Scotland is the land of castles. More than 3,000 of them form a part of its dramatic landscape. So no matter where you find yourself there is always a castle nearby. On our recent Scotland trip we visited 11 castles and picking the best is no easy task so I have asked my 2 girls for their opinion on which where their favorites and why. Here are the top 5 Scottish castles for kids picked by my kids (11 and 8 years of age).
1.- Inveraray castle.
Inveraray castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief to the Campbell Clan. The clan motto is Ne Obliviscaris – which translates to “Do not forget”. This motto is pretty clear when you go through the estate as they have very nicely documented years of history for everyone to see and learn.
It is beautifully kept and decorated and this was what my daughters liked best. They could clearly imagine life here, and it truly seemed to them like a place a princess could live in. This was their vision of a fairytale castle. If you are a fan of Downtown Abbey then this castle should look familiar.
2.- Dunvegan castle.
Dunvegan is located on the Isle of Skye and it is the ancestral home of the Chief of Clan McLeod. Many of the castles we visited had an activity just for the kids usually some type of quiz they had to answer with facts or things they learned or found in the castle.
This particular castle had a treasure hunt. Well it was actually a hidden key search but as simple as this activity was it was my daughter’s favorite one to complete. In addition to the treasure hunt they loved the magical stories about the Fairy Flag especially the one where the MacLeod Chief had a baby with a fairy princess who had to return to fairy. But as she left she rocked and comforted her child in a shawl that had magic protective powers. This shawl happened to be the fairy flag.
3. – Stirling castle.
Stirling castle is historically one of the most important castles in Scotland with 2 of it’s major battles for independence (Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn) fought nearby. Also several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned here including Mary Queen of Scots.
But history is not why this was one of my girl’s favorite castles. The reason this castle made the list is because of the many interactive activities throughout the castle as well as the men and women dressed in character which interacted with the visitors.
Another favorite was walking the walls of the castle to marvel at the views from the top.
4.- Dunrobin castle.
Dunrobin castle is one of Brittan’s oldest continuously inhabited houses and home to the Earl’s and Duke’s of Sutherland.
The girls enjoyed the ghost stories told during the guided tour but the highlight of this castle was the falconry. The handler clearly has a passion for his job and the display provided was what made this castle memorable and a favorite for all.
Here is a sample of the falconry
And here are some of the magnificent birds.
5.- Broomhall castle.
Broomhall castle which is located near Stirling was a baronial mansion that later served as a boys preparatory school. After it burned down it was refurbished and converted to a hotel and restaurant.
You do not need to be a real princess to stay in a castle and this castle made the list because we got to spend 2 nights here. The experience of spending a night inside a castle is what every little girls dreams are made of. Plus the girls tell me the best sticky toffee pudding they had the entire trip was eaten at this castle’s restaurant. This is high praise indeed.
For more information on Scotland’s castles, opening times, fees, and location you can refer to Visit Scotland or Secret Scotland. These two sources were invaluable to me while planning our Scotland trip.
Which Scottish castle is your favorite?