No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to one of its magnificent castles, and Balmoral Castle - set on the banks of the River Dee - is one of the best known and most prestigious. The castle, with its fairytale turrets, is set on 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) of spectacular grounds, and the Royal Family has preserved the surrounding wildlife, buildings and scenery since it was bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1852. A visit to Balmoral includes access to the gardens, some exhibitions, the ballroom (the largest room in the castle) and the grounds, but the Queen's Rooms are out of bounds. Many beautiful works of art and royal treasures are on display despite the limited access. The Balmoral Castle and its estate are set within the Cairngorms National Park and offer breathtaking vistas of the Highlands. An audio guide in English, German, French and Italian is included in the entrance fee. It is recommended that visitors allow at least one and a half hours for a visit to Balmoral, and visitors are advised that entry will not be allowed after 4.30pm. Visitors can also enjoy a Castle tour, which takes in other impressive castles such as Crathes Castle and neighbouring Craigievar Castle.
Address: Ballater, Aberdeenshire
Telephone: (0)1339 742 534
Opening times: Open daily between 1 April and 31 July, from 10am to 5pm. Some guided tours are now available in November and December.
Admission: £10 (adults), £5 (children aged 5 - 16), £9 (seniors/students).