family day trips scotland

10 Stunning Stays in Scotland

family day trips scotland

14 Wonderful Wildlife Tours to Book in Scotland

15 ideas for fun family days out in scotland.

Scotland’s attractions are ready to welcome you back. With lots of amazing places to see and visit, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites to help keep the kids happy. From petting farms and adventure parks to castle visits, as well as appetising suggestions for a bite to eat. And to make things better, they’re all super affordable!

Landmark Forest Adventure Park Carrbridge

family day trips scotland

Landmark Forest Adventure Park

Landmark Forest Adventure Park offers outstanding thrills and spills with its unique blend of rides and family friendly activities. Face the high speeds of the Runaway Timber Train, or take on the dizzying heights of the Wild Water Coaster with three fear-inducing raft rides over waterfalls to choose from. Of course, there’s plenty of things to do with both feet on the ground. Come face to face with a 20ft tall T-Rex at Dinosaur Kingdom, meet the park’s resident wildlife and insects in the Tropical Hot-House or discover the world’s first ‘Bamboozeleum’ and get ready to solve puzzles filled with lots of optical illusions and special effects for even more added fun. Kids can take the driving seat while operating their very own 4x4 or if they fancy depositing some sand, they’ll be in full control with their very own mini digger.

  • On Public Transport Route
  • Pets Welcome
  • Level Access
  • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
  • Accessible toilets
  • Cafe or Restaurant

Treasures of the Earth Fort William

family day trips scotland

Treasures Of The Earth

If you love gems and precious stones, this next place is a treasure trove find in the Highlands. Home to one of Europe’s finest private collections of gemstones, crystals and fossils, Treasures of the Earth is set to be a fun day out for the whole family. From rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, and even dinosaur fossils, you will be amazed at what you can discover here. The Ultraviolet Cave is an absolute must, crystals will magically change colour and glow in the Ultra-Violet light.

Robertson’s Animal Petting Farm Beauly

family day trips scotland

Highland Cow

There really is nothing cuter than adorable farm animals, right? Get the chance to meet the furry residents at Robertson's Animal Petting Farm  including alpacas, Highland cows, baby goats and much more. Looking for local produce to take home? Browse through the shop’s variety of food products from meat and fish to homemade chutneys and cheeses. There are even ready meals available.

Loch Insh Outdoor Centre Kincraig

family day trips scotland

Loch Insh Outdoor Centre

Loch Insh Outdoor Centre offers an array of challenging and creative outdoor activities. Varied courses and programmes are available too and the choice of fun is huge! Enjoy raft building, sailing, stand up paddle boarding and pedalos, to name just a few. If you prefer to stay on dry land, immerse yourself in Scotland’s scenery by going mountain biking, improve your aim with archery, while  the kids enjoy the play parks.

Fancy staying that wee bit longer? The outdoor centre will offer you a comfortable place to stay during your time here. Choose from its wide range of accommodation options from apartments and chalets to its very own B&B.

Loch Ness Centre Drumnadrochit

family day trips scotland

The Loch Ness Centre - Myth & Legends room

We can’t guarantee that you’ll spot Nessie here, but you’re guaranteed an unforgettable day out in the Highlands. Uncover 500 million years of history, natural mystery and legend at The Loch Ness Centre, revealing the unique environment of Loch Ness and the Loch Ness Monster. With the use of animations, lasers, special effects, and storytelling, discover what really lies beneath the waters of Loch Ness. Not to be missed! 

Dalscone Fun Farm Dumfries

family day trips scotland

Meet the kids and lambs

From llamas to ponies, little one’s love seeing their favourite animals up close. Visit  Dalscone Farm Fun in Dumfries & Galloway. Say hello and get to know the animals – they’re all a very friendly bunch! From Frankie, Max, and Jeffrey the goats to Annie the donkey, they love seeing friendly new faces, especially if you have tasty treats in your hand. For more added fun, take a spin on the go-karts, play a round or two of crazy golf or bounce the day away on the trampolines.

Feeling peckish? Treat yourself to something delicious at the Dalscone Diner with refreshments including tea, coffee, juice, baguettes, and delicious cakes.

Dino Park Dumfries

family day trips scotland

If you’re looking for some dino-related fun, then the Dino Park in Dumfries ticks all the right boxes. The attraction offers the chance for budding palaeontologists to roll up their sleeves at the Dino Dig and search for fossils and bones beneath the sand. If you have an appetite for learning, make sure to head to the Dino Den where park rangers will explain the history behind the giants who once roamed the Earth. Other highlights include a bouncy castle and the outdoor and indoor play areas. 

The Cocoabean Company Kirkcudbright

family day trips scotland

Cocoabean Company chocolate workshop faces

Chocolate might not come to mind when you think of Dumfries & Galloway, but the region has a lot to offer for those who have a sweet tooth. The Cocoabean Company is destined to be a great day out for the whole family with its chocolate making workshops for novice chocolatiers, young and old. After all your hard work, take a bite into your chocolatey creation for a moment of indulgence. The attraction is also home to an impressive outdoor play area. From climbing frames and walls, to super swings and slippery slides – your young adventurers are in for hours of non-stop fun.

Moat Brae Dumfries

family day trips scotland

Moat Brae - National Centre for Children's Literature and Storytelling

Who says you have to grow up? If you’re in need of a little child-like magic, Moat Brae is the place to be. Discover the birthplace of Peter Pan and take a guided tour behind the beloved children’s novel. There’s lots of interactive games to be played and a room for the kids to play dress up. After the guided tour, head outside and explore the Enchanted Land – you’ll find amazing replicas of a Wendy house and even a pirate ship.

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions Edinburgh

family day trips scotland

Vortex Tunnel at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, Edinburgh

© Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, Edinburgh

Camera Obscura is a museum dedicated to optical illusions that will simply boggle your mind. With five floors of hands on exhibits, you may need to take a second, or third, closer look at things which are not as they first appear. From the dizzying vortex tunnel to finding your way out of the mirror maze, the attraction will add a lot of excitement to your day out in the capital. The shrinking room is a great place for photos. Become a mighty giant in one corner and pint-sized version of yourself in the other. To round it all off, head up to the rooftop for impressive views of Edinburgh’s skyline.

  • Hearing Loop

The Scottish Deer Centre Cupar

family day trips scotland

Simply The Best Destination - The Scottish Deer Centre - Shopping Experience

Discover Fife’s wildest day out at The Scottish Deer Centre. The attraction is home to 12 species of deer and animals including the lynx, the Scottish Wildcat, the European brown bear and lots more. It’s daily entertainment schedule also offers the chance to meet some of the animals too, with feeding and grooming sessions.

That’s not all! Leave time for the kids to make use of the indoor play area and the adventure playground. Whether it’s climbing or zooming down a zip line, there’s something for everyone.

Auchingarrich Wildlife & Adventure Park Comrie

family day trips scotland

Auchingarrich Wildlife and Adventure Park

Home to over 40 species of animals, Auchingarrich Wildlife & Adventure Park allows visitors to get up close to a range of animals in their natural habitats. All year round there is something to see, from baby chicks hatching, daily feedings and the chance to try your hand at milking Clover the cow. Younger visitors can have lots of fun at the indoor soft play barn. 

The National Museum of Flight East Fortune

family day trips scotland

Visitors in front of the BAC 1-11 at the National Museum of Flight

© Ruth Armstrong Photography

Thankfully no passport is required for this next visit. Located in East Lothian, the National Museum of Flight offers a fascinating insight into the world of aviation dating back to the First World War. The centrepiece of the museum is The Concorde where you can get a taste of what a transatlantic flight was like. Aircrafts spanning decades of history from its historic hangars and airfields including the evolution of the in-flight experience, are also highlights. 

Bothwell Castle Uddingston

family day trips scotland

Bothwell Castle

A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without a castle visit. Bothwell Castle has a long and eventful history,  and was often the site of fearsome clashes between Scottish and English armies during the Wars of Independence. There is much more to this 13th century castle than its grizzly history though. Admire the castle’s dramatic scenery, explore the 14th century great hall and chapel, or take a stroll through the nearby woodland with flowers in full bloom in spring and summer. 

Glasgow Science Centre Glasgow

family day trips scotland

a daytime view from the river Clyde showing the Glasgow Science Centre buildings on the bank of the river including the 127m high Glasgow Tower struct

Glasgow Science Centre makes learning about science fun with engaging and immersive exhibits which will captivate the minds of adults and children alike. Enjoy an illusion experience at A Question of Perception, learn about our wonderful solar system at the Space Zone, or get ready to be creative in the Project Lab. Glasgow Science Centre inspires kids to think like scientists and fires their imagination in the process.

Fancy getting your hands on a science passport? There lots of perks including unlimited free entry and the chance to skip the busy queues.

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THE 10 BEST Scotland Things to Do with Kids

Things to do in scotland with kids.

  • City Centre
  • Princes Street and Gardens
  • Good for Kids
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good for Couples
  • Good for Big Groups
  • Good for a Rainy Day
  • Hidden Gems
  • Adventurous
  • Honeymoon spot
  • Good for Adrenaline Seekers
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

family day trips scotland

1. Royal Yacht Britannia

NorthStar474947

2. Arthur's Seat

Kcastle2468

3. Edinburgh Castle

mintymurray44

4. National Museum of Scotland

493damienm

5. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

hannahbower

6. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

criticman100

7. Edinburgh Old Town

MermaidMarin

8. Royal Mile

mojomo

9. The Chocolatarium

R6278CPharryp

10. Celtic Park

JoshMclatch

11. Stirling Castle

wheninrome61

12. Calton Hill

andybell123

13. The Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel

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14. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

simonrstones

15. Dunnottar Castle

MS53LA1

16. The Kelpies & The Helix

LadyRovington

17. Princes Street Gardens

GedCT

18. Rosslyn Chapel

nigellorriman

19. Discovery Point

326eleanor

20. Skara Brae

Sarahjaytravels

21. Stirling Old Town Jail

OwenPhilipson

22. Glencoe National Nature Reserve

Groen95

23. University of Glasgow

E8224QZgloriam

24. Glamis Castle

helenej25

25. Dalscone Farm Fun

371tracyk

26. Fort George

anon1965

27. Luskentyre

HeidiB40

28. Loch an Eilein

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29. Rothiemurchus

CrysTiffsMom

30. Verdant Works

Jon-198712-A

What travelers are saying

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Scotland Family Tours & Vacation Packages

Let TourRadar take the hassle out of finding a trip for the whole family. With 123 tours of Scotland lasting from 2 days up to 15 days, you're sure to find a great family-friendly adventure. Looking beyond Scotland? See all family tours .

123 Scotland Family trips with 1,759 reviews

Country Roads of Scotland (Classic, 9 Days) Tour

  • In-depth Cultural
  • Coach / Bus

Country Roads of Scotland (Classic, 9 Days)

"Overall great. First time doing this as a vacation. Guide was very knowledgeable, unfailingly cheerful and always available to assist with anything and answer all questions. Driver was great as well. Polite and friendly and clearly experienced. Felt very safe with him at the wheel especially on some of the narrow winding roads. Most hotels were great. Some not quite. I understand there is limited choice in all locations, but I still think the hotels could spend a little to upgrade flat pillows, replace well used mattresses and toilets that flush. I would have liked to have stopped at a few places not on the itinerary (that we passed), as they looked interesting, but I understand there are time limits so the only answer would be to extend the tour We also had excellent weather throughout, bit Inight can't take credit for that, lol"

Isle of Skye & Outer Hebrides Tour

Isle of Skye & Outer Hebrides

"I would have liked to stop at glencoe to walk around for a couple of hours. The tour was fast paced allowing us to see many things in a short period of time"
  • €75 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Highland Trail inspired by Outlander (13 Days) Tour

Highland Trail inspired by Outlander (13 Days)

"Just completed 14 day tour with 42 others on the 'Outlander' tour to the Scottish Highlands. The tour leader Jon Sowden was excellent, competent, knowledgeable and unflappable, the main driver Tommy was likewise, they made a great team. The tour covered a lot of territory, we stayed at old and new hotels, the hotel in Ballachulish was magnificent in character and location. We were blessed by amazing weather but the tour would have been worthwhile even if we had lots of rain as we expected. We enjoyed the whole experience."
  • €100 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) Tour

  • Christmas & New Year

Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days)

"Rose Brown made our trip wonderful. For the entire coach tour from October 12, 2019 through October 24, 2019, Rose was upbeat, personable and always made herself available. She took the time to get to know each of us personally and shared some fun stories from her life experiences. She kept our crew organized and dealt with all of our personalities and constant requests and inquiries seamlessly. She adjusted our plans based on the weather and construction in order to ensure we were able to see all of the places on our itinerary and the places we had personally requested to see. We never had to wait in a line, or for a meal as everything was taken care of before we arrived at each destination. Rose was very knowledgeable regarding all things Scotland and is passionate about her trade. Thank you Rose! It was a great experience. Colleen McKeon"

2-day Outlander Tour (Small Group) Tour

2-day Outlander Tour (Small Group)

"This tour was absolutely SENSATIONAL! It was so surreal to be in filming locations but also so unexpectedly pleasant to stop off at a number of other destinations as well in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Our guide was so friendly and clearly brought his all to the trip. Can't recommend this trip enough."
  • 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Country Roads of Scotland (Small Groups, 9 Days) Tour

Country Roads of Scotland (Small Groups, 9 Days)

Skye, The Highlands & Loch Ness - from Glasgow Tour

Skye, The Highlands & Loch Ness - from Glasgow

"Excellent trip that I did out of default ... kept together by Graeme’s knowledge, wit and excellent driving. Maybe an open suggestion to meet up at night at one spot for dinner / drink for the whole group as all new to town ... excellent suggestions were made which I took to visit two different locations for both nights but found later others would like to have done the same."

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Isle Of Skye And The Highlands Tour

Isle Of Skye And The Highlands

"Steve was personable and knowledgeable but sometimes a bit difficult to understand over the microphone. His driving was excellent over sometimes difficult terrain.I loved the scenery, the history, the spirit of people we met, and their national pride. I hope to return to Scotland and will recommend my trip to everyone I know."

Loch Ness, Inverness & The Highlands - from Edinburgh Tour

Loch Ness, Inverness & The Highlands - from Edinburgh

"Eilean Donan castle and the Isle of Skye from Inverness. What a brilliant tour, it surpassed our expectations. The driver/guide Sandy was excellent. Definitely recommend it. We were so lucky it was sunshine and blue skies all day in a week of rain, snow and cold. An absolute gem."

Orkney & The Far North Tour

Orkney & The Far North

"We just returned from an 8 day tour with Steve as our guide. He was fantastic! The tour was incredible. Only 13 in a mini bus and we all had such a lovely time. Left the tour teary as hated to leave all my new friends. Marilyn from Canada"

Majestic Scotland (7 Days) Tour

  • Active Adventure

Majestic Scotland (7 Days)

5-Day Orkney & Scotland\'s Northern Coast Small-Group Tour from Edinburgh Tour

5-Day Orkney & Scotland's Northern Coast Small-Group Tour from Edinburgh

"Our tour exceeded my expectations! Well organized and great attention to details. Our guide was personable and knowledgeable and really brought the history to life. Would go again in a minute!!"

Discover Scotland  (Glasgow to Edinburgh) (2023) Tour

Discover Scotland (Glasgow to Edinburgh) (2023)

Discover Scotland  (Glasgow to Edinburgh) (2024) Tour

Discover Scotland (Glasgow to Edinburgh) (2024)

3-Day Orkney Explorer Small-Group Small-Group Tour from Inverness Tour

3-Day Orkney Explorer Small-Group Small-Group Tour from Inverness

Scotland family trips/tours reviews.

"It was really enjoyable."
"Gillian was fantastic! Her passion for Scotland and her love of her homeland was so evident from the very start. She taught us so much about the history of Scotland and showed us so many beautiful places. Her sense of humour is wonderful, as is her storytelling ability and her music. She kept us enthralled and entertained every day! Thank you, Gillian, so very much! We will never forget you or Scotland!!"
"Simone was a wonder. She was knowledgeable, professional and very well connected. We got to see some very special sites not listed in the itinerary for the Outlander tour. All was accomplished with grace and humor."
"This tour was absolutely SENSATIONAL! It was so surreal to be in filming locations but also so unexpectedly pleasant to stop off at a number of other destinations as well in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Our guide was so friendly and clearly brought his all to the trip. Can't recommend this trip enough."
"I would never forget how wonderful this trip was. I cannot post this review without mentioning our tour guide Paul. I became re excited like a kid whenever he began to explain the history and tales behind every place we pass through and visit. I would recommend this tour to anyone who would like to have a nice trip to the highlands."

Regions in Scotland

  • Scottish Highlands (20)
  • Northern Scotland (20)
  • Isle Of Skye (15)
  • Central Scotland (5)

Travel Styles

  • 10 Best Family Travel Agencies 2024
  • Scotland Travel Guide | All You Need to Know
  • Best 7 Day Scotland Itineraries 2024 (with Reviews)

International Versions

  • Deutsch: Schottland Familienreise Rundreisen
  • Français: Écosse : Circuits en famille
  • Español: Circuitos en familia por Escocia
  • Nederlands: Familie Rondreizen in Schotland

Italy Family Vacations

Spain family vacations, japan family vacations, australia family vacations, how to plan an incredible family trip to scotland.

  • By Lisa Frederick
  • October 23, 2019

Given the spectacular landscapes, dramatic ruins, wild coastal beauty and wealth of culture, a family trip to Scotland offers so many tempting possibilities that it can feel daunting to choose. The good news? That also means it’s hard to go wrong. Our top itinerary suggestion for first-time visitors pairs a few days of immersion in Edinburgh’s ancient past and modern-day buzz with a retreat to the rural Highlands for a taste of life in the countryside and an eyeful of some of the most stunning scenery on the planet. The list of ideas for a family vacation in Scotland is as vast as the gorgeous views.

Best Places to Visit in Scotland for Families

If you have time for only one Edinburgh attraction, make it  Edinburgh Castle . Hunkered down on a hilltop, this behemoth presides over the city with all the gravitas of its 1,000-plus-year history. You can take as much time as you like to explore the castle and its museums, but plan on at least one and a half to two hours to get a thorough overview. Try to catch the firing of the One O’Clock Gun, which has gone off every day (except Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday) since 1861.

Afterward, make a stop at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, a 19th-century funhouse right next to the castle that’s filled with mazes, optical illusions, holographs and other interactive fun. Its namesake and showpiece is an old-fashioned camera obscura through which you can peer at the streets below. Or see the  Museum of Childhood , a quick but fun — and free — detour on the Royal Mile that highlights the evolution of toys over the years. On a rainy day, its one of our favorite things to do with toddlers in Scotland. If the kids are game for a more intensive museum visit, pop into the National Museum of Scotland . The collection is vast and eclectic, but excellent kids’ programs and cool interactive activities help younger ones get the most out of it.

