Visiting Scotland’s Royal Sights

Over the centuries, Scotland’s diverse and wild landscapes have won the hearts of the Royal Family. To commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, special exhibitions and events are taking place across the UK to entertain the whole family this summer.

While Her Majesty will be celebrating from Buckingham Palace, there’s plenty of royal sights and events happening north of the border in Scotland that you can check out across the Jubilee weekend.

Whether you’re interested in royal art or the Royal Family’s stories, we’ve got you covered. Hire a car in Scotland today and celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with your very own Scottish road trip.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX

Perched at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in the city centre is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official Scottish residence. This impressive 16th-century royal palace is home to beautifully decorated apartments where royal figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots lived and worked.

Inside, the public are invited to tour these apartments and learn more about the turbulent events that shaped this palace’s rich history. Don’t miss the palace’s grand interior, where you can marvel at royal portraits in the Great Gallery and gaze upon the ornate décor of the Throne Room.

There’s also the chance to discover artefacts such as a cast of Robert the Bruce’s skull and treasures that belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Book in advance and check opening times, as the palace is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with additional short-notice closures subject to royal visitation.

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royal yacht britannia

Royal Yacht Britannia

Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6JJ

Learn about the fascinating and unique history of the Royal Yacht Britannia, which served as a floating royal residence for the Queen from 1954 to 1997. Today, this magnificent vessel calls Edinburgh’s docks home and serves as one of Scotland’s most-visited attractions.

On board, you’re given unparalleled access to the yacht’s five main decks, from the Royal Family’s State Apartments to the Crew’s Quarters and Engine Room down below. The self-led audio tour of the yacht will take you on a voyage to discover more about the vessel’s crucial role in the Royal Family’s modern history.

There’s also exhibits that cover the contrasting lives as one of the former crew members or Royal Yachtsmen who served to keep the Royal Yacht in ship shape. Included with your admission is entry to the Royal Deck Tea Room, where an assortment of food and drink can be enjoyed.

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The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse

Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX

A short walk from the gilded halls of Holyroodhouse will take you to the impressive Queen's Gallery, originally opened in 2002, which houses multiple exhibitions from the Royal Collection. This former Victorian church building’s walls are adorned with paintings by the great masters, from Rembrandt to Rubens, in the 2022 exhibition that commemorates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

There are also many works that have been temporarily loaned from the Picture Gallery in Buckingham Palace – a fantastic royal attraction in London to visit in its own right. Alongside the changing exhibitions, there’s the chance to immerse yourself in the gallery’s varied collection of decorative arts, ornate furniture and photographs.

Each can help you piece together the complex and far-reaching history of Her Majesty and the Royal Family. The gallery is open from Thursday to Monday every week, with short-notice closures for royal events.

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balmoral castle

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral, Ballater, AB35 5TB

Upon visiting the expansive grounds of Balmoral Castle, it becomes immediately clear why Queen Victoria and Price Albert chose this location for their private royal residence in the mid-1800s. While the castle interior is largely for Her Majesty’s eyes only, visitors are encouraged to book a tour and browse the rotating exhibitions of royal objects in the Castle Ballroom.

Head outside to roam the castle’s grounds and carefully manicured gardens, situated amongst the rugged landscapes of Aberdeenshire. You can visit the Karim Cottage and original Iron Ballroom commissioned by Prince Albert and even take a Balmoral Expedition – a two-hour journey of the grounds in a Land Rover.

Round off your visit with a delicious slice of cake at the Pipers Hall Coffee Shop and a look through the gift shop. Balmoral Castle is open from April to August, with ticket purchasing in advance highly recommended.

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St Andrews

St Andrews, KY16 9AJ

Driving northwards out of Edinburgh brings you to the picturesque university town of St Andrews. The town has strong royal connections with Prince William, who studied at St Andrews University, the oldest university in Scotland, before meeting Kate Middleton, who also enrolled in 2001.

Stroll along the cobbled streets which shaped their relationship or explore more of the town’s heritage in the St Andrews Museum. The town has yet another claim to fame and is also known as the ‘Home of Golf’, thanks to the iconic St Andrews Links course, with a history spanning more than 600 years.

Book a guided tour or play on the iconic Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews to get up close and personal with the famous Swilcan Bridge. You can also enjoy the unique coastal landscape that shaped the game as we know it today.

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stirling castle

Stirling Castle

Castle Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1EJ

Dominating the surrounding Stirlingshire landscape, the ancient fortification of Stirling Castle has played a key role in Britain’s royal history. In 2021, the Queen opened the refurbished Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, which is home to more than 12,000 objects displayed over three floors.

Visit to learn more about Scotland’s Highland Regiments and discover their years of service to the Crown. Admission to Stirling Castle provides you the opportunity to tour the Royal Palace, one of the UK’s best preserved renaissance buildings and childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The interior promises to transport you back to the Renaissance years, with its intricate hanging tapestries and vast catalogue of artefacts from throughout the ages. Step out into the peaceful Queen Anne Gardens to walk the paths of Britain’s monarchs and take advantage of the castle’s location with its sweeping views.

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Book your hire car in Scotland to begin your experience touring royal palaces and majestic castles across the Jubilee weekend.