Breathtaking Scottish Castles to explore during your camping stay

Scotland’s castles are a treasured part of the country’s extensive history. It’s thought that up to 3,000 castles have been built in Scotland at one time or another, with a large number of them still in existence today. Many were originally designed to withstand enemy attacks and were built with strength and protection in mind.

Take a look below at some of the best Scottish castles worth exploring, due to their dramatic history and beautiful settings. All the castles featured are within easy reach of our Scottish Club Sites

Stirling Castle: 44 min drive from our Milarrochy Bay Campsite

Stirling

Historically, Stirling Castle was seen as the key to the kingdom of Scotland. It’s situated on Castle Hill, an expansive volcanic rock, above the river Forth where the Lowlands and Highlands meet.

During the Scottish Wars of Independence, the castle changed hands a number of times and famous battles, such as the Battle of Bannockburn took place close to the castle walls. Stirling Castle has been home to some of the most prominent royals in Scottish history, such as Mary Queen of Scots and James VI.

Why is it worth a visit?

There are a number of castles in Stirling, but this is one of the most important ones to see and explore because of its role in times of Scottish feuding.

Discover the Great Hall, the largest banqueting hall built in Scotland, which was used for feasts and dances. Also a highlight is the Great Kitchens, where pies, venison, salmon and beef were often prepared for the castle’s royal inhabitants.

Balmoral Castle: 28 min drive from our Tarland by Deeside Campsite

Balmoral

Balmoral Castle is the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family and has been ever since it was purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852.

Once purchased, Prince Albert decided to build a new, larger castle (completed in 1856) to house the Royal Family. The old castle building was then demolished.

Why is it worth a visit?

Most of the rooms at Balmoral are the Queen’s private rooms; however visitors can explore and admire the magnificent Castle Ballroom, the largest room in the castle. It’s still used for dances today.

There are a number of exhibitions on display, including works of art by Landseer and Carl Haag and artefacts from within the Castle. For the green-fingered amongst you, the extensive gardens at Balmoral Castle are well worth a visit. You’ll find a kitchen garden, commissioned by The Duke of Edinburgh, and a beautiful water garden along with three acres of formal gardens.

Balmoral Castle is open to the public for just a few months of the year, usually April, May, June and July. Visit the Balmoral Castle website for full details about when the castle is open.

Culzean Castle: in the same grounds as our Culzean Castle Campsite

Culzean

Set on a dramatic cliff top and surrounded by the grand estate of Culzean Country Park, Culzean Castle Scotland has been part of the National Trust since 1945. It was formerly the home of an ancient Scottish family – the Kennedys – who were descendants of Robert the Bruce.

Why is it worth a visit?

A family friendly attraction, visitors can explore the Round Drawing Room, the magnificent Oval Staircase and the Armoury, which contains a fantastic collection of swords and pistols. 

Outside, you can take a wander in the colourful, formal gardens or explore the three miles of sandy and shingle shoreline that is close by. Children will love the adventure playground and interesting wildlife within the country park.

Edinburgh Castle: 46 min drive from our Lauder Campsite

Edinburgh

Standing impressively on great rock, Edinburgh Castle has witnessed many great events over the years. Bronze Age settlers arrived at the site in 900 BC and during the Iron Age, a hill fort was built, which was probably visited by Romans.

Queen Margaret (who later became St Margaret) died at Edinburgh Castle in 1093 and it also provided the birthplace for James IV, son of Mary Queen of Scots in 1566. During the Jacobite rising in the mid 1700s, Charles Edward Stuart – known as Bonnie Prince Charlie – tried to take over the castle, albeit unsuccessfully.

Why is it worth a visit?

Edinburgh Castle, with its rich and royal history, is one of the most famous sites to explore in Scotland’s capital.

Edinburgh Castle is also home to St Margaret’s Chapel, which is Edinburgh’s oldest building, built during 1130 – 1140. In the 1600s, the castle became a military base and nowadays, Edinburgh Castle hosts the National War Museum and the Scottish regalia (the Honours of Scotland). It’s without a doubt one of the best castles to visit in Scotland.

Eilean Donan Castle: 1hr 17 min drive from our Skye Campsite

Eilean Donan

Eilean Donan Castle is situated on a small island where three great sea lochs meet. The castle itself was built in the 13th century and was a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie.

During a Jacobite uprising in 1719, Eilean Donan Castle was partially destroyed and lay abandoned for almost 200 years. The island was purchased by Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap in 1911 and he set about restoring the castle to its former glory, a process which took 20 years. Eilean Donan Castle finally reopened in 1932.

Why is it worth a visit?

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most iconic attractions in the Scottish Highlands. It’s well known around the world thanks to its majestic setting and breathtaking scenery.

Inside the castle, you’ll find great rooms to explore, such as the Banqueting Hall and Billeting Room. The latter houses a fascinating collection of artefacts, including some of the cannonballs that were fired during the bombardment of 1719, which led to the castle’s ruin at that time.

Inveraray Castle: 46 min drive from our Luss Campsite

Inverary

Inveraray Castle is a picture perfect example of one of Scotland’s finest castles. Situated on the West Coast of Scotland, on the shores of Loch Fyne, Inveraray Castle is home to the 13th Duke of Argyll and is the seat of the Clan Campbell.

Originally built in the 1400s as a fortress, the castle was rebuilt in 1746 in a Palladian / Gothic architectural style. The conical roofs were added as a result of a fire in 1877.

Why is it worth a visit?

Discover the legend of the Clan Campbell at Inveraray Castle and see its impressive collection of weapons in the Armoury Hall, including 16th and 17th century pole-arms, roundels of Brown Bess muskets and Lochaber axes.

Visitors can imagine life “below stairs” in the Old Kitchen, where antiquated methods of cooking are on display. Ghost hunters will be fascinated by the MacArthur Room, which is said to be haunted by a young Irish harpist who was murdered in 1644.

There are so many wonderful sights to see in Scotland, not least some of its beautiful castles. Use our Club Sites as a base for your travels if you’re looking for places to camp in Scotland.