The Best Castles Near Aberdeen

The historic city of Aberdeen in Scotland may not be on many tourists’ radars for destinations to visit, but it has an abundance of things to do and many hidden gems to offer to curious tourists.

The city centre is a million miles quieter than the hustle and bustle of other Scottish cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, but step beyond its metropolitan area to discover an array of historic castles that will capture the imagination of people will all sorts of interests.

This list will highlight the best castles near to Aberdeen, their key points of interest, as well as practical information, such as opening and closing times, and location.

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10 castles you should visit near Aberdeen

1. Dunnottar Castle 

Dunnottar Castle - best castles in Aberdeenshire

Dunnottar Castle, or as it is known in Scottish Gaelic, ‘fort on the shelving slope’, is a stunning, ruined medieval fortress that is gloriously perched upon a rocky cliff on the northeast coast of Scotland.

The earliest known construction on the site dates back to the 5th century, where a chapel is believed to have been found, though it is uncertain as to what year, or century for that matter, that the site was first fortified.

The ruins that exist today date back predominately to the 15th and 16th century, and are built in the medieval style. Dunnottar Castle played a pivotal role during the Jacobite Risings of the 18th century, because of its primary location and strength.

Today, the castle is enjoyed by many visitors, who are fascinated by the castle’s history and location.

Where: Stonehaven, Scotland
When: 15th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, for more information check here.

2. Fyvie Castle

Fyvie Castle is a beautiful and historic castle that is located in the village of Fyvie, which is near Turriff in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland and is merely a stone’s throw away from the city center.

Parts of the castle date back to the 13th century, whereby some historians claim it was built as early as the year 1211, by William the Lion. The castle began life as a royal stronghold, and was originally used as an open-air court, and was the residence of Charles I during childhood.

The castle has had a key role during several military conflicts during the centuries, including the Battle of Otterburn.

It is also rumoured to be haunted, for instance, in 1920, it was said that the skeleton of a woman was uncovered behind a wall, and many visitors today are captivated by the castle’s mysteries.

Where: Fyvie, Scotland
When: 13th century
Style: Renaissance
Open for visit: Yes, for more information check here.

3. Drum Castle

Situated near to the town of Drumoak in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland lies the gorgeous Drum Castle, which for centuries, was the seat of the chief of Clan Irvine.

The castle began life in the 13th century and is believed to have been built by the architect Richard Cementarius, who also constructed the Bridge of Don in Old Aberdeen.

The castle was originally built in the medieval architectural style, but throughout the centuries, additions have been added to suit the needs of the time; for instance, in the year 1619, a large Baroque wing was added by the 9th laird, and more Gothic-style features were added in the Victorian era.

Today, the castle is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is open to the public, who enjoy the castle’s heritage and stunning grounds.

Where: Drumoak, Scotland
When: 13th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes. For more information check here.

4. Crathes Castle

Situated near to the town of Banchory in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland lies the stunning 16th-century Crathes Castle. The castle was originally constructed by the Burnetts of Leys and remained in the same family for nearly 400 years.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, an original timber fortress was constructed, however, it was not sufficient for any type of solid defence, and was later fortified in 1553, where the current tower house was constructed.

The castle was finally completed in the year 1596, by Alexander Burnett of Leys, after many delays during the political turmoil of Mary, Queen of Scots’ reign.

Today, the castle is open to the public, who enjoy visiting the grounds, and the wonderful array of portraits and artefacts that are hung proudly in the castle’s interiors.

Where: Banchory, Scotland
When: 16th century
Style: Renaissance
Open for visit: Yes. For more information check here.

5. Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle - castles near Aberdeen

This beautiful harled castle, that is located to the south of Alford in Scotland’s Aberdeenshire, is the historic seat of Clan Sempill and the Forbes Family, who resided here for over 350 years, until the year 1963; since then, the castle has been part of the National Trust for Scotland and was given over by William Forbes-Sempill.

Craigievar Castle is incredibly beautiful, and appears to have jumped straight out of a fairy-tale story; it has stunning turrets, gargoyles and well as some beautiful high corbelling work, that gives the castle a truly enchanting and captivating aesthetic.

Today, the castle is open to the public, who are enticed by the history and architecture.

Where: Alford, Scotland
When: 17th century
Style: Gothic
Open for visit: Yes. For more information check here.

