The 15 Best National Trust for Scotland Places to Explore

  • Published on: July 16, 2023

Malleny Gardens

It’s lucky that the National Trust for Scotland looks after some of the most remarkable spots in Scotland more than 8 National Nature Reserves to experience, 300,000 precious objects to discover, 76,000 hectares of land to explore and over 100 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments, gardens, parks and nature reserves.

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Discover the top 15 National Trust places in Scotland that are simply a must-visit. From historic castles to stunning landscapes, these destinations offer an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking to delve into Scotland’s rich heritage and natural beauty.

Whether you’re captivated by majestic architecture or enchanted by breathtaking vistas, these carefully curated locations are sure to leave a lasting impression on your Scottish adventure . Don’t miss out on exploring these remarkable treasures!

national trust scotland list of places to visit

Table of Contents

Malleny walled gardens

Here are some of my favourite National Trust for Scotland locations and sites across Scotland

1. Glencoe, Highlands

Scotland is a real hiker’s paradise , particularly Glencoe. This is partly thanks to the excellently signposted hiking trails, which are never far from idyllic inns that serve up regional specialities.

Then there’s the diversity of the landscapes, from spectacular peaks to rolling hills and mystical forests.

Glencoe is a remarkable destination, with the locals putting in hardwork to preserve its majestic views, vibrant culture and sustainable economic activities.

No description can re-create the impact of seeing Glencoe for the first time. It has long been one of the most loved places in Scotland .

What is Glencoe famous for? It’s known equally for its awe-inspiring views, it is a place of history, wildlife, adventure, myth and drama. 

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has cared for Glencoe since 1935. NTS is the largest member organisation in Scotland.

As a conservation charity, they are supported by more than 300,000 members and are funded largely by donations to protect the things that make Scotland special.

On February 13, 1692, 38 members of the MacDonald clan were murdered by a regiment of soldiers (acting on behalf of the government) after they had welcomed them into their homes.

The tragedy of the Glencoe Massacre still has the power to evoke powerful emotions.

The most recent project of NTS is a replica 17th-century turf house at the Glencoe Visitor Centre.

Here, you can experience Clan MacDonald’s way of life in this unique showcase of traditional building crafts along with a breathtaking mountain backdrop, just outside the visitor centre.

The project was part of the Trust’s five-year, £57 million programme to improve the visitor experience and the condition of the heritage in its care. It’s thanks to the generous supporters and donors from all over the world that NTS has been able to make it possible!

As a conservation charity, NTS rely on the generous support of visitors, members and donors to help to continue important work in protecting Scotland’s rich heritage.

Click here if you would like to take part and become a supporter

2. Inverewe Gardens, North West Highlands, NC500

Inverewe gardens were created by Osgood Mackenzie who purchased the estate of Kernsary with help from his mother in 1862. From then until his death in 1922 he transformed the land into spectacular gardens and woodlands.

His daughter Mairi continued till 1952 when she gifted the gardens to the National Trust for Scotland .

This awesome garden has a wide variety of plants, like rhododendrons, azaleas, trees, and shrubs thanks to the mild climate and sheltered position.

You can enjoy breathtaking views of Loch Ewe and even take a boat trip. There’s also a fun kids’ trail and plenty of wildlife to see.

And don’t forget about the stunning walled garden! It’s definitely worth checking out in any season, but May, June and July are the best.

Clachaig Inn historic pub in Glencoe Scotland

3. Threave Garden Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

A grand Scottish Baronial house set in 26 hectares of world-famous gardens including 200 varieties of daffodils. It’s a Special Protection Area for breeding waders and wintering wildfowl.

Home to the Scottish Bat Reserve with two marked bat paths. Also, ospreys have been featured for several years, either by passing through or nesting. The gardens are superb.

There are glasshouses, a sculptural garden, a nature reserve, a walled garden and a secret garden

4. Dollar Glen, Stirlingshire

This glen walk in Scotland is absolutely incredible! It’s hands down one of the most awe-inspiring and breathtaking experiences you’ll ever have.

The beauty of nature surrounds you, with towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and lush greenery at every turn. It truly is a hidden gem and an unforgettable journey through this stunning glen in Scotland!

Located just outside the village of Dollar is a beautiful wooded area that leads up to the Ochil Hills. You’ll find walking trails that take you through this peaceful glen, following two streams called the Burn of Sorrow and the Burn of Care.

These streams meet below Castle Campbell (Historic Scotland), which used to be owned by the Earls of Argyll. Together, they form what is known as Dollar Burn. The walk through the glen is moderate, although in some parts can be strenuous.

Dollar Glen

5. The Hermitage, Dunkeld, Perthshire

This scenic route will take you through captivating Perthshire forests with magnificent waterfalls, such as the awe-inspiring Black Linn.

The path starts 1.1 miles from Dunkeld and has an attractive 1.5-mile woodland trail, which can be expanded further to an 8-mile journey along the enchanting Hermitage and Fiddler’s Path.

The riverside route then continues to visit the dramatic Rumbling Bridge before a return through more open countryside with attractive views.

Keep an eye on the red squirrels which are protected animals in Scotland, or salmon jumping in the River Tay.

The Hermitage, like the rest of the Big Tree Country woodlands and parks, also have the biggest trees, including spectacular and towering Douglas firs.

A must-visit is Ossian’s Hall; here the River Braan crashes down into deep pools and the hall offers stunning views of the waterfalls of Black Linn.

6. Falkland Palace, Perthshire

Falkland Palace , located in Fife, Scotland, served as a country retreat for the Stuart monarchs. It was used as a hunting lodge where the royal family enjoyed activities such as deer and wild boar hunting.

Mary, Queen of Scot s particularly cherished her time at Falkland Palace and found joy in immersing herself in nature, enjoying the woods and parks surrounding the palace.

Falkland Palace , constructed between 1501 and 1541 under the reigns of James IV and James V, replaced earlier castle and palace structures that originated in the 12th century.

It houses the King’s and Queen’s rooms, which have been carefully restored by the Trust.

These rooms boast period features, reproduction 16th-century furnishings, painted ceilings adorned with intricate designs, and royal arms prominently displayed.

Situated within the premises is the oldest real tennis court in Britain, dating back to 1539.

It’s a historical gem that adds character to the surroundings. Additionally, the garden, meticulously designed and constructed by Percy Cane from 1947 to 1952, features an array of shrubs and trees, showcasing a delightful variety.

For those interested in herbs, there is even a small herb garden to explore and appreciate.

Falkland Palace a member of the National Trust for Scotland

7. Culross Palace and Village, Fife

Culross was used in series 1 and 2 of Outlander and featured as the fictional village of Cranesmuir and also the Jacobite encampment in series 2.

The Royal Burgh of Culross is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and has been used for several filming scenes in the Outlander movie .

Culross played a base for the fictional Cransemuir in season 1 and suddenly became a popular tourist attraction. It’s a pretty village and I would recommend at least half a day to visit  

8. Gladstone’s Land, Edinburgh

Gladstone’s Land is a captivating journey back in time to the opulent life of a wealthy merchant in the seventeenth century.

Impeccably restored in the late 1930s, this magnificent house museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of Edinburgh’s residents in the Old Town over four centuries ago.

Prepare to be transported and fascinated by the rich history and exquisite details that await you at Gladstone’s Land

The Gladstone House

9. Culloden Battlefield, Inverness

If you’re interested in Scottish history or are a fan of Outlander , a visit to the Culloden Battlefield just outside of Inverness is a must. 

