Summer is on the horizon and planning a family break in Scotland is on the cards. There is so much to do in Scotland, and plenty of things that the kids will love. Keep them entertained for days with everything from gorge walking, kayaking and treetop trails, to magnificent castles, adventure playgrounds, and fascinating science centres.
With so much on offer in Scotland it can be hard to narrow down the options. We've put together 5 Scotland family holiday ideas to get you started.
1. Explore the Aberdeenshire Coastline
2021 sees Scotland's Year of Coasts & Waters come to life, so now is the perfect time to pack up the family and explore our outstanding coastlines, rivers, and lochs. You can also get involved in an exciting array of watersports too. Boasting its very own Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail where you can uncover 165 miles of coastline, featuring beaches, hidden coves, and natural formations, all whilst taking in stunning sea views. Aberdeenshire also has its own Castle Trail. The region is home to over 260 castles, fortresses, and stately homes, many of which are perched along the dramatic cliff tops, so it's no surprise the region has become known as 'Scotland's Castle Country'.
Venture around Aberdeenshire and explore its variety of pretty coastal towns and harbours, such as Stonehaven, Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Cruden Bay, to name a few. All of which offer a quaint and welcoming atmosphere, alongside things to do and places to visit that the family will love.
2. Relax in a tranquil woodland in the Scottish Highlands
You can't quite beat the peaceful surroundings of a Scottish woodland or Caledonian pine forest, and the Highlands of Scotland need little introducing! Offering the perfect family playground with a wealth of outdoor activities and adventures to get stuck into, you can't go wrong with a family trip to the area. Tire the kids out with woodland walks among serene natural beauty, or get in touch with your wild side with a day out at Landmark Forest Adventure Park in the Cairngorms National Park. You can explore even more landscapes in a day with plenty of cycle routes, or try something new with horse riding, ziplining, Cairngorm Sled Dog Centre and more.
If exploring Scottish woodlands on a day trip isn't enough, why not stay there too? There are plenty of accommodation options in the Highlands that allow you to immerse yourself in nature, such as cosy log cabins, glamping pods, remote youth hostels, camping, or even unique stays in tipis, yurts, wigwams and treehouses!
Explore our 7 Days in the Highlands for Kids itinerary to help get you started!
Visit the Scottish Highlands.
3. Immerse yourself in the hills and glens of south Scotland
If your family loves getting outdoors and clambering up hills and through glens, you'll love the south of Scotland. Known for its rolling hills and swooping valleys, it's a great, gentle landscape to introduce the wee ones to hill walking and exploring. Forming the boundary between East Lothian and the Scottish Borders, the Lammermuir Hills are a great place to start. With 344 routes that you can explore on foot or by bike, there are many attractions to see along the way too. Visit the impressive hill forts at White Castle and Addinston, take woodland walks through Pressmennan Woods and the Yester Estate, and riverside walks along the Dye Water and the River Tyne.
In Dumfries & Galloway, head to the Galloway Hills where you can uncover a range of peaks and vantage points. Boasting 183 hills all varying in height, choose your favourite and get climbing. There are immense views to see at the top with landmarks such as Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Man and even Northern Ireland sometimes visible.
If you're feeling like something a bit more adventurous, head up The Merrick - the highest point in south Scotland - which is a Corbett and stands at 843 m high. There are also plenty of family-friendly accommodation options in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway to choose from.
Browse our 7 Days in South Scotland itinerary for more ideas.
Visit South Scotland.
4. Make a splash in the Outer Hebrides
It wouldn't be a summer holiday without a splash in the sea and making sandcastles on the shore. The Outer Hebrides is home to hundreds of hidden bays and pristine beaches that are often compared to beautiful Caribbean beaches. Did you know Lonely Planet ranked West Beach in Berneray as the No.3 Best Beach in Europe? An island adventure is perfect for a family getaway - just picture watching the sun rise and set across a magnificent golden beach, dipping your toes or taking the full plunge in the cool sea, enjoying a range of watersports, and exploring all the nooks and crannies of the island at your own pace. Head out and try kayaking with Clearwater Paddling on Barra, or try your hand at surfing with SurfLewis, or maybe you fancy something new, so why not try coasteering with Wild Atlantic Adventures?
The islands are also a great place to try a spot of stargazing. As there is very little light pollution it's easier to spot constellations and shooting stars lighting up the night sky. There are a variety of vantage points for stargazing in the Outer Hebrides, including Gallan Head, Gravir, and Tolsta, to name a few.
A great way to get your bearings and also explore some smaller islands is on a boat trip. Hop on board a charter boat and sail to the uninhabited island of St Kilda, or venture on sailings to the Shiant, Flannan and Monach Isles. If the wee ones love wildlife, why not take a sea tour offering bird watching and dolphin and whale spotting?
5. Enjoy a getaway in one of Scotland's cities
Scotland boasts seven incredible cities, each with its own personality, character and charm. Starting in the north, the Highland capital of Inverness is a compact city with a wealth of iconic attractions on its doorstep. Explore the legendary Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, stay close to home and enjoy the history and views from Inverness Castle, or visit Culloden Battlefield and learn all about its turbulent past.
Moving east, Aberdeen is filled to the brim with intricate architecture, historic monuments, and boasts unique ties with the sea. Visit the harbour where you might be able to spot dolphins playing in the water, keep an ear open and you might hear the warming tones of 'Doric', the local Scots dialect, or learn more about the city's past at Aberdeen Maritime Museum. Heading south, Dundee is an incredible city renowned for its design and creativity. Home to the V&A Dundee, McManus Art Gallery & Museum and a range of other innovative feats, there's plenty to dive into here.
Head inland to Scotland's ancient capital, the 'Fair City' of Perth. This bustling, cosmopolitan gem is situated on the banks of the River Tay and encompasses everything you need for a family break. Travel west to the vibrant city of Glasgow where you'll never be lost for something to do or experience. Featuring a creative hub of art and music, home to city centre gardens, full of great places to eat and drink, and one of the best shopping destinations in the UK. En route to Glasgow, head to Stirling where you can delve into the detailed history of this wee city. Learn all about William Wallace, enjoy fantastic views from Stirling Castle, and visit cosy pubs and friendly café's along the way. Last but definitely not least, Scotland's capital city offers a getaway full of culture, history, and beautiful architecture. Edinburgh is home to some world-class attractions, as well as tranquil green spots so you can escape and soak in the welcoming atmosphere of the city.