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Top 10 Must-See Castles in Scotland for an Unforgettable Journey

Top 10 Must-See Castles in Scotland for an Unforgettable Journey

Ah, Scotland! A land where the air smells of history, the lochs are deeper than your ex’s secrets, and the castles… oh, the castles. Scotland is a treasure trove of medieval fortresses, awe-inspiring manors, and good ol’ spooky ruins. If you’re yearning for a journey that’s as unforgettable as trying to pronounce “Ecclefechan” without pulling a muscle, then buckle up. Here are the top 10 must-see castles in Scotland that will make your trip truly unforgettable.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Located smack-bang in the heart of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh Castle is the epitome of Scottish landmarks.

  • Historic Significance: Over 3,000 years of history!
  • Top Attractions: The Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, and the National War Museum.
  • Visit: Open year-round, entry fees vary.

Walking up the Royal Mile towards this behemoth will leave you weak at the knees, and not just because of the incline.

2. Stirling Castle

If there’s a castle that can compete with Edinburgh, it’s Stirling Castle.

  • Known For: Being the centre of Scottish battles, think William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.
  • Top Spots: The Great Hall, the Chapel Royal, and the beautifully restored Renaissance Royal Palace.
  • Events: Reenactments and educational events galore.

Stirling Castle is perched atop Castle Hill and offers panoramic views that are the stuff of fairy tales.

3. Eilean Donan

Pose for the ‘gram at Eilean Donan, a castle so picturesque it makes you wonder if it was intentionally built for selfies.

  • Fame: Featured in movies like Highlander and James Bond’s The World is Not Enough.
  • Number of Bridges: Just one, so you feel like an adventurer!
  • Highlight: Rebuilt from ruins in the early 20th century.

Nestled where three lochs meet, its romantic setting earns it the spot of the most photographed castle in Scotland.

4. Dunnottar Castle

Next on the list is the brooding beauty of Dunnottar Castle.

  • Location: Near Stonehaven, perched on a cliff overlooking the North Sea.
  • Fun Fact: The Honours of Scotland (Scotland’s crown jewels) were hidden here from Oliver Cromwell.
  • Entry: Open daily, and worth every penny.

If castles were emo teenagers, Dunnottar would have the most dramatic MySpace.

5. Urquhart Castle

Perched on the shores of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle offers more than just potential Nessie sightings.

  • History: Dates back to the 13th century.
  • Duration: Survived Jacobite risings before being deliberately ruined.
  • Views: Breathtaking views of Loch Ness.

Who wouldn’t want to mix castle ruins with potentially one of the world’s most famous mythical creatures?

6. Glamis Castle

Step into a real-life fairy tale at Glamis Castle.

  • Claim to Fame: The childhood home of the Queen Mother and the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
  • Top Attractions: Walled gardens, and family mausoleum tours.
  • Open: Year-round, with varied events through the seasons.

They say every stone has a story, and Glamis Castle has its fair share of ghostly tales.

7. Balmoral Castle

For the royal experience, visit Balmoral Castle.

  • Residents: The summer residence of the British Royal Family.
  • Open: April to July, covering the castle’s grounds and gardens.
  • Speciality: A working estate, including a fold of Highland cattle.

Stroll through its ornate gardens, and feel like you’ve stepped into The Crown… without the scandal, of course.

8. Inveraray Castle

Nestled by Loch Fyne, Inveraray Castle is as grand as they come.

  • Features: Magnificent gardens and the Armoury Hall.
  • Open: April to October for public tours.
  • Bonus: The Downton Abbey Christmas special was filmed here.

This castle is home to the Duke of Argyll, head of Clan Campbell. A visit here is like stepping into a grand family home, if your family were Scottish nobility.

9. Craigievar Castle

Dreaming of a pink castle like a medieval Barbie? Then Craigievar Castle is your spot.

  • Look: A seven-storey pink castle.
  • Features: Turrets, gargoyles, and original plaster ceilings.
  • Open: April to late October.

A handsome specimen of Scottish Baronial architecture, visiting Craigievar is like stepping into a pastel-hued fairy tale book.

10. Castle Stalker

Ending on a high note at Castle Stalker, located on a small, rocky islet in Loch Laich.

  • Accessibility: Depends on the tide; sometimes reached by boat, other times by land.
  • Famous For: Featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • Open: Limited public tours, so booking ahead is crucial.

This 14th-century keep originally served as a defensive stronghold and offers a quintessentially Scottish scenic backdrop.

Conclusion

Scotland’s castles are more than mere stone and mortar; they are symbols of the country’s rich and tumultuous history, lovingly preserved in what can only be termed as some of the most awe-inspiring structures in the world.

Whether you’re gazing at the grandeur of Edinburgh Castle, posing with the photogenic Eilean Donan, or feeling the sea spray at Dunnottar, the castles of Scotland offer a fascinating glimpse into the past, combined with the adventure and romance of the Scottish Highlands and countryside.

Visiting these architectural wonders offers you a chance to walk amidst the footsteps of royalty, visionaries, and even the occasional ghost. Scotland’s castles promise you an unforgettable journey filled with stories and spectacles that will etch themselves into your heart.

Have you visited any of these marvellous castles, or is there a hidden gem we missed out on? Share your experiences and recommendations in the comments below!

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