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Your (free) guide to the top travel destinations for families with babies, teens and everyone in between.
Family vacations are all about creating unforgettable memories, so it makes sense to spend time exploring a truly memorable nation. Scotland is unforgettable for many reasons, including its rich and colorful history, vibrant Lowlander and Highlander cultures, and plucky yet hospitable locals. From the magic of its medieval castles to the wonder of its national parks, you’ll want to explore every inch of this amazing nation.
We know this British gem backward and forward and have the inside scoop when it comes to the most family-friendly attractions. Keep reading for some of our must-see destinations and must-do activities in Scotland with kids.
Scotland’s storied capital is rich in ancient and medieval history. There’s no better place to start familiarizing yourself with the city than the Old Town, which is constructed on a sloping crag. Explore the iconic Royal Mile, which runs from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood. Along the way, you’ll see musicians, other types of buskers, and sidewalk magicians.
Gain insights about one of Scotland’s most haunted cities on a ghost walk of Edinburgh. Learn about the capital’s storied history. Then, descend into the Blair Street Underground Vaults. Explore the shadowy depths of Edinburgh’s Old Town while discovering the colorful historical characters, including vagrants, murderers, and mischief-makers, who once called these subterranean vaults home. It’s hard to beat this tantalizing combination of educational and spine-tingling fun.
Discover the story of Greyfriars Bobby before heading to the memorial statue and gravesite of the faithful dog. Next, visit The Elephant House, where J.K. Rowling worked on the second and third installments of the Harry Potter series. Spend the morning hiking Salisbury Crag, an easy trek that offers breathtaking views of the Old Town and Firth of Forth.
Explore the towering Sir Walter Scott Monument, the largest statue in the world dedicated to an author, and Princes Street Gardens before heading to Rose Street in New Town for fish and chips. And don’t forget to book your Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo tickets so that your family can get in on Scottish spectacle and musicianship at its finest.
On a family-friendly vacation to Scotland, try your hand at Highlander athletics in Edinburgh. The Mini Highlander Games lets your family give the nation’s iconic folk sports a go, including:
Learn from experts who will encourage your family with tips and tricks to beat the competition. With a bit of elbow grease, you and your family will soon rank as seasoned participants in the Scottish Games. The Mini Highlander Games rank at the top of our list of Scotland’s attractions for families, mixing sporting competition with cultural education.
North of Edinburgh, explore the quaint town of St. Andrews, renowned for its legendary Old Course, which is known as “the Home of Golf.” It has hosted some of the world’s greatest golfers, from Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus. At the Swilcan Bridge, a 700-year-old stone bridge located at the 18th hole, snap fun family photos.
When it’s time for a snack, head to St. Andrews’ historic center to savor the gelato at Jannettas Gelateria. Check out the 15th-century University of St. Andrews, where Prince William and Kate, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, went to school and first met. Stroll towards the North Sea to explore the town’s cathedral ruins and enjoy the expansive walk along the pier. Let the kids blow off some steam at the playground at East Sands before visiting the Steak Barn, a working farm outside of St. Andrews where you can dig into twice fried chips and juicy burgers.
There are many fantastic reasons to check out Loch Ness, and only a few of them have to do with scoping out mysterious water creatures. (Although that’s fun, too!) At Loch Ness Shores Camping and Caravan, launch an outdoor adventure, with a night (or two) under the stars. The rustic campsite boasts fire pits, hot water showers, heated cabins, and an eclectic Airstream café. The campground also offers guided wildlife walks and family archery lessons.
After getting back to nature, check out Nessieland in Drumnadrochit, which includes a museum and adventure play park dedicated to everyone’s favorite cryptid. This also puts you a stone’s throw from Urquhart Castle, a crucial filming location for Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. The castle provides incredible views of Loch Ness’s entire length from the Grant Outlook tower, and your kids will enjoy scoping out the castle’s collection of siege weapons, including a trebuchet.
The West Highland Way stretches for nearly 96 glorious miles and includes well-marked trails cutting through lush forests. For those looking for the most accessible route, take the southern section beginning in Milngavie.
