Castles on the Isle of Skye You Need to Visit!

Although more famed for its natural landscapes than man-made structures, there are some truly magnificent castles on the Isle of Skye. With everything from opulent stately homes to ruined fortresses, the castles on Skye are guaranteed to spark your imagination and transport you to another time. 

Throughout my time living on the Misty Isle, I made it my mission to explore as much of the island as possible, including the more off the beaten spots so readily ignored by visitors. Not only did this result in numerous capers (being chased by cows, getting stuck in bogs and hitting myself in the face with hiking poles, to name but a few) but I also learnt a huge amount about the island’s history. 

If you are looking for more than your average whistle-stop tour of the island, make sure to allow yourself enough time to get off the beaten track. These castles on the Isle of Skye are a worthy addition to any Skye itinerary and are sure to provide the adventure you are craving. 

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A Map of the Isle of Skye Castles

Castles on the Isle of Skye

Armadale Castle

Address: Armadale Sleat, Isle of Skye IV45 8RS

Armadale Castle and staircase
The gothic architecture of Armadale Castle.
  • Opening times: Daily (9.30-17.30) March – November. Gardens are open year-round in exchange for a donation
  • Entrance fee: £9.00 for adults
  • Facilities: Toilets, bistro, bar, car park and accommodation
  • Accessibility score: 5/5
  • Wow factor: 4/5

Ideally located less than a mile from the Mallaig-Armadale ferry terminal, Armadale Castle is a great attraction for visitors to the island. Set in 40 acres of woodland, the gardens are a wonderful place to relax with a picnic or enjoy a gentle hike. There is a complimentary audio guide to accompany the gardens which can be found when you download the Candide app onto your mobile. 

The castle itself is no longer structurally sound so it is fenced off from visitors. Despite this, you can still get close enough for good photos and the remarkably intact ruins paint an incredible picture of what this castle would have looked like in its heyday. The paths running through the estate are well maintained and easily signed, making it easily accessible for guests. 

I recommend visiting the castle during the early autumn months as this is when the foliage is at its prettiest. You’ll also manage to avoid the dreaded Highland midge and the bulk of the crowds on Skye. 

Ruins of Armadale Castle, Isle of Skye.
Autumn is the best time of the year to visit Armadale Castle.

Armadale Castle History 

Armadale was home to the chiefs of Clan MacDonald since around 1650. A mansion house was built in 1790 before a Scottish baronial style mock-castle was constructed next door, some 25 years later. It was designed by the notable Scottish architect Gillespie Graham. This castle was not built for any defensive purpose but instead, as a show of power. 

In 1855, there was a fire which destroyed part of the house. As a result, this section of the structure was replaced by a central wing. Despite the repair work, the castle didn’t have much life left in it and it was abandoned by the MacDonald family in 1925, collapsing into ruin. 

Now managed by the Clan Donald Lands Trust, this charity oversees the maintenance of the huge estate as well as the castle grounds. 

Accommodation near Armadale Castle: 

Armadale Castle Lodges

If you are looking to stay close to the castle don’t compromise. Armadale estate actually offers six self-catering lodges next to the gardens, making for a wonderful hillside retreat. Completely self-contained, these lodges have all the mod cons and guests also get unlimited entry into the museum and gardens. 

Caisteal Maol

Address: Kyleakin, Isle of Skye IV41 8PL

Castle Moil, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Caisteal Maol sits close to Kyleakin’s harbour.
  • Opening times: Year-round (no restrictions)
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Facilities: None
  • Accessibility score: 2/5
  • Wow factor: 3/5

Also known as Castle Moil, this ruined fortress sits close to the harbour in Kyleakin. Owing to its location, it is a good one to visit when you first enter or leave the Isle of Skye. 

There is a nice short walk to the castle, with directions detailed on Walk Highlands. ignore the first couple of stages and instead jump to the section which crosses the bridge. The ground near Caisteal Maol is rocky and may not be accessible at high-tide. As a result, make sure that you check the tide times in advance of your visit. It is also worth noting that the rocks can get very slippery so take care!

Keep your eyes peeled for the floor markers which direct the way to the castle!

Caisteal Maol History

According to legend, the castle was thought to have been built sometime in the 10th century by the Norwegian princess known as Saucy Mary. She later went on to marry the 4th chief from Clan MacKinnon and together they levied a toll on all ships who crossed through the straits. 

The castle structure that you see today was thought to have been built in either the 15th or 16th centuries and the castle’s last occupant was believed to have been Neill MacKinnon, 26th clan chief. 

The castle has taken its fair share of hits over the years and in 1949 and 1989, parts of the ruin were damaged in storms. A lightning strike destroyed another part of the building in 2018, causing workers to stabilise it to preserve the remaining structure. 