TIP : If you have two or three days to spare between the city and the Highlands, spend them at Gleneagles , located in the countryside about 60 miles northwest of Edinburgh. This magical luxury retreat is bliss for all ages, offering a nearly endless list of family-friendly activities: pony trekking, fishing, biking, falconry, a gundog school, indoor games, a toy-filled playroom, a teen lounge and many more. Parents, meanwhile, will be partial to the spa, the golf course and the first-rate onsite dining.

Ciao Bambino can help you plan an incredible family vacation in Scotland

Our Family Travel Advising Team will work with you to book accommodations, recommend activities and more, all with one-on-one support. Click here to send us a request >

Inverness and the Scottish Highlands

A few hours’ drive west of Edinburgh, Inverness — a hub of the Scottish Highlands — makes a convenient base for one of this region’s signature sights:  Loch Ness . Reserve a spot on a  Jacobite Cruises  boat tour to cruise the waters and keep an eye out for the fabled Loch Ness Monster. Although parents may or may not buy into the Nessie lore, kids will get a kick out of searching for her with the radar monitor that combs the depths of the water. And the setting, with views of evocative Urquhart Castle (an optional stop), is a highlight for everyone.

For a totally unique glimpse into life in the Highlands, plus memorable time together as a family, book a lesson at  Scottish Highland Art , deep in the countryside about 30 minutes from Inverness. Artist Ros Rowell welcomes guests to her cozy studio and does a fantastic job instructing families in different painting techniques, making sure they create pieces they’ll be proud to show off at home.

The classic itinerary for a family trip to Scotland includes a visit to the Isle of Skye or another of the Hebrides , and that’s certainly doable from Inverness. But for a more offbeat coastal excursion, drive north to Spey Bay for dolphin watching and strolling along the bay’s pretty beach. The  Scottish Dolphin Centre  has a staff of naturalists who can help you spot the sea creatures, plus a small educational center. On the way there or back, make time for a stop at  Dunrobin Castle . It flies under the radar compared to big-name cousins such as Stirling and Eilean Donan, but its rooms and gardens are well worth touring, and its small museum displays a collection of taxidermy and Celtic stones.

Where to Stay in Scotland with Kids

Luxury-loving families will adore the iconic Balmoral Hotel as well as the Waldorf-Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian . Both of these 5-star properties are located on Princes Street a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile, and both pamper guests in every imaginable regard. We offer our clients wonderful perks when their stay is booked through our agency.

Depending on where you travel to in the Scottish countryside, we can recommend full-service resorts or intimate castle stays or quiet bed and breakfasts. Reach out to our family travel advisors to beginning planning your perfect getaway to Scotland!

Relevant Links:

Browse all-family friendly activities and destinations in Scotland with kids

72 hours in Edinburgh with kids

Best things to do in Glasgow with kids

Best luxury hotels in Scotland with kids

A taste of Adventures by Disney Scotland

A dream home base in rural Scotland with outdoor activities galore

Start a Discussion

The vibrant colors and vivid descriptions in your blog transport me to another world. Thanks for the virtual escape!

https://www.voyageroams.com

Hi Team. I am new to the UK and we would like to plan a trip to Scotland. My wife and I, along with our son (2.5 years), would love to go on a 3 day trip to Scotland. Please help me with this. Thank you.

Hi Karthik, our Family Vacation Advisors will be happy to help! Someone will reach out in email about next steps.

Another important point is while you are traveling in the Highlands to bring some insect spray as the small insects (midges) can be really irritating and the bit although not dangerous is uncomfortable. And dress in layers!

We are planning to go to Edinburgh on November 28th with 1.5 years baby. We are interesting to go highland, castle and lochness as well. Could you please advise the suitable tour for us?

Hi Aries, thanks for using our site! We can book tours as part of our complete family vacation planning service. I’ll have a Family Travel Advisor get in touch via email to explain more about how we work. Enjoy your trip!

  • Pingback: Things to Do in Edinburgh | Edinburgh Family Holidays | Ciao Bambino

Hello My sister & I are planning a wee road trip in Scotland with our 5 kids boy 10 girl 7 girl 4 boy 4 & baby In August, we’ve done the East coast so keen to do a bit more maybe an Inverness starting point then ending back in in Glencoe and would majorly appreciate a pre-tried itinerary for travelling with kids in Scotland. Time wise 3/4/5 days worth TIA

Hi Kim, sounds like a fun adventure! I’ll pass this along to our Family Travel Advisor team, and the right person will reach out in email to see if our planning service is a good fit. Happy travels!

Hi there ! We are planning a trip to Scotland in May with our 5 year old and 2 year old. Would you point us in the right direction ? Thanks !

Hi Usmaan, we’d be happy to help! A Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland will follow up via email. Have a wonderful trip!

Hi there! Planning a trip to Scotland in June with my family of 7/ 3 children (4yr, two 2yr olds) 4 adults. Looking for advice on best stops for then to run and enjoy the wilderness while still having fun visiting unique places. As well as the best affordable places offering larger room accommodations or catering to families as we’ll be traveling on a budget. Thanks!

Hi April, thanks for reaching out! One of our Family Vacation Advisors will be in touch via email to discuss next steps and how we can help with your plans. While our specialty is upscale to luxury accommodations, we do maintain a select list of more affordable properties. Best of luck with your travels.

Good day, We are staying in Edinburgh, Scotland this Dec. for 1 week with a 2.5 year old. Any tips and advise will be appreciated (what to wear, pram or baby carrier) and advise on kids friendly places to go to in Edinburgh and outside.

Hi Chandre, thanks for reaching out! We’d be glad to help. One of our Family Travel Advisors will get in touch via email and explain more about our trip planning service. Happy travels!

We have our 1.5 yrs baby coming with us to Scotland this February and would love to do loch ness, Glencoe and highland tour. Could you advise on how we can arrange this.

Hi Nadya! We’d be happy to help as part of our full planning service. Would you like one of our Family Travel Advisors to reach out in email?

We would love to do the same as Nadya with our 2 year old in April. Could somebody help us with an itinerary?

Hi Sophie! Let me relay your request to our Family Travel Advisor team, and one of our planners will reach out in email. Happy travels!

Would like to know about packages for a 3 or 4 day visit to Scotland strating from Edinburgh. Family of 3 with a kid 3 years old.

Hi there! We do offer a Scotland package and you can find out more here: https://ciaobambino.com/family-vacation-package/scotland . Our Family Travel Advisor Team can also arrange a custom trip for you if you decide to go that route. I’ll have a colleague reach out in email. Thanks!

Hi, Me , my wife and our 2 year old daughter will be on our Scotland tour from 3rd Nov to 6th Nov ’18). Could you suggest a 3 days itinerary for us. we would like to visit Lochness, Isle of Skyee , is it advisable to visit during November ? if not what are the other options

Hi Krishna, thanks for your request! One of our Family Vacation Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email to see how we can help. Happy planning!

Hi, Me , my wife and our 22 months old son will be on our Scotland tour(11th Aug -14th Aug ’18). Could you suggest a 3 days itinerary for us on an urgent basis. Thanks,

Hi Jeetendra – Thanks for using Ciao Bambino! I’ll have a Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland reach out in email. Best of luck.

Hi, my family and I are going next summer and my daughter will be 4.5. We love golf and are partially coming to play 3-5 courses, but also want fun for the whole family and especially my daughter. Can you help?

Hi Michael, absolutely! One of our Family Vacation Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email. Happy planning!

Hi We are a total of : Adults : 4 Children : 2 ( both children between 6 – 7 Years of age ) Infants : 2 (Infant 1 – 8 months old & Infant 2 – 1 Year 8 months ) We want to book the Family 1 day tour of – Loch Ness , Glencoe & the Highlands on 20th June 2018 . Pls let me know the following : 1. Are infants allowed on this tour ? 2. Is car seat mandatory for infants on this tour ?

Hi Shagun – Your best bet is to reach out to the tour company directly to check availability. They can advise about age limitations and car seats. Best of luck and thanks for using our site!

We have our 1.5 yrs baby coming with us to Scotland this October and would love to do loch ness, Glencoe and highland tour. Could you advise on how we can arrange this

Hi Farah, absolutely, we can help with this. One of our Family Travel Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email to see how we can help. Happy travels!

we want to travel on the 18-22nd June with our 2 and half year old. please can you advise re itinerary – would like to go to Loch Ness, isle of Skye if possible. could you please email us over options many thanks

Hi Davina, thanks for using Ciao Bambino! One of our Family Travel Advisors will reach out in email to see how we can help. Happy planning!

Hi , I am planning to come with my family including 3 kids(9,14 and 3 Year old). Not many tour planners offer with less than 5 year old and the ones which have are very expensive. Can you please suggest

Hi Aman, thanks for reaching out! Our specialty is 4- and 5-star itineraries. If you’d like to find a budget travel-focused operator for Scotland, we recommend that you check in with the Scotland Tourist Board and have them direct you, https://www.visitscotland.com/ . Happy planning!

Hey, we are a family of three with a 14 months toddler. We plan to take a day trip from Edinburgh. Do you have anything in store for us?

Hi Rutuja, we’d be happy to help. One of our Family Travel Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email. Happy travels!

I am planning a trip to Scotland with my 2 year old daughter and would be staying at Glasgow. Please advice

Hi Tony, thanks for using Ciao Bambino! We’ll have a Family Travel Advisor reach out in email to talk about how our service works and how we can help. Happy planning!

We will be travelling to Scotland in April/May with our 2.5 year old and would love some information on the best things to see/do in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and the Scottish Highlands… as well as the best way to go about it logistically in 10-14 days. Any information would be great! Thank you.

Hi Christie, we’d be glad to help! A Family Vacation Advisor specializing in the UK will reach out in email to talk about next steps. Thank you for using our site.

We are attending a wedding in Aberdeen July 24/25 2018 and would like to take our then 1.5 and 4.5 yo kids with us. Could you help us plan logistics and a great vacation?

Hi Jenny, thanks for reaching out. We’d be happy to help – one of our Family Travel Advisors will contact you in email about next steps. Best of luck!

Hi My husband n me are planning to go to scotland at the end of November 2017 with my 2.5 years old daughter.we are staying in Portsmouth now.we don’t want whole day tour…we want three days tour but 3 to 4 hours in a day for the sake of my baby…is it possible ? Please let me know as soon as possible

Hi Soma, thanks for using Ciao Bambino! A Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland will reach out in email to talk about next steps. Happy travels!

I would like more information about traveling with a 1 year old and two adults please 🙂

Hi Monica! Thanks for using Ciao Bambino. We’ll have a Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland reach out in email. Best wishes!

hi I am travelling with 5 month old and would like to do a tour of the highlands with my mom and the baby. my mom wants to see Eilean Donan Castle

Hi Joy, are you currently traveling or planning for the future? Let us know, and we’ll have the right Family Travel Advisor reach out in email to help. Thanks!

Hi We are planning for a trip to Edinburg between 26th Oct (reaching night 11:30) till 29th (by around 6:30 PM – tour you may end by dropping us on Edinburgh Waverley station)) and looking for an all-inclusive package (accomodation and travel). We are 2 family, as in 4 adult and 2 kids (of 3 year and 2 year old). Can you please provide a option to cover best places in these 3 days with a cost? We haven’t decided the places to cover and would like your advice over same.  For accommodation, we would need 2 separate twin or double room. Looking forward for your response.

Hello Aniket, thanks for using Ciao Bambino. We’ll have a Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland reach out in email to see how we can help with your plans.

hi, we are travelling with 2 kids.. one is an infant (1yr) and other one 4 yr old. can u let us know if there are any 3day tour in scotland for the same. please contact me on [email protected] regards Sahil..

Hi Sahil – Thanks for reaching out! A Family Travel Advisor will be in touch via email to talk about next steps. Happy travels!

Hello, I am interested to travel Scotland and England from London with my wife and 3 year old Daughter in October, 2017. Please provide details.

Hi Gaurav! Thank you for using Ciao Bambino as a travel resource! We’ll have one of our Family Travel Advisors specializing in Scotland and England reach out in email. Happy planning!

Hi We are 4 adults travelling to Edinburgh for a 4 day holiday in August. We will have a 9 month old baby with us. We would like to go for a day tour in the Highlands. Any suggestions please? Thanks

Thank you MaryAnne for your using Ciao Bambino as a family travel resource! We have sent you a message about your inquiry. Happy travels!

Hi, I am planning to visit Edinburgh this year in the end of june. I am travelling with a a 1.5 years old child and looking for a tour company that will allow young toddlers too. Could you suggest someone? thanks Sunny

Hi Sunny – Thanks for reaching out! Our focus is on providing full itineraries for parents traveling with kids rather than standalone tour and activity recommendations. If we can be of help with a more comprehensive trip plan, please let us know!

Hi, We are planning to visit Scotland by end of june for 5d/4n with two kids 16 month n 9 yrs. Can you suggest good bus tour guide who is ready to take kids along as most of the travellers are not allowing kids. Please suggest Thanks Monika

Thank you Monika for your message! We sent you a private message in response. Happy travels!

Hi we will be traveling with our 22 month old daughter to Scotland from July 19-25 and would love some help with going to and getting around the Highlands and Loche Ness!

Thank you Missi for your message! We have sent you a private message. Happy travels!

Hi, I am planning to Visit Scotland this late June. The problem I am facing is that all the bus tours are not ready to take along with my 6 months old Infant daughter. Can you suggest me any bus tour guides who will allow it. We are not weighing private cab tours because of our budget constraints. Please suggest. Thanks Raj

Thank you Raj for your message! For this we would suggest to contact the Tourist Board. Here is their official website. https://www.visitscotland.com/contact-us/

Hi. I’m traveling to Scotland with my husband and 2 year old daughter fro 17-23 June 2017. We intend to base ourselves out of Edinburgh, but I haven’t been able to find any tours that take us to the surrounding areas that allow toddlers – can you please help?

A Family Travel Advisor will connect with you soon. Thanks for your patience!

Hi, I’m visiting Edinburg with my family on June 8, 2017 with 2 year old and would like to make a 2 day trip to highland, Glancoe , Lochness, Fort williams etc Could you please advise on the family support tours? Thanks, Manali

Hi Manali – We can help with tours as part of our comprehensive vacation planning service. I’ll have a Family Vacation Advisor specializing in Scotland reach out via email and explain more about how we work. Thank you!

Plan to visit the highlands with a 10 month old baby in July – from Cairynryan. Can someone please contact me with suggestions for a base location? Thanks

Hi Louise – We’ll be glad to help! A Family Vacation Consultant specializing in Scotland will reach out in email. Enjoy your travels!

Hi, I’m visiting Edinburgh with my family on 20 May 2017 with 1 year old baby and would like to make a day trip to highland, Glancoe and Lochness. Could you please advise on the family support tours? Thanks, Charlie

Hi Charlie, thanks for using Ciao Bambino! We work with several local family-friendly companies who offer tours – I’ll have a Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland reach out in email to discuss options.

Hi I am planning to travel with my Kid 2 years old in Scotland for a short tour in June.Can you recommend the places to visit and the option of transport please ?

Hi Somnath – thanks for using Ciao Bambino! One of our Family Travel Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email. Happy travels!

Hi lisa, We would be travelling to scotland for 4 nights in june with our 6 year old daughter can you pleasevhekp us plan our itenary with some stay at farm bookings. Thanks, Ami

Hi Ami, one of our Family Travel Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email to talk about next steps. Thanks and happy planning!

Hi Lisa, We are here in Edinburgh right now with our 14 Month Old daughter. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We are having a hard time finding ways to take kids this age through tours or even dining for Dinner. We will be here for the next 4 weeks so we have time to look into any suggestions. Thank you.

Hi Felix – Thanks for using Ciao Bambino! Our focus is on full itineraries and accommodations. If you’d like help booking hotels and activities, we can have a Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland reach out in email.

Hi Lisa, We would be in London from May 24 to June 2 n plan a Scotland tour of 3 days. We are a couple accompanied by ouy 2.25 yr old son. Thanks

Hi Prashant, one of our Family Travel Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email to see how we can help. Thanks!

Hi, we are travelling to Scotland with a 5.5 year old boy in June/July for a week, can you please help us plan our trip considering there’s a child with us Thank you

Hi Patel – Absolutely. One of our Family Travel Planners specializing in Scotland will be in touch via email. Happy planning!

Hi, I and my wife were planning to visit Scotland with our 2yrs old daughter. Would love to get some help in arranging our plans for this July. Thanks

Hi Ryan – We’re happy to help! One of our Family Travel Advisors specializing in Scotland will reach out in email. Thanks!

Hi. Can u help me out with recommendations to travel with 5 year old in the month of April -may

Hi Sanam – Absolutely! Our Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland will reach out in email to see how we can help. Thanks!

Hi Interested in recommendations for travel with two and half year old in Scotland around july

Hi Angela – We’re happy to help! Our Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland will reach out to you in email. Happy planning!

Hi. We are an Indian family of four, 2 adults and our 2 children aged 16 &8 yrs. We are planning to fly straight to Edinburg fromNew Delhi this June and cover the best of Scotland in 4-5 days. Then we plan to head onwards to Brussels, London, Paris and end our European escapade withSwitzerland. Can one of your local experts help us in planning our trip? Much thanks

Hi Tandons – Thank you for your message. One of our Family Vacation Advisors specializing in those destinations in Europe will reach out in email to help. Happy Planning! -Amie

Ciao! I will be traveling with two children: 2.5 y/o and 7 y/o. I’d like to be contacted by a Scotland focused family travel advisor please. Thank you!

Hi Jen, Wonderful! One of our Family Vacation Advisors specializing in Scotland will be in touch to help. Happy Planning! Best, Amie

Hi, I am planning to reach Edinburgh on 25th Sep and want to go for some places in Scotland. Could you please suggest some places or tour packages which allows 10 months baby in it. I am coming with my wife and my 10 months baby. My mail id: [email protected]

Hi there, and thanks for using Ciao Bambino! We’ll have a Family Travel Advisor specializing in Scotland reach out in email to help.

Hi! My husband and I and my 16 months would want to take a 3 day tour in Scotland in June. Can you please recommend something for us?

Hi Renalyn – One of our expert Scotland planners will reach out to you in email. Thank you for your interest!

Hi Amie, Can i also have your contact for the toddler-friendly Scotland tour? we have our 2.5 yrs baby coming with us to Scotland this October and would love to do loch ness, Glencoe and highland tour. regards, Axaya

Hi Axaya, Indeed, I’ll have our Scotland-focused Family Travel Advisor reach out. Thanks! -Amie

I also plan to do a 3-4 day tour to Scotland with a 20 month old. Please help

Regards Anurag

Hi Anurag, thanks for reaching out to us. When do you plan to travel? Let us know and we can determine how best to help!

Hi we have a 7 month old infant and we are keen to do isle of skyre tour please can you suggest the best way

Hi Sargam, I’ll have one of our Family Vacation Consultants specializing in Scotland reach out. Thanks! -Amie

hi Amie, can i also have your contact for the toddler-friendly scotland tour? we have our 20 months baby coming with us to Scotland this Dec and would love to do loch ness, glencoe and highland tour. thanks

Hi Cendana, Thanks for your message. I’ll have one of our Scotland specialists reach out to help (she will email you). Best, -Amie

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Things to do in Scotland with kids: Best family days out in Scotland

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A view over Stirling, one of the places to go on a great day out in Scotland

Days out in Scotland are back on the table for 2021, with lockdown slowly beginning to lift and the restrictions eased. 

