Central Scotland encompasses the country’s central belt, sitting north of Edinburgh and Glasgow and including both Lowland and Highland areas.
The geography of Central Scotland is a delightful mix of rolling hills, lush farmlands, and vast lochs. The area is bounded by the Grampian Mountains to the north and the Southern Uplands to the south, offering a variety of terrains for all kinds of adventurers.
The landscape of Central Scotland is nothing short of breathtaking.
The Campsie Fells (north of Glasgow) and Ochil Hills (north of Stirling) offer a combination of rugged beauty and tranquillity, as does the River Forth, a major waterway, which flows through the region and merges with the River Teith a few miles west of Stirling.
Central Scotland also boasts a multitude of cities, towns and villages, each with their own unique charm.
Stirling, known as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’, is a city steeped in history, just like Falkirk which is another must-visit thanks to the impressive Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift which connects the Forth and Clyde Canals with the Union Canal.
Perth, once the capital of Scotland, is a great tourist destination as it features stunning architecture, a friendly community atmosphere, and the beautiful River Tay which separates the city from one of the country’s biggest attractions – Scone Palace, the former crowning place of Scotland’s royalty.
When it comes to attractions, Central Scotland does not disappoint.
Stirling Castle, a beautiful palace-fortress that rivals Edinburgh Castle, is an absolute must-see, just like the National Wallace Monument which commemorates Sir William Wallace and offers an incredible view of the city and the surrounding landscape.
For a unique experience, Helix Park and The Kelpies, the world’s largest equine sculptures, are just a stone’s throw away while ancient sites like Dunblane Cathedral and Doune Castle (famous for appearing in TV shows such as ‘Outlander’) are an easy drive away.
Tayside, a region in eastern Scotland, is a mesmerising combination of gorgeous scenery and rich history, yet it’s one of the least visited areas in Scotland.
Strategically located, Tayside is bordered by the North Sea to the east, the Grampian Mountains to the north, and the Central Lowlands to the south and west.
Its location makes it easily accessible from major Scottish cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as Aberdeen and Perth so it’s a great area to use as a base to explore Scotland.
Geographically, Tayside is a study in contrasts. The landscape varies between rugged mountains, the fertile plains of Strathmore (also known as ‘Scotland’s larder’), an exceptionally pretty coastline from Carnoustie to Montrose, and the 120-mile River Tay, Scotland’s longest river, which flows through the region.
This diverse geography provides a habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna and makes it a haven for nature enthusiasts, especially at places like Seaton Cliffs Nature Reserve which is well known for its spectacular red sandstone cliffs.
Tayside also hosts a variety of towns and villages. Dundee, the region’s largest city, is a cultural hub that has become synonymous with innovative design due to the V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum.
The city is also home to the RRS Discovery, Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition ship and the McManus – one of the finest museums in the country.
The picturesque villages of Blairgowrie and Kirriemuir, meanwhile, are renowned for their quaint charm and offer a slower pace of life even though they’re close to major tourist attractions like Glamis Castle which is widely regarded as being one of Scotland’s most beautiful castles.
Additionally, nature lovers can explore the Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve or hike into the depths of the Cairngorms National Park, while golfers can test their skills at the world-renowned Carnoustie Golf Links.
Find places to visit and things to do in Central Scotland & Tayside with these visitor guides.
Visiting Scotland’s tourist attractions can be an expensive business, especially for those visitors travelling with a family. In this article you will discover a list of free attractions in Central Scotland that are suitable for all ages, from historic buildings to nature trails.
Ben Lawers is situated within a national nature reserve near Loch Tay in Perthshire. This mountain is the 10th-highest Munro in Scotland at 3,984 feet (1,214 metres) but it’s a popular destination for beginner mountain hikers thanks to the mid-way car park that offers a welcome shortcut to the summit. Discover Ben Lawers and the…
Ben Ledi is an 879-metre high mountain in the lower Scottish Highlands. It can be found 5 miles north-west of the popular country village of Callander in the Trossachs National Park. The Trossachs are famous not just for their mountain ranges but also for their lochs which include the mighty Loch Lomond – one of…
Blair Castle – situated near Blair Atholl in Perthshire – has been the ancestral home of Clan Murray since its construction in the 13th century. The castle is privately-managed but is open to the public for tours. Discover Blair Castle in this guide which features an overview and handy visiting advice.
- Tag: Zoos & Animals
Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park is Scotland’s only safari park. The family-friendly attraction is home to over 350 animals, many of which are free to roam the 120-acre estate. Visitors can enjoy a drive through several animal enclosures before entering a large animal-themed adventure park.
The Bracklinn Falls are a series of waterfalls situated within thick woodland near Callander in Central Scotland. Visitors to the site can follow a popular walking trail that follows the Keltie Water which offers close-up views of the falls. Discover the Bracklinn Falls with this complete visitor guide.
Burncrooks reservoir is a man-made body of water that offers a picturesque walk as part of the John Muir Way between Balloch and Strathblane. There is a rough track that circles the reservoir and visitors can easily deviate onto single-track roads that cut through woodland alongside other bodies of water.
