Scotland’s most beautiful castles

Scotland’s castles epitomise everything charming about this spectacular country, combining culture, history and beauty.

There are an estimated 2,000 to choose from, but some have stood strong against weather and time to take the crown as the most beautiful. Here, we’ve picked out our highlights – but the best way to see even more is to hire a car and explore.

Eilean Donan, Inverness-shire

About 75 miles south-west of Inverness and close to the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan is one of the most recognised castles in Scotland.

Built in the 13th century, the castle sits out on the water where three great sea lochs meet. Its charm is enhanced by the surrounding highland hills, making it a popular filming location. The castle has featured in many hit films, such as The Wicker Man and The World is Not Enough.

Edinburgh Castle, City of Edinburgh

The most famous and visited castle in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle’s been keeping guard over its city since the 12th century.

While still home to the crown jewels of Scotland, the castle has been the home to many royals, from James VI in 1566 to in to King Charles I in 1633. Today the castle is open to tourists, who can wander under the wooden roof of the great hall or visit on New Year’s Eve for the popular Hogmanay.

Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire

Built between 1575 and 1636, the beautiful scenery and interior of the castle and the surrounding wilderness make it one of the most romantic settings in Scotland. Uncover hidden trapdoors, secret staircases and the Laird’s Lug and experience how the Fraser family lived for more than four centuries.

The castle offers more than 300 acres of landscaped grounds (that’s about 200 football pitches) and sprawling woodland, where you might catch a glimpse of local birds, like the treecreeper, or frogs and newts dwelling in ponds.

Inside the castle, visitors can step through the great hall, library and Victorian-style bedrooms, and enjoy panoramic views of the estate beyond from top of the round tower. Be wary – legend tells of a princess who lost her life in the castle, who now follows visitors down the castle’s corridors.

Doune Castle, Doune

Otherwise known as ‘Castle Leoch’ to avid fans of popular TV series Outlander, Doune Castle’s celebrity began in the 14th century.

Having featured as a backdrop in iconic comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail and hit fantasy series Game of Thrones, the castle is now a popular tourist destination. Visitors can step onto the roof for views of the battlements over the River Teith and the Menteith Hills. What’s more, choose an audio tour and you’re visit will be accompanied by the narration of Monty Python’s Terry Jones.

St Andrews Castle, Fife

While its once-glorious walls are now in ruin, St Andrews Castle remains one of the most scenic in Scotland.

Perched on a clifftop on Scotland’s east coast, St Andrew’s Castle is one of the country’s must beautiful ruins. Its slowly crumbling walls have witnessed history unfold since the 12th century. It was here James I completed his studies and where James III was born.

The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times during the wars for Scottish independence, and it now stands as a breathtaking reminder of the past.

If you’re inspired by these beautiful Scottish castles, hire a car with Hertz to discover them yourself.