Culloden , the site of the last battle, fought on British soil. It became a place of Victorian pilgrims.

There is a memorial cairn, simple stones marking mass clan graves, the desolate Field of English, the well of the Dead and one of the battle survivors- Old Leanach Cottage with its thatched roof. 

The battlefield also includes a museum highlighting the history of the Jacobite Risings. The visitor centre tells the story in an innovative and interactive way. 

The Jacobite Rising of 1745 was a rebellion led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart to reclaim the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart.

However, on the sorrowful morning of April 16, 1746, the Jacobites fought their final battle.

It’s a battle that changed Highland culture forever. Whether you know much about the Risings or not, this museum is immersive and full of interesting facts and stories

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Culloden Battlefield

10. The Hill House, Helensburgh, Loch Lomond

“It is not an Italian Villa, an English Mansion House, a Swiss Chalet or a Scotch castle. It is a Dwelling House,” said Mackintosh to Blackie family on the completion of their house.

In the stunning location on the top hill in the Helensburgh village overlooking Loch Lomond The Hill House (box house) is one of Charles and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh’s most famous works.

Commissioned to design a country house by the Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie in 1902, Mackintosh was already well established locally for his many public buildings in Glasgo w

The house gives you a good insight into how the Blackie family lived in the early 1900s. The house was a masterpiece of architecture, but foremost it was the family home of Blacks and their five children.

Since the National Trust for Scotland restored it in the minute detail originally specified by the architect, you can once again marvel at the triumph of light and shadow, of dark wood and elegant friezes and many ‘Arts and Crafts’ features now considered characteristic of Mackintosh.

The Hill House- a box house

11. Glenfinnan Monument, Highlands near Fort William

I find myself going back to Glenfinnan countless times, and each visit is as special as the first one. It is one of the most memorable spots in the Highlands .

In 1815, a memorial was erected here at the head of Loch Shiel, near the place where Prince Charles Stuart had landed in 1745 and raised his standard, in honour of the Highlanders’ sacrifice in the Jacobite cause.

From the viewpoint above the visitor centre, the vista down the loch, surrounded by the mountains, is something one never forgets.

The visitor centre exhibition provides an excellent background on the Rising, battles, and aftermath.

12. St Abb’s Head, Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

St Abbs takes the name from Ebba, a sister of King Oswy of Northumbria. She founded a religious community here in the 17th century.

It’s said that when St Cuthbert visited her, he was in the habit of immersing himself in the sea for long periods- not for recreation but as a means of prayer and the seals came and stayed by his side.

You can still bathe and, very likely, you’ll see the seals. The walk from the village to the headland is just a mile and a half but is not to be missed.

The dramatic cliff scenery is the most spectacular of the whole coast. St Abbs reserve is a natural breeding area for seabirds, guillemots, razorbills and sometimes puffins.

St Abbs village

13. Brodie Castle, Moray, near Inverness

The rose-coloured Brodie Castle has been the ancestral home of the Brodie Clan for over 400 years, although their family seat has been here since the 12th century.

The castle houses a magnificent collection of furniture, ceramics and artwork, including works by 17th-century Dutch masters and 20th-century Scottish Colourists.

Stunning springtime daffodils in all its glory are all around the ground carpeted with over 100 varieties.

Daffodils are a huge part of the history and heritage of Brodie Castle as Major Ian Brodie, the 24th Brodie of Brodie and clan chieftain, was one of the greatest pioneers in daffodil hybridisation.

Brodie Castle

14. Malleny Gardens, Balerno, Edinburgh

A hidden little gem of a world of tranquillity as you pass through the beautifully adorned wrought-iron gate. The walled Malleny garden reveals a breathtaking sight – towering 400-year-old yew trees,  named Four Evangelists- carefully shaped and maintained with exquisite precision.

Adding to the charm are Victorian greenhouses and meticulously cultivated rose plantings that transport you to a bygone era.

The captivating beauty of the Walled Garden comes alive with a vibrant burst of colours during the summer and early autumn.

The 17th-century house situated in the garden was built for Sir James Murray of Kilbaberton around 1635. The House has two Georgian reception rooms added in 1823 and are opened by the Friends of Malleny on occasions during the summer.

The best to experience the garden during the summer months, when vibrant blooms and lush greenery are in full bloom, and the rose’s scents are everywhere, but in autumn, the garden is beautiful too. Woodland walks nearby.

15.The Georgian House, Edinburgh

The Georgian House , a fascinating house-museum built in 1796, is an absolute gem located on No 7 Charlotte Square.

It offers visitors a captivating glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the wealthiest residents of the New Town . Step inside and immerse yourself in the grandeur and elegance of this historic masterpiece.

Prepare to be transported back in time and experience firsthand how these privileged individuals lived their lives with the utmost luxury and sophistication

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My name is Kate and I created Scotland Itinerary Planning to give you those life-changing experiences right in the beautiful country I call home.

I’m proud to live in Edinburgh, Scotland , one of the world’s most beautiful capital cities. Living in Edinburgh has provided me a base to explore extensively around this magical little country.

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Scotland is a dream destination for those who love exploring historic houses, castles and gardens, with some of the finest in the UK

Dunrobin Castle near Inverness in Scotland

A visit to Scotland isn’t complete without a visit to its illustrious historic houses, castles and gardens. From Skaill House in the Orkneys to Floors Castle on the Scottish Borders, it’s worth taking account of where you can visit when making a day trip to Scotland or a longer excursion. Here, we list the best places to visit in Scotland, with links to each house and garden in their specific region. You can also view a map of all the houses and gardens on our webpage here .

The Highlands, West Highlands & Islands

Ardchattan Priory Gardens

Ardchattan Priory Gardens, Argyll

A garden has existed at Ardchattan for over 700 years, since Valliscaulian monks, from a little know order in Burgundy, first settled here, on the north shore of Loch Etive.

Facing south, with spectacular views over Loch Etive, one can look east to Ben Cruachan and west to the hills of Mull, the monks chose their site well.

Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle, Nairn

Cawdor Castle dates from the late 14th-century, having been built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor, with the ancient medieval tower built around the legendary holly tree – wherever you look, Cawdor Castle is steeped in intrigue and history.

Later additions, mainly from the 17th-century, were all built in a Scottish style with slated roofs over walls and crow-stepped gables of local stone. This style gives Cawdor a strong sense of unity, and the massive, severe exterior belies an intimate interior that gives the place a surprisingly personal, friendly atmosphere.

Duart Castle seaview across the Isle of Mull

Duart Castle, Isle of Mull

Duart Castle proudly guards the sea cliffs of the Isle of Mull, while enjoying one of the most spectacular and unique positions on the West Coast of Scotland.

Brought back from ruin in 1911, the Castle treasures 800 years of history of one of Scotland’s oldest Clans, The Macleans, and is one of the last surviving privately owned Clan Castles in Scotland.

Dunrobin Castle near Inverness in Scotland

Dunrobin Castle, Golspie

Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. The castle is also one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, home to the Earls and later, the Dukes of Sutherland.

The Castle, which resembles a French chateâu with its towering conical spires, has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed London’s Houses of Parliament, and Scotland’s own Sir Robert Lorimer.

Discover behind the scenes at Scottish historic houses

Historic Houses offers members behind the scenes videos of life behind the scenes at houses and gardens across the UK, including at several houses and gardens in Scotland. In the below video, we look behind the closed gates of Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull during the 2020 lockdown.

...also in the Highlands, West Highlands & Islands

Dunvegan Castle in Scotland

Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye

Built on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Loch Dunvegan, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.

