Bursting with Scottish charm, our cities sure know how to impress our visitors each year, offering a whole host of brand-new attractions, accommodation, bars and restaurants. Although we may not have been able to experience the cities last year, 2021 has a cracking line-up of new arrivals waiting for you once restrictions ease. If you’re planning a city break in Scotland, check out our guide on what’s new. The question is, how will you make the most of 2021?
Scotland’s current Covid-19 advice is to Stay Local. Find out more about Scotland’s Covid-19 restrictions.
If you’re thinking about planning a future day trip or overnight stay, check out the Good to Go scheme, to see businesses who’ve had a Covid-19 risk assessment.
Provost Skene’s House
Opening Autumn 2021
One of Aberdeen’s oldest buildings is getting a brand-new look for 2021. Provost Skene’s House will be transformed into a museum featuring interactive displays of the life and achievements of well-known faces from the north east of Scotland. Footballer Denis Law, singer Annie Lennox and football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, along with many others, will feature in the Hall of Heroes, which is expected to open in the autumn of 2021. Not to be missed!
Aberdeen is ready to take centre-stage in the world of entertainment. With 7 conference spaces, an arena capacity of 15,000 and 350 on-site hotels, P&J Live is ready to welcome you back with a jam-packed calendar full of exciting events. Whether you’re looking to see your favourite artist and sing your heart out or learn how to make the region’s culinary delights in the annual Taste of Grampian food & drink event, there is a show for everyone to enjoy.
Aberdeen Art Gallery – British Art Show 9
10 July – 10 October 2021
The British Art Show is going on the road in 2021 making its first stop at Aberdeen Art Gallery. This edition will focus on three main themes – healing, care and reparative history with many artists developing new works through sculpture, film, installation, performance, painting and photography. Watch this space!
Aberdeen Science Centre
Having undergone a recent multi-million pound refurbishment, Aberdeen Science Centre’s new mezzanine floor has doubled in size, making more room for brand new exhibitions. From dinosaurs to robots, it is guaranteed to be a fun day out for all the family!
University of Dundee’s Botanic Gardens – Fairy Door Trail Launch
The University of Dundee’s Botanic Gardens is turning the big 5-0 this year and we have to say they’re looking blooming marvelous! To celebrate this special milestone, staff have teamed up with local artist Gill Hastie to create a self-guided fairy door trail. Last year, 20 miniature doors were painted in the Mediterranean and Native Plants areas of the garden and in 2021 another 30 doors will be placed throughout the garden. This brings the grand total to 50 – one to celebrate each year since the attraction opened. Can you find all the fairy doors on your next visit?
Dundee City Beach
It’s time to hit the beach on your next city break! Stretch your legs and make the most of the warmer Scottish weather (hopefully) as you take in the glorious river-side views of Dundee. If you’re a keen cyclist be sure to check out the active travel hub for all things cycling and if you ever need your bike maintained, there is also a workshop too. Want to spend a wee bit longer here? Make sure to pop into the V&A Dundee where you will learn and discover the world of design through a range of displays and recurring exhibitions.
Discover more beaches.
Caird Park – Regional Performance Centre
Although the sporting calendar may have paused last year, there is hope for a much smoother running in 2021 with even more spectacular events to look forward to. All eyes will be on Dundee with its brand-new Regional Performance Centre preparing to welcome some of the biggest names in Scottish sport. The sport facility centre will house a full-size indoor artificial pitch, an eight-court multi-sports hall, and outdoor velodrome and much more.
St James Quarter, Leith Street
With 85 shops, 30 restaurants, two hotels and a cinema, the highly anticipated St James Quarter in Edinburgh is set to be a utopia for shopping and eateries when it opens later this year.
Pizza and prosecco night anyone? A trip to the cinema is about to get a whole lot better with Everyman Cinema. Swap your bucket of popcorn and soft drink for a glass of fizz and its delicious hot food offerings. Whether you choose to sit down and eat in the bar area or have your food & drink delivered to your seat, sit back and relax as you enjoy a mix of mainstream, independent and classic films. Strike lucky at Lane7 while you impress friends and family with your bowling skills or get ready to up your fashion game with its eclectic mix of high-street and designer stores including Zara, Calvin Klein, Stradivarius and & Other Stories – making its first Scottish store debut.
