Are you hoping to get away from it all with your family?
Packed with inspirational visitor attractions and beauty spots, Scotland might just hold the key to your perfect break. From mountain tops to beaches and deep forest retreats, you can find remarkable spots to take your family right across the Scottish mainland and its islands. It’s probably no surprise to you that a high proportion of Scotland’s population lives within a short range of the main cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayr, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen.
However, a lot of the country is very accessible, even for those who choose not to drive here. The travel networks in rural Scotland are good, particularly trains and ferries. Ferries can cut hours off journeys by road so consider factoring some helpful and scenic crossings into your travels.
The Highlands is loose term for the vast area of Scotland to the north of the country. To find that authentic Scottish family holiday experience journey to the far north coast – which is along the path of the famous Scotland 500. Show your children somewhere truly special, beyond the limits of where many visitors to Scotland venture, take them all for a lovely cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit at the most remote café on the British mainland. Housed in Cape Wrath Lighthouse, accessible only by coach (booked in advance), it’s an unbelievable setting for a refreshment stop.
For kids with an interest in the cartoonish and macabre, try a trip along the north coast and stop just east of the Kyle of Durness where the infamous killer McMurdo used to do his mischief. Brave the single tracked roads of the far north that will put even the most assured of drivers through their paces; don’t let this put you off going, though, as the views out to sea and inland to the mountains are attractive in the extreme.
A big city or two
Head into the amazing cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh; both of which have a wealth of sights and attractions for some of the best family days out in Scotland. The two cities, both within an hour’s drive of one another, complement each other nicely. Which of the pair you like best comes down to personal preference, so why not visit both and cast your vote?
Glasgow is a must-visit as it is packed with the potential to please. It’s a lively city, day and night, with plenty of places to take in the atmosphere. Take some time to investigate its history, steal away on a riverside walk along the Clyde or embark on a meander in some of the open spaces, like Kelvingrove Park.
Kids will love the Riverside Transport Museum, the Hollywood Bowl for a round of 10-pin bowling, the Huntfun Trail which will give your shoe leather and brain cells a true test, and finally R-Cade which even Dad will get involved in – think Wreck-It-Ralph Breaks the Internet! Visit our guide to things to do on a day out in Glasgow here.
If Edinburgh didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it. A contrast to Glasgow, Edinburgh is a royal seat and very much revolves around the castle at its centre. Arguably, it has more spectacle than Glasgow with The Royal Mile, the Camera Obscura, the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh Dungeons, the Dynamic Earth feature, a myriad of shops, distinct sandstone buildings everywhere you look as well as some world-class events.
Try to coincide a well-planned trip to The Royal Tattoo, Edinburgh Film Festival, or The Fringe, and that’s just skimming the surface of the choices open to you and your family. Climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat for views across the city and the Forth of Firth too – a true badge of honour for any day-trippers. Read our fun Edinburgh guide for even more detail and ideas here.
No trip to Scotland would be complete without a search for the Loch Ness Monster. Head north west from Glasgow to reach the shores of Loch Ness – Scotland’s longest and deepest loch, or lake. The main base for all the Nessie attractions is Drumnadrochit. Home to a museum called Nessieland that houses everything to do with the loch’s elusive resident, your family is bound to leave believing it’s real … or is it?
Also, check out the loch-side ruins of Urquhart Castle which offer fantastic views of the waters below. There are many walks in the area, including the Great Glen Way, originating near Drumnadrochit, along which you can encounter all kinds of species such as stags, deer, golden eagles, wildcats, and some lesser spotted wonders like the recently reintroduced pine marten. For more places to spy Scotland’s diverse and rare fauna, take a look at our interesting guide that all your family will enjoy reading.
Aviemore and Mount Cairngorm
Skiing is just one of the main outdoor pursuits you and your family can try out in The Cairngorms. Catch a train up to the summit of the mountain and ski down on a choice of runs to suit all abilities or hire all the kit and caboodle in Aviemore and a few of the other towns around the base of the mount. There are also nature walks and mountain biking opportunities to be had on the slopes of the mountain. For avid adventurers, engage Cairngorm Adventure Guides who can take your family hillwalking, rock climbing and canoeing!
As you can see, Scotland is a vast and varied country for those choosing a holiday. If it’s too hard to decide where your travels will take you, there’s only one thing for it: you’ll just have to come back for more! Whether young or old; there is an endless parade of family-friendly options. Be sure to consider trips to Perth, Stirling, Montrose, Anstruther, St Andrews, Dundee, Ayr, and John O’Groats to name but a few more exceptional places for a memorable visit. All of these destinations are on the mainland – and we haven’t even touched on the myriad of islands like The Shetlands, The Inner and Outer Hebrides, The Orkneys, Skye, Rum, and Iona. You would need three lifetimes to get to know Scotland inside out, but all it takes is one great and unforgettable family holiday and you’ll be hooked.
Family cottages in Scotland
We have a fine selection of holiday homes suitable for families up and down the country. Here are a few that we have collected together to inspire your next Scottish holiday break with your loved ones.
Sleeping four guests, this modernized stone cottage stands on a hilltop close to Talmine. It boasts lovely views of the Rabbit Islands and has several Highland walks on the doorstep. Read more and secure a booking for your family:
Located in Craigleith this apartment is a great city choice. Sitting 2 miles from the centre of Edinburgh in an upmarket suburb, you have all that Edinburgh has to offer you. Visit attractions like Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Dungeons, and the Dynamic Earth. With Wi-Fi, and home entertainment this accommodation is a superb family choice:
Perfect for skiers and if you love the great outdoors, Dell of the Wood is both well-appointed and equipped for a great family break to The Cairngorms. Sleeping four guests, you can all wake up to striking mountain views each day before planning a trip to the summit of Mount Cairngorm.
For a larger choice across the whole of Scotland, visit our site where you can see family cottages, farmhouses, country retreats, city apartments and more. Book early to avoid disappointment.