Image: Balmoral Castle

Scotland's Castle Trail

With over 260 castles, stately homes and ruins dotting its landscape, Aberdeenshire is unsurprisingly known as 'Scotland's Castle Country.' There are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK, and you can discover 19 of the most famous and dramatic castles in Aberdeenshire.

Get inspiration from our suggested 6-day itinerary and simply follow the distinctive brown and white Castle Trail road signs through the heart of Aberdeenshire.

Start / Finish
Stonehaven / Alford
  • Days
    6
  • Distance
    229.2 Miles

    366.72 km
  • Transport
    Car
  • Main theme
    Castles
Highlights
History
Landscapes
Period features
Areas covered
North

Day 1 Stonehaven, Banchory & Drumoak

There are plenty of castles near Aberdeen, so you can easily base yourself in the city for your first day on the trail, which takes you to the impressive ruins of Dunnottar Castle, on to the fairytale Crathes Castle and finishes at Drum Castle, a fine Jacobean mansion house.

  • Dunnottar Castle Stonehaven

    Image: Scottish Castle on top of cliffs

    The well-preserved ruins of Dunnottar Castle are perched on a dramatic cliff some 160 ft above the North Sea. This once impregnable fortress was visited by legendary historic figures including William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell and in more recent times Mel Gibson in Franco Zeffirelli's 1991 film, Hamlet.

    If you're lucky, you may even see puffins or dolphins from the castle ramparts.

    Find out more about Dunnottar Castle
    Disney castle

    Dunnottar Castle is also said to be the inspiration for the DunBroch family home in Disney Pixar's Brave

    Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, AB39 2TL
    Key facilities
    • Pets Welcome
    • On Public Transport Route
    • Parking
  • Crathes Castle Banchory

    Image: Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate

    Crathes is a classic fairytale castle standing in superb grounds with a range of woodland trails on offer to help you explore. Inside, spiral staircases lead to rooms famous for their Jacobean painted ceilings and resident ghost, the Green Lady. Outside, the gardens feature large yew hedges and a colourful double herbaceous border. The wider estate offers six separate walking trails to enjoy, as well as a Go Ape! treetop adventure park and children's adventure playground.

    Find out more about Crathes Castle
    Crathes Castle, Crathes, Banchory, AB31 5QJ
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Parking
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Drum Castle Banchory

    Image: Drum Castle, Garden & Estate

    Drum Castle combines a unique mix of a late 13th century tower, fine Jacobean mansion house and later Victorian additions. Superb furniture and paintings are on display while the estate's woodland trails and exceptional walled rose garden are well worth exploring.

    Find out more about Drum Castle
    Drum Castle, Drumoak, Banchory, AB31 5EY
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Parking

Day 2 Sauchen, Tarves & Methlick

Day two on the trail takes you west and north of Aberdeen. Head to Castle Fraser and enjoy the splendid interiors of this grand castle before travelling north through the beautiful Grampian countryside to Tolquhon Castle and on to Haddo House, an elegant mansion house.

  • Castle Fraser Kemnay

    Image: Castle Fraser, Garden & Estate

    About 16 miles west of Aberdeen, near Sauchen, stands Castle Fraser, one of the grandest castles of Mar. This magnificent building contains an evocative Great Hall, fine furniture and paintings. Enjoy the beautiful secluded walled garden, extensive woodland walks with fine views of the castle plus a children's adventure playground.

    Find out more about Castle Fraser
    Don't miss

    Visit the tearoom and enjoy homebaked cakes in the ambience of the 19th century castle kitchen, before browsing the shop.

    Sauchen, Kemnay, AB51 7LD
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Tolquhon Castle Pitmedden

    Image: Tolquhon Castle

    Tolquhon Castle at Tarves is one of the most picturesque of the castles in the Grampian countryside. Largely built in the late 16th century by the Forbes family, it houses the Tolquhon Tomb, one of the best examples of Scotland's so-called Jacobean 'Glorious Tombs'.

    Find out more about Tolquhon Castle
    Don't miss

    Don't forget to look for the secret compartment in the laird's quarters where he hid his valuables.

    Tarves, Pitmedden, AB41 7LP
  • Haddo House Pitmedden

    Image: Haddo House

    Haddo House near Methlick is an elegant mansion house boasting sumptuous Victorian interiors beneath a crisp Georgian exterior. Noted for fine furniture and paintings, including artworks by Sir Thomas Lawrence and James Giles, the historic home designed by William Adam also has a terraced garden. Explore the grounds and adjacent country park with its lakes, walks and monuments.

    Find out more about Haddo House
    Haddo House, Methlick, Pitmedden, AB41 7EQ
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Parking
    • Cafe or Restaurant

Day 3 Turriff, Delgaty & Fraserburgh

Day 4 Banff, Huntly, Elgin & Dufftown

Day 5 Huntly, Alford & Corgarff

Day 6 Braemar, Ballater & Craigievar

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