Things to do in Scotland with kids

Days out, Family, Activity

Posted by Kate Atkin on 11th March 2023

Family holiday in Scotland

Scotland is blessed with seemingly endless child-friendly things to do and places to go on family holidays, from the excitement of the wild Highlands to the hubbub of the southern towns and cities. 

This vast country is home to some of the most beautiful lakes, fells and mountains in the UK, as well as vibrant cities full of culture and tradition. By booking a family holiday in Scotland, you can appreciate all of this from a child’s point of view - often the most wonderful way to see new sights. 

So, we've put together a selection of some of the best things to do in Scotland with kids. Including castles, steam trains and safari parks, these family days out in Scotland are sure to keep all ages entertained. And if you can't wait to begin exploring, click the button below to start browsing our family-friendly holiday cottages in Scotland. 

Scotland family holidays

For more inspiration, be sure to check out our guide to the best free days out for kids in Scotland too!

Days out with kids in North Scotland

Jacobite Steam Train

Jacobite Steam Train, Fort William

When the whistle blows, it’s all aboard the Jacobite Steam Train, otherwise known as the Hogwarts Express. Fans of Harry Potter can follow in the follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous wizard, on a magical journey through some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes, from Fort William.

As well as puffing past the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, and the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis, the steam train also crosses the 21 giant arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, an iconic landmark that was featured in the films. Family days out in Scotland don’t get much more exciting than this!

  • Prices: Adult day return from £52, child day return (under 16) from £30
  • Opening times: Please see the website for up-to-date train timetables
  • Facilities: Buffet carriage with hot and cold drinks and light snacks, and WCs at each end of the train coaches. Parking is available at Fort William Station or in one of the many short and long-stay car parks in Fort William.
  • Stay nearby: Coruanan Farmhouse, Fort William | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Cairngorm Reindeer Centre

Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, Aviemore

Have you ever wondered where Santa’s reindeer live when they’re not busy flying his sleigh at Christmas? On the wild slopes of the Cairngorm Mountains, of course! One of the most unique things to do in Scotland with kids, the whole family can take a guided walk onto the open hillside to meet around 150 free-roaming reindeer who love to be hand fed by visitors.

If little ones don’t fancy the walk, you can also stroke the soft velvet noses of these friendly creatures on a Paddock Visit at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, in Aviemore where a smaller group of reindeer live. And, if you visit around Christmas, kids might even get to meet Santa himself!

  • Prices: Adults hill trip £20 or paddock £4, Child hill trip £15 or paddock £3, under 3s free Top of Form
  • Opening times: Hill trips are available daily but must be booked in advanced, please see website for further information, and paddock visits are timed entry slots throughout the day
  • Facilities: No WCs (public WCs about 400 metres away in Loch Morlich during summer, and 3 miles away at Cairngorm Mountain during winter). Parking in signed bays along the main road in Glenmore Village, with limited disabled parking outside the centre’s shop.
  • Stay nearby: Wood Haus, Aviemore | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Landmark Forest Adventure Park

Landmark Forest Adventure Park, Carrbridge

When it comes to fun things to do with kids in Scotland, you simply can’t beat a day at a theme park. Landmark Forest Adventure Park is one of the largest in the country, with all manner of thrilling rides and activities for families.

Brave the dizzying heights of the Wild Water Coaster, take a leap of faith on the Skydive, or come face to face with a T-Rex in the Dinosaur Kingdom. There are rope courses to suit all ages and abilities, and lots of wildlife and insects to meet too in the Butterfly House.

  • Prices: please see website for up-to-date winter and summer prices
  • Opening times: please see website for up-to-date opening times as they vary throughout the year
  • Facilities: Three food outlets, shops, WCs and car parking available on site
  • Stay nearby: Top Cottage at Kirkton, Grantown-on-Spey | sleeps 6

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie

Let little imaginations run wild with a trip to Eilean Donan Castle. One of the most photographed castles in Scotland, this famous fortress in Dornie has witnessed Viking invasions, Clan wars and Jacobite uprisings during its lifetime.

