Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most visited attractions in the Scottish highlands. Found on an island, this waterfront castle near the village of Dornie was established way back in the early 1200s, and thanks to restorations in the 1900s, it looks as if it has had little trouble standing the test of time. In fact, you might find it hard to believe that the beautiful stone structure was mostly demolished during a Jacobite uprising in 1719. After lingering in a state of ruin for approximately 200 years, one Colonel MacRae came to the rescue with a plan for restoration plan, and today, Eilean Donan Castle is among the most picturesque castles in the entire UK.
The history of Eilean Donan Castle starts in the early thirteenth century. In the beginning, the structure served as a defense against Vikings, and due to various reasons, it has been built and rebuilt on more than one occasion. The Clan Macrae became Constables of the Castle in and around 1511, and this family owns and operates the structure today. Colonel MacRae began his ultimate restoration project in 1919, and the work didn't finish until 1932. Thankfully for visitors, the restoration project for Eilean Donan Castle included the addition of a lovely arched bridge, the likes of which allows for easier access.
Many people consider Eilean Donan Castle to be the most beautiful of all the Scottish castles. The lake and mountain setting only enhances the overall beauty of the stone structure, and you might be happy to know that tours are relatively easy to arrange. You can book a bus tour for the castle that embarks from such cities as Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness, for example. Those who are not arriving on a bus tour can keep the onsite guides in mind. These guides can show you around the site and provide insightful answers for any questions that might arise.
Since Eilean Donan Castle is found on the main tourist route to the Isle of Skye, it is easy to find. You can actually walk to the site from the nearby village of Dornie, and for those who haven't arranged a tour in advance, tickets can be purchased at the visitor center. In addition to a ticket office, the facilities that can be found at the castle's visitor center include a coffee shop and a gift shop that sells kilts and other interesting souvenirs. Eilean Donan Castle is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 1 to October 31, and last admission is at 5 p.m. During the peak visitor months of July and August, the castle opens one hour earlier in the morning. Nearby Dornie has some hotels to choose from, not to mention some pubs, and there is a small cottage that is available for rent on the castle grounds if that should suit your fancy.
As a side note, you might treat yourself to a Eilean Donan Castle visit in late October. Not only will the castle likely be free of crowds during this slower tourist period. It might also be covered in snow, and an Eilean Donan Castle snow scene is quite romantic. Also worth considering, at least for couples who are planning on tying the knot in Scotland, are the Eilean Donan Castle wedding possibilities. It is actually possible to rent the castle out for wedding ceremonies, as is true of other Scottish castles, such as Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye.