Towering feats of exquisite architecture, replete of history and intrigue, the British Isles is home to a variety of brilliant castles waiting to be explored. Whether you choose to wander amongst the carefully-sculptured Tudor gardens on a last minute cruise, lurk about in the dungeons deep below or admire the grandeur and luxury of the plush furnishings inside, you’ll undoubtedly finish your day with a wealth of knowledge and a thirst to discover more about the fascinating past of the British Isles.
Situated in Cork in Ireland, Blarney Castle is a fantastic fortification with centuries of history waiting to be explored. Renowned for the Blarney Stone, it is suggested that those who hang upside down to kiss it are bequeathed the gift of eloquence. In addition to the stone, the medieval stronghold is set in wonderfully maintained gardens boasting avenues, waterways and an arboretum with a plethora of different species.
Inside the castle walls, explore the narrow corridors with their uneven walkways before climbing up the narrow staircases to cast your eyes over the architecture. Blarney Castle affords some beautiful views both of the 60 acres of land and further afield.
The impressive Glamis Castle in Angus, Scotland is replete with historical influence. Not only was the castle the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but it was the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the birthplace of HRM The Princess Margaret. The first castle in the grounds was built in 1372 before being rebuilt in the 1800s in a classical French style.
This majestic castle is a great place to spend an afternoon whilst in Scotland. The manicured grounds make a lovely place for a stroll and with guided tours taking place throughout the day, you can dive into Glamis Castle’s past. Its knowledgeable tour guides can provide you with information, or simply point you in the direction of another walking route.
Dunrobin Castle has housed the Sutherland family since the 14th century, making this the oldest continually inhabited house in Britain. Nestled in the Northern Highlands, the intricate and opulent architecture is French-inspired, with 189 rooms following the same style. Situated at the top of a hill, a visit to the castle will reward you with incredible views out over the North Sea and its Tudor gardens.
The current castle replaced the fortified square dwelling in 1785. Equipped with glorious gardens, striking spires and a beautiful backdrop, Dunrobin Castle has something for everyone. Once you’ve wandered around the grounds, head inside to the Dunrobin Museum to discover more about its past. Or, take a look in the lavish rooms on a guided tour, taking a look at the fabulous interiors.
The picturesque Isle of Mull is home to Duart Castle, an impressive dwelling built in the 13th century by Clan MacDougall. Over the past 800 years, the castle has been carefully restored to its former glory and, as one of the last-surviving Clan owned castles in Scotland, it is now in the hands of the Clan MacLean. Not only are the impressive dining halls and Edwardian State Rooms ready for you to explore, but the beautiful gardens are an exceptional place to spend an afternoon – particularly in the sunshine!
The unspoilt views over the sea are something to behold so, head out on one of the many signposted coastal walks to head down to the water’s edge. Alternatively, head inside to discover more about the history of the castle, exploring the State Bedroom, Dressing Room and The Great Hall, before looking at the artefacts that have been preserved at the Clan Exhibition.
If you’re looking for a lovely backdrop for a day out, look no further than Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. Built from the 12-18th century, the castle has undergone many changes throughout the years, including a portico entrance built in 1814. However, it has retained its original charm, making this a must-visit destination. Not only do the grounds offer well-maintained gardens for you to explore, but the castle is equally as delightful, with guided tours taking place from 10:30 am -4:15 pm each day.
Dunvegan Castle is the perfect place to spend a day. In addition to its guided tours, the castle also offers seal trips, two cafes and a campsite, all of which can be found in the MacLeod’s 42,000-acre estate. Whether you’re interested in walking amongst the Cuillin Mountains or taking in the unrivalled views of the Isle of Skye, this romantic destination makes the perfect backdrop for your visit to Scotland.
Eilean Donan Castle
Arguably the most iconic on this list, Eilean Donan Castle may not be the largest, but it has the biggest cultural significance. Located where the three great lochs meet, this monument can be found on its own island, with the calming waters of the loch lapping at its tiny shore. The breathtaking backdrop of the lush mountainous terrain makes this a picture-perfect destination – which is probably why it is one of Scotland’s most recognisable landmarks.
A small bridge grants you access to the castle, which is the fourth of its kind to be built here. Visitors can walk amongst its walls, peeking into each of the rooms to view its lavish interiors. Afterwards, a wander around the visitor centre can provide you with more information about its interesting past before enjoying a refreshment in its coffee shop.