Downton Abbey is proving a hit at the pictures and Scotland has plenty of stately homes that are open for the public to visit to continue the nostalgia. But with so many grand buildings to choose from, how can you distinguish between the beautiful and the boring? Alex Burns narrowed it down to 10 of the best.

1. Hopetoun House, Edinburgh

South Queensferry, Edinburgh

0131 331 2451

Open every day, 10.30am-5pm, until 29th September

Adult £10.50, child £5.50, concession £9

Affectionately nicknamed the Scottish Versailles, the influence of European architecture is plain to see in this spectacular stately home. Despite being home to the Marquess of Linlithgow and his family, most of the 6500-acre Hopetoun estate is open for the public to explore, with plenty of quiet corners where you can wander off the beaten track. The house itself – which is one of the biggest in Scotland – has an impressive collection of period furniture, paintings, tapestries and clocks. But for a real treat head to its rooftop viewing platform, where you can look out over the estate below and feel like the king (or queen) of the castle.

2. Mount Stuart House, Bute

Mount Stuart, Bute, Argyll and Bute

01700 503877

Adult £13, child £7.50, concession £11

Open every day, guided tours at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm

The sprawling, neo-Gothic Mount Stuart House is one of the most impressive buildings in the west of Scotland. The ancestral home of the Marquess of Bute, the distinctive red sandstone structure that exists today was mainly built in the late 1800s, after the previous building was severely damaged by fire. It proved cutting edge for its time, with visitors able to admire its Victorian passenger lift, early telephone system and what is believed to be the world’s first domestic heated swimming pool.

3. Callendar House, Falkirk

Callendar Park, Falkirk

01324 503770

Open every day except Tuesday, 10am-5pm

Free entry

Many places across Scotland have benefitted from the TV phenomenon that is Outlander. The show, which centres around a nurse sent back in time to 18th century Scotland, has provided a tourism boost across various locations where filming took place – including Falkirk’s Callendar House. It was the setting of a notable decapitation scene and also plays host to the home of the Duke of Sandringham, with its Georgian kitchen frequently featured. Visitors to the house can explore the kitchen for themselves – complete with staff in costume who can give you samples of early-19th century food – as well as the various rooms and grounds. They also host special exhibitions with fancy dress for children.

4. Haddo House, Aberdeenshire

Haddo House & Country Park, Methlick, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

01651 851041

Tours run Monday–Friday, 12pm-2pm and Saturday-Sunday 11.30am-3.30pm

Adult £12, concession £10

Designed by William Adam in 1732, Haddo House was home to the Gordon family for over 400 years before being taken over by Aberdeenshire Council. You can take a tour with one of the knowledgeable guides, who will tell you all about its history, most notably when Queen Victoria stayed in 1857. There is plenty of artwork to admire inside the house itself, but be sure to leave time to explore the outside too. Haddo is surrounded by an immaculate terrace garden that leads into the adjoining country park: where you can visit birdwatching hides, a duck pond and an adventure playground.

5. Abbotsford House, Melrose

Abbotsford, Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders

01896 752043

Open every day, 10am-5pm

Adult £11.20, child £5, concession £10.20

Famous for being the home of Walter Scott, Abbotsford House is one of the Borders’ architectural gems. Scott took possession of the land in 1811 and added various extensions to the building as money from his writing began to flow in. Today, visitors can explore the close connection between the house and Scott’s creative visions, with an audio tour of the building narrated by an actor playing the esteemed writer. After touring the house itself, be sure to venture out to the lovely Regency gardens – which can also be explored via a tour – where you can admire the flowers and gothic greenhouse. There’s also paths that lead along the banks of the Tweed.

6. Hill of Tarvit Mansion, Cupar

Wemysshall Road, Cupar, Fife

01334 653127

Open Saturday-Tuesday, 11am-4pm

Adult £10.50, concession £7.50

There is plenty to keep you busy at the Hill of Tarvit Mansion: with a selection of period games, a 9-hole golf course and a 90-minute guided tour all available for visitors. The hickory golf course was added by the owner Frederick Sharp when he took the house over at the turn of the 20th century, when he also decided to landscape the grounds and add a sunken rose garden. After you finish admiring his handiwork you can try your hand at lawn games or croquet, with billiards or snooker also on offer on the full-sized original table in the house. Paintings, porcelain and other artworks are also worth a look.

7. Hill House, Helensburgh

The Hill House, 8 Upper Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute

01436 673900

Open every day, 10am-5pm

Adult £12.50, child £5.50

In commissioning Charles Rennie Mackintosh to design almost everything within his Argyll home, book publisher Walter Blackie ended up creating a shrine to the very best of Art Nouveau. The Hill House was constructed at the turn of the 20th century – but its external structure has not lasted, with the building now crumbling under weather damage. Rather than close it to the public during the nearly ten-year process of strengthening the walls, the National Trust decided to construct a cage around the entirety of the building, offering visitors the chance to walk high above the house and enjoy views they never would have seen before. Make the most of this unique experience while you can.

8. Blair Castle, Perthshire

Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, Perthshire

01796 481207

Open every day, 9.30am-5.30pm (last admission for a tour is 4.30pm)

Adult £13, child £8.30, concession £11.25

The white turrets of Blair Castle create a wonderful juxtaposition with the Perthshire trees that surround them – offering the perfect setting for any amateur photographers. Inside there is also plenty to see, with 30 rooms full of period furnishings, family portraits and landscape paintings. Of particular note is the Victorian ballroom, decorated with 175 pairs of antlers, which was used during the visit of Queen Victoria in 1844. Fans of ITV drama Victoria might remember the episode of the show that documented this visit, and should enjoy seeing spots in the castle where the filming took place.

9. Dumfries House, Ayrshire

Cumnock, Ayrshire

01290 425 959

Open Sunday-Friday inclusive, first tour normally 10.45am, last tour normally 3.30pm. Generally open every Saturday for House Tours at 10.45am and 12pm.

Prices vary depending on chosen tour, entry to the estate is free

It might be one of the lesser known stately homes in the country, but Dumfries House is well worth a mention. Its interior – which has recently been restored – can be visited as part of a guided tour, but its immaculately landscaped grounds are free for the public to access from dawn to dusk. The most notable part of Dumfries House is probably its collection of 18th-century Thomas Chippendale furniture, which represents around 10% of his surviving work. But for those a little less interested in fine furnishings, Dumfries House regularly hosts events like cookery classes, arts and crafts and guided walks around its estate.

10. Pollok House, Glasgow

Pollok Country Park, 2060 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow

0141 616 6410

Open every day, 10am-5pm

Adult £7.50, concession £5.50

The Burrell Collection has long been the star attraction of Glasgow’s Pollok Park. But while it is currently closed for a major refurbishment, it is the turn of Pollok House to charm visitors. Nestled in the middle of this expansive country park (voted Europe’s best back in 2008) Pollok House has been the home of the Maxwell family since 1752. As well as admiring their collection of Spanish artwork and Edwardian furnishings, one of the most interesting aspects of Pollok House is found by paying a visit to the extensive servants’ quarters in the basement. A team of 48 household members of staff looked after just 3 members of the family – offering a real insight into the wealth disparity of Edwardian society.