Urquhart Castle – Scotland Historic Castle


urquhart castle

What Is Urquhart Castle?

On the shores of the beautiful Loch Ness stands the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Urquhart Castle, also known as Urquhart of Urquhart and St. Andrews, is a medieval castle near the village of Invermoriston in the Scottish Highlands.

With a long and fascinating history, and the most amazing views over Loch Ness, this castle is a must visit spot on an NC500 road trip. Keep reading to find out more about the very popular Urquhart Castle!

Does Urquhart Castle Have a Historic Backstory?

Urquhart Castle has a long history dating back over 1000 years back to the 13th century. Urquhart Castle is a ruin of a stronghold near the village of Drumnadrochit in the Highlands of Scotland. The castle was built by Clan Fraser in the 13th century and held for over 100 years, until it was captured by Scottish clansmen under Sir Robert Stewart, who were supporters of King Edward I.

Urquhart became property of Clan Grant and was renovated in 1571. The castle’s most famous feature is its sixteenth-century battlements, which stand on a headland above Loch Ness. The ruins are open to visitors and have been designated as one of Scotland’s Historic Sites and Monuments.

urquhart castle
Urquhart Castle

What is Urquhart Castle famous for?

Urquhart Castle is situated on the banks of Loch Ness and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland. The castle has been converted into a medieval fortress and attracts tourists from all over the globe. The castle was built by King David I in 1130, mainly because it was a safe place to stay when travelling through Scotland.

It is currently open to members of the public who are interested in seeing what life would have been like back then, with displays that showcase weapons, armour and jewellery from the 13th century.

It also offers visitors an insight into its history with interactive displays about King David I’s rule and more modern times during World War II when it became an airfield for RAF fighters defending Britain against Nazi Germany’s bombing raids.

Where Is Urquhart Castle Located?

Urquhart Castle is located on the banks of the River Ness in Scotland. The castle sits at the end of a pier, and is open to visitors from March until November.

The castle grounds are open all year-round, but you have to go through a ticket booth for entry into the castle itself.

Is There Accessible Parking Available When Visiting Urquhart Castle?

Yes, there are accessible bays in the onsite car park.

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Urquhart Castle?

One of the best times to visit this castle is between April and October. We would also recommend visiting during off-peak times if you can, as it does get very busy. Early in the morning or later on in the afternoon may be best to beat the crowds.

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What Should I Pack If I Plan on Visiting Urquhart Castle?

Depending on the time of year you visit, you will want to pack according to the weather, so if you are visiting in winter then you will want to pack warm clothing as it gets very very cold in Scotland in winter.

No matter the time of year you visit, there’s always a high chance of rain in Scotland and the weather can change very quickly and unexpectedly so waterproof clothing is always a good idea. You will want to pack a camera as we’re sure you will be wanting to take lots of photos.

You could pack your own snacks and drinks as there are picnic benches on the grounds of the castle but there is also a café onsite too.

How To Incorporate Urquhart Castle into Your North Coast 500 Route?

Urquhart Castle is only around 30 minutes from the official start point of the NC500 in Inverness, so if you have the time, it is very easy to incorporate into your NC500 route.

If you’d like to know more about van life in Scotland, we have a whole bunch of other blog posts that you can check out here – Scotland – Three As A Bird – Van Life Travels

Why was Urquhart Castle destroyed?

Urquhart Castle was destroyed because it was of no use to the clan. It had been diminished as a military stronghold and its location made it difficult to defend. The castle had also become too expensive to maintain, costing over £1,000 a year which is equivalent to nearly $25 million today.

The castle was built in 1230 by William Comyn, Earl of Buchan but there have been fortifications on the site since the Bronze Age over 3,000 years ago.


What was filmed at Urquhart Castle?

It has been used as a location for many television shows and movies over time including Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Highlander, and Titanic.

The building has been extensively photographed for use by artists including JMW Turner who painted “A view on Loch Ness from Urquart’s Castle” there in 1831, as well as photographers like David Octavius Hill who shot an extensive series of photographs at Urquhart between 1844-1848 that constitute some of his most important work.

Final Thoughts

Urquhart Castle is a very important and historical place in Scotland, and with its perfect views over Loch Ness (giving you a great chance to spot Nessy!) we really do recommend a visit to this castle.

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