When I was younger, I loved watching that TV show called Reign about Mary Queen of Scots.

The show is the perfect mix of classic teen drama and history, which made learning all about Mary so much more fun.

Naturally, when I planned my last-minute getaway last summer, I knew I had to explore at least a few Edinburgh castles on my visit.

First, I tried and failed to get tickets to Edinburgh Castle since I was there during the busiest month of the year.

I recommend you learn from my mistakes, and book entry way in advance if you’re visiting Edinburgh in August.

Luckily, I could get into Holyrood House, the castle where Mary Queen of Scots actually lived!

You can guess how excited I was as I wandered through the castle, into her actual chambers.

There’s even an infamous blood stain from her secretary, and possible lover, was murdered in front of her.

Plus, while I was there, they were celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and had an amazing display of her iconic wardrobe.

Now I tell anyone who will listen not to miss Holyrood House while visiting Scotland.

So while you’re in town, don’t miss out on seeing some of the best Edinburgh castles around, including Holyrood House!

Best Edinburgh Castles

1. Edinburgh Castle

Perched atop Castle Rock, the jewel of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline.

The castle even is home to The Honours of Scotland, the oldest Crown jewels in Britain, plus the Stone of Destiny, and even the famous One O’Clock Gun.

It also has museums and exhibitions, including the Royal Scots Museum and the National War Museum.

Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom

Don’t risk the castle selling out, book your tickets to Edinburgh Castle today!

2. Stobo Castle

Escape the city and indulge yourself in luxury at Stobo Castle, a beautiful health spa offering a serene retreat.

Surrounded by the scenic Scottish hills, it’s the perfect place to unwind and indulge in a wide range of spa treatments.

As someone who loves a good massage and relaxing weekend away, this castle is at the top of my Scottish hotel wish list!

Address: Stobo, Peebles EH45 8NY, United Kingdom

3. Dirleton Castle

Nestled in the picturesque village of Dirleton, Dirleton Castle is an impressive fortress that dates back to the 13th century.

With a rich history, stunning gardens, and fascinating ruins, it’s worth a short drive to explore this hidden gem.

Fun Fact: Their herbaceous border has been authenticated by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest.

Address: Parking lot, Dirleton, North Berwick EH39 5ER, United Kingdom

4. The Palace of Holyroodhouse

As the Queen’s official Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse oozes luxury and opulence in every room.

It was one of my favorite places I visited while I was in Edinburgh.

You’ll discover the fascinating history of Scotland’s royal family as you explore this stunning palace.

Address: Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX, United Kingdom

Avoid long lines by booking your tickets to Holyrood House today!

5. Dundas Castle

With its enchanting 15th-century keep and elegant 18th-century house, you’ll feel like a royal wandering around this estate.

Dundas Castle is a perfect location for weddings and exclusive events, or romantic getaways.

Address: Dundas Castle, South Queensferry EH30 9SP, United Kingdom

6. Hopetoun House

With its magnificent home surrounded by extensive gardens and parkland, Hopetoun House will leave you in awe.

This grand estate will captivate you with its exquisite architecture and interior design.

Address: Queensferry, South Queensferry EH30 9RW, United Kingdom

7. Midhope Castle

Fans of the hit TV series Outlander will recognize Midhope Castle as the fictional Lallybroch.

Although the interior is not open to the public, the picturesque exterior is well worth a visit to its rustic charm and beautiful surroundings.

Address: Midhope Castle, Abercorn, South Queensferry EH30 9SL, United Kingdom

Book your visit today!

8. Fa’side Castle

Overlooking the Firth of Forth, Fa’side Castle combines medieval features with modern comforts.

This beautiful castle with a Tudor-style Great Hall offers a unique stay experience.

It’s perfect for a romantic getaway or honeymoon.

Address: Fa’side Castle, Tranent EH33 2LE, United Kingdom

9. Tantallon Castle

Perched on a cliff overlooking the North Sea, Tantallon Castle is a fortress that has withstood sieges and battles throughout its history.

While you’re there, you’ll explore the atmospheric ruins and take in the breathtaking views.

Address: North Berwick EH39 5PN, United Kingdom

10. Lochleven Castle

Accessible only by boat, Lochleven Castle is on an island, making it a truly unique experience.

As you explore its atmospheric ruins, you’ll delve into the stories of its rich past.

If you didn’t already know, the castle is famous because it was where Mary, Queen of Scots, was held captive.

Address: Pier Rd, Kinross KY13 8UF, United Kingdom


What are the Top Castles to Visit Near Edinburgh?

Edinburgh Castle Scotland

Exploring castles is a must-do while visiting Edinburgh.

One of the most iconic places to start is the spectacular Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the city’s skyline.

You should also visit Craigmillar, Lauriston, and Dalhousie Castles if you have time. I’ve heard they’re all excellent!

How Can I Get Tickets to Visit Castles in Edinburgh?

best castles in edinburgh

Purchasing tickets for visiting Edinburgh’s castles is often a straightforward process.

You can buy them at the entrances of the castles or on their official websites.

What is the History Behind Edinburgh’s Castles?

castles in scotland

Did you know Edinburgh Castle dates back to the 6th century AD and was an important fortification throughout Scotland’s medieval history?

The history of Edinburgh’s castles is fascinating and rich.

Castles have stories of powerful families, battles, and architectural changes.

Are There Any Guided Tours Available for Visiting Edinburgh’s Castles?

edinburgh castle tour

Yes, guided tours can enhance your experience visiting a castle in Edinburgh.

Expert guides can make history come alive on tours of one or multiple castles, making a tour a delightful option.

Verify details on the specific castle websites or through external travel agencies to book your guided tour.

Schedule one of this popular guided tour of Edinburgh Castle.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Castles in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh castle

While Edinburgh’s castles are open to visitors throughout the year, the city’s best weather is from May to September.

During these months, the tourist season is in full swing, so expect crowds, but it’s worth it with warmer temperatures and longer days.

Castles may be busier during this time, so for a quieter experience, consider visiting during the off-peak months.

Which Castles in Edinburgh are Suitable for Children?

best edinburgh castles

Edinburgh Castle has family-friendly exhibits and interactive displays that cater to the younger audience.

Other castles, like Craigmillar Castle, have open spaces perfect for kids to explore and use their imagination.

It’s best when planning your visits to check the specific site’s calendar for family-friendly events and facilities.

Wrapping It Up

Ally in Edinburgh Scotland

Needless to say, I’m already daydreaming of spending a few more days exploring all of Edinburgh’s castles after making this list.

Especially with Taylor Swift’s Love Story playing as I write—now I just need to find my Romeo!

Let me know in the comments below which castle you’re most looking forward to exploring on your trip to Scotland!


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