Brodick Castle, the former home of the Dukes of Hamilton, is a grand 19th-century castle located a few miles north of Brodick on the Isle of Arran.
This quintessentially Scottish castle is surrounded by an exceptionally large and well-maintained garden and country park.
The castle features a collection of family-friendly attractions including a Victorian arcade and an adventure play park as well as displays of historic artefacts that can be viewed on a self-guided tour.
Isle of Arran,
|Opening Hours:||Country Park and Garden 10.00 –17.00|
Castle 10.30 –17.00
Shop 10.30 –17.00
Woodland café 10.30 –17.00
Red squirrel hide 10.30 –17.00
Isle Be Wild play park 10.30 –17.00
Red Squirrel tuck shop 10.30 –17.00
|Admission Price:||Adult £14.50|
One adult family £27.50
|Parking:||Free on-site parking|
|Facilities:||Accessible parking, accessible toilet, baby changing, buggy access, café, children’s activities, dogs welcome, electric vehicle charging point, guided tour, picnic area, play area, self-guided trail, shop, toilets, wheelchair access|
There’s a lot to like about Arran. From the tranquillity of Holy Isle to the monumental peaks of Goatfell, this small island off the west coast of Scotland seems to have a little bit of everything required to keep tourists happy.
Looking for wild, off-grid walks with jaw-dropping mountain scenery? Just head to the north of the island where you’ll find one of the best mountain ranges outside the Highlands.
Looking for picturesque woodlands to get yourself lost in? Drive to the south where you’ll find some of the thickest conifer forests outside of Perthshire’s big tree country.
Like historic attractions? You won’t go far wrong with a visit to Brodick Castle Garden Country Park located a few miles north of Arran’s main town.
Brodick Castle is every bit the typical grand Scottish fortified building you’ll find elsewhere in the country but it sits at the top of most tourists ‘must visit’ lists due to its location which is as much a draw as the main building.
Having visited the place recently I have to say I can see exactly why it’s so popular. The castle is impressive enough, but those grounds are something that need to be seen to understand why they’re such a tourist hotspot.
Arran is often called ‘Scotland in miniature’ and I guess you could say Brodick Castle is ‘Arran in miniature’.
The gardens are surprisingly big and there’s more than enough to see and do to keep families busy for the majority of the day in addition to the stunning mountains and the history that can be found in this corner of the island.
The formal gardens are immaculately well-kept and feature a dazzling collection of plant specimens from across the globe, collected by the Hamiltons during their extensive overseas voyages.
Thick, exotic rhododendrons sprawl across the ground next to impossibly-huge Jurassic Park-style ferns with stems so thick you can barely stretch your fingers around them.
A spider web of secret paths leads off in every direction through wild thickets of strange-looking bushes, gigantic flowers and towering conifers, all framed by the stunning backdrop of Brodick Bay and the scenic Firth of Clyde.
Meanwhile, oddities like the seashell-adorned Victorian summerhouse are stumbled upon whenever you least expect it.
I don’t think I’d be too far off-track if I said the gardens of Brodick Castle are some of the best in Scotland.
Getting to the castle is easy as you just need to follow the A841 north out of Brodick, and as it’s only 2 miles to the ferry terminal you could easily cycle there if you’ve organized a day trip on Arran’s ever-popular coastal road.
Alternatively, you could always walk, but I’d plan the best part of an hour to get there from the terminal, especially if you’ve never been on the island before.
Facilities-wise, this historic attraction is one of the better ones with ample parking, disabled access in most areas, loads of kids activities, and a number of Brodick Castle trails, plus there are plenty of picnic spots and grassy areas to enjoy al fresco dining on a sunny day.
1: The gardens are definitely worth the ticket price and they’re big enough that you can spend the majority of the day there, especially if you’ve got children with you.
On the other hand, if it’s pouring with rain you’re not going to be able to enjoy them and seeing as the castle tour is so short you might want to plan your visit around the weather.
2: The house is stunning inside with lots of polished wood and shiny silverware and the attention to detail in each restored room means taking a tour is a real step back in time.
3: The new café is very good and the food is reasonable in price. If you’d rather take a picnic there are plenty of benches outside.
1: When I visited I walked to the castle from Brodick which took about an hour and was probably the most memorable part of my trip to Arran.
It’s a lovely walk but the downside is that once you reach the A841 there’s no footpath so you have to skirt around the shoreline.
If you’d prefer to use public transport then the Brodick Castle bus (Stagecoach #324) runs from the ferry terminal and has a stop outside the castle entrance.
2: There are lots of historic and private gardens that are managed by the NTS so it might be an idea to get yourself a subscription which will give you free entry throughout the year. See the advert near the top of the page for details.
3: If you’re visiting on a bike, after you’ve been to the castle make sure you cycle north up the A841 for some of the best coastal views on the island.
If you’re on a biking holiday you might consider cycling all the way to Lochranza on the northern point of Arran and taking the ferry back over to the mainland. It’s a very picturesque route.
You could easily spend all day just enjoying the grounds without even venturing inside the castle so thankfully the NTS offer separate Brodick Castle tickets just for the gardens which are half the price of the full tickets.
That’s pretty good value considering the grounds include a good-sized children’s play park and a recently upgraded café.
If you’re feeling adventurous you could split your day between the castle grounds and the surrounding countryside which comprises the seafront to the east and an expansive forest to the west.
Both are within an easy walking distance while the main route to Goatfell skirts alongside the castle and is simple to follow from the road that leads to the exit.
The castle, meanwhile, is an impressive-looking building that somehow looks much older than its 19th-century construction would have you believe.
Although a fortress has existed on the site since at least the fifth century, Brodick Castle, as we see it today, was built in the 1840s when the 11th Duke of Hamilton began a massive construction project that saw the original fort triple in size.