Family days out are just one of the things that we're all looking forward to during the school summer holidays , especially as the weather warms up and brighter evenings arrive. So while there's not been much opportunity to explore castles like those in Edinburgh and Stirling or go for a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train this year just yet, they're sure to be first on the list when they're open again.

In the meantime, if you're looking for things to do with kids over the next couple of weeks that don't include Zoom games or virtual tours then be sure to check out any of these nature spots local to you.

Best family days out in Scotland:

1. loch ness cruises, inverness.

Who hasn't heard of Nessie? This is the famous Loch Ness where the legendary three-humped monster lurks beneath the surface. Keen adventurers and myth busters will love a day out around the lake and there's no better way to do it than by taking to its waters on a cruise.

Loch Ness by Jacobite offers a range of tours to go on, whether you just want to explore the lake or fit in as many other sites as possible along the way. Some of the other picturesque scenes to discover along the way include Urquhart Castle (pictured), which stands proudly on the northern shore of Loch Ness. This is certainly one of the most bracing days out on Scotland!

Urquhart Castle sitting in front of Loch Ness, one of the family days out to be had in Scotland

Under the current government restrictions, Jacobite are not currently running their tours across Loch Ness. In the meantime, check out their photo gallery for a brief insight into what's in store when they're open for business again.

Best for: Kids with wild imaginations! FIND OUT MORE ABOUT JACOBITE CRUISES 

2. Bowhill Country Estate, Selkirk

Visit this enchanting and secluded estate, surrounded by a beautiful lake and acres of woodlands. Bowhill is one of Scotland's hidden gems and it's definitely one of the most scenic days out to be had in Scotland.

There's plenty of outdoor activities to take part in too, everything from fishing to hiking, horsehiding and even indoor estate tours (out of lockdown, of course). There's even a theatre! It's a fantastic place to go come rain or shine as there's so much for adults and kids to get stuck into.

Bowhill Country Estate is closed to visitors for the moment under the lockdown regulations. However, local residents are allowed to enjoy walks around green spaces as part of their daily exercise. The estate has asked that anyone doing this parks safely in the visitor car park.

Best for: The adventure playground... zip wire included! FIND OUT MORE ABOUT BOWHILL ESTATE

3. Almond Valley Museum, Farm and Discovery Centre, West Lothian

For anyone who loves animals of all kinds, Almond Valley's Farm is real treat of a day out. There's a petting farm filled with friendly farm animals keen to introduce themselves to visitors, along with an adventure playground, indoor soft play area and a giant pillow (yes, you heard that right!).

days out in Scotland

Fields, woods and green spaces surround the farm, stretching for almost a mile to the river Almond. Along with the Mill petting farm, the historic Livingston Mill and a number of museum displays and other activity spaces are also on site.

At the moment, the farm is closed under lockdown restrictions in Scotland. A statement on their site reads, 'Another three weeks of closure is a terrible disappointment for all, but is the most responsible course of action to best protect the health of our visitors and our staff.'

Best for: Under 10s. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ALMOND VALLEY FARM

4. Stirling Castle, Stirling

Stirling Castle is the beating heart of all things art, culture and celebrity in Scotland - or at least it was in the 16th century. It's still one of the most cultural days out in Scotland though, that's for sure! Take in the stunning architecture of the Royal Palace and visit the surrounding historic buildings, along with the breathtaking Palace gardens.

For a magical trip into the past, make sure to check out the Palace Vaults and slip into a costume to join the court jesters. Or check out the Regimental Museum, which houses exquisite artifacts from all around the world. Plus if the timing's right, you might just get a visit from some of Stirling's most famous (controversial) residents...

Following the lockdown announcement for mainland Scotland, the castle is closed for the time being. But that doesn't mean the intrigue, mystery and history stops! Check out the castle's blog for fascinating reads all about the history of the castle and its infamous residents over the years.

Best for: Dressing up in the castle's fancy dress box FIND OUT MORE ABOUT STIRLING CASTLE 

A view of Stirling Castle on top of a hill surrounded by trees, one of the family days out in Scotland for kids

5. Dundee Science Centre, Dundee

As one of the most popular museum centres in Scotland, the Dundee Science Centre is also one of the biggest science centres in the UK. It has over 80 hands-on exhibits for an all round sensory experience that kids will love.

They can have a go at making their own fun, wacky sounds with the Music Mayhem exhibition while little ones under 5 can discover the Musical Mystery Bus, an interactive, live show that runs normally through the day.

The Dundee Science Centre is closed currently under lockdown restrictions.

Best for: Interactive experience FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE DUNDEE SCIENCE CENTRE

days out in Scotland

6. Blair Drummond Safari Park, Stirling

We bet you hadn't counted on spotting a tiger on your trip to Scotland! But at the Blair Drummon Safari Park, it's almost guaranteed that you'll come face to face with the Big 5 - along with 350 other rare and exotic animals. Their extensive collection includes zebras, lions, meerkats, elephants and giraffes, so whatever the kids' favourite animal, you're sure to find them roaming around here.

Take a boat trip around Chimp Island, enjoy the stunning sea lion show or take a ride at the fun fair and get your face painted - there's absolutely loads to do! Don't miss the 'Meet the Keeper' talks throughout the day to get even more inspired by these amazing creatures.

The park is also part of the worldwide network of zoos which care for rare species of animals as part of the Endangered Species Breeding Programme. So when you visit the park, you also know you're supporting animal conservation projects in the UK and around the world.

Much like other attractions in Scotland, Blair Drummond Safari Park is closed for now. You can still plan your visit though and check out all the animals that are getting ready to greet visitors again, once the park reopens later this year.

Best for: Value FIND OUT MORE ABOUT BLAIR DRUMMOND SAFARI PARK

7. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic sites in Scotland. It overlooks the nation's beautiful capital, often lit up at night. Along with Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle is home to some of Scotland's most legendary royals who fought ancient battles. It was later used as a prison for enemies of the state, unsurprisingly, considering the mighty size of this fortress.

Download the family-friendly itinerary and let the kids navigate their way through the castle walls with a series of clues.

Edinburgh Castle is closed at the moment, but you can go on a virtual tour of the exterior and get to know the workings of the castle before your visit.

Best for: Spectacular views over the city FIND OUT MORE ABOUT EDINBURGH CASTLE

8. Deep Sea World, North Queensferry

If you're kids are fascinated with sea life and dream of deep sea diving and underwater exploring, this one must be on your list. As Scotland's National Aquarium there's plenty to see and do. Meet Stella the stingray, enjoy the beautiful range of the tropical fish and get a true ocean-floor experience in the UK's longest underwater tunnel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXqhUtsICNk&feature=emb_title

The aquarium is closed at the moment but will reopen later in the year.

Best for: Shark dives (yes, really!) FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DEEP SEA WORLD

9. The Time Capsule Water Park, Lanarkshire

If you're not sure you can quite rely on the Scottish weather, the Time Capsule is a perfect day out come rain or shine! Little (and big) ones can get caught up in the Tornado Tantrum, before riding high on the 10m Storm Chasers and experience Thunder and Lightening and take on all the twists and turns of of the Tsunami Wave Pool. Then you can cool off under the huge tipping bucket on Splashdown Island or take a gentle trip across the Riptide River.

There's also a newly refurbished ice rink and a fitness centre, so truly something for the whole family to enjoy.

The park is closed under lockdown restrictions, but they have said that re-opening dates will be published on the website soon.

Best for: Rainy days FIND OUT ABOUT THE TIME CAPSULE WATER PARK

10. The National Museum of Flight, East Lothian

If the thought of flying through the skies thrills your little ones, or even mum and dad, then you must visit this former airfield. Explore the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day, including the chance to get on board Scotland's only Concorde.

days out in Scotland

You will spend hours being entertained with interactive exhibitions, supersonic experiences, historic hangars, an assault course and acres of green grass and fresh air. Plus, under 5s can enter for free!

The museum is currently closed under lockdown restrictions, but will reopen later this year.

Best for: Aviation buffs FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF FLIGHT

11. Mabie Farm Park, Dumfries

Mabie's has something for all the family, from donkey rides, to quad bikes, to paddle boating, kids can try new adventures, and explore the Scottish countryside in this beautiful and action-packed farm. Plus, every afternoon, (with expert supervision of course) kids get the chance to feed and handle some of the animals.

They've got all the farm animals you could ever want to see including, Shetland Ponies, Belted Galloways, Welsh Cob Horses, Llamas, Alpaca, as well as Kune Kune Pigs, Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs, Goats, Donkeys.

Mabie Farm Park is closed at the moment, but you can still plan your visit by taking a look at all the amazing attractions they have on offer.

Best for: Variety of things to do FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MABIE FARM PARK

12. Jacobite Steam Train, Scottish Highlands

Fans of Harry Potter will go wild as they imagine they're off to Hogwarts on the Jacobite Steam Train, which passes over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, a location featured in the Harry Potter films.

Described as the greatest railway journey in the world, this 84 mile round trip takes you past a list of impressive extremes, from  the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis! Great for train enthusiasts but also a perfect exploration for the whole family.

There's also a full Cream Tea experience to be had on board (pre-book in advance), with chunky sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea and coffee.

Best for: All the family FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE JACOBITE STEAM TRAIN

These are just some of the best days out in Scotland to check out when they open later on this year. Keep your eyes peeled and keyboards at the ready to make that booking!

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family day trips scotland

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Scotland Family Vacation Packages 2024/2025

If you’re looking for Scotland family vacation packages, we have a wide variety of group family tours and private family getaways. With kid-friendly museums, like the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh (it has treasure hunts around the exhibits!), wild Barra beaches perfect for sandcastles and surfing, and family kayaking excursions on Loch Lomond, there is something to engage everyone. Scotland tours with the family are a great way to experience the country without having to constantly think of new and exciting things to do — the itinerary and logistics are already sorted for you! Opt for a group Scotland family vacation package trip where you can travel with other families, or choose a private tour of Scotland that leaves quality time for you and your loved ones. Here are some of the best Scotland family tours for inspiration.

  • Best Time To Visit Scotland

67 family trips in Scotland

Best Of Scotland Tour

  • Starts Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Ends Glasgow, Scotland

Best of Scotland

  • Best price guaranteed
  • No booking fees
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Activities City sightseeing & Natural landmarks sightseeing City sightseeing , Natural landmarks sightseeing , Mountains & Art and architecture 'data-more-tripid='22540'>+2 more
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Transport Ferry & Coach
  • Age Range 5-95 yrs
  • Operated in English
  • Brochure Price: US$ 1,830
  • Special Deal (11%): - US$ 194
  • Total Price from: US$ 1,636
  • Feb 18 Only 8 seats left
  • Mar 03 10+ seats left
  • View More Jan 1, 2019 Jan 2, 2019 Jan 3, 2019

Highlights Of Scotland Tour

Highlights of Scotland

  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Local culture & Natural landmarks sightseeing Local culture , Natural landmarks sightseeing , Classes and workshops & Mountains 'data-more-tripid='22775'>+2 more
  • Transport Train, Private Vehicle, Boat & Ferry
  • Age Range 12-95 yrs
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,599
  • Special Deal (10%): - US$ 260
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,339
  • May 14 10+ seats left
  • May 19 Only 1 seat left

Best Of Scotland Tour

  • Activities City sightseeing & Natural landmarks sightseeing City sightseeing , Natural landmarks sightseeing , Art and architecture & Mountains 'data-more-tripid='23441'>+2 more
  • Transport Coach & Ferry
  • Age Range 5-99 yrs
  • Feb 18 10+ seats left

Highland Trail Inspired By Outlander

Highland Trail inspired by Outlander

  • Activities Walking tours & Natural landmarks sightseeing Walking tours , Natural landmarks sightseeing & Art and architecture 'data-more-tripid='20936'>+1 more
  • Brochure Price: US$ 4,595
  • Special Deal (15%): - US$ 689
  • Total Price from: US$ 3,906
  • May 13 10+ seats left
  • May 20 10+ seats left

Scotlands Highlands Islands And Cities Tour

Scotlands Highlands Islands and Cities

  • Activities City sightseeing & Natural landmarks sightseeing City sightseeing , Natural landmarks sightseeing , Art and architecture & War sites 'data-more-tripid='22537'>+2 more
  • Brochure Price: US$ 4,795
  • Special Deal (10%): - US$ 479
  • Total Price from: US$ 4,316
  • Apr 29 10+ seats left

Majestic Scotland Tour

  • Starts Glasgow, Scotland
  • Ends Edinburgh, Scotland

Majestic Scotland

  • Activities Adventure
  • Brochure Price: US$ 1,595
  • Special Deal (10%): - US$ 160
  • Total Price from: US$ 1,435
  • Apr 13 Only 10 seats left
  • May 11 Only 10 seats left

Winter Highlands & The Isle Of Skye Tour

Winter Highlands & The Isle of Skye

  • Activities Natural landmarks sightseeing
  • Accommodation Hotel & Lodge
  • Transport Bus
  • Feb 03 Only 8 seats left
  • Feb 07 10+ seats left

Essential Scotland Tour

Essential Scotland

  • Trip customizable
  • Activities Art and architecture & City sightseeing
  • Transport Boat & Coach
  • Age Range 8-95 yrs
  • Apr 11 10+ seats left
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Scotland's Highlands Islands And Cities Tour

Scotland's Highlands Islands and Cities

  • Activities City sightseeing & Local culture
  • Special Deal (10%): - US$ 480
  • Total Price from: US$ 4,315
  • May 13 Only 8 seats left

Scotland's Orkney Islands Tour

  • Starts Inverness, Scotland
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Scotland's Orkney Islands

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  • Accommodation Hut & Guest House
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  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
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Highlights Of Scotland Tour

  • Activities Natural landmarks sightseeing & Chill out
  • Accommodation Guest House & Hotel
  • Transport Boat, Ferry, Private Vehicle, Train, Bus & Taxi
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Scotland's Shetland Islands Tour

  • Starts Aberdeen, Scotland
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Scotland's Shetland Islands

  • Activities Explorer
  • Accommodation Guest House
  • Transport Ferry, Minibus, Private Vehicle, Boat, Bus & Taxi
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,160
  • Special Deal (5%): - US$ 108
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,052
  • May 19 Only 2 seats left
  • Jun 09 Only 6 seats left

Discover Scotland Tour

Discover Scotland

  • Accommodation Hotel & Resort
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  • Age Range 1-95 yrs
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,849
  • Special Deal (14%): - US$ 400
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,449
  • Mar 10 Only 10 seats left
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Scotland: Land Of Lore & Legend Tour

Scotland: Land of Lore & Legend

  • Activities Cultural, religious and historic sites & Local culture
  • Transport Ferry, Boat, Yacht, Bus & Coach
  • Apr 06 10+ seats left
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Inspiring Travel

Best Itinerary for Touring Scotland with Kids

24 Nov, 2020

Touring Scotland with kids can create lifelong family memories you’ll all treasure. This country is filled with magic, wonder, and countless opportunities for adventure. If you’re bringing the kids for a family holiday in Scotland, we’d love to offer some tips and advice for your trip planning. 

We know this country inside and out and we love sharing all our incredible sites and stories…especially if we can inspire a love of Scotland in the next generation! At Inspiring Travel, we have several Scotland itineraries you can check out for inspiration, or you can always create a tailor made tour to suit your family’s interests. We’d love to show you how magical Scotland truly is!

How to Tour Scotland with Kids

We wrote a whole article on everything you need to know about touring Scotland for more general information on travelling in the country.

But, of course, the best way to tour Scotland with kids is by private tour. Just think of the stress you can avoid if you’re not trying to navigate, drive, entertain the kids, and actually try to enjoy the views all at the same time. Gift yourself some serenity and let someone else handle all the driving…and most of the entertaining, too!

Best Itinerary for a Family Tour of Scotland

Choosing the best places to visit in Scotland with your kids will largely depend on their ages and interests. If you’re bringing very little ones, then we’ll want to plan your time around naps and ensure shorter travel days. If your kids are a bit older and, say, looking for Harry Potter locations in Scotland , then we have lots of places they could visit to relive that magic!

Whatever interests you and your family have, we have plenty of advice to offer. It would be impossible to outline every single itinerary option for travelling Scotland with kids just in this one article. But we’ll give you a starting point and then we’d be happy to chat about your specific family adventure. 

This itinerary is anywhere from 7-12 nights, but you may have a different timeframe in mind for your Scotland trip. Use this as a baseline and then we can cater your tour to your family. Feel free to contact us any time with any questions.

The Pap of Glencoe Scottish Highlands

Visiting Edinburgh With Kids: 2-4 nights

Edinburgh is a magical city, no matter your age. From Edinburgh Castle to Dynamic Earth and everything along the Royal Mile in-between, the Old Town is sure to enchant every visitor. Kids especially love Camera Obscura, the National Museum of Scotland, and running around in Princes Street Gardens or the Royal Botanic Gardens on a sunny day. Head to the shore to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia if the kids are keen on fancy ships or journey through time with a tour at the Real Mary King’s Close.

Getting around Edinburgh with kids is easy, although the cobblestone streets and plentiful staircases can make it a bit of a challenge with a buggy or pram. If your kids are a bit older and looking for some adventure, climb Arthur’s Seat for a panoramic view of the city, or walk up the shorter Calton Hill right at the top of Princes Street.

Edinburgh Castle seen from the West Princes Street Gardens

If you’re touring Scotland with kids, it’s a good idea to base yourself in a few places for several days each. Stay in Edinburgh for multiple nights to truly enjoy the city. We’d be happy to include a day trip from Edinburgh, too.

Falkirk and the Kelpies

As you begin your Scotland tour, stop in Falkirk to visit the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. Kids marvel at the sheer size of the giant metallic horse head sculptures, and the Falkirk Wheel is an engineering wonder that amazes kids (and adults) of all ages. You could stop in Falkirk in the morning en route to Stirling.

Kelpies Scotland

Stirling Castle & Beyond

Stirling Castle is ideal to visit with kids, especially if you book a private tour for a more customised experience. You should also head up to the National Wallace Monument for views over the whole city and beyond. Go inside to check out historic memorabilia, including massive swords the kids are sure to love! Stirling University campus offers another space to wander and let them stretch their legs if they’re needing a distraction. 

When you’re ready, drive on towards the Cairngorms for an overnight stay.

Stirling Castle

Cairngorms National Park: 1-2 nights

Touring Scotland with kids means you should take advantage of the natural beauty of this land and let the kids get out any excess energy along your journey. Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the UK and hosts an incredible array of topography and wildlife for everyone to enjoy. 

