Without doubt one of the most picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful parts of Scotland, the Scottish Highlands boasts some of the finest views and scenic journeys in the UK, even on drizzly days which aren’t known to be uncommon in this part of the world! Encompassing the vast and sweeping Cairngorms which itself is home to enough forests, lakes and waterfalls for one trip alone, plus stunning Fort William and Glencoe, stretching all the way across to the Isle of Skye, the Highlands are an absolute haven for lovers of the wilderness.
If the natural beauty of the Highlands wasn’t enough to draw you to this part of the world alone, it also plays host to an impressive collection of castles and gardens to be explored. And given Scotland’s fascinating and extensive history, the stories that come with each of the castles in the Scottish Highlands are just as awe-inspiring as the landscapes they’re set in. Whilst they’re each well worth a visit in our eyes, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourites to consider for your trip to the Highlands.
As soon as you catch a glimpse of the signature pinky-orange hues of Brodie Castle, you know you’ve arrived at the right place and certainly one of the best castles in the Scottish Highlands. Set amongst the beautiful Moray countryside, Brodie Castle has been home to the Brodie clan for over 400 hundred years - a long history which is reflected in the extensive collections of art and antiques in the castle itself. Embark on a self-guided walking tour around the grounds and keep an eye out for the impressive flora and fauna that call the grounds of Brodie Castle home. Visit here in spring time and you’ll be rewarded with seas of yellow daffodils proudly signifying the turn of a new season. In fact, there are reportedly over 400 species of daffodils to be spotted here, but we’ll leave that up to you depending on how much time you have on your hands!
Entry price for the castle & garden: Adult: £15, Family: £40, Child: £10
Overlooking the Moray Firth, Dunrobin Castle is not only one of the largest and oldest Scottish Highland castles, but also one of the most impressive in stature thanks to its unique and decadent exterior mirroring the typical architecture of a French chateau - certainly not something you’d expect to see in this most northern part of of the Highlands. With its fairytale-esque turrets peeking out over heathered meadows and forest, Dunrobin Castle is as ethereal as it is dominating. Take one step inside the castle and this is a theme that continues through each room boasting exquisite decor and a decadent history to match. Visitors are also welcome to explore Dunrobin’s gardens and grounds, which are worth a visit in themselves, even if just to enjoy a falconry show which are put on twice daily. If you’re feeling peckish, be sure to make a stop at the on site tea rooms and enjoy some of the delicious homemade baked treats on offer.
Opening Times: between April and October, 10am - 5pm
Entry Prices: Adults: £12.50, Children: £7.50, Family: £36.50
This iconic 13th century Scottish Highlands castle is a must-visit during a tour of the Scottish Highlands. Perched on an island where three of the Highland lochs meet, Eilean Donan castle is almost impossible to miss, making it one of the most filmed and photographed Scottish Highland castles. As soon as visitors step inside the castle itself, the long and tumultuous history of Eilean Donan becomes clear. With ancient artefacts, weapons and even cannonballs on display, each telling the story of the battles the castle has endured over the years. Be sure to make a stop at the visitor centre here to find out even more about the castle and the surrounding areas, and you’ll also find a coffee shop selling homemade treats, as well as a newly refurbished gift shop for a souvenir and reminder of your trip to one of the best castles in the Scottish Highlands.
Opening Times: between February and December - opening times vary each season
Entry Prices: Adults: £10, Children over 5: £6, Families: £29
Take one look at Dunvegan Castle and it comes as no surprise that it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Set amongst 5 acres of manicured gardens on the Isle of Skye, this castle is just as grand outside as it is inside. Discover the castle’s heirlooms displayed in ornate rooms each gilded with intricate decorations reflective of Dunvegan’s impressive history. As well as exploring the castle and its surrounding grounds, visitors are also welcome to enjoy a seal watching boat tour across the loch where eagle-eyed visitors may get the chance to spot one of Dunvegan’s resident seals, along with various birds too. Boat trips run between April and September and operate on a first come, first served basis. With so much to see and do here, visitors will welcome a stop at Dunvegan’s on-site cafe and coffee shop to grab a bite to eat and refuel for even more exploration.
If a visit to Dunvegan sounds like a great day out, our Hebridean Island Adventure escorted tour includes a visit here on Day two of your trip.
Opening Times: between April and October, 10am - 5:30pm
Entry Prices: Adult: £14, Children: £9, Groups: £11
Dating from the late 14th century, Cawdor Castle is steeped in history and family traditions passed down from generation to generation who you’ll see many a portrait of with the grand oil paintings hung from most walls in the castle. Cawdor boasts not just one but three magnificent gardens within its grounds, including a walled garden, wild garden and flower garden. As you can imagine, no matter what time of year you might decide to visit Cawdor, the plethora of flora in bloom at any one time is extensive and well worth bringing your camera for. The gardens are also surrounded by a forest which is also open to be explored on one of the castle’s nature trails, along with a vegetable garden, an arboretum and an orchard. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at the Courtyard Cafe during your visit too. Enjoy a light lunch or freshly baked scones whilst overlooking the flower garden and enjoy Cawdor Castle from a truly relaxing perspective.
If our breakdown of our favourite Scottish Highlands castles has left you intrigued to find out more about the many scenic wonders that Scotland has to offer, take a look at our Scotland holidays and tours page. Here you’ll see all of the beautiful locations that Newmarket Holidays have to offer with our escorted tours packages.