Ten Scottish treasures

  • 20 August 2012

From fantastical castles to Victorian country houses, Scotland is home to some spectacular architecture.

We’ve picked our favourite days out across the country and, best of all, there are big savings to be made with your National Art Pass.

1. Craigievar Castle

50% off entry with National Art Pass

Virtually unchanged since it was completed in 1626, this magnificent Jacobean castle rises from Aberdeenshire’s rolling hills like a vision from a fairytale. The interiors, complete with stunning 17th-century plaster ceilings, are furnished with beautiful original woodwork.

2. Hill House

Free entry with National Art Pass

This charmingly asymmetrical house was created by esteemed Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Designed with painstaking attention to detail inside and out, with an exterior form that follows the interior design, Hill House is one of the greatest examples of 20th-century Scottish domestic architecture.

3. Mount Stuart

Reduced price with National Art Pass

Looming larger-than-life over the diminutive Isle of Bute, Mount Stuart is as much a shrine to Victorian ingenuity as it is a family home. The oversized abode boasts the world’s first heated swimming pool, and was the first in Scotland to feature electric lighting.

4. Georgian House

Free entry with National Art Pass

In the late 18th-century, when the wealthy of Edinburgh migrated from the fading glory of the Old Town to the emerging splendour of the New, many of them took residence in town houses like this. Designed by Robert Adam and filled with period treasures, Georgian House is a fascinating insight into the past.

5. Dumfries House

Free entry with National Art Pass

Housing a treasure trove of Thomas Chippendale furniture, Dumfries is one of Britain’s most beautiful stately homes. The entire house and its contents were saved from sale in 2007 with help from the Art Fund's largest ever grant. A National Art Pass gets visitors free entry and a standard tour, or 50% off the spectacular 'grand tour'.

6. Duff House

Free entry with National Art Pass

Duff House is a spectacular building and estate, one of Britain's finest Georgian country houses with gardens to match. Duff's Masterpiece Series sees a different Old Master painting exhibited each season, with past loans ranging from Botticelli to Joseph Paton.

7. Newhailes

Free entry and 50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

While many renovated country houses can feel impersonal and sterile, Newhailes retains the warmth of a house which was once a well-loved home. One of the focal points of the Scottish Enlightenment, its library was described by Dr Johnson as 'the most learned room in Europe'.

8. Bowhill House and Country Estate

50% off entry with National Art Pass

The family home of the noble Buccleuch family is also host to the spectacular Duke of Buccleuch art collection. Visitors can admire paintings by Rembrandt, Leonardo, Gainsborough and more alongside thousands of ceramics, miniatures and objets d'art.

9. Falkland Palace

Free entry with National Art Pass

This fantastical castle set among the lush woodlands of Fife was once home to the kings of Scotland, from Robert III to Charles II. The palace is home to the world's oldest Real Tennis court, with an active tennis club dating back to 1541.

10. Black Watch Castle and Museum

Free entry with National Art Pass

Once the seat of the Earls of Kinnoull, Balhousie Castle dates back to the early 15th century and beyond. Its current appearance dates back to the 1863, when David Smart remodeled the castle in the then-popular Baronial style.