Free things to do in the Scottish Borders

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  • The sun lights up the ornate row of arches which form the cloister and a stained glass window at the end.
    The Roxburghe Memorial Cloister at  Kelso Abbey, Scottish Borders
  • The view towards Melrose and the River Tweed, Scottish Borders
    Towards Melrose and the River Tweed, Scottish Borders
  • Sir Walter Scott's view looking west over the River Tweed towards Melrose
    Sir Walter Scott's view looking west over the River Tweed towards Melrose
  • Southern Borders Loop, near the Hermitage Castle
    Southern Borders Loop, near the Hermitage Castle

The Scottish Borders is an inspiring region to visit, with enthralling history, magnificent castles and endless miles of breathtaking scenery. There are a wide range of activities to choose from, many of which are free of charge.

Free places to go

Visit the Dancing Light Gallery in West Linton and admire beautiful local artworks, including paintings, glasswork, hand-made jewellery and prints. The gallery hosts several changing exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing the best art in the region.

In the Coldstream Museum, you can see a varied programme of exhibitions and workshops. The museum permanently houses displays exploring the history of the parish and the story of the Coldstream Regiment. 

Delve into the fascinating world of beekeeping at the Chain Bridge Honey Farm, where you can learn out about the process of making honey, sample some beeswax healing ointments and of course, taste the farm's delicious honey.

On the banks of the River Teviot, you can discover the history of luxury cashmere-making at the Johnstons of Elgin Visitor Centre in Hawick

Visit the medieval fortress of Hume Castle, a unique castle with a turbulent past due to its proximity to the English border. There is also a wealth of history to uncover at Kelso Abbey, which dates back as far as the 12th century and is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture.

Fishing boats on St Mary's Loch
St Mary's Loch, part of the Southern Upland Way

Free outdoor activities

The region is known for being one of the best places in Scotland for mountain biking. Challenge yourself to a 7stanes route at Glentress or Newcastleton, both of which cater for all abilities and will take you through miles of breathtaking landscapes.

For a gentler pace, try out the tranquil River Tweed Cycle Way, which boasts lovely views and passes through quaint towns and villages. The more experienced cyclist might like to try out the Borders Loop, a 250 mile route that meanders across minor roads and tracks, showing off the natural beauty of the Borders.

From short strolls in the countryside to long distance routes, you will find a haven for all walkers. The Hirsel Estate is a picturesque place to wander; spend an afternoon watching wildlife from the bird hide and admire beautiful flowers flourishing in the spring. 

For a long distance challenge, you could make a start on the Southern Upland Way which goes through the towns of Galasheils and Lauder. The Sir Walter Scott Way follows partly the same route so you can venture through the magnificent backdrops which inspired the writer's timeless works.