It’s a shame then that the self-guided tour around it is so short and there seems to be a huge amount that’s missed out on the route.
To be honest, when I visited I felt a bit short-changed by the end of it and I don’t think my leisurely walk through the few rooms that are open took more than half an hour, and that’s with a good look around the obligatory gift shop at the exit.
If you’d like to join a tour of Scotland’s best castles take a look at my recommended Get Your Guide castle tours.
Still, it was interesting enough and the attention to detail in each room is as meticulous as every other historic building that’s managed by NTS.
Most of the areas that are open to visitors have impressive collections of period furniture, silverware and paintings and you’ll get a good feel of the aristocratic luxury that the Hamiltons enjoyed throughout the 500 years they lived there.
I have to say though, if you’re visiting Arran on a holiday it’s worth paying the extra to get a castle ticket if only to learn a little bit about the Hamilton legacy and the reason why the surrounding gardens are so impressive.
Most of the plants you see today can trace their roots (no pun intended… or was it?) back to the 6th Duchess of Montrose who sponsored expeditions in the 1920s to China, Tibet and South America.
Those voyages brought back rare specimens of plants that would struggle to grow elsewhere in Scotland but thrive on Arran due to the micro-climate that provides a mild temperature and a very low chance of snowfall.
If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of the early pioneers who discovered Brodick Castle’s stunning collection of plants there’s a Plant Hunters Walk behind the walled garden that will show you some of the specimens they returned with.
Another option is to follow the art trail that will take you through a collection of modern artworks located on the western edge of the grounds.
Discover more castles to visit in Scotland with: The Best Castles in Scotland – Ultimate Visitor Guide.
Things to do
Explore the Castle: Delve into the rich history of Brodick Castle, a 16th-century fortress on a historic site that dates back to the 5th century. Wander through the grand halls and opulent rooms that are filled with antique furniture, silverware, and paintings.
Wander in the Gardens: The castle’s sprawling gardens are a gardener’s dream location. You can spend hours exploring the rhododendrons and the rare shrubs in the Woodland Garden. For a tranquil experience, stroll along to the Bavarian Summerhouse and enjoy breathtaking views of the Firth of Clyde.
Wildlife Watching: The castle grounds are home to a variety of wildlife. Spot red squirrels, roe deer, and lots of birds in their natural habitat. The castle’s country park is a part of the Isle of Arran’s National Scenic Area and it’s a great place to reconnect with nature.
Adventure Playground: Perfect for families, the Isle Be Wild adventure playground will keep children entertained for hours. With zip lines, swings, climbing towers, and jungle-style walkways, it’s a fantastic place for children to run wild.
Eat in the Cafe: The on-site Woodland Cafe serves a delicious assortment of cakes and home-baked treats along with a good selection of traditional meals. There’s also a takeaway service if you’d like to sip on a coffee while exploring the garden, as well as an ice-cream kiosk that has snacks and hot drinks.
Historical Significance: Brodick Castle has a rich history that dates back to the 13th century. The site on which it was built was originally a Nordic fortress before being taken over by Scottish lords.
Iconic Architecture: The castle boasts a fascinating blend of architectural styles, reflecting different eras. The older parts feature medieval architecture, while the newer sections exhibit a Victorian-Gothic style.
Duke of Hamilton: The castle served as a residence for the Dukes of Hamilton from the 16th century and it remained in their possession until the 20th century.
World War II: During the Second World War, Brodick Castle was used as a convalescent hospital for soldiers.
Brodick Castle Garden: The castle is renowned for its stunning garden, which spans 10 acres. The garden houses both native and exotic plants, including a world-renowned rhododendron collection.
National Trust for Scotland: In 1958, the Duchess of Montrose gifted the castle and its grounds to the National Trust for Scotland, ensuring its preservation as a national treasure.
Things to do nearby
Goatfell Mountain. Isle of Arran KA27 8FD. 2-hour 30-minute walk.
A Corbett (mountain under 3,000 feet) that’s the highest point on the island at 2,870 feet. Easily accessible from a trail that runs behind Brodick Castle.
Brodick. 40-minute walk.
The main village on Arran. It can be accessed from the castle via Fisherman’s Walk. Brodick high street offers shops, cafés and restaurants while Brodick Bay is a popular water sports location.
Fisherman’s Walk (Arran Coastal Way). Isle of Arran KA27 8DE. 15-minute walk.
A boardwalk that runs alongside Brodick Bay. Affords access to the beach. The walk is a short distance from the village centre and is used by cyclists and walkers on their way to the Arran Coastal Way.
Arran Heritage Museum. Isle of Arran KA27 8DP. 5-minute drive.
Heritage museum that explores Arran’s geological and agricultural heritage. It features a replica traditional working farm, gardens and a café.
Brodick Castle Forest. 5-minute walk.
An expansive coniferous forest that sits at the foot of Goatfell, behind the castle. There are several walking routes through the forest in all directions.
Frequently asked questions
Is Brodick Castle free?
Brodick Castle and gardens have paid admission at the entrance. It is possible to purchase separate tickets for the garden and the country park. See the National Trust for Scotland page for the latest prices.
Who lived in Brodick Castle?
Brodick Castle was the seat of power for the Dukes of Hamilton from 1470 to 1958, when it was purchased by the National Trust for Scotland.
Can you stay in Brodick Castle?
It is not possible to stay in Brodick Castle, but there are lodges within the castle grounds that can be rented.
How far is Brodick Castle from the ferry terminal?
The castle is 2.5 miles from the ferry terminal on foot and 3 miles by road. Walking takes 50 minutes and driving takes 9 minutes.