Accommodation near Caisteal Maol:

Hillside

For a cosy, clean and comfortable choice, head to Hillside in Kyleakin. This 3 bedroom cottage has easy access to the bars and shops and avoids the crowds of accommodation hub Portree. Benefitting from a beautiful setting, this is an ideal base for your time on Skye. 

Caisteal Uisdean

Address: Cuidrach, Isle of Skye, IV51 9XL

Hugh's Castle, Isle of Skye
Although you can’t enter Caisteal Uisdean, the structure remains remarkably intact.
  • Opening times: Year-round (no restrictions)
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Facilities: None
  • Accessibility score: 3/5
  • Wow factor: 3/5

Caisteal Uisdean is also named Hugh’s Castle, named after its creator, Hugh MacDonald. It is situated in between Uig and Portree, on the shores of Loch Snizort. To get there, you will need to begin in Cuidrach and walk the 4.5km there and back trail. For directions, you can follow Walk Highlands. The route follows a road most of the way but the last section is over a field and can be boggy.

There are signs warning you about not entering the castle, owing to falling masonry. Even if you wanted to take your chances, you’d have to be very skinny to squeeze through the window! Hugh’s Castle is the least visited of the castles on the Isle of Skye so is one that intrepid adventurers won’t want to miss!

This is the closest that we got to seeing the inside of Hugh’s Castle.

Caisteal Uisdean History

Despite being the lesser-known castle on Skye, Caisteal Uisdean has a fascinating history. Built by Hugh MacDonald in the 16th century, Hugh was jealous of his uncle, Donald Gorm Mor who held the spot of clan chief. He hatched a plan to kill his uncle but everything went wrong when he confused his letter to the assassin with Donald Gorm Mor’s invitation to dinner. 

Donald Gorm Mor knew his nephew’s plan. He decided to invite Hugh MacDonald to Duntulm Castle, before imprisoning him in the dungeon as punishment. History has it that he fed him only salted beef and fish, all the time depriving him of water. He died a slow and painful death at Duntulm. 

Accommodation near Caisteal Uisdean:

Lighthouse Cottage

Located in nearby Earlish, the Lighthouse Cottage, run by local man Angus, is a truly welcoming place to stay. He gives great recommendations about the best places to go on the island which really helps you to get the most out of your trip. Breakfast is rated particularly highly. 

Dunscaith Castle

Address: Sleat Peninsula, Tokavaig, Isle of Skye

Dunscaith Castle: Skye's Forgotten Fortress
Dunscaith Castle is home to many a Skye legend!
  • Opening times: Year-round (no restrictions)
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Facilities: None
  • Accessibility score: 3/5
  • Wow factor: 4/5

Dunscaith Castle is situated in Tokavaig, on the Sleat peninsula. It is all but impossible to reach by public transport so you will need to have your own car if you are going to make the journey there. Be warned that the roads heading towards the castle are very steep and should not be attempted in bad weather. 

When heading towards the castle, make sure you keep your eyes peeled. Many a visitor has missed this attraction because it isn’t slap bang next to the road! Dunscaith is located on a large rock on the shores of Loch Eishort and the Cuillin mountains provide an epic backdrop. In my opinion, it is the prettiest castle ruin on the island. 

The area around the castle isn’t particularly boggy but livestock wanders freely in this area. If you come with a dog, make sure it is on a lead and watch where you decide to sit! 

Dunscaith Castle
There are steep drops on all sides of the castle so be careful when you explore!

Dunscaith Castle History

The thing that I loved the most about Dunscaith Castle is its legendary status within old Scottish folklore. It is said that this castle was once home to warrior princess Scáthach, who has appeared in many of the island’s legends, including that of Sligachan Bridge

More reliable history dictates that the fortress has changed hands many times over the years and was an important seat which was desired by both the MacDonalds of Skye and the MacLeods of Dunvegan. 

In 1618, Sir Donald (from Clan MacDonald) was offered lands by the King in the north of the island. This led to the clan moving the seat to Duntulm Castle and abandoning Dunscaith. It has since been left to fall into disrepair. 

Accommodation near Dunscaith Castle: 

Thorsvik

Overlooking Dunscaith Castle, this holiday home is an ideal location for group getaways. The huge window provides stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and there is a balcony for alfresco dining in the summer. 

Duntulm Castle 

Address: A855, Kilmaluag, Isle of Skye, Scotland, IV51 9UF

Duntulm Castle
The remains of Duntulm Castle.
  • Opening times: Year-round (no restrictions)
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Facilities: None
  • Accessibility score: 3/5
  • Wow factor: 3/5

Set on the Trotternish Loop, Duntulm Castle is well worth the stop. There is limited roadside parking available and the walk to the castle is fairly short, although it can get slippery when wet. 

