Heading to Scotland soon and wondering what the best Isle of Skye castles are? We are here to help!
Scotland is famous for many things and castles are definitely one of them!
The isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland. It’s home to stunning natural landmarks but also beautiful castles.
Most of the castles on Skye are ruins but you will also find a couple that are still inhabited.
This is the case of Dunvegan Castle, which has been inhabited by Clan MacLeod for 8 centuries.
Visiting the castles on the isle of Skye is also a great thing to do if you are a bit of a history buff and want to learn more about the clans in the highlands.
If you’ve been watching Outlander, you will definitely enjoy that!
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about the castles on the Isle of Skye.
This includes ones you can visit, ruins but also a couple of bonuses (that you can find at the end of the article).
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
Dunvegan Castle is by far the most famous castle on the Isle of Skye. It is the historical home of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod.
Clan MacLeod was the main Scottish clan on the isle of Skye, alongside Clan MacDonald.
Visiting Dunvegan Castle is one of the best things to do on Skye, especially since you will get to learn so much about the history of the clans in Scotland.
It is located in the northern part of the island and overlooks Loch Dunvegan.
The castle was built in the 9th century and is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.
In fact, it has been the official home of the chiefs of the clan for over 800 years!
If you choose to visit, you will get access to the gardens as well as the castle.
The gardens are very pretty and it feels like a little oasis.
If you head to the back, you will find a fantastic collection of Rhododendrons!
The castle is definitely the best part. The entrance is pretty impressive and you will then discover the living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms.
You will also get to see the famous Fairy flag (there are so many interesting legends to know about this flag so don’t hesitate to ask the staff about it).
You will then walk down to the kitchen and underground rooms.
The staff is extremely knowledgeable and they all love to share stories.
Here is an interesting fact. The prisoners used to be detained in the basement. Not only was it a very cold place but they would actually be hit by the waves from the loch.
Also, they were in the room next to the kitchen. This was so the smell of food would torture them (obviously they were starving).
The Scottish islands were clearly not the nicest of places in Medieval times but it’s such an interesting place.
HOW TO VISIT: Dunvegan Castle is open every day from April to October.
It is a paying attraction and you will need to buy a ticket online or at the front desk.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: There is a large carpark just across the road so this is very easy. It’s well maintained and easily accessible with a motorhome.
If you are travelling with a dog, you will be happy to know that you can go in to the gardens with your furry friends. Dogs are not allowed inside the castle but you can still have a walk around outside.
Now that we talked about the clan MacLeod, it’s time to mention the other major clan on Skye: the MacDonalds.
Armadale Castle is one of the houses of the Clan Donald.
It’s not as old as Dunvegan Castle. This is mainly due to the fact that the Clan Donald only established itself on the isle of Skye in the 15th century.
However, since it was one of the most powerful clans in Scotland, it was particularly influential!
The chiefs of the clan started to at Armadale in the 17th century and that’s why this castle became pretty famous.
Unlike Dunvegan Castle though, Armadale didn’t stay in very good condition. It was abandoned, fell into ruin and it was even sold in the 70s.
But good news for visitors, it was purchased by Clan Donald Lands Trust that started renovating it (this is still a bit of ongoing process) and turned it into a museum.
HOW TO VISIT: Armadale Castle is open to the public in summer. You will need to pay an entrance fee to visit (which can be bought on-site).
It will have access to the castle, the gardens and the museums.
You will also find a café there where you can grab some food and a hot drink.
They also offer holiday rentals near the castle. These are open all-year-round and you can book them anytime.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Armadale Castle is located in the southern part of the island, near the ferry terminal.
If you are taking the ferry to or from Skye, it could be a nice first / last stop.
There is a large sign on the side of the road which indicates whether it’s open or not.
Once you reach the castle, you will find a good size carpark (suitable for motorhomes).
Located near the Skye Bridge, Caisteal Maol is a ruined castle on the Isle of Skye.
It used to be the seat of the Mackinnon clan and was a fortress, from which they were able to watch the ships going through the strait of Kyle Akin.
As previously mentioned, this is a ruin so you shouldn’t expect anything like Dunvegan.
That having been said, it’s still a nice place to check out and it’s free!
It sits on an island near the town of Kyleakin and is a great landmark to photograph. It looks very pretty from the town!
HOW TO VISIT: If you want to get to the castle, you will need to go on a short and easy walk.
You can leave your car in the village car park in Kyleakin and take the path to the castle. It’s only 2.25 miles return and takes about an hour to complete.
Located in the southern part of the island, near the town of Tokavaig, Dunscaith Castle is another ruined castle on the isle of Skye.
The castle changed hands a few times over the years (between Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald), it was eventually abandoned in the 17th century and that’s why it’s now a ruin.
It is, however, important to note that is a scheduled monument which means it is protected against unauthorised change.
There are many legends about this castle and Dun Sgathaich, a mythical warrior woman, and that’s why its nickname is ‘the fortress of shadow’.
