There are few buildings more spectacular than a castle, and Scotland has an abundance of them spread across the country. Some are ruins, others in an impeccable condition, but each is impressive in its own right and well worth a visit.

1. Urquhart Castle

Drumnadrochit, Inverness

01456 450 551

Open every day 9.30am- 8pm

Adults £9, Child £5.40

Starting with one of the greats. Perched on the banks of Loch Ness, the ruins of Urquhart Castle are an imposing sight. The castle has packed a lot of history into 1000 years: playing a key role during the Wars of Independence and being site where St Columba was said to have worked miracles in the 6th century.

2. Kelburn Castle

Kelburn Estate and Country Centre, Fairlie, Largs, Ayrshire

01475 568685

Open every day 10am-6pm

Adults £9, Child/ Concession £7 (until 2nd September)

Instantly memorable for the brightly coloured murals on its walls, Kelburn certainly stands out from the more traditional castles. The original building was constructed as far back as the 13th century, but had its vibrant makeover from a group of Brazilian artists in 2007. Castle aside, there is a waterfall and gorge walk to explore as well as a Secret Forest for children – a complex of paths and raised walkways with surprises at every turn.

3. St Andrews Castle

The Scores, St Andrews, Fife

01334 477196

Open every day 9.30am-5pm

Adult £6, Child aged 5–15 £3.60, Under 5s free

With tourists flocking to the golf courses and beaches, St Andrews castle may be missed by visitors. But to do so would be to miss a real gem of an experience: with an interactive trail that leads you through the visitor centre and outside to the ruins of the castle. You can enjoy great views of the wild North Sea from the towers and then head underground for the real highlight: a network of hidden tunnels built by a prisoner of the castle making a failed escape bid. Great fun for those with a sense of adventure, not for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

4. Floors Castle

Roxburghe Estates Office, Kelso, Roxburghshire

01573 223333

Open every day 11am–5pm

Adult £11.50, Child £6.50

This grand, sprawling castle is not only a visitor attraction but the home of the current Duke of Roxburghe – making it the biggest inhabited castle in Scotland. Visitors can explore the collection of fine art, tapestries, grand rooms and views over the River Tweed and the Cheviot Hills beyond.

5. Eilean Donan

Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, Kyle of Lochalsh, Highlands

01599 555202

Open every day 10am-6pm (9.30am in September)

Adult £7.50, Children £4

Probably the most iconic – and photographed – castle in Scotland, Eilean Donan is instantly recognisable for its lochside island location and the stone bridge that connects it to the mainland. A wonderful place to simply walk around and soak up the history (not to mention the views). It had a staring role in Highlander. All together now - "There can be only one".

6. Dundonald Castle

Winehouse Yett, Dundonald, Ayrshire

01563 851489

Open every day, 9:30am-5:30pm

Adult £5, Child £3, Under 5’s free

It might not be the most spectacular castle, but Dundonald is one of the most underrated attractions in Ayrshire. Nestled on a hilltop above the village, there is a quietly impressive atmosphere among the old stones and the dungeon, with dressing up clothes and guided tours available. And, being less famous than the other castles, means that there are less tourists – leaving you free to soak up the atmosphere without having to dodge selfie sticks and crying children.

7. Dunrobin Castle

Golspie, Sutherland, Highlands

01408 633177

Open every day 11am-4.30pm

Adult £11.50, Child £7

If it’s a fairy-tale castle you are looking for, then look no further. The conical spires and pristine pale stonework of Dunrobin conjure up images of ‘princess’ castles from storybooks and traditional European chateaus, and are a photographer’s dream. If admiring the outside isn’t enough to keep you occupied, then there is an extensive museum to enjoy inside.

8. Linlithgow Palace

Kirkgate, Linlithgow, West Lothian

01506 842896

Adult £6.00, Child £3.60, Under 5s free

Open every day 9.30am- 5.30pm

Set beside the tranquil Linlithgow Loch, this castle has a noble history as the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and a retreat for many royals throughout the centuries. Modern visitors can enjoy views through the oriel windows of the king’s bedchambers, or over the loch to the Forth bridges.

9. Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire

Sauchen, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

01330 833463

Open every day 10am-4pm

Adult £11, Concession £9.50

This five-storey tower house may be recognisable to some as the backdrop from Helen Mirren’s film The Queen, with its romantic sprawling walls giving a real air of grandeur. Visitors can wander through the castle and up into the round tower, with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

10. Stirling Castle

Castle Wynd, Stirling, Stirlingshire

01786 450000

Open every day 9.30am-6pm (until 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays until the end of August)

Adults £15, Child £9

Often upstaged by its rival central belt castle in Edinburgh, Stirling is highly impressive in its own right, and peaks above the city skyline as it sits atop a rocky crag. The castle has a distinguished royal history: Mary Queen of Scots was crowned at Stirling in 1542, and Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle in 1746. And, of course, it played a key role during the Wars of Independence. Today you can meet the costumed characters, enjoy a guided tour and head to the palace vaults where children can dress in period costume and play medieval instruments.

11. Dunvegan Castle

MacLeod Estate, Dunvegan House, Dunvegan, Skye

01470 521206

Open every day 10am-5.30pm

Adult £14, Child £9

Skye isn’t exactly short of beautiful attractions, but a trip to Dunvegan won’t be a waste of your time. It is still owned by the MacLeod clan, and is open to the public from April to October and has five acres of ornate gardens and an extensive castle to explore. On display inside the castle are a number of clan paintings, cups and treasures, as well as a collection of Bonnie Prince Charlie related items – including a lock of his hair.

12. Scone Palace

Scone, Perthshire

01738 552300

Open every day, 9.30am-5pm

Adult £12, Child £8.50

As the ancient crowning place of Scottish kings and queens, history is all around you at Scone Palace. There is a magnificent palace full of artwork and tapestries, as well as beautiful gardens and grounds – complete with a star shaped maze that should keep children (and adults) busy for a while.

13. Dunnottar Castle

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

01569 762173

Open every day 9am-5.30pm

Adult £7, Child £3

The dramatically rugged setting of Dunnottar, perched on a rocky headland above the North Sea, makes it a dream location for any photographer. Liberated from the English by William Wallace in 1287, it was later home to the Earls Marischal, one of the most powerful families in Scotland, but the last Earl died a bachelor in 1778 and his title died with him and the castle fell into ruins. In 1925 the Castle was bought by the Pearson family, and Viscountess Lady Cowdray began a program of restoration to open the castle to the public. Children will enjoy exploring the rock pools at the sea shore.

14. Inveraray Castle

Inveraray, Argyll

01499 302178

Adult £11, Child £8

Open every day 10am-5.45pm

Overlooking beautiful Loch Fyne, the equally beautiful Inveraray Castle is an idyllic setting for a romantic day out, but there is also plenty to do. Young adventurers will love the Armoury Hall, with 1300 pieces of battle memorabilia including muskets, axes and preserved swords from the Battle of Culloden. It is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell, so maybe not one for a proud MacDonald.

15. Drumlanrig Castle

Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway

01848 331555

Open every day, 10am-5pm

Adult £10, Child £6, under 5s free

With 120 rooms, 17 turrets and four towers, this Renaissance castle is not lacking in luxury. It is set in the 120,000-acre Queensberry Estate, with mountain biking, fishing and ranger-led wildlife walks. Back in the castle there are remarkable art collections to admire – including silver, porcelain and French furniture and art (most notably Rembrandt's Old Woman Reading). And for any Outlander fans, you will note with excitement that Drumlanrig was used for filming in the second series.