Photo Credits: Jörg Angeli @ Unsplash
Castles come in all different shapes and sizes. The one thing that we know for sure is that they’re all very similar in terms of magic, in some way or another. Magical surroundings, magical features and well, magical tales. You are never too far from a castle in Scotland, it is estimated that there were once up to 3000 castles – nearly one for every 100 square miles states Visit Scotland. Today, some are open to the public and have been preserved into museums or hotels. Whether you’re looking for a picturesque medieval look or a romantic setting with plentiful of turrets, Scotland has some real gems. What are you waiting for? Discover your inner child and uncover the fairy-tale stories behind these iconic monuments.
1. Craigievar Castle
Entry fee: Adult £14.50 Concession £11.00 Family £33 *please note prices were accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change
Now, that’s what we call a fairy-tale princess castle. It’s as if someone has picked an illustration out from a children’s book and placed it on the grounds south of Alford in Aberdeenshire. It has said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle and that, we can truly believe. The dreamlike pink castle is nestled within enchanting forests and with the surroundings so silent, you can hear the birds singing and the trees whistling in the breeze. Inside the castle you can admire a collection of artefacts from art to armour and weapons.
You can experience living the life of a Disney princess by going on a tour of the full castle. The kids can then explore the gardens and woodland trails outside too whilst keeping an eye on local wildlife. Entry prices are reasonable and if you’re looking for a bite to eat, there is a small kiosk and shop to keep yourself and the family fuelled.
2. Culzean Castle
Entry fee: Adult £17 Concession £12.65 Family £42.25 *please note prices were accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change
Culzean castle is a glorious 260ha estate situated on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland. It overlooks the Firth of Clyde near Maybole in Carrick. Once the playground of David Kennedy, the castle is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Perched upon the clifftop, Culzean has many hidden caves and the grounds are dotted with flamboyant flower beds and glasshouses filled of fruit. Full of opulent gestures, the grounds also feature a swan pond and an ice house.
Culzean is a great place to discover with children as they can run wild in the woodland play areas and pretend to listen to the walls as they tell us them stories of the people who once lived there.
Fun Fact – From 1972-2015, an illustration of the castle was featured on the reverse side of five pound notes.
3. Drummond Castle
Entry fee: Adult £10 Child £4 Family £22 *please note prices were accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change
Full of character and charm, Drummond Castle in Perthshire is about 3 miles south and west of Crieff. Famed for its stunning gardens and described as “the best terraced gardens in Scotland”. Aren’t you intrigued? You’ll need to find out if it’s true for yourself. The gardens are laid out in the form of a Renaissance garden of the 17th century with parterres, formal terraces, statues, urns and fountains.
It’s like a scene out of Beauty and the Beast – manicured trees and shrubs with animated statues. If there were to come to life, I’m sure they would be able to tell us a story or two, that’s for sure.
4. Edinburgh Castle
Entry fee: Adult (16-64yrs) £15.50 Concession £12.40 Child (1-5yrs) £9.30 *please note prices were accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change
Edinburgh Castle is located in Scotland’s capital and is known to be one of the most historic sites within Europe. Sitting majestically upon Castle Rock, the castle was built on a former volcano which erupted several hundred million years ago. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the city, the mighty fortress watches from a viewpoint as people come and go to explore the city. The castle is home to the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the one o’clock gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.
With cobbled side streets, souvenir shops and meandering alleyways leading you to explore, it is apparent that Edinburgh is full of magic. For as we know, the Harry Potter books were written by JK Rowling, not too far from the castle’s doors. The inspiration within the city is electric and the castle is at the forefront of that.
5. Eilean Donan Castle
Entry fee: Adult £10.00 Concession £9.00 Child £6.00 Family £29.00 *please note prices were accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change
Eilean Donan Castle is on its own mini island in the centre of three lochs in the western Highlands of Scotland. It is one of the most photographed castles in the world and people travel from far and near to visit the picture-perfect setting. There is a large car park and modern visitor centre on the shore but a kind reminder during peak summer, this tends to fill up fast. We would recommend visiting on warm summer’s day or even later on at night when the castles lights are on. The castles reflection mirrors in the loch where it becomes a beautiful sight admired by all. So, remember to bring your camera!
6. Fyvie Castle
Entry fee: Adult £14.50 Concession £11.00 Family £33.00 *please note prices were accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change
The magnificent Fyvie Castle is in the heart of Aberdeenshire and is a prime example of Scottish Baronial architecture with numerous towers and turrets. Inside the castles walls, the ornate ceilings and rooms are filled with fine furniture, armour and oil paintings which offer a magical setting. Outside in the surrounding grounds, the castle features a racquets court, bowling alley, an ice house, bird hide and a large picturesque lake with wildfowl. Tales are told about ghosts and legends within Fyvie Castle’s 800 year old history, we do know for sure however, Robert the Bruce was among some of the royal guests back in 1214.
Today, you can visit the castles shop and tearoom for a light lunch and/or coffee with cake. Because, let’s face it… what’s better than a day out exploring with cake?