On display are many fine oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred Banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies.

Inveraray Castle gardens and grounds

Inveraray Castle, Argyll

Inveraray Castle is an 18th-century turreted castle, seat of the Clan Campbell and home to the Dukes of Argyll.

On the shores of Loch Fyne and in the majestic West Highlands of Scotland with formal gardens famous for their rhododendrons and azaleas. Also recognised as Downton Abbey’s ‘Duneagle Castle’. Glasgow Central & Queen Street (60 miles) is the closest train station.

Mount Stuart in Scotland with daffodils

Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute

Mount Stuart, Britain’s most spectacular Victorian Gothic house, offers a memorable day out for the whole family.

Walks on the beach, discoveries in the gardens, dazzling interiors, unique architectural details, seasonal events and exhibitions make Mount Stuart a place that captures the imagination! Situated on the Isle of Bute, just 90 minutes from Glasgow.

Skaill House in the Orkney Islands

Skaill House, The Orkney Islands

Skaill House is the finest 17th-century mansion in Orkney. Home of William Graham Watt, 7th Laird of Breckness, who unearthed the World famous neolithic village of Skara Brae in 1850. Covering thousands of years of history, Skaill House is renowned for its contribution to Orkney’s diverse and exciting past.

The house was originally built in 1620 by Bishop George Graham (Bishop of Orkney 1615-1638), and has been added to by successive generations over the centuries. In its 400 year evolution, all 12 Lairds have been related, contributing to the history and collections in the house.

Visit Scotland sustainably

We’re really keen to ensure that your trip to historic houses and gardens in Scotland doesn’t have to cost the earth, so we’ve teamed up with Good Journey to help you start planning your days out in Scotland using the cheapest, greenest means possible. Good Journey are adding new guided routes all the time, so take a look at their website for to start planning your trip to Scotland.

Grampian and Central

Ballindaloch Castle, Banffshire

Ballindalloch Castle, Banffshire

Ballindalloch Castle is first and foremost a much-loved family home and one of the very few privately owned castles to be lived in continuously by its original family.

Built originally in 1546, the Castle has been home to the Macpherson-Grants ever since, and Guy Macpherson-Grant, his wife, Victoria, and their three young children, are the 23rd and 24th generations of the family to live here.

Balmoral Estate, Scotland

Balmoral Castle, Ballater

The foundation stone for Balmoral Castle was laid by Queen Victoria on 28th September 1853 and can be found at the foot of the wall adjacent to the West face of the entrance porch.

Before the foundation stone was placed in position Queen Victoria signed a parchment recording the date. This parchment, together with an example of each of the current coins of the realm, was then placed in a bottle, inserted into a cavity below the site prepared for the stone.

Blair Castle Autumn

Blair Castle, Pitlochry

You’ll find Blair Castle in the traditional Scottish village of Blair Atholl at the entrance to the Cairngorms National Park.

Surrounded by hills and peaceful countryside, the castle has some of Scotland’s finest views. The castle has been transformed through the ages, from its cold medieval beginnings to become a fine Georgian mansion and finally a Victorian castle in the Baronial style.

Cambo House walled garden

Cambo House Gardens, near St Andrews

Cambo’s 2.5 acre walled garden dates from the 1800’s and our visitors keep describing it as ‘stunning’! We endeavour to create areas of year round interest and the garden is constantly changing, developing and innovating through the passions of our horticulture team.

From early interest in our winter gardens (highlighting our Plant Heritage national collection of snowdrops) through to our late season naturalistic plantings and prairie garden (unique in Scotland!) there is always a reason to visit Cambo.

Drummond Castle Gardens landscape and topiary

Drummond Castle Gardens, Crieff

It is a composite garden, restructured in early Victorian times and renewed again in the 20th century when the garden framework and the exceptional interest of the original 19th century design were carefully preserved.

Drummond Castle was built on a rocky outcrop by John, 1st Lord Drummond around 1490. The 2nd Earl, a Privy Councillor to James VI and Charles I, succeeded in 1612 and is credited with transforming both the gardens and the castle between 1630-1636. The keep still stands but the rest of the castle was restored and largely remodelled by the 1st Earl of Ancaster in 1890.

Dunninald Castle

Dunninald Castle & Gardens, Montrose

Dunninald Castle is a family home with an acclaimed walled garden, set in a planned landscape of woods and wild garden. Dunninald was built in 1824 by the architect James Gillespie Graham in the Gothic Revival style.

Guided tours of the castle explain the history of the house, the collections of furniture, paintings and displays of fine needlework photographs and memorabilia, examples of fine plasterwork and trempe l’oeil are also on show. Tours take approximately 40 minutes and start on the hour and half hour.

The fascinating stories of Scottish historic houses

There are few paintings which attract as much interest and admiration as the portrait of Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Murray, by the Scottish artist David Martin, which hangs in the Ambassador’s Room at Scone Palace . The story of Dido Belle’s life has been told many times, but who better to hear it from than William Mansfield himself?

national trust scotland list of places to visit

...also in Grampian and Central

Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven

Dunnottar Castle is a dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress which was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Steeped in history, this romantic and haunting ruin is a photographer’s paradise, a history lovers dream and an iconic tourist destination for visitors the world over.

Visit Dunnottar Castle for your own unforgettable experience and discover the importance of Dunnottar – an impregnable fortress that holds many rich secrets of Scotland’s colourful past.

Glamis Castle in Scotland with daffodils

Glamis Castle, Angus

Royal residence of the Lyon family since 1372 and legendary setting of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’.

Rebuilt in elaborate, turreted French chateau style in late 17th-century incorporating some 14th-century work, it is spectacular. Fine furnishings, paintings and armour.

Gordon Castle Garden of the Year

Gordon Castle Walled Gardens, Moray

A hidden gem situated between the River Spey and the Moray Coast, Gordon Castle Walled Garden is one of Scotland’s best kept secrets.

At almost eight acres in size it is one of the oldest and largest kitchen gardens in Britain and has been lovingly restored to its former glory with a modern design by world famous designer Arne Maynard. An oasis of peace and tranquillity, the garden is also a hive of activity.

House of Pitmuies in Angus, Scotland

House of Pitmuies, Angus

Pitmuies has known three periods – the first of a house recorded in the late 1500s. Remains of that house, with its worn stone spiral staircase, faces south over the garden.

The grander west facing front is believed to date from 1680’s.  Pitmuies was modernised to the 18th century standards some hundred years later when the two pavilions were added, one a music room and one a library.  Also the ionic pillared porch and alterations to the windows were deemed necessary.  The arched entrance into the courtyard carries date stones 1770 and 1820.

Monzie Castle in Scotland

Monzie Castle, Crieff

The oldest part of the castle dates from 1634. The main part was completed in 1795 by Robert Paterson, previously clerk of works to the celebrated Robert Adam.

Monzie Castle is a large castellated mansion which incorporates a small early 17th-century L-plan tower house, much extended and remodelled in 1791. It was a property of the Campbells from early times until 1869, when it was sold to the Johnstones of Lathrisk.

Scone Palace hero photo in Scotland

Scone Palace, Perth

Built on the site of Scone Abbey and incorporating the medieval bishops’ palace and Moot Hill, place of coronation for Scottish Kings, and extended in gothic style from 1803. Superb collection of objets d’art, including items of Marie Antoinette bought by the 2nd Earl of Mansfield.