Find out more about shopping in Scotland.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street
It’s almost time to raise a toast to one of Edinburgh’s new arrivals. Reunite with friends and family as you explore the flavours of Scotland at Johnnie Walker Princes Street. The new whisky experience follows the story of the brand from its humble beginnings where it was first crafted in an Edinburgh grocer’s, to becoming the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky brand. After the tour, tantalise your taste buds with a private dining experience as you savour exquisite Scottish delicacies paired with carefully hand-selected whiskies to complement each dish. In the summer months, head out onto the rooftop bars with a cocktail in hand where you will be treated to iconic views of Edinburgh Castle.
Take a look at what other amazing rooftop bars and skyline views you can find in Scotland’s cities.
Gleneagles Townhouse, St Andrew’s Square
Opening Autumn 2021
We all deserve a break away in 2021. Make it extra special by whisking yourself off to the Gleneagles Townhouse. Expecting to welcome guests this autumn, Gleneagles is bringing its countryside flair to life in Edinburgh’s city centre and with all-day dining, two rooftop bars and gym and wellness facilities, it is the perfect list for an urban getaway.
Discover more of Scotland’s city breaks.
The Port of Leith Distillery
There really is no better way to celebrate Edinburgh’s rich whisky heritage than by opening a shiny new distillery. Leith is just about set to welcome The Port of Leith Distillery to its new home helping to lift everyone’s spirits up. When the distillery opens its doors, make sure to head to the top floor bar where you will be able to enjoy spectacular views across Leith, Edinburgh and Fife while you sip away on your favourite tipple.
Discover more about whisky.
Toppings Book Shop, Blenheim Place
Edinburgh is proud to be the first UNESCO City of Literature, rightly so, and on the topic of new arrivals, this next place on our list deserves an honourable mention. Starting a new chapter in the city is Toppings Book Shop. A bookworm’s paradise, you will no doubt spend hours trying to pick your next literary adventure. You might not be able to browse through the shop’s extensive collection of books just yet, but you can still order for delivery online or click & collect if you live in Edinburgh.
The Chocolatarium, Royal Mile
A chocolate themed tour and shop? Yes please! Situated just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, a visit to The Chocolatarium is sure to be a sweet treat. Get the chance to become a master chocolatier and create your very own dream bar with lots of delicious toppings to choose from and discover the process of chocolate making from start to finish. Of course, no visit to an attraction would be complete without having a browse in the gift shop. Whether you’re looking to try its original milk, white or dark chocolate bars or weird and wonderful combinations, such as haggis and chilli, there are lots of chocolatey goods to stock up on including vegan, lactose-free and gluten free bars too.
Cutting Chaii, Salamander Street
Enjoy a taste of India at Cutting Chaii. Select from an extensive menu of tapas style dishes including Amritsari Lamb Chops, Maa’s Butter Chicken or if you can handle the heat try the Kadai Kathal made with the chef’s special Punjabi masala sauce with fresh green chilli, onions and peppers.
How a-boat staying in a luxury floating hotel for your next city break? Enjoy the glitz and glamour of a 5-star experience at Fingal. Once a working ship ferrying lighthouse keepers, essential supplies and maintenance staff to lighthouses, the boat has now transformed into a swanky hotel berthed on Leith’s waterfront. Choose from a range of luxury cabins all offering something completely different. Will you choose the classic cabin for a romantic getaway or perhaps the Classic Duplex might take your fancy offering an extra living space to chill out and relax – a perfect feature after a jam-packed day of exploring Edinburgh’s attractions.
Holyrood Distillery, St Leonard’s Lane
We’re never short of distilleries here in Edinburgh and another one to add to your bucket list is Holyrood Distillery. Get into the spirit of things by taking a guided tour around the whisky distillery – the first to open in the city centre in almost a century. There are lots of interactive displays throughout, giving visitors the opportunity to have fun while learning about the world of flavour. If you’re more of a gin lover, then you will be delighted to know that the distillery also runs a series of tours and masterclasses.
Voco Edinburgh – Haymarket
Enjoy the finer things in life with Voco. Located in Edinburgh’s West End, embrace city life to the fullest with attractions, bars and restaurants just a stone’s throw away including many transport links nearby, making it the perfect base if you wish to explore further.
After a day of sightseeing, you will no doubt want to make use of the hotel’s fabulous amenities. Relax with an alcoholic beverage or two from your very own mini bar as you sit back and watch TV on a 40-inch smart flat screen before getting a good night’s rest. Start the day off right with a delicious breakfast, with the hotel serving à la carte as well as hot and cold buffet options and tea and coffee refills. Fancy working up a sweat? Head to the fitness centre equipped with all the latest gym equipment including treadmills, rowing machines and weights.
