Perched on the cliffs of Scotland’s dramatic coastline, you’ll discover a range of magical castles, each providing an insight into the country’s fascinating history. From towering landmarks to crumbling ruins, Scotland is home to some of the best castles and stately homes in Britain, many of which you can explore today.
Plenty of the castles in Scotland are still very much intact, boasting amazing architecture, vintage furniture and historic artefacts. On a visit, not only will you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, you’ll also learn all about Scotland’s heritage, hearing tales about how the castles survived battles and how they helped to protect this beautiful country. Here are a few of our favourite castles, perfect for an enchanting family day out on your next holiday in Scotland.
Brodie Castle, under 15 minutes from Nairn Lochloy Holiday Park, was home to Clan Brodie for over 400 years. Dating back to the 16th century, unearth the fascinating history behind one of Scotland’s most famous families, who were involved in several conflicts throughout their time.
Inside the castle itself, you’ll be greeted by amazing architecture, impressive art and grand furniture, so you can see for yourself what everyday life was like for the Brodie clan. Regular tours are available at the castle, where an expert guide will tell you all about the building and the rooms inside, as well as sharing stories and anecdotes about the Brodie family. The castle is surrounded by acres of Moray countryside and gardens, with an adventure playground for the little ones, along with a nature trail that the whole family can enjoy. The castle’s gardens are most well-known for the dazzling display of daffodils that appear during spring, so if you’re visiting during this season you’ll be in for a treat.
Whilst you’re in the area, a trip to Macbeth’s Hillock is a must. Just five minutes from the castle, this historical hill is said to be the place where Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Banquo encountered the three witches. On your way back to the holiday park, check out Nairn Beach along the way. From long stretches of white sand to panoramic views across the Moray Firth, Nairn beach is a great place for a long coastal walk, or to simply sit back and relax. Be sure to look out for dolphins whilst you’re there too!
If you’re looking for a castle with character, then Kelburn Castle is one in a million. Just 20 minutes from Wemyss Bay Holiday Park, this historic castle, originally built in the 13th century, has had an incredible makeover in recent years. In 2007, Lord Glasgow invited four Brazilian graffiti artists to decorate the exterior of the castle, so visitors would be greeted with a bright, bold and colourful creation on arrival.
Kelburn Castle is thought to be the oldest in Scotland, lived in by the same family for hundreds of years. It’s thought that the castle was initially built as a Norman Keep, designed for defence, not comfort, and over the years it has been transformed into a fantastic tourist attraction. One of Kelburn’s most spectacular features is the surrounding glen. From dramatic waterfalls and historic monuments to wildflowers and ancient trees, there’s so much to explore on a visit.
When you’re not on a guided tour of the castle or exploring one of Scotland’s most beautiful woodlands, the castle also hosts a range of events. One that the kids will love is ‘Frozen Castle’, a magical adventure for the little ones to enjoy this February. Based on Disney’s award-winning animation, join many fairy-tale characters on a live-action tour around the castle. The evil Ice Giants have cast a spell over the castle, and your job is to help wake up some of your favourite characters from their winter slumber, including Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel.
Just 30 minutes from Sundrum Castle Holiday Park is Culzean Castle and Country Park, a cliff-top fortress offering a fantastic day out for the whole family. From beautiful gardens and woodland trails to adventure playgrounds and even a hidden beach below, there’s so much to discover on a visit.
The castle now belongs to the National Trust, but it was once the home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of Clan Kennedy. Built in the 1700s on the Ayrshire cliffs, it boasts spectacular views over the Firth of Clyde, making it a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. Inside, you’ll get the chance to take a guided tour around the extravagant rooms, where you’ll learn all about the impressive features of the castle, as well as getting the opportunity to admire a fantastic collection of paintings and furniture. One of the best features is the oval staircase, the dramatic centrepiece of the castle.
Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to check out the grounds and woodland surrounding the castle. There’s a swan pond, a deer park, fruit-filled glasshouses, walking trails and plenty more to discover. Kids will love the new Adventure Cove and Wild Woodland play areas too! Once you’ve finished exploring the castle and grounds, take the time to visit the gift shop and on-site café, where you can enjoy a well-deserved rest. Whether you fancy immersing yourself in history or spending time in the beautiful outdoors, Culzean Castle and Country Park is definitely worth a visit.
The largest castle in the northern Highlands of Scotland is Dunrobin Castle, boasting 189 exquisite rooms! Just 20 minutes from Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame Holiday Park, the castle is the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and Clan Sutherland, offering outstanding views over the Dornoch Firth.
Dating back to the 1300s, Dunrobin is one of Britain’s oldest inhabited stately homes – meaning there’s so much history to uncover on a visit. From the drawing room to the dining room, you’ll pass portraits, tapestries, vintage furniture and so much more on a tour. One of the most spectacular rooms of the castle is the library, housing over 10,000 books! Discover how the castle has changed throughout time, and learn all about its role as a naval hospital during World War I, and as a boarding school for boys from 1965 to 1972.
You can also visit the museum, originally built as a summer house by William, Earl of Sutherland. Here you’ll find a variety of unusual collections, including Pictish stones and a section on the coal mine at Brora, a village in Sutherland. The castle itself is only open between April and October, but if you’re visiting outside of these months, you can still admire its incredible architecture, beautiful gardens and the wonderful surrounding woodlands.