Did you know that over 32 million visits were made to Scotlandâ€™s visitor attractions last year?
Thatâ€™s not surprising to us, as we know about the wealth of amazing sights spread right across the country, from a fantastic range of awe-inspiring museums and galleries, grand heritage properties and crumbling ruins to rich and malty-smelling distilleries and fun-filled outdoor activity centres. Scotland truly is packed with fascinating places to visit.
In 2013, there were over 225,000 more visits to sites across the country than in 2012. Weâ€™ve compiled images of some of the most-visited attractions below. If you find that there are some that you havenâ€™t been to yet, why not make 2014 the year that you discover them for yourself?
Set on Edinburghâ€™s Chambers Street, this museum is a treasure trove of ancient artefacts and precious objects. Itâ€™s the most popular attraction in the UK outside of London and offers a great, year-round programme of temporary exhibitions.
Edinburgh Castle is a true icon of Scotland and has dominated the skyline of the capital for centuries. Unusually, itâ€™s set atop of an extinct volcano. It takes the title as Scotlandâ€™s most-visited paid-for attraction.
Youâ€™ll want to keep coming back to this museum time and time again. Set next to a classic Victorian park by the River Kelvin in Glasgowâ€™s west end, it houses a staggering 8,000 objects in over 22 beautiful galleries.
Located halfway down the historic Royal Mile, the framed crown spire of St Giles’ Cathedral is one of the most recognisable features of Edinburgh skyline.
Â The gallery houses Scotlandâ€™s national collection of fine art from the early Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. The walls are adorned by masterpieces, from Raphael, VelÃ¡zquez and Vermeer to Monet, CÃ©zanne and Van Gogh, as well as works of Scottish artists.
With over 1,000 animals from every corner of the globe, including giant pandas, a visit to Edinburgh Zoo is a fantastic family day out. Meet the penguins at the famous Penguin Parade and get closer than ever before to chimpanzees at the new state-of-the-art Budongo Trail.
Opened in 2011, the spectacular Riverside Museum sits on the River Clyde and is home to the Glasgow Museum of Transport. It is full of fascinating objects and vehicles which tell the story of Scotlandâ€™s past and present.
Founded in 1670 and considered to be one of the finest gardens in the world, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh offers 72 acres of peace and tranquility and is only a stoneâ€™s throw from the bustling city centre.
Set within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, this museum is filled with exhibits and artefacts that tell the tale of the impact of war on Scotland’s history, identity and reputation abroad.
In this stunning neo-classical building in Glasgowâ€™s Royal Exchange Square, gaze upon contemporary artworks that are the result of the interests, influences and working methods of artists from around the world.
11.Â Edinburgh Bus Tours
The third most popular paid-forÂ attraction in Scotland, Edinburgh Bus Tours provide a selection of themed open top tours that take you to some of the cityâ€™s most remarkable sights and attractions.
12. Stirling Castle
This historic castle is one of the finest and best-preserved Renaissance buildings in the whole of the UK and was the favoured residence for many of Scotlandâ€™s kings and queens.
A feat of engineering, the Falkirk Wheel is the worldâ€™s only rotating boatlift, and is used to connect the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in central Scotland. Take a boat trip on it and experience soaring through the air.
Discover science and technology in unique and fun ways at the Glasgow Science Centre. There are two acres of interactive exhibits, workshops, shows, activities, a planetarium to explore and an IMAX cinema.
Set in a unique modern building in the heart of Edinburghâ€™s Old Town World Heritage Site, visit and see the debating chamber or take a tour of the building and learn about its architecture, the parliament system and see some of the art collection.
16. Urquhart Castle
The fairy tale-like Urquhart Castle sits in a dramatic location on the banks of Loch Ness. These ruins date back thousands of years and the events that have played out on this site have shaped the history of the Highlands.
Situated on Glasgow Green, the Peopleâ€™s Palace is filled with relics and interactives which tell the story of Glasgow and its people, while the adjacent pretty Winter Gardens is filled with exotic palms and plants.
Improve your whisky knowledge at the Scotch Whisky Experience, Scotlandâ€™s 5-star premier whisky attraction. Take a barrel ride through a replica distillery and discover how whisky – uisge beatha meaning â€˜the water of lifeâ€™ is made, and learn about the whisky regions.
Take a fascinating journey back through space and time at Our Dynamic Earth. Sitting in the shadow of Arthurâ€™s Seat in the capital, at this attraction you can discover the history of our planet and glimpse into the future â€“ great family fun.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit idyllic New Lanark and uncover the absorbing story of this former cotton mill village which was founded in the 18th century.
In 2013, hundreds of thousands of visitors were drawn to our great special exhibitions and events which took place across the country. Read our blog post on some of the best temporary exhibitions in ScotlandÂ which will take place in the upcoming months and pop the dates of those must-see exhibitions in your diary.
If youâ€™re planning on visiting some of Scotlandâ€™s fantastic attractions, weâ€™d love you to share your experience with us. Post your snaps on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and donâ€™t forget to use the hashtag #brilliantmoments!
Find more ideas and inspiration for things to see and do in Scotland.
Latest posts by Amy Robertson (see all)
- Take five: farmers’ markets and farm shops - April 12, 2016
- 6 back-to-nature experiences to get into the spring of things - March 25, 2016
- 7 alternative Easter activities to try in Scotland - February 25, 2016