The 1st Earl (a notable lawyer) freed his own black slave and in 1772 declared slavery ‘odious’ and unacceptable in Britain. John Louden laid out gardens contemporary with the house’s gothic enlargement. The pinetum, begun 1848 and extended in 1984, contains an outstanding conifer collection and the original Douglas fir, grown from seed sent in 1826 from America by David Douglas, a Scone gardener.

Modern art meets historic architecture at Kelburn Castle

The idea was simple and original: take the vibrant and often transient art form of Brazilian graffiti, out of its predominantly urban context and apply it to the ancient and permanent walls of a historic rural castle in Scotland.

Kelburn Castle in Scotland

Strathclyde and Dumfries & Galloway


Corehouse, Lanark

Corehouse is a pioneering example of the Tudor architectural revival in Scotland, designed by Sir Edward Blore and situated above the famous Corra Lynn Falls of Clyde.

Drumlanrig Castle and the Scottish landscape

Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill

Drumlanrig Castle is the Dumfriesshire home of the 10th Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry.

The Castle is one of Scotland’s finest examples of 17th-century Renaissance architecture. Towering over the Nith Valley, Drumlanrig houses items from the world-renowned Buccleuch Collection including works by Rembrandt and Holbein.

Dumfries House is a spectacular historic house

Dumfries House, Ayrshire

Georgian Gem, nestling within 2,000 acres of scenic Ayrshire countryside in south-west Scotland. Commissioned by William Crichton Dalrymple, the 5th Earl of Dumfries. The House was designed by renowned 18th-century architect brothers John, Robert and James Adam and built between 1754 and 1759.

Recognised as one of the Adam brothers’ masterpieces it remained unseen by the public since it was built 250 years ago until it opened its doors as a visitor attraction in June 2008.

Kelburn Castle in Ayrshire

Kelburn Castle, Fairlie

Our 13th-century castle has had an amazing makeover courtesy of a team of Brazilian artist and is the home of the Boyle family. The surrounding landscape offers dramatic walks, coastal views, breathtaking gardens and many features of historical interest.

There is no written record of when Kelburn Castle was first built, but it is thought to be around 1200. The original Norman Keep was added in 1581 and the new castle and old castle were skillfully joined and re-roofed so that the two periods are now difficult to distinguish from the outside.

Rammerscales in Dumfriesshire, Scotland

Rammerscales, Lockerbie

A neat, square ashlar Georgian house with a cornice and balustrade and a loggia with Tuscan pillar; unaltered since it was built in 1760 and with wide views over Annandale.

The long gallery completed in the 1770s was converted in the 19th century to house the owner’s outstanding library. Modern paintings and works of art include those by Rodin, Hepworth, Segonzac, Lowry and Wyndham Lewis.

Book your events tickets in Scotland

While visiting castles and gardens in Scotland is one way to make the most of your visit to the country, booking yourself onto an event run by a historic house is by far the best means of creating new memories. We have a dedicated page for exploring events at historic houses across the UK, and here you can find a pre-filtered list of events at Scottish venues.

Lothian and the Scottish Borders

Abbotsford, Roxburghshire

Abbotsford, Melrose

Visit Abbotsford, a monument to the tastes, talents and achievements of its creator, one of Scotland’s most important national figures; a renowned 19 th  century writer and ‘Great Scot’ who changed how the world saw Scotland and Scotland saw itself.

Located in the heart of the beautiful Borders countryside, Abbotsford was built by Sir Walter Scott in the 19th-century as a family home, work space and private museum and his interests can be seen in the amazing gothic architecture and interiors jam-packed with fascinating curios, artefacts, books and stories galore.

Arniston House, Midlothian

Arniston House, Midlothian

Home to the Dundas family for nearly 450 years, Arniston is a 6,000+ acre estate nestled just 11 miles from Edinburgh.

Featuring a magnificent William Adam Palladian style Mansion House, Arniston is proud to offer guests a guided tour with family members to learn more about the architect, the local history and of course, the Dundas family heritage.

Bemersyde House

Bemersyde House, Melrose

With a 16th-century peel tower at its core Bemersyde House is an imposing house set within fine gardens and grounds close to the burgh of Melrose in the Borders.

The gardens were laid out by Field Marshal Earl Haig.

Bowhill House

Bowhill House & Estate, Selkirk

Bowhill House has been the principal home of the Scotts of Buccleuch for over two centuries. The House’s history gives it many great tales. It also houses one of the world’s greatest private art collections including masterpieces by Canaletto, Raeburn, Reynolds and Gainsborough.

You’ll find stunning French furniture, Mortlake Tapestries, antique porcelain and portrait miniatures. A new exhibition, Love and Respect in the Victorian Age, opened in 2017 and features many new items on display from the renowned Collection.

Carolside Gardens

Carolside Gardens, Earlston

Carolside is an 18th century mansion in beautiful parkland, in a valley in the Scottish Borders. It’s setting is romantic and serene ; framed by steep wooded hills with the River Leader running through.

Its facade is thought to have been modelled on Chesterfield House , Mayfair , London (demolished 1937) .The design was by Isaac Ware the Palladian arcitect.(1704-1766) There has been a settlement there since at least the 16th Century and Carolside has been cultivated for over 200 years. It has a long history of good gardeners and was a well-known Rose garden in Edwardian days.

Dalmeny House

Dalmeny House, South Queensferry

Dalmeny House was completed in 1817 and sits in rolling parkland to the West of Edinburgh. With spectacular views overlooking the Firth of Forth, the house is home to The 7th Earl and Countess of Rosebery.

Although very much a family home, the house is open to the public for viewings and corporate events. The inspired architecture of the house will fascinate some. Others will be enticed by the extraordinary collection of antique furniture, artworks and curious objects.

Floors Castle in Scotland

Floors Castle, Kelso

What could be better than exploring a beautiful Scottish Castle? Built by architect William Adam in 1721, Floors Castle is Scotland’s largest inhabited Castle and home to the 10th Duke of Roxburghe.

An architectural masterpiece inside and out, the Castle houses a marvellous collection of fine art and porcelain for you to enjoy, including paintings by Matisse and our famous Belgian tapestries.

Gosford House

Gosford House, Longniddry

Gosford House, the seat of the Earls of Wemyss and March, is set in 5,000 acres of combined coast and parkland in East Lothian on the south side of the Firth of Forth and close to the celebrated golf courses of Muirfield, Gullane and Craigielaw.

The property is dominated by Gosford House, an imposing neo-classical mansion which was one of the last great architectural commissions of the celebrated Scots architect, Robert Adam.

The Hirsel historic house

The Hirsel, Berwickshire

The Hirsel is a 500-acre park with lake and river. A spectacular rhododendron and azalea wood can be seen, along with daffodils in April.

The site is a haven for ducks and summer migrants. Also features craft shops, tea room, pottery, museum.

Hopetoun House near Edinburgh seen from above

Hopetoun House, South Queensferry

Hopetoun House is a unique gem of Europe’s architectural heritage and undoubtedly ‘Scotland’s Finest Stately Home’. Situated on the shores of the Firth of Forth, it is one of the most splendid examples of the work of Scottish architects Sir William Bruce and William Adam.

The interior of the house, with opulent gilding and classical motifs, reflects the aristocratic grandeur of the early 18th century, whilst its magnificent parkland has fine views across the Forth to the hills of Fife.

..also in Lothian and the Scottish Borders

Lennoxlove in East Lothian

Lennoxlove, East Lothian

A strong and well-preserved keep or Pele tower with suitably rugged interiors; Lennoxlove, at its heart, was extended in the 17th-century into a more comfortable house.

