Medieval castles abound in Scotland, especially in the countryside. Even near large cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow you can find very old castles and palaces, which makes them very easy to visit. In our four days in Scotland, we tried visiting all the castles close to Edinburgh. Here is my list of castles in the South East of Scotland.
I love old castles! Edinburgh, in particular, has a few beautiful old castles within easy driving distance. Come along with me as we explore 8 beautiful castles near Edinburgh.
1. Palace of Holyrood
The Royal Palace of Holyrood and the large Arthur’s Seat hillside seen from Calton Hill.
See my photos from Edinburgh, Scotland
Number one on my list of castles near Edinburgh is located in the heart of the city at the end of the famous Royal Mile street. This is the royal palace of the Queen of England in Scotland.
2. Edinburgh Castle
The impressive Edinburgh Castle dates from the 12th century.
See my photos from Edinburgh, Scotland
A list with castles near Edinburgh would not even start without the actual Edinburgh Castle. This mighty castle is located at the other end of the Royal Mile opposite of the Palace of Holyrood. Perched on top of the hill Edinburgh Castle overlooks the entire city and provides great views.
The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is the number one attraction in Edinburgh. If you are planning to visit this area you can find budget hotels in the Edinburgh area.
Read More: Walking tour of Edinburgh
3. Stirling Castle
The beautiful Stirling Castle is the best place to start your walking tour of Stirling
See my photos from Stirling
Stirling Castle comes third on my list of castles near Edinburgh. It sits on a volcanic mound overlooking the city of Stirling and the river Fife where the famous battle of the Stirling Bridge took place.
Stirling is a great historical day trip from Edinburgh with great views of the beautiful countryside. If you plan staying in the area, you can search for budget hotels in Stirling.
Read More: Day Trip from Edinburgh to Stirling
4. St Andrews Castle
The ruins of St Andrews Castle on the coast
See my photos from St Andrews
The ruins of St. Andrews Castle dominate the Scottish coast and the famous West Sands Beach. A reminder of the tumultuous past of Scotland, St. Andrews Castle is part of a beautiful coastal walk along the rocky coast near St Andrews. It needs to make it on your list of castles near Edinburgh.
Read More: Day Trip from Edinburgh to St Andrews
5. Falkland Palace
The towers at the entrance of Falkland Palace
See my photos from Falkland
Falkland Palace is an imposing castle located in the small royal village of Falkland. The seat of many Scottish kings, Falkland Palace is located in the middle of Fife.
Unfortunately for us, the palace was closed to visitors because it has been rented for a wedding. We have enjoyed the quaint village of Falkland however with its narrow streets and old buildings. Falkland is a great day trip from Edinburgh.
6. Linlithgow Palace
Linlithgow Palace is the place where Mary Queen of Scots and her father King James V of Scotland were born.
See my photos from Linlithgow
The palace was one of the principal residences of the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. Linlithgow Palace is located about 15 miles from Edinburgh and it is a very historical place being the place where Mary Queen of Scots and her father King James V of Scotland were born.
We came to Linlithgow on a sunny Sunday and we enjoyed joining the Sunday morning church service with the locals. The beautiful old church is located right next to the palace and it is worth visiting as well. This is not a touristy place, but it is so close to Edinburgh, that I decided to add it to my list of castles near Edinburgh.
7. Dunfermline Palace
The old ruins of Dunfermline Palace with the towers of Dunfermline Abbey in the background.
See my photos from Dunfermline
Dunfermline Palace is a ruined former Scottish royal palace and important tourist attraction in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. A favorite residence of many Scottish monarchs, Dumfermline Palace is the place where David II and James I of Scotland were both born.
We arrived in Dunfermline later in the afternoon and the Dunfermline Abbey was closed to visitors. However, we did enjoy a walk through the ruins and around the imposing Dunfermline Abbey.
8. Alloa Tower
Side view of Allow Tower.
See my photos from Alloa
Alloa Tower is the most famous landmark of the town. It was build in the 15th century and despite extensive alterations both externally and internally, the Tower retains its original medieval wooden roof and battlements. It is one of the largest and earliest of Scottish tower houses.
Alloa was a quick stop for us on our way back to Edinburgh. My son really liked the Alloa Tower maybe because it is a much smaller castle and he was quite small himself.