23 January 2020
Enjoy exploring Scotland with our guide to ten top visitor attractions you can easily reach by public transport.
We’ve teamed up with Transform Scotland to present these great ideas on history-themed days out, all of which you can get to by bus and train.
1. Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
This 18th-century castle and country park makes for a perfect day out, combining history, landscapes and beautiful coastal views.
Maybole, Ayrshire KA19 8LE; website.
Nearest railway station: Maybole, near Ayr
Getting here: There is a bus stop opposite Maybole train station, with a sign advising which buses go to Culzean Castle- at the time of writing, the No.60 Stagecoach service. Double check with the bus driver as not all buses pass the castle. The journey should take around 20 minutes and the castle is a ten-minute walk from the nearest bus stop.
2. Falkirk Wheel, central Scotland
This rotating boat lift on the Union Canal attracts visitors from around the world, keen to see an engineering marvel and learn about the history of the canal and the industries that it served.
Falkirk FK1 4RS; website.
Nearest railway station: Falkirk High (with trains from Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street)
Getting here: You can walk a 2.5-mile route along the towpath from the train station (signed from the station’s west-bound platform) or take a First Bus bus no 6, 7 or 8 from outside the station.
3. Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Explore this historic botanic gardens and nearby restored Kibble Palace. There are 50 acres of grounds to explore, from tropical plants in the glasshouses to extensive temperate plant collections. Follow the self-led heritage trail to explore thirty points of interest along the Kelvin walkway and the arbotoreum.
780 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0UE; website:
Nearest railway stations: Glasgow Central, Partick
Getting here: Take bus 6 or 6a from Glasgow Central, a 20-minute ride; or bus 6, 8 or 90 from Partick
4. Gretna Green, Dumfries & Galloway
This historic village has a unique place in the history of Scotland due to its proximity to the border with England. Since the 1745 Marriage Act which prevented couples from England and Wales from marrying under the age of 21 without parental consent, Gretna became a popular wedding destination for couples crossing the border to marry. The village’s attractions tell the story of Gretna’s place in history and it continues to be a popular wedding venue.
Nearest railway station: Gretna Green (a short walk from the village centre)
5. Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow
Enjoy one of Europe’s greatest art collections at this free of charge attraction. There are 22 themed galleries containing more than 8,000 objects including items of natural history, art, armour and local history.
Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AG; website.
Nearest railway station: Glasgow Central
Getting here: Take the no 2 or 77 First Bus service from outside Glasgow Central station, a 20-minute journey.
6. Riverside Museum, Glasgow
A popular transport museum with a fine collection of cars, motorbikes, model ships, trains and locomotives. Walk through Glasgow’s re-created streets, climb aboard a real bus or tram and explore the city’s rich maritime history.
Pointhouse Place, Glasgow G3 8RS; website.
Nearest railway station: Partick
Getting here: City bus 100 stops outside Partick Station or you can follow the signposted walking routes the 0.6miles from the railway station to the museum.
7. Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh
See the royal yacht that travelled a million miles around the world, taking the British royal family to far-flung destinations. Explore five decks and see the state apartments, engine room, admiral’s quarters and the bridge, experiencing life on board a ship that has welcomed the likes of Liz Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Sir Winston Churchill.
Ocean Drive, Leith EH6 6JJ; website.
Nearest railway station: Edinburgh Waverley
Getting here: Take a Lothian Bus no 7, 14 or 22 from Princes Street, a 20-minute journey.
8. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayrshire
See the cottage where Robert Burns was born, then explore the museum that tells the story of his life and work, and the historic landscape that inspired his literary works.
Murdoch’s Lone, Alloway KA7 4PQ; website.
Nearest railway station: Ayr
Getting here: you can take the No.58 bus, getting off on Doonholm Road, cut through a housing estate past the Cricket Club, approx 5/7 minutes walk. Or on the No. 361 you must get off at Burns Cottage and walk the rest to the Museum another 5/7 minutes along the Poet's Path.
9. Stirling Castle, Stirling
Stirling is one of Scotland’s best-loved and most visited castles, with strong connections to the royal Stewarts. Explore the restored palace and discover why this castle was a favourite retreat for monarchs.
Upper Castle Hill, Old Town, Stirling FK8 1EJ; website.
Nearest railway station: Stirling
Getting here: The castle is around half a mile from the train station but you can catch the park and ride service P2 from outside the station, a four-minute bus journey.
10. Urquhart Castle, Highlands
On the banks of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle has more than 1,000 years of history and played a key role in the wars of Scottish independence. The medieval ruins offer great panoramos of the loch and surrounding countryside.
By Drumnadrochit, near Inverness IV63 6XJ; website.
Nearest railway station: Inverness
Getting here: Catch Stagecoach service 919 or 917 from the train station, a 35-minute bus journey.
Thanks to Transform Scotland for their assistance in the preparation of this article. For cycle and walking instructions for each location, check the Car-Free Tourism project website.