Pitlochry, a popular Victorian village, rests just before the national park boundaries if you’re driving from the Edinburgh area. You could spend a night here to start the next morning with the kids checking out the salmon ladder. Also in this area, visit Blair Castle, head up to Queen’s View for a panoramic vista, or even dare the kids to try the Soldier’s Leap at Killiecrankie (don’t let them actually try the 5.5m jump, though…just to be safe).

Once you’re in the Cairngorms, there are adventures aplenty to be had. Aviemore is a great outdoor adventure town, with the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre being a huge hit with kids of all ages! If you got an early start, you could head on to Inverness for your overnight stay. Or enjoy a second night for more time in the park if you’re keen.

family day trips scotland

Inverness & Surrounds: 2-3 nights

Inverness is often called the capital of the Highlands and serves as the perfect base for exploring this beautiful area. Take the kids on a boat tour of Loch Ness and check out the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition for fun. Visit Urquhart Castle while you’re here, and then head to the Moray Firth to look for dolphins. You could take a day trip up to Dunrobin Castle or, alternatively, get a sober history lesson at Culloden Moor and the visitor centre. Enjoy a few nights in the area to relax after several busy days of sightseeing.

Urquhart Castle

Scottish Highland Highlights: 1 night

The Harry Potter fans will want to see the steam train crossing the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct. You could even book a ride on what’s been dubbed The Hogwarts Express for an extra special day! History lovers will want to explore Fort William. 

Glenfinnan Viaduct - Hogwarts Express scenes

Driving through Glencoe is a Scotland tour requirement for its stunning topography and photo opportunities. Of course, in true Scottish fashion, you could get total cloud cover and miss out on those beautiful views. That’s what makes it extra special when you do get to see them in their full glory!

To truly enjoy this stunning part of the country, you should spend a night in Oban or the surrounding area. You could just carry on for a full day of road tripping between Inverness and Glasgow, but it’s nice to relax and really bask in this beauty. We’re fond of several special hotels in the Scottish Highlands , though not all of those are particularly kid-friendly, so we can advise on the perfect stay based on your kids’ ages.

Visit Glasgow with Kids: 1-2 nights

Finishing up your family tour of Scotland, you’ll want to head to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. Glasgow is well-known for its fantastic music and arts scene, great shopping, and modern aesthetic. 

There are tons of museums to enjoy with the kids, including free options like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum or the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green. Both of those are surrounded by big parks where the kids can run around and have fun. You should also check out the Tall Ship and the Riverside Museum, and take the kids on a boat tour on the River Clyde while you’re there! There’s loads of shopping in the city centre, too.

Glasgow, on the River Clyde

Touring Scotland with kids can include such a variety of things to do and places to visit. It’s impossible to say this is the best itinerary for your family visit to Scotland, but it’s certainly a starting point to get inspired. If you want customised advice based on your kids’ ages and interests, we’d love to help you create the perfect tailor made tour of Scotland .

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10 of the best family days out in Scotland in 2023

MadeForMums has researched the best days out in Scotland for families with different interests and budgets, bringing you our top 10 attractions for kids

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If you’re exploring Scotland with the family, you’ll want to get the most out of this beautiful and diverse part of the UK.

Whether it’s major sights in bustling city hotspots like Edinburgh and Glasgow, historic castles or simply enjoying Scotland's famously great outdoors, there’s plenty of activities and attractions for families with young children.

While no UK family holiday is complete without wellies and an emergency poncho, we’ve included a mix of outdoor gems like Landmark Forest Adventure Park, as well as indoor attractions like St Andrews Aquarium, that will keep youngsters enthralled whatever the weather.

So what are the best days out for families with young children visiting Scotland? Our top 10 should help families large and small plan a fun travel itinerary for a range of needs and budgets.

  • Jump to our list of the best family days out in Scotland

Best days out in Scotland - at a glance

  • Best for animal lovers: Edinburgh Zoo - Edinburgh Zoo tickets , Picniq and Kids Pass
  • Best for history-loving kids: Stirling Castle - Stirling Castle tickets and Picniq
  • Best for outdoor families: Landmark Forest Adventure Park - Landmark Forest Adventure Park tickets and Picniq
  • Best for curious kids: Glasgow Science Centre - Glasgow Science Centre tickets and Picniq
  • Best for rainy days: St Andrews Aquarium - St Andrews Aquarium tickets , Picniq and TripAdvisor
  • Best budget day out: Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel - Riverside Museum tickets , Picniq and TripAdvisor
  • Best for engaging young and old: Camera Obscura and World of Illusions - Camera Obscura tickets , TripAdvisor and Picniq
  • Best for young adventurers: RRS Discovery - RRS Discovery tickets and TripAdvisor
  • Best for dinosaur lovers: Dino Park - Dino Park tickets , TripAdvisor and Picniq
  • Best for families with mobility issues: Blair Drummond Safari Park - Blair Drummond Safari Park tickets and Picniq

What are the best free attractions in Scotland?

More like this

Our list includes options for a range of budgets, from free entry to those worth saving up for to celebrate a special occasion. You can also see MadeForMums' suggestions for the best free family activities in Edinburgh , and best free family activities in Glasgow for even more ideas on a budget.

1. Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh

— best for animal lovers.

Children with a penguin at Edinburgh Zoo

Family ticket from £65 | Best for all ages | Best in good weather | Free onsite parking | Haymarket Station 2 miles | Buy tickets in advance for best prices

There are more than a couple of reasons to visit Edinburgh Zoo, but two of the best are Yang Guang and Tian Tian. The pair are the UK’s only giant pandas and they’ll be calling Edinburgh home for at least another 18 months before they’re returned to China.

But with 2,500 creatures living here - from the cute and cuddly to the truly roarsome - there’s much more to Edinburgh Zoo. And plenty of it is under cover, in case of rain.

Lucy, mum to Alasdair, five, rates the additional facilities like the cafe and gift shop, and says: “Edinburgh Zoo’s not the cheapest attraction, but there’s loads to see. Alasdair liked watching the monkeys climbing in the trees and thought the meerkats were funny.”

The zoo is set over 82 acres within the city but it’s buggy friendly, so it’s no problem if little legs tire before you’ve covered the whole site. It is hilly though, so do bear in mind bigger legs might feel the burn!

Pros: Something for everyone; picnics allowed

Cons: Hillside setting might be tricky for those with limited mobility; queues can be long in the school holidays

Read our full MadeForMums review of Edinburgh Zoo

If you want to stay the night in Edinburgh, take a look at our pick of the best family hotels in Edinburgh .

Book tickets at: Edinburgh Zoo tickets , Picniq and Kids Pass

2. Stirling Castle, Stirling

— best for history-loving kids.

Stirling Castle

Family ticket: from £47.50 | Best for: 5+ | Best on a clear day | Limited, paid onsite parking | Stirling station 0.5 mile | Check website for special events

Who doesn’t love a castle on a hill? Edinburgh Castle might get all the attention, but for families with young children Stirling is the unsung hero.

From plush royal chambers to the obligatory cannons, there’s plenty to excite little people. Staff aren’t averse to a bit of period costume either, bringing all the history to life for younger visitors. The castle vaults now house loads of fun and interactive displays especially for kids, including historic musical instruments, the secrets of dressing like a king or queen and how jesters kept their monarch entertained.

The Unicorn Cafe does kids’ lunchboxes and has a good offering for adults too, at reasonable prices. Oh, and did we mention it’s not really on a hill? It’s actually an extinct volcano!

Pros: Educational, great views from the battlements

Cons: Lots of ground to cover and some steps, can get very busy, parking is pretty limited

Book tickets at: Stirling Castle tickets and Picniq

3. Landmark Forest Adventure Park, Cartridge

— best for outdoor families.

Landmark Forest Adventure Park

Family ticket from £92 | Best for 3+ | Good-weather attraction | Free, pre-booked onsite parking | Carrbridge station 1 mile | Online booking only

Set over acres of beautiful Highland forestry, Landmark is a theme park like no other. Expect dry and wet rides (which might be a bit tame by the bigger parks’ standards) and plenty more besides.

Head indoors for the Bamboozeleum, which is full of optical illusions and general oddities that kids will love, then pull on a harness for the Tarzan Trail high ropes challenge (or the Wee Monkey Trail for, well, wee monkeys).

Dinosaur Kingdom and the Butterfly House will also keep little ones engaged. To escape the crowds during busier times, head into the Ancient Forest Adventure for a wander among the pines to see if you can spot a red squirrel. Picnics are allowed, but there are also three food outlets in the park.

Pros: Unique experience, variety of attractions, beautiful location

Cons: Not great value for money for younger kids; queues for the more popular attractions

Book tickets at: Landmark Forest Adventure Park tickets and Picniq

4. Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow

— best for curious kids.

Bodyworks at Glasgow Science Centre

Family ticket from £47 | Best for 7+ | All-weather attraction | Paid on-site parking | Exhibition Centre station 1 mile | Hosts Little Explorer Days and other special events, see website

You can’t miss Glasgow Science Centre on the banks of the River Clyde – its shiny IMAX is bound to attract kids’ attention for starters. Then there’s the 127-metre tower and the glass-fronted museum itself that on a sunny day reflect in the water, and visually add to the general buzz of this reinvigorated former industrial area.

Inside there’s lots of interactive fun for youngsters - from how our bodies work, to the make-up of the universe and how we’ll power the future. Under-7s can get busy at The Big Explorer, where they can don a hard hat and keep the GSC’s cargo ship afloat.

Jo, mum to Jenna, 7, said the water play was a hit. “It’s basically like a giant water table, and she was in her element,” she said. “It was great to see her working out how she could influence the path of the water.” If that’s not enough wow for you, the Planetarium and IMAX (costs from £3 extra) take a visit to the next level.

Pros: Hands-on fun and learning, great rainy day out

Cons: Car park can be tricky to find, some exhibits are too advanced for younger kids

Book tickets at: Glasgow Science Centre tickets and Picniq

5. St Andrews Aquarium, St Andrews

— best for rainy days.

Penguins at St Andrews Aquarium

Family ticket from £44 | Great for all ages | All-weather attraction although seal feeding and talks take place outside | Paid parking Bruce Embankment 100 yards | Leuchars station 6 miles | Feeding sessions for ages 8+

It’s not Scotland’s biggest aquarium but – thanks to a flexible interpretation of what constitutes aquatic life – it is one of the most diverse.

There are fish, of course, from all climates, as well as sharks, rays, seals, penguins and reptiles. More unexpectedly, you will find meerkats and a pair of rescued marmosets too.

Thanks to the compact design of the aquarium’s enclosures, kids can get right up close and watch as staff hand-feed these hilarious little characters. The harbour seals aren’t at all shy, in fact they seem more curious than the visitors, and put on a good show for kids.

Pros: St Andrews is perfect for a wander afterwards, small and friendly

Cons: Not currently wheelchair friendly, less glitzy than bigger aquariums

Book tickets at: St Andrews Aquarium tickets , Picniq and TripAdvisor

6. Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel, Glasgow

— best budget day out.

Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel

Free entry | Ideal for all ages | All-weather attraction | Paid onsite parking | Partick station 0.6 miles | No need to book

If you’re looking for a cheap but entertaining day out with the kids, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more interesting than the Riverside Museum.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects to replace the city’s musty and ageing transport museum in 2011, the site is bright, airy and accessible for all. If it rolls, floats or chugs it’s in here – there’s everything from steam engines to skateboards.

Kids can climb aboard a tram from the city’s now defunct system, as well as a jiggling historic carriage from Glasgow’s ‘Clockwork Orange’ underground. There’s also a recreated street scene from the early 1900s, where kids can explore the shops and buildings.

As the name suggests, the museum sits at the meeting of the Rivers Clyde and Kelvin and there’s a display dedicated to the area’s shipbuilding tradition. The Clydebuilt Tall Ship Glenlee is next door and is also free with no need to book. Ahoy!

Pros: Free and flexible, picnic area inside

Cons: You need to like transport, fewer hands-on activities than other museums

Book tickets at: Riverside Museum tickets , Picniq and TripAdvisor

7. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh

— best for engaging young and old.

Family at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions - Ames Room

Family ticket from £55 | Best for 3+ | All-weather attraction | Discounted parking at Castle Terrace NCP 0.4 miles| Waverley station 0.5 miles | Visitors can borrow baby carriers

Nothing is what it seems is the catchline at Camera Obscura, and it’s definitely a fair description. There are more than 100 mind-bending hands-on exhibits over the six floors of the museum, which was the city’s first ever purpose-built attraction (and a lot of its offering has a real old-school circus feel).

While the building makes access tricky for those with mobility issues, the cityscape views from its rooftop terrace are among the best you’ll find in Edinburgh.

It’s not unknown for even the accompanying grown-up (ahem) to get well and truly lost in their baffling Mirror Maze. And your kids will probably never let you forget it (once they’ve stopped laughing). Get your own back by navigating the Vortex ‘spinning’ tunnel like a pro while they scream and grab for the railings.

Pros: Situated right in old Edinburgh beside the Castle, something for the whole family

Cons: The 6 floors aren’t accessible for all, there’s a gift shop but no cafe

Book tickets at: Camera Obscura tickets , TripAdvisor and Picniq

8. RRS Discovery, Dundee

— best for young adventurers.

RRS Discovery

Family ticket from £27.75 | Good for all ages | Best in good weather | Discovery Point car park 0.05 miles | Dundee station directly opposite | You don’t have to pre-book but you can

When you clap eyes on RRS Discovery, you’ll struggle to believe this ship has been to the most inhospitable place on Earth. To younger visitors it’ll look like a pirate ship, but this incredible vessel was actually built for exploring Antarctica in 1900.

The museum takes kids through the conditions Captain Scott and his crew faced on the voyage with displays about food, clothing and equipment, as well as first-hand accounts. Then for the best bit – they can climb aboard the ship herself in the city of its construction and explore everything from the Galley to the Mess Deck and Scott’s own cabin, which was said to be the coldest part of the ship. And in Antarctica you can bet that was chilly!

Pros: Unique experience, good-value cafe on site

Cons: Construction works may cause disruption (ticket prices have been discounted), the ship is not fully accessible

Book tickets at: RRS Discovery tickets and TripAdvisor

9. Dino Park, near Dumfries

— best for dinosaur lovers.

Dino Park

Family ticket from £37 | Best for pre-school children | Soft play on site in case of bad weather | Free on-site parking | Dumfries station 8 miles | Outdoor park is open summertime only (April-October)

If your little one is dino-mad, take them on a dinosaur safari on the trail of velociraptors, triceratops and T-Rex (and those are just the big-ticket names). They can also play at being a palaeontologist for the day in the Dino Dig section, where they can search for fossils and bones, while learning about where they came from.

There’s also a Dino Mine, taking visitors underground among yet more lurking creatures and the Dino Den, where staff teach kids about dinosaurs.

If the weather takes a turn for the worse, the combined ticket covers 2 hours in the extensive indoor soft play. There’s also a snack bar on site and illuminated tours are available at night time.

Pros: Great for dino fans, accessible and buggy-friendly

Cons: Food options are quite limited, probably won’t fill a whole day

Book tickets at: Dino Park tickets , TripAdvisor and Picniq

10. Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling

— best for families with mobility issues.

Blair Drummond

Family ticket from £65 | Best for 3+ | Best in good weather | Free onsite parking | Stirling Station 6 miles | Discounted entry for late time slots | Advance booking essential

You get a lot of park for your money at Blair Drummond – the site covers a massive 160 acres in the grounds of a mansion house.

The varied attractions include rides, adventure playground, slides, zip lines and pedal boats, alongside a whole host of animals. As you’d expect from a safari park they have all the big names – lions, tigers, white rhino, giraffes, zebra and elephants. Some of them are in enclosures kids can walk right up to, while the big cats are in larger, car-only sections.

There’s also a lovely pets farm where children can get close to donkeys, pigs, llamas and other friendly faces. Sea lion shows take place indoors.

Fiona, mum to Bethany, 4, says taking your own lunch helps to keep the costs down. “They also provide barbecues free of charge,” she says. “Bethany also loves the various swing parks.” The main adventure playground, situated near the park’s new dinosaur attraction, is one of the best in the area and gives parents a well-earned rest after pounding the pavements around the vast site.

Pros: Flat and accessible for buggies, lots of varied attractions

Cons: Queues for the boat trip to Chimp Island; large site with a walk to reach the toilets

Book tickets at: Blair Drummond Safari Park tickets and Picniq

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Family Travel, Parenting and Raising Curious Kids

Europe , Family Travel , Travel Guides , Travel Tips , Uncategorized · March 1, 2022

The Ultimate Road Trip In Scotland With Kids

Whether you’re based in the UK and keen to lower your carbon footprint with less air travel, or are simply keen for adventure and time spent outdoors, Scotland with kids is a fantastic choice. It ticks multiple boxes when it comes to breathtaking scenery and new experiences for the whole family.

Read on for your Scotland road trip itinerary…

How To Get To Scotland With Kids

There are so many ways to explore Scotland. The North Coast 500 (NC 500) has become extremely popular in recent years and that’s certainly one option. Another is to patch together a multi-based stay and explore several pockets of Scotland during your family vacation to Scotland.

We opted for the latter, due to the fact we were driving all the way from the southeast. We anticipated we’d probably feel like we’d done enough miles already, without going right to the very top of the country! If you’d rather not drive the whole way, and you’re after even more of an adventure, consider taking the Caledonian Sleeper . It leaves from London Euston and stops at a number of different locations in the Highlands. It’s a fun way to get to Scotland with kids!

A jetty on a lake with people standing at the end

On our road trip from Scotland to London, we broke the journey up with our first afternoon and night spent in the Lake District. If you’re coming from a similar location to ours, this makes a brilliant stopover. In order for the kids to let off some steam, check out Brockhole on Lake Windermere. It has boat hire, tree-top adventure and nets, an adventure park and more. A great lunchtime pitstop.

How long Was Our Scotland family trip?

We put together a ’10 days in Scotland’ itinerary. 2 weeks in Scotland would be even better. A Scotland itinerary of 7 days might feel a bit rushed, but of course, it depends on where you are travelling from, how much time you have and how much you want to see.

What to see in Scotland in 10 days

The map below shows the route we took on our family vacation in Scotland:

Oban Via Glasgow

Our first overnight stay in Scotland with kids was in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland. Setting off from the Lake District in the morning, we stopped for coffee and a leg stretch in Glasgow. If you do the same, make sure you check out the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It’s a perfect stop if you’re in Scotland with kids as it has loads of family activities.

Keep an eye out for some of the city’s creative street art and the fish and chip shops selling deep-fried mars bars. We bought one and had a bite each – that was enough!

Girl looking at street art in Glasgow on holiday in Scotland with kids

In Oban things to do aren’t in short supply. Oban makes a perfect base for seeing the isles of Mull, Iona and Staffa. However, it’s undoubtedly a location worth seeing in its own right too. Its harbour is at the centre, with the colourful town surrounding it.

Take a Boat Trip

We took a short one-hour boat trip out from the harbour to see the seals and salmon farm with Allan’s wildlife boat trips – perfect if you have only a short time to spare. It’s a particularly fun thing to do if you’re in Scotland with kids. The large number of trawlers is an indication that you can find some seriously good seafood here.

