The Aberdeen and Grampian Highlands region is surrounded by stunning countryside that's peppered with over 350 castles. One of the most famous is Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of the Royal Family situated 80km (50 miles) west of Aberdeen. The castle was first rented by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1948. They loved it so much they bought it four years later and it has been a favourite royal residence ever since. Visitors can tour parts of the castle including the famous Ballroom, which houses several exhibitions including china and silverware from the estate. Visitors can also enjoy guided or marked walks through the gardens and surrounding grounds and there are also opportunities for pony trekking, fishing and Land Rover safaris. The estate is usually closed from August through until the end of March.
Other castles in the region include Ballindalloch Castle, Drum Castle and Slains Castle (ruins only), which is said to have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.