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 fascinate budding time travellers and their families. From castles and forts that dominate the skyline to grand museums packed with inspiring exhibits, you’ll be transported back to the past in no time. Book a visit to one of these places today and dive into the history of Scotland.
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. Find out more about Edinburgh Castle and check out ticket information.
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. Open all year.
3. Rosslyn Chapel
This remarkable building is famous for its ornate and mysterious stonework as well as its appearance in The Da Vinci Code. The beauty of its setting just outside Edinburgh is also a major draw. Explore the myths and legends associated with this unusual place on a tour. Advanced booking is essential. Find ticket information and more about Rossyln Chapel.
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, after all, Scotland is The Home of Golf! Find out more about the R&A World Golf Museum including opening times.
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. Check out up-to-date visit information for Falkland Palace.
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, find out more about Fort George.
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 Skara Brae as well as 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. You’ll even see Wallace’s sword – it’s huge! The views at the top of The National Wallace Monument 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. Find out more about Stirling Castle including ticket information.
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 tranquillity in the gorgeous grounds. Explore Abbotsford.
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. If you’ve never visited Glasgow before, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must see!
13. Crathes Castle
Set within glorious gardens and complete with towers, turrets and stories of resident ghosts, Crathes Castle 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! Find out more about Crathes Castle.
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. Find ticket information and take a tour of Scone Palace.
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 is even a junior driving school! Find out more about the Grampian Transport Museum.
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. Enjoy a tour of the permanent displays at The McManus with audio guide handsets.
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 into 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 will be brought to life by knowledgeable tour guides. Exploring the grounds is also a delight, with beautiful walks for the family. Explore Glamis Castle.
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. Book a visit to Culzean Castle.
Enjoy a historic day out in Scotland today! Find out more about our attractions and historic places.