Blair Castle Visitor Guide

By Craig Neil. This post includes affiliate links.

Blair Castle – situated near Blair Atholl in Perthshire – has been the ancestral home of Clan Murray since its construction in the 13th century. The castle is privately managed but is open to the public for tours.

Discover everything you need to know about Blair Castle in this visitor guide which features an overview and handy visiting advice.

Blair Castle
Address:Blair Atholl,
PH18 5TH
Opening Hours:Mon-Sun - 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Last entry 4.00 pm)
Admission Price:Adults £16.00
Senior Citizens (60 years+) £13.60
Students (with ID cards) £13.60
Children (5-16 years) £9.50
Family ticket (2 adults, 3 children) £48.00
Parking:Free on-site car park.
Contact:01796 481 207
Facilities:Gift shop, toilets, cafe, partial disabled access, video tour
Photos:YouTube Video



Blair Castle, located close to Blair Atholl in Perthshire, is one of the grandest stately homes open to the public in Scotland.

Not only does this historic building have a rich history but it sits alongside some of the nicest gardens you’re ever likely to come across in this part of Scotland, and between the castle and the grounds there’s easily enough to keep visitors entertained for an entire day.

Throughout the thirty rooms that are open to public viewing, visitors will discover a story that begins over seven hundred years ago with David Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl, who started building the castle in the late 1200s.

You will learn how for the last seven centuries Blair Castle has served as home to the Atholl family through wars, feuds and uprisings, and how it eventually became one of Scotland’s best-loved historic tourist attractions.

In addition, you can wander through the Scottish baronial-style building with its extravagantly decorated 18th-century furnishings and explore the walled garden, coniferous woodland, tranquil grove and sculpture trail as well as take the kids to a play park, a woodland adventure course, and a superb café.

There’s also a very good gift shop, and if you’d rather learn about its history from a professional then guided tours are available for groups at no extra cost.

Blair Castle

The highlights

1: This is a beautiful castle with a fascinating history, and it’s large enough to keep families busy for most of the day.

2: There’s a lot to do in the gardens after you’ve toured the castle interior, especially for children who can burn off energy in the on-site playpark.

3: The exhibitions at Blair Castle are first-class and give a real insight into Scotland’s past. Entry is included in the standard ticket price.

Visiting tips

1: The ticket price is reasonable for a 5-star attraction but if you intend to return I recommend purchasing an annual pass which allows unlimited re-entry for 12 months.

2: The Atholl Gathering at the end of May is definitely worth experiencing, as is the Blair Castle International Horse Trials in August.

3: Blair Castle is located on the edge of Tay Forest Park which offers stunning walks on a spider’s web of well-maintained paths. You’ll find more woodland walks in my Guide to the Best Forest Walks in Scotland.

Blair Castle

Tourist information

There’s so much to look at as you wander through the rooms of Blair Castle that you might end up missing sections out just so you’ve got enough time to enjoy the gardens, but before leaving make sure you’ve spent some time in what I believe are the castle’s highlights.

First, go and check out the Victorian Ballroom – which you can’t miss because it’s decorated all the way around the walls with 175 pairs of deer antlers.

If you have children with you, make sure you check out the clothes chest where you’ll find a huge selection of costumes to dress up in, as the ballroom is big enough that you can chase them up and down while playing whatever crazy games they come up with.

My second highlight is the entrance hall which most visitors seemed to rush through while I was there but if you stop to look up you’ll find a remarkable collection of weaponry mounted all over the walls, some of which were actually used at the ill-fated Battle of Culloden.

Finally, make sure you have a good look at the state dining room and the incredible silverware that was used during the castle’s grand banquets. They sure knew how to throw a party back then.

Blair Castle

There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the castle grounds too.

For starters, there’s one of the biggest Georgian walled gardens in Scotland which is just over nine acres in size and you can’t help but be impressed by the amount of work it must have taken to restore it.

Inside the walls you’ll find sculptures, a Chinese bridge, a gothic folly, over 100 fruit trees and more vegetable plots than you’re likely to see outside of a city allotment.

Outside the walled garden there’s a sculpture trail that winds its way through the grounds into the castle, while a two-acre grove containing some of the tallest conifers in the country can be seen nearby.

You might even see one of Scotland’s native but endangered red squirrels jumping between the branches of these enormous trees.

There are even the ruins of an ancient kirk in Blair Castle’s grounds, and the nearby fields are home to Highland cattle.

If you’re looking for somewhere more Scottish than this place I think you’ll have difficulty, and if you’re interested in history and love the great outdoors it should definitely be near the top of your list of Scottish attractions to visit.

Blair Castle


Blair Castle has seen nineteen generations of the Atholl family over the years and there’s a huge amount of history crammed into every nook and cranny inside the main building.

There are plenty of information boards dotted about so you’ll quickly learn about the Atholl family, while the helpful tour guides will be only too happy to fill you in on any other snippets of history that you might be curious about.

The story of the castle takes you from its initial construction to visits by Mary Queen of Scots, to the Jacobite uprising and through to Queen Victoria who had a very special relationship with the place. It’s fascinating stuff.

One of the things I was most surprised to learn was how in 1839 the 6th Duke of Atholl formed his own private regiment to act as his personal bodyguards.

These soldiers – the Atholl Highlanders – are still in operation today thanks to Queen Victoria who gave the regiment their own colours in recognition of their service during her stays at Blair Castle.

Today, the Atholl Highlanders are the only surviving private regiment in Europe and if you’re lucky you might see them parading outside on the castle grounds in full Highland dress.

