01/03/2019 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

New figures reveal most visited Historic Environment Scotland sites in 2018


New visitor figures released by Historic Environment Scotland show a five percent increase on 2017 - and reveal which sites were most popular with visitors.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has reported an increase in footfall with 5,229,049 people visiting its staffed sites in 2018 – a five percent increase from the previous year.

The most-visited staffed site was Edinburgh Castle with 2,111,578 visitors. Stirling Castle was the second-top visited site with 605,241 visitors, followed by 518,195 visitors to Urquhart Castle. This is the first time Urquhart Castle has welcomed over 500,000 visitors in a single year.

Sites featured in the TV show Outlander have continued to see record-breaking numbers, with Blackness Castle reaching 50,000 visitors for the first time – an increase of 36% from the previous year, while Doune Castle and Craigmillar Castle have also experienced an increase in visitor numbers.

HES also had a record number of memberships in 2018 which peaked at over 200,000 – up from 5% in 2017.

Stephen Duncan, Director for Commercial and Tourism, said: “2018 was another fantastic year for Scotland’s heritage sites, with visitor numbers continuing to grow.

“As well as the ‘Outlander effect’ bringing international visitors to Scotland to explore its rich history, we have also seen an increase in the number of Scots visiting heritage sites as evidenced in our highest ever membership figure. With Scotland being used as a filming location for productions such as Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots, we hope visitors will continue to be inspired to explore the history of the sites they see on the big screen.

2018 stats

Site Visitor numbers % increase Year on Year
Edinburgh Castle 2,111,578 2%
Stirling Castle  605,241 7%
Urquhart Castle 518,195 6%
Glasgow Cathedral 482,783 24%
Doune Castle 142,091 14%
Skara Brae 111,921 2%
Linlithgow Palace 94,718 9%
St Andrew’s Castle 91,302 1%
Fort George 71,906 -5%
Iona Abbey 64,183 -3%


QUICK LINK: The best Scottish castles to visit in Springtime


(images: Doune Castle copyright Andrew Shiva, Skara Brae, solomyr

Back to Exploring Scotland

01/03/2019 Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Exploring Scotland

Mary Queen of Scots statue has a new home in Linlithgow Museum

A well-loved statue of Mary Queen of Scots that stood in a Linlithgow garden has been moved to its new home ...

Video preview: Discovering John Knox's Edinburgh

Join 'Castle Hunter' David Weinczok on our exclusive tour into John Knox's Edinburgh. ...

Scotland the Best: new blog from Peter Irvine

Bestselling author Peter Irvine shares his thoughts on how Scotland's history should be presented to the ...

When is the best time of year to visit Scotland?

What is the best season to plan a trip to Scotland? Our travel guide takes you through the four seasons, ...

Other Exploring Scotland in this category

Iconic landmarks to reach a TV audience of 36 million in new 'Scotland is Now' TV campaign

Stunning images of well-loved visitor attractions including the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Calanais Standing ...

£52,000 funding allocated through Scottish Clan Event Fund for 2019 Scotland-wide events

A total of 14 clan and community events across nine local authorities will receive a share of funding through ...

Ten facts you (probably) didn't know about Greyfriars Kirk and Kirkyard

From a gunpowder explosion to the reason an American flag hangs above the kirk sanctuary, these ten facts ...

Explore history and heritage on the St Cuthbert’s Way

Explore the beautiful countryside between the Scottish Borders and Northumberland with History Scotland’s ...