Attractions and Places to Visit in Southern Scotland

Forming the gateway between Scotland and England the southern Scottish Borders area has been the setting for many bloody conflicts through the centuries. Castle ruins and majestic abbeys can be found littered across the county, signifying the areas unruly past. During these border wars the Scottish would march against the English to the tune of the bagpipes, which boosted moral so much that it was the only musical instrument in history to be banned as a weapon of war.


Abbotsford front view

Image by Clive Nicholson - CCL

The former home of Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish nationalist, poet and novelist. His personal effects are on display in the house.

Scott's most important achievement was saving the tartan, which had been outlawed to keep the unruly highlanders in place. In 1822 when George IV visited Edinburgh, Sir Walter persuaded him to wear a kilt, thereby enabling the Scottish people to wear their national dress once more.

Opening times: House and gardens open to the public daily, see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: Abbotsford, Melrose, Roxburghshire, TD6 9BQ - Tel: 01896 752043

Annan Museum

Fun child-friendly museum with a permanent exhibition on the history of Annan and a range of temporary exhibitions, local art, dinosaurs and toys.

Opening times: Mar - Nov: Mon to Sat, 11am - 4pm, Dec - Mar: by appointment - Admission Free
Location: Bank Street, Annan DG12 6AA - Tel: 01461 201384 - Website

Barstobrick Visitors Centre

Neilson's Coffee Shop, Farm Shop, Heritage, Wildlife walks, Red Kite trail. Farm tours. Fishing, Cycling, Horses, Family games and play area.

Location: Ringford, Castle Douglas DG7 2AT - Tel: 01557 820112 - Website

Bladnoch Distillery

Scotland's most southerly working distillery nestles on the green banks of the River Bladnoch. The Distillery Shop offers a great selection of Bladnoch Whisky and a huge variety of Scottish gifts, glassware, jewellery and woollens. Scenic location and beautiful river walks. Gardens. Picnic area.

Location: Bladnoch, Wigtown DG8 9AB - T: 01988 402605 - Website

Bruce's Stone

The National Trust for Scotland. This granite boulder on Moss Rapploch marks the spot where Bruce defeated the English in 1307. It is said that Bruce rested against this stone after the battle.

Opening times: all year - Admission Free
Location: A712, 6 miles west of New Galloway - Website

Broughton House and Gardens

Eighteenth century town house in the town centre, where the renowned artist EA Hornel lived, features art gallery, studio, library, exhibition room and shop overlooking the fascinating and peaceful garden, designed with Japanese influences. Run by The National Trust for Scotland.

Opening times: times vary, see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: 12 High Street, Kirkcudbright - T: 0844 4932246

Castle of St John

Recently renovated tower-house in the centre of Stranraer which over the years has been used as a family house, a military garrison and a prison. Superb views from the castle's roof. Prison cell reconstruction. Family activities.

Opening times: Easter to Sept: Mon to Sat 10am to 5pm - Admission Free
Location: 55 George Street, Stranraer, Wigtownshire DG9 7JEJ - T: 01776 705088 - Website

Castle Kennedy and Gardens

Historic, beautiful landscaped gardens set between two large natural lochs with. Changing landscape through the seasons, with snowdrops, banks of spring flowers, magnificent rhododendron and magnolia displays, rare plants, a walled garden and the romantic ruined Castle Kennedy.
• Charming tearoom. Champion trees. Gift shop.
• Plant centre. Designed walks. Wildlife spotting.
• Seasonal children's activities' Garden tours (prebooked).

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: Stair Estates, Sheuchan, Castle Kennedy, Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, DG9 8SL - Tel: 01776 702 024

Caerlaverlock Castle

With its moat and battlements, Caerlaverlock Castle is the epitome of the medieval stronghold. Exhibition, shop, nature trail and more.

