Inveraray Castle in Argyll & Bute is situated on the shore of Loch Fyne in western Scotland, where it has been the home of the Dukes of Argyll since the 18th century. The castle is open to the public for self-guided tours, and visitors are welcome to walk around the beautiful gardens during their visit. Discover this spectacular castle in this complete guide, which includes an overview and helpful visiting advice.
|Opening Hours:||1st April - 31st October
Thursday - Monday 10:00 - 17:00
|Admission Price:||Castle and Gardens:
Senior (60+) £12.50
Child (5-15) £10.50
Child (U-5) Free
Family (2 Adults & 3 Children) £45.00
Private Tour Guide £40.00
|Parking:||Free car park on-site for ticket holders|
|Facilities:||Toilets, cafe, gift shop, walking routes, partial disabled access, guided tours|
Inveraray Castle, located in Argyll, is an iconic Gothic Revival building. Home to the Duke of Argyll, it boasts a stunning interior with a vast collection of historical artefacts. Its beautiful gardens and scenic views of Loch Fyne make it a popular tourist attraction for travellers from across the globe.
The shores of the longest sea loch in Scotland, Loch Fyne, have served as the ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell, since the 18th century.
Inveraray Castle is one of the prettiest castles in Scotland, and it has been a focal point of the area since the first foundation stone was laid in 1746. The castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Argyll, with visitors flocking to see its conical roofs, impressive weapons collection, and 16 acres of beautifully manicured gardens.
This is one of the better privately-owned tourist attractions in this part of Scotland 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 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 and you’ll find it a much less enjoyable experience.
Even so, a visit to Inveraray Castle really is a great day out as it offers something for all ages. Children will have fun exploring the expansive gardens and adults will enjoy wandering through the ornate rooms. This castle is definitely an attraction to add to your itinerary if you’re in the area.
1: Inveraray Castle is a magnificent example of Gothic Revival architecture. Built in the 18th century, it showcases a unique blend of baroque, palladian, and Gothic styles. One of its main highlights is the Armoury Hall, which houses the highest ceiling in Scotland. The rest of the castle is just as impressive with its lavishly decorated State Dining Room, Tapestry Drawing Room, and the Victorian Room.
2: The castle is home to Clan Campbell and is steeped in history. Visitors can explore the clan’s past, get to know the powerful Dukes of Argyll, and learn about the castle’s role in significant historical events, such as the Jacobite uprising. The castle also has a rich collection of historical artifacts including antique furniture, artwork, and weapons.
3: The castle is set in a 16-acre garden, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape which includes Loch Fyne and the Beinn Lagan and Beinn Lochain mountains. Visitors can also enjoy a walk through the woodland, visit the ornamental garden, or picnic by the loch. The view from the castle’s watchtower is particularly breathtaking.
1: Like many popular tourist destinations, Inveraray Castle can get quite busy, especially during the summer months. To ensure you get the most out of your visit, it’s advisable to book your tickets online in advance which will save you time on the day and guarantee your entry.
2: The weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket, even in the summer. If you’re interested in exploring the castle grounds and gardens, comfortable walking shoes are a must, especially if you climb Dun na Cuaiche.
3: Inveraray Castle is packed with history. Ensure you take your time to explore not only the castle itself but also the surrounding estate. If you rush, you might miss the little details that make this place so special. Consider taking a guided tour if you want to learn more about the castle’s long history.
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 21 metres, and the State Dining Room with its collection of elaborate paintings and the enormous dining table with its outstanding collection of silverware.
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 the 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 conifer woodlands, which offer 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 the kilns go all the way up to the 248-metre summit of Dun na Cuaiche, the hill that looms over the castle to the north. The views from the top 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 or 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 – but watch out for the seagulls or they’ll nab them before your first bite. I’m telling you that from first-hand experience…
You’ll probably spend most of the day just visiting the castle and village, but if you’re interested in exploring more of the area, I recommend driving 16 miles north on the A819 to visit St. Conan’s Kirk, followed by the Hollow Mountain Experience which is an underground power station beneath Ben Cruachan Mountain.
Although there has been a castle on the shores of Loch Fyne since the 1400s, the building as it is today was the result of a design 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 and modifications.
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.
Things to Do
Embark on a Historical Tour: Take a deep dive into the history of the Clan Campbell and the Dukes of Argyll. Wander through the lavishly decorated Dining Room, Tapestries Drawing Room, and the Armoury Hall which houses an impressive collection of weaponry.
Explore the Castle Gardens: Spanning 16 acres, the castle’s gardens are just as interesting as the castle is. Delight in the vibrant blooms, tranquil woodland walks, and towering rhododendrons. The gardens are also home to a variety of wildlife, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
Discover Clan Campbell: Gain an insight into one of Scotland’s largest clans and learn about the clan’s origins, its role in Scottish history, and its connection to Inveraray Castle. Artefacts, photographs, and personal items bring the stories of clansmen to life, making it a captivating journey for history buffs.
Enjoy a Traditional Scottish Afternoon Tea: After exploring the castle, unwind with a traditional Scottish afternoon tea in the castle’s tearoom. Savour a selection of sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and a variety of cakes and pastries, all accompanied by your choice of tea or coffee.
See a Ghost: For the more adventurous, the nearby Inveraray Jail (said to be one of Scotland’s most haunted buildings) offers ghost hunts. The jail is rumoured to be haunted by several spirits who roam the courthouse and the old and new prisons.
Things to Do Nearby
Inveraray. 10-minute walk.
An attractive town near Inveraray Castle that sits on the banks of Loch Fyne. In addition to tourist attractions like the town jail, Inveraray allows visitors to explore the loch via footpaths that follow the shoreline in both directions. There are cafés and restaurants in the town centre.
Inveraray Jail. Church Square, Inveraray, PA32 8TX 13-minute walk.
A restored 19th-century jail that features a collection of original artefacts from the jail’s history along with a restored courthouse and prison buildings Costumed ‘prisoners’ wait in the courtyard jail to answer any questions you might have about prison life in Victorian times.
Loch Fyne. 10-minute walk.
A stunning sea loch that extends 40 miles inland from the Sound of Bute. The loch is renowned for its clean water and the Loch Fyne oysters that are sold all over Scotland. There is a speciality oyster bar at the tip of the loch near Clachan.
Crarae Garden. Inveraray PA32 8YA. 17-minute drive.
A National Trust Scotland woodland garden that has one of Britain’s finest displays of Himalayan plants. There are year-round blooms but the centrepiece of the garden is a waterfall that pours in from the Crarae Burn.
Dun na Cuaiche Watchtower. Inveraray PA32 8XF. 25-minute walk.
A steep yet rewarding hilltop walk that offers stunning views across Inveraray and the surrounding countryside The hill is reached via a rough path through woodland from Inveraray Castle. The watchtower at the top of the hill is closed to the public.
Frequently Asked Questions
How old is Inveraray Castle?
Inveraray Castle is 278 years old. Building works began on the present Inveraray Castle in 1743.
Does anyone live in Inveraray Castle?
The Duke and Duchess of Argyll and their family live in Inveraray Castle.
What was filmed at Inveraray Castle?
In recent years, Inveraray Castle has gained fame as a filming location for the TV series Downton Abbey, where it portrayed Duneagle Castle – the family home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Flintshire.
Is Inveraray Castle worth visiting?
Inveraray Castle is definitely worth visiting. The castle has been awarded 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor with over 2,000 reviews and is rated #2 of 16 things to do in Inveraray.
Visitors can explore the beautiful fairytale castle during a tour as well as the extensive grounds, which cover 180 hectares.