100 Princes Street
Opening Summer 2021
A sizzling new arrival makes its way to Edinburgh’s city centre this summer. Add a touch of luxury to your next trip with 100 Princes Street. With 30 bedrooms available to book with extraordinary views of Edinburgh Castle, each room is individually designed to help capture the city’s rich history and heritage.
Cheval Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood
We all know that Edinburgh Castle is a dominant feature of the city’s skyline, but the view of Arthur’s Seat is just as iconic. Book a stay at Cheval Abbey Strand Apartments and wake up to glorious morning views of the city before heading out to explore its hidden gems. From one to two-bedroom apartments, each room is individually designed to help you enjoy contemporary living with flat screen TVs, throws using the finest blend of wool and cashmere, intelligent heating and lighting controls and free unlimited Wi-Fi to stay connected with friends and family.
Make sure to download the Cheval app where you can find the best bars and restaurants while on the go, to even ordering items directly to your apartment. Not to mention you can book a stay here for as short or as long as you like – perfect for business trips or extended holidays with family.
Malmaison, St Andrews Square
Say hello to a brand-new Malmaison hotel. Branching out to Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square, the boutique hotel certainly knows a thing or two when it comes to stylish rooms, delicious food & drink and special occasions, and with exclusive offers including the Weekender which includes two nights with a continental breakfast, dinner on the first night and a cocktail of your choice, how could you refuse?
FRKN Delicious, Clarence Drive
The name says it all. Indulge in picture-perfect servings of loaded waffles and over-the-top cheesecakes, while the fun and quirky interior is an extra bonus. There is a great selection of desserts to be enjoyed at FRKN Delicious including the Ferrero Waffle or the Strawberries & Cream Cheesecake, enriched with double cream, white chocolate drizzle and topped with juicy strawberries.
Clayton Hotel, Glasgow City Centre
Coming soon to a Glasgow city centre is Clayton Hotel. With 300 air-conditioned bedrooms, a bar and restaurant and not to mention several shops, attractions and eateries nearby. Get ready to let your hair down and enjoy all the thrills that the city has to offer.
Canteen 58, Ingram Street
It’s never too late for breakfast at Canteen 58. Press the snooze button just that wee bit longer with breakfast served until 5pm. Check out the separate dinner menu for delicious bites, including chicken kebabs, vegetable stew or the veggie, meaty or mix sharing platters, all served in the diner’s signature canteen trays.
111 by Modou, Cleveden Road
It’s fair to say we’ve really missed dining at our favourite restaurants. Once restrictions ease, make it extra special by booking a table at 111 by Modou. Head chef Modou Diagne is bound to cook up a storm, experimenting with different flavours for his 5-course tasting menu. Savour mouth-watering crisp oysters for starters, Ayrshire Pork Cheek for main and finish off with something sweet for your final course. Feeling a wee bit more peckish? Make it 6 by adding another course.
Glaschu, Royal Exchange Square
Another fine dining experience to add to your list is Glaschu. Pronounced Glas-a-hoo which is Gaelic for Glasgow, prepare to loosen your belt. The Market Menu offers the very best fresh local fayre, or if you’re looking for Sunday dinner ideas, dig into a hearty Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Yum!
Zique’s, Hyndland Road
We simply can’t get enough of our city foodie hotspots. If you’re looking for Indian cuisine, head to Zique’s in Hyndland Road. Appetising dishes include Butter Chicken Paratha, Purple Hummus Bowl and Thai Vegetable Curry. The restaurant is due to reopen for sit-in dining as soon as Glasgow enters Level 3 restrictions. In the meantime, why not have a look at their new menu and treat yourself to a home delivery?
The Calton Taproom, Calton Entry
Looking to try a selection of new brews and delicious BBQ food? You’re in luck when you visit The Calton Taproom. With 20 different taps and 100 different beers to choose from, you will definitely be in your element. Want something fancier? Why not upgrade to a cocktail where the team of mixologists will be on hand to create their finest concoctions.
Beresford Lounge, Sauchiehall Street
Opening 1 May 2021
It’s time to step back in time to the Roaring 20’s at Beresford Lounge. Situated at the former Beresford Hotel, the beautiful art deco building has been given a revamp, transforming into a new speak-easy bar, restaurant and nightclub. Whether you’re looking to sip on a delicious cocktail or two, indulge in the finest Scottish cuisine or dance the night away, you will no doubt have a good time.
Ralph & Finns, St Vincent Place
Good food, fine cocktails and great company are the essentials for any night out. If you’re staying in Glasgow, be sure to check out Ralph & Finns. With a 22-seater marble bar, Whisky Room and a private dining experiences available in their Boardroom, it is the perfect late-night haunt for a meal and few drinks.