The castle guards a small island at the confluence of three tidal lochs and is accessible via an arched stone bridge. Surrounded by the majestic splendour of the forested mountains of Kintail, when you cast your eyes on its weathered grey walls, you’ll soon realise why it’s not only one of the top days out with kids in Scotland, but is also a favourite filming location with movie directors, having appeared in James Bond, Highlander and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

  • Prices: Adults £10, concessions £9, children over 5 £6, under 5s free
  • Opening times: Vary throughout the year, please check the website for the most up-to-date times
  • Facilities: Coffee shop, gift shop, parking and WCs
  • Stay nearby: Druidaig Cottage, Letterfearn | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Browse our cottages in North Scotland

Days out with kids in Central Scotland

Glenshee Ski Centre

Glenshee Ski Centre, Ballater

If you’re looking for exciting things to do in Scotland for families during the winter, then grab your snow boots and head to the Glenshee Ski Centre in Ballater. Featuring 22 lifts and 36 runs, this is one of the biggest ski resorts in Scotland. It’s also one of the best places in the UK to learn to ski and is perfect for all ages, with lessons available, equipment hire and a combination of gentle nursery and thrilling advanced slopes for all abilities.

After an action-packed day of skiing or snowboarding, you can all warm your fingers and toes back up in the café with a hot chocolate and some delicious food.  

  • Prices: Please check the website for up-to-date prices
  • Opening times: These vary throughout the year so please check the website 
  • Facilities: Three cafes serving snacks and meals, skiing shop, ski clothing hire, skiing and snowboarding tuition, WCs and parking
  • Stay nearby: Ferneyhowe Croft, The Cairngorms | Sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Blair Drummond Safari Park, Stirling

Get a taste of Africa at one of the UK’s best safari parks. At Blair Drummond Safari Park, meet lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras and many more. Head for one of the interesting ‘Meet the Keeper’ talks which explains all about these wonderful animals. 

Kids will love the sea lion and bird shows and for little ones, there are fair rides, face painting and a carousel. Hop aboard a cruise to Chimp Island or take a pedal boat out on the lake. Loved by many as one of the best family days out in Scotland, you can spend a whole day working your way around this park in Stirling and you will still not be able to fit it all in!

  • Prices: Adults £18.50, children (3-15 yrs) £14, under 2s free!
  • Opening times: 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • Facilities: Catering outlets with hot food and coffee, car park, dog kennels, accessible WCs with baby-changing facilities
  • Stay nearby: The Jacobite's Rest, Doune | sleeps 12 + 2 dogs

The Time Capsule Water Park

The Time Capsule Waterpark, Coatbridge

A holiday just isn’t complete without a trip to the water, be it sea, lake or a water park. The colourful mass of slides and flumes at The Time Capsule Waterpark is so much fun – try the 10m-high Storm Chasers, the Tornado Tantrum and the Tsunami wave pool. If you want to get completely drenched, stand under the great tipping bucket on Splashdown Island or float along the calmness of Riptide River, at least until you get to the end where you will get a surprise! 

The centre also has an ice rink if you prefer not to get wet, though this, of course, depends on how many times you fall over! Tiny tots can splash about with mum and dad at Cove Island where it isn’t so busy, and older children who just like to do their own thing can be pointed in the direction of the 25m swimming pool where they can set the pace. Because this attraction is indoors, this is also a great option if you're looking for the best things to do with kids in Scotland when it's raining.

