There are some really impressive castles in Edinburgh. Whether you are interested in learning more about Scottish history or you are planning to explore the Scottish countryside, it is fascinating to learn more about the castles in Edinburgh. In this article I will give you plenty of interesting facts and details about these magnificent tourist attractions. Ready to learn more? Keep reading…
- Best Castles in Edinburgh
- Castles Close to Edinburgh
- Summing Up the Castles in Edinburgh
Popular for their stunning exteriors, breathtaking views, and rich history, castles in Edinburgh are a treat for explorers. No trip to Edinburgh is complete without visiting these majestic castles. Furthermore, you will be amazed to learn that there are many castles close to the capital city, so they are super easy to reach.
In this article, I will highlight the 25 castles in Edinburgh and nearby that you must visit. So if you are planning your next vacation to Edinburgh, then do explore these Scottish treasures. Without further ado, let us get started.
1. Edinburgh Castle
Considered the Jewel of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous castles in Edinburgh. The castle has a fantastic backdrop as it dominates the skyline. Furthermore, its location on top of a hill provides a spectacular panoramic landscape.
The castle hosts 2.2 million people annually and organises events like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival. The castle’s illustrious history, The Crown Jewels, and the War Museum make it a must-visit for tourists. It is best to walk through the Royal Mile to reach the top while admiring this iconic landmark’s beauty.
2. Craigmillar Castle
Built-in the 1400s, Craigmillar Castle is a hidden gem. It is situated on the city’s outskirts and is one of the most stunning, picturesque, and well-preserved castles in Edinburgh. Owing to the scenic location, it was a famous filming location for Outlaw King and Outlander – attracting travellers who are fans of the shows to the venue.
Craigmillar Castle’s unique architecture, walking trails, and guided tours of the interior give visitors the ultimate Scottish experience. Other exciting things to see are the ancient yew trees, which symbolize everlasting life, and a P-shaped pond made by the Preston Family –owners of the property.
3. Lauriston Castle
Lauriston Castle’s remarkable Edwardian interior is heaven for travelers who are history and architecture enthusiasts. Its award-winning Japanese garden, lovely open gardens surrounding the sea, and mesmerizing scenery are the best places to escape the city’s hustle.
In addition, tourists can stroll through the iconic walking path and discover what life was like in a middle-class home in Edinburgh at the turn of the 20th century. And that’s not it; Lauriston Castle has a bakery, the Mimi’s Bakehouse, which is famous for its award-winning cakes, delicious meals, and yummy drinks.
4. Merchiston Castle
Merchiston Castle is one of the fascinating and artistic examples of medieval castles in Edinburgh. It has several notable aspects, but of particular interest are the unique elaboration of the main entrance on the second floor and the risqué artwork.
It is now home to one of the city’s universities. However, visitors can still explore the castle to admire its grandiosity and artwork. For instance, the great hall has a wooden painted ceiling representing the court of James VI, which dates back to the 1500s.
5. Craigcrook Castle
Craigcrook Castle is one of the largest castles in Edinburgh, with a vast area of 622.5 m2. It comprises exquisite lawns inside the ancient walled courtyard, old woodland, and sculpted grounds. The castle’s gardens offer travellers a quiet and serene getaway from the city. Its location close to Corstorphine Hill makes it an easily accessible fine country house.
6. Barnbougle Castle
Barnbougle Castle is an undiscovered treasure from the 13th century. It is surrounded by the serenity of Dalmeny Estate’s lush parklands and has splendid views of the Firth of Forth. In addition, it offers one of the finest event spaces in Scotland. The rooms are adaptable and inspirational, varying from grand and magnificent to private and quiet.
A Minstrel’s Gallery and beautiful landscapes are the reasons why people love to visit the castle. Another distinctive part of Barnbougle Castle is the grand Scottish Library –which has a thousand books. And the library also offers free access to private beaches and sea-facing terraces, a paradise for booklovers.
