The Castles in Scotland are one of the biggest attractions in all of Scotland! There’s over 1,000 castles in Scotland. Since there are so many, it can be slightly overwhelming with deciding which ones to visit! These 7 must visit castles listed below will help guide your castle decision making. Many of them are near other popular destinations in Scotland, making them a short detour if they’re not already on the way.
Almost all of these castles have an overview point where you can see the castle from a far! In my opinion, some of the viewpoints are even better than seeing it up close. Keep reading to learn all about the best castles in Scotland that you must visit!
Dunnottar Castle is perched on top of a rocky cliffside on the north-eastern coast of Scotland. This once medieval fortress, now castle ruins has a deep history that dates back to around 400 AD.
While this castle is more ruin like than others, there is still enough of a structure you can walk around the property and inside it in some portions. There’s lots of signs with historical descriptions of the what the castle once was. Of all the castles in Scotland we visited, this was my personal favorite!
If you want to see this iconic castle but don’t want to pay the entrance fee, you can walk around the top of the cliffside for free. There’s a path from the parking lot and instead of taking a left to go down the stairs into the castle, you take a right. You can walk along this path for a little ways getting stunning views of the cliffside and of course, Dunnottar Castle!
Eilean Donan Castle is located near Dornie on the route to Isle of Skye. It is said to be the most photographed castles in all of Scotland and it’s easy to see why! It’s located just off the road in such a central gateway into one of the most visited parts of Scotland, Isle of Skye. Over the centuries, Eilean Donan has been torn down and rebuilt many times due to battles and uprisings. Read more about the castles history here!
Be sure to stop at the lookout point, not even a mile down the road. Just cross the bridge and it will be on the left [if you take a left out of the castle parking lot]. It’s in the same parking lot as the All Good Coffee + Bakeshop. The view from the lookout is pictured above!
Dunveagan Castle and Gardens is located on the MacLeod Estate in Isle of Skye. This castle’s history is rare in the fact that it’s the “only Highland fortress to have been continuously occupied by the same family for 800 years“. One of my favorite things about Dunveagan is that is also have 5 acres of beautifully manicured gardens surrounding it! After walking around the inside of the castle, be sure to take time exploring the gardens!
Please note that the Castle is only open for from April to October at 10:00am – 5:30pm!
For the most up to date visiting information, please check out their website here.
The viewpoint for Dunveagan Castle can be found by typing “Dunvegan Castle Viewpoint” into Google Maps. It’s about 1 mile down a paved single track road. Once you’ve arrived, it’s a very small pullout on the left hand side of the road. Like most other viewpoints, it is free so if you won’t want to pay for the Castle and Ground ticket this is a way to still see Dunveagan Castle. In my opinion, it’s very worth paying the fee to see it up-close though. This viewpoint is quite far away so even with a zoom-lens you won’t be able to see much detail.
Urquhart Castle is located about 30 minutes south of Inverness on the famous, Loch Ness. Over the centuries many different people have fought for and gained power of the Urquhart Castle. You can read all about its lively history here!
While the castle is mostly ruins, you can still walk around and inside some parts of what’s remaining of the castle. There are detailed signs and plaques explaining what you are standing in and what it once was. I think reading about the history of the castle adds so much more meaning to the overall experience!
Make sure to climb to the top of Grant Tower and look out over Loch Ness to see if you can spot the famous, Loch Ness Monster! ;)
The Urquhart Castle Viewpoint is about 100 meters walk down a paved sidewalk from the parking lot. You will keep walking until the bushes and trees open up, allowing view of the Castle with Loch Ness behind it! This is one of the quickest and simplest viewpoints to get to so I would highly recommend it! Like I’ve mentioned for other castles, this is the only way to see the castle for free.
The Edinburgh Castle is located in the heart of the city of Edinburgh. To be honest, it’s hard to miss it! There’s incredible views of the castle from all over the city. This is probably the only castle I would say you don’t necessarily need to pay to enter to enjoy it, I actually think it’s better from the outside!
One of my favorite viewpoints of the castle is from The Vennel Viewpoint. It’s an ally like staircase leading up the hill with quaint cottages along it. Turn around and look up to see the Edinburgh Castle! There’s also amazing views from the gardens and grass area right underneath the castle, next to Princes Street. Photos from both of these places are below!
Kilchurn Castle is located in Dalmally, Scotland. The castle has been abandoned since the 1700s. You can read more about its history here! As of April 2022, the castle is temporarily closed due to conservation work. You can still walk around the castle without going inside the ruins [it is fenced off].
The Kilchurn Castle viewpoint is about 1 mile down the road on A819. There’s a small pull out on the side of the road where you can get a panoramic view of the castle. Since the fencing was quite obtrusive in most photos, I enjoyed the castle more from afar!
Duntulum Castle is located on the northern tip of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye. You can read more about its fabled history here.
Personally, I would not make a special trip JUST to see this castles in Scotland since it honestly looks more like a pile of rocks than anything. You are not able to walk around or in the ruins due to structural damage and safety. I think if you’d be able to walk around it, my opinion would be slightly different! But if you’re already in Isle of Skye and driving by it, I think it’s worth to get out and see it! More-so for the surrounding views than the castle itself.
There are so many castles in Scotland to choose from and I hope this helped you decide on a few to add [or not add] to your list!