With its picturesque landscape of gentle hills, crystal-clear lochs, and thick forests, Perth & Kinross is a wonderful place for families to take a break.
For those who love the great outdoors, the region offers a wealth of opportunities for hiking, cycling, fishing, and bird-watching, and it’s home to some of Scotland’s most beautiful lochs and hill ranges, including Loch Leven and the Ochil Hills.
If history interests you, the town of Dunkeld is a must-visit with its beautiful cathedral, while the city of Perth allows easy access to Scone Palace – the former crowning site of Scotland’s royalty.
In this article, you’ll find a roundup of the best things to do in Perth and Kinross for families which includes a selection of the top attractions ranging from historic sites to mountain hikes.
Out About Scotland Guide: Scone Palace
|Opening Hours:||Monday to Sunday 09.30 am to 5 pm|
|Admission Price:||Palace and Gardens|
|Parking:||Free car park on-site|
|Facilities:||Gift shop, cafe, toilets, disabled access (manual wheelchairs only in the palace), picnic area|
Located in the heart of Scotland, Scone Palace is a must-see for every tourist. As if its unique character weren’t enough, the palace also has a rich history that stretches back in time over a thousand years.
It’s near this red sandstone palace where 38 Scottish kings were crowned by sitting on the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, making it one of the most significant historic buildings in Scotland.
The stone slab was used at Scottish coronations for centuries before being relocated to England in 1296. However, in 1996 it was brought back to Scotland and is now on display at Edinburgh Castle, though a replica sits in its original location at Scone Palace.
This is easily one of the best things to do in Perthshire in the rain in my opinion. During a visit, you can either take a guided tour or explore the palace at your own pace to see the art, furnishings, and family treasures of the Earls of Mansfield, and if the weather brightens you can then head outside to walk around the enormous gardens.
The gardens are so big you could easily spend most of the day just walking around them without even entering the palace – which many families choose to do as there’s a giant maze to hide in, walled and kitchen gardens to explore, and over 100 acres of woodlands to stroll through.
There’s also a woodland playground with rope slides, swings and climbing walls which are guaranteed to wear the kids out, after which the family can fill up hungry bellies in the palace cafe which is a great place to feed the resident peacocks who will be only too happy to peck a sandwich or two from your hands.
Out About Scotland Guide: Ben Lawers
|Opening Hours:||Ben Lawers is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.|
|Admission Price:||There is no charge to visit Ben Lawers.|
|Parking:||There is a paid NTS car park midway up Ben Lawers 1 mile below Lochan na Lairige. All day parking is £3.|
|Contact:||National Trust for Scotland|
Telephone: 01567 820988
|Facilities:||There are no visitor facilities at Ben Lawers.|
This nature reserve is one of my favourite places in Central Scotland since it includes two stunning mountains, Ben Lawers and Meall nan Tarmachan, and it’s situated just a short distance from the beautiful Loch Tay.
The highest point of Ben Lawers, which is actually just one of seven peaks in the Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve, soars an astonishing 1,214 metres (3,984 feet) above sea level.
The reserve is enormous at 4,500 hectares and it’s teeming with wildlife, from timid red deer to territorial black grouse, as well as other species including skylarks, buzzards, hares, and golden eagles.
In the summer, when the heather and gorse on the lower slopes of Ben Lawers burst into brilliant colour and the light illuminates the waters of Loch Tay in the distance, I don’t think there’s a more beautiful place in all of Scotland.
Unlike the majority of mountains, younger visitors can easily make their way up this Munro thanks to the well-maintained paths in the lower areas near the car park which is conveniently positioned halfway up the mountain.
The National Trust for Scotland (which manages the entire reserve) has compiled a range of walking guides on their website that are worth downloading if you want to tackle the more advanced trails, but otherwise, it’s simply a job of following the main path from the car park.
This route is flat and straightforward for the most part and experienced hikers will easily complete it in around 5 hours, but you should allow up to 7 hours if you have children in tow.