This delightful castle now contains the Dukes of Hamilton collections of pictures, furniture and porcelain in addition to the death mask, famous letter casket, and other mementoes of Mary Queen of Scots.

Manderston in Berwickshire

Manderston, Duns

Manderston is a stunning example of Edwardian architecture, the supreme country house in Scotland of it’s era. A house on which no expense was spared, with opulent staterooms, a silver staircase, marble hall, acres of formal gardens and magnificent stables.

John Kinross the architect designed the house for Sir James Miller a nouveau riche baronet who married into traditional aristocracy. John Kinross was instructed to create a home of glittering style to match Sir James Millers wealth and status as a country gentleman.

Mellerstain House in Berwickshire

Mellerstain House & Gardens, Gordon

One of Scotland’s finest stately homes, this Robert Adam masterpiece is a ‘must-see’; complemented by the fine art, period furniture, china and embroidery collections within. It’s idyllic location does not disappoint, with acres of stunning parkland, formal gardens, lakeside walks and cafe.

Mellerstain, one of Scotland’s great Georgian houses was begun in 1725 by Scottish architect William Adam and completed in 1778 by his more famous son, Robert. The result is an outstanding example of 18th-century Scottish architecture, and some say one of Robert Adam’s finest works.

Mertoun gardens in Roxburghshire, Scotland

Mertoun Gardens, Melrose

Mertoun House was designed by Sir William Bruce for Sir William Scott of Harden and was built in 1703-05. It occupies an outstanding situation on a high bank overlooking the River Tweed and ornamental parkland beyond.

Little is known of the early history of the gardens, but it is assumed from the great age of many of the specimen trees that they were laid out at the time the mansion was built.

Newliston in West Lothian

Newliston Kirkliston

Newliston is on of Robert Adam’s last and smallest country houses with an 18th-century designed landscape including rhododendrons, azaleas and water features.

An inventory of chattels not on public display can be inspected and such chattels can be viewed by request when the house is open to the public.

Paxton House in Scotland

Paxton House, Berwick-on-Tweed

Originally built for Patrick Home, a young Scottish laird, Paxton House is one of the finest 18th-century Palladian country houses in Britain featuring Adam interiors.

It has recently gained recognition for its nationally important collection of Chippendale and Trotter furniture by Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of The Scottish Government.

Penicuik House in Midlothian

Penicuik House, Midlothian

Penicuik House is the finest and most influential example of Palladian architecture in Scotland. Built in the 1760s and devastated by fire in 1899, the once magnificent buildings has stood as a ruin for over 100 years.

It sits at the centre of an important 18th-century designed landscape, which together form an exceptional physical record of the artistic patronage of the Clerk Family.

Portmore House in Peebles

Portmore House Peebles

Set at 800’ in the wonderful Peebleshire countryside, the old Victorian gardens at Portmore have been recreated by the current owners Mr and Mrs David Reid over the past 30 years.

The 1½ acre Walled Garden, which is at its height between mid-July to August, has herbaceous double borders, a potager, rose garden, pleached lime walk and ornamental fruit cages.

Thirlestane Castle historic house

Thirlestane Castle, Lauder

Nestled in an idyllic part of the Scottish Borders, Thirlestane Castle is a magnificent 16th century castle set in a meadow landscape. Family seat of the Duke of Lauderdale, it is one of the oldest and finest castles in Scotland and still remains home to the Maitland family today.

Come and see the breathtaking 17th-century Dunsterfield plasterwork ceilings, one of the largest collections of family portraits in Scotland and nurseries full of historic toys.

Traquair House, Innerliethen

Traquair House, Innerleithen

Traquair is Scotland’s Oldest Inhabited House. Visited by 27 Scottish Kings and Queens Traquair dates back to 1107 and has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491.

Originally a royal hunting lodge, Traquair played host to Mary Queen of Scots and later as staunch Catholics they supported the Jacobite cause without counting the cost. Today, we welcome visitors from all over the world. Enjoy the extraordinary history of this lived in family home.

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Belvoir Castle exterior credit Nick Fry

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A Celebration of Scotland's Treasures Honoring Tom Conti


St Kilda Needs Your Help


Membership For the Love of Scotland

The story of Scotland is told through its places, from the sweeping vistas of the Highlands to the humble cottage where Robert Burns was born. These places connect us to the past and provide inspiration for our future.

At NTSUSA, we are privileged to help the National Trust for Scotland care for many of Scotland’s most incredible places – the majestic landscapes, glorious gardens, and architectural treasures that tell the story of the natural forces and people who shaped this spectacular corner of our world.

national trust scotland list of places to visit

St Kilda and Scotland's Islands

The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA is raising $100,000 to make sure the conservation of St Kilda’s kirk is completed without delay. We need your help.

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Our Heritage Sites

There are 88 NTS visitor properties with 300,000+ artifacts and almost 200,000 acres of countryside to explore, as well as coastlines, islands, wildlife, cottages, mountains, woodlands, battlefields, castles, and country houses. Most of our places are now open. Please check www.nts.org.uk before making plans to visit.

national trust scotland list of places to visit

Every year, Americans like you help fund the essential work of the Trust by supporting a conservation priority, a favorite property, or an element of the Trust’s mission that captures their personal interest and imagination. From vital structural repairs to monuments, castles, and houses, to the protection and rewilding of landscapes and habitats, to providing physical and virtual access to Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage – you can feel confident that your gift to NTSUSA is making an impact where it is needed most.

national trust scotland list of places to visit

A Celebration of Scotland's Treasures

Join us for an evening of Scottish music, dining, and dancing on Thursday, April 11, 2024 at New York’s Metropolitan Club to honor award-winning Scottish actor, director and novelist Tom Conti .

national trust scotland list of places to visit

Scottish Heritage USA

Enhancing the bonds of ancestral and national character between the peoples of Scotland and North America by furthering the exchange of ideas and connections between our two countries.

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The Macallan

The Macallan is one of the world’s most awarded and admired single malts. This peerless reputation has been built by the commitment of The Masters of Spirit and Wood, the craftsmen at the heart of The Macallan since it was legally licensed in 1824. Their unfaltering obsession with selecting exceptional oak casks and distilling sublime spirits brings an unsurpassed, timeless quality to The Macallan.

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10 whimsical ways to experience Scotland

A grand UNESCO Heritage trail, an island of whisky, a pagan fire festival—these are some of the experiences visitors shouldn’t miss.

A man with grey hair looks out the door of his small boat, calm waters and beautiful sky.

Scotland’s deep glens and dramatic coastline have long been a fixture of the silver screen. But nothing compares to discovering the place in real life: the endemic wildlife, the family-owned distilleries, the native writers who tell its tales. Here are the top 10 ways to experience this windswept country.

Cross a sandbar to Shetland Island beaches

On the Shetland Islands , a hundred miles north of the Scottish mainland, a 550-yard-long sand causeway connects two postcard-perfect beaches: one on the main southern island, and the other on the tiny St. Ninian’s Isle . On St. Ninian’s, the ruined chapel was the site of a large excavation of Pictish silver (now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh). The coast wends its way around deep inlets, home to birds including skerries, gannets, and puffins.

Time travel to Scotland’s ancient past

Smooth rocks fill the the image under a dramatic and cloudy sky, a small structure built of stone sits center frame with grass an hills in the background.

