Scotland with Kids Itinerary – I’ve lived in Scotland since I was two, and I have children aged 7 and 6. This itinerary features bucketlist destinations people want to visit with their family, plus child-friendly suggestions that are fun and maybe aren’t so obvious. I’ve tried to limit long drives and provide options to choose between. Enjoy your planning. *Contains affiliate links
The Scottish capital has a lot to offer, so allow 2 days at least. We’re talking castles and zoos, farms, monuments, hikes and boat trips. I have a full list of where to go and a self-catering option in a great location, so prioritise what suits your family, and book the relevant tickets (many of which are free). Our highlights were the Royal Botanic Gardens, the children adored Edinburgh Zoo, and we all loved briefly escaping the city to sail to Inchcolm Island from South Queensferry.
You choose, or mix them up i.e Falkirk is v close to Stirling. Falkirk offers the iconic Kelpies sculptures, plus the famous Falkirk Wheel (a world engineering first, which offers boat trips on the canal, and it’s way more interesting than it sounds). We found a lovely family friendly restaurant in Falkirk called The Boardwalk, and there’s the curious Pineapple sculpture to see as well.
Stirling boasts the Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle and the epic Blair Drummond Safari Park complete with lions, giraffes, a drive through monkey safari and a boat trip to chimp island. It’s fantastic and very child friendly. For accommodation near the park browse here.
St Andrews has its beautiful beach (as featured in Chariots of Fire), the stunning cathedral ruins, an aquarium, a little sightseeing train, and lots of independent shops and cafes (including the ice cream parlour Janetta’s). We loved the Fairmont as a smart hotel that kids love – games room, swimming pool and several restaurants to choose between. Check for prices here.
You could easily spend 3 days here if you wished. Landmark is a fantastic outdoor adventure park for kids. You can visit Aviemore’s free-range reindeer herd, puff away on a steam railway, explore the Highland Open Air Folk Museum, which has lots of croft houses to step inside featuring actors in character, so it’s engaging and memorable. And don’t forget the polar bears and all the animals at the Highland Wildlife Park. Read a full Aviemore write up here. The Macdonald Aviemore Resort is low key, but the pool is a huge selling point.
My kids genuinely loved looking for Nessie. We found a great cruise that has sonar for serious monster hunters, an activity pack and bag for children, and a stop at the atmospheric ruins of Urquhart Castle. A fantastic day out. Stay either by the loch (Whitebridge Hotel is a relaxed family friendly hotel on the south side of the loch) or opt for urban living in the city of Inverness. Kingsmill Hotel and pool in Inverness is recommended, although I haven’t stayed in this hotel myself as we went for the self-catering options at the Mansley Highland Apartments.
Personally I’d recommend Orkney, sailing from Scrabster (with the car) then returning to Aberdeen. It’s a magical, transporting place with history and archaeology you can reach out and touch. Fantastic beaches and wildlife too. Read up on the ferry journey here, and discover what to do here. You’ll need three days to cover this, so it does take time, and isn’t the cheapest option but it’s unique. Check out some hotel ideas here.
Others have Skye on their must-do list. We loved our time here, and especially the walk to the Fairy Pools, but it’s a very popular destination. On the west coast you could also consider Mull, Arran or Bute. Beachlovers should seriously consider Harris and Lewis. If you love a family cycle then a day trip to the easy-to-reach island of Cumbrae, to cycle its ten mile circumference, is great family fun.
Return to the starting point of Edinburgh. If you have a spare day, then choose a pitstop on the way back. From Orkney/Aberdeen I’d recommend Stonehaven with its stunning Dunnottar Castle and Art Deco outdoor heated swimming pool. St Andrews (already mentioned above) is another great option. Or hit Aberdeenshire’s castle trail.
From Skye or Aberdeen, Pitlochry in Perthshire is a good base for a day exploring. We stayed at Scotland’s Spa Hotel with swimming pool when attending Enchanted Forest – if you’re visiting in the autumn do not miss this illuminating forest walk! The Moness Resort is a very reasonable hotel with a pool, near Aberfeldy in Perthshire. Or indulge at Gleneagles, Perthshire – five star luxury with free child care. Talking of free childcare, the Crieff Hydro in Perthshire also provides free inhouse childcare. Here is a list of more things to get up to in Perthshire. From Skye you could also consider spending a day in the Trossachs near Loch Lomond or Luss.
If you’re staying in Scotland for two weeks I’d also recommend New Lanark, a historical mill town with a curious ghost ride, a Victorian school room and an easy walk to a waterfall. Or Dumfries and Galloway, which is surprisingly full of child friendly attractions, from a hands on chocolate factory and ice cream farm, to Moat Brae (Scotland’s National Centre for Children’s Literature), the magical house that inspired JM Barrie to write Peter Pan. The city of Glasgow is another obvious choice 🙂
I hope we’ve offered some clear structure plus lots of flexibility and extra suggestions so you can pull together a trip that suits your family, your interests and your needs. Do browse this East Coast itinerary for more info about Edinburgh and St Andrews etc. Remember to pack waterproofs, hiking boots and suncream! You may need all of it on the same day.
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