How to Visit Scotland Like a Royal
Consider this your guide to the Queen's Scotland.

Ever since Netflix released the binge-worthy series The Crown, there’s been an increased fascination with the British Royal family and their private lives. Though much of the series takes place in London, Scotland—portrayed in a few notable scenes—has always been close to Queen Elizabeth II’s heart. Ahead, how to experience the Queen’s Scotland.

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. She spends a week there every summer and entertains guests with garden parties, investitures, and other events. When the Queen isn’t in residence, visitors can see the state rooms, medieval treasures, gardens, and the ruins of the ancient Holyrood Abbey.

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Scots warmly welcomed the new Queen in a national service of thanksgiving and dedication at St. Giles' Cathedral in 1953, shortly after her coronation at Westminster Abbey. Crowds of supporters cheered on the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in a massive procession, and the ceremony was televised. On your visit to the cathedral, don't miss the beautiful stained glass windows and the famed Thistle Chapel.

The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel

Opened in 1902, the Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel remains an Edinburgh icon standing proudly on Princes Street. The Queen Mother used to drop in for a lunch of the roast lamb. Today, it’s the most prestigious place to stay in the city, with rooms looking onto Edinburgh Castle, a spa, and Michelin-starred restaurant. Afternoon tea at the Palm Court is an absolute must on any visit to the Scottish capital.

HMY Royal Yacht Britannia

To truly understand the Queen’s personal style, take a taxi to Edinburgh’s waterfront and visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. Christened in 1953, the yacht was the Queen’s home away from home as she sailed around the world, often entertaining heads of state. She decorated it herself to make it feel like a country home at sea, eschewing overly fussy décor in favor of chintz sofas and simple gray carpeting.

Glamis Castle, Angus

Queen Elizabeth II grew up visiting her grandparents at Glamis, the real-life castle of Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The domain of the Earls of Strathmore since the 14th century, it was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and the birthplace of Princess Margaret. Considered one of Scotland’s finest examples of baronial architecture, the castle is open from April to September for visitors who want to explore its rich history, myths, and legends.



For a taste of the leisurely country life, book a room at Gleneagles, where the rich and famous—including Prince William and Duchess Kate—have been escaping the hectic pace of city life since 1924. Recently taken over by the team behind London’s posh Hoxton Hotel, Scotland’s top resort has a revamped sheen, with renovations giving new life to the Century Bar, the American Bar, and more. After a day of visiting castles, archery, and falconry, we recommend indulging in some whiskey or a champagne cocktail to unwind.

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

Nestled in the Highlands, Balmoral Castle has served as a summer residence for the Royal Family since the days of Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth II has visited Balmoral every summer since she was a child, enjoying country pleasures like horseback riding, walking the corgis, and picnicking by the River Dee, as depicted in The Crown. The castle is open to visitors from April through July.

Kinloch House Hotel

It’s easy to imagine the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh hiding away in this charming family-run inn, a member of Relais & Châteaux, where horses roam the grounds. Tucked away in a remote part of Perthshire, it has the charm of a country estate full of antiques.

Castle of Mey

In a memorable scene from The Crown depicting the mourning Queen Mother’s humility, she decides to buy a crumbling castle from an elderly gentleman who can’t maintain it on his own. That castle—perched on Dunnet Head, the most northern point on the U.K.’s mainland—is the Castle of Mey. The Queen Mother renovated it and cultivated its gardens—now open to the public.

The Western Isles

The Queen is especially fond of the remote Western Isles off Scotland’s west coast, and who can blame her? “You can go out for miles and never see anybody,” she told the Sunday Post. “There are endless possibilities.” The landscape resembles a postcard depicting Scotland’s rugged beauty—full of rocky cliffs and waves lapping at the shore.

George Square, Glasgow

Glasgow’s main square—named for George III—has witnessed many celebrations, including a massive parade following the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and the Jubilee commemorating sixty years of her reign.

*This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Laura Itzkowitz
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