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Visiting Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Just three miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland’s city centre is the capital city’s lesser known castle, Craigmillar Castle. This castle is best known for its association with Mary Queen of Scots.

Craigmillar Castle History

Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

The core of Craigmillar Castle, its four story tower house, was built in the late 1300’s. The courtyard wall was built around the castle in the 1400’s, and the west range was rebuilt as a family residence for the Gilmour family in the 1660’s.

The castle’s owner, Sir Simon Preston, was a loyal supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, and she stayed at the castle in 1566. While here, many of Mary’s noblemen conspired to “remove” Mary’s unpopular husband, an agreement known as the “Craigmillar Bond”.

In 1660, Sir John Gilmour bought the castle and remodeled it to have more modern accommodation. By the 18th century, the family had left the castle for their other estate, and the castle fell into disrepair by 1775.

Touring Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Tours of the castle are self-guided only, which is fine because you can explore at your own pace.

At the castle admissions, the friendly staff encourages you to try all the doors you see — you can explore behind any unlocked door. The free reign you have makes this an extremely fun castle to explore.

As you walk up to the castle, the castle cat may greet you; this brown and orange beauty wanders the castle fields. Craigmillar’s tower house is one of the oldest in Scotland, and you are free to climb it and walk along the castle walls, taking in the view of Edinburgh in the distance.

On the first floor, you’ll find the castle kitchen, old dovecot, and bedchambers. Up one level, you can see the great hall, the castle wall walk, and another kitchen. On the third floor, you can explore the great hall minstrels’ gallery and more bedchambers. The fourth floor gives you access to the roof and panoramic views of Edinburgh.

Getting to Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct bus that will drop you off right by the castle; you’ll have to do a little walking. From Old Town, North Bridge, take bus number 7, 8, 33, or 49 to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, RH Sick Children. From there, you’ll walk on a paved path that runs alongside Craigmillar Castle Road until you reach a crosswalk; then, turn left and cut through the field to get to the ticket office.

Another option is to take bus number 14 or 30 from Old Town, North Bridge to Craigmillar Castle Gardens. From there, walk up Craigmillar Castle Road until you find the entrance to Craigmillar Castle Park. Follow the paved path until you can cut through the field to get to the ticket office.

Since both bus options take about 30-40 minutes, I’d suggest taking a cab or a car if you can, which will only take you 10 minutes. The staff at the ticket office can call a cab for you when you leave if you need it.

Visiting Craigmillar Castle

Mary Queen of Scots Bear at Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

The castle is open daily from April 1 to September 30 from 10 a.m. — 5:30 p.m. (last entry 4:15 p.m.) and October 1 to March 31 from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. (last entry 3:15 p.m.).

Admission costs £7.50 for adults, £6 for seniors 65+ and unemployed, and £4.50 for children ages 7-15.

Make sure you set out plenty of time to explore the grounds. The castle has so many rooms, nooks, and crannies, that we thought we would get lost in there!

Castle Count: 28

You can make the trip to Craigmillar Castle easily in conjunction with a trip to Edinburgh Castle. You can read about the Edinburgh travel itinerary I put together here: 24 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Ready to visit Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh, England? Plan your trip with these tips.



Visiting Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

Have you visited Edinburgh, Scotland? Tell me about your visit in the comments!

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  1. Scotland was my plan for this summer. Saved your post for future planning ❤️

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