Discover Scotland’s best-kept secrets at Doors Open Days in September

, , Leave a comment


Scotland is full of surprises – whether you’re visiting for the first time or holiday here every chance you get, you’re never far away from an exciting new discovery. This Year of Homecoming, Doors Open Days gives visitors the key to some the country’s best-kept secrets, offering access to places that are normally closed to the public, plus free entry to paid attractions.

Organised by the Scottish Civic Trust, this month-long festival sees hundreds of architectural gems, fascinating museums, historic sites and other hidden treasures open their doors to the public on Saturdays and Sundays throughout September, with different regions revealing some of their finest buildings each weekend. You’ll also find expert tours, guided walks, exhibitions and other activities on offer, all completely free.

As well as old favourites like Glasgow Cathedral or Colzium House in North Lanarkshire, there are dozens of wonderful buildings and locations joining the festival for the first time this Year of Homecoming: get inspired by the striking creative industries offices at District 10 in Dundee, wander through the lovely Secret Herb Garden in Midlothian, admire a private collection of wonderful vintage vehicles in North Corston, near Coupar Angus, and much more.

With more than 1000 venues on the programme, including museums, churches, schools, sports centres, gardens, parks and cinemas, Doors Open Days is a great chance to discover parts of Scotland you’ve never seen before. Read on for our recommendations for this week, and don’t forget to share your discoveries with us on Facebook, twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #homecoming2014 or #brilliantmoments!


Weekend 3: 20 & 21 September

Aberdeenshire (Saturday only)

  • Step back to the early 20th century at ‘Maggie’s Hoosie’, a traditional fishing cottage in Inverallochy
  • Learn about Portsoy‘s fishing industry and its role in WWI at the historic Salmon Bothy
  • Enjoy a guided tour followed by afternoon tea at the elegant Durn House, a Georgian mansion constructed in 1770
  • Climb the tower of Dalrymple Hall and take in panoramic views over Fraserburgh harbour
  • Discover the history of the Wine Tower and Castle Kitchen at Kinnaird Head, built by the Fraser family in 1540


  • Admire the colourful stained glass windows and war memorial of St Andrew’s West Church
  • Look over Falkirk‘s town centre from the first or second floor of its iconic Steeple – booking essential
  • Explore the magnificent grounds and elegant chambers of Kinneil House in Bo’ness
  • Take an afternoon stroll along the Antonine Wall from Callendar House to Watling Lodge, guided by a local archaeologist


  • Meet characters from the past at the newly-renovated Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre
  • Get inspired at House for an Art Lover, one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest designs
  • Join a tour of the elegant Glasgow Gurdwara, the first purpose-built Sikh Gurdwara in Scotland
  • Browse work by up-and-coming Scottish talents at Glasgow School of Art‘s new Reid Building
  • Admire the architecture and the history of Carmunnock Conservation Village

Highlands: Caithness

  • See the history of Lybster’s fishing industry brought to life at the Waterlines Visitor Centre
  • Browse through archives relating to prolific Scottish novelist Neil M. Gunn at the Dunbeath Heritage Centre
  • Explore the rich history of Caithness at Caithness Horizons, a five-star museum in Thurso
  • Trace the history of one of Scotland’s oldest clans from Viking times to the present day at the Clan Gunn Heritage Centre in Latheron

Perth & Kinross

  • Find out what goes on behind the scenes at Inveralmond Brewery outside Perth and enjoy a taste of their award-winning beers
  • See Ross and Sandra Yeaman’s collection of vintage vehicles dating between 1937 and 1961 in North Corston
  • Sample fine wines made from berries, leaves and flowers at the Cairn O’ Mohr Winery, near Errol
  • See one of the best-preserved prisoner of war cmps in the UK on a guided tour of Cultybraggan Camp Guard Block & Jail in Comrie
  • Explore three centuries of military history at the excellent Black Watch Castle and Museum in Perth, while the kids get stuck into fun activities, crafts and an art competition

West Fife (Sunday only)

  • Hear a storyteller recount the tale of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie at his Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline
  • Take a trip down memory lane as you admire more than 190 buses at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum in Lathalmond
  • Enjoy great views of the Forth Bridges on a guided walk around North Queensferry
  • Step down into the ancient St Margaret’s Cave in Dunfermline, believed to have served as a prayer retreat for Queen Margaret Canmore over 900 years ago
  • Discover the history of the 15th century Rosyth Castle and its dovecot, or ‘doocot’ in Scots

Weekend 4: 27 & 28 September

Highlands: Badenoch & Strathspey, Lochaber

Still not sure where to start? You can also sort the attractions by themes inspired by Homecoming Scotland 2014, including AncestryFood & drinkArts and culture and Natural, Active and Industrial, or browse the Doors Open Days inspirations for more ideas of great things to see around the country. Make sure you also keep an eye on our listings for more unmissable Year of Homecoming events in the coming months, from food festivals to marathons and much more.


You might also like:

The following two tabs change content below.

Sophie Cameron

Content Executive at VisitScotland
Originally from the Black Isle, Sophie lives in Edinburgh and spends most of her time reading, running and roaming around Scotland.