Castles hold a special appeal for so many of us. Whether you have fond memories of childhood tails of dragons, knights and heroic adventures, an appreciation of grand and wonderful architecture or you simply want to feel like a Laird or Lady for the day, there's something magical and exciting about staying the night in a castle.
We've found a beautiful route taking in some of the most incredible scenery and experiences that Scotland has to offer, and you can stay in a castle every single night.
With the option of departing from Glasgow or Edinburgh and a detour to the stunning Isle of Mull if you fancy, this trip can be tailored to suit your requirements. Just send us an enquiry and we'll start planning your dream trip!
Image: Unsplash / Andrew Buchanan
Day 1 - Arrival & overnight in Crossbasket Castle
On arrival into Glasgow Airport, you'll collect your hire car and drive a short distance to your first overnight stop - Crossbasket Castle. We've kept the drive short to allow you maximum time to relax after your journey, but if you're arriving on a morning flight it will also give you the opportunity to explore the city of Glasgow.
Scotland's second city, Glasgow is known for its vibrancy and is a cultural hub, with a huge range of museums, art exhibits and architecture to keep you entertained. Why not visit the famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum or the imposing gothic cathedral?
17th-century Crossbasket Castle is located in Blantyre, just 20 miles outside the city of Glasgow. Sensitively restored and steeped in luxury, the castle has an impressive drawing room and nine ensuite bedrooms. The jewel in the crown is the fine-dining Albert & Michel Roux Jr restaurant on site - not to be missed! Let us know if you intend to dine in so we can secure your preferred time slot in advance.
It's well worth taking your time to enjoy the tranquil setting at Crossbasket. The grounds are full of beautiful woodland walks and waterfalls - surround yourself with nature and relax now that you've arrived in Scotland!
Don't fancy driving on your first day? Not a problem - we can arrange a transfer to the castle from the airport for your overnight stop and deliver your hire car to you the next morning.
Day 2 - Glenapp Castle
Setting off from Crossbasket Castle, you'll skirt your way around the south-west corner of the city of Glasgow, before arriving at the seaside town of Ayr and making your way down the coast via the pretty villages of Girvan and Ballantrae to your stop for the night, the glorious Glenapp Castle.
A number of stunning beaches line your route down the coast - any one of them worth a stop to stretch you legs and enjoy the view. If you can fit it in whilst in the area, a visit to Galloway Forest Park is highly recommended - please see our blog about Scotland's forests for more information.
Commissioned in 1870 and owned by the Mackay family for almost 100 years before undergoing a multi-year refurbishment programme finishing in 2001, Glenapp Castle is now a luxury hotel with seventeen individually-designed en-suite bedrooms. Set in beautiful gardens and with sweeping sea views out across Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran, the Scottish Baronial architecture stands proud in its impressive surroundings. The on-site restaurant has a choice of a six-course tasting menu or three-course dining menu - each a celebration of Scottish cuisine and featuring a number of ingredients grown on-site.
Day 3 - Kilmartin Castle
Today will be the longest drive of your trip, but it's a stunning one! You'll head out from Glenapp Castle and along the lovely coastal route before turning inland. As your route will be skirting the edges of Glasgow, you could nip into the city for lunch. Afterwards, you'll cross over the River Clyde and eventually reach the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park has a huge number of walks, picnic spots and lovely places to stop off, so you'll be spoilt for choice and will almost certainly want to break your journey a few times to take in the views! After the village of Tarbet, you'll climb into the mountains and over the famous Rest and be Thankful pass, before descending into the pretty town of Inverary on the banks of Loch Fyne. Inverary is well worth a lunch or dinner stop if you arrive here at the appropriate time - we especially love Samphire Seafood! As it's small, you'll need to book ahead, so let us know if you'd like us to make a reservation for you.
Continuing down Loch Fyne, you'll reach the small but picturesque town of Lochgilphead before heading up the Glen to Kilmartin Castle, your stop for the night. Kilmartin Castle was built in 1550 for the Rector of Kilmartin Church and Bishop of the Isles, John Carswell. This boutique B&B is stylishly refurbished and offers a small but perfectly-formed retreat surrounded by the natural beauty and incredible history and archaeology of Kilmartin Glen.
If you've got the energy after your earlier adventures, a visit to Knapdale at dusk may be worth your while as there's a chance of spotting beavers. This is also something you could weave into your next day's itinerary starting out at Kilmartin. We highly recommend that you stop off at the Kilmartin Museum and enjoy its excellent cafe before you head off on the next part of your adventure, too!
Day 4 - Inverlochy Castle
From the tranquillity of Kilmartin Glen, today you head north past some of the west coast of Scotland's exquisite gems, and end your journey just outside Fort William, surrounded by some of the most impressive peaks in Scotland.
Your first detour option is to cross the 'Bridge over the Atlantic' to visit the Isle of Seil, where you'll find dramatic slate cliffs and have the option of visiting An Cala gardens or the Slate Islands' Heritage Centre, and even taking the short ferry hop across to Easdale.
The west coast hub of Oban is well worth a stop - perhaps grab a seafood lunch at Ee-Usk or take a tour of the famous Oban Distillery before continuing on your journey. If you choose to take a trip out to the Isle of Mull, you'll catch a ferry from Oban.
