Scotland Is Calling For Your Extended Family Holiday

A trend which is increasingly emerging in global travel is for families taking multi-generational breaks. Although this was the case before the Coronavirus pandemic, that unprecedented global event seems to have encouraged and inspired families to get together and enjoy a family holiday across the generations. Whatever the shape of your family – from toddlers to teenagers; the young to the young-at-heart – Scotland offers a wealth of experiences for all ages to enjoy. Here’s our pick of ideas to inspire your multi-generational family break!

Page and Screen

Jacobite steam train, Glenfinnan Viaduct. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

Literature, films, and TV shows which tell stories of Scotland, or shows which have been filmed there, often inspire those wishing to explore the places they’ve seen on screen or read about. Great options for family breaks would be:

  • Locations associated with film versions of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct which the Jacobite Steam Train crosses (journey to Hogwarts) and Glen Coe (the fictional site of Hagrid’s Hut).
  • Moat Brae in Dumfries (incorporating the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling), said to have inspired the enchanted lands described in JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.
  • The Beatrix Potter Garden in Dunkeld, Perthshire, which captures the Peter Rabbit characters and the magical summers the author spent here.
  • Real life places which feature in the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon and the related hit TV series such as Culloden Battlefield near Inverness, and places used as set locations, including Doune Castle near Stirling, the conservation towns of Falkland and Culross in Fife, and Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian.
  • Edinburgh, UNESCO’s first ever City of Literature, is home to the Writers Museum showcasing the stories of three of Scotland’s best loved writers (Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns), as well as the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the famous Royal Mile – hub of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival which takes place each October.

Family Friendly Holiday Hotels

For an easy to plan multi-generational break, what better than a stay in a great hotel in a stunning location with a range of activities for all generations of the family on offer?

  • In Perthshire, the world famous Gleneagles, Dunkeld House Hotel on the banks of the River Tay, and Crieff Hydro Hotel with its programme of over 60 activities, offer all manner of outdoor pursuits, all against the backdrop of this beautiful part of Scotland.
  • Cameron House on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond offers loch cruises, Segway safaris, horse riding and more.
  • Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran has an array of activities to be enjoyed on this wonderful island known as Scotland in miniature.
  • At the heart of Cairngorms National Park, Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort has a tremendous range of activities amid some of Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes.

Family Friendly Castle Stays

Thirlestane Castle, Lauder, Scottish Borders. Photo: VisitScotland/Ian Rutherford.

Who wouldn’t relish the change to enjoy a stay in a Scottish castle, irrespective of age? Definitely something to tell the folks back home about! Excellent options for multi-generational family breaks include:

  • Dalhousie Castle in Midlothian which boasts a 700-year history as well as extensive grounds and its own Falconry offering hands-in experiences with 30 beautiful birds.
  • The magnificent Thirlestane Castle in the Scottish Borders offering a range of exciting pre-bookable activities from tomahawk throwing to survival skills.
  • Muckrach Castle in Morayshire, which can be hired out in its entirety for a self-catering break, allowing you to be king and queens of your very own castle!

From Lodges to Lighthouses

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

There’s something about staying in a holiday lodge that brings back memories of family holidays in years gone by, and these days there are so many different quirky holiday options on offer in Scotland that will be sure to inspire a similar sense of wonder for younger family members. Options include:

  • Argyll Holidays – a range of holiday park locations in picturesque waterfront settings across Argyll, from luxury hot tub lodges to static caravans and glamping.
  • St Andrews Forest Lodges – a wonderful selection of log cabins, each with its own private hot tub – ideal for relaxing after a day exploring St Andrews or cycling the Fife Coastal Path.
  • Cairngorm Lodges – forest retreats in Aboyne at the heart of Royal Deeside, with lodges and cabins charmingly named after local wildlife species.
  • Staying in a lighthouse, such as Rua Reidh Lighthouse in Gairloch, Eshaness Lighthouse in Shetland and Mull of Galloway Lighthouse Holiday Cottages near Stranraer.

