Planning a trip to Scotland soon? Then visiting a beautiful Scottish castle should be close to the top of your list.
Steeped in history and usually located in beautiful, windswept and often baron locations, there is a certain romanticism linked to these spellbinding and rather majestic buildings.
There are literally hundreds to choose from, all in various states of disrepair.
But one thing is for sure – you are likely to be left blown away by the sight of these fortresses and their surroundings, as well as the history behind them – many enduring bloody battles and fights.
Here are seven of the most photogenic and beautiful Scottish castles – as chosen by Instagram users, who give their top tips.
1. Dunnottar Castle
For jaw-dropping, cliff top fortresses, it’s hard to beat Dunnottar Castle. Once the home of one of the most powerful families in Scotland, it’s now visited by thousands every year.
Open all year round, you can even get married here.
Monarchs from across the centuries have visited, including Mary Queen of Scots and James VI, before it fell into disrepair in 1717.
To save it from ruin, the Pearson family (who purchased it in 1925) opened it to the public for the first time.
“It has been on my bucket list for a long time” Kristy said. It was the first castle she had visited 12 years ago when arriving in Scotland for the first time, and the castle also appeared on a postcard featuring a photo that her great-great grandfather had taken.
To visit: Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, AB39 2TL
2. Urquhart Castle
Home to one of Scotland’s best views, Urquhart Castle was once one of the country’s largest, but a bloody history has left the structure in tatters.
Located on the banks of the Loch Ness (good for trying to spot a certain monster) this castle faced battles and bloodshed between the 13th and 17th century.
Approaching the castle from the gangway and it will be hard to know where to look first – the ruined fortress or the vast loch that spans out behind it.
Either way – you will be taken aback by its history as well as its location.
Melissa Rynn from Finding Scotland took this fabulous shot of the ruin.
She suggests checking out the views towards Inverness and Fort Augustus, as well as discovering the vast amount of history on offer for any culture vultures.
To visit: Urquhart Castle, Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6XJ
3. Inveraray Castle
Located on the west coast of Scotland on the shores of Loch Fyne, Inveraray Castle is what fairy tales are made of.
The ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, this stunning Gothic-style castle was built in the 1700’s – the second fortress to be built in this location.
The third floor and impressive spire turrets were added later on.
It’s not just the castle that’s impressive – the grounds are also incredibly beautiful, covering 16 acres, along with many acres of park and woodland.
Inveraray also featured in the 2012 Christmas episode of Downton Abbey where the Grantham family visited their cousins. Various scenes were filmed inside and out – so the perfect place to visit for any Downton fan.
This beautiful sunny photo was taken by Alessandro Faggion who said that the “huge, beautiful garden” was definitely worth a visit.
Sara Sanabria decided to visit this incredible castle during a Highlands visit, and after catching a glimpse of it in the Downton Abbey special.
“The inside of the castle is pretty amazing, and the gardens are a nice place to walk” she said.
For those who think the summer is the best time to visit…think again!
“It’s incredibly photogenic regardless of the weather!” Melissa from Finding Scotland said.
To visit: Inveraray Castle, Inveraray PA32 8XE
4. Duart Castle
This beautiful castle stands proudly on an outcrop on the Isle of Mull, in the west coast of Scotland.
Originally built in the 13th century, Duart Castle was completely demolished by the Campbell clan in 1691, and was a ruin until refurbished and rebuilt around 1911.
Nowadays visitors flock from around the world to see this incredible castle and the view it commands.
You can also get married here, and it’s home to a tea room and beautiful gardens.
Darren Maudling is a big fan of Scottish castles and took this fantastic shot of the castle being repaired.
In 2014 a campaign was launched after it was announced that it desperately needed repairing.
To visit: Duart Castle, Isle of Mull PA64 6AP
5. Culzean Castle
If drama and style is what you’re after, Culzean Castle has it in spades.
With a dramatic cliff-top setting, secret gardens and a vast woodland, visitors flock to this palace to explore the treasures and delights it has to offer.
It’s even possible to stay here – either in the Brewhouse Flat or the Eisenhower Apartment.
Situated on the Ayrshire coast, it’s been in existence since the 14th century.
Sylvia decided to visit Culzean castle because of its beautiful architecture and vistas.
“The the view over the sea is really spectacular” she remarked.
Alan David Thomas from Kilmarnock has visited Culzean Castle before. He says he loves the castle’s “refined and regal” look, and the garden has a decadent feel. His top tip?
“There are some cragged cliffs dropping 150ft down to the Firth of Clyde offering amazing views over to the Isle Of Arran, Ailsa Craig, beyond that to the Mull Of Kintyre and on a clear day parts of Ireland can be seen”
To visit: Culzean Castle & Country Park, Maybole KA19 8LE
6. Dunrobin Castle
This stunning castle is the largest of its kind in the Northern Highlands, and is one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses.
Overlooking Moray Forth in the Scottish Highlands, Dunrobin Castle wouldn’t look too out of place in France, with its stunning spires.
As well as being a much loved home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, it has also been used as a hospital during World War I and even a boarding school for boys.
Dana Hill visited this beautiful castle while on a trip on the North Coast 500 and suggests watching the impressive falconry show when visiting.
David visited Dunrobin castle during a recent family trip. The castle’s architecture and location make it so beautiful, he said.
To visit: Golspie, Sutherland, KW10 6SF, Scotland
Self-styled as ‘Scotland’s most beautiful castle’, this award-winning fort really needs to be seen to be believed.
Constant adaptations and changes have been made at Glamis Castle since the present building was conceived, and it was even visited by Mary Queen of Scots.
It was also the childhood home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
This beautiful shot was captured by Sylvia on a recent trip to Scotland.
To visit: Glamis Castle, Glamis DD8 1RJ
Have you visited a castle?
There are many other fantastic castles worth visiting in Scotland. Have you visited one in particular that you loved? Let me know if you do!
If you’d like to share something with The Brit Crowd on Instagram don’t forget to use the tag #mybritain.