The historic Scottish Highlands are known for their rugged coastlines, mountain ranges, sweeping landscapes, whisky distilleries—and dramatic castles. Here are a few of the region’s most famous castles, from grand palaces to ruined fortresses.
Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle is a fully restored, 13th-century gem situated on its own tiny island at the confluence of three lochs. It is one of Scotland’s most photographed monuments. Guided tours take visitors through the interior, and you can explore the grounds at your leisure. Visit on a guided tour to the Isle of Skye, another nearby popular destination.
Located near the town of Inverness, the ruins of Urquhart Castle stand on the shores of Loch Ness, making it an ideal addition to an itinerary that includes the legendary monster’s lair. Snap photos of the scenic ruins and countryside, and stop into the large visitor center, which is open most days year-round. The castle can also be seen during a Loch Ness cruise; most dock nearby and allow passengers time to explore the site.
Fanciful Inveraray Castle was built in the 18th century and features a monumental building with handsome architectural flourishes. The castle, which appeared in a 2012 episode of (“Downton Abbey”) belongs to the Duke of Argyll. Book a full-day tour from Edinburgh to the West Highlands for an itinerary that includes Inveraray Castle, and tour the interior for a look at the sumptuous furnishings, paintings, and armaments collections.
Blair is one of the most popular castle destinations in Scotland. Home to the Atholl family for more than seven centuries, the castle has more than 30 elaborately decorated rooms and extensive gardens. Take it in and see other regional highlights on a full-day guided tour from Edinburgh.