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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 09 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

Originally built for George, the 4th Earl of Caithness, this graceful turreted 16th-century castle was the traditional seat of the Earls of Caithness. Looking out towards the Orkney islands on the wild north coast – it’s the most northerly castle in Britain.

It was purchased by the late Queen Mother in 1952. She summered here for fifty years, restoring the castle to its former glory, and creating a beautiful walled rose garden, before bequeathing it to the Castle of Mey Trust upon her death. Listening to the personal anecdotes from her old staff as you wander around brings the place to life.

Today, Prince Charles works closely with the trust to continue the castle’s preservation. He’s an annual visitor, renting the castle for two weeks in summer.

Price from: £3
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The castle is situated on the north coast of Caithness, a 2.5-hour drive north of Inverness, on the far northern tip of Britain.

Tickets should be booked in advance on the website. The Castle Tearoom serves snacks, scones and more hearty meals, including the likes of poached salmon and Aberdeen Angus roast beef.

When to do it

The castle is open from June to September, Wednesday to Sunday, apart from a ten-day period in late July/early August when Prince Charles usually stays.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Granary Lodge

Thurso, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[0.2 miles]

Fit for a (future) king, the Castle of Mey’s 17th-century grain store was converted into a luxury B&B by Prince Charles.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom (UK)

Magnificent mountain scenery slashed by silvery lochs and peppered with brooding castles: all laden with rich Scottish heritage, history and tradition.

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Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Dunnet Bay Distillery

Dunnet Bay Distillery

Dunnet, Thurso, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[7.5 miles]

This small artisan distillery produces award-winning Rock Rose seasonal gins and vodka made from Holy Grass (once laid on church floors to scent the air). The copper still is named Elizabeth in honour of the late Queen Mother who summered at the Castle of Mey nearby – and famously liked a G&T.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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John O’Groats

John O’Groats

John o' Groats, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[9.4 miles]

Famously ‘the end of the road’ and touted as the most northerly point on the UK mainland (although that’s actually Dunnet Head nearby), this once tacky tourist spot has now been spruced up. There are wildlife-watching boat trips from the little harbour and spectacular clifftop walks.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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