Opening times: daily: 9:30am to 5:30pm - Admission Free
Location: By Glencaple. B725 8 miles south east of Dumfries - T: 01387 770244 - Website

Cardoness Castle

A well-preserved six storey tower house of the McCullochs dating back to the 15th century. Its battlements command excellent views over fleet Bay. Look out for the splendid fireplaces in the great and upper halls.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: A75, 1 mile south west of Gatehouse of fleet - T: 01557 814427 - Website

Creetown Heritage Museum

Well displayed local history of the village using photographs, artifacts, audio and video presentations together with activities for children. The museum is divided into several areas, each showing a part of Creetown's history.

Opening times: times vary see Website for details - Admission Charge
Location: 91 St John Street, Creetown, Newton Stewart DG8 7JE - T: 01671 820471 -

Creetown Gem Rock Museum

The award winning Gem Rock Museum is a unique world-class, world-wide collection of gemstones, crystals, minerals and fossils. Amazing crystal cave. It also has a quality gift shop, working silversmith and a tearoom serving home baking.

Opening times: Feb to Dec, daily, from 10am - Admission Charge
Location: Chain Road, Creetown, Wigtownshire DG8 7HJ - T: 01671 820357 - Website

Cream O' Galloway

Visit the home of Cream 0' Galloway. Meet the dairy cows on the farm tour. Work up an appetite in the fabulous adventure playground - great for both adults and children. Luxury ice cream. Seasonal wildlife events. Dog walks. Adventure playground. Cycle tracks, Family fun and Nature trails.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: Rainton, Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbrightshire DG7 2DR - T: 01557 814 040

Dryburgh Abbey

Founded in 1150, in a secluded spot by the river tweed. This peaceful spot is one of the most attractive settings of all the abbeys in Scotland. Finally destroyed by border warfare, the Dryburgh is the final resting place of Sir Walter Scott and Earl Haig.

Opening times: times vary see website - Admission Charge
Location: Dryburgh, Roxburghshire - Tel: 01835 822381

Dundrennan Abbey

Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night on Scottish soil in this Cistercian abbey founded by David I. Built in 12th century, the abbey stands in a small, secluded valley; its remoteness in keeping with the strict rules of the Cistercian order.

Opening times: daily from 9.30am - Admission Charge
Location: Dundrennan, A711,6.5 miles south east of Kirkcudbright - T: 01557 500262 - Website

Devils Porridge Museum

This amazing exhibition tells the story of 30,000 people who came to the Solway to make munitions in WWI in HM Factory Gretna, called "the greatest factory on Earth!". Full of humour. As seen on BBC Coast. Experience the trenches. Anderson Shelter exhibit. Fantastic Forties' house.

Opening times: Apr to Oct: Mon - Sat 10am - 4pm, Sun 12 noon - 4pm - Admission Charge
Location: Butterdales Road, Annan DG12 6TQ - T: 01461 700021 - Website

Ellisland Farm

Robert Burns former home from 1788 to 1791. The farmhouse and steading reflect the poet's farming and literary life. Riverside walk, farming exhibits, heritage trail. Great Family day out.

Opening times: Apr to Sep: 5pm (Mon - Sat) 2-5pm (Sun); Oct to Mar: (closed Sun, Mon) 10am - 4pm (Tues - Sat) - Admission Charge
Location: 35 Buccleuch Street Dumfries DGl - T: 01387 254424 - Website

Glenluce Abbey

Founded by Roland, Earl of Galloway in 1192, the ruins of this Cistercian house occupy a site of great natural beauty. Visited by Robert the Bruce and James IV. Mary Queen of Scots stayed here during a royal progress.

Opening times: Apr to Sept: 9.30am - 5.30pm daily - Admission Charge
Location: Off A75, 2 miles north west of Glenluce - T: 01581 300541 - Website

Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park

The wild animal conservation centre of Southern Scotland. A varied collection of over 150 animals from all over the world can be seen within the peaceful and natural settings of the woodland. Close Animal Encounters. Children's play area. Animal adoption available. Cafe. Nature trail. Gift shop. Free car park. Picnic area.