6. Braemar Castle

Braemar Castle is a gorgeous, and historic castle that is located near to the village of Braemar in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland; the castle is under the possession of the chief of Clan Farquharson and has a fascinating, and extensive history.

Since the Late Middle Ages, the castle served as a stronghold to the Earls of Mar. The castle that stands today was constructed in the year 1628, by John Erskine, with the purpose of being a hunting lodge.

Like many Scottish castles, Braemar Castle has a long military past and has played a critical role in many conflicts and battles. Today, the castle is open to the public, and it is run by a local charity, in order to keep its heritage alive.

Where: Braemar, Scotland
When: 1628
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes. For more information check here.

7. Balmoral Castle

One of the most iconic castles in the whole of Scotland, Balmoral Castle is located in Royal Deeside, in the Aberdeenshire region of the country, and is a large estate that is owned by Queen Elizabeth II.

Since the year 1852, Balmoral has been a primary residence of the British royal family, and it was originally purchased by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.

The castle classified by the Historic Environment Scotland, and it is a Category A listed building; it is a prime example of Scottish baronial architecture, and it exudes a charm that entices to many visitors each and every year.

Today, the castle is open to the public, and it is also a working estate, whereby there are ground moors, farmland and herds of deer.

Where: Royal Deeside, Scotland
When: 19th century
Style: Baronial
Open for visit: Yes. For more information, check here.

8. Kildrummy Castle

Despite only existing today as ruins, Kildrummy Castle is still one of the finest castles in the whole of Scotland; it is located in the hamlet of Kildrummy, which is in the Aberdeenshire region of the country and is incredibly well preserved for its age.

It dates back to the 13th century, where it existed as a military stronghold; it was located here because of its position on primary trading routes that led to the north, and it was also perfectly located for controlling the area of Moray.

Historically, the castle has been a key seat of power for the Earls of Mar, who played a pinnacle role in the history of Scotland, and shaping the country that it is today. Today, visitors travel to Kildrummy Castle to feel as though they are stepping into history.

Where: Kildrummy, Scotland
When: 13th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, check here for more information.

9. Castle Fraser

Situated near to the town of Kemnay in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland lies the stunning and fascinating Castle Fraser. On the site, there is archaeological evidence to suggest that an older, square castle existed on the site, that dates back to between the years 1400 and 1500.

The castle that exists today was completed in the year 1636, after construction was started in 1575, by the 6th Laird of Fraser, Michael Fraser.

The castle has changed shape and style over the centuries, for example, between 1820 and 1850, the interiors were reconstructed by the architects John Smith and William Burn; many of the details were fashioned in the style of the Tudor era, and feature many Gothic elements as well.

Where: Kemnay, Scotland
When: 17th century
Style: Gothic, Tudor and Classical
Open for visit: Yes, click here for more information.

10. Huntly Castle

Huntly Castle is located in Huntly, in Scotland’s Aberdeenshire region, and is historically the ancestral home of the chief of Clan Gordon, the Earl of Huntly.

The castle was initially built in the 12th century, and consists of a five-story tower and a great hall, as well as several other buildings. The castle was granted to Sir Adam Gordon of Huntly in the 14th century, and at this point, the castle was named Strathbogie.

Like many castles in Scotland, Huntly Castle witnessed an array of different military conflicts throughout its existing centuries and has changed shape many times because of attacks.

The castle remained under the ownership of the original Clan Gordon until the year 1923, but today, it is looked after by the Historic Environment Scotland and is regarded as an important cultural monument.

Where: Huntly, Scotland
When: 12th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, check here for more information.

Where to Stay in Aberdeen

Aberdeen is a rich and historical city with many wonderful hotels for you to base yourself to explore the city. Book a rental car so you can explore at your own pace.

The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa: This hotel boasts the celebrity treatment with world-class service, located in a historic building within lush gardens this hotel has a wonderful terrace to relax in the Scottish air. Rooms are spacious and well equipped. Book your stay here.

Atholl Hotel: In a traditional turretted mansion house this hotel is in a quiet area with cosy home comforts. Meals are served traditional pub style and feature Scottish dishes. Book your stay here.

Heather Cottage Aberdeen: For a home away from home book into this quaint cottage in Aberdeen. Traditionally decorated and cosy this self catered cottage with beautiful gardens and BBQ is perfect for your own private retreat. Book your stay here.

For more hotels near Aberdeen search here

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