- Tag: Family Attractions
The Crieff Hydro is a popular resort in the Perthshire countryside that offers a range of health-based activities as well as large grounds for walking and relaxation. The hotel boasts over 200 bedrooms and over 50 self-catering properties, as well as restaurants, cafes and bars that are open to both overnight guests and day visitors.
Located in the middle of Scotland, Stirlingshire provides a wide variety of fun things to do for the whole family. From the historic Stirling Castle to the peaceful Trossachs National Park, this amazing county has plenty to offer all ages. In this article, you’ll discover the best family-friendly activities in Stirlingshire, from visiting ancient castles…
The 15th-century Castle Campbell is located on top of an outcrop overlooking the National Trust for Scotland-managed Dollar Glen in Clackmannanshire. The medieval castle is situated near the town of Dollar where it served as the ancestral home of the earls and dukes of Argyll, until being passed into the care of Historic Environment Scotland.…
The medieval Doune Castle is one of the best-preserved curtain wall fortresses in Scotland. It has been made famous for its use in films including Outlander, Game of Thrones and Monty Python. Discover what it’s like to visit this famous historic attraction with this guide which includes an overview and handy visiting tips.
Glen Ogle lies in a particularly scenic area of Stirlingshire, 2 miles northwest of the village of Lochearnhead. The Glen is a popular tourist destination thanks to the Sustrans Route 7 which offers a superb cycle and walking route through the glen, where stunning views are on offer from Loch Earn to the Glen Ogle…
Inchmahome Priory is a ruined monastic sanctuary located in an idyllic setting on an island in the lake at Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire. The historic attraction is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to the public for self-guided tours. Discover Inchmahome Priory with this complete visitor guide.
Loch Katrine is a freshwater loch situated in the heart of the Trossachs national park within the county of Perthshire. This famous body of water is 8 miles long and 1 mile wide, and in addition to being a popular destination for local day-trippers it is frequently visited by tourists due to its wide range…
Loch Leven is a large expanse of water situated in the rural Scottish county of Perth and Kinross. The National Nature Reserve is renowned for the number of wildfowl that live there and in fact, it’s home to more breeding ducks than anywhere else in Europe.
- Tag: Family Attractions
Loch Lomond Shores is a shopping and leisure complex located at the southern end of Loch Lomond in the town of Balloch. Visitors will discover a multitude of activities at the site including several high-end shops, cafes and restaurants, a sea life centre, a bird of prey centre, woodland walks, a food and craft area,…
- Tag: Trails & Routes
The Rob Roy Way is an 80-mile walking and cycling route between Drymen in Central Scotland and Pitlochry in Perthshire. This part of the route runs through the town of Callander to the village of Strathyre on attractive paths that border rivers, lochs, steep hills and open glens. The trail is flat and level so…
Schiehallion is a 3,553-foot high mountain in Perth & Kinross which is one of the easiest Munros to climb in Scotland. The wide and rough footpath offers visitors superb views of the surrounding countryside on a hike to the summit that should take 3-4 hours in total. Discover Kelvingrove Park with this complete visitor guide.
This red sandstone palace is located in the village of Scone just outside of Perth. As the original crowning site for the ancient kings of Scotland, it is one of the most important historic buildings in the country. Visitors can explore both the palace and the extensive grounds on self-guided tours as well as enjoy…
Stirling Castle sits on top of Castle Hill in the historic city of Stirling where it has served as both a military fort and royal palace for over 900 years. Today, it is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and features guided and self-guided tours. Discover Stirling Castle with this article which includes an overview, visiting…
The central belt of Scotland lies between the Scottish Borders and the Highlands, where it combines the best of both regions with some of the country’s finest mountains, lochs, and forests. You’ll find the pick of Central Scotland’s top family attractions in this article, along with an overview of each one and 360° photographs that…
Perth & Kinross is the perfect location for family outings. The region has some of Scotland’s most scenic lochs and hill ranges, including Loch Leven and the Ochil Hills, and it’s a great place for hiking, cycling, fishing, and bird-watching. In this article, you’ll discover a few of the best family-friendly attractions in Perth and…
- Tag: Forests & Woodlands
The Birks of Aberfeldy offers a circular walk through mixed woodland on the outskirts of Aberfeldy in Perthshire. The scenic landscape inspired Scots poet Robert Burns to write one of his most famous works in 1787. Visitors to the Birks of Aberfeldy will find good facilities, including a large car park and partially-gravelled paths.
The Devil’s Pulpit is a deep sandstone gorge hidden amongst the woodland and rolling fields of Finnich Glen, around 14 miles north of Glasgow. This geological curiosity earned its name from an unusual rock outcrop that legend says was the site of sermons given by the devil, perhaps inspired by the fact that the swirling…
Search for things to do in Scotland
Looking for something specific? Try a search.
Find things to do in Scotland by clicking each region on this map.
You can also search for things to do on a Tourist Map of Scotland
Even more things to do in Scotland! Find the best attractions in and around Scotland’s cities with Google Maps of Scotland