Out About Scotland Guide: Loch Leven
|Address:||Loch Leven National Nature Reserve,|
The Pier, Kinross,
|Parking:||Free on-site car parks|
|Contact:||RSPB Loch Leven - |
|Facilities:||RSPB Loch Leven - |
Visitor centre, toilets, accessible toilets, baby changing, pushchair friendly, refreshments, picnic area, binocular hire, viewing point, nature trails, shop, educational facilities, play area
Swimming and kayaking are just two of the many activities that can be enjoyed on Loch Leven, the largest body of shallow water in lowland Britain. However, the Loch Leven Heritage Trail, which runs around the loch in a wide arc, is the main attraction.
This well-maintained footpath is not only suitable for walkers due to its firm surface, but it’s also suitable for those in wheelchairs and families with pushchairs.
Perhaps the best way to see the loch, though, is on a bike. The route is absolutely perfect for a family outing as it’s flat and easy to cycle along – even for the smallest of riders.
Because of the large number of wild birds that arrive year-round, Loch Leven has been declared a national nature reserve which is why an RSPB centre is located nearby, a few miles along the B9097.
The RSPB Vane Farm visitor centre has excellent facilities and they’ve even built an underpass so that you can easily reach the loch without having to cross the road, which is a great idea for anyone worried about excited toddlers zooming off at the start of the ride.
Binoculars (link to my recommended optics) are a necessity for a visit to Loch Leven as you’ll almost certainly see a variety of birds whenever you visit, and it is, in fact, home to more breeding ducks than anywhere else in Europe.
Even if you’re not interested in birdwatching or cycling you can still make use of the beach at Kirkgate Park on the Kinross side as well as take a tour boat to the historic Lochleven Castle.
In a nutshell, I would describe Loch Leven as a must-visit for families and nature lovers alike.
Out About Scotland Guide: Schiehallion
|Opening Hours:||Schiehallion is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.|
|Admission Price:||There is no charge to visit Schiehallion.|
|Parking:||The Braes of Foss car park is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland. All-day parking is £3. Postcode PH16 5NN.|
|Facilities:||There are toilets at the Braes of Foss car park.|
Schiehallion, situated between Loch’s Tay, Rannoch, and Tummel, is a popular destination for families due to its proximity to Aberfeldy (home of the birks – see below) and its reputation as one of the easiest Munros to climb.
A staggering 20,000 people (seasoned mountain climbers and children alike) make the journey from the Braes of Foss car park at the mountain’s base to the 3,553-foot summit each year.
The John Muir Trust took over the management of Schiehallion in 1999 in response to the mountain’s deluge of hikers, and since then, a new path has been built that takes visitors from the car park almost all the way to the summit.
From across Loch Rannoch, Schiehallion’s almost perfect conical shape makes it seem quite daunting. If you approach the mountain from the east, however, you’ll see that the “cone” actually has a long, gentle slope all the way to the top.
This hike, which is around three miles in length, has some of the best views in Scotland in my humble opinion.
In summer, swathes of heather on the east ridge come alive with colour and the lower elevations are almost completely covered in low-lying grasses and wildflowers, while lochans and woodlands stretch away into the distance as far as the eye can see.
The relatively easy route to the summit makes it one of the best things to do in Perth and Kinross for families looking for an outdoor adventure, and it’s a great place to let the kids experience mountain climbing without having to scramble up steep rocky slopes.
Out About Scotland Guide: The Hermitage
|Address:||Old Military Road,|
|Parking:||Paid car park on-site.|
£3 all-day parking.
|Facilities:||Accessible parking, partial pushchair/wheelchair access|
If you’re ever in Perth & Kinross and feel like going for a walk you’ll have no shortage of options; however, I think one of the nicest places is Tay Forest Park, home of the Hermitage.
The Hermitage was created as a retreat for the Dukes of Atholl but it’s now maintained by the National Trust for Scotland which has ensured the woodland trails are kept clear and well-maintained so that all members of the public can enjoy the forest.
Because of how flat the footpaths are, pushchairs and wheelchairs should be able to go a good way in, though be aware that partway around there are steps which may impede progress, especially after a rainfall when it gets rather muddy.
There are various spots where visitors can watch the River Braan smashing over rocks beneath roaring waterfalls in the Hermitage, but the highlight is Ossian’s Hall, an enclosed viewing platform originally built in 1757 which looks over the cascading Black Linn Falls.