Continuing north from Oban, you'll cross over the impressive structure that is Connel Bridge - keep an eye out for the tidal Falls of Lora rushing through if the time of day is right, and at low tide you might spot a few cheeky seals hauled out on the rocky outcrop below.
Another short detour option presents itself in the form of Glasdrum National Nature Reserve, a short and steep but very rewarding woodland walk with spectacular views up towards Ben Cruachan.
Your journey continues around Loch Creran and on to Loch Leven and the much larger Loch Linhe, eventually reaching the town of Fort William. You'll notice the ground getting higher as you approach the famous Nevis Range and its crowning glory, the UK's highest mountain - Ben Nevis. To take in another iconic Scottish mountain vista, you could do much worse than taking a further short drive up Glencoe as you pass.
Just north of Fort William is your stop for the night - Inverlochy Castle Hotel, a 19th century gem in stunning surroundings of loch, forest and mountains. Its seventeen bedrooms each have spectacular views, and there's food to match in the Albert and Michel Roux Jr restaurant on site.
If you have a chance before you go, a ride on the Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig via the famous Glenfinnan viaduct (of Hogwarts Express fame!) will be a wonderful addition to your Scottish road trip. This particular excursion is extremely popular and needs to be arranged well in advance, so please let us know when you book if this appeals to you.
Day 5 - Fonab Castle
Your final stop for the night is the glorious haven of relaxation that is Fonab Castle in Pitlochry.
From Fort William, you'll head north to Spean Bridge and follow the River Spean through some of the most spectacularly remote scenery in the whole of Scotland! On a clear day, you'll see Ben Nevis on your right as you head off on this most stunning of drives, and the Munros just keep coming as you proceed further East.
A detour to Glen Roy National Nature Reserve is well worth your time for some incredible scenery and lovely walks. Loch Ericht, further along, is also a beautiful place to stop and take a walk - the more adventurous among you may wish to tackle Ben Alder or one of the surrounding mountains. Alternatively, you could book a tour of Dalwhinnie Distillery and sample their famous whisky.
At Dalwhinnie, you'll join the more major A9 road, which takes you to your destination via Tay Forest Park and the popular Loch Tummel - a visit to this area is an excellent use of any time and energy you've got left after a day of exploring.
Fonab Castle has been tastefully refurbished and provides modern comforts in an imposing castle setting. Its acclaimed spa offers the perfect place to unwind as your trip comes to an end, and there is a range of dining options to suit every taste and dietary requirement.
Day 6 - Last Day
After some well-deserved rest and relaxation at Fonab Castle, you'll head back to Glasgow for your return journey, or perhaps onto another area of Scotland that you'd like to discover! Either way, we hope you'll have had an incredible time on your castle tour of Scotland, and we hope you'll be back soon!
All of our tours are bespoke and tailored to exactly what you want to do. This itinerary is just an example - get in touch and let us customise it for your perfect holiday.
Isle of Mull overnight stop
On your way from Kilmartin Castle to Inverlochy Castle, you'll pass through the town of Oban, known as the 'Gateway to the Isles'. If you'd like to complement your mainland Scottish road trip with a beautiful island castle, you can catch the MV Isle of Mull from Oban across to Craignure on Mull, from which you take a 45-minute drive to reach Glengorm Castle, your stop for the night.
The beautiful Isle of Mull has many delights - its wildlife, tranquility and stunning mix of mountains and coastal scenery to name but a few. We're sure you won't regret adding this overnight stop to your self-drive Scottish itinerary.
Start from Edinburgh
If your flight arrives at Edinburgh Airport, you may prefer to spend your first night at the lovely Stobo Castle with its equally lovely spa. Just 35 miles (under an hour's driving time) from Edinburgh Airport, this is a great place to rest and recharge before continuing on your way. Your second day will take you to Glenapp (approx 95 miles / 2 hours 30 minutes) and you can complete the remainder of the castles itinerary if you wish.
Check out our detailed city guide to Edinburgh as well.
Day trip to Isle of Arran
The Isle of Arran looks tantalisingly close from your overnight stop in Glenapp Castle, and we can completely understand why you'd be itching to pay it a visit. This stunning place is easily reachable as a day trip from Ardrossan (ferry time approximately 45 minutes). If you do choose this route, you might wish to switch things around a bit and stay at Crossbasket Castle on your way back, as the drive up to Kilmartin may well be too much to manage in addition to your island excursion. For other tips to help you make the most of your trip to the Isle of Arran, see our blog on unmissable island day-trips.
If - like many people - you feel a visit to Scotland isn't complete without a hunt for the infamous and elusive Loch Ness Monster, we can certainly help! And you'll be pleased to know there's a way to incorporate this that adds another spectacular property to your itinerary. Bunchrew House Hotel is situated just outside Inverness and boasts 16 ensuite bedrooms and glorious sea views. Dating back to 1505 but expanded in 1621, this distinctive building has an enviable location on the shores of Beauly Firth and its wood-panelled restaurant has excellent views as you enjoy your dinner. Just 25 minutes' drive to the Loch Ness Visitors' Centre, this is the perfect base from which to start your search.
If you wish, you can then drive south to complete your trip with stay at Fonab Castle (just over 2 hours).
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