Balmoral Castle

126 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

March, 2016

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

Prince Albert, the consort to Queen Victoria, was a canny chap.

He had an eye for property and in 1852, he bought a hunting lodge in Scotland.
It was soon apparent that this was not big enough for Royal needs.
The demolition men were brought in and an architect engaged to create a new property.

By 1856, the Balmoral we know today was finished and was built in the Scottish Baronial style. It is now privately owned by Queen Elizabeth, though run by a Trust.

The present Royal Family use it as their summer home.

The estate now comprises 50,000 acres of grouse moor, forestry, farmland and managed deer and Highland cattle herds. There are many cottages around the estate to house the estate workers and their families, though the extensive forestry makes them unobtrusive.

The castle is in the Cairngorms National Park on Royal Deeside and is overlooked by the magnificent Lochnagar mountain. The peak and slopes were covered in snow on my visit and looked wonderful in the sunshine. The River Dee flows down the valley not far from the entrance to the castle grounds. This is a very peaceful place.

The grounds are open to the public from the end of March to the end of July, when the Royal Family take up residence for the summer.

A steady ride on a tractor-trailer from the main entrance takes visitors to the farm buildings adjacent to the castle itself. For the full experience, use one of the portable audio tour guide machines to follow a numbered trail around the grounds. It is not a long trail so no difficulties will be encountered.

The path takes you around the building displays of vehicles and machinery before heading off around the grounds, passing other farm buildings and through the pines to the gardens and greenhouses. Here the aromas of the hundreds of colourful plants assault the senses.

Finally, the castle itself comes into view, fronted by manicured lawns.

The only part of the castle open to the public is the Castle Ballroom. Here paintings by Landseer and Minton china collections can be seen.
As well as formal dining occasions for the Royal family, the ballroom is used for the annual ghillies dinner. Historical photographs of the events can be viewed.

If you have more time, each Wednesday at 2pm there are ranger walks through the forestry.
These are 2-3 miles in length and last around 2hrs. The knowledgeable rangers give very interesting details of the castle, it’s grounds, workers and wildlife.
These tours are included in the admission price.

For the more adventurous, a Balmoral Safari can be taken by Land Rover.
These tours last around 3hrs and take in much more of the estate’s land.
Not cheap at £60 per head however.
You are likely to see deer, cattle, grouse or maybe the elusive capercaillie.

We saw red squirrels roaming the grounds and delighted in their antics. Children were especially thrilled to see these creatures rather than the ubiquitous greys.

At the conclusion of your tour you can relax in the lovely coffee shop with home-made cakes or buy a souvenir from the gift shop.

There are six holiday cottages for rent within the estate for relaxing, longer stays.

Prices for 2016 for entry to the grounds and ballroom are: £11.50 Adult, £10.50 Seniors/Students and £5 for children 5-16yrs., though a Family Ticket can be better value.

For further details go to “”:

Just down the road, if you wish to make a full day of it, is Royal Lochnagar whisky distillery. This is one of my favourite whiskies and well worth a visit to see how it is made.

For me, this was a dram come true.

If you take a sample of this superb product of the distiller’s art and if driving, you need to be mindful of the lower drink/drive limit of 50mg applicable now in Scotland, as opposed to the 80mg limit in England and Wales.


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.