  • Prices: Adults £8.10, Junior (5+) £6, Junior (3-4 yrs) £3.40, Senior £4.50
  • Opening times: Monday - Friday 4am - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am - 8pm
  • Facilities: Cafe, gym, health suite, soft play, WCs and car parking
  • Stay nearby: Lochview Oakwood Lodge, Lochwinnoch | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Loch Lomond Sea Planes

Loch Lomond Seaplanes, Balloch

Take to the skies in a Cessna 208 seaplane which will fly you over the mountains and rocky coasts of the Isle of Skye. With Loch Lomond Seaplanes, you will fly for just under an hour between 500 and 5,000 feet and get amazing views of the Outer Hebrides as well as other outlying islands in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

You can take off on land, water or the beach – all of which add to the experience! Whilst it is not one of the cheapest family days out in Scotland, it is one that you will not want to miss if you have a special birthday or occasion to celebrate during your trip.

  • Prices: From £124
  • Opening times: 11am - 4pm office hours
  • Facilities: Limited facilities as for the duration of the activity you'll be aboard an aircraft! Get in touch with the company for any specific needs and they will try to accommodate.
  • Stay nearby: Scott Cottage, Loch Lomond | sleeps 5 + 1 dog

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Days out with kids in South Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

You can’t visit Scotland without taking a trip to the majestic Edinburgh Castle. Overlooking the cosmopolitan capital city and home to some of Scotland’s most legendary kings, children will delight in looking around with their own family-friendly itinerary, full of clues to help them. 

From the Crown Jewels to the enigmatic Stone of Destiny, they will not be bored for a minute - this is one of the most magnificent castles in Scotland. Let them find their way to Mons Meg, one of the greatest guns in Europe, and witness the firing of the One O’Clock Gun, a popular Edinburgh tradition.

  • Prices: Adults £18, children (5-15 yrs) £11
  • Opening times: Summer 9.30am - 6pm (last entry 5pm), winter 9.30am - 5pm (last entry 4pm)
  • Facilities: There is no public parking at Edinburgh Castle, the nearest car park is Castle Terrace NCP. Audio guides are available to hire from the ticket office, and there are accessible WCs with baby-changing facilities on site.
  • Stay nearby: Castle Skyline Apartment, Edinburgh | sleeps 4

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh

The popular Edinburgh Zoo not only has over a thousand animals but is a highly-regarded centre of education and conservation. View the koala bears from the Hilltop Safari Ride, see giant pandas and penguins, and discover the magical trail of giant Chinese lanterns! 

There are daily talks, including ‘Feed of the Day’, and don’t miss Penguins Rock and the Budongo Trail. Be sure to check out Wee Beasties, an exhibition of reptiles, amphibians and insects - you can even handle some if you're brave enough!

  • Prices: Adults £19.95, children (3-15 yrs) £12.50, under 3s free!
  • Opening times: Please check the website for the latest opening times
  • Facilities: A food court, cafe, restaurant, and food kiosks in the grounds, as well as picnic areas, play areas, lockers, parking and WCs
  • Stay nearby:  Blue Spruce Cottage, Edinburgh | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Edinburgh Dungeons

Edinburgh Dungeons, Edinburgh

If your kids love a bit of ghoul and torture, they will love the Edinburgh Dungeons! Over an hour of theatrical line-ups including notorious murderers such as the cannibal Sawney Bean, who resided in the caverns of Galloway. Be careful to not get eaten as you pass by! 

There are 360-degree performance stages with special effects shows, including revolting smells to add to the atmosphere! There’s also a boat ride and witch hunt as well as the temptingly-named Drop Dead: Drop Ride. This may be too much for little ones, so we would advise teenagers only.

  • Prices: Standard adult £19.76, standard child (5-15 yrs) £17.50
  • Opening times: 10am - 5pm
  • Facilities: Accessible WCs with baby-changing facilities, snacks and drinks available at the end, although no food can be consumed during the tour. Car parks within walking distance include Waverley Station and Holyrood Road NCP.
  • Stay nearby: Roslin Chapel Cottage, Edinburgh | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, Inverness

Children will be chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster! You can look around yourself but far better to take a cruise along Loch Ness – otherwise, you may just miss her. 

