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6 Ideas for Summer Activities on a Budget in Scotland

We have compiled a list of the best summer activities in Scotland, and the best part is, some of them are completely free! Discover the top things to do and make the most of your summer in Scotland.

July 5 2023 - 3 min read

Scotland on a budget

If you’re looking for fun ways to keep your kids entertained this summer in Scotland, there are lots of things to see and do. Summer is the best time for getting outdoors and trying out some new activities, checking out wildlife, or visiting local events. Planning something fun to do together is a fantastic way to make some good summer memories as a family, and if you have foster children, it can be a wonderful opportunity for you all to bond.

Here we look at some of the top things to do around Scotland in summer, some of which are even free:

6 Ideas for Summer Activities on a Budget in Scotland

Mountain Biking

Go Mountain Biking

The many beautiful outdoor places in Scotland guarantee that going for a family bike ride will always take you somewhere interesting. If you have your own bikes, then looking for some good bike trails close to where you live and heading out for the day is always an inexpensive way to plan a great day out together. However, if you need to hire bikes or prefer a more organised tour, then there are places around Scotland that have you covered.

The Nevis Range in the Highlands is a great place to go for all kinds of outdoor activities, including biking. There’s also a huge 40m tubing slide there that is free to ride as many times as you want.

Another great example of somewhere you can rent bikes and go on a family adventure is the 7stanes Glentress Mountain Biking Centre. You can even get a teacher here to help your kids get used to mountain biking.

Take Your Family to an Outdoor Pool

Scotland may not be known for its hot weather, but in the summer, you still sometimes want a place to cool off. There are great outdoor pools in lots of towns around Scotland, many of which also have other fun features like water slides.

Check online to find the nearest outdoor pool to you, though as some examples, the Gourock Outdoor Pool near Glasgow offers diving boards, has salt water rather than chlorinated, and is always kept at a pleasant 29 degrees. In Aberdeenshire, you can try the Stonehaven Open Air Pool, which regularly has inflatable play sessions for kids.

Check Out a Wildlife Park

Most kids love animals, and there are plenty of places where you can see them in Scotland.

If you are in the Stirling area, then a trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park can be an exciting day out. This is a huge park where you can drive through areas with animals like lions and monkeys and watch them acting just like they do in the wild. It’s a fun but also educational place to visit, where your kids can learn a lot about nature, endangered animals and conservation.

If you live near to Inverness, then a great choice for a family day out is the Spey Dolphin Centre, where you can often see wild dolphins playing in the coastal area of the sea and find out a lot of interesting things about marine life around the Scottish coast.

In the East Lothian area, you can visit the Scottish Seabird Centre which is in North Berwick. Here you can see all kinds of beautiful bird life and learn more about the interesting lives of seabirds. If you want to take your family to see some fascinating birds in the Aviemore area instead, then the Loch Garten Osprey Centre is also a great place to visit.

In Kingussie, there is a chance to see majestic big cats like snow leopards, as well as polar bears, red pandas and Scotland’s own Scottish wildcats at the Highland Wildlife Park.

Close to Dundee, you can check out the Camperdown Wildlife Centre, which has a lot of animals that the kids can get up close to, like donkeys, as well as some unusual animals like the European brown bear.

Festivals In Edinburgh

Look Out for Local Festivals

In the summer, there are interesting events all around the country, from small scale country fairs through to the big events of the cultural festivals in Edinburgh. Local websites and groups can be a great resource for finding out about small events that can turn out to be a lot of fun, and which are generally inexpensive to visit.

Some interesting annual events in some parts of Scotland include the family friendly music festival known as Mugstock, which is held at Strathallan Castle, and the Inverness Highland Games, where you can show your family some traditional Scottish sports and dancing.

The Orkney County Show is one of the most interesting agricultural shows in the UK, and features everything from show jumping to live music.

There is also plenty to see and do around Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival, including all kinds of themed events, many aimed at families or kids.

Visit a Historical Site

Scotland is of course known for its heritage and visiting castles and other historical sites can not only be educational, but also really spark the imaginations of kids who love the idea of knights and battles.

At Stirling Castle, they put on a lot of special family activities during the summer, and also have an adventure trail designed to appeal to kids as well as teaching them a lot of fascinating things from Scotland’s history.

At the New Lanark World Heritage Site, you can see what life was like for ordinary people in the 1820s and learn about the mill there and the people who worked it. This is also a great place to visit because you can hike out to the Falls of Clyde which are right nearby, for a pleasant summer walk and an amazing view.

Culross Palace is a fascinating historical site to visit if you are in Fife. Set in a beautiful village from the 17th century, it is a building full of curiosities, with strange passageways, ornately painted ceilings, and odd, tiny little rooms.

If you want to go much, much further back in history, then the Kilmartin House Museum in Mid Argyll is a wonderful place to take the family, as you can check out not only the museum itself, but also the surrounding area, which has stone circles, burial mounds and even artwork that is over five thousand years old!

Water Sports Activity

Try a Water Sports Activity

Enjoying the outdoors in the summer is pretty much an essential in Scotland, and with beautiful lakes and coast, it’s no surprise that there are lots of water sports activities available to try all over the country.

You can take a RIB boat trip out to see the third largest whirlpool in the world from Easdale, with the Seafari Adventure. Riding on RIBs can be thrilling enough by itself as they bounce off the waves as the boat travels. If you prefer to power a boat yourself, however, there are lots of places to try kayaking, like Arran Adventure on the Isle of Arran. Or you can try wakeboarding at Foxlake Adventures, which is near Dunbar in East Lothian.

These are just some of the many fun things you can do in Scotland in summer with your family, so why not start planning some memorable days out together?

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