Purchased by Queen Victoria in 1852, Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire has been the Scottish home of the British Royal Family ever since. The Queen and her family usually spend their summer on the estate, which opens its grounds, gardens and Castle Ballroom to the public from April to July each year.
Built in 1855, the current Balmoral Castle was designed by Prince Albert and Aberdeen architect William Smith for Queen Victoria. The castle’s largest room, the Castle Ballroom, is the only one that opens to the public, and is used as an exhibition space. It is still used for functions when the Royal Family are in residence, although other rooms in the castle are the Queen’s private rooms and cannot be viewed.
The gardens were developed under the initial supervision of Prince Albert and have since been expanded by successive members of the Royal Family. Explore the formal gardens when Balmoral Castle is open and you’ll find an array of Victorian glasshouses containing potted plants from all over the world. Garden Cottage, once used by Queen Victoria as a refuge to write her diaries and to deal with State correspondence, stands in the middle of the gardens, and its interior has changed little since the Victorian era.
Balmoral Castle tours are available when the estate is open to the public, with audio devices guiding you through the grounds, gardens and exhibitions, detailing the everyday workings of the Scottish estate. The fascinating insights are available in a range of languages, including in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Spanish.
Getting to Balmoral Castle
Located mid-way between Ballater and Braemer, Balmoral Castle is best reached by car from the A93. The nearest airport and railway station are both in Aberdeen, approximately 50 miles away. Alternatively, you can take the 201 or 203 bus route from Aberdeen to Crathie, the stop for Balmoral Castle.
Found in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, Balmoral provides a gateway to nature and adventure. Alongside long mountainous trails and a wealth of wetlands, moorland and forest, the park is home to an array of water sports, snow sports and cycling routes, as well as Britain’s first permanent bridge-based bungee jump at Killiecrankie.
Click here for Balmoral Castle opening times