If you keep an eye on the river in November and December you might see salmon making their way up the river to their spawning grounds, while in the overhanging trees there’s a good chance of spotting shy red squirrels darting about.
After exploring the Hermitage it’s possible to continue a walk into nearby Craigvinean Forest – one of Scotland’s oldest managed forests – which has a wee surprise in store at Pine Cone Point with a viewing platform shaped like a pine cone!
Birks of Aberfeldy
Out About Scotland Guide: Birks of Aberfeldy
|Parking:||On-site car park|
|Facilities:||Partial disabled access on gravel paths, picnic benches|
The Birks of Aberfeldy is a historic woodland that offers a pleasant ramble through trees that have covered this part of Central Scotland for almost 8,000 years.
Visitors to the woods should keep their eyes open for the many bird species that make their home amongst the oak, ash, elm, and, of course, the renowned birch trees that were the inspiration for Robert Burn’s famous poem of the same name.
The path that circles the woodland is slightly over two miles in length and is kept level and free of debris, allowing tourists to experience the same natural beauty that Robert Burns did more than two centuries ago.
From the woodland entrance you’ll be able to see several waterfalls that run into the Moness Burn, culminating in the roaring 250-meter-high Falls of Moness which can be viewed from a wooden bridge at the far end of the circular trail.
As most of the path comprises compacted earth there are a few spots that become quite muddy in winter, so if you plan on going during the wetter months be sure to take wellies for the kids.
As the Falls of Moness has a few steep sections with wooden stairs, visitors with disabilities may struggle. That being said, the majority of the path is in great condition and most children will be able to happily make their way around the birks with no problem at all.
The footpath is around a mile and a half long and shouldn’t take much more than an hour to complete, but you’ll no doubt want to stop and take in the sights along the way so plan for at least 2 hours for a visit.
Out About Scotland Guide: Blair Castle
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun - 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Last entry 4.00 pm)|
|Admission Price:||Adults £16.00|
Senior Citizens (60 years+) £13.60
Students (with ID cards) £13.60
Children (5-16 years) £9.50
Family ticket (2 adults, 3 children) £48.00
|Parking:||Free on-site car park.|
|Contact:||01796 481 207|
|Facilities:||Gift shop, toilets, cafe, partial disabled access, video tour|
Blair Castle, located near the pretty village of Blair Atholl, is one of the largest privately-owned castles in Scotlands and one of the most popular attractions in Perth and Kinross.
Construction started in the late 1200s when David Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl, wanted to show off his family’s status as wealthy and powerful landowners. The family lived in the fortress for more than 700 years and continued to add extensions over the centuries, and it’s now a shining example of Scottish architecture from the Medieval, Georgian, and Victorian eras.
The castle’s large Victorian ballroom, the entrance hall with its impressive collection of weaponry, and the dining room with its priceless silverware are just a few of the thirty rooms open to tourists who can explore the castle either on their own or as part of an expert-led guided tour.
The interior of Blair Castle is truly a sight to behold, especially the ballroom which is absolutely enormous and lined with an incredible 175 pairs of deer antlers.
Other highlights include an exhibition of historical clothing and an exhibition about the Atholl family during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, both of which are included with a standard entry ticket.
The grounds, meanwhile, are an attraction in their own right and include a walled garden, a coniferous woodland, a sculpture trail, a play park, and a woodland adventure course.
The Georgian-era walled garden, in particular, is a must-see as it’s one of the largest in Scotland covering an incredible nine acres, while the sculpture garden is a great place to let the kids run around to burn off some energy after being inside the castle.
The Enchanted Forest
Out About Scotland Guide: The Enchanted Forest
|Opening Hours:||29th September – 30th October|
|Admission Price:||Child Under 3: Free|
Child 3 – 15: £13
Family Ticket: £65
|Parking:||Paid car parks in Pitlochry. No parking at the event.|
|Facilities:||Disabled access, toilets, food and drink stalls, shuttle bus|
Set in the magnificent Faskally Forest just north of Pitlochry, the Enchanted Forest is an outdoor event that employs the dramatic backdrop of the autumnal woods as the stage for a dazzling light and sound show.
Faskally Forest is worth visiting at any time of the year as this picturesque part of Tay Forest Park has several walking trails on paths that stretch around Loch Dunmore and into the surrounding trees.
