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Enchanted Fairy Tale Castles of Edinburgh: A Scottish Legacy

castles in edinburgh

Castles in Edinburgh are reminiscent of all the Enid Blyton and Grimm Brothers’ tales you must have read as a child. Scotland’s castles date back to the Middle Age as symbol of protection of the people and later, an establishment of middle class. When traveling to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, visiting castles around the country is obligatory. 

Castles, like the traditional Scottish home, have been handed down through generations. They hold the secrets to some the great names throughout Scottish and English history. To name but a few, Sir Walter Scott, Edward I of England and Mary Queen of Scots.

If you are looking to visit some castles in Edinburgh and the surrounding area, you don’t have to travel far to feel like you are right at the centre of a medieval fairy tale. You’ll find yourself surrounded by them. In fact if you are looking for an enchanting wedding location, a number of castles in Edinburgh could be host to your special day.

Must Visit Castles in Edinburgh

 Craigmillar Castle   Craigmillar, Edinburgh
 Edinburgh Castle   Central Edinburgh
 Lauriston Castle   Silverknowes, Edinburgh
 Blackness Castle   Linlithgow
 Dundas Castle  South Queensferry
castles in edinburgh

Scotland’s castles date back to the Middle Age as symbol of protection of the people. Photography by Stephen Bridger

While visiting the Castles in Edinburgh, it is also essential to understand Edinburgh as a travel destination. This is even more important if you are a first time visitor.

Edinburgh as a Travel Destination: An Overview

 Location  Scotland, UK
 Currency  Pound sterling
 Best time to visit  May end to August mid
 Must try dish  Desserts
 Safety for Backpackers  Extremely high
castles in edinburgh

Edinburgh is a lovely travel destination when it comes to visiting castles. Photography by Valentina Scutra

If you’re heading to witness the beautiful castles in Edinburgh, you should be sure to make flight reservations and accommodation bookings in advance. The earlier you book, the cheaper the tour to Castles in Edinburgh.

Here are some suggested budget options –

Budget Flights to Edinburgh

Find nominal flight deals at Agoda
Find budget deals at Ethiad Airways
Find cost effective deals at Expedia

Budget Accommodation Options in Edinburgh

 Bobby’s Bunkhouse – £11. per night (if you book now)
 West End Hotel – £16. per night (if you book now)
 The Hostel – 15. £ per night (if you book now)

Visiting the Best Castles in Edinburgh

Here’s presenting the top castles in Edinburgh that you should most certainly visit. Also, you can go through the cost of visiting each of the castles in Edinburgh along with timings and mode of transportation.

castles in edinburgh

A stylized ancient door at Craigmillar Castle. Photography by Al Green

Craigmillar Castle

 Craigmillar Castle Road, Edinburgh

Originally built in the late 14th century, Craigmillar castle was one of the first castles in Edinburgh to have a tower house of it’s kind. It’s high battlement walls and many rooms are features that are prominent throughout the castle.

One of the castles most notable features is it’s mid 15th century inner courtyard wall. This serves as extra protection for the castle. Should intruders get past the outer wall, they’ll struggle with this. It’s impenetrable at 1.8 metres thick with small keyhole shaped slits to fire through.

Inside these walls are the castle gardens with a central feature of a pond shaped like a P. This was designed with the first owners in mind, the wealthy Preston family. It is also said that a sycamore tree planted by Mary Queen of Scots herself can still be found.

Craigmillar castle is particular famous for it’s royal associations. When the plague swept over Edinburgh, it is said that a young King James V stayed in the castle to escape the disease. Furthermore, the brother of King James III, accused of witchery, was held prisoner and later died here.

During the 16th century Mary Queen of Scots visited on several occasions. The last being the beginnings of talks to kill her husband, Lord Darnley, of which she was unaware.

Continuing to the 17th century, the castle was sold to The Gilmour family. They made further renovations to the endless rooms the castle has, such as a church to be used by a nearby village, before leaving the house in the late 18th century.

After this time, the castle became the tourist attraction it is today.

Tickets

 Adults (over 16)  £6.00
 Children (over 5)  £3.60
 Concessions  £4.80

How to Reach Craigmillar Castle ?

 By Bus There are many buses that will take you to Craigmillar Castle Road from the centre of Edinburgh. However they will not take you to the castle itself.