Seafood in Oban

The Oban Seafood Hut offers packed-to-the-brim crab and prawn sandwiches as well as fresh oysters, mussels and scallops you can take home for dinner. Yum. Seafood not your thing? Try a Tattie Scone (a grilled potato scone in a roll, served with ketchup if you want) from Food from Argyll next door. The kids loved them!

Where to Stay in Oban With Kids:

The Farmhouse (traditional Scottish home near Oban) – available via Airbnb

A large, comfortable home with amazing views and a conservatory that’s perfect for relaxing with a glass of wine and a book. Perfect for animal lovers and those visiting Scotland with kids. Children can help feed the sheep, chickens and ducks and the pet rabbit in the garden.

Mull, Iona and Staffa

Oban makes a good base to visit the islands of Mull, Iona and Staffa (the ferry terminal is in the town centre). We were in two minds about a trip to Mull as we already had Skye on our itinerary. I’d read comments comparing the two islands and advice seemed conflicted with regard to which to visit or whether it was worth seeing both.

In the end, we decided to go for it as we thought the ferry experience would be good fun and we were intrigued by the idea of the tiny islands of Iona and Staffa.

Unfortunately, we left it too late to book a ticket to take our car over, meaning we had to rely on a bus to get us across Mull (from Craignure to Fionnaport) in order to travel on to Iona. This meant we didn’t have time to fit Staffa in too (famous for its resident puffins and the basalt columns of Fingals cave).

If you want to take your car across (and I’d recommend you do – it’ll give you so much more flexibility) then make sure you book at least a month ahead. Book ferry tickets with Calmac here .

Boy looking at the water on Iona beaches in Scotland

You’ll need to leave your car at Fionnaport when taking the ferry from Mull to Iona (only residents are permitted to take their cars across). However, Iona’s only three miles long and the main attraction (the Abbey built by St Columba) is only a short walk from the harbour. With only 200 permanent residents, the island is a peaceful place. It has a reputation for spirituality (there are some beautiful little craft and jewellery shops here).

The powder white sand and crystal clear blue water of Iona’s beaches could also rival that of any Caribbean one. Despite the rain (which started soon after we arrived), the first glimpse of the bay here was definitely one of our ‘wow’ moments.

Boat on the shore on the island of Iona

Boats to Staffa can be taken from both Fionnaport on Mull, or from Iona with Staffa Tours . Because we packed this all into one day and didn’t have the car, we didn’t see as much of Mull as we would have liked. If you find you have more time, make sure you visit the capital, Tobermory, with its brightly coloured harbourfront buildings. It was used as the location for the children’s television series, Balamory,

One plus point of the bus, however, was that we had an amazingly informative bus driver who drove us from Craignure to Fionnaport. Although he wasn’t a tour guide, we learnt so much about the island as we crossed it.

Glencoe and Glenfinnan

From Oban, day trips to Glencoe and Glenfinnan are doable and should definitely make the list.

Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint

If you want to fit both into one day, head to Glenfinnan first to catch sight of the Jacobite steam train. It passes over the Glenfinnan viaduct at around 10.55 am (and again in the afternoon – check the website for up-to-date timings). It’s a must if you have Harry Potter fans in your midst – as the Jacobite steam train also doubles as the Hogwarts Express! Park in the visitor’s centre car park (get there an hour beforehand if you can, as it gets busy). Walk up the path to the left of the centre to reach the Glenfinnan viaduct viewpoint.

Even if you don’t manage to see the train passing over, the view’s still more than worth it. You’ll hear the train before you see it, which will give you a chance to get your camera ready. The train travels slowly over the viaduct, giving you plenty of time. After you’ve got your pics of the train, walk down to the Glenfinnan monument and the loch for more picture-worthy views.

Glenfinnan viaduct viewpoint

Glencoe Walks

Glencoe has to be one of the prettiest villages in the Highlands, acting as the backdrop for films such as Skyfall, Braveheart and, most recently, Indiana Jones 5. It’s the perfect place to take a family-friendly walk. We loved this trail around Glencoe Lochan. It comprises three separate routes but it’s easy enough to do all three in a couple of hours. Drive down the A82 afterwards for views of the Glencoe valley before you head back.

The Isle of Skye

Our next base was the Isle of Skye (a three-and-a-half-hour drive away from Oban). In terms of how to get to Isle of Skye, head north via Fort William and then west across the Skye bridge.

Skye definitely isn’t a day trip – but depending on how much you want to do and see, two or three days should work.

Skye can be particularly unpredictable weather-wise and even in the summer, you may be met with sheets of rain and gusty winds. If the weather is good, the first thing to do on the Isle of Skye with kids is head to the Fairy Pools in Glenbrittle (to the west of the island).

Girl at the Fairy pools in Skye while on holiday in Scotland with kids

Fairy Pools

When you get to the Fairy Pools, park in the car park (this is a really popular site and it gets busy, but luckily the car park is a large one) and walk down the track opposite. It takes around 20 to 30 minutes to reach the first of the pools. With the majestic Cuillin mountains framing them, the clear spring water pools are super inviting on a sunny day. Take your swimwear and go for a dip, if you dare (this is Scotland, and the water’s more than a little chilly). The kids were game, but we settled on just a paddle.

Row of colourful houses overlooking water in Portree on the Isle of Skye

Portree makes a great base for your stay in Skye – it’s central and offers some lovely restaurants and shops. Try Sea Breezes for local seafood and The Wee Isle of Skye Ice Cream Shop for amazing salted caramel ice cream. The multi-coloured houses on the bay are a photo opportunity must.

Skye’s attractions are mainly outdoors and since good weather is far from guaranteed, make sure you’re properly kitted out. Raincoats are essential as are a pair of decent walking boots. For little ones’, waterproof trousers are also a good idea.

The midges are in full force in the Highlands, so make sure you pack a repellent. I’d seen Avon So Soft recommended in several places and this did seem to do the trick. However, beware any patches you miss – those midges will head straight to them!)

Rugged landscape on the Isle of Skye

The main things to see in Skye, other than the Fairy Pools are the Old Man of Storr and the Quirang (these both involve walks that might be a little strenuous for younger children). If you have time, you could also fit in Coral beach, Dunvegan castle and Lealt Falls.

Eilean Donan Castle

On the way to or from Skye, consider visiting Eilean Donan castle. It offers an opportunity to learn a bit about the Jacobite rebellion. As the castle was restored in the 1920s, there’s more to see here than in some of the other castles in the Highlands, which are now in ruins. They offer a kids’ trail sheet too.

Head to my article: The Top 5 Things To Do On The Isle Of Skye For Families for more details on things to do on the Isle of Skye with kids.

Where to Stay on The Isle of Skye With Kids:

Properties in Skye get booked up quickly so make sure you book well in advance. For cottages on the Isle of Skye, try Sykes Cottages , or for a more remote setting try Chasing the Moon .

Aviemore/ the Cairngorms

Next, head east towards Aviemore (via Inverness) – a three-hour drive. Aviemore makes a great base for activities around the Cairngorm mountains and Loch Ness. Any of the villages in the area make good options and we plumped for Newtonmore which is home to a number of local attractions.

The Highland Folk Museum

The Highland Folk Museum is located in the village; it’s an open-air museum, free to visit, and offers an insight into how locals lived in the area during the 1800s and 1900s. Keep your eyes peeled for the highland cow in the field next to the kids’ playground. The ‘heilan coos’, as they’re known locally, aren’t as easy to spot as we’d assumed, but you will find one here!

Painted model of a cat

The Wildcat Experience

The Wildcat Experience is a local treasure hunt which will have you (and of course your children) addicted! Run by a charity supporting Scottish wildcats, you pay £10 and are given a bag, pen and booklet in preparation for your hunt around the village. You’ll need to locate as many of the 132 colourfully painted wildcats (with fab names such as Cat’n Jack Sparrow and Feline Blue) as you can. The hubby’s competitive nature meant he popped out to find more on his own on our last evening! This is such a lovely activity and it’s well worth supporting this local charity. A must-do if you’re in Scotland with kids and near this area.

The Highland Wildlife Park

The Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig, halfway between Newtonmore and Aviemore, is definitely worth a visit while in Scotland with kids. They have a drive-through section and walk-around areas such as Wolf Wood. Look out for the snow leopards and polar bear. Our favourite was the arctic fox – we were surprised to see it had grey fur (apparently, they’re only white in the winter). You’ll also see some (real!) Scottish wildcats here.

Glenmore Forest Park

For walks in the area, Glenmore Forest Park is in Aviemore – don’t miss the beautiful Lochan Uaine (the green lake). If you’re all up for a bit of a steeper walk, try the Ryvoan trail (3.5 miles long).

Rothiemurchas

Rothiemurchas , also in Aviemore, is a fantastic option for families with older children and teenagers. They offer quad biking, segways and river tubing and have their own fishery where kids can catch a trout for dinner. They also have hairy coo safaris – so if all else fails, try here for a guaranteed pic! Be sure to visit the farm shop on site for some fantastic sausages, the biggest scotch eggs you’ll ever see and other tasty treats.

Girl throwing stones in Loch Ness

There are a number of locations which will allow you to get a sense of the vastness of Loch Ness. We stopped off at the village of Dores and walked down to the shore from there. If you have a little longer than we did, take a walk down the Tor Wood footpath.

Where to Stay in Aviemore with Kids:

The Beeches Studio, Highlands of Scotland – available via Airbnb . In the village of Newtonmore, this studio is a cosy and modern base. If you’re taking part in the Wildcat Experience, make sure you take a proper look around the gardens here!

Heading Home From Scotland With Kids

If you’re making the long drive back down south from your family trip to Scotland, think about adding in some rest points. Here are a couple of ideas:

Street in Edinburgh

If you’re heading back down south, there are a couple of great options for stops. Edinburgh (two and a half hours south of Aviemore) is a perfect stopover point in Scotland with kids as there’s loads to do and is such a beautiful city. It should definitely make your list for at least one night. We did the Harry Potter walking tour with City Explorers – free but with a donation suggested at the end. For Harry Potter fans, this offers up plenty of magical nuggets of information. It takes you to the graveyard where J K Rowling picked up inspiration for characters in her books, and shows you the real Diagon Alley, and the cafe where Rowling started writing the books.

York marks a midway point between Edinburgh and London and offers an opportunity for a walk along the cobbled streets. And of course, a Yorkshire cup of tea and a slice of cake (put a visit to Bettys on your list if you’re happy to brave a bit of a queue). Perhaps an activity such as the Jorvik Viking centre (with a fab ride that kids and adults alike will enjoy, as well as learn from) can also be part of your stop-over.

Hopefully, this itinerary will have given you some inspiration for your Scotland family trip! Have fun.

More Info…

If you’re wondering what conscious travel is, or would like to know more, head to my article: How To Be A Conscious Traveller

For another family itinerary in Europe of similar length, take a look at The Best Itinerary For A Family Holiday In Croatia

And if you’re looking for something even more adventurous, have a read of Borneo With Kids And The Perfect Family Itinerary

Boy overlooking a view in Scotland with arms raised

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March 29, 2023 at 11:04 am

What an amazing trip for you all, this is amazing and so well documented with lots of great advice. We are very thankful for the mention of Chasing The Moon and delighted you visited all the most iconic sites when you stayed. Thanks so much, Maggie xxx

[…] If you’re interested in venturing to other locations in Europe, check out my Croatia Family Itinerary or Scotland Family Itinerary. […]

[…] The Ultimate 10 Day Family Road Trip in Scotland […]

[…] a fuller sense of what Scotland with kids has to offer, have a look at: The Ultimate Road Trip in Scotland With Kids. Scotland is one of the best holiday destinations for road trips and being blown away by the […]

[…] you’re looking for more inspiration for travel in Europe, take a look at The Ultimate Road Trip in Scotland With Kids or The Best Itinerary For a Family Holiday in […]

[…] A visit to Glenfinnan could be used to break up a journey from Glencoe to the Isle of Skye or as part of a visit to Fort William and Ben Nevis. For more information on how to fit it into a visit to Scotland, please see ‘The Ultimate Road Trip In Scotland With Kids’. […]

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10 Day Scotland Itinerary: Edinburgh, Glasgow & the Isle of Skye

Julie Last updated: January 10, 2024 Itinerary , Scotland 90 Comments

Scotland Travel Itinerary Edinburgh Isle of Skye

On a map, Scotland may look small. But don’t let that fool you…there is a lot to see and do here. From visiting castles to sipping whisky to bagging some Munros to exploring the mystical Isle of Skye…there is enough to keep you busy for weeks. In this Scotland itinerary, you will be able to see the very best of this amazing country.

Table of Contents

10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh Day 2: Edinburgh Day 3: Edinburgh Day 4: Road Trip through Scotland Day 5: Trotternish Loop, Isle of Skye Day 6: Isle of Skye Day 7: Isle of Skye or Hiking in the Highlands Day 8: Glencoe Valley & Glen Etive Day 9: Glasgow Day 10: Fly home

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the driving route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.   If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

10 Day Edinburgh Itinerary

Scotland itinerary day 1.

Arrive in Edinburgh

Your grand tour of Scotland begins in the medieval city of Edinburgh. Depending on where you are arriving from, you may have limited time (and energy) today.

Check into your hotel and take a quick nap if you need it. Spend the afternoon and early evening getting acquainted with Edinburgh. We recommend strolling the Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare through Edinburgh. Take in the sights and have dinner at one of the many pubs. Dive right into Scottish cuisine by ordering haggis or blood pudding along with a pint of beer.

Cheers! You are in Scotland!

Edinburgh Scotland itinerary

Edinburgh | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Where We Stayed in Edinburgh:  The four of us stayed at the  hub by Premiere Inn  Edinburgh Royal Mile. We LOVED it here. For a budget accommodation with a brilliant location that is clean, modern, friendly, and quiet, you cannot beat this place. The rooms are small but their storage solutions are innovative. From a touchpad by the head of the bed we could control our lights, TV, and air conditioner. The hotel is located just one block off of the Royal Mile. There is a café in the downstairs lobby that serves excellent food. I really have nothing bad to say about this place (and that almost never happens). We would stay here again, no doubt about it.

Scotland Itinerary Day 2

To help you plan your time in Edinburgh (on this Scotland itinerary you will have 2 full days), read our 2 Day Edinburgh Itinerary. This itinerary includes maps and lots of important travel planning information, but below I list a quick overview of what you will do on each of these two days.

Your first full day in Edinburgh is a very busy day. Start at Edinburgh Castle , the centerpiece of the city. It’s best to get here before opening time at 9 am to beat the crowds. This castle is one of Edinburgh’s most important historical sites and provides great views over the city. It’s a great starting point to really get to know Edinburgh.

Read more to have the best experience:

Edinburgh Castle: Things to Know before you go

Spend the middle of the day strolling the Royal Mile , visiting places like the Scotch Whisky Experience, St. Giles Cathedral, the Camera Obscura, Real Mary King’s Close, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Finish at Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano with some of the best views over Edinburgh. For full details on how to do this, read our post on Arthur’s Seat.

Arthurs Point Scotland itinerary

Arthur’s Seat | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Your day ends with dinner. We highly recommend The Scran & Scallie. This local restaurant is located off of the Royal Mile in a local neighborhood in Edinburgh. Use Uber or take a taxi to get here. This was our best meal in Edinburgh and had us dining on local dishes such as meat pies, roasted bone marrow, and ox tongue. It was surprisingly delicious!

Take a look at their menu and consider making a reservation in advance if dinner at the Scran and Scallie interests you. Visit their website here.

You can end your day here, or, if you still have enough energy to keep going, visit one of Edinburgh’s many pubs.

Tonight, sleep in Edinburgh.

Don’t miss our article 2 Days in Edinburgh . It is a detailed itinerary of how to spend two days in Edinburgh, with maps, recommendations on where to eat and where to stay.

Scotland Itinerary Day 3

Start your day at one of Edinburgh’s best museums. Your choices include The National Museum of Scotland (great if you are traveling with kids), The Surgeon’s Hall Museum, the Scottish National Gallery, or the Royal Yacht Britannia.

For lunch, head over to the Old Town of Edinburgh, to the area around Grassmarket and Victoria Street. There are many great restaurants to try in this area. For our list of recommendations, visit our Edinburgh Itinerary.

Old Town Edinburgh Scotland itinerary

After lunch, spend the afternoon at Dean Village. Dean Village is a small, residential area in Edinburgh. It’s quiet, it’s beautiful, and it’s off the beaten path. For more info, read our full post on Dean Village.

Dean Village

Dean Village | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

End your day with dinner in one of Edinburgh’s many amazing restaurants.

Scotland Itinerary Day 4

Road Trip through Scotland

In Scotland, the journey is just as good as the destination. This is a great country for a road trip.

Scotland road trip

If you drive from Edinburgh directly to the Isle of Skye, it takes between five and six hours with 235 miles of driving. If you are willing to make a 50-mile detour, you can also visit Loch Ness.

To allow yourself enough time, leave Edinburgh no later than 9 am (although earlier is better). Along the way visit Pitlochry, the home of Edradour, Scotland’s smallest whisky distillery. Your scenic drive then continues on to Invergarry with a detour to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. Not sure if you want to visit Loch Ness? Read this post before you go:

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle: Are They Worth Visiting?

Loch Ness Scotland itinerary

View from Loch Ness Castle | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Continue on to Eilean Donan Castle , a castle that looks like it belongs in the pages of a fairy tale.

Eilean Donan Scotland itinerary

Eilean Donan Castle | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

From Eilean Donan Castle, you are just ten miles from the Isle of Skye . Most people stay in Portree , one hour away from Eilean Donan Castle.

Get settled into your hotel or bed & breakfast and get ready to explore the awesome Isle of Skye.

For full details on this drive, including directions, maps, and places to visit along the way, read

Driving to the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye:  Read our Isle of Skye Travel Guide for recommendations on where to stay.

Scotland Itinerary Day 5

The Trotternish Loop, Isle of Skye

The Trotternish Loop contains the most popular, most epic scenery on the Isle of Skye. From Portree, drive clockwise, going against the heaviest tourist traffic. Today you will visit the Fairy Glen , the Quiraing , Mealt Falls, Brother’s Point , and the Old Man of Storr .

Below is a map of the Isle of Skye with several driving routes. For today’s driving route, follow Day 1: Trotternish Loop ONLY.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (places to go and driving routes). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.   If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Today, focus on the Trotternish Loop, which contains many of the highlights in the Isle of Skye. This driving loop starts and ends in Portree. We recommend driving the Loop in a clockwise direction, visiting the sights in this order:

  • Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
  • Brother’s Point
  • Old Man of Storr

In total, it’s 72 km (45 miles) of driving and takes about an hour and a half to drive the full loop. But once you add on time at each sight, this loop will take most of the day. You will be back in Portree in time for dinner. Get more details in our Isle of Skye Itinerary.