Discover more castles to visit in Scotland with: The Best Castles in Scotland – Ultimate Visitor Guide.

Blair Castle

Things to do

Historical Tour: Blair Castle, a fortress in Perthshire dating back to 1269, offers an immersive historical experience. Explore rooms filled with centuries-old artwork, memorabilia of Clan Murray, and furniture used by the Dukes of Atholl. Don’t miss the grandeur of the Victorian Ballroom adorned with 175 pairs of antlers.

Castle Grounds Exploration: Spanning over 145,000 acres, the castle grounds are a paradise for nature lovers. Walk through the Hercules Garden, a walled enclosure filled with vibrant flowers, fruits, and statues, and enjoy the tranquillity of Diana’s Grove with its towering trees.

Land Rover Safaris: For adventure seekers, join the Land Rover Safaris which takes you through the estate’s 145,000 acres of hills, woodlands and open countryside. The safari guide will share fascinating insights about the estate’s wildlife to help you spot animals such as red deer, grouse, and golden eagles.

Annual Events: Check out the annual events hosted at Blair Castle. The Atholl Gathering in May, which features a grand parade of the Atholl Highlanders – the castle’s private army – is a spectacle to behold. In August, the Blair Castle International Horse Trials attract equestrians from around the world for a competitive event set against the backdrop of the castle.

Tullibardine Restaurant: This award-winning restaurant serves a selection of delicious home-cooked lunches from soups and sandwiches to a selection of baked treats. If you’d rather sit outside on a sunny day, ask for the grab-and-go service and take your meal outside to sit on one of the picnic benches on the castle lawn.

Blair Castle


Ancient Origins: Blair Castle has a history that stretches back over 740 years. The original tower was constructed in 1269 by John I Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, a northern neighbour of David I Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl, who started a rebellion against King Alexander III of Scotland.

A Royal Retreat: Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, stayed at Blair Castle in 1844. Their visit marked the first time a reigning monarch had visited the Highlands since the 17th century. The Queen enjoyed her stay so much that she granted the Duke of Atholl permission to establish the Atholl Highlanders, Britain’s only private army.

Distinctive Architecture: The castle is a mix of architectural styles, reflecting its long history. The original medieval tower contrasts with the Georgian mansion and Victorian extensions. The stark white exterior is a unique feature that sets the castle apart from many other historic buildings in Scotland.

Impressive Indoor Display: Blair Castle is home to an extensive collection of hunting trophies, weapons, and antiques, including a grand piano played by Chopin during his visit in 1848. There are over 30 rooms on display, each showcasing a different period in the castle’s history.

The Atholl Highlanders: The castle is the base for the Atholl Highlanders, the UK’s only private army. The Highlanders serve as a ceremonial unit and the personal bodyguard of the Duke of Atholl, the castle’s owner.

The Hercules Garden: Named after the life-sized statue of Hercules that dominates the 9-acre walled garden, this beautifully landscaped area features a large variety of plants and flowers, a Chinese bridge, and an impressive orchard.

Battle Marks: The castle holds the scars of its tumultuous past. It was involved in the Jacobite Risings, and in 1746, four shots were fired at the castle. The marks from these cannonballs can still be seen today.

Things to do nearby

Atholl Country Life Museum. Old School, Blair Atholl, Pitlochry PH18 5SP. 15-minute walk.
A traditional museum that aims to preserve the heritage of the Blair Atholl community. There are galleries of photos and a reconstructed post office as well as video displays and reconstructions of a stable, a blackhouse and a smiddy.

River Garry. 10-minute walk. A major tributary of the River Tummel.
The river runs between the A9 and the B8079 near Blair Castle. There are partial walkways along the length of the river, some of which pass through forests. The main river footpath is signposted on the B847 heading towards Tummel Bridge.

Hercules Garden. Pitlochry PH18 5TX. 20-minute walk.
Landscaped country gardens that surround a large pond in the grounds of Blair Castle. There is a circular path that takes visitors around the site.

Falls of Bruar. Bruar Water, Pitlochry PH18 5TW. 6-minute drive plus a 30-minute walk.
A natural gorge with spectacular waterfalls. The surrounding woodland was created by the Duke of Atholl after Robert Burns was inspired to write ‘The Humble Petition of Bruar Water’ when he visited in 1787. The waterfall viewing area is at the end of a relatively steep climb.

House of Bruar. Pitagowan, Blair Atholl, Pitlochry PH18 5TW. 6-minute drive.
A large upscale department store located in a scenic setting off the A9. There are a variety of shops that sell clothing, homewares and artisan foods. There is also a café and a gift shop on-site.

Frequently asked questions

Is Blair Castle worth visiting?

Blair Castle is definitely worth visiting. The castle has a 4.5/5 rating on TripAdvisor and ranks #2 of 10 things to do in Blair Atholl.
Blair Castle is famous for its stunning grounds, ballroom, and collection of antiquities.

Who runs Blair Castle?

Blair Castle is owned and managed by the Duke of Atholl. The castle is the ancestral home of Clan Murray.

Can you stay in Blair Castle?

It is not possible to stay overnight in Blair Castle, but there is self-catering accommodation on the estate that can be booked.

What was filmed at Blair Castle?

The TV drama series ‘Victoria’ was filmed at Blair Castle. The series portrays the life of Queen Victoria who was known to have a fondness for Highland Perthshire.

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By Craig Neil

Craig Neil is a travel writer from Edinburgh with a passion for visiting Scotland's tourist attractions. Over the last 15 years he has explored Scotland from the Shetland Islands to the Scottish Borders, and he shares his travel experiences in Out About Scotland.