Bus numbers 29, 30 and 33 will take you to the road. From the bus stop it is a further 15 minutes walk to the castle walls.

castles in edinburgh

Craigmillar castle was one of the first castles in Edinburgh to have a tower house of it’s kindPhotography by Vanya Pradanova

Edinburgh Castle

 Central Edinburgh

Marking the very centre of the city, Edinburgh castle is iconic of Scotland, and undoubtedly one of the most famous castles in Edinburgh.

Over 1000 years old, the castle was once home to Scottish royalty, and a fortress through-out the centuries; making it the foundation of Scottish history, with references to Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots.

Although much of the castle was destroyed over time,the grounds are still home to what is expected to be the oldest building in Edinburgh; St. Margaret’s Chapel, which dates back to the 12th century.

Today the castle is owned by the Scottish Government and the army. It acts as a hub for activity in the city throughout the year. A tourist attraction, a venue during the International festival; host to the military tattoo and New Years Eve celebrations, and sometimes, a wedding venue.

The castle is fairly unmissable. It is located at the top of the Royal Mile (High Street). It can be seen from every angle of the centre of the city.

If you intend to visit Edinburgh during the peak months of August or December, it’s highly recommended you book your tickets before visiting to avoid disappointment.

If it’s your first time visiting Scotland, an audio tour is recommended (available in many different languages) for an additional £3.50.

A worthy investment for extravagant and complex history.

Ticket prices

 Adults  £17.00
 Children  £10.20

 Timings

 9:30 am to 5:00 pm  Monday to Suday

How to Reach Edinburgh Castle ?

 By hiking  It is best to walk to Edinburgh castle, following the Royal Mile to the top of the hill where you will find the gates to the castle.
castles in edinburgh

Marking the very centre of the city, Edinburgh castle is iconic of Scotland. Photography by Fionna Reid

Lauriston Castle

 Outskirts of Edinburgh

The building we see today was once the sight of a medieval castle, however due to Scotland’s turbulent past. Like many buildings it was destroyed when Edinburgh was raided in the 16th century.

Lauriston castle was owned by many of Edinburgh’s elite middle class. The last were avid collectors of furniture, artwork and ceramics, much of which can still be seen in the castle today.

The castle is now one of the few castles in Edinburgh to be considered a museum, with gardens that are free to enter and perfect for a family day out.

In the Summer, there are also creative workshops in the gardens.

Tickets

 Adults  £ 5.00
 Children  Free of cost

Timings

Mon-Sun: 8am-5pm

8:00 am to 5:00 pm  Monday to Sunday

How to Reach Lauriston Castle ?

 By Bus Board the Public Bus (number 41) to Main Street (15 minutes). Walk for 10 minutes on Cramond Road.

Address: 2 Cramond Road

 By Taxi You can take a taxi to reach the castle. All taxis in Edinburgh have a metre.
castles in edinburgh

Lauriston Castle is now one of the few castles in Edinburgh to be a museum now. Photography by Baris Pamuk

Blackness Castle

 Blackness, Linlithgow

Known as the ‘ship that never sailed’, Blackness is one of the rare castles in Edinburgh to be reminiscent of a ship, pointing towards the Firth of Forth.

Since it was erected in the 15th century, Blackness castle was a force to be reckoned with, acting as the first site for battle upon entering Edinburgh, before becoming a prison in the late 17th century.

Today, in contrast to it’s brutal past, the castle offers gorgeous views of the Scottish coastline, leading up into Fife.

It has also been the filming location for some scenes in the popular TV series Outlander as a replacement for the not so scenic Fort William.

Tickets

 Adult  £6.00
 Children  £3.60
 Concessions  £4.80

Timings

 March to September   9.30am – 5.30pm
 October to March  10.00am – 4.00pm
 Closed  Winter – closed Thursday and Friday

How to Reach Blackness Castle ?

 By bus From the centre of Edinburgh you can take the bus number C19 to Linlithgow. From there, it’s just a short 5 minute walk to the coastline, where you will find the castle.
 By train  Hop on a train to Linlithgow and from there you can take a taxi or bus F49 to the castle.