Quiraing Scotland itinerary

Quiraing | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Brothers Point Scotland itinerary

Brother’s Point | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Isle of Skye

Old Man of Storr | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Return to Portree for dinner. Sleep in Portree or at another town or B&B on the Isle of Skye.

Scotland Itinerary Day 6

Isle of Skye

Today, you will spend the day visiting more famous landmarks and sights on the Isle of Skye.

Below is the map of the Isle of Skye driving routes. Follow Day 2: Fairy Pools, Talisker, Neist Point.

Today’s loop is 150 km (92 miles) round trip and will take about 3 hours without stops. With time at the Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, and Neist Point, this driving loop will take a full day. 

Start your day at the Fairy Pools,  an extremely popular place to visit on the Isle of Skye. Get here early (before 9:30 am) to avoid the worst of the crowds. From Portree, it takes about 35 minutes to drive to the Fairy Pools.

Fairy Pools

Fairy Pools | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

After the Fairy Pools, visit Talisker Distillery , the only whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye. Take a tour, do a tasting, or purchase some whisky in the souvenir shop.

Have lunch at the Old Inn , which is within walking distance of Talisker Distillery.

Spend the afternoon touring Dunvegan Castle and then watching the sunset at Neist Point.

Neist Point Scotland itinerary

Neist Point | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

This evening, sleep on the Isle of Skye (Portree or another town on the Isle of Skye).

Scotland Itinerary Day 7

Isle of Skye or Hiking in the Highlands

Today, you have several options depending on your interests. You can choose to spend more time exploring and/or exploring the Isle of Skye or go hiking in the Highlands of Scotland. Either way, your day will end in Glencoe, where you will sleep tonight.

For hikers, we have three recommended hikes in the area (although there are many more options).

Hike #1: Bla Bheinn

Bla Bheinn (Blaven) is one of the most spectacular hikes on the Isle of Skye. From the summit, you will have 360° views along the Cuillin Ridge and over the Isle of Skye. This hike is 8 km (5 miles) with 1000 meters of ascent. It’s a challenging hike but if you have clear skies, the views of the Isle of Skye are unbeatable. We attempted this hike in the rain and don’t recommend it unless you have clear weather (you can’t see anything in the cloud cover).

Once finished the hike, drive to and sleep in Glencoe.

LEARN MORE: Our Attempt on Bla Bheinn

Blaven

Hike #2: Kintail Saddle

Hiking option #2 is the Kintail Saddle. This is another spectacular hike and gives you the option to bag not one but two Munros. Located in Shiel Bridge, it is about a 1 ½ to 2 hour drive from Portree, but it is on the way to Glencoe. Once finished the hike, drive to and sleep in Glencoe.

LEARN MORE: Hiking the Kintail Saddle

Hiking Scotland

Kintail Saddle | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Hike #3: Aonach Eagach

Hiking option #3 is the legendary Aonach Eagach. This is a challenging, somewhat dangerous hike. Tyler and Kara were too young to do this hike on our visit to Scotland, but it is the first thing we will do on a return trip here. This hike is located in Glencoe. Today, drive to Glencoe and explore Glencoe, with plans to do the hike tomorrow. Read more about the hike on the Walk Highlands website.

Or, Spend More Time on the Isle of Skye

If hiking is not your thing, you can spend today exploring more of the Isle of Skye, and then make your way to Glencoe.

To get from the Isle of Skye to Glencoe, take the ferry from Armadale on the Isle of Skye to Maillag on the mainland. Book your ferry tickets at least several days in advance, especially during the busy summer months. View the timetables and purchase your tickets on the Caledonian MacBrayne website.

On the drive to Glencoe, you will pass the Glenfinnan Viaduct. For Harry Potter fans, this is well worth it. The Glenfinnan Viaduct was used in the filming of the Hogwart’s Express.

Tonight, sleep in Glencoe.

Scotland Itinerary Day 8

Glencoe Valley & Glen Etive

Spend most of the day exploring the gorgeous Glencoe Valley and Glen Etive. Scenic drives and short hikes will fill your day. In the afternoon, make the drive to Glasgow, two hours away.

LEARN MORE: Postcards from Glencoe

Glen Coe Scotland itinerary

Glencoe | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Tonight, sleep in  Glasgow.

Where We Stayed in Glasgow:  We stayed at the Premier Inn Glasgow City Centre Buchanan Galleries. This budget hotel has a five star location, being within walking distance of most sights in the city. The rooms are small and nothing fancy but the hotel is clean and quiet. Consider this hotel if you need a budget price with an excellent location.

Scotland Itinerary Day 9

Glasgow is often an overlooked destination in Scotland. Whereas Edinburgh is perfect for tourists, with its castle, medieval architecture, and historical background, Glasgow is a city centered around the people who live and work here.

Glasgow

Glasgow | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

There are tons of options to fill your time in Glasgow. Visit museums, explore the parks, and tour the art galleries. Or, you could go pub hopping, like we did.

LEARN MORE: Glasgow: 24 Hours of Fun for the Whole Family

Tonight, sleep in Glasgow.

Scotland Itinerary Day 10

Begin your travels home. Or, for those with more time, continue on to your next destination.

How to Modify this Scotland Itinerary

With more time.

Malt Whisky Trail. Drive the whisky trail for several days, visiting places like Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and so many more. You can add the Malt Whisky Trail into the above itinerary between Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye.

Orkney or Shetland Islands. The Orkney and Shetland Islands are groups of many smaller islands stretching off the northern coast of Scotland. Incredibly scenic, this is definitely getting off the main tourist trail in Scotland.

With Less Time

If you want to visit Scotland but do not have 10 days, here are some recommendations on how to shorten this Scotland itinerary.

If you only have 9 days, eliminate the extra hiking day (day 7 of this Scotland itinerary). 

If you only have 8 days, combine Glencoe and Glasgow. From the Isle of Skye, drive through Glencoe (you can still see it, but you will have limited time for hiking and the detour to Glen Etive) and spend the afternoon in Glasgow.

If you only have 7 days, drive to the Isle of Skye the afternoon of day 3. 

Here is a sample 7 day Scotland itinerary. It now has a big emphasis on Edinburgh and Isle of Skye. To make it worth the drive, I think that the Isle of Skye needs a full two days and two nights. 

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh Day 2: Edinburgh Day 3: Edinburgh in the morning, drive to the Isle of Skye in the afternoon Day 4:   Isle of Skye Day 5:   Isle of Skye Day 6:   Drive to Glasgow, visit Glencoe on the drive Day 7: Glasgow

Best Time for this Scotland Itinerary

Spring, summer, and fall are the best seasons to visit Scotland. Summer is peak season, so expect large crowds of tourists and some difficulty finding hotel accommodations, especially on the Isle of Skye. August brings the Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world.

If you want to avoid most of the tourists, late spring and early fall are your best bets.

We visited Scotland at the end of July. 

Planning Your Trip

Rental car and hotel reservations.

For this Scotland itinerary, you will need to rent a car. You do not need a rental car while in Edinburgh, since most sights are within walking distance of the Royal Mile or accessible with public transportation. Pick up your rental car the morning of day 4, when you drive from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. We picked up our rental car at the train station in Edinburgh. 

  • Edinburgh – 3 nights
  • Isle of Skye (Portree) – 3 nights
  • Glencoe – 1 night
  • Glasgow – 2 nights

Average Trip Costs

Here are some estimated costs (all prices are in USD):

Rental car:   $75 to $150 USD per day for a midsize car Fuel: $2 USD per liter ($8 USD per gallon)

Budget Hotel/Dorm:   $15 – $75 Midrange Hotel, double room with two people:   $75 – $200 High end hotel, double room with two people:   $200+

Meals can cost $15 to $35 per dish, depending on the restaurant. To save money, only dine in restaurants once per day and buy groceries at grocery stores.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need in Scotland?

In order to tour the highlights of Scotland (Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, and the Highlands of Scotland), plan on spending 8 to 10 days in Scotland. Eight days gives you just enough time to spend two full days in Edinburgh, drive to and from the Isle of Skye (visiting a few places on the drive), and two days in the Isle of Skye.

When is the best time to visit Scotland?

Early May through mid-June is a great time to visit Scotland.

We did this itinerary at the end of July. June, July, and August are the warmest months of the year, with average daytime hikes of 16°C (60°F). April, May, and June are the driest months of the year, averaging about 10 days of rain per month. The summer gets the most visitors. If you are looking for good weather and lower crowds, plan your visit from early May through mid-June. Expect big crowds in July and August. In September, visitation and crowds go down, but rain chances increase. 

Do I need a car in Scotland?

You can tour Scotland without a car, by taking the train and using other forms of public transportation or group tours. However, it can be very difficult to get around the Isle of Skye without your own vehicle, so for this Scotland itinerary, we recommend renting a car. 

If you have any questions about this Scotland itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.

EDINBURGH: Learn about the best things to do and how to plan your time in our 2 Day Edinburgh Itinerary. We also have detailed guides on how to hike to Arthur’s Seat, how to visit Edinburgh Castle, and best things to do with kids in Edinburgh.

PLACES TO VISIT IN THE ISLE OF SKYE: For an overview of must-have experiences on the Isle of Skye, read our article Best Things to Do on the Isle of Skye. We also have detailed guides on the Old Man of Storr , the Fairy Pools , the Fairy Glen , Brother’s Point , and the Quiraing .

DRIVING IN SCOTLAND: If your visit to Scotland includes a visit to the Isle of Skye, there are two different routes to get from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye.

EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.

DRIVING IN EUROPE: If you have plans to rent a car in Europe, read our article Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Europe for lots of helpful tips.

Planning a trip to Scotland? Read all of our articles in our Scotland Travel Guide.

Scotland Itinerary 10 Days

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Driving to the Isle of Skye

Comments 90

Avatar for Bev Cavera

Hello Julie an Tim. We have followed several of your itineraries during the past years. Our last together an perhaps my most memorable was Egypt in the Spring 2022. We spent almost a month in Egypt doing all the things u recommend including a week snorkeling in the Red Sea. Upon returning home Pat was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. We were looking at Scotland in the Spring 2024. However, he took his last journey alone in September leaving me behind. I am alone now an really want to see Scotland an drive the North Coast 500. I have no time limit now. I have asked my Sister to come along. Now my question, is it possible to see all the places on both the North a South route near Isle of Skye from Edinburgh ? Than continue to drive North up along the coast and return to Edinburgh via the Western side of Scotland? I can’t seem to figure out a route that would include all the stops on both the North and South itinerary. Should I just follow one an double back somewhere?

Avatar for Julie

Hello Bev. I am very sorry to hear about Pat and have been following you, your story, and all of your amazing travels on Facebook. Both you and Pat have been on our hearts and minds since I heard about his diagnosis. Our experience in Scotland is limited to what you see in this itinerary, although it is a place we would love to return to. I just took a quick look at the North Coast 500 and the SWC300. If you wanted to do both, you could visit Edinburgh, drive to Inverness either via the east coast or go through Cairngorms National Park and the Whisky Trail. Then do the NC500 counterclockwise. Once near Kyle of Lochalsh, visit the Isle of Skye. From Skye, take the ferry to Mallaig, drive to Glencoe, and then head south to the SWC300, maybe visiting Glasgow on the way. Drive the SWC300 and then fly home from Edinburgh. I think that would be an amazing loop through Scotland and if you really wanted to be thorough, you could also add on the Isle of Arran or Islay. I can’t wait to see your photos on Facebook! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Jonathan

Would you recommend Scotland in the winter? Mid-late February? Cheers

Our only experience in Scotland was in the summer. I know it can be chilly/cold in the winter with shorter days but it is the low season, so hotels will be cheaper, sites will be less busy, and there will be less crowds, so there definitely are some advantages, if you don’t mind the weather. In cities and towns, most places should stay open, I’m just not sure what the more outdoorsy places would be like, such as the Isle of Skye. You can look on weatherspark.com for weather averages and daylight hours, just so you know what to expect weather-wise before making your decision. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for naga

Hi we are planning to go scotland end if mar and we have 7 full days. Please recommend what can be done in march 23-29

With 7 days, start on day 2 of this itinerary. On day 8 (your day 7) drive directly to Edinburgh for your flight home or wherever you are going next. Cheers, Julie

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The 14 best places to visit in Scotland

James Smart

Nov 19, 2023 • 10 min read

family day trips scotland

Pack your camping gear (and your rainproofs) and head to some of the best places to visit in Scotland © Robert Coppinger / Shutterstock

Some of the best places to visit in Scotland will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever gazed at a whisky label or shortbread tin. Think dramatic peaks, lonely glens, lochs, tartan and haggis!

From spectacular Skye and historic Edinburgh to the rolling rivers of Speyside, Scotland’s big sights are as glorious as you’d imagine. But scratch the surface of this proud nation and you’ll find a varied and engrossing place, dotted with prehistoric villages, wild clubs, rich seafood and ruined abbeys.

So, where to start? Once you've decided on the best time for your visit , you need to decide on the best places to go while you're there. Here is our pick of the best destinations in Scotland to get you started.

Group of people walking along cliff edge looking over Edinburgh

1. Edinburgh

Best place for year-round entertainment

Scotland's capital may be famous for its festivals, but there's much more to the city than that. Edinburgh is a place of many moods: visit in spring to see the Old Town silhouetted against a blue sky and a yellow haze of daffodils, or on a chill winter’s day for fog snagging the spires of the Royal Mile, rain on the cobblestones, and a warm glow beckoning from the windows of local pubs. With a world-class modern art gallery , top museums , spooky historic sites and a majestic 12th-century castle , there's plenty to keep you entertained whatever the season.

Local tip: Start your visit to Edinburgh with a climb up Arthur's Seat , an extinct volcano for panoramic views over the city.

2. West Highland Way

Best place for long-distance hiking

The best way to really get inside Scotland's landscapes is to walk them. Here, peaks tower over lochs and sea cliffs gaze over the wind-whipped sea, but there are short woodland trails and charming strolls through valleys dusted with purple heather, too. Top of the wish list for many hikers is the 96-mile West Highland Way from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William , a weeklong walk through some of the country's finest scenery, finishing in the shadow of its highest peak, Ben Nevis.

If you don’t have the time or energy for a long-distance trek, it's possible to do just a day's hike along part of the trail. For example, you could walk the section from Rowardennan to Inversnaid, returning to your starting point using the Loch Lomond waterbus . Whichever section you take on, pack waterproofs and midge repellent. Rail lovers should note that sleeper trains run south from Fort William all the way to London, making for an easy exit after a walk.

Detour:  The 1,345m (4,413ft) summit of Ben Nevis is within reach of anyone who's reasonably fit: treat the peak with respect and your reward (weather permitting) will be magnificent views that can stretch as far as Northern Ireland.

The Kylesku Bridge spanning Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin in the Scottish Highlands, which is a landmark on the North Coast 500 tourist driving route.

3. North Coast 500

Best place for a scenic road trip

Breathtaking views abound in the Highlands , but the far north is where things become truly awe-inspiring. This is the best place in Scotland to explore by car (you can also cycle it), with some of the finest roadside scenery in Europe.

The North Coast 500 starts and ends in the likable city of Inverness , and loops past the lochs, sand dunes and golf courses of the east coast before taking in the remote cliffs and beaches of Cape Wrath, the rugged peaks of Assynt and Torridon’s desolate beauty. These sights, and the nooks of warm Highland hospitality found in the region's classic rural pubs and old crofting villages, make this an unforgettable weeklong tour.

4. Isle of Skye

Best place for photographers

In a country famous for stunning scenery, the Isle of Skye takes the top prize. From the craggy peaks of the Cuillins and the bizarre pinnacles of the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing to the spectacular sea cliffs of Neist Point, there's a photo opportunity awaiting you at almost every turn.

Skye is also one of the best places in Scotland to see golden eagles, and you’ll find convivial pubs and top seafood restaurants if you can tear your eyes from the natural world. Of course, all this tourist appeal makes Skye one of Scotland's most popular destinations. The crowds tend to stick to Portree , Dunvegan and Trotternish – it’s almost always possible to find peace and quiet in the island’s further-flung corners.

Planning tip:  Come prepared for changeable weather – when it’s fine, it’s very fine indeed, but all too often it isn’t.

5. Loch Lomond

Best place for a lakeside hike

Despite being less than an hour's drive from the bustle and sprawl of Glasgow, the bonnie braes (banks) of Loch Lomond – immortalized in the words of one of Scotland's best-known songs – comprise one of the most scenic parts of the country.

At the heart of Scotland's first national park , the loch begins as a broad, island-peppered lake in the south, its shores clothed in bluebell-sprinkled woods before narrowing in the north to a fjord-like trench ringed by mountains.

Detour: The summit of Ben Lomond (974m/3,031ft) is a popular climb – follow the well-maintained path for a 7-mile round-trip on the popular Tourist Route (allow around 5 hours).

embers of the public enjoy their first drink in a beer garden at the Rosevale Tavern in Partick on July 06, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Best place for live music and pub culture

Scotland's biggest city may lack Edinburgh's stunning setting, but it more than makes up for it with a barrelful of things to do and a warmth and energy that leaves every visitor impressed. Edgy and contemporary, it's a great spot to browse art galleries and museums , and to discover the works of local design hero Charles Rennie Mackintosh .

Glasgow’s infectious vitality is best sampled via its lively pubs and clubs, which host one of the world's great live music scenes.

Local tip:  Check out upcoming (mostly alt-rock) acts at the Barrowland  (crowned the UK's best music venue by Time Out magazine in 2023), a legendary former ballroom, or try the Sub Club for house and techno, the Clutha Bar for roots and rock, or Nice N Sleazy , a classic indie dive.

7. Stirling

Best place for castle fans

With an impregnable position atop a mighty wooded crag – the plug of an extinct volcano – Stirling ’s beautifully preserved Old Town is a treasure trove of historic buildings and cobbled streets winding up to the ramparts of Stirling Castle . This fortress has seen serious action – it was bombarded by the Warwolf, a giant 14th-century English siege engine, and was besieged during the 1745 Jacobite rising, as well as sending troops to the battle of Bannockburn (the decisive battle celebrated at the end of Braveheart ), just a few miles south.

Today, views that stretch to the Highlands, glorious tapestries and juicy history make this Scotland’s best castle – and a great family attraction.

Planning tip:  It's best to visit in the afternoon; many tourists come on day trips, so you may have the castle almost to yourself by 4pm.

Fishing boat in the harbour at Lybster on the east coast of Scotland.

8. St Andrews

Best place for golfers

Scotland invented the game of golf, and the city of  St Andrews is still revered as its spiritual home by hackers and champions alike. Links courses are the classic experience here – bumpy coastal affairs where the rough is heather and machair (coastal grass) and the main enemy is the wind, which can make a disaster of a promising round in an instant.

St Andrews, the historic Fife university town, is golf's headquarters , and an irresistible destination for anyone who loves the sport. And if you're not so keen, well, the city has impressive medieval ruins , stately university buildings , idyllic white sands and excellent guesthouses and restaurants .