Glasgow Contemporary Art Trail, various locations
Glasgow’s city centre is ready to turn heads yet again with its new Contemporary Art Trail. Featuring 14 murals including Untitled, Cherub Skull and The Clyde Clock, get ready to take pictures or pose in front as you discover more of the city’s art scene.
Walking Tours in Glasgow – Mackintosh Walking Tour
April 2021 (TBC)
Offering half and day tours, discover the legacy behind one of Scotland’s most renowned architects. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Walking Tour will take you along some of his key design buildings while you also learn the history behind them. Highlights include Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, The Lighthouse, Sloans, Glasgow School of Art and Mackintosh at the Willow.
Ness Walk Hotel
Reopening 26 April 2021
Inverness have welcomed a bonnie new arrival. The 5-star Ness Walk Hotel are offering a short break away of pure indulgence to its guests. Choose from several luxurious rooms and suites including Laurel, Cedar, Rowan and Wellingtonia – all named after trees on the grounds of Ness Walk. With large rooms, glorious river views, a stylish en-suite bathroom and toiletries from Arran Sense of Scotland, the special touches in each room boast a first-class stay.
Café Botanics at Inverness Botanic Gardens
Stop for a light refreshment after spending a day at Inverness Botanic Gardens. Open seven days a week from 10am – 4pm, the café have a brand-new menu offering a wide range of homemade soups, sandwiches, pastries and freshly brewed coffee. The café will be providing table service only to comply with test and protect and physical distancing measures.
Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport
Making its Highland debut is The Marriott. This 4-star hotel includes 130 bedrooms, a bar and bistro serving breakfast, snacks and evening meals as well as a fitness centre and meeting room spaces.
Eilidh Doyle Mural, Perth High Street
Street art is helping to brighten up Scotland’s city streets, turning once vacant buildings into beautiful pieces of artwork. If you’re a fan of all things art, Perth is almost on its marks to unveil a brand new mural for visitors to admire. The mural will honour Perth’s very own Eilidh Doyle to celebrate her and her team’s success in the run-up to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Discover more incredible street art in Scotland.
Mhor Coffee, Kinnoull Street
Get your caffeine fix with Mhor Coffee. Catch up with friends or family over a coffee and a sweet treat with lots of delicious options to choose from. Although the shop is currently closed due to current restrictions, if you’re looking to try out more artisan coffee’s, make sure to sign up to their subscription services here.
Culdees Castle Estate – Luxury Glamping
Spend a weekend in the great outdoors with Culdees Castle Estate. Start the day off right by ordering a breakfast hamper to your cabin or if you’re planning on having a BBQ feast later in the day, there are BBQ packs available too. With walking trails, cycling routes, horse-riding, fishing and golf, you will never be short of things to see and do here. Fancy a soak? Relax in your very own hot tub where you can admire Culdees Castle in all its glory.
Nick’s on Henderson Street
A new restaurant is in town right in the heart of Bridge of Allan. No two visits are the same at Nick’s with the menu changing weekly to reflect the best seasonal produce available. Dishes include North Sea haddock, garlic mushroom pizza and peppered fillet of beef strips. Fancy treating a loved one to a nice meal? Nick’s offers £10 and £20 gift vouchers sent via post or if you live nearby you can pop in and buy one.
Interactive smart screens at Mar Place & Friars Street
Ever wanted to learn more about Stirling Castle, the Battle of Bannockburn and Wallace Monument while on the go? Now you can with two interactive smart screens installed in Mar Place, near Stirling Castle, and Friars Street. Available in a variety of languages and providing assistance for people with disabilities, it’s a great way to showcase Stirling’s attractions and experiences.
World of Dinosaurs at Blair Drummond Safari Park
Blair Drummond celebrated a dino-mite birthday in 2020! To mark its 50th anniversary, more than 20 life-size animated dinosaurs have been welcomed to the brand-new World of Dinosaurs attraction. Enter through the Jurassic Park-style gates and get up close and personal with lots of different dinosaurs including the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the largest dinosaur of them all, a 21-m Diplodocus.
Looking for more new places to discover across Scotland? Here are some articles to help get you started:
- Staycation Ideas: Short Breaks in Scotland
- 9 City Tour Ideas in Scotland
- 26 Standout Indie Shops in Scotland’s Cities
- 35 Amazing Photography Spots in Scotland’s Cities
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cities in Scotland