Fun-packed Farm Stays

Agritourism has become increasing popular, and the whole family can learn about sustainable farming methods, get to know some of the animals and enjoy the freshest of local produce. The Go Rural agritourism partnership offers a wealth of options such as:

  • Newton Farm Holidays near Forfar in Angus where you can meet iconic Highland cattle, feed the lambs, or take an alpaca for a stroll.
  • Lennox of Lomond, where you can experience all the fun of the farm on the hills overlooking the bonnie banks.
  • Old Leckie Farm, Gargunnock near Stirling, situated on land once owned by Robert the Bruce.

Days Out With A Difference

The Pass of Glencoe. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

Wherever you choose to visit in Scotland, you’re guaranteed to enjoy fantastic days out which every generation of the family can enjoy. Here are just some of the experiences you can choose from:

  • Join Highland Safaris for a Land Rover safari in the hills above Aberfeldy, or a sailing safari on Loch Tay, keeping an eye out for local wildlife as you go.
  • Visit fascinating museums such as Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow, V&A Museum of Design in Dundee, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Auchindrain Historic Township near Inveraray, Skye Museum of Island Life and the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian.
  • Attend a traditional Scottish Highland Games, taking place in locations across Scotland from May to September.
  • Take a boat trip from the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, East Lothian to the iconic Bass Rock to spot the area’s abundant wildlife, including the world’s largest colony of Northern Gannets.
  • Visit Scotland’s most colourful castle – Kelburn Castle and Country Centre near Largs, Ayrshire.
  • Go stargazing at Galloway International Dark Sky Park at the heart of Dumfries and Galloway – one of only four in the world.
  • Don those dancing shoes to take part in a Scottish ceilidh evening at Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh or Skipinnish Ceilidh House in Oban.

Island Life

Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris. Photo: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam.

An island holiday is a truly special experience to be shared with multiple generations of your family. In Scotland we’re lucky enough to have something few other countries can offer – an abundance of stunning islands, each with its own unique history, culture, and atmosphere. Which will you choose?

  • The Isle of Mull with its wealth of wildlife tour options including boat trips to neighbouring islands, and its picture-postcard capital, Tobermory.
  • The Isle of Islay, home to unique nature reserves and a rich whisky producing heritage.
  • Orkney, famed for its natural beauty, archaeological sites and First and Second World War heritage.
  • Shetland with its dramatic Viking past, equally dramatic coastlines and seascapes, prehistoric sites, abundant wild and bird life, and of course delightful Shetland ponies.
  • The Isle of Bute, home to Mount Stuart, unquestionably one of Scotland’s most stunning and unusual stately homes.
  • The Outer Hebrides where you’ll experience rich Gaelic Island culture, Harris Tweed making traditions, incredible coastlines, and the finest produce the Atlantic larder can offer.

Get Active

For families who like nothing better than to get active together, Scotland offers experiences to suit all tastes and abilities.

  • Join Perthshire-based Nae Limits on one of their exhilarating activities, from white water rafting and river tubing to gorge walking and canyoning.
  • Get a bird’s eye view of Scotland’s amazing forests at one of Go Ape’s zip wire centres across Scotland.
  • Go land yachting along the beach at St Andrews with Blown Away.
  • ‘Bag a Munro’ – a Scottish mountain with an elevation of more than 3,000 feet (914 metres). There are nearly 300 to choose from, each with stunning views as your reward for reaching the summit!
  • Play a round in the undisputed Home of Golf – there are 550+ to choose from!
  • Enjoy the unique experience of exploring Scotland on two feet or two wheels. From long-distance walking and cycling trails to forest paths, coastal walks, and purpose-built trails at no less than 25 world-class mountain biking centres, you’re sure to find options to suit your family’s needs.
  • If you’d rather spectate, the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships – the biggest cycling event ever – takes place in Glasgow and across Scotland on 3-13 August 2023.

The suggestions here are just a small taster of the regions, attractions and businesses that can help ensure you and your family have a truly memorable time in Scotland, whatever the make-up, age range and abilities of your group.

For more information and a wealth of ideas to inspire you in planning your trip see:

Main photo: Old Leckie Farm, Stirling, Stirlingshire. Photo: VisitScotland/Luigi Di.

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