Top 10 sites for a royal themed visit to Scotland

Ballymore Castle has been a Royal residence since 1852 – VisitScotland / North East 250 / Damian Shields

The never-before-seen interior of Ballymore Castle will be opened to the public for the first time this summer, in line with the King’s wish for greater public access to royal residences. Tours of the castle will operate as part of a trial period, and will take in some of the rooms used by the King and Queen.

Scotland has a complicated relationship with the Royal family, yet Queen Victoria was responsible for much of the global concept of “Scottish” – an idea that was refined by the late Queen, and has now been adopted by the felt sports of the today. monarch.

However, it is not just the famous castle that attracts visitors from all over the world. A Royal themed visit to Scotland offers an exciting adventure alive with history, epic scenery and the romantic stir of Royal intrigue. The 10 points below offer great opportunities to do as the Royal family do (or did), and to absorb Scotland in the most beautiful way.

Balmoral Castle

It is a must-visit attraction on any royal-themed visit. It’s easy to see what caused so much turmoil for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when they descended on the wooded hills in search of a magnificent Irish estate, giving Cois Dee the royal sobriquet. The grandeur of the Balmoral Estate is like strolling through the Hollywood of Scotland, while providing a first-hand insight into the life of Queen Victoria and recent Royals. Currently, the interior of the great castle remains off limits to members of the public, with tours limited to the ballroom, grounds and gardens; This summer’s trial will decide whether visitors will be allowed to do business in the future.

Where to stay: The next best thing to skip at Ballymoreil is Braemar’s Fife Arms, one of Scotland’s most exclusive and magnificent retreats. Sketches of Queen Victoria adorn the walls. Doubles from £757.

The Fife Arms is one of Scotland's most exclusive and spectacular retreatsThe Fife Arms is one of Scotland's most exclusive and spectacular retreats

The Fife Arms is one of Scotland’s most exclusive and spectacular retreats – Sim Canetty-Clarke


No Scottish village has been adopted by the Royal family quite like Ballater’s Ballymorel neighbour, and this trim bolthole has welcomed their regular guests in return, with many businesses proudly displaying Royal Warrants. When the funeral cortege ended last year, 1,400 residents paid their respects. Don’t miss the Victorian Station where a vintage carriage featuring a waxwork of Queen Victoria arrives at the Ballymore railhead. Braemar’s September Highland Games Gathering is a royal favourite.

Where to stay: The Balmoral Arms has royalty with themed names for bedrooms and the restaurant. Ask about the royal loo – discussed discreetly. Doubles from £185.

The station in the center of Ballater villageThe station in the center of Ballater village

The station in Ballater village center – Dennis Barnes

Deeside Way

The Deeside Way follows the old royal railway route from Ballater east to Aberdeen, 41 miles – and a range of shortbread tin scenery – away. If you don’t have time to complete it, just tackle a scenic stretch or two around Banchory. The scramble to the spectacular hole at Burn O’Vat is a shorter adventure. Go through the rock into a geological wonder created by the glacier, or enjoy the eight mile circular walk around another royal favorite – Loch Muick.

Where to stay: The walker-friendly Banchory Lodge has doubles from £113.

Royal Perth

Scotland’s ancient unofficial capital is steeped in royal history. For centuries, Scottish monarchs were crowned on the mysterious Stone of Destiny at Scone Palace, where Victoria once stayed. It was stolen by Edward I in 1296 and, although it returned temporarily to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of King Charles III, it is now back at home in Scotland. Don’t miss the hulking statue of Prince Albert in North Ennis Park.

Where to stay: It must be the Royal George Hotel, named after Queen Victoria’s stay in 1848. A Royal Warrant is proudly displayed by two lamp stands made from the bedposts of Victoria’s bedroom. Doubles from £150.

