Balmoral Castle and estate is one of the finest places to visit in Aberdeenshire. Surrounded by the glorious scenery of Royal Deeside, Balmoral Castle is the Scottish home of the Royal Family.

A winter guided tour of Balmoral makes for a memorable day out for visitors to Aberdeen.

A Royal Residence

Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since Prince Albert purchased the estate over 160 years ago.

William Smith, City Architect of Aberdeen, worked closely with Prince Albert to design the building. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for Balmoral Castle in 1853, and work on the extensive project was completed in 1856.

Since Queen Victoria’s reign the castle has passed to each Royal successor, and is now the traditional holiday home for Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family. The Royal Family today takes a deep interest in the running and care of Balmoral Castle and grounds, and each generation has made improvements to the estate.

The Royal Family are in residence at Balmoral Castle during August, September and October, at which times the estate is closed to the public. In November and December, however, visitors can explore Balmoral with winter guided tours.

Tour Balmoral Castle

The Balmoral Winter Guided Tours take visitors around the exhibitions and Castle ballroom, and give them access to stroll around the majestic grounds.

The Castle Ballroom is the largest room in Balmoral, and has been used as the venue for an annual ‘Ghillies Ball’ every year since Queen Victoria’s reign. Visitors to the great ballroom can admire statues, paintings and castle artefacts, and in the exhibitions explore the seasons, wildlife and landscapes of the Balmoral estate.

The formal gardens of Balmoral cover 3 acres of land, and include a rose garden, conservatory and Victorian glasshouses. The grounds have been improved by the Royal Family since their creation by Prince Albert. Most recently, the Duke of Edinburgh created a water garden, and enlarged the flower and vegetable garden.

Upcoming Balmoral Winter Guided Tour dates are 23 November, 30 November, 7 December, and 14 December. Tours start on the hour, from 11am to 2pm. The guided winter tour takes approximately 1 hour, and visitors should aim to arrive a little early to buy tickets and park their cars.

After the tour of Balmoral, visit the gift shop to purchase unique gifts and souvenirs from your trip, such as Balmoral crystal, clothing, and even Balmoral whisky. You can also visit a coffee shop on site for light snacks and refreshments.

The grounds, gardens and exhibitions are open to the public on a daily basis from 01 April to 31 July 2014.

Explore Aberdeen

Staying at the Park Inn, Aberdeen means you can travel through the beautiful countryside to Balmoral in just over an hour by car. Enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep and a buffet breakfast before heading off to explore the Balmoral grounds and castle.

Aberdeen is a great place to stay when you take a trip to Balmoral, as it is close to many other cultural attractions. If you enjoyed your day at Balmoral, be sure to visit another of the many castles in Aberdeenshire, such as the fairy-tale like Crathes Castle near Banchory, the stunning cliff-top ruins of Dunnottar Castle, or Victorian Kincardine Castle in Royal Deeside.

Explore the history and culture of the Granite City with a trip to Aberdeen Art Gallery, Gordon Highlanders Museum or the Maritime Museum, or visit the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. Finish your day with a tasty meal at one of Aberdeen’s many restaurants, like the designer Fusion Bar and Bistro, intimate Rendezvous at Nargile, or the contemporary RBG Bar & Grill.

Where other attractions would you recommend visitors to Aberdeen look out for?