This is another of Skye’s castles which now sits in ruins. Lovers of ghost stories won’t want to miss Duntulm Castle as it is believed to be haunted! Although several spirits are said to frequent the area, the story that most stood out to me is the one about the old nursemaid. She was believed to have accidentally dropped a baby out of one of the castle windows, forcing the MacDonalds to abandon the castle. They say that if the wind is high, you can still hear the screams…  

Although this castle is technically open year-round, there is a sign on a gate which advises you not to proceed beyond the castle fence. This is due to the steep drops on either side and the unstable cliff which is slowly crumbling into the sea. For added adventure, make sure you time your visit with the tide going out to see whether you can find any of the famous Skye dinosaur footprints located on the shore. 

Duntulm Castle safety sign
Duntulm Castle is steadily crumbling into the sea. Always take care if you are visiting.

History of Duntulm Castle

Originally believed to have been situated on a broch called Dun David, Duntulm Castle was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. After abandoning Dunscaith Castle, the MacDonalds made Duntulm Castle their new home in the 17th century. 

The castle remained important to Clan MacDonald and over the years they added many features to the structure, including a second tower. In 1732, the castle was abandoned as Alexander MacDonald decided to build a new property, Monkstadt House. He used much of the stone from the castle to do this, beginning the cycle which would eventually see the castle become nothing more than a few ruined walls. 

Accommodation near Duntulm Castle:

Hunish

This four-bedroom holiday home is the ideal base for your adventures on Skye. Located a stone’s throw from Duntulm Castle and well-positioned at the top of the island, this spacious property offers stunning views. The warm interiors will certainly make for a cosy stay with your nearest and dearest. 

Dunvegan Castle 

Address: MacLeod Estate, Dunvegan House, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye IV55 8WF

Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye
Dunvegan Castle is one of the most visited castles on the Isle of Skye.
  • Opening times: Daily (10.00-17.30)April – October
  • Entrance fee: £14.00 for adults
  • Facilities: Gift shop, toilets, cafe, car park and seal boat trips
  • Accessibility score: 4/5
  • Wow factor: 4/5

Undoubtedly the best-preserved castle on the Isle of Skye is Dunvegan. Medieval in style, Dunvegan Castle sits on the eastern shores of Loch Dunvegan, amidst pristine highland scenery. Although it is possible to see the castle from many spots nearby, you will need to pay to enter to get the full experience. 

Wheelchair users can easily access the castle gardens and main entrance. As you would expect from a castle this old, there is no lift so access to the 1st floor could be difficult. If you are unable to access the castle, the staff can provide an ‘armchair visit’ via a prerecorded castle video. 

Unlike the other Isle of Skye castles, Dunvegan is an occupied residence, meaning that those from the MacLeod clan actually still call the castle home. It is only open seasonally and there is no access during winter so be aware of this when planning your visit. 

Side of Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye.
Dunvegan Castle is closed during the winter.

History of Dunvegan Castle

Dunvegan Castle is the only fortress in the Highlands which has been continuously occupied by the same family for the last 800 years. It is the official seat of Clan MacLeod and was built in the 13th century. Over the centuries that followed, the castle was further developed in increments.

The castle is a category A listed building which means that permission for any building work must be obtained from the local council. Owing to the importance of the structure, this could even go as far as needing permission to change the curtains if they don’t fit with the existing character of the building!

Accommodation near Dunvegan Castle: 

The Tables Guesthouse 

Situated along Dunvegan’s Main Street, the almighty castle is just a mile away from the Tables Guesthouse. This tastefully decorated accommodation option offers tasteful rooms which blend traditional Scottish stonework along with modern finishes. The service is exceptional and breakfast is included as standard. 

Knock Castle 

Address: A851, Isleornsay, Isle of Skye, IV44 8RR

Knock Castle, Isle of Skye
Knock Castle is often missed by those visiting the Isle of Skye.
  • Opening times: Year-round (no restrictions)
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Facilities: None
  • Accessibility score: 2/5
  • Wow factor: 2/5

Also known as Caisteal Chamuis (Gaelic for Castle Camus), Knock Castle is located very close to the Torabhaig Distillery in Sleat. Although the castle is easily viewed from the road, it isn’t easy to discern how to get there. You will need to make your way on foot, turning down a small farm track before you get to the distillery. Head to the end of the road marked with a livestock gate and then follow the narrow pathway next to it. 