Though you can’t really visit the castle itself, it’s still a very pretty sight. It’s located on the edge of the rock and overlooks Loch Eishort.
HOW TO VISIT: If you park your vehicle off the road in Tokavaig Bay, you will find a path that goes across the bay, towards the castle.
It’s only 1.25 miles return and can be completed in 45 minutes.
Duntulm Castle is located in the northern part of the island, on the Trotternish peninsula.
It is another ruined castle on Skye that dates from the 15th century.
Obviously, since they are ruins, you won’t find much to visit however, it is a nice place to stop if you are driving around the Trotternish Peninsula.
It’s pretty much halfway between the Quiraing and Skye Museum of Island life.
Most visitors don’t actually stop there. They only focus on the famous landmarks but here you will find beautiful ocean views and nice walks.
The castle stands on the edge of a cliff of basalt which is very pretty.
On a nice day, you can even see the Isle of Lewis at the back.
Located near Uig, Caisteal Uisdean is another ruined castle on Skye but its history is a bit more unsual.
It was built by Hugh MacDonald (which is why it’s sometimes referred to as Hugh’s Castle).
Hugh was the nephew of the chief of Clan Donald but was conspiring against his own uncle.
While he was organising this plot, he built this fort, on the edge of the cliff.
Hugh MacDonald was later captured and imprisoned which is why the castle was abandoned.
Today, you won’t find much more than the ruins of a tower but it’s still a pretty cool place to visit.
HOW TO VISIT: There is a walking path that goes from Cuidrach to the castle. It’s 2.75 miles return and can be completed in less than 2 hours.
Located on the Sleat peninsula, near Armadale Castle, Knock Castle (also known as Caisteal Uaine or Caisteal Camus) is another ruined castle located on the coast.
This is definitely a hidden gem on Skye and one of Scotland’s best kept secrets since you won’t even find a sign to indicate it!
It was built by the Macleod clan and was then captured by the Clan Donald.
Today, you will only find some of the walls and part of the tower however, it is a pretty nice walk and the surroundings are very pretty.
Bonus: Eilean Donan Castle
You have now discovered all the castles on the isle of Skye however, there is another one that deserves a mention and it’s Eilean Donan Castle.
Eilean Donan is one of the most famous castles in Scotland and is strongly associated with Skye.
That having been said, it’s not actually located on the island! It’s very close though and since it’s on the main road to Skye, most people stop there to visit.
Now, we know that you were searching for castles on Skye and that’s why you are here but it’s since there are 99% chances that you will drive past Eilean Donan, we think you should know about it!
The castle was originally built in the 13th century as a way to protect the highlands from the Vikings.
The castle used to belong to the Clan Mackenzie and Clan MacRae. It then played a major role in the Jacobite risings (calling all Outlander fans!) but unfortunately, this resulted in its destruction.
Since the Jacobites weren’t successful, most castles that belonged to the Clan Mackenzie were destroyed. This is one of them.
It is a very pretty castle, located on a tidal island and it’s pretty much as picturesque as it gets.
If you are into photography, you will definitely love it!
Eilean Castle was also featured in numerous movies including the 1999 James Bond The World is Not Enough.
HOW TO VISIT: Eilean Donan Castle is open to the public from March to December. It is subject to an entrance fee. Tickets can be bought from the visitor centre.
PRO TIP: You can take very nice photos of the castle from the carpark but if you want to get some unique ones, you should head to Eilean Donan Upper Viewpoint. It’s only a couple of minutes drive and you get a much better view of the loch and castle.
Bonus 2: Castle Ewen
This one is a bit of an unusual castle on Skye since it’s called ‘castle’ but is not an actual ‘castle’.
I know… that’s confusing!
Castle Ewen is a natural landmark located in Fairy Glen, in the northern part of the island.
Fairy Glen is one of the most amazing geological wonders on Skye. It’s an area with very unique basalt formations and hills.
In the centre, you will find a hill that looks like a ruined castle. This is Castle Ewen.
As previously mentioned, this is not a man-made castle however, it’s such a unique thing to do.
There is no place like Fairy Glen. As soon as you will get there, you will understand how unique and unusual this place is.
It truly conveys the magic of Scotland!
Castles on Skye: Frequently Asked Questions
How many castles are there on the Isle of Skye?
There are 7 official castles on the Isle of Skye but only two of them, Dunvegan Castle and Armadale, are in a good condition.
All the others are ruins which means they are nice places to visit for a walk (or to learn about history) but if you want to see what a Scottish castle is like inside, then Dunvegan Castle will be the best place to visit.
What is the oldest inhabited castle in Skye?
Dunvegan Castle, located in the northern part of the island, is not only the oldest inhabited castle on Skye but it’s the the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.
It belongs to the clan MacLeod and has been the home of the chief of the clan for over 800 years.
Scotland is a country with many castles and the Isle of Skye is one of the best places to discover them!
Whether you’re looking for ruins or famous landmarks, there is no shortage of historical sites to explore!
We hope this list of the best castles on Skye has been helpful! Enjoy your trip!
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