The stone ruins of Skara Brae on the coast of Mainland Orkney

9. Skara Brae

Best place for lovers of ancient history

When visiting ancient sites, it can sometimes be difficult to bridge the gulf of years or build a connection with the people that built them, but Scotland’s superb prehistoric remains have an immediate impact. Few places offer a better glimpse of everyday Stone Age life than Skara Brae in Orkney  with its carefully constructed fireplaces, beds, cupboards and water cisterns.

This Neolithic village – which, at 5,000 years is older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids of Giza – lay buried in coastal sand dunes for centuries. Even today, it can feel as though the inhabitants have just slipped out to go fishing and could return at any moment.

10. Glen Coe

Best place for clan history

Scotland's most famous glen combines two essential qualities of the Highlands: dramatic scenery and a deep sense of history. The peace and beauty of this valley today belies the fact that Glen Coe was the scene of a ruthless 17th-century massacre, when the local MacDonalds were murdered by soldiers of the Campbell clan.

Some of the glen's finest walks – to the Lost Valley, for example – follow the routes taken by fleeing clanspeople, many of whom perished in the snow.

Planning tip:  Start at the Glencoe Visitor Centre for more information on this beautiful place and its tragic history.

11. Perthshire

Best place to enjoy nature's bounty

In Perthshire , the heart of Scotland, picturesque towns bloom with flowers, distilleries emit tempting malty odors and sheep graze in impossibly green meadows. There's a feeling of the bounty of nature that no other place in Scotland can replicate.

Blue-gray lochs shimmer, reflecting the changing moods of the weather; centuries-old trees tower amid riverside forests; majestic glens scythe their way into remote wildernesses; and salmon leap upriver to the place of their birth.

A group of black-and-white birds with colourful beaks stand together on a clifftop on a misty day

12. Shetland Islands

Best place for birdwatching

Close enough to Norway to make Scottish nationality an ambiguous concept, the Shetland Islands are Britain’s most northerly outpost. The stirringly bleak setting – recognized as a precious UNESCO geopark – still feels uniquely Scottish though, with deep, naked glens flanked by steep hills, twinkling, sky-blue lochs and, of course, wandering sheep on the little-trafficked roads. It's the birdlife, however, that really draws visitors here.

From their first arrival in late spring to the raucous feeding frenzies of high summer, the vast colonies of gannets, guillemots, skua, puffins and kittiwakes at Hermaness , Noss, Sumburgh Head and Fair Isle provide some of Britain's most impressive birdwatching experiences.

Local tip: Shetland is one of the best places in the UK to spot orcas (and the Northern Lights).

13. Speyside

Best place for whisky tasting

Scotland's national drink is whisky – from the Gaelic uisge beatha , meaning “water of life” – and this fiery spirit has been distilled here for more than 500 years. More than 50 distilleries are in operation in Speyside, Scotland's most famous whisky area, famed for fruity, lightly spicy flavors (head over to Islay for peatier varieties).

Ask at the Whisky Museum about the Malt Whisky Trail, a self-guided tour around the local distilleries. If you just have time for one, the Balvenie Distillery is a good bet as it still uses a traditional malting floor – the smell is glorious!

Planning tip:  Dufftown lies at the heart of the region and is host to the biannual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

14. The Scotland Borders

Best place for a country ramble

Many visitors to Scotland race up to Edinburgh and then hightail it to the Highlands, missing the Scottish Borders entirely . That's their loss. Once fought over by war chiefs and cattle thieves, the Borders region is rich in history and packed with good cycling and hiking routes.

There are grand country houses, too – Traquair House brews Jacobite Ale and has a concealed room that once hid Catholic priests – and a series of gorgeous ruined abbeys – Gothic Melrose Abbey is the best – plus birds and sea cliffs at St Abb’s Head. More active types can fish for salmon or thunder down the mountain bike trails at Glentress and Innerleithen.

This article was first published May 2021 and updated November 2023

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15 Fun Day trips from Edinburgh with Kids

North Berwick + kids

There are plenty of things to do with kids in Edinburgh , however, now and again, it’s fun to get out of the city and explore a little further afield. A change is as good as a rest, right? We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite day trips that are no more than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh (when it comes to kids, we know that the shorter the car journey, the better!).

Map of Day Trips from Edinburgh

We’ve pinpointed all the suggested day outings on the map below. Hopefully this will help you better plan your day trips!

Pick Your Own Fruit at Craigie’s Farm – 25 mins from Edinburgh

Strawberries

How about something a little different? Have you ever been fruit picking with your little ones? Well here’s your chance… Craigie’s farm offers you the opportunity to pick strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples and even pumpkins at various times in the year! So much fun for the whole family. You simply pay £3 per person for a basket and off you go fruit picking. There’s also a lovely outdoor children’s play area, a great café, fantastic views to sea as well as some farm animals onsite.

  • It’s close to the airport so as an added bonus your kiddos can do some plane spotting.
  • The fruit picking is best in the summer when most of the fruits are in season, however, be aware that it does get busy.

→  Craigie’s Farm Website

Jupiter Artland – 25 minutes from Edinburgh

Jupiter Artland is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh (technically in West Lothian), however, it’s well worth the detour if you have the time and transport. It’s a contemporary park showcasing art installations, a woodland art trail, grass sculptures and more. There’s also a lovely teashop if you need to refuel at any point.

  • If you’re on a budget, head there on a Monday for ‘‘Pay what you want Mondays’
  • It’s only open from May to September so check their website before you head there.

→ Jupiter Artland Website

Dalkeith Country Park – 20 mins from Edinburgh

Dalkeith-Country-Park

Located a short 20 minute drive to the South East of Edinburgh, Dalkeith Country Park is a great spot to spend an afternoon and discover the recently updated Fort Douglas play park. This fantastic adventure playground caters to all ages and includes an amazing treehouse fort, swings, zip slides, rope bridges and lofty walkways (check their website for entry prices to the Fort). Your kids won’t be disappointed! There are also various short and medium walks around the grounds. If you’re hungry then be sure to check out the recently transformed 18 th century Stableyard and Courtyard which is now home to the Restoration Yard Café.

→  Dalkeith Country Park Website

Almond Valley, Livingston – 35 mins from Edinburgh

Almond Valley Heritage Centre was a firm favourite with our kids when they were younger. It’s located in the nearby town of Livingston about half an hour’s drive from Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic site with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities for children including a museum, onsite farm animals, pedal carts, tractor rides, trampolines, playgrounds and there’s even an indoor softplay area.

→  Almond Valley Heritage Centre Website

A trip to North Berwick, East Lothian – 40 mins from Edinburgh

North Berwick, East Lothian

Hop on the train from Waverley train station or jump in the car and head to the pretty seaside town of North Berwick in East Lothian. There are plenty of things to do with children including playing on the beach, visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre, going on a boat trip, climbing up North Berwick Law, having a gelato from the icecream van or fish & chips from the Lobster Shack. There is also a great choice of small independent shops for gifts, together with excellent cafes and restaurants in the town centre. If you are lucky, you might see the many colourful boats from the local sailing having fun in the bay. Our kids particularly loved going to North Berwick by train – it’s a very easy 30 minute ride and then a short walk to the town centre.

East Lothian Beaches – 40 mins from Edinburgh

Yellowcraig beach, East Lothian

We absolutely love taking our kids to the beach – we find they’ll happily while away hours playing in the sand, building various sand structures, catching (or trying to) small fish, collecting shells, etc. Some of our favourite beaches are located in East Lothian and here are the two that top our list: Yellowcraigs and Gullane.

Yellowcraig Beach – this is hands down our favourite beach in the area. There is sheltered woodlands, dunes and a vast expanse of beach with views of Bass Rock, May Island and Fidra. Depending on your children’s age, you can even walk to North Berwick (approximately 3 miles, it’s part of the John Muir Trail) and visit Dirleton Castle on route. There’s onsite parking (£2 for the day) and an added bonus for children is the fantastic pirate themed adventure playpark located just off the path before heading towards the beach.  If you’re lucky, you might even catch the ice-cream van!

Gullane Beach (or Bents) – think large expanse of sand. There is parking onsite and it’s an easy walk down to the beach. The water is clear, the beach is clean and there is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy their time by the seaside.

East Links Family Park – 35 mins from Edinburgh

This is a truly wonderful farm themed activity park which cannot fail to impress your kiddos. Located close to Dunbar, East Links Family Park is a 35 minute drive from Edinburgh city centre and the easiest way to get there is by car. You really want to allow an entire day to visit this park as there’s so much to see and do on site! Choose from a train safari, crazy golf, the fortress, soft play areas, go karts, tractors, trampolines, haybarn climbing walls, indoor animal barn and outdoor farm animals. We couldn’t get our kids away from this place when we visited when they were younger. A real hit with our family!

→  East Links Family Park Website

National Museum of Flight, East Lothian – 40 mins from Edinburgh

East-Fortune-museum-of-flight

This museum is fittingly located on an old airfield that was used during the 2 nd  World War, some of the original buildings have been restored. Kids will love the Concorde Experience where you can actually explore the interior of this legendary aircraft and discover its history. There are loads of interactive displays for kids to get their hands on, find out how to build a plane, test your pilot skills and learn about why planes fly.

The hangars are packed full of interesting planes from all ages, some have a military heritage while others are exclusively civilian. Do not miss getting up close and personal with the ultimate fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire.

→  National Museum of Flight website

Falkirk Wheel – 45 mins from Edinburgh

Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is an impressive rotating boat lift that connects the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal. The Wheel is really impressive to look at and is also fun to take a boat trip on. There are plenty of other family friendly activities at the Wheel including waterzorbing, Segway safaris, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, bumper boats, peddle boats, bike hire, boat trips, a splash zone. There is something for everyone and for every age! This ranks highly among many of the fun things to do near Edinburgh with kids.

→  Falkirk Wheel Website

READ: Why not check out the book ‘Hamish McHaggis and the wonderful Water Wheel’ for your kids ( click here or on the image below)! It follows the adventures of the friendly Hamish at the Falkirk Wheel.

family day trips scotland

The Kelpies & the Helix Park – 40 mins from Edinburgh

The Kelpies, Falkirk

Jump in the car and discover the 30 meter high Kelpies that rise majestically at the Helix Park. These impressive sculptures have been inspired by the mythological water spirit that is said to inhabit the Scottish lochs. Your kids will love this book! You can even join a 30 minute guided tour and get *inside* the Kelpies! There is also a fantastic Adventure Zone play park and Splash Play area. Helix Park is a short 10 minute drive from the Falkirk Wheel if you wanted to combine the two.

→  Helix Park Website

READ: Get your kids interested in the legend of the Kelpies by buying or borrowing the Secret of the Kelpie from your library ( click here or on the image below). Our daughter loved it!

family day trips scotland

Stirling Castle – 50 minutes from Edinburgh

Entrance to Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is a very child friendly castle – in fact, we might even prefer it to Edinburgh castle, gasp! Located high above the town of Stirling, the castle sits atop an old volcanic rock. There are some great spaces for kids to explore in particular the Palace Vaults in the basement of the Royal Palace. You’ll find lots of interactive displays and medieval style dressing up costumes. The area is divided up into themes such as the tailor, the stone mason, the jester, the musician and the painter – it’s educational, interesting and above all, fun! We also particularly enjoyed the Royal Palace guides – they’re great with kids and really bring the visit to life.

→  Stirling Castle Website

Blair Drummond Safari Park – 50 minutes from Edinburgh

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Located close to Stirling, Blair Drummond Safari Park is a fantastic day out for both kids and grownups alike. You’ll get a chance to see Scotland’s only giraffes as well as over 350 rare and exotic animals. The park is part of the Endangered Species Breeding Programme, and supports conservation projects in the UK and around the world. There’s a new dinosaur area which is sure to be a great hit with the kids. We recommend doing the enclosure drive through first and then a walk through the park. There’s so much to see and do – you can easily spend a full day at Blair Drummond. 

→  Blair Drummond Safari Park website

Glasgow – 50 to 60 minutes from Edinburgh

Kelvingrove-museum-Glasgow

An easy train ride from Edinburgh, the city of Glasgow has so much to offer families and makes a wee change from the capital. Head to the west end and check out Kelvingrove, a world class museum – be warned you can easily spend half day there. Stick to the city centre and visit the Riverside museum and adjoining Tall Ships or the Lighthouse. For the science buffs, you have the Science Centre as well as the Scotland Street School Museum.

READ: Check out ‘Hamish McHaggis and the Great Glasgow Treasure Hunt’ ( click here ) or ‘The Train to Glasgow’ if you’re travelling by train ( click here ).

family day trips scotland

Final Words

We hope you enjoyed our roundup of some of our favourite day trips from Edinburgh with kids. Is there anywhere else you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments!

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Monkey and Mouse

50 Best Places for Family Days Out in Central Scotland: Scotland With Kids

July 24, 2015 by Jenny Eaves

family days out in Scotland

Both of my children love to be outdoors, we spend almost every day out and about.  Over time we have visited a huge amount of attractions as within Scotland .  So I thought it would be nice to collate all this information in one post, so locals or those visiting Central Scotland can have a few ideas of places to visit for family days out in Scotland with kids. This is the perfect place to explore a huge range of attractions, from some of the best museums in the United Kingdom to beautiful scenery and national parks.

Most attractions are in Central Scotland, but there a few a little further afield, but all are worth visiting on a day trip from here. If you are looking for walks in the Stirlingshire or Trossachs areas then pop over to this post here . This really is a great place for a family holiday base in Scotland.

I have also included links to any blog posts I have written about the attractions if you want to find out a bit more.  Please also check out my more up-to-date post with 70 places for family days out in Scotland over here , including many attractions not included below (such as Dynamic Earth!).  You will find plenty of the best places for other amazing days out in Scotland through that link!

Without any further ado, here are 50 family days out in Scotland (In no particular order!).

Table of Contents

Family Days Out In Scotland With Kids

1.   briarlands farm  park , stirling..

Beginning our list of family days out in Scotland, is Briarlands Farm. A farm park with an indoor play area, cafe, craft station and outdoors there are play areas, animal feeding and tractor rides.  Plus strawberry picking in season.

Briarlands animal handling, family days out in Scotland

2.   Wellsfield Farm Park , near Denny.

Another farm park in a smaller area with go-karts, tubing, climbing frames and more outside, inflatables indoors, small cafe and more. They have currently closed the farm park to the public, so it can only be used by lodge guests.

3.   The Lodge , Aberfoyle.

children playing in stream Aberfoyle

Woodland walks with little activities hidden away for kids (or big kids), red squirrels hide, cafe, visitor centre with wildlife cameras.

4.   Fife beaches .

Fife has many fabulous beaches, our favourites are at Elie and Silversands, Aberdour.  Check out our visit to Silversands here .

5 .   Wonderworld Softplay , Falkirk.

Recently refurbished and changed names from Monster Mania, which has a huge softplay with different areas for toddlers and older children, plus a go-kart track. The kids will have a great time exploring the soft play will parents can sit down with a coffee for a few minutes. It’s a great way to let the kids run off some energy on a wet day.

6 .   Doune Castle , Doune.

child in Doune castle

Things to do in Scotland have to include some castles and Doune Castle is a great one to start with.  It’s a small Historic Scotland castle used in several films/TV programmes including Monty Python’s Holy Grail (they even have coconut halves in the shop to try out!) and recently Outlander.  Check out Morna from Awesome Austerity’s post here .

7 .   Wallace Monument , Bridge of Allan.

wallace monument sword holding

The monument to Sir William Wallace, set in a lovely woodland is one of the best things to do with kids in Stirling.  The monument had several floors (winding staircase to the top) with information and activities, great views from the top.  Check their website for special events, particularly in the summer months.

8 .   Stirling Castle , Stirling.

children holding a unicorn horn or narwhal horn

Things to do in Stirling have to include a visit to Stirling Castle ! It’s a popular castle with loads to see and do for adults and kids alike, you can easily spend a whole day here. Learn about the famous kings and queens who lived at the castle, including Mary Queen of Scots.  Cafe and shop at the castle.

9 .   Jupiter Wildlife Centre , Grangemouth.

*SWT are no longer going to be running Jupiter, but it’s hoped another organisation will take over.

It doesn’t look too much from the outside, but it’s a lovely woodland with several ponds and wildlife areas.  Visit the centre when you arrive to pick up pond dipping kit or wild flower bingo and other activities for free. Check out our pond dipping here .

pond dipping grangemouth family days out in Scotland

10 .   Scottish Seabird Centre , North Berwick.

A great day out for the family, lots to do for children in the Discovery centre and a lovely beach outside to play on too.

11 .   Isle of May , Anstruther.

Boat trips from Anstruther out to the Isle of May .  A.K.A. Puffin Island.  The most amazing island to visit if you want close encounters with Puffins and other sea birds.

12 .   Lomond Shores and Aquarium , Balloch.

child looking at fish in aquarium

An excellent aquarium ( Check this post out for a review ), beach area where you can hire pedalos, road train, playground and rides for kids.  Areas to walk around, shops and cafes.

13 .   Riverside Museum , Glasgow.

Free to enter, Scotland’s transport museum with a cobbled street and tram, trains, cars, bikes, underground train area to look at up close.  Various interactive features around the museum.  Cafe and shop.

14 .   Glasgow Science Centre , Glasgow.

child standing beside DNA model

This is on my list to visit this summer.  The science centre has 100’s of interactive exhibits, a planetarium and giant IMAX theatre.  Plus they have different events throughout holidays and at weekends. This is an excellent family day out on a rainy day, you can easily spend a day here with something interesting for the whole family.

15 .   Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway , Bo’ness.

Bo'ness and kinneil railway

Steam railway, check times of trains before you go.  A lovely museum to visit with old steam trains, moving model trains in an old carriage, shop and cafe.  Often have special ‘Thomas’ Big Day Out’ and at Christmas there are Santa trains.

16 .   Bass Rock , North Berwick.

Boat trips around the rock, watching the hundreds of thousands of sea birds flying to and from the rock.  There are often seals to see as well.

17 .   Bracklinn Falls , Callander.

children at Bracklinn falls

A lovely walk along to a beautiful waterfall.  You can just walk to the bridge and back or go a little further along other woodland paths or have lunch on the pebble’y’ shores. Little legs will like this short walk with lots to see and rocks to climb on!

18 .   Loch Katrine , Brig of Turk.

family day trips scotland

Bring your own bikes or hire them and cycle along the road around one side of the loch, if you get all the way to the end you can catch the steam boat back to the car park.  Steam boat trips from the car park area and a lovely walk with amazing scenery around the loch.  Check out this post for a few photos.

19 .   Little Drum Wood , Between Kilmahog and Brig of Turk.

A gorgeous woodland with lots of features for kids to splash, bang, hide and be creative with.  Check this post out for more photos and a video.

20 .   Falkirk Wheel , Falkirk – Scotland With Kids

falkirk wheel

The world’s only rotating boat lift, used to lift canal boat up to a height that normally would take many locks.  There is also a fabulous cafe, shop and a children’s water park area.  Plenty for the kids to do in the water play area even if you don’t go on the wheel itself.  I’ve written all about our Falkirk Wheel visit here .

