The HighlandsRegions of Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle Visitor Guide

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most iconic images of Scotland. It’s located on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet in the Scottish Highland area of Kintail. The castle offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and is a must-visit for anyone interested in Scottish history and architecture, or anyone who simply appreciates beautiful places.

Eilean Donan Castle
by Kyle of Lochalsh,
IV40 8DX,
Opening Hours:Sun to Mon 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Admission Price:Adults £10.00
Concessions (Seniors Aged 60+) £9.00
Family (2 Adults + 3 Children Age 5-15) £29.00
Children over 5 £6.00
Under 5s Free
Parking:Free on-site car park
Contact:01599 555202
Facilities:Gift shop, toilets, cafe, partial disabled access
Photos:YouTube Video


Craig Neil at Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle is a stunning 13th-century fortress situated on a small tidal island in the Scottish Highlands. Known for its picturesque setting amidst three sea lochs, it’s one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks. Partially destroyed in a 17th-century uprising, it was authentically restored in the early 20th century and is now one of the country’s top tourist attractions.

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in Scotland. The castle is located on a small tidal island at the point where three sea lochs meet, and it offers one of the most scenic views in Scotland.

The lochs of Duich, Long, and Alsh provide a stunning setting where the easternmost tip of the Isle of Skye fills the horizon while the hills of the Kintail National Scenic Area surround it in all directions. But there’s more to Eilean Donan Castle than picture-perfect photos, and its long and turbulent history is worth investigating just as much as the gorgeous lochs and Highland landscape that surround it.

There’s an array of historic artefacts to view during your visit, showcased in rooms that are virtually unchanged from the time the castle was rebuilt nearly 100 years ago. During your visit, you can explore the rich history of the castle and see period furniture, Jacobite artefacts, and displays about the castle’s history.

After visiting the castle, you can take a drive to nearby locations such as the picturesque village of Plockton which is known for its beautiful views and seal trips, or the Isle of Skye where you can explore famous sites like the Fairy Pools, Old Man of Storr, and Neist Point.

Eilean Donan Castle

The Highlights

1: Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most iconic images of Scotland and is recognised around the world. The castle has a rich history dating back to the 13th century, and it has been involved in many significant events.

2: The castle is situated on a small tidal island at the point where three sea lochs meet, providing stunning views of the surrounding Highlands.

3: Visitors can explore much of the castle, including the Banqueting Hall, the bedrooms, and the castle’s kitchen. The castle also has a gift shop and visitor center where you can learn more about its history.

Visiting Tips

1: Take a walk along the shores of Loch Duich and Loch Long to see more gorgeous scenery. There are dozens more walking trails in the area so I recommend subscribing to OS Maps which has downloadable routes on the OS Maps app.

2: If you’re on a sightseeing tour in the area, I recommend taking a drive to Ullapool which is a quaint village located in another picturesque area.

3: This castle seems to be on the itinerary of every coach tour in Scotland, so get there early to avoid the crowds. September to April are the best months for a quiet visit.

Eilean Donan Castle

Tourist Information

As you walk through each room of the castle, you can’t fail to be impressed by the traces of clan history dotted about in every nook and cranny, and it’s easy to forget that these buildings were only reconstructed from a pile of ruins less than a hundred years ago.

You’re free to wander around the castle at your own pace (there’s no obligatory tour, thankfully) and while it’s not exactly the biggest attraction in Scotland I’d plan at least two to three hours for your visit.

After exploring the castle, you can take a leisurely walk around the island of Eilean Donan and enjoy the panoramic views of the Highland scenery. It’s stunning at any time, but especially so at dusk when you can watch the colours of the setting sun bounce off the loch as it fades into the landscape. It’s spine-tingling stuff.

Tourists are well catered for during their visit with a bright and modern visitor centre on the far side of the entrance bridge which also houses a restaurant along with a gift shop that sells Clan MacRae souvenirs.

If you really fall in love with Eilean Donan then you can even hold your wedding there for the ultimate romantic day, and there are self-catering apartments just a couple of minutes away if you fancy staying nearby for a relaxing break.

Eilean Donan Castle


The first known inhabitants on the island were a Christian order who dedicated a church to the 7th-century Saint Donnan of Eigg, but it wasn’t until the 13th century that the island changed from a site of religious worship to a fortified castle.

Around this time, Scotland was under frequent attacks from Norse expeditions that were moving in from the Western Isles, so the Scottish ruler Alexander II decreed that a castle was necessary at the point where the three great lochs meet in order to defend his realm. The first iteration of Eilean Donan Castle was a sizable fortification with seven towers connected by curtain walls that circled the entire island.

