6 UNESCO Family Day Trip Ideas
These great attractions and activities will keep the kids entertained for hours and get them learning about Scotland’s top UNESCO sites. See Roman artefacts, climb aboard a ship and enjoy homemade ice cream – it’s the best day of learning your kids will ever have!
A day in Edinburgh
Real Mary King’s Close
Kids will love the spooky but real stories brought to life underneath the city centre of Edinburgh at Real Mary King’s Close. Led by a character tour guide, explore the warren of hidden streets where previous residents lived, worked and died in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Get under the skin of the plague, learn why it was wise to avoid the streets at 7am and 10pm, and hear the stories of the tenements that are said to have been the world’s first skyscrapers!
Scottish Storytelling Centre
This vibrant arts venue sits on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and has a packed programme of live storytelling, theatre, music, exhibitions and workshops. Get the kids learning more about Scotland’s rich history of storytelling, see if they can find the dragon’s nest and let them loose in the bookshop.
The Scottish Storytelling Centre is also the base for the Scottish International Storytelling Festival held in October, with even more events and workshops (and stories!) to get the kids involved in.
A day in and around Glasgow
Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve
See what you can spot on a woodland walk along the river and admire beautiful waterfalls, such as Corra Linn, at Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve. Check before you go if there are any special events taking place at the reserve – you might be able to book a seasonal peregrine or badger watch. Head to the visitor centre for trail routes, live wildlife video footage and more.
Finish your walk back at New Lanark for a well-deserved ice cream – it’s made on site, and award-winning!
Admire Roman artefacts, impressive ethnographic objects from Captain Cook’s Pacific voyages and Charles Rennie Mackintosh works at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery. The museum is home to a fine collection of Roman materials, from the periods of military occupation in the first and second centuries, including many ‘distance slabs’, altars and gravestones from forts on the Antonine Wall.
The Hunterian have some learning resources just for families on the Antonine Wall, including games and video clips, a learning Latin video, and an online puzzle.
The whole family can enjoy this original and award-winning adventure around Glasgow – get the headphones on, and rock, bop and dance your way around the City of Music. You’ll hear a selection of music from across the decades, as you groove past city landmarks like Buchanan Galleries and Princes Square. The Silent Adventure tour is suitable for over 5s.
A day in Dundee
All aboard! Get the kids off land and onto the high seas at RRS Discovery, the ship that took explorer Captain Scott on his first polar expedition to Antarctica. It was designed and built in the city’s shipyards and was the first built specifically for scientific research.
Take a tour of the vessel, including all the quarters below deck, to find out more about Scott’s ground-breaking expedition.
Relive the fascinating story of Dundee’s industrial textile heritage and social history in the atmospheric setting of Scotland’s Jute Museum @ Verdant Works. At this refurbished jute mill the family can enjoy a mixture of films, interactive hands-on activities and audio-visual shows.
You can purchase a joint ticket for Verdant Works and RRS Discovery at either venue.
A day in central Scotland
Callendar House & Park
Spend the day with the family at Callendar House, a 5-star attraction with free entry which dates from the 14th century. Learn about Rome’s Northern Frontier and try early 19th century food prepared as it would have been in the restored 1825 kitchen.
Callendar Park is home to part of the remains of the Antonine Wall, and there are plenty of woodland walks to follow. It even has a fantastic Roman-themed play area with a mix of equipment for different ages including many accessible items.
3 Bridges Tour
The 3 Bridges Tour runs from Charlotte Square in the centre of Edinburgh, and takes you through the west of the city and out to Queensferry. From there, you can join Forth Boat Tours for a boat cruise along the water and under all three of the bridges.
If you purchase another ticket, you can even stop off at Inchcolm Island, just along from the Forth Bridge, to visit the historic abbey and watch the local wildlife.
Blackness Castle walk
Follow the Blackness Castle Walk from Bo’ness for incredible views out across the Firth of Forth to the three bridges – Queensferry Crossing, Forth Road Bridge and the UNESCO Forth Bridge. This easy walk begins at Carriden Parish Church in Bo’ness and runs through woodlands to a track along the River Forth, finishing at Blackness Castle.
Blackness Castle was built in the 15th century and its unusual nautical shape has earned it the nickname of 'the ship that never sailed'.
A day on Orkney
Part of the actual world heritage site itself, Skara Brae makes for a great family day out as the well-preserved houses and stone furniture will easily spark everyone’s imagination. Kids can picture creeping through narrow passageways in the replica house outside the visitor centre too.
The monument sits on the edge of the Bay of Skaill with its beautiful carving sandy beach. It’s a great place to wander, watch the sea breaking on the sand, and look out for seals and seabirds.
Aal Fired Up
This ceramics workshop offers pottery painting, life castings, ceramic hand and footprints and teddie stuffing. Take your little ones to Aal Fired Up to make their own peedie monster and take away a souvenir of your island adventure together.
The Pickaquoy Centre
Locally known as ‘Picky’, this sports, arts and social centre is home to a cinema, two swimming pools, climbing wall, soft play centre and more. Check out the events programme to see what’s on.
A day in Galloway
Kirkcudbright Dark Space Planetarium
Take a trip to the Kirkcudbright Dark Space Planetarium, which is filled with state-of-the-art custom-made interactive exhibits. The kids can learn more about space exploration, the solar system, and space technology while they play.
Don’t miss – stop by the Kirkcudbright Galleries until July 2022 to see the Galloway Hoard exhibition, one of the most important archaeological finds of the century.
The Wee Pottery
Check out the Wee Pottery, a paint-it-yourself studio in Kirkcudbright, known as the Artists’ Town. Choose from a selection of pottery and then let the kid’s imaginations flow as they paint in different colours, shapes and textures. Maybe the beautiful biosphere landscape will inspire them as much as it has sparked famous artists and creators for hundreds of years!
Kirroughtree Visitor Centre
You could spend several days alone exploring Kirroughtree, which is the gateway centre to the Galloway Forest Park. There’s the visitor centre itself, the Wild Watch Hide, adventure play and walking paths.
The centre is also a great place to go cycling, with something to suit all ages and abilities. There are quiet forest roads for gentle family cycles, or mountain bike trails for a bit more adventure. Get practising in the skills area before tackling one of the coloured routes.
You can hire from Break Pad kids bikes, tagalongs to attach to an adult bike and trailers, so even little ones can enjoy the feel of the forest as the family cycle along.