Dunrobin Castle: A Complete Guide

Find out all you need to know including what to do, where to stay, where to eat and how to get to Dunrobin Castle, North Scotland.

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Dunrobin Castle is the largest historical home in the northern Highlands with 189 rooms. It’s a stately place with a firmly Scottish feel and touches of French inspiration in the architecture and gardens.

Where is Dunrobin Castle
The castle is on the north east coast of Scotland in the historical county of Sutherland. It is just under 55 miles - around 1-1.5 hours' drive - north of Inverness and just over 200 miles north of Edinburgh.

It is situated nearly 2 miles north of Golspie, just off the A9 which forms part of the North Coast 500, a 500-mile coastal driving route around the Northern Highlands of Scotland. It overlooks the coastline of the Moray Firth. 

Dunrobin Castle - Rear View from Driveway

Who owns Dunrobin Castle
The castle is privately owned by the Countess of Sutherland, and has belonged to the Sutherlands, an important Scottish family, for several centuries. The castle is not part of the National Trust for Scotland.

When is Dunrobin Castle open
It is open from April to October annually. See current opening times.

However outside of the seasonal opening above, the driveway to the castle is open from the road and it is possible to view the exterior of the castle from the drive, as well as the woodland.

The castle gardens are not visible from the driveway as these are located on the front or coastal side of the castle. Visitors can follow a coastal footpath on foot to the side of the castle and view (but not enter) the walled castle gardens from the coastline.

What to do at Dunrobin Castle
Entry to the castle is at a single rate which includes self-guided entry to the castle, the gardens, the falconry displays in the castle gardens and the museum which is also located in the walled gardens.

Without paid entry, visitors can explore the castle woodlands and walk along the coast of the Moray Firth in front of the castle. Walking to the castle, there is a path to the right of the property, with no vehicle access. This walk takes you to the other side of the property, where you have the sea coast and the views of the castle gardens and front exterior. 

The Rooms 
There are 189 rooms at the castle of which the following are open to the public, in addition to the Castle Shop and Main Tea room:

  • The Main Entrance
  • The Main Staircase
  • The Gallery
  • The Dining Room
  • The Music Room
  • The Breakfast Room
  • The Drawing room
  • The Library
  • The Ladies Sitting Room
  • The Green and Gold Room
  • The Nursery
  • The Night Nursery
  • The Nanny's Room
  • The Seamstress's Room
  • The Clan Sutherland Room
  • The Duke's Study
  • The Military Room
  • The Queen's Corridor
  • The Footman's Pantry
  • The Sub-Hall
The Dining Room at Dunrobin Castle A Stag Head in the Main Staircase at Dunrobin Castle

Passing outside to the Gardens, you can view:

  • Falconry Displays which are scheduled twice daily during the season
  • The Museum which houses hunting trophies, stuffed animals and Pictish stones.

Without paid entry to the castle and gardens, you can explore:

  • The Woodlands perfect for dogwalking and a stroll
  • The Coastline you can sit by the sea and enjoy the front exterior views of the castle and gardens.
The Woodland at Dunrobin Castle The Gardens at Dunrobin Castle

How long is needed to visit Dunrobin Castle?
With a two-hour visit, you can see the castle rooms and some of the gardens but a visit can be extended to take up the best part of a day.

Is Dunrobin Castle dog-friendly?
Dogs are allowed in the woodland, but not in the castle or gardens (apart from guide dogs).

Where to eat
The castle has a tearoom serving andwiches, cakes, teas and coffees.

For other options nearby, you have:

  • The Coffee Bothy, Golspie (1.7 miles), an informal often busy coffee shop serving cakes which taste handmade and some good coffee as well as lunches.
  • Poppy's Cafe and Coffee Shop, Golspie (1.6 miles), a local Scottish cafe with some nice cheese scones, as well as tray bakes and cooked breakfasts.

Where to shop
The castle has a gift shop selling a range of local products including books, biscuits, jams and souvenirs.

Where to sleep
For those driving the NC500, a 500-mile coastal road trip around the Northern Highlands, the castle and nearby town of Golspie are a nice stop-off on the first leg of the journey between Inverness and John O'Groats.

Options for accommodation include:

  • Golspie (2 miles) the nearest town with a number of cafes and small shops. The town is served by Golspie Railway Station which has a direct link with Inverness, the major city in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Dornoch (12 miles) a picturesque little town with a small cathedral and a reputation for its golf and its hot chocolate (served at Cocoa Mountain, an independent Scottish chocolatier). Sometimes chosen by visitors wishing to stay near or to the north of Inverness without being in the city. 
  • Inverness (just over 50 miles), the closest major city with a wide selection of accommodation and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets and a good selection of local bars and Scottish live music, as well as transport links including Inverness Airport.
  • Caithness (50-60 miles), the historical county which is home to John O'Groats. Caithness has some cosy hotels including the Forss Hotel near Thurso and Mackays Hotel in Wick, with restaurants that focus on quality locally sourced ingredients. 

How to get to Dunrobin Castle

  • By car: on the A9, it is around 1-1.5 hrs north of Inverness.
  • By bus: the X99 route operated by Stagecoach runs from Inverness to the castle. Check bus times
  • By train: the Far North Railway Line runs from Inverness to Dunrobin Castle station, which is a request stop located across the road from the castle. Alternatively you can stop at Golspie, which is a 6-minute taxi ride from the castle grounds. Plan your train journey.

Where next

  • North: to Caithness and the Orkney Isles to experience cliffside coastal scenery and Neolithic pre-history.
  • West: to Ullapool, Lochinver and the west coast for dramatic Scottish terrain.
  • South: to Inverness and the Cairngorms towards Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

Drives

Golspie Railway Station to Dunrobin Castle
If you are visiting by public transport, here is the car journey from Golspie. The journey is around six minutes and passes through the high street of Golspie and past its local cafes and amenities.

Alternatively, there is Dunrobin Station Railway Station immediately opposite the castle.

Inverness to Dunrobin Castle
For those starting the North Coast 500 in an anti-clockwise direction, this takes you through the journey from Inverness, north through the Black Isle, to Golspie and Dunrobin Castle before proceeding on to Helmsdale and Wick in Caithness and before finishing in John O'Groats, near the Castle of Mey.

Golspie to John O'Groats
View the drive from Golspie (00:00), past Dunrobin Castle (00:52) via Brora (02:02), Portgower (05:10), Helmsdale (05:50), Dunbeath (10:35), Latheronwheel (11:37), Latheron (11:55), Lybster (13:04), East Clyth (14:26), Thrumster (16:09), Wick (17:08), Reiss (19:08), Keiss (20:49), Freswick (22:06) before arriving in John O'Groats (23:43). This video is accelerated and plays at four times the normal speed.

Further resources
Explore further along the far north east coast of Scotland with our complete guide to Wick.