Continuing the theme of summarizing Scottish travel nuggets into practical posts (see list at the end of this post), here’s a list of 8 Scottish Castles reachable by public transport. No car needed for any of these and the list will be a mix of city castles (frequent connections) and remote-ish castles (infrequent connections).
Scotland public transport booking & schedules
1. Edinburgh Castle
Nearest public transport hub: Edinburgh Waverley railway station
Getting to the castle: 15-min walk from Waverley station.
Age & why you should visit: 12th century castle. It’s one of Scotland’s most visited attractions (1.7 Million visitors last year) for 2 reasons – the history (UK’s most besieged castle) and the ease of access. The highlight, for us, are the crown jewels. Best combined with a visit to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Or consider taking Lothian buses to one of the city’s other castles like Lauriston and Dalhousie.
Further reading: Edinburgh blogpost
2. Linlithgow Palace
Nearest public transport hub: Linlithgow railway station (frequent trains from Edinburgh & Glasgow)
Getting to the castle: 5-min walk from Linlithgow station.
Age & why you should visit: 12th century castle. Mary, Queen of Scots was born here. Next to a very beautiful fresh-water loch. We loved visiting the Palace during the annual jousting event, it is as fun as it sounds.
3. Stirling Castle
Pic credit: https://www.instagram.com/charles.mcguigan
Nearest public transport hub: Stirling station (frequent trains from Edinburgh & Glasgow)
Getting to the castle: 5-min walk from Stirling station.
Age & why you should visit: Originally, a 12th century castle. This castle was the nerve-centre of Scotland during the Wars of Independence. This is THE place to visit if you are even remotely interested in Scottish history.
4. Dunnottar Castle
Nearest public transport hub: Stonehaven railway station (a few Aberdeen-bound trains a day from Edinburgh & Glasgow)
Getting to the castle: An hour long walk from Stonehaven railway station via the town and the beautiful coastal route. Consider booking a taxi if short on time.
Bus connections: X7, 7 & 107 take you from town close to the castle
Age & why you should visit: 14th century castle. The most stunning location for any of the Scottish castles and the cliff walk leading up to it is beautiful on a sunny day.
Further reading: Stonehaven blogpost
5. Kilchurn Castle
Nearest public transport hub: Loch Awe railway station (a few Oban-bound trains & buses a day from Glasgow).
Getting to the castle: A 40-min long walk from the Loch Awe railway station, take care of traffic while doing the walk. Stunning castle & loch views and tea room close to the station itself.
Age & why you should visit: This is one of the most remote castles on this list but the ruins are incredibly picturesque and so is the location and hence it is worth your time.
6. Duart Castle
Nearest public transport hub: Craignure ferry terminal (hourly ferries from Oban which in turn gets a few trains & buses a day from Glasgow)
Getting to the castle: The castle runs a coach service from the ferry terminal to the castle for a nominal fee (details here, check with the castle, if needed)
Age & why you should visit: 13th century castle. It is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Scotland and has some fine, sweeping views towards the mainland. Best combined with a visit to Staffa.
Further reading: Isle of Mull blogpost
7. Inverness Castle & Urquhart Castle
Nearest public transport hub: Inverness railway station (train and bus connections from Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh & even London)
Bus connections (for Urquhart castle): Bus 19/119 on a weekday, Citylink buses to Fort William / Portree on all days from Inverness bus station.
Getting to the Inverness Castle: A 5-minute walk from the station.
Age & why you should visit: Inverness provides a 2-in-1 package. The Inverness Castle is a working court house and opened up its North Tower for tourists just this year (£5). There’s been a defensive structure on this site since the 11th century though the current building is “modern” as it was built in the 1800s.
Urquhart castle on the other hand is a ruin and is best combined with a Jacobite boat tour of Loch Ness. A brilliant place to visit on sunny as well as cloudy (with a chance of Nessie) days.
Further reading: Inverness blogpost
8. Eilean Donan Castle
Nearest public transport hub: Kyle of Lochalsh railway station (one end of the Inverness – Kyle line)
Bus connections: Bus 915 / 916 / 917 run by Scottish Cityline on the Glasgow – Fort William – Skye and Inverness – Skye routes.
Age & why you should visit: 13th century castle where 3 lochs meet. Erstwhile home of the Lord of the Isles. One of the most photographed spots in Scotland. This is a case of leaving the best for last. We do recommend taking a taxi from Kyle if the connections have a long wait time.
We’d love to know if you’ve seen any castles in Scotland by public transport or otherwise! Which one is your favourite?
Our other Scotland summary posts
- Best of Scotland in 1 week
- 9 speciality food items from across Scotland
- Top 5 Scotch whisky related experiences
- Top 5 backpacker campsites in Scotland
Addendum: Based on feedback, adding some castles that folk can look up directions to which are reachable by public transport (confirmed by locals). We may create a Part 2 post with details for these: Inveraray, Brodick, St. Andrews, Torosay, Mey, Dunrobin, Deeside castles (Drum, Crathes, Balmoral, Braemar), Dundee castles (Dudhope, Mains, Powrie, Broughty Ferry, Claypotts) & Perth castles (Scone, Glamis)
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