Both of these methods of transport take around 1 hour.

castles in edinburgh

Blackness Castle is shaped in the form of ship. Photography by Annette Norgen

Dundas Castle

South Queensferry, West Lothian

Taking their name from the land itself, this castle was home to the Dundas family since the middle ages. The Dundas family built on the land in the 15th century, and later became owners of much of the East and West Lothian region.

The castle was then renovated in 1818to follow the Tudor-Gothic style, famous of the century in which it was built.  This was designed by architect William Burn, who is famous among Scots for his churches, andentrepreneur of the Scottish Baronial style which can be seen through-out the country; most noted of which is St. Johns church in the west end of Edinburgh.

Sadly, this renovation cost so much, the Dundas family were forced to sell their legacy to what is now Stewart-Clark family, having passed through several generations, yetstill maintaining it’s structure from 1818.

This castle is one of the most well-known castles in Edinburgh for it’s unique architecture reminiscent of it’s time, and is kept in such conditions.

Today, the castle is for hire, should you be looking for a fairytale wedding or a venue for a business event.

How to Reach Dundas Castle ?

 By taxi Dundas castle is in South Queensferry, 30 minutes from the West End of Edinburgh.

To get there you can taxi to the entrance on the B800 road.

castles in edinburgh

Dundas Castle is one of the most fascinating castles in Edinburgh. Photography by Lee Howard

What to Wear While Visiting Castles in Edinburgh ?

Scotland is well known among locals for having 4 seasons in one day, so it is important to be prepared for all of them.

If traveling in the Summer, despite what some may say, it does get hot.

However, while it is exciting to put on a pair of shorts in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures can change very fast.

When traveling around the castles in Edinburgh, take a rucksack with the following –

A waterproof jacket
A jumper
An umbrella
Water bottle
Camera

A Special Note on Weather Conditions in Edinburgh

Throughout the year, Scotland faces all kinds of weather conditions. As Edinburgh is on the coast, you can expect to experience high winds regularly, and in winter months, snow blizzards can spread across the country.

Before setting off on your enchanting adventure, ask your hotel or tour guide to call the castles in Edinburgh, as the weather can change very quickly.

castles in edinburgh

While visiting castles in Edinburgh, make sure to be prepared for fluctuating weather conditions. Photography by Brigitte Declere

Castles in Edinburgh and The Surrounding Areas

While most of the castles have affluent surroundings, it’s important to note that, as in any city, Edinburgh has some not so nice areas.

Overall, Scottish people are very warm-hearted people and theft is not very common but it’s important to be aware of the possibility.

As you would in any city, be aware of your belongings.

castles in edinburgh

Visiting castles in Edinburg will be one of your best cultural trips ever. Photography by Eric James

Safety Around the Castles in Edinburgh

Scotland is extremely safe to travel around. There are security cameras on buses and the castles will always be populated with staff who can help you in any way possible.

The city itself is always populated with tourists and you are rarely far from a bar that has security, should it be late and you are feeling unsafe.

Overall, if history and beauty is what you are looking for when visiting Scotland, taking time to visit the castles in Edinburgh is just one of the many ways to step right into the intricacy of the city’s history and have a chance to see the peaceful, green countryside of Scotland.

Must Visit Locations in Europe

While in Europe, make sure to visit place and feel experiences that you’ve never indulged in before.

Experience the Magical Northern Lights in Abisko National Park, Sweden

castles in edinburgh

The magical Northern Lights phenomena at Abisko National Park. Photography by Juuso Hamalainen

 

Manchester United Fans, Plan a trip to Old Trafford

castles in edinburgh

The stadium at Old trafford. Photography by Steven Mallia

 

Indulge in Insane Shopping at Karntner Strasse, Vienna

castles in edinburgh

Kartner Strasse Street during the festive season. Photography by Simona

Europe has a lot of things in sore for travelers. Plan any of the exotic locations of Europe and come back a changed individual. If you need any help with budget planning, we’re here to assist you.

Happy wayfaring 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Castles in edinburgh

Eilidh Wilson

Eilidh Wilson is a copywriter and English teacher born and raised in Scotland. Currently based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Eilidh travels regularly around Asia, loves to find great coffee shops, and take any opportunity to jump into the sea. Having studied Fine Art at University, Eilidh likes to try her best to maintain her art practice and dreams to one day live close to a print-making studio that she can afford to use. While doing all of these things, she tends to be dancing around the funk and disco, should you see her, you’re more than welcome to join in.

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