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Updated June 2024

Looking For Quick Answers For Visiting Balmoral Castle? Find Them All Here!

What is Balmoral Castle?

Balmoral Castle is the British Royal Family's Scottish Residence. The castle is located in arguably one of the most beautiful and rugged places in Scotland; the Cairngorms National Park. It's also situated on the scenic driving route, the North East 250, perfect if you want to turn your visit into a longer road trip.

Where exactly is Balmoral Castle?

Balmoral Castle is located near the village of Crathie in Aberdeenshire; 9 miles east of Braemar, 9 miles west of Ballater and 50 miles west of Aberdeen.

How do I get to Balmoral Castle?

The easiest way to get to the castle is by driving. Park your car at the Balmoral car park. Then, walk from the car park over the bridge to the gates and go through the ticket office into the grounds. It costs £5 to park your car in the car park all day and £10 for a van or motorhome. The machine as far as I remember accepts both card and cash. You also have to put your registration plate in to get your car park ticket.

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What's the history of Balmoral Castle?

Balmoral Estate has been owned by the British Royal Family since 1852, after Prince Albert bought it for his wife, Queen Victoria. Shortly after, Prince Albert decided to rebuild and redesign the castle as he thought it was too small for Queen Victoria. The Balmoral Estate encompasses 50,000 acres and allows the Royal Family to spend a lot of quality time in the outdoors, away from the public eye and media.

What are a couple of fun facts about Balmoral Castle?

  1. One tradition that both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed at Balmoral Castle was having a bagpiper play for 15 minutes every day at 9am under their window. A rather unique wake-up call!
  2. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip spent some of their honeymoon at the estate and so did, King Charles III and Princess Diana.
  3. Balmoral Estate is so large that it has its own ecosystem, made up of moorland, mountains and lochs and an abundance of wildlife including deer, golden eagles, Scottish wildcats, and red squirrels. See if you can spot any on your visit!
  4. The castle has 52 rooms including plenty of reception rooms and a swimming pool. It also features 15o other buildings and homes on the grounds including Birkhall Lodge, the residence of King Charles III and Queen Camilla when they visit.
  5. Balmoral Castle is one of only two privately owned royal residences. The other is Sandringham. Most of the other residences are owned by the Crown Estate, funded by the British taxpayers.

How much does it cost to visit Balmoral Castle?

An adult general admission entry ticket is £17.50 and a child ticket is £9.00. With these tickets, you'll be allowed into the ballroom, grounds, gardens and exhibitions, but the rest of the castle is off limits. There's also a coffee shop and gift shop on the grounds.

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Is Balmoral Castle open to the public?

This year for the first time ever, they are selling tickets to tour the inside of the castle. These were priced at an eye-watering £100 for just the tour or £150 for the tour plus afternoon tea. However, all of these sold out within 24 hours. If you want to visit the inside of the castle, you'll need to be on the ball next year to secure your tickets!

What is Balmoral Castle opening hours?

Balmoral Castle is usually open everyday from 10am-5pm between April to August, when the Royal Family is not in residence.

When's the best time to visit Balmoral Castle?

I wouldn't recommend visiting in April, this is when I visited and the gardens weren't very interesting as nothing had bloomed and it was also quite chilly. I would recommend visiting in the summer months (June-August), when it'll be warmer and the gardens should be in bloom by then. It will be busier during this time, but if you've booked your tickets in advance, there shouldn't be any issues.

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Do I need a guide to visit Balmoral Castle?

No, you won't need a guide to visit. As part of your general admission ticket, you'll get a guided audio tour of the grounds and gardens, which lasts about 1-hour. If you somehow manage to get a ticket for one of the internal tours for the castle, then you'll have a guide escorting you around the castle anyway.

Who typically visits Balmoral Castle?

During April and August, around 70,000 people will visit Balmoral Castle. This includes individuals of all ages, couples, families, and bus tours. So, it can get quite busy, especially in summer. If you are visiting in the peak tourist season, I'd suggest booking your ticket in advance!

Is it worth visiting Balmoral Castle?

I enjoyed the audio tour of the gardens and grounds as it helped explain a bit more of the history. However, the gardens were a bit underwhelming. I think it was the time of year I visited as nothing had bloomed. The castle is grand, but is it the most beautiful castle I've ever seen?... honestly, no. We visited a couple of years ago and I thought the ticket actually allowed us into the castle, so I was a bit disappointed when it didn't! It's interesting to see, but I don't think I'll be back unless I managed to get a ticket for the internal castle tour and at £100, I don't think that will be anytime soon!

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Who do I think it’s best for?

Balmoral Castle is great for those who are fans of the royals and want to more about their Scottish residence and their history. It's also a fantastic day out for families, as there's lots of exploring they can do! There is a lot of walking in the guided audio tour, but it is mostly flat terrain. Maybe not the best option for people with mobility issues. However, there is a cafe on the grounds, you could stop-off at for a refreshment before continuing the tour. If you are more of the adventurous type, make sure to stop-off at the nearby Prince Albert Pyramid.

This post is all about Balmoral Castle Ballater.

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Kirsty x

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