There are some brilliant tours available, such as Loch Ness by Jacobite, some of which just take in the loch and others which take in other lovely sights such as Urquhart Castle and Caledonian Canal. Kids will love the live sonar on board which watches out for Nessie while they listen to the celebrity-led audio guide which immerses kids in the legends of the lake. Take the children to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in Drumnadrochit afterwards to learn more; it takes visitors through themed areas exploring the Loch over the last centuries.

  • Prices: Adults £9.95, children (6-15 yrs) £5.95, under 6s free
  • Opening times: Summer 10am-5pm, winter 10am-3.30pm
  • Facilities: Cafe, shops and accessible WC
  • Stay at: The Coach House - Drumnadrochit | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Palace of Holyrood House

Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh

Mini-historians will love this trip to the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth, the Palace of Holyrood House, overshadowed by the ancient volcano of Arthur’s Seat. Get them to research the Scottish kings and queens beforehand and see if they can recognise them hanging on the walls of The Queen’s Gallery. Find out where Mary Queen of Scots once lived and check out the fascinating Royal Collection exhibitions. 

While there, you can also visit Holyrood Abbey where you can walk through the abbey nave and gardens and view the royal vault. The Gothic structure of the abbey is brilliant for aspiring photographers, especially on a cloudy day where haunting photos can be taken and sent to friends back home!

  • Prices: Adults £17.50, children (5-17 yrs) £11.50, under 5s free
  • Opening times: 1 November-31 March 9.30am-4.30pm (last entry 3.15pm), 1 April-31 October 9.30am-6pm (last entry (4.30pm)
  • Facilities: Cafe, WCs and baby-changing facilities, drop-off point for accessible access
  • Stay nearby: The Byre At Brothershiels, Edinburgh | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Almond Valley Museum, Farm and Discovery Centre

Almond Valley, Livingston

If you're looking for things to do in Scotland with kids who love our furry friends, then the Almond Valley Museum, Farm and Discovery Centre is a brilliant choice. It offers a farm where children have the opportunity to handle some of the animals. It also has an indoor adventure playground and the most exciting part, a huge pillow where children can bounce up and down to their heart’s content! 

Surrounded by woodland gardens, there is also an interactive museum to keep little brains occupied, as well as trampolines, pedal carts and tractor rides for the more active. You can pause for breath in Morag’s Milk Bar where you can buy scrumptious healthy snacks and then finish at one of the 44 activities on site. Here, there really is something for everyone!

  • Prices: Adults £11, children (3-15 yrs) £9
  • Opening times: 10am - 5pm
  • Facilities: Parking, cafe and WCs
  • Stay nearby: Orchardfield Farm Cottage, Edinburgh (9mls SW) | sleeps 6

Scottish Maritime Museum

Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine

Before going to the museum, head to Irvine Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. You will be greeted by a huge expanse of golden sand overlooked by tall sand dunes and marram grasses. Take a beach picnic and head down to the sea, laden with bats and balls for family games, as well as a shelter in case of windy weather! Toddlers and small children can collect buckets of water for their sandcastles and older children can swim and play games such as beach rounders or volleyball. 

Finish off the day with a visit to the Scottish Maritime Museum, one of the top things to do with kids in Scotland, on the harbourside which has models of ships as well as lifeboats and other maritime paraphernalia. While you are there, you can hop on board the MV Kyles, the oldest floating Clyde-built vessel in the world.

  • Prices: Adults £8.50, children (3-16 yrs) £4, under 3s free entry!
  • Opening times: 10am-5pm
  • Facilities: Free parking, cafe and WCs
  • Stay nearby: Coalhill Farm Byre, near Seamill | sleeps 4

Browse our cottages in South Scotland

Map of family-friendly attractions in Scotland

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Family-friendly holidays in Scotland

From historic sites to breathtaking views, not to mention a host of thrilling activities for excitable kids, you and your family will have a wonderful time on your trip to Scotland. If these adventures sound too good to be missed, why not have a browse through our family-friendly Scotland cottages for somewhere to stay between days out?

Scotland family holidays

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.