It’s not unusual to experience four seasons in one day living in Scotland, and as much as you can be prepared with raincoats, wellies, umbrellas, sunhats and sun cream, sometimes it’s just easier to head for an indoor attraction if it looks like it’s going to be a wet one.
With everyone feeling the pinch, we've rounded up ideas for days out that won't break the bank. In the first half of the blog you'll find brilliant attractions where one child visits free when a Kids for a Quid train ticket is shown at the attraction's ticket desk when an adult ticket is purchased. In the second half of the blog you'll find attractions that are completely free to visit. After all, a great day out shouldn’t need to blow your entire budget.
Attractions where kids visit free
A splashing day out at Deep Sea World
While the weather may not leave you craving more water, everyone will love a trip to North Queensferry’s, Deep Sea World . It has the UK’s longest underwater viewing tunnel and it’s a brilliant way to come face to face with loads of creatures from the deep. Throughout the day, there are numerous events and talks to give you the chance to learn more about the fascinating creatures that live here. The people who look after them are full of knowledge and can normally answer anything you’ve ever wondered about sea life. Plus, there’s the chance to see the seals getting fed and to get hands on with creepy crawlies if you fancy it.
Deep Sea World is nestled right underneath the Forth Rail Bridge, a ten-minute walk from North Queensferry station.
Kick away the weather blues at The Hampden Experience
If any members of the family are football mad, then The Hampden Experience and Scottish Football Museum is sure to be a hit. Did you know that it’s home to the biggest collection of national football memorabilia in the world? Entry to the museum also includes a tour of the ground. Live out football dreams with a visit to the changing rooms before walking down the tunnel to the pitch. You can’t visit a football museum and not kick a ball so get your scoring ability measured with a shot on goal at the Hotshots gallery. A great attraction for tiring the little ones out!
The museum is really easy to reach by train - hop off at Mount Florida and take a ten-minute walk to Hampden.
Unleash your inner child at Camera Obscura
Why should the kids have all the fun?
For a fun family day out, it’s hard to beat Camera Obscura in Edinburgh. There are five floors of mind-bending illusions and hands-on exhibits that you can all enjoy together. And once you’re done inside, you’ll want to head up to the rooftop terrace for the amazing 360 degree views over Edinburgh. Fancy snooping a bit closer? There are free telescopes to use so you can really explore the city from a different angle. Your entry ticket is valid for the day which is perfect for little attention spans, so you can have a break, refuel and come back.
It takes around ten minutes to walk from Edinburgh Waverley to Camera Obscura.
Step back in time aboard RSS Discovery
When Captain Scott sailed to the Antarctic aboard RSS Discovery he dealt with a lot more than a bit of rain. So don your raincoat, take the train to Dundee and step aboard this fascinating ship. Follow in the footsteps of Captain Scott and his team as you explore the ship, hearing the stories of life on board and seeing where the crew ate and slept.
RSS Discovery is really easy to get to by train – you’ll see it as soon as you exit Dundee train station.
A Kids for a Quid ticket = free entry for one child
To reach all of these great attractions year round, kids can travel on the train for just £1 return when accompanied by an adult. Kids for a Quid tickets can only be bought from a booking office, or on board the train if no ticket office is available. You'll need to show your adult ticket, Season Ticket or Flexipass when you buy the Kids for a Quid ticket, and you can take up to four children with you for £1 return each - a really easy way to save some pennies on a fun day out! To get one free child entry at the attraction, simply show the Kids for a Quid train ticket at the attraction's ticket desk when you purchase a full price adult ticket.
Attractions that are free for everyone
There are so many fantastic places to visit across Scotland that are completely free to visitors including museums, libraries and heritage centres. Here are a few of our favourites:
Riverside Museum, Glasgow
You can't beat a day out at Glasgow's Transport Museum . Loved by all ages, there is so much to see here that you can easily enjoy a full day without hearing those dreaded words 'I'm bored.' The interactive exhibits will keep little ones happy as they pretend to drive a steam train or race to a fire. The Tall Ship Glenlee is berthed behind the museum and is also free to visit so it’s worth taking the kids on board to scrub the decks and ring the ship’s bell.
It takes around ten minutes to walk from Partick station to the museum.
Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, Coatbridge
This fantastic museum in Coatbridge is a fun day out for all ages with so much to see and do. The museum takes you back in time to learn about North Lanarkshire’s industrial past through a range of fascinating exhibits. It's really well thought out so that all ages can get something out of it. For younger visitors there are lots of hands on things to bring the history to life. During the school holidays there are always extra activities to enjoy such as arts and crafts and garden games. Make sure you leave time to enjoy the ride on the old tram to see the miner's cottages and visit the mine. Tours of the mine are available. And when it’s time for a break, there’s a great play park with plenty of picnic benches or a nice cafe to warm up in. Special events take place throughout the year so it's always worth checking their website before you visit.
You can reach the museum easily on foot from both Coatbridge Central (five minute walk) and Coatbridge Sunnyside (12 minute walk) train stations.
The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Right in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town sits The National Museum of Scotland . It's the perfect place to spend a few hours on a visit to the capital with something to satisfy all interests. With so much to see it can be tricky knowing where to start so the museum has created three trails to follow. There's the 'Giant Trail', the 'Dinosaur Trail' and the 'Winter Trail.' The trails are a brilliant way to keep the kids engaged. You can either download your trail before you visit or pick a paper copy up when you arrive. Plus, the kids won't want to miss the exciting family galleries - for under 5’s ‘Imagine’ on Level 1 has everything to ignite their imagination, and on Level 5, ‘Adventure Planet’ is perfect for older kids.
From Edinburgh Waverley station it should take you just under ten minutes to walk to the museum.
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Close to Aberdeen's busy harbour, this fascinating museum tells the story of the city's history with the sea. And there are plenty of stories to hear. As you explore the four floors of the varied collections you'll be able to see model ships from 1689 to present day and even see the entire deck of a historic steamer. On the top floor of the museum you'll be able to enjoy fantastic views over the harbour. Spending a couple of hours here is a great way to immerse yourself in some local, living history.
It's a short five-minute walk from Aberdeen station to reach the Maritime Museum .
And if you don't mind putting on the raincoats, pulling on the wellies and enjoying the great outdoors, you'll find lots more free things to do over on our Great Family Days Out By Train page including the best beaches and playparks.