The Scottish Borders offers a wealth of diverse activities to enjoy on your holiday travels, like motorsport museums, historic buildings, botanical gardens and ancient forests. You can spend days among the flowers and walking trails of Harmony Garden or Priorwood Garden, check out a giant Polish map of Scotland, stroll through the Glentress Forest or explore a Victorian-era printing press. 

    Check out 10 of the best things to do on your family, couple's or group holiday to the Scottish Borders.


    Priorwood Garden

    See the region's only dried flower garden

    Priorwood Garden is unique among botanic gardens in the region because it's not just dedicated to colourful walking paths, but also to the art of dried flower arranging. The gardens are located in the ancient Melrose Abbey precinct. As you walk through the paths, you can stroll through the old apple orchard with over 90 different species of organically grown apples. In addition to apples, you'll see plums, damsons, pears and greengages, and you can have a picnic among the trees. One of the popular attractions in the garden is the spectacular bronze dove sculpture created by noted artist David Annand.

    Location: Priorwood Gardens, Abbey St, Melrose TD6 9PX, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1896 209504


    Dawyck Botanic Garden

    See ancient trees and seasonal flowers in a scenic garden

    • Adventure

    Dawyck Botanic Garden and arboretum is a 5-star garden and features seasonal flowers for a relaxing day in nature. Among the most famous are its displays of blue poppies, azaleas, rhododendrons, bluebells and snowdrops. Situated in a National Scenic Area, the garden has one of the finest collections of heritage trees in Scotland, including some that date as far back as 1680. The forests include Douglas and European Silver Fir trees as well as giant Sierra redwoods. You can enjoy woodland walks or burnside hikes, travel themed trails and learn about the adventures of explorers like David Douglas.

    Location: Stobo, Scottish Borders EH45 9JU, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1721 760254



    Discover the world of Sir Walter Scott

    • History

    Abbotsford is the 19th-century historic home of novelist and playwright Sir Walter Scott and a museum with landscaped gardens and the writer's study. Sir Walter Scott is often known as the Great Scott and the man who popularised the tartan. He was an extraordinary figure in Scottish history, having recovered the crown jewels, saved the banknote and accomplished many feats in his life. You can walk the halls of his palatial mansion, see his actual study and stroll the colourful pathways of his gardens. You can also view the objects that served as inspiration for his novels and play.

    Location: Abbotsford House, Melrose TD6 9BQ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1896 752043


    Bowhill House & Grounds

    Explore the heart of the natural world in the Selkirk region

    • Families
    • History

    Bowhill House and Grounds is a regal residence with an extensive network of hiking and walking trails in a verdant landscape. Serving as a centrepiece of life in the Selkirk region for 200 years, this regal residence offers an abundance of walking and hiking trails, a serene loch and tours to explore the interior of the house, including its classical art collection. During your tour, you'll experience the magic of the Scottish woodlands imbued in this place. If you're with the family, the kids will love the adventure playground and soft-play area.

    Location: Bowhill House, Selkirk TD7 5ET, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1750 22204


    photo by David Hawgood (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Jim Clark Motorsport Museum

    Learn what it's like to drive a real race car

    • History
    • Unusual

    The Jim Clark Motorsport Museum highlights the astounding story of the double Formula One Racing champion, Indy 500 winner and legendary race car driver. Clark was a Scottish Borders native, and this museum showcases his trophies, racing gear and other career memorabilia. This museum is considered a must-visit location for many motorsports fans and offers not only cars, trophies and outfits, but also many interactive exhibits. The museum has a gift shop where you can grab a souvenir or see the films of his races that are always on display. You can even get behind the driver's seat with a realistic race car simulator experience.

    Location: 44 Newtown St, Duns TD11 3AU, UK

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm, Monday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed Tuesday–Thursday)

    Phone: +44 (0)1361 883960


    photo by Jim Barton (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Robert Smail's Printing Works

    Learn how printing worked in the days before computers

    • History

    Robert Smail's Printing Works is a Victorian-era letterpress and printing press that is fully functional and on display as a living museum. Preserved by the National Trust for Scotland, the press is the oldest functional printing press in the UK and the centrepiece for a living museum of the Victorian era. The interactive exhibits include an experience of being an apprentice compositor, learning how newspapers were made before the digital era, viewing the waterwheel that powered the press and exploring all of the wonders and functions of a working, traditional letterpress printer.

    Location: High St, Innerleithen EH44 6HA, UK

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm, Monday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed Tuesday–Thursday)

    Phone: +44 (0)1896 830206


    photo by Dave souza (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified


    Harmony Garden

    Walk the scented borders and serene paths of a National Trust garden

    • History
    • Adventure

    The Harmony Garden in Melrose offers a peaceful escape in manicured lawns and colourful, scented pathways in a scenic space. Managed by the National Trust, the garden offers astounding views of Melrose Abbey and the Eildon Hills, along with a dizzying array of plants and flowers. The gardens cover a vast space that includes walking paths through gardens and beds of fruits and vegetables. Each June, the gardens host the Borders Book Festival, which attracts some of the brightest and most important rising stars in literature.

    Location: St Mary's Rd, Melrose TD6 9LJ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1896 209504


    photo by Jim Barton (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Rock UK Whithaugh Park

    Explore the Scottish countryside

    • Adventure

    Rock UK Whithaugh Park is located deep in the countryside and surrounded by forested land and rushing rivers that are ideal for cycling, canoeing, kayaking and hiking. The park is a popular destination for outdoor adventures and includes a range of challenging activities like a bike skills course, rope climbing nets, rock climbing walls, zip lines and gorge walking. You'll also find a sports pitch for pickup games, an indoor heated swimming pool, a sports hall and meeting and activity space for larger groups.

    Location: Whithaugh Park, Newcastleton TD9 0TY, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm, Friday open 24 hours (closed Saturday–Sunday)

    Phone: +44 (0)1387 375394


    photo by Andrew Tryon (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Glentress Forest

    Enjoy a challenging hike in a dense forest

    • Adventure

    Glentress Forest is celebrated as being the location of some of the best cycling trails in all of the United Kingdom. The forest offers 5 different hiking trails of varying difficulty levels to challenge all hikers. A skills area offers information about the guided trail difficulties, from serene walks through ancient trees to epic climbing challenges, long jumps and steep curves, so you can plan your trip. The various cycling trails are noted as 7stanes world-class venues for beginner cyclists and experts as well. For more adventure, the Go Ape Treetop Adventure course provides rope ladders and brachiation 12 metres off the ground with a zip-line finish.

    Location: 1 Highlander Way, Inverness Business Park, Inverness IV2 7GB, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)3000 676900


    photo by Estrnc (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Great Polish Map of Scotland

    See an incredible historic map

    • Unusual

    The Great Polish Map of Scotland is a huge, 3-dimensional map of Scotland that's located outside of the Barony Castle Hotel. Also known as the Mapa Scotland and the Barony Map, the map was constructed between 1974 and 1979 by a small group of Poles. For years, the map was left to the ravages of nature, but it's now fully restored and is intended as both an educational resource and a visitor attraction that links Scots and Poles, and has for 3 generations.

    Location: Barony Castle Hotel UK, Eddleston, UK

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +44 (0)1721 730395


    photo by John Riddell (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

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