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Updated June 2024

Looking For Quick Answers To The Need-To-Know Questions For Visiting Dunnottar Castle In Scotland? Find Them All Here!

What Is Dunnottar Castle?

Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Perched upon a 160-foot rock and surrounded on three sides by water, it is one of Scotland's most well-known castles and is a definite must-see, especially if you are visiting the east coast of Scotland!

Where Is Dunnottar Castle?

Dunnottar Castle can be found in Aberdeenshire in Scotland, just 1.6 miles south of the town of Stonehaven and 20 miles south of Aberdeen.

How To Get To Dunnottar Castle From Aberdeen?

How To Get To Dunnottar Castle From Aberdeen
How To Get To Dunnottar Castle From Aberdeen

Due to its relatively isolated location, the easiest way to get to Dunnottar Castle from Aberdeen is by car. If you are driving, it only takes 25 minutes from Aberdeen. It's also free to park in the castle car park. Alternatively, you could take the X7 bus from Union Square in Aberdeen to Dunnottar Junction, which is a bus stop only a short walk away from the castle. As a last (and more complicated) resort, you could take the train from Aberdeen city centre to the town of Stonehaven and then, either grab a taxi, take the X7 bus or take the Stonehaven to Dunnottar Castle walk to the castle.

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What Is The History Of Dunnottar Castle?

The castle is steeped in a rich history spanning over 1000 years and has even been the scene of some of the most notable events in Scottish history including during the Wars of Independence when William Wallace recaptured Dunnottar Castle from the English troops in the late 13th-14th centuries. The castle was obtained by the Keith family, who went on to own the castle for 400 years between the 14th-18th centuries. After the Jacobite rising, the castle was repossessed by the crown. In the 20th century, the castle was purchased by Lord and Lady Cowdray, whose family still own it to this day. Shortly after purchasing, they begin conservation and restoration works and opened it up to the public.

What Are Some Fun Facts About Dunnottar Castle?

  1. The castle has hosted some of Scotland's most famous figures over the centuries including William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II.
  2. George Keith, who lived at Dunnottar Castle, actually had his own pet lion and it was housed in a building called "the Lions Den". According to the legend, the lions time at Dunnottar was relatively short because its roaring kept the countess awake at night.
  3. Dunnottar Castle was used as a filming location for Hamlet (1990), Pixar's Brave (2012) and Frankenstein (2015). It was also featured in the TV series, The Amazing Race (2001-2019) and The World From Above (2010).
  4. Dunnottar Castle is said to be one of the most haunted castles in Scotland. When you visit, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the famous 'Green Lady' in the Brewery or a tall Scandinavian ghost has been caught walking into the Guardroom.
  5. During the 14th century, a stone tower was built on the castle premises which resulted in Sir William Keith being excluded from the church, after it was apparently built on sacred grounds. The pope himself actually intervened in this dispute. You can actually still see this tower to this day!

How much does it cost to visit Dunnottar Castle?

Tickets are available to purchase in advance from the Dunnottar Castle website or buy them at the castle on the day you visit. They only accept card payments at the castle. An adult ticket to the castle costs £11.50 and a child ticket costs £5.

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Can Weather Affect Whether The Castle Is Open?

Since the castle isn't very sheltered, it can be closed at short notice due to any adverse weather including high winds or excessive ice. This is due to safety concerns. They suggest you check the Met Office website before heading off to see if there are any weather warnings.

What Is Dunnottar Castle's Opening Hours?

The castle is open all year round with the exception of the 18th, 25th and 26th of December 2024 and 1st and 2nd of January 2025. The opening times vary depending on whether it's the summer or winter season. During the summer season, which runs from the 1st April to the 30th September, the castle is open from 9am-6pm. During the winter season, which runs from the 1st October to the 31st March, the castle is open from 10am but closes at either 3pm, 4pm or 5pm depending on the month. Last entry to the castle is an hour before it closes.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Dunnottar Castle?

If you want to actually walk around the castle, then I would highly recommend you visit in the summer months, when it is typically warmer and you're more likely to get some sunshine. The weather is temperamental throughout the year in Scotland, so prepare for everything. I mean I visited in Spring and it was still absolutely freezing then! Regardless of when you visit, the castle always looks dramatic!

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Who Typically Visits Dunnottar Castle?

The castle is a popular Scottish tourist attraction, amassing over 135,000 visitors in 2019. 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!

How To Get The Best View Of Dunnottar Castle?

You can get a really good view of Dunnottar castle from walking around the foot paths or the fields that face the castle, particularly the fields to the right. To get a full appreciation of the castle's scale and dramatic location, you would really need a drone but there are certain requirements that you have to meet before you are even allowed to fly it here including specific documentation and request forms.

Is It Worth Visiting Dunnottar Castle?

Dunnottar Castle is definitely worth visiting! Even just understanding the pivotal role it played in Scottish history is really interesting. It's also super unique, I've never seen another castle like it especially with the location it has.

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How Long Does It Take To Visit Dunnottar Castle?

You'll only need about an hour to explore Dunnottar Castle. There's not a huge amount to see. However, if you wanted to explore the beaches below or walk along the coastal route, it would take a wee bit longer.

Who Do I Think Dunnottar Castle Is Best For?

The castle is a great day out for most people! However, since there is only one way in and out of the castle, which involves climbing more than 200 steps, it does present some accessibility challenges. This can make it quite challenging for those with mobility issues. That being said, you don't need to venture over to the castle, you can still appreciate it from the footpath, which is easy to reach from the car park as it is all relatively flat terrain.

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Kirsty x

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