View of Stirling Castle in a sunset

This summer, we’re keeping 17 of our historic Castles, Abbeys and Cathedrals open after hours for you to enjoy. Below, we’ve put together 5 ways you can make the most of this experience, and enjoy our sites as evening falls.

Take a look at the full list of opening days and times.

1. Marvel at spectacular views

The quiet and calm of the evening provides the perfect opportunity to gaze at the breath-taking views many of our sites boast. Marvel at the architecture of the Forth Bridges from Blackness Castle, including the new Queensferry Crossing, or watch as evenings lights appear across Edinburgh city from the tower of Craigmillar Castle.

View from Tantallon Castle out to the Bass Rock

Admire the dramatic view of the Bass Rock from the battlements of Tantallon Castle.

At Tantallon Castle, relax as you look out to sea and the impressive Bass Rock, or spot Ben Lomond from the grounds of Stirling Castle. The view from the top of the rock at Dumbarton Castle is always impressive, but climb the 537 steps in the evening and you’ll be rewarded with a tranquil summer lookout point across the Clyde.

2. Enjoy an evening picnic

Pack an evening picnic and relax in our beautiful gardens and grounds. Sit back by the moat of fairytale Caerlaverock Castle as you admire the triangular medieval fortress. Wander through the gardens at Aberdour Castle and Dirleton Castle, and find a spot to lay the picnic rug; or head to Dryburgh Abbey where you can eat alfresco before meandering through the wildflower meadows.

View of Dryburgh Abbey with a couple sitting at a picnic bench

Dryburgh Abbey is a lovely spot for a picnic.

3. Wander through quaint villages and cultured towns

Many of our sites are located at the heart of local communities, where you can enjoy a range of fantastic walks, restaurants, pubs and local shops. After a visit to Blackness Castle, explore the local beaches or Abercorn Woods. From Dryburgh Abbey, take the peaceful walking loop along the River Tweed or head to nearby Scott’s View. At MacLellan’s Castle, take the chance to discover the lively fishing port of Kirkcudbright. Stirling Castle, Elgin Cathedral and St Andrews Castle and Cathedral are all located at the heart of their exciting towns and cities, all with a wealth of entertainment and dining to enjoy in the evenings.

View of Elgin town from Elgin Cathedral

There’s a cracking view from Elgin Cathedral. Have a look for pubs and restaurants to grab a bite to eat in!

4. Spot wildlife

The summer evenings provide a peaceful time to spot a variety of wildlife around our sites. Blackness Castle is a popular birdwatching spot, so bring along your binoculars! At Doune Castle, you can see bats and swallows swoop around the river and the castle, and spot fish jumping in the Teith; and foxes and bats begin to emerge in the evening at Dumbarton Castle.

View looking up at Doune Casttle

You might spot some wildlife at Doune Castle…

5. Take extra time to explore

Perhaps the simplest suggestion of all, but by no means the least! Take your time and enjoy more leisurely visits to sites such as Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle, where the extended hours will provide the perfect chance to sit back, and take in these iconic sites. At Rothesay Castle, the late night openings provide the perfect chance for day trippers to spend more time exploring the island of Bute, as the last ferries back to the mainland are 8pm on Saturdays and 7pm on Sundays.

Find out more about late night opening.

Tranquil view of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness

Use the extra time to take a more leisurely approach to your visit.


About Author


Kara ter Morsche

Kara ter Morsche was one of our marketing executives, working mainly with our national events programme and Historic Scotland properties in the South. She's now moved on from HES.