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8 Fairytale Castles in the Scottish Highlands

You will want to explore these 8 fairytale castles in the Scottish Highlands when you can make your visit to the Highlands.  Scotland is steeped in history spanning the centuries. Many have fallen in love with this fabulous country and have built their fairytale homes! Plus there are a few who have tried to stamp their authority and built castles which more closely resemble a fortress. We hope that you will enjoy learning more about 8 of these fabulous Highland fairytale castles.  We have grouped these lovely castles by location, we hope will help you plan your visit.

Fairytale Castles in Inverness & surrounding area

  • Inverness Castle, stay at the Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa and make sure you book a room with a view.  The hotel is ideally situated opposite Inverness Castle, wake each morning with a stunning view of Inverness Castle and the River Ness.  Inverness Castle was built in 1836, on the edge of the cliff, the site of an 11thcentury defensive structure.  Today this fabulous building houses the Inverness Sheriff Court which isn’t open to the public.  However you can enjoy the New Inverness Castle Viewing Platform.  The North Tower of the historic Inverness Castle is now a visitor attraction with a Castle Viewing Platform. You are able to get a fantastic view up and down the River Ness and of the surrounding town and hills. Whilst you are in the city then make sure you include a visit to the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.  The museum is a great place to learn about Scottish history and features an exhibition on life in the Highlands.

Inverness Castle taken from Ardross Street

  • Cawdor Castle is only 11 miles from the Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa.  The Castle is famed for its literary connection to Macbeth as the 14th century home of the Thanes of Cawdor. It is an outstanding visitor attraction and remains a family home. Make the time to discover the sumptuous interior of Cawdor Castle, a hiding place of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Explore the castle’s manicured gardens, there are three beautiful gardens, enjoy adventuring with the children in the Cawdor Big Wood. Make a day of it pack a picnic or enjoy lunch at the Courtyard café an educational and fun visitor attraction. Every Summer the Castle host plays on the lawn, they are very special and need to be booked in advance.

  • Urquhart Castle is magnificently situated on the banks of Loch Ness. Today Urquhart Castle remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state. Urquhart was once one of Scotland’s largest castles. It’s remains include a tower house, it is the most recent building on the site. The castle commands splendid views of the famous loch and Great Glen.  Urquhart Castle witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Its’ history from the 1200s to the 1600s was particularly bloody. The castle’s history is told in the exhibition and audio-visual display in the new visitor centre.  Why not combine a cruise down Loch Ness and a visit to this iconic castle.  You can soak up the myth and mystery of Loch Ness on a Jacobite Tour from Inverness. Take a scenic drive to the Clansman harbor and from there you can cruise the still waters of Loch Ness.  Take in thdse breathtaking views, keep a watchful eye out for “Nessie” after 30 mins you will arrive at Urquhart Castle. Disembark and enjoy an hour long independent tour of the ruins of this fabulous castle. Afterwards you can head to the visitor center and learn about the historic figures that inhabited or invaded this site. To learn more about these cruises see Jacobite Cruises.

Urqhart Castle on Loch Ness

  • Brodie Castle near Forres is stuffed to the turrets with antique furniture, paintings ighand ceramics, the legacy of generations of Clan Brodie, this 16th-century castle is a slice of Scottish history not to be missed.  Explore the rooms, passageways and towers, all sensitively restored to show what everyday life was like for one of Scotland’s most ancient clans.  Make sure to take in the art collection frlanom Old Dutch Masters to modern day pieces.  There is plenty to discover outside the castle too. The 71 hectare estate has landscaped gardens, a large pond, a walled garden, a woodland walk, an adventure playground and a nature trail with observation hides for watching wildlife.   The castle is set in peaceful parkland, this fine 16th-century tower house is packed with enough art and antiques to keep connoisseurs happy all day.

Brodie Castle – 16th century Castle not to be missed!

Highland Fairytale Castles to the South of Inverness

  • Eilean Donan Castle on Skye and well worth a visit on your way north or break the journey on the way home.  Eilean Donan is recognised as one of the most iconic images of Scotland. The castle benefits from a stunning location with all the romance of a fairytale castle. Eilean Donan castle is situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet. It is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited attractions in the Scottish Highlands.  Although first inhabited around the 6th century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. Since then at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries.  The castle has its own visitor centre which includes a coffee and gift shop.

Eilean Donan Castle

  • Dunvegan Castle & Gardens on Skye is a testament to the wealth of MacLeod family.  Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incomplete without savouring the wealth of history at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens. Built on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Loch Dunvegan once entirely encircled by the sea. Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.  On display are many fine oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred Banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod will defeat their enemies. Another of the castle’s great treasures is the Dunvegan Cup.  A unique ‘mazer’ dating back to the Middle Ages. It was gifted by the O’Neils of Ulster as a token of thanks to one of the clan’s most celebrated Chiefs, Sir Rory Mor.  Thanking him for his support of their cause against the marauding forces of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1596.  Today visitors can enjoy tours of an extraordinary castle and Highland estate.  Make sure to take in the beauty of its formal gardens.  Dunvegan Castle & Gardens has not one but three craft and souvenir shops.


Fairytale Castles to the North of Inverness

If you are adventuring north of Inverness, perhaps taking in the some of the acclaimed North Coast 500 route then don’t miss out these Highland beauties.

Castle of Mey is famous for its Royal connectionsCastle of Mey on the north coast of Caithness, is the beloved estate of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.  The Castle of Mey was built by George, the 4th Earl of Caithness, for his second son William Sinclair.  Her Majesty purchased what was then Barrogill Castle in 1952 and set about renovating and restoring both the castle and its gardens. She also restored the castle’s original name, changing Barrogill Castle back to The Castle of Mey. This wonderful castle is open from May to September each year and don’t forget the Highland games which benefit from Royal patronage.

Dunrobin Castle a little closer home to the Countess of Sutherland Dunrobin Castle and Gardens.  It’s truly spectacular location on the sea cliffs, fairytale turrets, it is the most northerly of Scotland’s Great houses.  This stunning fairytale Castle bears a close resemblance to a Disney castle. This fabulous fairytale Castle is the largest home in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses, dating in part from the 1300’s. The castles’ history is quite fascinating and has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry and Sir Robert Lorimer. The castle was a navel hospital in the First World War and from 1965 to 1972 as a boy’s school. The Castle is just 50 miles north of Inverness and definitely worth a visit.

Stay With Us

When you are able to travel, we hope you will be inspired to come and explore these fabulous Fairytale Castles. The haunting, spectacular craggy Urquhart Castle on the stunning banks of Loch Ness to the medieval magical majesty of Cawdor Castle and its links to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. There is so much to Do, See & Share with your special people, see your explore page.  Choose to stay with us at Best Western Palace Hotel & Spa, a family run hotel in the heart of Inverness; we look forward to welcoming you soon! Remember #bookdirect for your best offers.  


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