Edinburgh & Lothian
Edinburgh Castles Itinerary
Edinburgh has a great central location for exploring Scotland and there are a wide range of attractions to visit in the area. The 3 day castle itinerary includes the most visited castle in Scotland which is actually in Edinburgh and also one of the most historic at Stirling. This castle itinerary has a total of 5 castles for you to visit and they are all operated by Historic Scotland, so if you plan to see all of them it is a good idea to buy a 3 day Explorer pass which will gain you free entry to all properties and save you money.
Total Cost: £53.75 (Adult)
Total Cost with Historic Scotland Explorer Pass: £43.75 (Adult)
Day 1: Edinburgh Castle and St Andrews Castle
Start early and walk up to the top of the Royal Mile where you will find Edinburgh Castle, the most visited attraction in Scotland. There are free guided tours available and they are a great way to make sure you don't miss out on any of the main highlights inside. Touring the castle will take at least half a day so it is a good idea to catch lunch here at the Red Coats Café which has a range of light snacks and offers some fantastic views of the city centre.
For the afternoon we travel to St Andrews, if you have a car then it's a relatively straight forward 90 minute drive, if you are traveling by public transport then the X59 bus goes direct from St Andrews Square Bus Station in Edinburgh to St Andrews.
When in St Andrews the castle is a short walk from the town centre (walk along the Scores which starts just outside the Old Course 18th tee) and it should take around an hour to get around. Be sure not to miss the bottleneck dungeon which is one of the most infamous prisons in the UK. After you have seen the castle why not take a walk around St Andrews Cathedral which is a short walk from the castle (if you bought an explorer pass you can get free access to St Rues Tower which is worth a visit when the weather is clear).
Day 2: Lauriston Castle and Stirling Castle
Start the day with a short trip up to Lauriston Castle which is situated in the north west of Edinburgh. For those traveling by car it is a short 15 minute drive from the city centre, if you require public transport then take the 29 or 41 bus from Princes Street to Silverknowes Road and then walk 10 mins to the castle.
The castle has picturesque grounds and a great collection of art and furniture to view, it should take around 90mins to get around. The afternoon is going to be spent in Stirling, with Stirling Castle just under an hours drive from Edinburgh. If you are traveling with public transport then get a bus back into the city and get either one of the many direct trains to Stirling from Waverly Station or you can get a megabus from St Andrews Square direct for as little as £2.
For Stirling Castle you will need a couple of hours at least to full explore the grounds, there is a café on site if you want to have lunch or there are many restaurants in Stirling city centre. The castle has lots to see inside and there is a rich history to learn about (with period actors adding helping to tell the story of the castle).
After seeing the castle you might have time to also visit Wallace Monument (4pm close in winter and 6pm in summer). The monument is a couple of miles away (short drive or take the No63 bus) and this monument offers some of the best views of the city and the chance to learn about one of the most revered characters from Scottish history.
Day 3: Holyrood Palace and Dirleton Castle
The day starts in the city centre of Edinburgh at Holyrood Palace, one of the most famous buildings in the city with royal figures such as Mary Queen of Scots and James VI an important part of its history. The palace has a complimentary audio tour which guides around the building and gives you some great information on the history of the palace, this lasts for around an hour.
After the palace it is a short journey to Dirleton Castle which is situated in North Berwick. If traveling by car then the journey will take under an hour with the A199 and then A198 taking you there. If traveling by public transport then the X24 bus to North Berwick will take you direct to the castle (get off at Dirleton).
When you arrive you will find picturesque ruins and fantastic gardens which are well worth exploration. The exterior set the tone for what is an impressive castle ruins site and the garden with peaceful and well maintained and is also home to the world's longest herbaceous border.
After visiting here you should have some free time in the evening, there are a number of attractions in Edinburgh that you can visit but if you want to see another castle then you could try Craigmillar Castle which is south of the city centre. The castle is a short drive or bus journey (No 30 or No 40 bus to niddre then 10 min walk)