Did you know there are over 400 museums in Scotland? It’s not surprising really when you think about the rich culture and history we have.
It doesn’t matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find a museum or an exhibition that fascinates you. They contain everything from Scottish inventions and animals to rural life and design, there are so many museums covering every possible interest. And the best thing about a lot of these museums is that they’re free to visit, making them accessible to everyone.
Getting to Scotland’s museums, particularly those in our cities, is easy as plenty are within walking distance of our train stations. Edinburgh in particular has a lot of museums within a 15-minute walk of Waverley station.
Here are a few of our favourite museums across Scotland:
National Museum of Scotland , Chambers Street
© National Museum of Scotland
This stunning building houses thousands of incredible objects, over seven floors. You’ll find exhibitions on everything from Art, Design and Fashion to Science and Technology, and galleries dedicated to world culture. There are two dedicated galleries for children - one for under fives, and one for older children - that have lots of great hands on exhibits for them to enjoy. There is so much to see that it's easy to spend a full day exploring and can be enjoyed by all ages.
Closest station: Edinburgh Waverley
Riverside Museum, Pointhouse Place
© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Collections
You could call us a little biased as this is a dedicated transport museum, but it’s brilliant for a day out and enjoyable for those that aren’t transport enthusiasts. Housing giant locomotives, cars, bikes, and everything in between, this museum has so many fascinating exhibits to enjoy. It also celebrates Glasgow’s contribution to shipbuilding, train manufacturing and engineering. You’ll find the Tall Ship, Glenlee, at the back of the museum on the Clyde, which is also free to explore.
Closest station: Partick
Situated less than a 15-minute walk from Stirling train station, The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum contains more than 40,000 objects, artworks and photographs to discover. Stirling has a prominent place in Scotland’s history and the collection here reflects this history. As well as having lots of great exhibits to enjoy, The Smith Café is also a must visit. The cakes are delicious!
Closest station: Stirling, 15-minute walk
V&A Museum , 1 Riverside Esplanade
No visit to Dundee is complete without a visit to Scotland’s only design museum – the V&A. You’ll spot the striking building easily, sitting on the waterfront just across from the train station. Inside you’ll find exhibits celebrating Scottish design and exploring everything from architecture to fashion, and healthcare to furniture to name a few. The V&A is free to visit and there are also paid-for special exhibitions too. Free family events take place throughout the year so it's worth checking their website before you visit.
Closest station: Dundee
Aberdeen has a rich link with the sea and this fascinating museum covers it all. From an impressive collection of maritime paintings and objects to interactive and hand’s on exhibits, there’s something to grab everyone’s attention no matter what their age. The museum also explores the North Sea industries such as offshore oil, fishing and shipping, giving a fascinating insight into life in this part of Scotland.
Closest station: Aberdeen, 5-minute walk
© Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, High Life Highland
Situated right in the heart of the city, at the foot of Castle Hill, the museum is a 10-minute walk away from the train station. It’s the perfect place to discover the unique history and culture of Inverness and the surrounding Scottish Highlands through their fascinating collection of artefacts. The museum is also home to permanent and temporary exhibitions featuring local artists and those from further afield.
Closest station: Inverness, 10-minute walk
If you’re looking for other ideas on what to do in our cities, we have a range of destination pages offering plenty of inspiration for things to do, places to eat and all the things you need to see.