1. Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognised castles in Scotland, and probably appears on more shortbread tins and calendars than any other. It is, without doubt, a Scottish icon and certainly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Highlands.
Strategically located on its own little island, overlooking the Isle of Skye, at the point where three great sea-lochs meet, and surrounded by the majestic splendour of the forested mountains of Kintail, Eilean Donan’s setting is truly breath-taking.
2. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.
This most famous of Scottish castles has a complex building history. The oldest part, St Margaret’s Chapel, dates from the 12th century; the Great Hall was erected by James IV around 1510; the Half Moon Battery by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century; and the Scottish National War Memorial after the First World War.
3. Dunvegan Castle
Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incomplete without savouring the wealth of history and clan legend on offer at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens.
Built on a rock in an idyllic loch side setting, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
4. Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, having been first leased in 1848. The Castle is an example of Scots Baronial architecture and is classified by Historic Scotland as a category A listed building.
5. Cawdor Castle
Located about 5 miles south west of Nairn, Cawdor Castle was built around a 15th century tower house which originally belonged to Clan Cawdor before passing into the hands of Campbells in the 16th century. Although famed for its literary connection to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the actual 11th century events upon which the play is based to place many years before the castle was built.
However the castle does boast its own unique tale surrounding its construction. According to legend, the castle is built around a thorn tree, which has since been identified as a holly dating from 1372, which visitors can still see today in the dungeon.
6. Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle is the perfect place for a day out whether you’re a keen walker, enjoy admiring gardens, have an interest in architecture or just enjoy soaking up some history.
Standing on a dramatic cliff top overlooking the Firth of Clyde, the castle has been associated with the Kennedy family since the 14th century and was converted by Robert Adam between 1777 and 1792.
7. Craigievar Castle
Resembling a fairytale castle and an example of the best of Scottish Baronial architecture, Craigievar fits naturally amongst the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire.
The Great Tower stands just as it was when completed by Master William Forbes Danzig Willie in 1626. The simplicity of its lower towers contrasts perfectly with the turrets, the cupolas and corbelling that embellish the roofline. Within its walls the collection includes an excellent show of family portraits. There is also original Jacobean woodwork and some beautiful furniture, including the ‘Craigievar table’.
8. Glamis Castle
The red sandstone walls of Glamis have been home to many colourful characters throughout the centuries, not least of them the late Queen Mother. It also famously features in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Crowned with battlements and pointed turrets, Glamis is the epitome of baronial grandeur.
9. Inveraray Castle
The ancient Royal Burgh of Inveraray is located 60 miles north west of Glasgow by Loch Fyne in an area of spectacular natural beauty. The ruggedness of the highland scenery serves as a spectacular backdrop for the sheltered tidal Loch, beside which nestles the present Castle built between 1745 and 1790.
10. Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most historically important sites and was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations at the castle.
Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked to Stirling Castle to revel in its grandeur with its superb sculptures and beautiful gardens. It was a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations from christenings to coronations.
11. Braemar Castle
A 17th century castle with a colourful past and an exciting future. Built by the Earl of Mar in 1628, it has been hunting lodge, fortress, garrison and family home.
Set amid the stunning scenery of the Cairngorm mountains with castellated turrets, a star shaped curtain wall and a bottle necked dungeon. Home to the chief of Clan Farquharson, it is furnished with the furniture, memorabilia and personal belongings of the Farquharson family.
12. Blair Castle
Blair Castle is nestled in the landscape of Highland Perthshire and has been home to 19 generations of Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl. Unique amongst Scottish castles, the story told here will take you from a visit by Mary Queen of Scots to the Civil War and from the Jacobite cause to the disaster of Culloden following Bonnie Prince Charlie’s own stay in the castle.
13. Inverness Castle
Inverness Castle sits on a cliff overlooking the River Ness, in Inverness, Scotland. The red sandstone structure evident today was built in 1836 by architect William Burn. It is built on the site of an 11th-century defensive structure. Today, it houses Inverness Sheriff Court.