Get ready to take a tour of two of my favorite castles in Scotland. When I was planning my recent vacation in Scotland, I really looked forward to touring the castles. Walking through buildings and castles that date back hundreds of years is just not something you can find in the United States. I think that is one of the reasons I find Scotland so fascinating. It is full of ancient history at every turn.
The first, Linlithgow, is really not a castle at all, but a palace ruin. Next, Doune Castle, recognizable as Castle Leoch in the popular book and television series Outlander, is a must see. Both Linlithgow and Doune Castle were everything I had pictured medieval castles should be.
Linlithgow Palace is an impressive palace ruins found in the town of Linlithgow, about 15 miles from Edinburgh. It dates back to the 1300’s and is probably best known as the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots in December of 1542.
Linlithgow was without a doubt my favorite palace that I toured during my recent visit in Scotland. It is exactly what you are picturing when you imagine exploring a medieval place. Dark passages, narrow, winding staircases that lead down to dungeons, or up to high towers. Windows that look out over the beautiful Linlithgow loch. You peer through them and imagine all the people who have stood in that exact place, and looked out onto the same view over the centuries. Magical!
Linlithgow wasn’t overly crowded on the day that we visited, which was a definite plus. We explored freely and rarely encountered another tourist. This really added to the appeal for me. It did not have a “touristy” feel. I highly recommend that you put Linlithgow on your itinerary if you are looking for an authentic medieval palace to explore. I can’t wait to visit this beautiful place again!
My next favorite castle in Scotland is none other than Doune Castle. It was so much fun to explore! A medieval stronghold, Doune Castle dates back to the 14th century. It’s located northwest of Sterling, in the village of Doune, on the river Teith. You may recognize it because so many films and television series have been filmed there. It was used as Winterfell in the first Season of Game of Thrones, Castle Leoch in Outlander, and in Monty Python.
I suggest doing the audio tour because it explains all the different rooms in the castle, what they were used for over the years, and anything significant you want to focus on in each room. A lot of the castle tours provide this service and I found that much more meaningful than just walking through the rooms and not understanding what I was looking at.
Now, if you are an Outlander fan (like me!) you will want to choose the Outlander tour option in the audio guide. It is narrated by none other than Sam Heughan. Walking through Castle Leoch, having Jamie give me a personal tour of the castle, and explaining what each room was used for in filming was amazing!
Definitely visit the gift shop at Doune Castle as well. There were period costumes that you could dress up in for a photo op, which was a lot of fun. I found adorable Jamie and Claire Christmas ornaments that I can’t wait to hang on my tree this year.
This castle is so well preserved, and although there was a steady stream of tourists while we were there, it felt very authentic. I enjoyed exploring the passages and rooms. I hope you love it as much as I did!
When in Scotland, you should visit a distillery or two. If you are looking for something to do after you tour the castle, Deanston Distillery is very close. It is located right along the river Tieth, near Doune as well. We enjoyed a very interesting tour and sampled some whisky.
I hope you have an amazing time exploring my favorite castles in Scotland! If you do, come back and let me know what you think, and share your photos!