Scone Palace is at the heart of Perth's connection with the monarchyScone Palace is at the heart of Perth's connection with the monarchy

Scone Palace is at the heart of Perth’s connection with the monarchy – Chris Watt

Glamis Castle

One of the most historic castles in the United Kingdom, alive with the stories of the Queen Mother at her ancestral and childhood home. Princess Margaret was born here, the first Royal born in Scotland since Charles I, and many Royals have enjoyed the legendary hospitality of Glamis. Allow a full day for the castle and its large gardens, and be sure to have lunch in the old Victorian kitchens.

Where to stay: Stay with your family in royal style at Glamis House in the grounds. You can even shoot your own pheasants and pheasants for dinner, if that’s your type.

St Andrews

As if the historic streets of St. Andrews, student-studded, weren’t enough, this beachside town is also where the Prince and Princess of Wales met and fell in love after she transferred at the last minute from the University of Edinburgh. Visit the bars they frequented and then follow in their footsteps to West Sands, famous for its Chariots of Fire scene. St Andrews is, of course, the Golf Town, with various Royals having captained the Royal & Ancient.

Where to stay: The venue is the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa. Peers over the famous Old Course, then wander across it to West Beach. Doubles from £420.

St Andrews: where William and Kate met and fell in loveSt Andrews: where William and Kate met and fell in love

St Andrews: where William and Kate met and fell in love – getty


Dunn has been crowned Scotland’s newest city as part of the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Rich layers of royal history run through the cobbled streets of this mini-Edinburgh: Scotland’s monarchs once lived in the grand palace where the infamous Charles I was born and Scotland’s only Royal saint – Margaret – owned once. Robert the Bruce is buried in a monastery that rivals Durham, and although the Stuarts sent their entire court to London in 1603, a rich heritage remains.

Where to stay: Forrester Park Resort, in Cairneyhill, four miles west of Dunfermline, is set in 350 acres of parkland and features a gold course. Doubles from £120.


The Royal family spends more time in Edinburgh than anywhere else in the country, except Balmoral. A Service of Thanksgiving was held at St Giles Cathedral to commemorate the Coronation, a magnificent facility which was also part of the Queen’s final journey to London from Ballymore. The Honors of Scotland (the original Crown Jewels of Britain) – which Cromwell once escaped and were presented to Charles during the Coronation – are on display in Edinburgh Castle. Today’s royal residence is Rhode Island Palace, opening as an intoxicating window into royal life.

Where to stay: The Balmoral is named after the Highland castle, with similar grandeur. Think plush public spaces and palatial bedrooms. Doubles from £313 – read our review here. Plan the perfect trip to Edinburgh with our guide.

The Royal residence in Edinburgh: Palace of HolyroodhouseThe Royal residence in Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Royal residence in Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse – Getty

Ancient Britain

The Royal Yacht Britannia – Trip Advisor’s top UK attraction – was built in Scotland in 1954 and, fittingly, is now moored in the Forth Basin. Spend the tram down and the night around five decks: visit the State Apartments, survey the engines, view the Royal bedrooms, and taste afternoon tea on the Royal Deck Tea Room.

Where to stay: The Fingal is a luxury ship hotel moored nearby, and its banqueting restaurant matches the glory days of Wales. Doubles from £300.

‘New Britain’

The Hebridean Princess is the majestic little old cruise ship that the Queen chartered twice to sail around her beloved Isles instead of Great Britain. She sleeps just 48 guests, and a portrait of the Queen hangs above the reception (if you’re lucky, the staff might talk fondly of their personal Royal encounters). The Heny Galle sailing aboard this stately dame is the closest the Royal family will ever get to a live-in cruise – and, of course, they’re stocked with Laphroaig, King Charles’ favorite dram.

Where to stay: The Hebridean Princess offers a variety of cruises, including a seven-night Hidden Isles cruise in May from £5,880 per person, all-inclusive.

Plan the perfect two week holiday in Scotland with our expert guide.

This story was first published in July 2023 and has been revised and updated.

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