Many of the Stuart royals, among them James I and Mary, Queen of Scots, did stints in this loch-side 15th-century pleasure palace. Gutted by fire in the 18th century, Linlithgow lies in ruin, though evidence of its grandeur—from the great hall to the intricately carved King’s Fountain—is still plentiful.
Not far from Edinburgh, Linlithgow Palace makes for an easy day trip from the city. You can purchase an admission ticket in advance and make your own way to the site. Alternatively go as part of an organized day tour from Edinburgh, which typically passes by Linlithgow Palace en route to Loch Ness, Glencoe, and other destinations in the Scottish Highlands. Outlander-themed day tours usually include free time at the palace—which was used as a filming location for Wentworth Prison in the hit series—so fans can explore the historic building and the surrounding site. The palace is now managed by Historic Scotland and is free to enter for holders of the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The photogenic ruins of Linlithgow Palace are a must-see for royal enthusiasts and history buffs.
- Bring a camera to capture the views of Linlithgow Peel and Linlithgow Loch, both of which are visible from the top of Queen Margaret’s Bower.
- Much of Linlithgow is roofless. Bring rain gear to keep the weather at bay.
- The ticket office, shop, and courtyard (where the King’s Fountain is located), with level though somewhat uneven cobbled surfaces, are accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Linlithgow Palace stands about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Edinburgh city center, about a 35-minute drive. Without a car, you can get there via ScotRail train from Edinburgh Waverley station; trains depart regularly, and the journey takes just 20 minutes. From Linlithgow station, it is just a 5-minute walk to the palace.
When to Get There
The best time to visit is during summer, when milder weather makes it easier to explore Linlithgow Peel, the parkland surrounding the site. One of the best times to come is during the annual Spectacular Jousting event, which takes place in late June or early July, and features a medieval jousting tournament reenactment as well as music and demonstrations.
The King’s Fountain
For many visitors, the highlight of a visit to Linlithgow is the three-tiered King’s Fountain, located in the castle courtyard. Commissioned by James V in 1537, the magnificent fountain is covered in elaborate carvings. It’s said that when Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Linlithgow in 1745, the fountain flowed with wine. Nowadays, it flows—though only with water—on Sundays in July and August.