Near the town of Oban in the West Highlands, Kilmartin Glen comprises around 350 archaeological sites that span 5,000 years of history. Many of these date from the Bronze and Neolithic Ages and include stone circles, cairns, and rock art. Learn more on a guided walk from Kilmartin Museum (booking essential). The museum has recently undergone extensive refurbishment and houses ancient ceramics and weapons, many of which were excavated just outside.

See all of Scotland’s UNESCO sites in one trail

Scotland’s UNESCO Trail , launched in 2021, is the world’s first tourist path linking all of a country’s UNESCO-designated sites. As well as the six World Heritage sites—including the Roman Antonine Wall and the far-flung island of St. Kilda —the route includes two global geoparks and two biospheres, and the UNESCO cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee. The full trail takes around 40 days to complete, but can also be done in part: a suggested six- or eight-day Northern Isles route , for instance, takes in the Shetland Global Geopark and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney .

Journey to “Whisky Island”

Plentiful peat gives Islay’s whiskies their distinct smoky character, says Anthony Wills, founder of Islay’s Kilchoman Distillery . Though only 25 miles long, this Hebridean island has nine working distilleries, making it ideal for whisky tours. “The small-town feel and incredible location, the rugged coastlines and wild landscapes become a key part of the tour experience,” says Wills. He suggests visiting for the Fèis Ìle festival in May, when the island comes alive with folk music and dance.

Visit the world’s first rewilding center

Scotland is leading the world in rewilding efforts , which aim to restore landscapes to their original, uncultivated state. Central to this movement is the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre near Loch Ness. Visitors can take guided walks of the area and tour the tree nursery, which grows 100,000 rare and native specimens annually. There are also self-guided paths up to 2.5 miles long, passing by heather-covered moorland and pine forests both new and ancient.

national trust scotland list of places to visit

Party like a pagan

Pagan Scots marked the beginning and the end of summer with fire festivals: Beltane on April 30 and Samhuinn on October 31. In 1988, a group of enthusiasts in Edinburgh formed the Beltane Fire Society and reimagined both festivals for the modern era, with drumming, costumed dancing, and pyrotechnic displays. Shetland’s Up Helly Aa   festival in January—which started as a rowdy New Year celebration in the 19th century—sees torchlight processions through Lerwick, culminating in the burning of a Viking-style longship.

A fire rages behind a man in a winged helmet.

Spot breaching whales from a Hebridean island

The Hebridean Whale Trail , launched in 2019, brings together 30 wildlife-watching spots from Cape Wrath to the Isle of Arran. In most cases, you can see marine creatures from land rather than from a boat, minimizing environmental impact. Bottlenose dolphins, orcas, and humpback whales are among the species that can be spotted all year; basking sharks and minke whales join them in summer. Perhaps the finest site of all is Tiumpan Head Lighthouse   on the Isle of Lewis, known for its population of blunt-nosed Risso’s dolphins. Check Whale Track for news of the latest sightings.

Feast on fine food in Fife

“Fife is lucky to have some of Scotland’s best farmland while also being surrounded on three sides by a bountiful coastline—it’s a chef’s dream,” says Rosie Jack, who runs the Bowhouse   weekend market at the Balcaskie organic farming estate near Anstruther. Tuck into farm-to-table steaks at the Balgove Larder in St. Andrews, or mackerel and lobster at the East Pier Smokehouse , which overlooks St. Monans Harbour. Jack also recommends her local greengrocer Greens of Crail for its cheeses, preserves, and homemade gin.

Take a city tour for social good

Invisible Cities is a social enterprise that trains unhoused people to become tour guides in Edinburgh and Glasgow. “Having a guide is like having a friend who already knows everything about the place and is willing to share its secrets,” says founder Zakia Moulaoui, one of National Geographic’s Travelers of the Year 2024 . The guides’ knowledge extends far beyond the main sights: Edinburgh tour themes range from witchcraft to queer history . The Alternative Glasgow tour runs from the 19th-century People’s Palace museum to George Square, the site of both pro- and anti-independence rallies .

Delve into Edinburgh’s literary history

Edinburgh became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004; most of its bookish attractions are in the walkable city center. Scale the 200-foot-high Scott Monument , dedicated to Sir Walter Scott; view first drafts by Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson at the Writers’ Museum ;   stroll through the graveyard at Greyfriars Kirk , where J.K. Rowling found inspiration for Harry Potter characters. The three-week Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place every August, part of the world famous Edinburgh festivals .

( For more tips on what to do in Scotland, see our Explorer’s Guide .)

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over 5,000 years of history in just a few days with our Explorer Pass

Our Explorer Pass is the perfect way to dive into Scotland’s fascinating history and heritage and explore many of our properties.

The pass is valid for 14 consecutive days. The pass includes entry to Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and Fort George.

The number of Explorer Passes is limited. They often sell out a week or more in advance, so please plan ahead.

Find out where you can use your Explorer Pass on the Sites you can visit page above.


Explorer Passes do not include access to the following:

  • Properties in the care of The National Trust for Scotland
  • Members of the Historic Houses Association
  • The Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey 
  • Or properties in the care of private trusts including Calanais Visitor Centre and Kinnaird Head Lighthouse

Frequently Asked Questions

Explorer Pass Terms and Conditions

How it works

  • The pass is valid for 14 consecutive days from your selected start date
  • It includes entry to all of our open properties
  • The pass is available to purchase online
  • Book your visit online in advance  
  • Visit all our sites with one pass
  • Guaranteed entry when you pre-book
  • 20% discount on audio guides at Edinburgh and Stirling Castles and Glasgow Cathedral
  • Pre-book your visits

Sites you can visit

We strongly recommend checking the opening days and times of the sites you would like to visit prior to purchasing your pass. Use the links below to check opening times, and any access restrictions and make your advance bookings: 

Aberdour Castle and Gardens

Arbroath Abbey  

Balvenie Castle (summer only)

Biggar Gasworks Museum (summer only) 

Bishop's & Earls Palaces, Kirkwall (summer only)

Blackhouse, Arnol

Blackness Castle

Bothwell Castle

Broch of Gurness (summer only)

Caerlaverock Castle  

Cairnpapple Hill (summer only)

Castle Campbell (summer only)

Corgarff Castle (summer only)

Craigmillar Castle

Dirleton Castle

Doune Castle

Dryburgh Abbey

Dumbarton Castle

Dundrennan Abbey (summer only) 

Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel

Edinburgh Castle

Elcho Castle (summer only)

Elgin Cathedral

Fort George

Glenluce Abbey (summer only)

Hackness Martell Tower & Battery (summer only)

Hermitage Castle (summer only)

Huntingtower Castle

Huntly Castle

Inchcolm Abbey (summer only)

Inchmahome Priory (summer only)

Iona Abbey  

Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement

Jedburgh Abbey

Kildrummy Castle (summer only)

Kinneil House

Linlithgow Palace  

Lochleven Castle (summer only)

Maeshowe Chambered Cairn

Melrose Abbey  

New Abbey Corn Mill

Newark Castle (summer only)

Rothesay Castle

Skara Brae  

Smailholm Tower (summer only)

Spynie Palace (summer only) 

St Andrews Castle

St Andrews Cathedral

St Vigeans Stones and Museum (summer only)

Stanley Mills (summer only)

Stirling Castle  

Tantallon Castle

Tolquhon Castle (summer only)

Trinity House (Fridays by guided tour at 1pm and 3pm. Summer only.)

Urquhart Castle

Visit more, save more!

Prices from 29 march to 30 september 2024.

