When it comes to vacations with my husband, I’m the master planner. I do all the research and itinerary making, and when we need to make adjustments along the way, I always make sure it fits into the big picture. I LOVE this. As a Type A, control-freak type of person, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So to make sure we’re both happy, I always get my husband’s input on what he wants to see and do during a vacation. For our Scotland trip, my husband said he wanted to see castles. So we saw 5 within 7 days. And guess which one we both agreed was our favorite? Dunvegan Castle.
Overlooking a sea loch on the Isle of Skye, Dunvegan Castle offers visitors breathtaking water views, impressive gardens to wander, and a fascinating look at the history of Clan MacLeod inside the castle walls.
If you have a penchant for views, gardens, and Scottish history you must spend some time at Dunvegan Castle and Gardens.
How impressive is that entrance? I wouldn’t mind coming home to this place every day after work. And believe it or not, some people still do!
Dunvegan Castle is the seat of the MacLeod Clan, and the same family has been living here for over 800 years.
What makes touring Dunvegan so interesting is that it has been modified several times over those 800 years, and elements of the different time periods are able to be seen today. For example, we were able to step inside the old castle dungeon right after walking through the still-used dining room and library.
Dunvegan Castle is home to several important Scottish treasures, like the Fairy Flag, Sir Rory Mor’s drinking horn (from which a new chief must drink a full measure of wine from to prove his worth), and the Dunvegan Cup.
And even though the MacLeod family did not support Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite Rising of 1945, several interesting artifacts from that time remain here, such as a lock of Charles Stuart’s hair. As an Outlander fan, I was loving the chance to see this stuff.
All in one, Dunvegan Castle is a historic site, museum, and living space for the MacLeod family.
As the castle tour took us through the stately library, past the treasured artifacts, and down to the old servants area, we had a chance to step outside and take in these loch views.
While we didn’t plan enough time to do this during our visit, you can take a boat trip on Loch Dunvegan to see the local grey seal colony.
Even if you aren’t a flower person, you will be impressed with the Dunvegan Gardens.
From waterfalls to tropical blooms to manicured hedges, the gardens are extraordinarily diverse and expansive.
Just when we thought we had seen all of the areas, we would turn the corner and see another path leading to more flora. #sorrynotsorry for the proceeding flower photos, but I couldn’t help myself!
If you really want time to explore both the castle and the gardens, I would suggest a minimum of two hours for your visit. If you’re interested in seeing the seal colony, you will need even more time.
We visited at the end of the day, and were rushing ourselves to see all the gardens before closing time.
Know Before You Go
- Photography is not allowed inside the castle, but you may take photos of the gardens and exterior (I took A LOT!).
- Check with the visitor information page for opening times before planning your visit. The castle and gardens are closed during the fall and winter.
- Walk through the gardens to the other side of the bay to get this majestic view:
- If you’re looking for something else to do while you’re in the area consider visiting St. Mary’s Old Church Cemetery, where some of the MacLeods are buried.
I’m pretty sure that if you visit the Dunvegan Castle and Gardens it will make it’s way to the top of your favorites list, too.