21 .   The Kelpies and Helix Park , Falkirk.

Kelpies in Scotland

The Kelpies are two massive sculptures of horse heads located just off the M9.  There are tours available of the Kelpies and you can even go inside one as part of the tour.  The helix park includes many walkways that are great for bikes and scooters, a play park, small loch with canoes and pedal boats available for hire and various little food vans and cafes.  Check out my post here for more info.

22 .   Inchmahome Priory ,  Lake of Mentieth , Port of Mentieth.

We’ve been along the shores of Lake of Mentieth, but we’re yet to visit Inchmahome Priory, the main attraction.  This priory is situated on a small island in the middle of the lake (Scotland’s only lake) and is where Mary Queen of Scot’s spent a few weeks as a child when there was a possibility of an English invasion.  Interesting history and a beautiful island to visit along with a picnic.

family day trips scotland

23 .   Loch Lomond Islands , Loch Lomond – Scotland With Kids

I visited several of the islands in my early twenties as a volunteer and with my husband (then boyfriend) when he worked on some of the islands.  You can get trips out to the islands from various points around the loch, some islands have basic campsites, some inhabited and others not.  One island, Inchconnachan even has resident wallabies!

24 .   Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens , Edinburgh.

Free day out Edinburgh

In Scotland’s capital city you’ll find the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh . Beautiful gardens that adults and kids can run around and explore, bring a picnic in nice weather although there is also a cafe.  You need to pay to enter the glasshouses, but they are well-kept and worth paying a little to help with the upkeep of the gardens.

25 .   National Museum of Scotland , Edinburgh.

free day out Edinburgh

A short walk up the hill from Princes street and over the Royal Mile is the National Museum of Scotland (for kids it’s amazing). There is so much to see at the museum that you’ll probably just want to focus on certain areas of interest.  Everything from the story of how our planet and creatures formed, world cultures and the story of Scotland.  There are also various areas aimed at children, plus a cafe and shop.

26 .   Edinburgh Zoo , Edinburgh.

penguin at the zoo

There are a whole host of animals (as you would expect!) from Giant Panda’s to penguins, there is plenty to keep kids and adults entertained.  Various talks and close encounters are held throughout the day.  There are various eateries and a shop.

27 .   Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat , Edinburgh.

Arthur’s seat is the remnant of volcanic activity millions of years ago and sculpted by ice in the last ice age.  It was once used as a Royal Pleasure Park and before this there was an iron age hill fort on the peak.  Now it’s open to everyone and you can explore the grssland, climb to the top and have amazing views over Edinburgh and watch the ducks and other birdlife on Duddingston Loch.

Don’t forget to head over to Edinburgh Castle too, it’s great for families! With Camera Obscura just round the corner and a short walk down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace, there is plenty to do in the area.

28 .   Bannockburn Heritage Centre , Stirling.

Learn about the historic battle of Bannockburn, from battle preparation to the battle itself, lead by the Battlemaster through a state-of-the-art 3D battle simulation.

29 .   Almond Valley Farm , Livingston – West Lothian

chick handling

A museum, farm and discovery centre.  There are a large variety of animals to meet, trailer ride, narrow gauge railway, outdoor and indoor play areas, interactive displays and activities in the museum and delicious food from the milk bar.  Definitely somewhere that we must visit very soon!

30 .   Blairdrummond Safari Park , Stirling.

When you first come in you can choose to go round the drive through safari and then park to walk around the rest of the site.  There are a large variety of animals to see, including a boat ride to the chimp island and a petting farm.  There is also a large pirate ship play park, amusements and eateries.

rhino at Blairdrummond

31 .   Macrobert  Arts Centre , University of Stirling.

They have kids showings of various films and even a parent and toddler showing, where it doesn’t matter if your littlest is running around!  There are also productions throughout the year, some of which might be suitable for kids.

32 .   The Peak , Stirling – Scotland With Kids

A large sports village where you can go swimming (including toddler pool and a shallow learning pool), ice skating, jump on a Pirate ship bouncy castle, go to trampolining, dance and football classes, plus lots more.  Check out their website for times and dates of activities.

33 .   Scottish Crannog Centre , Loch Tay.

An indoor exhibit on the history of Crannog’s and underwater archaeology, a guided tour of a reconstructed crannog and a variety of demonstrations of ancient crafts and technology.  This is best for kids 4+, but younger children are welcome too. Although the crannog burnt down in 2021, a new crannog will soon be built across Loch Tay. For now there are still all the fantastic experiences that were always outside the crannog, learning about the history of the Scottish people from various hands on demonstrations.

crannog with kids, family days out in Scotland

34 .   Firpark Ski Centre , Tillicoultry.

Try out skiing, snowboarding or tubing with the kids on this 120m dry ski slope.  A little hard to find, hidden behind a local school, but fun for the kids, phone to book.

35 .   The Tall Ship , Glasgow – Scotland With Kids

The Tall Ship, Glenlee, is docked behind Riverside transport museum.  There are information boards around the ship, although we haven’t yet had time to read them due to the children’s toddler soft play area and various child friendly activities on the bottom deck.  The ship is free to enter, although you can pay £4 for a guidebook to help in the upkeep of the ship.

36 .   Castle Rednock Trekking , Port of Mentieth.

Pony trekking, segway trekking, quad pods, orienteering and wellie boot course.  Activities suitable from 3+ years old.

37 .   World of Wings , Cumbernauld – Scotland With Kids

Scotland’s largest collection of bird’s of prey.  Birds can be viewed at close quarters and summer flying times are 12 noon and 3pm.

38 .   M&D’s Theme Park , Motherwell.

Scotland’s theme park, with 5 white knuckle rides and over 20 kids rides and attractions.  There is also a glow-in-the-dark bowling area, soft play and restaurants.

39 .   Doon Hill Fairy Knowe , Aberfoyle.

A lovely walk from the village of Aberfoyle to the mystical Doon Hill, where there are fairy houses and doors along the path.  The trees at the top are coloured ribbons and wishes to the fairies.  Definitely read the story of Robert Kirk before going!

40 .   Time Capsule , Coatbridge.

A water park with rapids, hair-raising rides, lazy river and a gentle cove for little ones.  There is also an ice rink, 3-tier soft play area and 2 cafes.

41 .   Broadwood Stadium Soft Play , Cumbernauld.

A small soft play with areas for babies/toddlers and older children.  Alongside is a little cafe area.

42 .   Summerlee Heritage Park , Coatbridge.

A half kilometre electric tram track featuring shiny restored trams, adventure play park, recreated mine and miners cottages, kids can dress up in traditional clothing too if they like.  Free entry, aside the tram ride (approx. £1).

43 .   Mugdock Country Park , Milngavie.

A fantastic country park with lots to do.  There are walks, cycle paths, trails (including a lovely scavenger hunt for younger children), visitor centre, play park and adventure trail.  There are several lovely craft shops and eateries as well.

44 .   Glasgow Botanic Gardens , Glasgow.

Beautifully laid out gardens, fun for a play and wander around.  Take a picnic or eat at the cafe there. This is a lovely place for young children to explore and play.

You can also find other museums in Glasgow, including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery with a great range of exhibits that interest children. Plus it has a play park for children of all ages nearby.

45 .   Auchingarrich Wildlife Park , Comrie.

A lovely wildlife park that has plenty of animals to visit, talks, animal feeding, indoor and outdoor play areas for the children, mini golf, pony rides and a great cafe.

46 .   Beecraigs Country Park , Linlithgow.

Another great Scottish country park with miles of trails and paths to walk, cycle and run.  There is an adventure play area and orienteering maps available.

47 .   Doune Ponds Nature Reserve , Doune – Scotland With Kids

A reclaimed sand and gravel quarry, with 3 large ponds and a variety of wildfowl.  An easy walk for children around the ponds and feeding the ducks.  I mention this reserve here .

kids at Doune pond, family days out in Scotland

48 .   Go Ape , Aberfoyle.

Two 400m long zip wires over a spectacular waterfall and beautiful forest.  Tree top adventure, climbing, swinging and jumping in the trees.  So much fun!

49 . Amazonia , Motherwell.

Indoor tropical rainforest beside M&D’s theme park.  There are handling sessions, interactive exhibits, feeding and talks.

50 .   Loch Drunkie , Aberfoyle.

An easy woodland walk beside the loch with several musical installations including a giant glockenspiel and wooden bell-ringing pavilion.

If you are heading North to the Scottish Highlands after the Central Belt then you may be interested in this guide to travel on the Isle of Skye (via Fort William to see Ben Nevis!) or these excellent ideas for a Scottish road trip . Another place people like to stop in on the way North is Aviemore . Th is post about Aviemore covers everything you need to know including visiting the Cairngorms National Park for a trip up Cairngorm Mountain or a day trip to Loch Ness to spot the Loch Ness monster!

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Pin Family Days Out in Scotland For Later

 An updated list with another 70 places for family days out in Scotland can be found over here .

family days out scotland with Falkirk wheel

Reader Interactions

January 5, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Great ideas. 5 sisters zoo is also a good place to visit

Rhonda says

April 12, 2016 at 3:06 am

Newmilns dry ski slope for skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Great value for money!

Mairi Mack says

July 21, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Alva Glen; Castle Campbell, Dollar; Glen Finglas woodland walk, Brig o Turk; Plean Country Park; Smith Art Gallery, Stirling; the chainsaw sculptures trail in front of Stirling Castle; Summerlee museum, Cumbernauld;

August 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm

This is exactly what I’ve been needing for our trip up to Scotland next month. So helpful! Thank you!

Jenny Eaves says

August 10, 2016 at 6:11 pm

I would also add Jupiter Artland to that list now too (near Livingston). It is amazing and can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it! Have a great trip! x

Henry Harrison says

January 31, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Just found this today through twitter and am bookmarking it. We’ll be near Loch Lomond for a month March/April. This is a fantastic list. Thanks.

Elizabeth says

May 4, 2017 at 9:02 am

Great site when looking for places to take the bairns

4 Family-Friendly Day Trips to Take From Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

With castles, alleyways and all sorts of history, Edinburgh is medieval, modern and absolutely feels like Europe. In other words, kids will love it. Our youngest daughter and I recently visited Edinburgh and we had the most amazing time both in and out of the city. While Edinburgh is worth staying in for at least several days, it can also serve as a great home base for exploring a little more of Scotland. Here are four kid-approved day trips from Edinburgh.

Getting to Edinburgh

For our trip to Scotland, we hopped on a British Airways nonstop flight from San Diego (SAN) to London Heathrow (LHR). It was nice to just settle in for the long flight, not worrying about having to change planes until we reached the UK. Once in London, it was a short hop on another British Airways flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh Airport (EDI). ( British Airways actually allows for a free stopover in London before continuing on in the UK.)

Related: Related: Best Ways to Use Miles to Fly to Europe

Moving around the countryside in Scotland was easy using ScotRail from Waverley Station in Old Edinburgh. The furthest destination was Abbotsford House, with an £11 ($14) ticket to Tweedbank Station.

family day trips scotland

There were plenty of cool things to see and do in Edinburgh -- from Edinburgh Castle, to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and everything in between, visitors can walk the Royal Mile and see it all. There is even a website devoted to 101 Things You Can Do in Edinburgh . We barely scratched the surface, but still managed to see at least a dozen or so on that list. (If you time your visit with the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, that is an exceptional experience.)

With Edinburgh's Waverley Station so centrally located to most hotels in the city center, we could hop on board and be somewhere interesting in short order.

Our criteria for day trips were simple. We needed to be within a 60-minute train ride from Edinburgh, so we didn't waste too much time on the train that we could be spending on sightseeing. The destination needed to be interesting and not a traditional museum — my daughter's wishes. (My kids get so bored now in many museums, they don't even try to hide it.)

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Entertainment Spending

Here's where we went:

1. Stirling Castle

Distance: about 40 minutes by train

When people think of grand medieval castles shrouded in mystery and grandeur, they must be envisioning Stirling Castle. Smaller than Edinburgh Castle yet just as magnificent, Stirling Castle sits high on a hill overlooking the town of Stirling and surrounding countryside. On the day we visited, the castle was cloaked in a heavy mist. The weather just added to the overall romance of the visit, making us feel like we had been transported back in time.

family day trips scotland

Inside Stirling Castle, both kids and adults were well entertained with the décor that mimicked the original experience. Some of the draws for visitors included dungeons, cannons, suits of armor, paintings and tapestries. Attendants working throughout the grounds and interior were dressed in period costumes from the 1500s, when Mary Queen of Scots was crowned here.

Admission: Adults pay about $18 and children 5–15 get in for about $12. Children under 5 are free.

family day trips scotland

2. National Mining Museum of Scotland

Distance: 30-minute train ride

Well preserved in much of its original state, the National Mining Museum of Scotland is a fascinating look into the age of coal mining. Opened in the 1890's as the Lady Victoria Colliery, this original coal mine joined many others throughout the United Kingdom in supplying coal that fueled factories and provided energy for homes. Much of the machinery and architecture remain intact, and visitors can tour the grounds and building to learn about mining back in the day.

family day trips scotland

The kids in our tour group were fascinated (and slightly horrified) to learn that children played a large role in the coal mines. Working in extremely dangerous conditions alongside adults, these kids helped to support their families. Some started at age 8 or younger as indentured workers and were given special jobs to squeeze through tight spaces in the mines because of they were small. The exhibits on display show a difficult life for the working families at coal mines like this one. Luckily, child labor was outlawed and then the Industrial Age put most of the coal mines out of business. If your kids are like mine and like to be spooked, this is the place to take them.

Admission: Guided tours cost about $12 per adult, about $5 for children 8–16 and kids 7 and under are free. Entrance to the exhibits without a tour is cheaper.

family day trips scotland

3. Abbotsford

Distance: 55 minutes by train

For a more peaceful respite, a visit to Abbotsford Manor is a gentle way to spend the day. The grounds of this stately manor house are gorgeous, with walled gardens filled with roses and colorful flowers of all kinds. The surrounding land is covered with green grass and large trees, making Abbotsford House the perfect aristocratic country estate. This was actually the home of Sir Walter Scott, a famous Scottish poet and playwright. He wrote popular hits such as "Ivanhoe," "Rob Roy" and "The Lady of the Lake," among many others.

family day trips scotland

Evidently, Sir Walter was also a bit of a pack rat. Many of his collections are on display throughout the house, much as he left them when he died in 1832. Entering the house, guests are struck by a large hall completely adorned from top to bottom in antlers, taxidermy animal heads, skeletons and all manner of bric-a-brac. I could have stared at all this for hours, but the fantastic audio tour kept our pace brisk as we moved from room to room. We had a blast pretending we lived here. In the dining room, set for a dinner party of at least 20 guests, we imagined having tea with the queen.

Admission: About $14 for adults, children 17 and under are about $6 and kids under 5 are free. Admission includes the house, chapel and gardens.

4. Falkirk Wheel & The Kelpies

Distance: 25-minute train ride

Near each other in Falkirk, the Falkirk Wheel and the gigantic sculpture of The Kelpies are off the beaten path. In fact, on the day we visited, there were few other people there at all. Both sights are very large, and it was fascinating to learn how and why these attractions even exist.

Falkirk Wheel

At the Falkirk Wheel , we learned that travel by waterways was the primary mode of transportation in Scotland before trains, roads and vehicles. Canals join towns from one side of the country to the other, and boats would carry goods and people to and fro. Scotland is hilly, and in some cases, the canals needed adjustment for the water to flow comfortably for boats and passengers. Locks were introduced so that boats could travel from a high canal to a lower canal. A feat of engineering completed in 2002, the Falkirk Wheel is designed to move a boat a considerable distance up or down. It looks something like a carnival ride but is really an elaborate mechanism to lift our tour boat (with us in it) inside a lock filled with water.

The ride and tour was well worth the time, and we enjoyed the experience because it was so unexpectedly interesting. Nearby, a beautiful trail winds along the canal, and visitors can rent a bike to ride over to The Kelpies should they want to burn some energy. It's just about 8 miles. Ava did not feel like riding a bike and was content to feed the ducklings in the nearby reeds.

Admission: Adults pay about $17, kids 5–15 are $10 and kids 5 and under are free. Family ticket packages (two adults and two kids) are available for about $47.

family day trips scotland

The Kelpies

Down the road, The Kelpies is a stunning modern sculpture that looks like giant horses' heads. (And by giant, I mean more than 100 feet high.) Towering into the sky, the sculpture is made of metal panels and catches the sunlight in interesting reflections. The two heads are actually kelpies, mythological Scottish creatures said to be able to transform their shape at will. They often chose the appearance of a horse to represent strength and fortitude. Situating them next to the canals was a symbolic move to signify Scotland's progress into modern technology.

Visitors can walk directly up to the sculptures, getting a true sense of their size. Ava and I walked the grounds to see The Kelpies from different angles, searching for the perfect photo op. Because they are so huge, it was hard to take a selfie, but I think we managed pretty well.

Admission: About $10 for adults. Children 5–15 are free (two free kids with each paying adult) and kids 5 and under are free.

family day trips scotland

Bottom Line

Edinburgh is a fascinating place. After your family visits the must-do sites -- Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles Cathedral, The Heart of Midlothian and The Palace of Holyroodhouse -- it is worth planning a few day trips to explore the surrounds.

Continue planning your trip to Scotland:

  • 4 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh
  • Hilton Edinburgh Hotel Review
  • Radisson Blu Edinburgh Royal Mile
  • 10 Things No One Tells You About Edinburgh
  • Taking the Train From London to Edinburgh

Photos by author.

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    Today, views that stretch to the Highlands, glorious tapestries and juicy history make this Scotland's best castle - and a great family attraction. Planning tip: It's best to visit in the afternoon; many tourists come on day trips, so you may have the castle almost to yourself by 4pm.

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    Blair Drummond Safari Park - 50 minutes from Edinburgh. Located close to Stirling, Blair Drummond Safari Park is a fantastic day out for both kids and grownups alike. You'll get a chance to see Scotland's only giraffes as well as over 350 rare and exotic animals. The park is part of the Endangered Species Breeding Programme, and supports ...

  18. 50 Best Places for Family Days Out in Central Scotland: Scotland With

    Family Days Out In Scotland With Kids. 1. Briarlands Farm Park, Stirling. Beginning our list of family days out in Scotland, is Briarlands Farm. A farm park with an indoor play area, cafe, craft station and outdoors there are play areas, animal feeding and tractor rides. Plus strawberry picking in season.

  19. Best of Scotland in 13 Days Tour

    Plus you'll get all this, too. A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups; Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art, and culture of Scotland come alive for you; All group transportation from Glasgow to Edinburgh; 12 nights' accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels

  20. 4 Family-Friendly Day Trips From Edinburgh

    Edinburgh is a fascinating place. After your family visits the must-do sites -- Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles Cathedral, The Heart of Midlothian and The Palace of Holyroodhouse -- it is worth planning a few day trips to explore the surrounds. Continue planning your trip to Scotland: 4 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh; Hilton Edinburgh Hotel Review