If you could time travel to any point in Scottish history, where would you go? Maybe you would stay the night in an ancient stone village in Neolithic times. Or you might watch an epic battle unfold during the Jacobite rebellions. Perhaps a walk through the streets of Victorian Edinburgh with Sir Walter Scott is your cup of tea?
In this article we’ll show you historic places in Scotland that will transport you back to the past in no time.
1. Edinburgh Castle
The most famous of Scottish castles – the oldest part dates from the 12th century! Take a guided tour with a castle steward or walk around at your own pace with an audio tour.
2. Gladstone’s Land
Ever wondered what life used to be like in Edinburgh back in the day? Find out all about 17th century tenement living at Gladstone’s Land, an Old Town institution recently reopened after a £1.5m restoration. The winding stone staircase, tiny windows and period decoration gives visitors a real taste of Edinburgh’s history.
3. Rosslyn Chapel
This remarkable building is famous for its ornate and mysterious stonework as well as its appearance in The Da Vinci Code. Explore the myths and legends associated with this unusual place on a tour – advanced booking is essential.
4. R&A World Golf Museum
This must-visit attraction in St Andrews will take you through 500 years of the history of golf in Scotland and around the world. It couldn’t be better placed, within touching distance of the famous St Andrews Old Course.
5. Falkland Palace and Gardens
Explore one of Scotland’s finest Renaissance palaces on a trip to the village of Falkland in Fife. Packed with authentic 17th century artefacts, painted ceilings and tapestries, this is a real hidden gem. Loved by Mary Queen of Scots, the palace is home to the world’s oldest ‘real’ tennis court.
6. Fort George
If you’re travelling up to Inverness you won’t want to miss Fort George, a mighty garrison created after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 to deter further Jacobite rebellions. This big and imposing fortification will give you a fascinating insight into 18th century military history. Advance booking is required.
7. Skara Brae
The Neolithic village of Skara Brae was built around 5,000 years ago and is one of the best-preserved prehistoric villages in Europe. Older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge, this is a chance to see how ancient people lived their daily lives. Take a trip to Orkney and explore other ancient sites which form the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.
8. The National Wallace Monument
Fans of Braveheart won’t want to miss this epic monument in Stirling dedicated to William Wallace. Inside the stone structure you’ll discover the story of the warrior who led the Scottish army to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The views at the top are worth the climb, too.
9. Stirling Castle
Imposing walls, ornate sculptures and beautiful gardens are just some of the things you’ll find at Stirling Castle. One of the most historically important sites in Scotland, the stronghold was once a favoured residence of the Stewart dynasty who ruled Scotland for hundreds of years.
10. Culloden Battlefield
Ancestry enthusiasts and those with a passion for Jacobite history will enjoy a visit to Culloden Battlefield. Site of the last pitched battle on British soil, the visitor centre will take you through the confrontation with a series of interactive exhibits and displays. Visit this poignant site and learn how one battle changed the history of the Highlands forever.
Country houses don’t come much grander than Abbotsford, the ancestral home of 19th century novelist Sir Walter Scott. A fitting residence for a literary giant, you’ll find artefacts and curiosities, a grand library with a richly carved ceiling, and peace and tranquility in the gorgeous grounds.
12. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Head to Glasgow and discover one of Scotland’s most popular free attractions. Kelvingrove’s fascinating galleries are home to over 8,000 objects, including famous works of art by Salvador Dali and others.
13. Crathes Castle
Set within glorious gardens and complete with towers, turrets and stories of resident ghosts, Crathes Castle is a great visit for the whole family. Inside the building you’ll find antiques, paintings and painted ceilings. Outside, you can explore the famous gardens or even take the kids to explore the Wild Wood Adventure Play Centre!
14. Scone Palace
Perthshire’s premier palace and the ancient crowning place of Scottish monarchs is a wonderful place to spend the day. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and filled with treasures from the past and mementoes of former kings and queens, Scone Palace breathes history like nowhere else in Scotland.
15. Perth Museum & Art Gallery
One of Scotland’s oldest established museums, Perth Museum and Art Gallery is home to more than half a million objects from Scotland and around the world. Family-friendly exhibitions that feature trails, puzzles and games mean that everyone will have fun here. Take a trip to the fair city of Perth and explore this brilliant attraction.
16. Grampian Transport Museum
Get clued up on transport history at the Grampian Transport Museum. Dramatic displays, working exhibits and tablet tours await you at this unusual and interesting museum. Kids will be able to climb aboard vehicle exhibits and delve into some great temporary exhibitions – there’s even a junior driving school!
17. The McManus: Dundee’s Museum & Art Gallery
The McManus is a magnificent Victorian, Gothic building at the heart of art and culture in the city since 1867. Eight beautiful open gallery spaces house stunning exhibitions of art, history and the environment offering a fascinating day out.
18. V&A Dundee
Calling all creatives – explore the history of design at the V&A Dundee, the first museum of its kind outside of London. This unique building was inspired by the cliffs along the east coast of Scotland and stretches out onto the River Tay, reconnecting the city with its historic and beautiful riverside. Inside you’ll find changing exhibitions showcasing the best of design from around the world.
19. Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle is the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and arriving at this magnificent building will take your breath away. Architecturally stunning and filled with ancient treasures, the building is brought to life by knowledgeable tour guides. Exploring the grounds is also a delight, with beautiful walks for the family.
20. Culzean Castle
This Ayrshire gem has gardens, beaches, woods, trails and a new adventure playground to explore and, to top it off, a cliff-top castle! Take a guided tour and learn about the best features of the castle, including the oval staircase, as well as a fine collection of paintings and furniture.
Enjoy a historic day out in Scotland today! Find out more about our attractions and historic places