Lush countryside, hills, farmland, a string of charming towns and the historic cities of Stirling and Perth make central Scotland a must-see destination. Whether you like ancient castles or modern feats of engineering you’ll find something to enjoy on a relaxing day trip.
From Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow it’s easy to reach central Scotland within an hour and there are plenty of places to stay if you are looking to stop for the night. Stirling, Dunblane, Falkirk, Auchterarder, Crieff, Dollar, Alva, Tillicoultry, Kinross and Perth are just some of the great locations in this area.
So what will you see on your central Scotland holiday? Here are a few ideas!
1. Falkland Palace & Garden
History comes alive on a visit to Falkland Palace, located in the instantly charming village of Falkland about halfway between Edinburgh and Perth. Cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, this intricate renaissance building was adored by Mary Queen of Scots, who said it reminded her of the French Royal Court where she grew up. As well as the tranquil grounds, there is much to explore inside the palace including detailed panelling in the drawing room, the stunning Chapel Royal and the fascinating painted walls of the library. Accommodation nearby includes the Lomond Hills Hotel.
2. Lindores Abbey Distillery
If you are looking to sample the water of life, see how it’s made and meet the makers, then a visit to Lindores Abbey Distillery is a must. Only a short journey from Dundee and Perth, the distillery is linked to the earliest mention of whisky making in Scotland, over 500 years ago. Combining a distillery and heritage centre, there is lots to see here, and you will hopefully come away having learned lots too! You could spend the night in Perth or the wider Perthshire area. Explore accommodation in Perthshire.
3. The Falkirk Wheel
And now for something completely different! The Falkirk Wheel is a mighty structure and the world’s first and only rotating boat lift. The wheel stands 115 ft tall and amazingly requires only the power of eight domestic kettles to sail boats through the air and transfer them between two canals. Visitors can book a boat trip which offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and afterwards why not try the outdoor mini-golf course or Segway centre? Packed with things to do and places to stay, the Falkirk area is well worth exploring.
4. The Kelpies
Cameras at the ready! The Kelpies are located between Falkirk and Grangemouth and are the largest equine sculptures in the entire world. That’s something you don’t see every day! Standing at 100 ft tall and weighing more than 300 tonnes each, the Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horses used in Scottish industry, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coal ships that shaped the geographical layout of Falkirk. The area surrounding the Kelpies is called the Helix and there are plenty of things to explore on a day trip including a lagoon, café and visitor centre, adventure zone, splash play area and cycle paths. If you are looking to stay nearby, you could try the Macdonald Inchyra Grange or The Grange Manor.
5. Stirling Castle
One of Scotland’s most historically important buildings, Stirling Castle is a great family attraction in the heart of central Scotland. Once upon a time it was a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations from christenings to coronations in the castle grounds. Visitor highlights include the Great Hall, Chapel Royal, Castle Exhibition, Regimental Museum, Great Kitchens, Tapestry Studio and nearby Argyll’s Lodging, a 17th century town house. Explore accommodation in Stirling.
6. Bannockburn Visitor Centre
Staying in the Stirling area? The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre is a must-see attraction for those who have an interest in Robert The Bruce and medieval Scotland. The centre is a fully immersive 3D experience which brings to life this thrilling chapter of Scotland’s history. You’ll be able to take command of your own virtual battlefield and re-create the battle, witnessing Bruce’s decisive victory, against the odds. Kids will love interacting with medieval warriors, pages, archers and knights on either side of the conflict as they reveal how they became involved in the battle.
7. Blair Drummond Safari & Adventure Park
Family days out don’t come much more exciting than this – it’s time for a spot of safari! There are over 350 rare and exotic animals at Blair Drummond Safari Park so you can drive your own car through the animal reserves and get up close to zebras, camels, rhinos, deer, antelopes and even a pride of lions. Keep an eye out for the troop of monkeys in the safari park’s famous Macaque Drive-Thru. With so much to see, you may want to stay nearby at the Blair Drummond Caravan Park.
8. The National Wallace Monument
While you’re exploring Stirling, you won’t want to miss The National Wallace Monument, a renowned landmark celebrating the life of a very famous Scot. Get ready to be transported back to the 13th century as you discover the story of the warrior who led the Scottish army to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. In the Hall of Arms you will see the huge sword which Wallace carried, a powerful symbol of his bravery and courage. Climbing the monument offers magnificent views across the heart of central Scotland. Explore great accommodation in the area such as Stirling Court and Craighead Muckle Howff.
9. Castle Campbell
Central Scotland has no shortage of inspiring buildings and this is one of the finest. Castle Campbell was once the home of the powerful Campbell earls of Argyll and has connections with historical figures such as John Knox and Mary Queen of Scots. Today you can explore the castle’s visitor centre, cobbled courtyard and interpretation displays. Formerly known as the Castle of Glooms, it is beautifully sited upon a narrow bridge overlooked by the Ochil Hills. There are plenty of places to stay in the area including Dam View Glamping and Inglewood House & Spa.
10. Scone Palace
Scone Palace is steeped in history, the ancient crowning place of Scottish kings and the former home of the famous Stone of Destiny. Today you can admire the traces that remain of Scottish kings and queens down the centuries. You can wander down the Long Galley where King Charles II strode to his coronation in 1661, or admire the needlework skills of Mary Queen of Scots bedhangings that she worked on while in prison on Loch Leven. The grounds at Scone are a beautiful place to spend a few hours or enjoy a picnic. Don’t miss the adventure playground and the unique ‘tartan’ maze of 2,000 beech trees. If you are planning on spending the night in Perthshire, check out Crieff Hydro.
11. The Black Watch Museum
The Black Watch Castle and Museum is in the beautiful city of Perth. On a visit to this 5-star attraction you’ll get to see the fascinating museum, as well as enjoy the Castle Cafe and Gift Shop. The museum is housed in Balhousie Castle, the ancestral home of the Black Watch and the exhibits on show bring the history of Scotland’s oldest Highland regiment to life. Explore artefacts, paintings, photographs, personal stories and interactive displays – lots to see! Explore accommodation in Perth and make a holiday out of your visit.
12. Glenturret Distillery
Welcome to Scotland’s oldest working distillery in the heart of the gorgeous Perthshire countryside. The distillery welcomes visitors for excellent tours that will give you a flavour of the whisky making process up close. Glenturret Malt Whisky is still hand crafted today as it was over two centuries ago using the only remaining hand operated mash tun in Scotland. It’s important to book ahead if you want to take a tour. Accommodation options nearby include Comrie Croft eco-camping.
13. Deil’s Cauldron
You’ll find this beautiful and romantic waterfall in Glen Lednoch hidden next to the village of Comrie. The village has a range of local shops with places to stay and eat out and is a previous winner of the Best Large Village award from Britain in Bloom. The rapids at Deil’s Cauldron are quite dramatic and a walk up the hill to Dun More offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. If you are thinking about exploring this part of Scotland, you could base yourself at The Royal Hotel Comrie or even in Crieff at Merlindale.
14. Drummond Castle Gardens
There’s nothing like strolling around a formal garden to give you that cherished feeling of zen calm. Drummond Gardens are amongst the finest in Europe and a must-see for visitors to central Scotland. First laid out in the early 17th century and redesigned in the 19th century, the gardens you see today were replanted in the 1950s, preserving features such as the ancient yew hedges and copper beech trees planted by Queen Victoria, to commemorate her visit in 1842. Stay awhile in the area at Barley Bree or Culdees Estate – among others!
Hopefully this has given you a taste of central Scotland and the many different types of day trip you could plan. Thinking of booking a holiday? Go for it – you deserve it! Check out our holidays and breaks page today.