Scotland is known for its fairytale castles, with large turrets, high walls and moats. Think of the magical Hogwarts castle in the Harry Potter films, however, this time you actually get to explore its walls and dungeons in real life. There are thousands of castles and ruins scattered across Scotland and it’s worth renting a car to explore as many as you can. We’ve selected the top 5 castles in Scotland and we think you should definitely incorporate them into your UK trip. Here are our picks:
1. Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle will take you on a trip back to the Tudor era. It was home to many members of the Scottish royal family in the 16th century, including the notorious Mary Queen of Scotts, who was to go on to be brutally executed by her sister, Elizabeth I. The castle sits on top of a hill, surrounded by three steep slopes, meaning it was the perfect defensive location. It has withstood eight sieges and today stands as one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions.
2. Edinburgh Castle
The mighty Edinburgh Castle sits on top of a dormant volcano. It was one of the most politically and militarily important castles in Scotland, and saw many battles, as Scotland tried to fight off the English in various battles for independence. It sits upon Castle Rock and can be seen for miles in all directions. There’s also a panoramic view from the castle, meaning it was in the perfect strategic spot for the Scotts to see attackers approaching. There has been a castle in the same spot since the 12th century, changing names and hands as the centuries passed. Find a place to stay in Edinburgh and explore the mighty Edinburgh castle.
3. Braemar Castle
Braemar Castle looks like something out of the movies thanks to its spiral staircases, pointed turrets and eerie dungeon. It was built in the 17th century and is located in Aberdeenshire. Today it’s owned by the chief of the historic Clan Farquharson, who are a historic group dating back to the Celtic era. It’s open to the public and you can explore its ancient rooms. Find a place to stay in Aberdeen near Braemar Castle.
4. Cawdor Castle
The Cawdor Castle is best known for its literary connection to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s said Shakespeare took inspiration from Cawdor Castle for the setting of his fictional play Macbeth. The castle looks like something out of a fairy tale with traditional turret and beautiful surrounding gardens. The majority of the castle was built around a 15th-century tower house, although records show the castle had origins as far back as the 13th century.
5. Glamis Castle
The stunning Glamis Castle has been home to the Lyon family since the 14th century. Today, it’s best known as the childhood home of the current Queen Elizabeth’s mother. It is a large, dark-bricked castle that’s open to the public.