One of our all time favourite castles to visit in Scotland is Stirling Castle. It’s such a fun place to visit, with loads of different buildings to explore. Quite often you will find people dressed up as palace servants who then tell you interesting stories about the palace’s history. The castle really does have a huge amount of history and has been pivotal in the history of Scotland.
There are plenty of garden areas around the castle, that are pretty to look at, but also great for younger children to run around on. Fantastic views across the local area and all the way to the Wallace Monument. If you are visiting with kids head into the tunnel under the palace for interactive activities that the kids will enjoy!
If you can only visit one castle in Scotland I would highly recommend Stirling!
Everyone who visits Scotland wants to visit Edinburgh Castle! It’s an iconic landmark of our capital city, standing proud at the top of the crags. Although, as mentioned above, believe that Stirling is the best castle to visit in Scotland, Edinburgh is also great for several reasons.
The first reason is that it has amazing views across Edinburgh and further afield. You can watch them fire the 1 O’clock gun, although I recommend covering your ears! Edinburgh Castle is also where they keep the Scottish Honours (our Scottish crown jewels), great to see what they look like!
Finally it has an important history and you can learn about Mons Meg (the huge cannon!) or the military use of the castle in the museum. So it’s definitely worth visiting if you have the time too.
If you are staying to the East of Edinburgh around North Berwick or Dunbar then Tantallon Castle is one of the must-see castles to visit in scotland. It looks pretty impressive from the approach. But once you go through the doors you realise that half the castle is missing!
Fortunately this doesn’t stop you being able to get to the top of the outer wall and admiring the views out to Bass Rock. The history of the castle is rather interesting and a lot has been destroyed due to various battles, leading to it finally being abandoned after Cromwell’s attack.
The beautiful Fife coast is well known for it’s beaches, but there’s also a few castles around too! Aberdour Castle is very popular to visit and can be a great day out combined with the beach at Silversands.
The castle itself is in ruins, although a good section is possible to enter and explore. There are also beautiful gardens, a dovecot and orchard to visit. It’s definitely a place to visit on a sunny day with a picnic to make the most of the castle!
In Aberdeenshire you can find the beautiful Crathes Castle, which is more like a mansion house and one of the only castles in this list that is not in ruins! We found the staff incredibly friendly and great with the kids. They made sure to point out all the interesting parts of the castle, even telling the children to look out for a ‘trip step’ on the stairs!
The castle has a huge car park and plenty of space for everyone to space out around the surrounding woodlands. The Yew trees are particularly old and interesting to see and in some cases climb!
There are also beautiful gardens, a cafe and small playpark too.
Gylen Castle is a tiny castle on the island of Kerrera, Oban. Although the castle itself is small and not much to see, the location is amazing! Perched high above the sea on a cliff looking out over the ocean, you can see how this was a difficult place to live.
This castle was burnt down (as many were in Scotland!) due to a feud. But you can still visit the ruins and climb up to the second storey of the tower and admire the views. It’s a beautiful walk to the castle along the coastline of Kerrera too.
Up high in the Ochil hills Castle Campbell can be rather mysterious when it’s misty! It’s also a great place to spot birds of prey flying past! Below the castle are a woodland garden, which is steep but interesting to walk through. You can park at the bottom of the hill in Dollar, or drive up to one of the 2 car parks nearer the top of the hill.
The castle is small, but a fun one to explore and often fairly quiet outwith the summer holidays. Being high above Dollar does make it feel more remote and it’s definitely a favourite of ours to visit!
Perched on the edge of Loch Ness, Urqhuart Castle is a well known and visited castle. Due to it’s location people often combine a visit to the castle alongside Nessie hunting tours on the loch. The castle has some good history, but most of it is now in ruins, with a single tower that can be climbed.
The best part about this castle is it’s location to Loch Ness and large area stretching out around the ruins. Perfect for kids to explore! There’s also a good video inside, which you are usually directed to before heading out to the castle.
Overshadowed by the more prominent Edinburgh Castle, Craigmillar Castle shouldn’t be overlooked. Arriving at a rather small car park it’s a actually a good size castle that takes some time to explore.
The castle is easy to access from the outskirts of Edinburgh and is not far from Holyrood park either. It’s an interesting place to stay with a rather old tree at the entrance, along with history that includes Mary Queen of Scot’s.
For some reason my children like finding spaces that they can squeeze into, like the oven at Craigmillar! A fun spot to eat lunch according to my youngest!
Dunvegan Castle – Castles to Visit in Scotland
Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye is still owned and lived in by the Chief of the clan Macleod. However, you are able to visit certain areas of the house and the gardens throughout the year. It’s more of a feeling of a stately home as the home has never been destroyed by war as many Scottish castles have!
You can spot a collection of Jacobite and Bonny Prince Charlie relics within the castle. Outside take a stroll through the elaborate gardens or a boat trip out to see the seals. It’s also fun to look back at the castle from the sea.
One of the unusual shaped castles in Scotland is Blackness Castle. It seems to take the shape of the prow of a ship facing out into the Forth estuary. It was once a royal castle, before it was later used for military use. All the castle is a ruin, most of it has been maintained so that it could be used for ammunition storage.
The view from the ramparts and the top of the tower is pretty impressive! You can see across to the Forth bridges, just be careful as it’s often very windy at this castle!