Opening times: Feb to Nov: 10am - 5pm (summer 6pm) - Admission Charge
Location: Lochfergus Plantation, Kirkcudbright DG6 4XX - T: 01557 331645 - Website

Jedburgh Abbey

Doorway details at Jedburgh

One of the four great abbeys in Scotland. Built by King David I in the 12th-c. The abbey has witnessed many battles over the centuries, right up until the time of the reformation. Run by augustinian monks called black canons due to their black robes. Due to its size and grandeur the abbey became a frequent target for English troops.


Opening times: times vary see website - Admission Charge
Location: Abbey Bridge End, Jedburgh TD8 6JQ - Tel: 01835 863925

Hidden Treasures Museum of Lead Mining

Experience the thrill of an underground tour of an historic lead mine, period cottages and miners' library. Discover rocks, minerals and local artifacts in the museum. Period cottages. Fully guided tours. Gold panning. Visitor centre.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: Wanlockhead, Lanarkshire ML12 6UT - T: 0165974387

John Paul Jones Museum

Cottage where John Paul Jones "The Father of the American Navy" was born in 1747.
• Museum. Shop' Audio visual. Refreshments.
• Many interesting exhibits. Attractive grounds.
• Picnic facilities. Certified Caravan Club location.

Opening times: Apr to Sept: Tues - Sun 10am - 5pm; Jul to Aug Mon - Sun 10am - 5pm - Admission Charge
Location: Arbigland, Kirkbean - T: 01387 880613 - Website

Kelso Abbey

The ruins of this great abbey stand within the village of Kelso. Scott described Kelso as 'the most beautiful if not the most romantic village in Scotland'. Built at the point where the Rivers Tweed and Teviot meet. The Abbey was once the largest and richest of the border Abbeys. Founded in 1128 and destroyed during border raids.

On the outskirts sits Floors Castle, a stately home of giant proportions, which is said to be the largest inhabited dwelling in Britain. Floors was used as a setting for the movie Greystoke The Legend Of Tarzan.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: Bridge St, Kelso TD5 7JD - Tel: 0131 668 8600 - Website

Logan Botanic Garden

Discover 'Scotland's most exotic garden' famed for its spectacular collection of southern hemisphere plants which flourish under the influence of the Gulf Stream - you'll find it hard to believe you're still in Scotland!
• Over 1800 species. Famous tender collections.
• Backdrop to 'The Wickerman'.
• Plant sales, shop & cafe.
• Regular family events. Digital audio guides.

Opening times: Mar to Oct: 10am - 5pm daily; Feb 10am - 4pm Sun - Admission Charge
Location: Port Logan, Stranraer DG9 9ND - T: 01776 860231 - Website

Laggan Outdoor Centre

Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre offers first class activities for all the family. Choose from archery, mountain boarding and clay pigeon shooting or grass sledging, mountain balling and reverse steer Jeep driving.
• Open all year. Indoor and outdoor
• Something for everyone
• Stunning coastal location
• First class instruction

Opening times: All year, 10am - 5pm. Booking is essential - Admission Charge
Location: Gatehouse of Fleet, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway DG7 2ES - T: 01557 840217 - Website

Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway

A unique tourist train link between Leadhills and Glengonnar Halt (just outside Wanlockhead). Passing through old mine workings and Largest Scheduled Ancient Monument. Transversing Britain's highest adhesion railway summit.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: The Station, Station Road, Leadhills, Nr Biggar ML12 6XP - T: 01555 662171

Melrose Abbey

Three miles south-east of Melrose stands the ruins of a Cistercian monastery founded in 1136, one of the greatest abbeys in Scotland.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: Abbey St, Melrose TD6 9LG - Tel: 01896 822562 - Website

Moffat Museum

Ground floor: Geology, temporary exhibitions, history of Moffat portrayed by artifacts and video. Top floor: railway, hydro, spa, religion, farming, local trades, famous people, education, genealogy of the "Moffats" and "Johnstone" families.

Opening times: times vary - Admission Free
Location: The Neuk, Church Gate, Mollat DG109EG - T: 01683 220868

Maclellan's Castle

Built in 1577 using stone from an adjoining ruined monastery by the then Provost, Sir Thomas MacLellan, this castellated town house has fine architectural details.