Now all there’s left to do is enjoy exploring

Pass Benefits

A green circle with a see through tick symbol in the middle

Free admission

Free entry to all Historic Scotland sites that are open

Great Value for money

Includes entry to Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles plus many more sites

Discounted audio guide

20% discount on audio tours at Edinburgh and Stirling Castles and Glasgow Cathedral

Guaranteed entry

Just pre-book your ticket with your explorer pass online before you visit

Family walking along beach towards Blackness Castle

Life of Iris Logo

How To Find Awesome Places to Visit in Scotland

There are so many incredible places to see in Scotland. Castles, lochs (their word for lakes), the Highlands, incredible natural beauty, so many sheep, historical monuments, battlefields, and more. While driving around it’s not uncommon to see a castle off on a hillside and the sheep are in fact too numerous to count. In this post I am going to tell you the secret of how to find awesome places to visit in Scotland. It’s not even that secret to be honest, it all comes down to the National Trust of Scotland.

*** This post contains affiliate links. If you click on these links and/or make a purchase I may be compensated at no additional cost to you. Thank you! ***

How To Find Awesome Places in Scotland

If you have never been to Scotland it can be a bit overwhelming to try to figure out where to go. Or, maybe you live in Scotland during a pandemic and need to find some outdoor activities close to home?

The National Trust of Scotland (NTS) website is the resource for you. Their sites range from well-known battle fields like Culloden to lesser known places like The Pineapple.

As always follow your local coronavirus restrictions! Some of these places are still open (outside) should you live in the local authority area – please check the gov.scot website for full lockdown restrictions details.

How to Use the Website:

Post code search:.

Prior to lockdown my favorite way to use the website is the option to enter your post code (zip code). It then comes up with a list of NTS sites within 30 minutes of your home, a list within 1 hour of home, and then a selection of places over 2 hours away. I wish I had known about this resource before some friends came to visit last year because there is so much more to be seen, and available to the public, than I could have ever imagined.

Things To Do Section

In the “Things To Do” section of their website there are pre-made lists with suggestions for things like “wonderful dog walks in Scotland” , “th e North-East Castle Trail” (top of my list!), and “things to do with kids” . It’s incredible the thought and attention that has gone into building this resource.

Places Section

In the “Places” section of the website it offers recommendations, there is an “Inspire Me” button that will pop up with more suggestions, and you can also search by types of places, whether that be Battles, Castles, Gardens, Jacobites, or the great Outdoors. This website is organized to help you find the places that you will find awesome to visit in Scotland.

Places to Stay

Have you ever dreamt of staying in a castle? Scotland is definitely the place to make that happen. The National Trust for Scotland has many holiday accommodations ranging from a small cottage on a loch (my dream) to literal castles.

Accessibility Guides

A number of their sites have been designed with accessibility features in mind. They also include online Accessibility Guides to help you design the trip that is right for you.

Costs and Fees

The majority of outside locations, grounds, and gardens do not have any fee, and the page for each site will let you know if there is a fee or not. To enter the majority of the buildings (castles and such) there is typically a nominal fee. This can either be paid per location or through a membership to the National Trust of Scotland. This membership would also get you entry into National Trust sites throughout the United Kingdom including England, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well as various National Trust organizations worldwide (including some in the US!)

Wishing you could get a bit of Scotland right now? They have an online shop (with some great sales at the moment!) and offer international delivery!

Places I’ve Visited:

Over the years I have visited a number of National Trust of Scotland sites – some before I really even knew what the NTS was! I love how the NTS encompasses so many different areas of interest. From places to explore outdoors, to history, battles, and castles. It’s incredible the range that they offer. It’s also incredible how much they have helped to preserve within Scotland and kept accessible to the public.

The Pineapple:

This one is well, a bit odd. If you are looking for some interesting architecture and a nice place to have a picnic this could be it. I’ll tell you the story of it in a forthcoming blog post!

The Pineapple

The Battle of Culloden:

A great place for an outdoor history lesson, or, if you are a fan of the show Outlander , a great place to see from the show. If you have Scottish ancestry it is also interesting as there are many markers for the clans that fought in the battle.

Battlefields in Scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct:

I have been lucky enough to go over the viaduct (just like the Hogwarts Express!) as well as visit it from below. It is as spectacular in person as you would think. Put it on your list. It’s beautiful.

national trust scotland list of places to visit

P.S. you can see the difference in the greenery season to season. Top picture is from July, bottom is from early April.

Dollar Glen:

For our visit we stayed outside the castle (due to the pandemic) but the area of Dollar Glen and the absolutely beautiful scenery around it is well worth the visit.

national trust scotland list of places to visit

Although I haven’t explored this area as much as I would like and I haven’t visited the visitor centre, I can appreciate the spectacular nature of it’s beauty. I am also so grateful that it is part of the National Nature Preserve and will remain as beautiful for years to come. And, yes, it was as foggy out as this picture looks.

Glencoe, places to visit in Scotland

In Conclusion

How to find awesome places to visit in Scotland? Through the National Trust of Scotland, of course! Their great work preserving so much in Scotland is incredible, and their website is such a great resource for planning a trip across such a variety of interests and finding off the beaten path places to stay. I know I am eyeing a trip to a cottage on a loch and perhaps the North-East Castle trail the next time my mom comes over. What are you dreaming of?

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We want everyone to have a great experience at National Trust for Scotland places. To help plan your visit, here are some of the questions that we are frequently asked by visitors.

I’ve submitted the Contact Us form and been directed here, but my question isn’t answered.

If your question hasn’t been answered by any of the FAQs on our website, and you have submitted your question to us via the Contact Us form, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible by email. Please submit your enquiry to us just once as multiple submissions can add to the backlog and may delay our response time.

What do I need to know about visiting?

Some of our places are currently operating an advance booking system for all visitors. This is to limit the numbers of visitors arriving at a property at any one time so that we avoid overcrowding and ensure physical distancing. Please visit the individual property page to check if you need to book your time slot.

Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code , and take great care to leave no litter behind.

We also ask that you do not park in our car parks overnight. Motor homes and caravans should use official sites, as our rural car parks have no cleaning or waste disposal facilities.

Please keep access roads clear at all times, even if the main car park is full. It is a good idea to have a back-up plan in place in case a property is busy when you arrive.

I would like to make a complaint.

If you have a complaint, please see our complaints policy . We’re sorry that you’ve had a bad experience and we’ll make sure your complaint gets to the right people, quickly.

Does my National Trust for Scotland membership give me access to National Trust places?

Yes. A National Trust for Scotland membership opens up a whole world of heritage for members to explore. We have reciprocal membership agreements with similar organisations around the globe, granting Trust members free or concessionary entry.

Learn more about where you can explore with your membership.

If you’re visiting a reciprocal organisation, it’s recommended that you bring both members’ membership cards if you have a joint or family membership. Without both cards you may either be charged or refused entry.

I am visiting from the USA – can I become a member?

We encourage Americans to purchase a membership through the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA .

An NTSUSA membership provides all the same benefits of joining in Scotland, and it is tax-deductible. In addition, you will be able to continue your connection to Scotland once you return to the US, with invitations to special lectures and events.

I have a disability – does the Trust offer Essential Companion cards?

Everyone is welcome at Trust places. We know that many historic places and the countryside can present difficulties for people with accessibility requirements. We’re constantly reviewing our facilities to ensure that all our visitors can enjoy them. We recommend contacting the place you’re planning to visit in advance for detailed access arrangements.

