Edinburgh Castle most popular summer tourist attraction

Edinburgh Castle has topped a list of tourist attractions in Scotland as summer visitor numbers across the country hit almost two million.

Thursday, 1st September 2016, 11:59 am
Updated Thursday, 1st September 2016, 1:04 pm
The castle is lit up at the start of the Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: Contributed

Between April and July, 1.96 million visitors went to 77 Historic Scotland attractions nationwide, an increase of more than 169,000 (9 per cent) on the same period in 2015.

The surge in numbers at the paid-for heritage attractions meant several historic sites, including six castles, a palace and a pre-historic village, broke their previous records.

Edinburgh Castle was the country’s most popular paid-for tourist attraction, with 755,001 visitors in the four-month period, an increase of 8 per cent year-on-year.

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Edinburgh Castle. PIC: ROB MCDOUGALL

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The landmark also had its busiest day on record on July 16 when 11,368 people arrived - the largest number of paying visitors to see the castle in one day.

Stirling Castle was second most popular, with 215,461 visitors, while Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness was third with an 9 per cent visitor increase to 192,191.

The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae in Orkney took fourth spot, recording 56,386 visitors.

Edinburgh Castle. PIC: ROB MCDOUGALL

Doune Castle’s jump to fifth place was credited to its TV role as the fictional Castle Leoch in the Outlander series which helped attract 40,751 visitors, a 23 per cent increase.

Other attractions in the top ten are Linlithgow Palace, Iona Abbey, St Andrews Castle, Fort George in Inverness and Melrose Abbey.

Stephen Duncan, commercial and tourism director at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “This season has brought with it a raft of impressive new records and achievements for a number of our Historic Scotland attractions.

“With just under two million people turning out at our castles, palaces, abbeys and other historic sites throughout the country over a four-month period - it’s proving to be a season for the record books.”

Top Ten paid for heritage attractions for April to July 2016:

1. Edinburgh Castle – 755,001

2. Stirling Castle – 215,461

3. Urquhart Castle – 192,191

4. Skara Brae – 56,386

5. Doune Castle – 40,751

6. Linlithgow Palace – 39,080

7. Iona Abbey – 38,693

8. St Andrews Castle – 36,704

9. Fort George – 28,352

10. Melrose Abbey – 25,966