Clans Mackenzie and MacRae primarily used Eilean Donan Castle as a stronghold over time, but the Jacobite uprising in the early 18th century ultimately brought it to an end. At this time, the castle was inhabited by several Jacobite commanders accompanied by a garrison of sympathetic Spanish soldiers, and it was rumoured that an enormous stockpile of gunpowder was secreted away inside the castle walls.

Eilean Donan castle

On hearing this, the British government sent three Royal Navy frigates to bring the Jacobites under control, and after a combination of cannon bombardments and ground-based attacks, the Jacobites and Spanish were forced to retreat. As the English troops moved in, a search was ordered to discover if the supposed stockpile of gunpowder actually existed, which it did, and more than 300 barrels of the explosive were uncovered.

The commanding officer of the British forces gave the order to blow the castle up, and the fortification was completely destroyed in the process.

It was nearly two hundred years before Eilean Donan Castle was resurrected into the building we see today, thanks to the efforts of Lt. Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap (a descendant of the MacRae clan), who had the structure completely rebuilt as family homes using stones from the original fortification. As the castle was rebuilt, the iconic bridge was also added along with a central keep which served as the MacRae family home.

Eilean Donan

Things to Do

Castle Exploration: Eilean Donan Castle is the quintessential Scottish fortress. Immerse yourself in its history from the grandeur of the Banqueting Hall to the stunning views over Loch Duich from the courtyard.

Photography: The castle’s unique location on an island overlooking the three lochs provides stunning panoramic views. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional photographer, a visit to Eilean Donan Castle offers a perfect opportunity for unforgettable photos.

Walking Routes: Surrounding the castle are a number of trails that are perfect for a quiet walk such as Carr Brae Road (the next road inland from the A87) which is the location of a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the castle. Exploring the area on foot is the perfect way to appreciate the Scottish Highlands’ natural beauty.

Guided Tours: Several guided bus tours take tourists around the Highlands, and almost all of them make a stop at Eilean Donan Castle. If you’d like to visit this historic attraction on a tour led by an expert, take a look at the Get Your Guide website to make a booking.

Visitor Centre: Don’t leave without visiting the gift shop where you’ll find a wide variety of Scottish souvenirs, from clan memorabilia to traditional crafts. There’s also a very good restaurant in the centre which serves big portions of hearty traditional Scottish dishes.

Eilean Donan castle

Things to Do Nearby

Loch Duich Viewpoint. Kyle IV40 8HA. 6-minute drive.
An elevated single-track road that overlooks Eilean Donan Castle and Loch Duich. The road runs alongside the A87 for several miles and offers some of the best views in the region. Suitable for walking as there are grass verges to avoid passing cars.

Balmacara Estate. Kyle IV40 8DN. 9-minute drive.
A Highland crofting estate with over 17 miles of walking trails. The estate is rich with moorland, heather-covered hills, lochs and woodland. Balmacara village has a selection of local shops and a café.

Kyle of Lochalsh. 12-minute drive.
A historic village on the Lochalsh Peninsula close to the Skye Bridge that joins the mainland to the Isle of Skye. The village is easily accessed via the A87. It is also the starting point for the Kyle Line which is one of the highest-rated railway journeys in the world.

Loch Long. 2-minute walk.
A sheltered and relatively shallow sea loch that extends from the village of Dornie into the heart of the Highlands. A popular way to explore the loch is by following a single-track road that runs alongside it. The road is accessed from the A87 a few miles west of Eilean Donan.

Loch Duich. 2-minute walk.
Loch Duich is a Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area that extends east from Eilean Donan. The loch is easily visited from several points off the A87 on its northern side while the southern side has a much quieter single-track road that closely follows the shoreline its entire length. Look for the Old Military Road where the A87 crosses the River Shiel at the far eastern edge of the loch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Eilean Donan Castle worth visiting?

Eilean Donan Castle is definitely worth visiting as it offers visitors the chance to experience many of the highlights of a trip to Scotland – a historic castle, picturesque lochs, and dramatic mountain scenery.

Eilean Donan is also located close to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge, so a visit to the castle is a must-do for anyone on their way to Skye.

What is Eilean Donan Castle famous for?

Eilean Donan Castle is famous for its stunning location at the meeting point of lochs Long, Alsh and Duich. The castle is widely acknowledged as being one of the most picturesque and photographed places in Scotland

What has been filmed at Eilean Donan Castle?

Highlander (1986), The World is Not Enough (1999), The Princess Switch 3 (2021), Entrapment (1999), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Rob Roy (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Mio in the Land of Faraway (1987), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), Loch Ness (1996).

Who owns Eilean Donan Castle?

Eilean Donan Castle is owned and managed by the Conchra Charitable Trust which aims to maintain and preserve the castle to allow continued public access.

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.