5 Great Scottish Literary Tourist Attractions
Scotland has a proud literary heritage. From Jekyll and Hyde and Edward Waverley, to Spud and Renton and Miss Jean Brodie, world famous imagined characters have always been brought to life by Scottish writers. When visiting Scotland there are lots of places you can visit that will transport you into the worlds of the fictional heroes and heroines that have graced our imaginations. We have complied a list of five of our favourite literary attractions so that you know where to look for your book-inspired fix on your travels.
1. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Situated near Ayr, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum boasts grounds that comprise of unique attractions such as the very cottage in which the Bard was born, as well as the Brig o’ Doon, as featured in Burns’s poetry. The monument garden is beautifully kept and a short walk away is the Kirk o’ Alloway – the very same kirk that plays a starring role in Burns’s seminal piece, ‘Tam o’ Shanter’.
The museum itself, within a modern and sleekly styled building, boasts that here you can “discover the real Robert Burns.” With a large and unique collection of the poets work and objects revealing aspects of the man’s life, you will not be disappointed by a day out to this wonderful attraction. From pistols that Burns carried with him on his duties as an exciseman, to a cast of his own skull, the Burns Birthplace museum truly has it all.
1 April – 30 September, daily, 10am – 5.30pm
1 October – 31 March, daily, 10am – 5pm
NTS member Free
Family (2 adults) £22
Family (1 adult) £17.00
Home of the eminent Sir Walter Scott, Jacobite Romance-writer, author of the Waverley Novels and saviour of the Scottish bank note, Abbotsford is one attraction not to be missed. Set on the banks of the river Tweed in the stunning Scottish Borders, you can visit and learn all about one of Scotland’s true literary giants.
At Abbotsford you can see Scott’s collections of fascinating objects from suits of armour to Jacobite swords – it becomes easy to see how Scott became so inspired. You can also have look inside Scott’s very own endlessly captivating library. There is a new visitor centre that will teach you all about the man and his life. The beautiful gardens, designed by Scott himself, are yours to take in at your leisure, so you can relax in stunning surroundings and ponder the world’s first best-selling author.
House and Gardens
1st March – 31st March 10am-4pm
1st April – 30th September
10am – 5pm
1st October – 30th November
10am – 4pm
Last entry one hour before closing time
Open all year
(excluding 25th – 26th December
and 1st – 2nd January)
1st March – 30th September
10am – 5pm
1st October – 31st March
10am – 4pm
House and gardens
Under 17s £4.50
Under 5s free
Family Ticket £28.00
(two adults & up to 3 under 17s)
Group rates available on request
3. The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour
When visiting Edinburgh be sure not to miss out on the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour. Endlessly entertaining, your guides Clart and McBrain will guide you around the favourite ‘howfs’ of the famous writers who have graced the historic city.
With a huge dose of wit and cheerfulness, your bantering guides will help you decide if you are a bohemian or an academic, while you get to discover what your favourite Scottish authors got up to when they weren’t sitting at their writing desks.
A wonderful way to spend your Edinburgh evening, you have to experience the fantastically enjoyable tour.
Dates and times:
May – Sept: Every day, 7.30pm
April & Oct: Thurs to Sun, 7.30pm
Jan, Feb & Mar: Fri & Sun, 7.30pm
Nov & Dec: Fridays only, 7.30pm
Online: Regular - £12 Student £10
On Location: Regular - £14 Student £12
4. Wigtown - Scotland's Book Town
The small village of Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway has been officially designated as Scotland’s book town since 1998. Self-styled as a “book lover’s haven”, it boasts 20 book-based businesses set within the quaint and relaxed surroundings of southern Scotland’s countryside. You can browse the unique book shops and treat yourself to some great food while you’re at it.
The town hold an annual literary celebration in the form of their ten-day book festival in the autumn, which attracts some of the biggest names in literature today, and while you’re in the town you can browse the collection at Historic Newspapers. Without doubt, you can have an endlessly interesting day out in Wigtown.
5. The Writers' Museum and Makars' Court
Edinburgh’s Writers’ Museum celebrates some of Scotland’s most celebrated authors, particularly Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Situated in the Lawnmarket in Edinburgh’s old town, the setting could not be better.
The museum contains many wonderfully interesting items, such as books, manuscripts, portraits and writers’ personal items, as well as a rare first edition of Walter Scott’s Waverley. Items that once belonged to Burns are on display and you can even see photographs from the adventurous life of the creator of the world famous Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson.
As a delightful finishing touch, the Makars’ Court provides a peaceful place in which to relax and contemplate Scotland’s literary past. The court is inscribed with named flagstones that celebrate Scottish authors from the 14th century onwards, so you can’t help but be reminded of the illustrious company you are rubbing shoulders with.
Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm;
Sunday 12pm - 5pm (during August only)
Free (donations welcomed)