Visitors with accessibility requirements are not charged a different admission price and any necessary companion(s) is admitted free. We offer Essential Companion cards for our members, making it simpler for a carer or companion to gain free entry. You can request these by getting in touch with us via our Contact Us page . The card is in the name of the member with accessibility requirements, allowing them to choose who they bring. We will offer multiple cards if more than one carer or companion is required. We welcome all assistance dogs.

We have an ongoing programme of accessible content development. Detailed accessibility guides for the most visited Trust places are available on our Accessibility pages as well as links to useful resources.

We’d love you to visit the Euan’s Guide website to review the accessibility of Trust places and tell us (and others) what’s good and where we need to do better.

Can I use my Young Scot card at National Trust for Scotland places?

Yes, you can! Holders of a valid Young Scot card can visit our places for just £1. Please see the terms and conditions for more details.

Please note that this offer is not valid for school group visits. Please see our Learning pages for more information on school visits.

Do you have electric vehicle charging points?

Four of our places currently have electric vehicle charging points:

  • 1 at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum with two charge points
  • 2 at Culzean (each with two charge points)
  • 1 at Brodie Castle with two charge points
  • 1 at Culloden with two charge points

Can I take pictures?

You can take as many pictures as you like, for personal purposes, out in the grounds at all our places. Don’t forget to share them with us on social media and tag the featured place and the National Trust for Scotland #ForTheLoveofScotland!

If you want to fly a drone at any of our sites, you’ll need to contact the Filming Manager, even for our countryside places (see question below for more details). We only allow drone operators with appropriate public liability insurance in place, so please make sure you have that before getting in touch. Please be aware that there are restrictions on drone use at different times of year at some places because of the wildlife that lives and breeds there. Please follow any onsite signs or advice from Trust volunteers and staff relating to restrictions.

We’re also pleased to say that you can take pictures inside these places: Alloa Tower, Bachelors’ Club, The Battle of Bannockburn, Barry Mill, Broughton House, Canna, Culzean Castle, Drum Castle, the Georgian House, Glencoe, the Hill House, Hill of Tarvit Mansion, Holmwood, House of Dun (except Aberdeen Art Gallery loans), Hugh Miller’s Birthplace Cottage & Museum (except Miller House Museum), Inverewe, Mar Lodge Estate, Moirlanich Longhouse, Robert Smail’s Printing Works, Souter Johnnie’s Cottage, the Tenement House and Weaver’s Cottage.

Due to loan conditions or security considerations, internal photography at other places is only allowed if the property manager agrees. To keep our collections safe, we never allow tripods, selfie sticks or flash photography.

Commercial photographers should contact the Trust’s Filming Manager to arrange visits on [email protected] . For more information, see our Filming pages .

Can I buy images from the Trust?

We have had to suspend our sale of images at the moment.

Can I fly a drone at Trust places?

Before flying drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles), you’ll need permission from the Filming Manager. We also ask that you have public liability insurance of at least £2 million in place and have obtained a Flyer ID and Operator ID from the Civil Aviation Authority. All drones should be marked with your Operator ID. For commercial operators, drone usage must be carried out by a pilot accredited by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Trust welcomes drone usage on its properties but there may be areas and times where drones are not allowed, for example: during events, close to protected buildings or during wildlife breeding seasons. These rules are in place to keep wildlife and our buildings safe, and to create an enjoyable visitor experience for everyone.

If you’re planning to bring your drone to a Trust place, you must make sure that you follow any advice about areas where you cannot fly. You must also agree to follow all legal requirements for flying a drone and abide by the Drone and Model Aircraft Code 2019.

To apply to fly a drone on a Trust property, please contact the Trust’s Filming Manager by emailing [email protected] , who will respond within a week.

Please also read our Policy on the use of small unmanned aircraft (drones) at Trust places .

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs are part of the family and we know many people like to bring them on a day out. We love to have dogs at our places – we do ask that they’re kept under proper control, and that their owners clean up after them.

There are some areas where dogs can’t go (unless they’re assistance dogs) including buildings that are open to the public, walled gardens, most cafés and restaurants, and shops. Please check with staff if you’re unsure. Dogs (including assistance dogs) are not allowed on St Kilda.

Out in the countryside where there is livestock, dogs must be kept on a short lead or under close control to keep everyone safe. For more information please visit the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website .

Is there anything I need to bear in mind when visiting the countryside?

Over a million people visit our countryside places each year, whether it involves bagging a Munro or taking the family for a walk in our beautiful woodlands and parklands. Many of our places have waymarked walks, orientation panels and trail leaflets to help you enjoy your visit, plus viewing hides to allow you to get closer to wildlife.

We aim to provide a safe and healthy environment for visitors to our places. At all our sites, the responsibility for the safety of visitors should be seen as one that is shared between the National Trust for Scotland and the visitor. We aim to minimise risks in ways that are compatible with our conservation objectives.

You can help by:

  • Observing all notices and signs during your visit.
  • Following any instructions and advice given by our staff.
  • Ensuring that children are properly supervised at all times.
  • Keeping dogs on a lead or under close control.
  • Wearing appropriate clothing and footwear (this includes wearing insect repellent and covering skin in areas prone to midges and ticks ).
  • Taking great care to minimise the risk of starting wildfires .

I have a question about an online order.

If you have any queries related to online orders, please email the team at [email protected] and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Can I use a metal detector on your land?

We only allow metal detecting when the activity is part of a programme agreed and managed by our Archaeology team. We do run regular events involving the public in digs and other research work.

I’m hoping to see a specific item or display – will it be on loan?

The Trust does loan items to other exhibitions or venues from time to time. When we do, we try our best to do this when most of our places are closed. If you’re planning a visit to see a specific item, we suggest contacting the place you’re going to visit to check if it’s being loaned out from its usual home.

Can I hold my wedding, party or corporate event at a Trust place?

Yes! The Trust hosts hundreds of events every year, from small, intimate weddings and parties to half-marathons with hundreds of participants. If you’re interested in using a Trust location as a venue, contact the property manager early in the planning process, to discuss details and to help your event run smoothly.

If you’re planning an indoor event, our historic buildings are a great choice – you can find out more on our Venue Hire pages . Our teams will work with you to create your perfect event, and guide you through any considerations of using a historic location.

If you’re planning an outdoor event at a Trust place, or a large-scale event that passes through Trust land, please contact the relevant Trust place as soon as possible.

For outdoor events, we need to know: how many people would be attending; whether the relevant licences have been secured from the local authority; whether you plan to put up any temporary structures (parking, signs, toilets, etc); and information about your health and safety provision and insurance cover. Once we have this information, we’ll be able to decide whether we can host your event and whether there’ll be a charge.

As an apolitical charity, we do not permit any political events, whatever their purpose.

Can I scatter my relative’s ashes at their favourite spot?

We understand that many people are very attached to certain special places and may request that their ashes are scattered there after death. Please contact the relevant Trust place in the first instance. Staff will be able to suggest locations and help you choose a suitable time, particularly at busy locations, when there will be fewer visitors around. Ashes cannot be buried at Trust places and we respectfully ask that you do not leave any permanent memorials or flowers wrapped in paper or cellophane, plastic wreathes or any other materials.

Can I remember a loved one by installing a bench or a plaque?

We appreciate that you would like to remember family and friends by donating a bench or installing a plaque in their memory. Unfortunately, at this time we don’t have a requirement for benches. As a charity, our mission is to protect the places and spaces in our care – we don’t allow plaques to be placed on items, buildings or landscapes that we look after as we want to preserve them and their natural beauty for future generations.

We offer two special ways of remembering a loved one, through our Dedicate a Tree and Dedicate a View products.

Find out more about making a dedication

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