7. Bavelaw Castle
Bavelaw Castle is a grand and one of the oldest castles in Edinburgh. Besides being a historical landmark, the castle has splendid appealing sites near it. For example, Threipmuir Reservoir – is a beautiful reservoir that offers opportunities for a brief hike and is an iconic picnic spot. And Scald Law, a magnificent hill that is an excellent place for trekking with breathtaking visuals.
8. Craiglockhart Castle
Craiglockhart Castle is one of the ruined castles in Edinburgh. Originally the castle had four stories, but now only the first and second parts of the two stories are left. The ivy-covered remnants atop Wester Craiglockhart Hill have a path leading to the canal basin at Fountain bridge. Moreover, there is a tennis center, lake, natural reserve, and historical monuments nearby the castle, which explorers can see during a stroll.
9. Dundas Castle
Dundas Castle is one of the most spectacular and famous castles in Edinburgh; Dundas Castle is also among the best 5-Star Exclusive locations in the United Kingdom. It has all the high standards associated with the top hotels while concealed in the tranquil countryside. Besides being a fantastic venue, the castle has numerous excursion activities. Some examples are a 9-hole golf course, squash, and tennis courts.
Visitors are welcome to stroll through the castle’s well-kept gardens and enchanting walking paths surrounding the lake. The staff will also give you a tour of the Auld Keep, which includes the incredible rooftop with views of the Forth River and Bridges. The Dundas Castle also offers a variety of additional activities, including falconry, highland games, clay pigeon shooting, off-road driving, etc.
10. Inchgarvie Castle
Travellers have always been captivated by Inchgarvie Castle’s exclusivity and untamed beauty. It is one of the fortress-type castles in Edinburgh. The castle looks like a battleship because of its colour and profile and is situated on an island beneath the Forth Bridge. Moreover, the view from the castle’s position is breathtaking, as the water sparkles and the sun shines.
Cramond Castle is perched on a hillside with a view of the Firth of Forth in the serene Cramond town. The castle is a four-story tower house with an outward-facing round stairway. It is so relaxing to wander around and praise the landmark. In addition, a trip to Cramond beach and a late-night walk around Cramond church are fantastic ways to unwind after a hectic weekend of sightseeing.
Previously known as Lennox Castle Hospital – an institution for people with learning disabilities. Lennox Castle is one of the mystical ruined castles in Edinburgh and is now being restored for tourists. However, it has admirable attractions near it which are a must-see. For example, the Malleny Garden is a walled garden and serene haven. Another viewpoint is the Water of Leith Walkway, a popular fishing spot, and a famous cycling area.
Liberton Castle is a vacation accommodation situated on a hill with beautiful views of Edinburgh. It was meticulously restored to a high degree of modernity and preserved the castle’s old-world charm.
The Old Town, Salisbury Crags, Arthur’s Seat, and Craigmillar Castle may all be viewed from the balcony. Nearby golf courses, recreation centers, a winter sports complex, a riding stable, and a golf course are within a short drive of the castle.
Lochend Park is home to Lochend Castle. The castle has a three-story building and a slope facing the lake’s west side. Although there are no remains of the original 14th-century building, it has elements of the 16th-century rebuild. Tourists who appreciate historical sites will relish it. Explorers mainly visit the iconic site due to the lake, which has a variety of wildfowl.
Castles Close to Edinburgh
There are many castles that are not quite in Edinburgh, but they are very close! Lets take a deeper look at what these are…
The grounds of Hopetoun Estate are home to Midhope Castle, a tower castle from the 15th century. As the castle was used to shoot scenes for Outlander, many tourists started showing interest. In addition to praising the castle’s grandeur, you can also enjoy a stroll around the nearby woods, read the brief history on the information board, or sign up for the Outlander tour while you’re there.
According to some, the oldest castle still in existence in Scotland is Aberdour Castle. The castle still has enough of its original structure to allow you to understand why it was a luxurious residence. Its structure is divided into four main regions, the tower house, gardens, east range, and central range. Additionally, if the weather is nice, you can walk from the castle along Hawkcraig Road to the charming little beach at Silver Sands Bay.
