The Highlands is home to some of the most famous and most photographed castles in the world. Whatever the weather, lochs and mountains provide an atmospheric backdrop for the Highland homes of some of Scotland's most famous clans.
Scotland's Best B&Bs hosts will be happy to check opening times and tour times before you set out for a day visiting castles
14 miles from Grantown-on-Spey - Filled with family memorabilia and paintings, this splendid castle has been the home of the Macpherson-Grants since 1546. Extensive grounds and a walled garden. Shop and tearoom. Golf course. Open daily (10.30am - 5pm) from Easter to the end of September (closed on Saturdays). Admission charges apply.
14 miles east of Inverness - Mixture of formal gardens and parkland, including maze. Originally built by the Thane of Cawdo around the legendary holly tree, this is ancestral home of the Campbells of Cawdor. Open daily 10am - 5.30pm from May to early October. Gift shop and tearoom. Golf course. Riverside walks on the estate. Admission charges apply.
East of Nairn - The castle was the home of the Brodie family until the late 20th century. The family’s association goes back further than the castle, possibly as far as 1160 when it is believed Malcolm IV gave these lands to the Brodies. In 1645, the castle came under attack from Montrose’s army. Today, you can still see the additions made to the building in the 17th and 19th centuries. Castle open various days April to October with guided tours. Admission charge. Tearoom and gift shop. Children's playround. Wooded grounds (including famous collection of daffodils) open all year. National Trust for Scotland.
Drumnadrochit - Picturesque ruins on the banks of Loch Ness, 15 miles from Inverness. Visitor centre with exhibition, film show, shop and restaurant. Open all year. Admission charges apply. Historic Scotland.
B&Bs near Urquhart Castle - Pottery House Loch Ness B&B, Binnilidh Mhor B&B, Glenmoriston, Eiland View B&B, Home Farm, The Dulaig, Grantown on Spey, Spean Lodge Country House, Spean Bridge, The Heathers, Spean Bridge, Morvich B&B, Fort William
This much-photographed castle at Dornie was around before Viking times, but was rebuilt from a ruin in the early years of the 20th century. Used for film sets such as 'Highlander', it sits on its own tiny island, with the stunning backdrop of Loch Alsh and Skye in the distance. Open daily February - December. Admission charges apply. Gift shop and restaurant.
Isle of Skye - Home of the Chief of Clan MacLeod. It is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland today. Paintings, antiques, weapons and relics such as the famous Fairy Flag and items from Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald. Open daily 1 April to 15 October 10am to 5pm. Open by appointment in Winter for groups only. Admission charges apply. Gardens, wooded grounds and seal boat trips. Gift shop and restaurant.
10 miles East of Lochinver - The castle was built about 1590 by the MacLeods of Assynt who had owned the area since the 13th century. Rumour has it that The Marquis of Montrose was captured around here in 1650, after his defeat at Carbisdale, and was held at the castle until being sent to Edinburgh for his execution. The MacKenzies seized the castle when they came to Assynt in 1672 and built Calda House, just a stone’s throw away in 1726. Free admission.
Near Golspie - Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, home to the Earls and later, the Dukes of Sutherland. The most photographed castle on the North Coast 500 route. Falconry displays take place on the castle lawn. Museum in the castle grounds. Tearoom and gift shop. Open April to October. Admission charges apply.
B&Bs near Dunrobin Castle - Auchlea
Located between Thurso and John O'Groats, this is the Queen Mother's former holiday home in Caithness. The Castle, Walled Gardens and small Animal Centre are open to visitors from May to September (but closed during the last week in July and first week in August when Prince Charles the Duke of Rothesay is in residence for his annual visit to Caithness). The Duke is Chieftain at Mey Highland Games, held at John O'Groats each year. Opening times are from 10.30am until 4pm. Visitor centre with tearoom, toilets and gift shop. Admission charges apply.