The Most Visited Free Tourist Attractions In Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is a free attraction in Edinburgh. Editorial credit: Christian Mueller /
The National Museum of Scotland is a free attraction in Edinburgh. Editorial credit: Christian Mueller /

Scotland is famous for its natural splendor and rich cultural heritage. As such, it is visited by tourists from all corners of the globe. Scotland’s tourist attractions include palaces, museums, galleries, gardens, lakes, mountains, and more. Some of these attractions are free of charge and hence highly popular among tourists. They are as follows:

9. National Museum of Scotland -

Located in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland is the most visited free attraction in Scotland. The museum hosts collections related to the history and culture of the region. The building of this museum is connected to that of the Royal Museum. The latter hosts other types of collections related to world cultures, natural history, science, etc. The construction of the museum was started in 1861 and completed by 1998. It was inaugurated in 1866. Some of the most notable exhibits here include the exhibitions featuring ancient Egypt, the Millennium Clock, etc.

8. Scottish National Gallery -

This Scottish attraction is located on The Mound in Edinburgh. The gallery was designed by William Henry Playfair and opened to the public in 1859. The exhibits feature fine art from Scotland and the rest of world dating from the Renaissance period to the beginning years of the 20th-century. Works by notable Scottish artists like Sir Henry Raeburn and Alexander Nasmyth are displayed here. Works of English painters like, for example, water colors by Turner and Constable's Dedham Vale. The gallery’s rich collection of art attracts art and culture lovers from across the globe to the building.

7. Loch Lomond Shores -

Surrounded by hills, the Loch Lomond is a beautiful freshwater Scottish loch that spans across Highland Boundary Fault. A part of the lake is located within the boundaries of a Scottish National Park. The loch has a length of 36.4 km and a width of 1 to 8 km. The maximum depth of the loch is 502 ft. It serves as a popular leisure destination for tourists visiting Scotland.

6. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum -

This museum and art gallery is located in Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland on the River Kelvin’s banks. It is the fourth most visited free tourist attraction in Scotland. The site features 22 themed galleries exhibiting around 8000 objects. The museum was closed for three years for refurbishment prior to its reopening in 2006. Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated the renovated museum.

5. Riverside Museum -

The Riverside Museum is located at Pointhouse Quay in Glasgow, Scotland. It serves as the Glasgow Museum of Transport’s current location and exhibits the collections of this museum. Some of the most notable exhibits include the oldest surviving pedal cycle, Scottish-built cars, and trucks, 250 ship models, etc.

4. St Giles’ Cathedral -

The St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh is part of the Church of Scotland and its main worship place. The crown steeple of the Cathedral stands out prominently in the skyline of the Edinburgh city. The church was built in the second half of the 14th century. Major renovations were made to the building in the 19th century. The Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles who was extremely popular during the Middle Ages. Today, the church is one of biggest free tourist attractions in Scotland.

3. Gretna Green Famous Blacksmith’s Shop -

This free attraction of Scotland is a unique one. Gretna Green is a Scottish village that was famous for runaway weddings. It is located close to the mouth of the River Esk in Dumfriesshire. The village serves as one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world. In the past, young couples from across the borders would elope together to this village to get married. The centuries-old tradition was supported by the relatively liberal marriage laws of Scotland. At that time, the village’s blacksmiths acted as "anvil priests.” One of them, Richard Rennison, performed 5,147 ceremonies. The shops of these blacksmiths thus became popular tourist destinations in later years.

2. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh -

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is the eighth most visited free attraction in Scotland. It was established in 1670 with the aim of growing medicinal plants. Currently, RBGE’s collection features over 13,302 living plant species and 3 million preserved specimens.

1. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art -

This art gallery is part of the National Galleries of Scotland. It is based in Edinburgh and houses a collection of modern and contemporary art. The artworks exhibited in the gallery dates from about 1900 to the current date. The gallery features over 6000 sculptures, paintings, prints, sketches, video work, etc.


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