But now, Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland has been voted the most romantic-looking castle in Scotland in a VisitScotland poll.
The castle, which was converted into a boy's boarding school for seven years before opening to the public in 1973, was redesigned between 1835 and 1850, in the Scottish Baronial style by architect Sir Charles Barry, who had also created the Palace of Westminster.
The research found that the Queen’s holiday home, Balmoral Castle, is Scotland’s second best-known castle after the iconic Edinburgh Castle, which 80 per cent of British people were aware of.
Slains Castle in Peterhead was voted as the most likely to be haunted with almost a quarter of votes, followed closely by the iconic Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven and in third place, Brodick Castle on Arran.
Scotland is thought to have around 3,000 standing castles, ruins and documented sites. Of these, about 1,050 are merely sites, including those where a house has been built on the site of a previous castle and about 825 are standing ruins. At the last count, around 660 were in use as private houses, hotels or wedding venues and around 469 were open to the public, though some only for a couple of weeks each year.
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said: “Castles are an iconic and integral part of Scotland’s history and culture. From the grandiose castles of Stirling and Edinburgh to the remote charms of Eilean Donan and Castle Stalker– there is something unique and special about every single one and each has their own significant story to tell.
“Scotland’s history and culture is one the top reasons for visiting Scotland. From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends – the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology has shone a spotlight some of our greatest assets and icons as well as our hidden gems."
The best castle in Scotland accolade went to Edinburgh Castle with over a third of the votes ahead of Stirling, Urquhart and St Andrews Castles.
Seven out of ten people interviewed by VisitScotland stated they would like to stay overnight in a castle while on holiday in Scotland.