This castle sees very few visitors so you are likely to get the area to yourself. Bear in mind that the fortress is very crumbly and the structure isn’t stable. There are also steep cliffs on either side of the castle so be careful in wet weather. 

Knock Castle wall
All that remains of Knock Castle is a few ruined walls.

Knock Castle History

The history of this site dates back to the Iron Age when it was believed that a fort named Dun Thoravaig sat here. It was re-purposed during the medieval period by the MacLeod clan and by the 14th century, this is where they were residing. Various battles ensued over the years between the MacDonalds and the MacLeods for ownership of the castle. 

By 1689, the fortress was recorded as abandoned, (probably in favour of other castle locations) and fell into a state of disrepair. Much of the stonework was used to construct new buildings, including the nearby Knock Farm. The castle is largely unrecognisable now and just a couple of walls remain. 

Accommodation near Knock Castle:

Toravaig House Hotel

Located just down the road from Castle Camus is Toravaig House Hotel. It sits in two acres of ground which offer fantastic views of the surrounding scenery. The hotel has managed to retain its character, even though it is a larger place to stay. The on-site restaurant is well worth checking out and boasts incredible local seafood.

Castle Ewen

Address: Fairy Glen, Uig, Isle of Skye, IV51 9YG

Castle Ewen at the Fairy Glen
The beautiful Castle Ewen at the Fairy Glen.
  • Opening times: Year-round (no restrictions)
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Facilities: None
  • Accessibility score: 2/5
  • Wow factor: 5/5

Okay, I’ll admit it, this is actually not a castle on the Isle of Skye. Although the name Castle Ewen would lead you to believe we are discussing a medieval fortress, this name refers to the towering rock which overlooks the Fairy Glen

Although it is not a real castle, I wanted to include it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Fairy Glen is my absolute favourite place on the Isle of Skye. Trust me, it is just magical. Secondly, Castle Ewen offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape that you really shouldn’t miss. 

The rock isn’t the most easily accessible and those who want to visit will need to hike up a small but steep hill and through a narrow pass to the top. Owing to the placement of the rocks, this can be pretty tough on the knees and is not wheelchair accessible. Still, despite the potential logistical difficulties of making it to the top, Castle Ewen offers a beautiful panoramic of Skye. Try to time you visit early in the morning to avoid the inevitable crowds.

Castles Near the Isle of Skye 

Eilean Donan

Address: Dornie, Kyle of Lochalsh, IV40 8DX

Eilean Donan Castle and Bridge
The magnificent Eilean Donan is one of Scotland’s most picturesque castles.
  • Opening times: Daily, February – December
  • Entrance fee: £10.00
  • Facilities: Toilets, cafe, gift shop, car park and visitor centre
  • Accessibility score: 5/5
  • Wow factor: 5/5

Often wrongly described as a castle on the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan is actually set in Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland, some 15 minutes from the Skye bridge. Despite this, it is a fantastic castle to visit, either to or from your journey from Skye. 

Located out on an island in Loch Duich, Eilean Donan Castle is the perfect example of traditional Scottish scenery. Connected to the mainland via a footbridge, this castle has appeared in several Hollywood films including Highlander and The World is Not Enough. 

Eilean Donan castle near Isle of Skye
Eilean Donan has been featured in many movies.

Eilean Donan History 

It’s believed that Eilean Donan Castle gets its name from the 6th century Irish Saint, Bishop Donan. The castle was built in the 13th century and provided a strong defence from the Viking incursions. 

Eilean Donan later became a stronghold of the MacKenzie Clan before playing a role in the 17th and 18th century Jacobite uprisings. (Outlander fans will know all about this!) The castle sustained heavy damage throughout the uprisings and was left abandoned for around 200 years. 

In 1911, Lt Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island and vowed to restore the castle to its former glory. It is him that we have to thank for the artful renovation of Eilean Donan castle. MacRae’s family have continued to hold the castle and it was opened to the public in 1955. 

Accommodation near Eilean Donan Castle: 

Eilean Donan View

This holiday home has some of the best views that you can find in the whole of Scotland. Located in Dornie, the property sits opposite Eilean Donan Castle and is a great place to stay near the Isle of Skye. The cottage has everything you could need, including parking, comfy beds and even Netflix access. 

* All prices and opening times correct at the time of writing. 


Exploring Skye’s Castles: The Right to Roam 

Unlike elsewhere in the UK, the Land Reform Act (2003) gives everybody rights of access to land in Scotland, as long as they behave responsibly. This is also known as the ‘Right to Roam‘ and is great news for anyone wanting to explore the further-flung castles on Skye. 

Read more: Visit Doune Castle, Outlander’s Castle Leoch!

Which of these Isle of Skye castles have you visited?

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