Culzean Castle (pronounced ‘Kull-ane’) is a popular tourist destination owned by the National Trust For Scotland. The castle was designed and built in the late 1700s for use by the 10th Earl of Cassilis, David Kennedy.
Now the estate, based on 1 square mile of land, offers unique and memorable experiences which set it apart from what can seem like a crowd of Scottish castles.
Our family have visited a number of times over the years and we decided to make a return visit this summer.
Location And Getting There
Culzean is located on the Ayrshire coast, just over 12 miles south of Ayr.
By Car, Plus Parking
Due to the castle’s remote location, just off the A719, car is by far the easiest and quickest way to get there. Here’s the link to the castle on Google Maps.
A one way trip from Glasgow is around 48 miles, from Ayr 12 miles and from Edinburgh 95 miles.
There are 3 car parks. One at the swan pond, one at the walled garden and one at Home Farm. You can see them on the country park map further down this page.
There is also free and convenient transportation available to take you between the swan pond, walled garden, viaduct and Home Farm (check times of operation on arrival). The driver picked us up at Home Farm and took us back to the walled garden, where the car was parked. It was raining and he was kind enough to drop us off directly next to the car as well.
By Bus or Train
There is a bus stop near the entrance to the country park and the closest train station is Maybole (nearly 5 miles away so additional transport is required in that case). We’d recommend taking a car if you can but if you’re using public transport, the easiest way is to route it via Google Maps.
Culzean Castle and Country Park Map
There are a range of buildings and experiences in the Culzean estate, all of which have different opening times which vary throughout the year. Check out this page on the NTS website for updated opening times.
Here is the list for 2019/2020 but check on or before arrival in case any areas are closed for events.
Ticket Types and Prices
Ticket prices are the same all year around and National Trust For Scotland Members get access with their membership. If you’re planning on visiting a few NTS properties, I’d recommend going with NTS membership.
There’s a lot to learn inside the castle but Culzean has a lot more to offer outside of its walls. Tropical-looking gardens, pleasant country walks, food and drink, an adventure playground and more.
Did You Know: Culzean Castle was displayed on the reverse side of the RBS £5 Note, as part of the Ilay note series, until 2016.
Lego Hunt In The Castle
The Lego Hunt has been a highlight at Culzean for many years. The idea is simple, there are hidden Lego characters dotted around the castle (never more than one to a room) and your job is to find them. You’ll be given a sheet with characters to tick off and if you find every one you’ll get a little prize at the end (on top of leaving with a sense of satisfaction).
And don’t think it’s just for children. The youngest in our party of 5 was 22 years old and it was probably the highlight of the Culzean trip (as it usually is).
Country Park, Swan Pond and Beach Walk
Culzean has 17 miles of pathways throughout the estate which allows you to experience its diversity of plant and animal life.
In the south-western side of the park, you can find a 13 acre man-made swan pond, with a footpath surrounding it.
There are a few ways down to Culzean beach, with it’s sandy bays and rock pools. Just make sure you check tide times before you go.
You can of course just meander around the trails, as we did. But if you’re looking for a pre-determined route, Culzean has 4:
🦢 Swan Trail: 0.7 miles - 20 mins at adult pace - Mostly flat, firm path around the swan pond (some sloping).
🐵 Monkey Trail: 1 mile - 30 mins at adult pace - Gentle sloping path into the woods (gravel and wood chip surface).
🦁 Lion Trail: 1.9 miles - 1 hour at adult pace - Mostly firm path with several steps (some loose gravel).
🐬 Dolphin Trail: 2.5 miles - 1.5 hours at adult pace - Along the beach, varied sand and rocky surface. Check tide times.
Adventure Cove and Wild Woodland
Don’t just skip this section because you’re no longer a child. That’s because the Adventure Cove and Wild Woodland area, near the swan pond, is open to adults too.
And what could be more dignified than 4 adults playing 'catch’ in a large woodland fort. With zip-lines, slides, climbing walls, treehouses and towers, you’ll want to build one for yourself after you’ve left.
Food and Drink
There are 4 dining options around Culzean, ranging from snack food, to formal dining.
Home Farm: Casual dining located on the north-east side of the park.
A range of hot and cold options including soup, sandwiches, hot main meals (eg. fish and chips, pie of the day, beef burger). Indoor and outdoor seating available.
Old Stables Coffee House: Much more limited selection of food. Soup, a few sandwiches and some baking options. Indoor and outdoor seating, located behind the clock tower at the castle. The outdoor seating area has views over the bay of Arran.
Aviary & Swan Pond Ice Cream Parlour: Hot and cold snacks situated next to the swan pond at the south-western end of the park.
Fo’c’sle Restaurant: Formal dining inside the original servant’s hall in the castle, with views out to sea. Serves breakfast, morning coffee, light lunches, afternoon tea and evening meals.
If you’re looking for a castle and/or country park experience in the west coast of Scotland, Culzean has a lot to offer. You can easily spend an afternoon or even a whole day out at this destination, with the Lego Hunt, adventure playground and miles of scenic trails being just some of the options available to you.
If you’re not already a member of National Trust For Scotland, but you’re thinking of taking a trip to Culzean and/or other NTS properties within the near future, I’d highly recommend becoming a member.
What do you think of Culzean? Let us know of your experience or ask us any questions in the comments down below.