With its rich history, Scotland has a lot to offer visitors. This piece will explore the vast array of breathtaking castles worth visiting when exploring Scotland on a driving holiday.
To make the most out of the driving tour, you might want to consider a campervan. This will keep the cost of your adventure at a minimum, taking out the prices of hotels or sleeping in your car.
As our adventure starts in Edinburgh, we looked into campervan rental in Edinburgh. Once you have found a suitable camper to travel in luxury, it’s time to get on to the castles.
To get the most out of this route, it would be best to pencil in at least five days. More if you want to get off the beaten path and explore more of what Scotland has to offer.
First Stop: Edinburgh Castle
No trip to Scotland can be complete without a trip to Edinburgh castle. Perched on top of an extinct volcano in the heart of Edinburgh, this castle towers the surrounding area. Don’t let this put you off, though, as it has not erupted in the last 340 million years!
It is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most popular tourist spots, with over 2.2million visitors in 2019. There are many great reasons for all these visitors. Thanks to a rich history, it offers a broad range of activities to fill a day. Particularly seeing how much action this castle has seen. It has the title of the most besieged place in the UK, having fought off hostile forces 23 times!
Key activities to get into your day include:
- Mons Meg gun
- National War Museum
- St Margaret’s Chapel
- The Stone of Destiny
- Honour’s of Scotland
- The Great Hall
The 15th-century Megs Mon gun sitting first on the list goes off once per day at 1pm. It has been doing this every day since 1861! Best plan this part into your day to avoid missing it. For more information, check out their website.
To avoid disappointment, it is best to get your tickets booked in advance. These can be bought through their website.
Prices for tickets are also very reasonable for everything on offer. Adult tickets cost £17.50 and children £10.50. There are even discounts for family tickets.
- April 1st – September 30th: 09:00 – 18:00
- October 1st – March 31st: 10:00 – 16:00
Second Stop: Stirling Castle
Heading northwest from Edinburgh will take you to Stirling and our next castle.
Sitting on the north side of Stirling, this 12th-century castle still stands strong. It used to be the royal palace in the renaissance era and makes for a day packed with history.
Like Edinburgh Castle, it has a war-torn history, having changed hands eight times in 50 years. Going by the stunning views and impressive architecture, I am not surprised that Stirling Castle garnered such envy!
Key highlights to include on your visit includes:
- The Great Hall built for James IV around 1503.
- The Royal Palace
- The Royal Chapel
- The Great Kitchens
- Queen Anne Gardens
- The Stirling Tapestries
- The Palace Vaults interactive exhibitions for younger visitors
- Regimental museum
This wide array of family-friendly fun comes at a very affordable price. Adult tickets cost £16 and children only £9.60.
There is also plenty of parking available on site keeping you close to the action.
- 1st April – 30th September: 09:30 – 17:00
Third Stop: Dunnottar Castle
After Stirling, we follow the scenic Scottish east coast until we reach Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire.
Nestled on the coast, this once impregnable fortress makes for a great day out. Definitely a must-see for any adventure around Scotland. Getting your campervan parked is a breeze with a large spacious car park on-site. There is even a food truck and coffee available to ensure you are fueled and ready to go.
It claims a rich history packed with battles, uprisings and been home to many famous Scot’s over the years, including Earls Marischal.
Along with its historical value, this castle also benefits from some of the most incredible views in the northeast of Scotland. Sitting proudly atop a 160-foot high cliff, you will see for miles. Picking a day with nice weather will definitely help you get the most out of this one.
Details for tours are on Dunnottar Castles website. The cost is £7 for adults and £3 for children. Not bad at all for a great day out.
- April 1st – September 30th: 09:00 – 18:00
- October 1st – March 31st: 10:00 – 17:00
Fourth Stop: Balmoral Castle
After Dunnottar head straight towards the Cairngorms, this will take you to Balmoral Castle.
As the official residence of the royal family in Scotland, Balmoral castle deserves all its attention. Boasting widespread open gardens and breathtaking views, this site is not one to miss. To get the most out of your visit, we recommend booking a guided tour. It will last for around an hour, and you are free to explore on your own after.
There are many reasons to visit Balmoral Castle. A few of the highlights worth noting include:
- Game Larder
- Karim Cottage
- The original Iron Ballroom
- The Ice House
The ballroom is the only room inside the castle which tourists are allowed to see. Items are rotated from other areas of the castle to keep the experience fresh for new visitors.
Tickets are reasonably priced it’s £12 for adults and £6 for children. You will need to purchase through the website in advance. See their website for more information.
- April 1st – August 3rd: 10am – 5pm
Last Stop: Cawdor Castle
The final castle on this list is burrowed in Scotland’s north, reserved for only the keenest adventurers.
Hidden away up in Nairnshire, Scotland, Cawdor Castle is one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets. Legend has it that this magnificent structure was built around a single thorn tree. It has since been identified as a holly tree that dates back to 1372. You can even still see it in the dungeon of the castle.
This castle is the fictional home of the “Thane of Cawdor” from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. You’ll understand why this castle was chosen as you approach it. The fairytale-like structure boasts a strong presence. You will not forget your time spend here in a hurry.
The allure of Cawdor Castle doesn’t stop with the building itself. It has been encapsulated with three gorgeous gardens and even a 9-hole golf course.
Key highlights to include in your trip include:
- The 9-hole golf course
- Three beautiful gardens
- The Tapestry Bedroom
- Impressive drawing room
- Old kitchen with 19th-century equipment
Tickets cost £12.50 for an adult and £7.50 for children. A very affordable day out for the family.
- April 13th to October 6th: 10:00 – 17:50