Last updated on August 26th, 2020
Inveraray Castle in Argyll
Inveraray Castle in Argyll is situated on the shore of Loch Fyne in western Scotland and has been the home of the Dukes of Argyll since the 18th-century.
Category: Castle, Forest or woodland, Gardens
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 9 out of 10
About Inveraray Castle
The shores of the longest sea loch in Scotland, Loch Fyne, have served as the ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll, chiefs of Clan Campbell, since the 18th-century. It’s here that Inveraray Castle, possibly the prettiest castle in Scotland, has been a focal point of the area since the very first foundation stone was laid in 1746.
This castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Argyll with visitors flocking to see its famous conical roofs, impressive weapons collection and beautifully manicured 16-acre gardens.
This is one of the better privately-owned tourist attractions in this part of Scotland and I have to say I’ve had a really enjoyable visit each time I’ve been and I highly recommend it whether you’re visiting as a couple, a family, or you’re a solo traveller.
The castle is impressive but I think the grounds are even better as they’re absolutely enormous. Plus you can climb a nearby hill that offers stunning views across Loch Fyne – as long as the weather holds out of course.
Go for a hike when Scotland’s often-miserable weather has closed in (as I did on a recent visit) and you’ll find it a much less enjoyable experience.
Even so, a visit to Inveraray Castle really is a great day out and it offers something for all ages. Children will have loads of fun exploring the expansive gardens and mums and dad will enjoy wandering through the ornate rooms. This castle is definitely an attraction to add to your itinerary if you’re in the area.
Things to do at Inveraray Castle
As you walk around the historic attraction you’ll get a real sense of the history that surrounds Inveraray Castle, and some of the rooms have to be seen to be believed.
Highlights include the Armoury Hall which has the highest ceiling of any building in Scotland at an incredible 21m and the State Dining Room with its collection of elaborate paintings and enormous dining table with its outstanding collection of silverware.
But even though the castle is filled with extravagances from a bygone age it’s interesting to note that the Duke of Argyll and his family still live in their own private quarters in one of the wings. I can only imagine how much it must cost them to keep the place warm in winter.
Easily rivalling the impressive rooms are the immaculately manicured grounds, and you’re unlikely to see such stunning landscaped gardens anywhere else in Scotland.
Only slightly further away are the conifer woodlands which offer some very peaceful walks and nearby you’ll find the remains of kilns where limestone was processed over a hundred years ago.
The tracks leading out from here go all the way up to the 248-metre high summit of Dun na Cuaiche, the hill which can be seen for miles around.
The views from up there are stunning and with the castle clearly visible below and the town of Inveraray and Loch Fyne just behind it you have a photo opportunity you won’t soon forget.
The castle is an easy drive/walk to the centre of Inveraray village so after a visit you can always stop off and explore the wee harbour and walk along the side of Loch Fyne.
But here’s a top tip – before you go for a walk along the loch grab a bag of chips from the chippy near the harbour which are really, really good – but watch out for the seagulls or they’ll nab them before your first bite. I’m telling you that from painful experience.
You’ll probably spend most of the day visiting the castle and village but if you’re intending to explore the area I recommend you drive 16 miles north on the A819 to visit St. Conan’s Kirk and the Hollow Mountain Experience, which is an underground power station beneath Ben Cruachan mountain.
The history of Inveraray Castle
There’s been a castle standing on the shores of Loch Fyne since the 1400s, although the building that we can see today started life as an idea that was brought to life by the 3rd Duke of Argyle in the 1700s.
In 1877 a devastating fire blazed through Inveraray Castle which led to the third floor and the conical roofs being added during repairs, with another catastrophic fire in 1975 leading to further renovations.
The final gothic-style building that we see today has become world-famous for its architecture and you might recognise it from its appearance in the popular TV series Downton Abbey where it portrayed Duneagle Castle.
Discover other historic fortifications with my Guide to the Best Castles in Scotland.
- The castle is stunning on the outside as well as the inside and the castle grounds are lovely in summer. It’s well worth the entrance fee although it’s a bit pricey for a family.
- You’ll find a nice walk to the rear of the castle but you can easily take a diversion and head to the banks of Loch Fyne instead. There’s a lot to see and do in the area surrounding Inveraray Castle.
- Inveraray village is just a few minutes walk away and features a few places to eat which serve delicious Loch Fyne oysters.
- I recommend you head to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar just up the road and grab a plate of their oysters. They also sell oysters to take home.
- Take a walk up Dun na Cuaiche hill while you’re at Inveraray Castle. I enjoyed the walk there just as much as exploring the castle.
- The castle tearoom has a really good selection of home-baked food so consider grabbing your lunch there if oysters and fish and chips from the village don’t float your boat.
Photos and video
Address and map
From the village of Inveraray on Loch Fyne follow the tourist signs to the castle.
Tickets and opening times
30th March – 31st October: Open Monday to Sunday, 10:00 – 17:45 (Last admission 17:00).
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Disabled access, Easy-access paths, Pushchair access, Stairs
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Picnic area, Restaurant or cafe, Snacks, Toilets