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10 of Scotland's best castles to visit

Scotland’s clan dynasties, who have ruled, battled and survived for centuries, have given today’s visitors to Scotland the gift of some of Europe’s most magnificent castles.

With over 500 listed castles in Scotland, we have selected our top 10 for castle hunters, all within easy reach, or en route to, our forest locations at Strathyre or Ardgartan Argyll. Book a cabin break in Scotland and explore these monuments to Scottish history.

1. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Landscape of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Landscape of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

It’s the jewel in the crown of Scotland’s castles, and it’s also home to the crown jewels of Scotland. Edinburgh Castle sits proudly above the capital city and its importance to Scottish history cannot be overstated. In its 1,100-year life it has been under siege 26 times, making it one of the most attacked castles in the world.

Open all year, entrance charged, 57 miles from Strathyre

2. Inveraray Castle, Argyll and Bute

Landscape of Inveraray Castle, Scotland

Landscape of Inveraray Castle, Scotland

A turreted Gothic revival castle in a fairy tale setting on the shores of Loch Fyne, Inveraray Castle is the seat of one of Scotland’s oldest clans, the clan Campbell. It is still home to the Campbell family to this day. 

Open April to October, entrance charged, 20 miles from Ardgartan Argyll

3. Doune Castle, Perthshire

Landscape of Doune Castle, Scotland

Doune Castle, a splendid medieval keep near Stirling, is something of a TV and film star, having featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, Outlander and the newly released Outlaw King.

Open all year, entrance charged, 12 miles from Strathyre

4. Stirling Castle, Stirling

Landscape of Stirling Castle, Scotland

Landscape of Stirling Castle, Scotland

Sitting atop a volcanic rock, overlooking a vast plain, Stirling Castle has been central to the story of Scotland for 1,00 years. It has links to some of the most famous figures in Scottish history, including William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Open all year, entrance charged, 20 miles from Strathyre

5. Kilchurn Castle, Argyll and Bute

Landscape of Kilchurn Castle, Scotland

One for the photograph album, the partial ruins of Kilchurn Castle sit alone at the head of Loch Awe, in a spectacular setting that is the very essence of Scotland. Not just a photogenic delight, it houses the oldest surviving barracks in mainland Britain.

Open April to September, entrance free, 34 miles from Ardgartan Argyll, 46 miles from Strathyre

6. Huntingtower Castle, Perthshire

Landscape of Huntingtower Castle, Scotland

Huntingtower Castle, just outside Perth has atmosphere, views and history. This quirky castle with its two towers, 500-year-old painted ceilings and close links to the story of Scotland, is an underappreciated gem.

Open all year, entrance charged, 40 miles from Strathyre

7. Dumbarton Castle, Dunbartonshire

Landscape of Dumbarton Castle, Scotland

Built onto the volcanic bed of Dumbarton Rock in the ancient capital of Scotland, Dumbarton Castle is an 18th Century Georgian military stronghold. Its commanding position is now more valued for the great views over the Clyde, Loch Lomond and Argyll.

Open all year, entrance charged, 26 miles from Ardgartan Argyll, 

8. Innis Chonnell, Argyll and Bute

Landscape of Innis Castle, Scotland

In a lonely position on an islet in Loch Awe, Innis Chonnell is another castle under the stewardship of the clan Campbell. For added adventure you will need to hire a boat to explore this beautiful ruin.

Open all year, entrance free, 40 miles from Ardgartan Argyll

9. Drummond Castle, Perthshire

Landscape of Drummond Castle, Scotland

Landscape of Drummond Castle, Scotland

Grand and historic as it is, Drummond Castle plays second fiddle to its fabulous gardens. First laid out in the 17th Century, and boasting a beech tree planted by Queen Victoria, they are among the most admired formal gardens in Europe. 

Open Easter, and May – October, entrance charged, 28 miles from Strathyre

10. Loch Leven Castle, Perthshire

Landscape of Loch Leven Castle, Scotland

Built in the 13th century, Loch Leven Castle is in a strategically important position between the much-fought over strongholds of Edinburgh, Stirling and Perth. Now an atmospheric ruin, it is another castle that features in the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned here for a year.

Open April to October, entrance charged (includes boat to the island), 67 miles to Strathyre

Castles and lochs

Enjoy a holiday in Scotland at Ardgartan Argyll or Strathyre and spend a few happy days discovering these historic castles. While you are on your travels, here is our top 10 list of Scotland’s lochs too.

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