Aberdour Castle is located in Fife, just over the water from Edinburgh. Parts of it could be Scotland’s oldest standing castle with later additions added. If you’re a fan of Outlander, you’ll recognize it from the first season. Spending a day at Aberdour Castle is a worthy day trip from Edinburgh and an experience you won’t be able to replicate in the city. From the immaculately kept kid-friendly grounds to the history inside the castle, you’ll be glad you visited.
The journey to Aberdour is just 30 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley. We’ve made the journey a few times now and the train has never been full.
The Aberdour station is small and so well kept. It has won many awards for its gardens. We visited in September and it was clean and colourful.
Aberdour Castle is located right next to the station. There is an entrance to the grounds from the station carpark, but we went around the corner to the main entrance so that we could experience the full walk to the castle.
The first peek of the castle is as dramatic as you could hope for. A stone wall makes an appearance behind the trees and you know you’re in for something special.
Tickets to the castle can be bought at the clearly marked ticket and gift shop. We used our Historic Scotland membership, which remains the single best purchase we’ve made since moving to Scotland. If buying a membership isn’t for you, the entrance fee is very reasonable and well worth it.
We started our exploring of the grounds with St Fillan’s Church. The church dates back to the 1100s and is situated in the middle of a graveyard. It is said that Robert the Bruce worshipped there. Being respectful of the grounds is important and something I take seriously whenever we visit one of these historical sites.
September was the perfect time to visit. Flowers were blooming, leaves were changing, and the weather was cool but not cold.
Keep an eye out for the view of Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat.
Heading back to the castle grounds is as easy as opening a door.
Aberdour Castle is another example of a historic site that is fantastic for kids. There is space for them to run and nooks and crannies to explore. Kids are very much made to feel welcome and this helps foster an interest in history.
If you’ve never seen a dovecote up close, make sure you pop into this well-maintained example.
The castle rises up as an imposing structure as you wander the grounds. You can’t help but keep looking at it in awe as you walk around.
The prime reason September is an awesome time to visit is the apple orchard. There is an orchard on the grounds and visitors are welcome to pick and fill a bag. When we visited, most of the apples that the girls would have been able to reach had already been picked, but we still managed to get a few.
There’s just so much to explore on the grounds before you even enter the castle. The grounds are terraced, so even as you make your way up from the orchard you’ll discover new areas.
A small cafe is located in the castle with some seating outside.
The castle has a room with a uniquely painted ceiling dating back to the early 1600s.
The ceiling is worth a close-up, no matter how you have to take it.
The castle is a mixture of open air and enclosed rooms and you can feel the difference when you go from the original build to the additions.
The girls enjoyed taking the lead on which way to go next. Aberdour is a great size for kid-led exploring.
You always have to end in the gift shop and you probably know by now that I’m a gift shop junkie. Aberdour’s shop is small, but it’s one of the best I’ve seen. It has a great selection of items in different price ranges for both kids and adults. We left with stuffed toys, a pin for my collection, and a calendar for a friend (but not the knight set for Matilda, as cute as she was).
We really enjoyed our day at Aberdour Castle and happily recommend it as a day trip from Edinburgh the next time you visit. The town itself is lovely to explore and you can make your way to the waterfront for a nice walk. It’s a day out that the girls have been asking to repeat, so you know it’s a good one!