognised castles in Scotland, it lay in ruins for more than 200 hundred years after being destroyed in the 1715 Jacobite Uprising.
It is a magical setting in the Scottish Highlands.
Known for being the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots – Linlithgow Palace was built by James I around 1425. Look out for medieval events that take place at the palace. These are incredibly fun and entertaining with horse jousting, hands-on demonstrations, falconry and much more! Did you know you can become a member of Historic Scotland and visit a number of properties throughout Scotland?
Linlithgow can be easily reached by bus, car or if you prefer a train from Edinburgh.
One of the most important Scottish historic castles due to its strategic location – Stirling Castle was fought over for more than 60 years between the English and the Scots. Its incredible fortification built by French allies, home to Mary Queen of Scots after she became Queen 6 days after her father James V died.
Spot Old Stirling Bridge, Wallace Monument, Ochil Hills and more from the incredible heights of Castle Hill. The castle has great displays that include wall signage and interactive displays for children. Highly recommend!
Did you know that to celebrate St Andrews Day, Historic Scotland releases free tickets to all their properties? Also as part of your ticket, you can enter Argyll Lodging. Don’t miss this great opportunity to visit some of Scotland’s historic past.
Scotland’s largest castle – Edinburgh Castle sits on top of an extinct volcano located in the heart of the city and Scotland’s capital it is a sight to be seen. When visiting don’t miss the crown jewels, seeing inside one of Scotland’s oldest chapels and the one o’clock cannon – Mon’s Meg. It gets that many visitors there are now designated time slots – do book in advance to avoid disappointment. The quietest time and best time to visit is first thing in the morning, giving you ample time to enjoy the castle and Edinburgh a UNESCO heritage site. Did you know you can book now to enjoy a Christmas three-course lunch at Edinburgh Castle?
There are lots of possibilities to get around and visit some of Scotland’s historic buildings, castles, forts and much more. To give yourself more freedom why not hire a motorhome? Have the adventure of a lifetime driving the dramatic hills, glens then parking up overnight by some of Scotland’s crisp, clear and beautiful lochs (do make sure that there are no signs stating ‘No overnight parking‘ first).
I hope you have enjoyed reading and are inspired to visit one of these or more Scottish historic castles. Happy Travels:) x