A travel agent specializing in family tours (hint: that’s us!) can help you arrange in advance for one of the many local services to transport your luggage. That way, when you reach your destination on foot, everything’s ready to go. We can also find comprehensive services and accommodations to customize your exploration of the West Highlands.
Must-see stopovers include Balmaha, known for its quaint charms and rich heritage, and Rowardennan, where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond Mountain. Be sure to stop at Conic Hill along the way for more views of the loch. Keep your eyes peeled for Highland animals, including goats, sheep, cattle, and ospreys that excel at diving for fish. And from mid-summer through early fall, get ready for beautiful wildflower blooms of thistle and heather.
No trip to Scotland would be complete without a little island hopping in the Hebrides. Depart on the Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry to visit the Isle of Mull. Make the seaside village of Tobermory your home base, and then head out for fun day trips.
One of our favorite day-trip spots is Duart Castle. If it looks familiar, you’re on to something. The castle was featured in the movie Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. After a tour of the castle, head to its Tearoom to take a proper Afternoon Tea with all of the delish finger sandwiches and pastries you can imagine.
You’ll also want to make room to visit the tiny island of Iona, located less than a mile from Mull. Learn about the first Christian missionary to the area, St. Columba, an Irish nobleman who founded a monastic community. If your family loves history, consider investing in the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. It gains you admission to Iona Abbey and many other national treasures.
The highlight of an island hopping adventure in Scotland is a visit to the iconic Isle of Skye. Excellent activities with kids include hiking the Old Man of Storr, one of the best trails on the island, which includes soaring views and the chance to climb a fun and easily surmountable outcropping of rocks at the end. We also recommend the Brother’s Point trail, which offers equally stunning views without the crowds.
You’ll also want to check out the Fairy Glen and Fairly pools ,two magical treks featuring emerald vistas, grazing sheep, and stunning water features. Historical sites of interest include Dunvegan Castle with its lush gardens and Duntulum Castle. And your family won’t want to miss out on a Skye wildlife watching boat tour to visit a colony of adorable puffins.
Settle in Aviemore, located on the River Spey, before exploring the United Kingdom’s largest park, Cairngorms National Park. Smackdab in the middle of the Highlands, Cairngorms contains many incredible hiking trails, providing access to the hills of Aviemore and fun attractions like chances to visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, home to Britain’s only free-ranging reindeer.
After your family has worked up an appetite, dine at the Cairngorm Hotel restaurant, where the most adventurous members of your crew can dig into a traditional Scottish meal of haggis and gravy served with neeps (turnips) and mashed tatties (potatoes). Or give the Old Bridge Inn a try. Savor beautiful views of the River Spey while sipping Apres cocktails, a hot beverage showcasing Calvados. And make sure you devote a day to the freshwater beach at Loch Morlich, where you can try your hand at paddle boarding, sailing, or a scenic floating trip.
Glasgow is one of Europe’s most walkable cities, as the downloadable Glasgow Walking app attests. The app ensures you don’t neglect any of the city’s family-friendly attractions like Victoria Park, which contains a fun children’s maze. Or book a walking tour, customized to your family’s unique ages and interests.
Hotspots worth seeing include the city’s spooky abandoned system of railway stations, George Square, and the Glasgow Cathedral. You’ll also want to hang out in the trendy Ashton Lane district and explore the free Glasgow Botanic Gardens. The tearoom at the gardens is an excellent place to grab a bite to eat and decompress after sightseeing.
Explore Scottish culture and enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences on your next family vacation. Along the way, discover the nation’s urban pulse in Edinburgh and Glasgow and its quaint country charm in Tobermory and Aviemore. Vacationing in Scotland with kids involves activities steeped in the vibrant heritage of Caledonia. Your family will explore delicious cuisine, famous castles and monuments, and the nation’s ancient cultural heritage.
Are you ready to start crafting your family’s Scotland family vacation? We can help. We’ve got the local connections, travel expertise, and family travel know-how to ensure you enjoy the best family vacation possible.
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