The picturesque Dalkeith Country Park is home to Dalkeith Palace. Despite the inaccessibility of the interior, the castle’s exterior architecture and surroundings are impeccable and are worth visiting. Its outer sides are made of sandstone, and two Corinthian order pilasters flank the main entrance. The Dalkeith Country Park is a major visitor attraction and was renovated in an exciting restoration project that started in the summer of 2016.
Crichton Castle has impressive views in every direction since it is perched above the River Tyne. It is an elegant castle with a stunning Italian-style faceted stonework exterior. The castle’s courtyard is fully accessible, while access to the rest of the areas depends on the tourist’s mobility. It has a rich history, beginning with the Crichton family and Mary Queen of Scots, and continuing with Francis Stewart’s legacy, who gave the castle its iconic characteristics.
Scottish history frequently places the regal Dirleton Castle in the spotlight. While the castle is closed, the gardens, shops, and exhibitions are open for explorers. It has famed grounds, including a Victorian garden and an Arts and Crafts herbaceous border.
The Guinness Book of Records has verified the border to be one of the longest in the world. With its fairytale-like appearance, Dirleton Castle is an excellent venue to introduce kids to castles.
For tourists who are fans of the royal family and history, Linlithgow Palace’s picturesque remains are a must-see. If you plan on seeing Linlithgow Lake and the Linlithgow Peel from the top of Queen Margaret’s Bower, make sure to bring a camera.
The tall towers face Linlithgow Lake, a significant wildlife preserve, and the Peel, the castle’s lawns. Next, you can relax in the Peel or wander around the lake’s side to observe the diverse wildlife.
Rosslyn Castle, located on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is the perfect starting point for discovering all that Scotland’s ancient capital city has to offer. Today, it is a brilliant point for touring Rosslyn Chapel, Glen, and other nearby Midlothian sights. The remarkable castle’s ruins are present on the cliff’s high end.
A residence inside the castle was constructed from its remains and is currently offered for vacation rentals in an extraordinary setting. However, the viewpoints of the castle are impressive from the approach road, the bridge, and the courtyard. Explorers must descend from the approach road and pass under the bridge to truly enjoy themselves.
A lavish home away from home, Borthwick Castle was renovated while maintaining its medieval grandeur and charm. It has exquisite interiors that preserve and enhance the castle’s intricate architectural style.
During the trip, explorers can admire captivating Scottish scenery and renowned golf courses. While staying at the castle, visitors may engage in activities, including woodland treks, archery, laser clay shooting, fencing, falconry, spa treatments, and yoga.
Tantallon Castle is Scotland’s most scenic and impressive ruins, with a shaky past and a striking location on the East Lothian shoreline. With shrieking seagulls and a strong coastal wind to cope with, the unstable remains give visitors an amazing atmosphere. Its smoldering sandstone and breathtaking landscapes of the Firth of Forth and the Bass Rock off Scotland’s east coast are a sight to behold.
Blackness Castle is a castle near Edinburgh that resembles a ship and points toward the Firth of Forth. Tourists are fascinated with it because of its remarkable exterior, which includes its stern defensive walls and enclosed courtyard.
A visit to this fantastic monument is worth it as you enjoy a panoramic view of the Firth of Forth and the Forth Rail Bridge from the top of the towers. The bridge also features a telescope for seeing Fife from across the Forth in more detail.
Dalhousie Castle is an excellent hotel on the picture-perfect banks of the River Esk. At the castle, a friendly Scottish welcome is given when you arrive. Whether relaxing in the spa, chatting in the library by the fire, or enjoying a meal at the 2-Rosette restaurant, the stay at the hotel is worth the hype. It has a rich history of over 700 years and the type of setting that belongs in a fairy tale.
Summing Up the Castles in Edinburgh
Once you arrive in Edinburgh, it will make you feel like royalty – moving from one castle to another. Besides visiting the castles in Edinburgh, there are many other experiences for travellers to enjoy. You’ll have the impression of traveling to a whole different place. The city will wow you with its chilly breeze and spectacular scenery, and the castles in Edinburgh will forever live in your memories.
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