Looking for the most popular attractions in Scotland? This list is based on actual visitor numbers from 2021*. We've got iconic castles, incredible museums, beautiful gardens and much more for you to explore.
Or if you're looking for something more off-the-beaten-track, check out these hidden gems for a unique experience.
*provided by the Moffat Centre Scottish Visitor Attractions Monitor 2021
1. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Set on Edinburgh's Chambers Street, the National Museum of Scotland is a treasure trove of ancient artefacts and precious objects. Not only a top tourist spot in Scotland, it's also one of the most popular attractions in the UK outside of London and offers a great, year-round programme of temporary exhibitions.
2. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a true icon of Scotland and has dominated the skyline of the capital for centuries. Unusually, it's set atop an extinct volcano. It takes the title of Scotland's most-visited paid-for attraction, and is, of course, one of the most popular tourist sites in Scotland.
3. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh
The Scottish National Gallery houses Scotland's national collection of fine art from the early Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. The walls of this top attraction are adorned with masterpieces, from Raphael, Velázquez and Vermeer to Monet, Cézanne and Van Gogh, as well as works of Scottish artists.
4. Riverside Museum, Glasgow
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 tells the story of Scotland's past and present. It's one of the top things to do in Scotland and a must-visit when in Glasgow.
5. Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow
You'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 Glasgow's west end, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses a staggering 8,000 objects in over 22 beautiful galleries.
6. St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh
Located halfway down the historic Royal Mile, the framed crown spire of St Giles' Cathedral is one of the most recognisable features of Edinburgh's skyline and one of the best tourist attractions in Edinburgh.
7. Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
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 tranquillity and is only a stone's throw from the bustling city centre.
8. National War Museum, Edinburgh
Set within the walls of one of the top tourist attractions in Edinburgh, the National War Museum can be found in Edinburgh Castle and is filled with exhibits and artefacts that tell the tale of the impact of war on Scotland's history, identity and reputation abroad.
9. Edinburgh Bus Tours
One of the most popular paid-for attractions in Scotland, Edinburgh Bus Tours provide a selection of themed open top tours that take you to some of the city's most remarkable sights and attractions.
10. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
A famous attraction in Edinburgh for children and adults alike, the tale of Greyfriars Bobby has been a popular one for decades. Wander around the kirkyard, embark on a fascinating guided tour and take pictures next to the memorial statue. We know everyone loves to pet Greyfriars Bobby, but try not to - it wipes away his lovely black coat and makes the statue very fragile.
11. Edinburgh Zoo
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. At this top attraction in Edinburgh you can meet the penguins at the famous Penguin Parade and get closer than ever before to chimpanzees on the Budongo Trail.
12. Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, Edinburgh
Camera Obscura has been an incredible outing destination since 1853! With optical illusions, mirror maze, a shrinking room, as well as a rooftop terrace and more, it's a fun attraction that the whole family can get involved in.
13. Culzean Castle & Country Park, South Ayrshire
This majestic cliff-top castle is tucked away in the Ayrshire countryside in an outstanding coastal location. Boasting a regal exterior, intricate interior, pristine gardens and 260 hectares of grounds to explore, you are all set for an enjoyable family day out.
14. Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie
Bringing together native Scottish wildlife and endangered animals from across the world, the Highland Wildlife Park is a treat to visit! Located just south of Aviemore, you can see a range of wildlife species, from wolves, polar bears and lions to Scottish wildcats, snowy owls and wild horses, to name a few. With stunning panoramic views to enjoy too, it's a great place to take the whole family.
15. Stirling Castle
Not only one of the finest and best-preserved Renaissance buildings in the whole of the UK, Stirling Castle was also the favoured residence for many of Scotland's kings and queens.
16. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayr
Uncover the life and works of Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns, at this detailed and fascinating museum. Make sure to follow in Tam o' Shanter's footsteps to the Alloway Auld Kirk and over the Brig o' Doon bridge too.
17. Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire is home to hundreds of castle and stately homes, and Crathes Castle is a magnificent one to see! This fairy-tale castle boasts painted ceilings, turrets, towers, and ancient artefacts, as well as towering trees and serene nature trails to explore.
18. Glenfinnan Monument, Lochaber
An iconic attraction amidst Scotland's stunning landscapes built to honour the fallen Jacobite clansmen, the Glenfinnan Monument overlooks Loch Shiel and is backed by the world-renowned Glenfinnan Viaduct. Learn more about this turbulent time in Scotland's past and the kilted highlander who stands on top of the monument.
19. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
If you're a lover of art, don't miss out on a trip to one of Edinburgh's most iconic buildings. Here you can delve into Scotland's past through an array of entrancing imagery, paintings, photography, sculpture, film and more.
20. V&A Dundee
The first V&A museum in the world outside London, and the first ever dedicated design museum in Scotland, the V&A Dundee is not to be missed! You're guaranteed a fantastic experience with permanent and changing displays showcasing work from around the world in this UNESCO City of Design.