It’s already one of Scotland’s most scenic places on a sunny day, but things really ramp up in October when the Enchanted Forest takes place.
This multi-award-winning event has been running for more than 20 years and is regarded as being one of Scotland’s major outdoor art performances, with elements of pulsing lights and classical music combined to make an audible and visual feast for the senses.
The event planners have thought of everything to keep the kids engaged, from a tent where they can hear folk stories to gift stands where they can buy toys and food vendors where they can slurp a delicious cup of hot chocolate.
Since there is no parking allowed at the event, visitors are encouraged to make use of the car parks in nearby Pitlochry after which they can board dedicated buses that will take them to Faskally Forest and back.
Most visitors will spend a couple of hours at the event, but you’re free to walk around for as long as you like before finishing the evening in Pitlochry which has a number of family-friendly restaurants.
Out About Scotland Guide: Crieff Hydro
|Opening Hours:||Open 24/7|
For leisure activity times see https://www.crieffhydro.com/
Activity prices vary
|Parking:||Free parking on-site|
|Facilities:||Toilets, cafe, restaurant, bar, gift shop, leisure activities, disabled access|
The Crieff Hydro is a leisure centre in Perth & Kinross that features a grand Victorian hotel originally founded as a place of relaxation for the wealthy.
The entire complex covers 900 acres and includes a golf course, a football field, and a number of racquetball and tennis courts as well as riding stables, a full-service health and fitness centre, an adults-only pool, and a pool for families.
Guests are welcome to use any of the facilities even if they haven’t booked accommodation which is perfect for adventurous families who can choose from activities that range from treetop high ropes courses to alpaca trekking, archery lessons, and even axe throwing.
Children can go wild at Glen’s Adventure Park which has everything from a giant wooden fort to ziplines, and parents can pamper themselves with spa treatments or get pulses racing in the fitness studio.
Attracting guests from far and wide, the Crieff Hydro’s location in the rolling Perthshire countryside also provides easy access to a number of scenic walking trails in the surrounding hills and woodlands, and for visitors with younger children, there’s an on-site creche to leave them in while mums and dads enjoy some quiet time in the fresh air.
Families looking for overnight accommodation in the area should definitely consider the Crieff Hydro as it makes a great base to explore Perth and Kinross and there are many other family-friendly attractions in the area including Auchingarrich Wildlife Park, Drummond Castle Gardens, and the city of Perth which is just a 30-minute drive away.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Perthshire and Perth and Kinross?
While Kinross is a lieutenancy region and Perth is a city in Scotland, Perth and Kinross is a council area that was created in 1996 according to the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994.
It was created when the municipalities of Perth and Kinross were combined.
Hence, Perth and Kinross is the current administrative region that incorporates the historic county of Perthshire.
Is Perth and Kinross in the Highlands?
No, Perth and Kinross is not part of the Highlands of Scotland. It sits in the heart of the country and borders the Scottish Highlands, Fife, Stirlingshire, and Tayside.
What are the top attractions to visit in Perth and Kinross?
Perth and Kinross is a region in Scotland with a rich history and natural beauty. Some of the top attractions to visit in the area include:
1: Scone Palace: a historic palace that was once the crowning place of Scottish kings.
2: Blair Castle: a historic castle set in extensive grounds with gardens, woodland walks and a deer park.
3: The Black Watch Museum: a museum dedicated to the history of the Black Watch regiment.
4: Loch Leven: a large freshwater loch with scenic views and a castle island.
5: The Hermitage: a picturesque woodland with waterfalls that tumble over the River Braan
What are the best outdoor activities in Perth and Kinross?
Perth and Kinross offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, including:
1: Hiking and Walking: There are many scenic walking and hiking trails in Perth and Kinross such as the Hermitage, the Queen’s View and Ben Vrackie.
2: Fishing: The region is known for its freshwater lochs and rivers, making it a popular destination for fishing.
3: Golf: Perth and Kinross is home to several prestigious golf courses, including Gleneagles.
4: Wildlife Watching: There are many opportunities for wildlife watching in the region, including birdwatching and deer watching.
5: Mountain Biking: The region offers a variety of mountain biking trails, such as those in Tay Forest Park.