Opening times: Apr to Sept: 9.30am - 5.30pm daily - Admission Charge
Location: Kirkcudbright, A711 - T: 01557 331856 - Website

Mabie Farm Park

Fun for all the family with a large indoor play area, plus dirt buggies, boats, astroslide grass sledging. Lots of animals, tearoom serving snacks and a large Toy Shop. • Animal feeding. Climbing wall. Donkey rides.
• Ride on tractors, Quad bikes
• Boating pond
• Tearoom & shop

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: Burnside Farm, Mabie, Dumfries DG2 8EZ - T: 01387 259666

New Abbey Cornmill

This carefully renovated, 18th century, water-powered oatmeal mill is in full working order and regular demonstrations are given for visitors in the summer.

Opening times: Apr to Sept, 9.30am - 5.30pm daily; Oct to Mar, Mon - Wed, Sat - Sun, 9.30am - 4.30pm - Admission Charge
Location: New Abbey, A710 7 miles south of Dumfries - T: 01387 850260 - Website

Newton Stewart Museum

This museum has a considerable variety of fascinating items in its collections, including: nursery, tools, dairy, kitchen, smithy, textiles, local photographs, and other aspects of social history from the past 250 years in the CreeValley.

Opening times: Easter to Oct, Mon - Sat 2-5pm; Sun (Jul- Sept) 2-5pm, Mon - Fri (Jul - Aug) 10am - 12.30pm - Admission Charge
Location: York Road, Wigtownshire DG8 6HH - T: 01671 402472 - Website

Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum

The town's fine 18th-c tolbooth with displays on Sanquhar knitting, mines, miners, local literature, Sanquhar jail, archaeology and community life. Museum activity trail. Free audio visual presentation.

Opening times: Apr to Sept: Tues - Sat 10am-1pm, 2pm-5pm, Sun 2-5pm - Admission Free
Location: High Street, Sanquhar - T: 01387 253374 - Website

Stewartry Museum

Opened in 1892 the museum has a collection of remarkable range and quality, reflecting the human and natural history of the Stewartry. The social history collections of the 18th-c and 19th-c are particularly important.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Free
Location: St Mary Street, Kirkcudbright DG6 4AQ - T: 01557 331643 - Website

Stranraer Museum

The story of Wigtownshire from earliest times, Archaeology, local history and farming plus a section on Polar pioneer Admiral Sir John Ross. Temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

Opening times: All year: Mon - Fri, 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm - Admission Free
Location: 55 George Street, Stranraer DG9 7JP - T: 01776 705088 - Website

St Ninian's Cave

Traditionally associated with St Ninian. Early crosses found here are housed at Whithorn Museum, but weathered crosses carved on the walls of the cave are still visible.

Opening times: all year - Admission Free
Location: 3 miles south of Whithorn - T: 01316 688800 - Website

Sulwath Brewery

Award winning brewery. A small family firm where personal attention and service is assured. Traditionally brewed natural ales and award winning beers, with no concentrates, colouring or extract. Warm, friendly atmosphere.

Opening times: All year 10am - 5pm, Mon - Sat - Admission Free
Location: The Brewery, 209 King Street, Castle Douglas DG7 1DT - T: 01556 504525 - Website

Sweetheart Abbey

Splendid remains of a Cistercian abbey founded by Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway, in memory of her husband John Balliol.

Opening times: Apr to Sept, daily, 9.30am - 5.30pm; Oct to Mar, Mon - Wed, Sat - Sun, 9.30am - 4.30pm - Admission Charge
Location: New Abbey, A710, 7 miles south of Dumfries - T: 01387 850397 - Website

Threave Castle

Massive tower, on an island in the River Dee, built by Archibald the Grim in the late 14th-c. Later the stronghold of the Black Douglases. Ring the bell and the custodian will come to ferry you over.

Opening times: Apr to Oct - Admission Charge
Location: off the A75, 3 miles west of Castle Douglas - T: 0771 122 3101 - Website

Threave Garden

Magnificent 64 acre garden for all seasons, with interest all year round. Renowned for daffodils in spring, its impressive walled garden and stunning herbaceous borders. See main rooms of Threave House and explore wider estate with trails, bird hides and wildfowl sanctuary. Visitor centre with shop and restaurant.

