Scotland's castles to visit by train

Last updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Wherever you visit in Scotland, you're sure to come across a castle of some sort. There have been over 2000 castles recorded in Scotland's history, all with a dramatic story to tell.

All of Scotland's castles have played a big part in the country's history, with some certainly faring better than others. Read on to discover a few of our favourites ...

Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh Castle

Let’s start in our capital city. Possibly Scotland's most famous castle, Edinburgh Castle is put firmly in the spotlight every August when the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes up residence on the esplanade. But it's not just during August that the castle is centre of attention. Exiting Waverley Station, you can't miss the castle. It stands proudly above the city, providing a dramatic backdrop. It's a short walk up the Royal Mile to the castle, and you're certainly rewarded when you get there. Before you even step foot over the drawbridge, the esplanade offers incredible views over the surrounding areas including the rest of the city, the River Forth and the Pentland Hills.

Once inside, there is a lot of history to uncover. Wander at your own pace or join a free guided tour to delve into the stories that the castle walls hold.

Closest station: Edinburgh Waverley

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam

Stirling CastleStirling Castle

Standing proud in the middle of Stirling, the castle sits 250ft high atop a huge volcanic rock where the highlands and lowlands of Scotland meet. With a location like that, it’s no surprise that the views are incredible. From the esplanade, as well as being spoiled with wonderfully relaxing views of the surrounding countryside, you can also see over to the city's other famous landmark - the Wallace Monument.

Inside the castle walls, there are lots of colourful stories to hear about battles, murders and Scottish Royalty as you make your way around at your own pace. Discover what life was like for King James in The Great Hall, and learn what it was like to prepare a royal banquet. Kids will love exploring The Palace Vaults where they can join in with fun, interactive exhibits.

Closest station: Stirling

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam

Dunrobin CastleDunrobin Castle, Sutherland

As famous for its gardens and woodlands as it is its castle, Dunrobin Castle is open seasonally between March and October, and even has it's own station to arrive into on a regular ScotRail service. Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses and overlooks the Dornoch Firth. Dating back to the 13th Century, the castle has been home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland and is still a family home.

Dunrobin’s Garden is a fine example of a formal Victorian Garden and the surrounding woodlands provide a gorgeous place for a leisurely stroll. It's a place the whole family can enjoy visiting.

Closest station: Dunrobin Castle – the castle has its own private station that the family built back in 1902. Very handy!

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Paul Tomkins

Dunnottar CastleDunnottar Castle, Stonehaven

Prepare to be wowed! The views at Dunnottar Castle are stunning thanks to its dramatic location. The ruins of the castle, dating back to the 15th century, sit atop a cliff on the edge of the North Sea with nothing but sea and sky around. It's a photographer's dream!

The castle was once home to the Earls Marischal, then one of the most powerful families in Scotland. The castle is open all year round but check their website for opening times after 1 October as they vary each month.

Closest station: 50-minute walk from Stonehaven Railway Station, 40 minutes of which is along the Coastal Tourist Route with stunning views.

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam

Blair CastleBlair Castle & Gardens, near Pitlochry

If you’re a fan of the ITV show Victoria, you may already be familiar with Blair Castle. It was used in Season 2, episode 7 to tell the story of one of Queen Victoria’s stays at the castle. Once you set eyes on the castle and its grounds, you’ll understand why the she in love with this part of the Highlands.

As well as the 30 rooms of the castle to explore, the gardens and surrounding woodland are well worth spending time in. Take a wander through the walled garden, the grove, the ruins of a kirk and spot red deer wandering around.

Closest station: 5-minute walk from Blair Atholl Station.

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Paul Tomkins

If exploring Scotland's castles is on this year's to do list, be sure to share your photos with us on twitter @ScotRail. We love seeing all the adventures you get up to on Scotland’s Railway.

And remember, our Off-Peak tickets mean you get access to great value fares when you travel at less busy times.

Taking the whole family along? Our Kids for a Quid ticket means up to four children (aged 5-15) travel for just £1 each with a paying adult.

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