Things to do in Scotland – ten castles to visit in the north east of Scotland

04 September 2019
Make the most of your visit to the north east of Scotland with our guide to ten of the finest castles in the region.

Balmoral is the Scottish home of the royal family and was described by Queen Victoria as ‘my dear paradise in the Highlands’. Visitors can tour the castle (closed August, September and October) and explore the grounds and gardens. There is also an audio tour and regular exhibitions.
Balmoral Estates, Ballater, Aberdeenshire AB35 5TB; tel: 01339 742534.

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A 16th-century tower house which was the home of the Brodie family until the late 20th century. Visitors can explore the castle’s rooms, passageways and towers, and view antique furniture, paintings and ceramics.
Forres, Inverness IV36 2TE; tel: 0844 493 2156.

Cawdor (pictured top) is a 14th-century residence romantically linked by Shakespeare with the tale of Macbeth. The castle was built as a private fortress for the Thanes of Cawdor and is still the home of the family to this day. Visitors can enjoy touring the castle and seeing fine furniture, tapestries and portraits, as well as exploring the three gardens and the wood.
Cawdor Castle, Nairn IV12 5RD; tel: 01667 404401.

An isolated medieval tower house built in the mid 16th century with an unusual star-shaped perimeter wall. The reconstructed barrack rooms recreate the atmosphere of barracks life in the 1750s, when Redcoats from Pulteney’s 13th Foot were stationed here.
Castle Lodge, Corgarff, Strathdon AB36 8YP; tel: 01975 651460.

A distinctive pink-toned harled castle (pictured) with a fairytale look typical of the Scottish Baronial style. The castle is home to a fine collection of family portraits and original plaster ceilings. There is also much original Jacobean woodwork.
Alford, Aberdeen AB33 8JF; tel: 0844 493 2174.

A 16th-century harled castle built by the Burnetts of Leys, which remained in that family for almost 400 years. The castle stands in a 595-acre estate which visitors are welcome to explore, and the grounds recently featured in the news when archaeologists discovered what may be the world’s oldest calendar.
The castle is also one of Scotland’s best places to look for bats.
Banchory AB31 5QJ; tel: 0844 493 2166.

The combination of a 13th-century square tower, a Jacobean mansion house and the additions of the Victorian lairds. The castle offers magnificent views from its battlements and also has a garden of historic roses and woodland trails.
Drumoak, by Banchory, AB31 5EY; tel: 0844 493 2161.

A ruined medieval fortress (pictured) located dramatically on a headland overlooking the North Sea. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II have all visited, and the castle also held out against Cromwell armies for eight months, saving the Honours of Scotland from destruction.
Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire AB39 2TL; tel: 01569 762173.

Famed as the childhood home of the Queen Mother, Glamis Castle has been the family home of the earls of Strathmore since 1372. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the castle, admire the formal gardens and browse the exhibition room. There is also a programme of seasonal events.
Glamis Castle, Angus DD8 1RJ; tel: 01307 840393.

A 13th-century castle with a fascinating history – Robert the Bruce sent his family during the Wars of Independence, and the castle was also used as the headquarters for the 1715 Jacobite risings.
Today, visitors can explore the castle ruins and the separate gardens, created in the quarry behind the castle.
Kildrummy, Aberdeenshire AB33 8RA; tel: 0131 668 8999.

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