Opening times: time vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: off the A75, 1 mile west of Castle Douglas DG7 1RX - T: 08444 932245 - Website

Thomas Carlyle's Birth Place

Birthplace of the great writer, historian, and one of Britain's most influential thinkers. furnished to reflect domestic life around 1795, including a collection of portraits and belongings.

Opening times: Apr to Sept: fri - Mon, 1-5pm - Admission Charge
Location: The Arched House, Ecclefechan DG11 3DG - T: 0844 493 2247 - Website

Tolbooth Art Centre

Set in one of Kirkcudbright's historic buildings, the centre tells the story of the Kirkcudbright Artists Colony (1880 to present) through an audio-visual show and permanent display of paintings. Also a programme of temporary art.

Opening times: times vary see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: High Street, Kirkcudbright DG6 4Jl - T: 01557 331556 - Website

The Whithorn Story

Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims. Discover hidden Whithorn, the place associated with Scotland's first saint, Ninian. Archaeologists have revealed evidence of churches, coins, jewellery, pottery, the famous Whithorn crosier and school of carved crosses. Internationally important site. Children's activities.

Opening times: Apr to October: Mon-Sun 10.30am - 5pm - Admission Charge
Location: 45-47 George Street, Whithorn DG8 8NS - T: 01988 500508 - Website

Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve

Amazing panoramic views over the Wigtown Bay local Nature Reserve. Information about the LNR and the local environment combined with the "Ospreys are back in Galloway" project.

Opening times: all year, daily from 10am - Admission Free
Location: County Buildings, Wigtown - T: 01988 402673

World Famous Blacksmith Shop

Romance, scandal, intrigue. The Gretna Green Story unfolds in an exhibition and is told through audio and visual displays. Explore the shopping features, revealing a unique collection of clothing for all occasions, jewellery, gifts, whiskies and luxury hampers. Restaurant and play park.

Opening times: daily, all year round from 9am (closed Xmas) - Admission Charge
Location: Gretna Green DG16 5EA - T: 01461 338441 - Website


Scotland Map
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Towns and Villages in South Scotland

Attractions in Central Scotland

Camera Obscura (Edinburgh) | Canongate Tolbooth | Edinburgh Castle | High Kirk of Edinburgh | Holyrood Abbey & Royal Palace

Attractions in South Highlands

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse | Ardnamurchan Natural History Centre | Clan Cameron Museum | Glencoe Folk Museum | Glenfinnan Monument | Glencoe Visitor Centre | Glen Nevis Visitor Centre | Land Sea & Island Centre | Lime Tree An Ealdhain Gallery | Mallaig Heritage Centre | Nevis Gondola | The Sunart Centre | Treasures of The Earth | West Highland Museum

Attractions in North Highlands

Attadale Gardens | Assynt | Beinn Eighe | Caithness Horizons | Clan Gunn | Clynelish Distillery | Dalmore Distillery | Dingwall Museum | Dunrobin Castle | Gairloch Museum | Glen Ord Distillery | Museum of Childhood | Historylinks | Inverewe Gardens | Loch Ewe Distillery | Castle of Mey | Timespan Museum | Ullapool Museum

Attractions in North East Scotland

Braemar Castle | Atholl Museum | Blair Castle | Blair Atholl Watermill | Cairngorm Railway | Grantown Museum | Cairngorm Reindeer Centre | Corgarff Castle | Dalwhinnie Distillery Visitor Centre | Glenlivet Estate | Glenmore Forest Park | Highland Folk Museum | Highland Wildlife Park | Landmark Forest | Rothiemurchus Centre | Strathspey Railway | Tomintoul Museum

Please note that the above information was accurate at the time this page was last updated. This information is subject to change at any time (opening times in particular), therefore if you plan on visiting any of the above attractions, please check the owner's website first or phone them for the latest details.


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