Scotland is a very popular holiday destination for all sorts of reasons. Its beautiful landscapes, historic cities and choice of activities give it something to offer all year round. If you have young ones, there are cheap holidays in Scotland for families which could still leave you with lifelong memories. Check out our guide to the best places to stay and things to do, at a cost which won't spoil the enjoyment of your holiday.
Discover the very best in cheap Scottish holidays for families
If you're going on holiday with the family, you'll want to make sure everyone has plenty to keep them occupied. Scotland has cheap attractions and activities to please parents and kids alike, so everybody in the family has a good day and stories to tell at the end of it. As the tourist industry is very well established in the country, cheap accommodation for families will not be a problem, whatever the season.
Scotland also has a transport system which is the envy of other countries, even within the UK. It has superb roads, public transport and international links via airports and ferry services. As it is country with a lot of coastline and many ports, getting around could be a vital part of your cheap family holiday. However, you choose to travel, transport in Scotland is great value for money.
Activities for families
Hunting for Harry
...Potter, that is. All the family loves Harry Potter, and you can all retrace some of his adventures throughout Scotland. Many of the places in the Harry Potter films are actually in Scotland, and you can even board the Hogwarts Express on your travels.
The old streets of Edinburgh are where JK Rowling found her inspiration, so why not take the family for breakfast at The Elephant House or Spoon cafes, like JK herself. The cobbled streets and alleyways are a great way to soak up the atmosphere.
DON'T MISS THIS
From the start of the holiday season in April, you can book four seats on the Jacobite Steam Train. The real Hogwarts Express, this locomotive is in all 8 of the Potter films. Join the train at Fort William, see all the fantastic sights you'll all recognise along the way, and arrive in beautiful Mallaig.
Cream O'Galloway family fun
Cream O'Galloway is a great place to work up an appetite and satisfy it, all in the same day. It's a specially designed family centre in the South West of Scotland, 10 minutes drive from Gatehouse of Fleet.
The huge site has an adventure playground, indoor play areas, pedal kart track, rides and slides, as well as nature trails. For the adventurous families, you can also try the amazing Go Boing! aerial adventure facility. This is a netted area, so you can all go crazy without worrying about falling from a great height.
This superb attraction also produces its own Cream O'Galloway Ice Cream, as well as Finlay's Farmhouse Cheese. You and the kids can meet the cows who make the milk which makes the ice cream and the cheese!
Explore the East
Fife, Dundee and Angus have some great places for holidays in Scotland for families that are cheap. Located in the Eastern coastal area of the country, they have beautiful cities, beaches, wildlife and much more to see and do.
For sheer, old fashioned, cheap seaside fun, head for Elie Earlsferry Beach. This is a beautiful harbour area based around a traditional Scottish fishing port. The famous local Ship Inn even puts on beach cricket, for all the family on Sundays.
Further up the coast in the beautiful Angus town of Montrose is the Charleton Fruit Farm. During the warmer part of the year another cheap holiday activity is that you and the family can pick your own berries from this working farm. There is also the chance to go trampolining, pedal karting, and exploring the centre's forts.
Cheap places to stay and budget friendly family holidays in Scotland
There is a huge range of cheap cabins, campsites, caravan parks, cottages, hotels and holiday parks available at all times of the year in Scotland. If you book ahead, you will get some truly great deals, in some of the most beautiful holiday destinations anywhere in the world.
Self Catering B & B
Self catering can be an excellent way of taking the family on holiday in Scotland. Part week and full week bookings are welcome, and bed and breakfast with self catering gives you nearly all the comforts of home. There are excellent options available from as little as £200 per week for a family of four, with kids from five years and upwards.
Choose a location which is handy for local visitor centres and unique Scottish views. For instance, a family home in Fort William is an ideal base for the Highlands, with its glens and mountains. It has excellent road and rail links, and you should be able to book a home which is pet friendly.
Traditional and some would say best, camping is perfect for holidays that are cheap for families in Scotland. There are hundreds of campsites across the country, although some of these only operate at certain times of the year.
Many campsites are specially designed to be child friendly. They are located in exciting places, like Wester Bonnyton Farm in Aberdeenshire, North East Scotland. This site is near the sea, in a part of the country known as Scotland's Dolphin Coast. Ideas like this make camping ideal for kids and adults alike.
As well as offering a taste of the outdoor life and a cheap family holiday option, modern campsites often have state of the art wi-fi facilities, and are usually dog friendly.
Cheap family holiday parks in Scotland and cheap family weekend breaks
Many families choose holiday parks to make sure of a great time, and this is an excellent option in Scotland. There are dozens of specially designed, family friendly sites around the coasts and throughout inland areas of the country. With the natural wonders around you, a holiday park means you have almost no chance of having a bored child on your hands.
In the West of Scotland, Tralee Bay Holidays in Argyll is a perfect example of a modern holiday park. With lodge accommodation in the woods, you are nearby amazing coastline, beaches and walks. The centre also has play areas, and even a zipwire for the adventurous.
DON'T FORGET THIS
Holiday parks are very popular, so don't forget to book well in advance. Also, availability may well depend on the time of year you're looking to go on holiday.
Scottish Lodges & Cabins
Here is a map of Scotland
Low cost travel
If you are going to Scotland on holiday, you will probably want to see as much of the country as possible. Luckily, travelling around need not add too much to the cost of your break.
If you book well in advance, train travel is a superb way for families to see the best of Scotland. From restored steam trains through the Highlands and Glens to the latest electrified routes, most of Scotland's mainland destinations are accessible by train.
As with other forms of travel and accommodation, the sooner you book your train journeys the better. The cheapest tickets come online between 8 and 9 weeks before travel, so you can make this part of your holiday planning. Booking early can save as much as 75% of the standard fare.
There are railcard options available which could also save you a lot of money. For a family holiday, travelling as a couple is cheaper than two singles, and of course children travel much cheaper than adults. You could also break train journeys into sections, which might be especially useful on day trips when you don't have much luggage to carry.
Bus and Coach Travel
The cheapest way to travel to and around Scotland is by bus or coach. While this is not convenient for all families, it can mean a real cost saving if you're up for it. Of course, the Megabus travels to destinations in Scotland, which can mean as little as £1 per person. These buses have plenty of room for luggage, so could be just what you need.
Other coaches are available which may be more suitable depending on your family members. Scotland's road network has been heavily invested in over recent years, all the way through the Highlands and to some quite remote destinations. Although travelling a long way by coach is time consuming, there are some spectacular views to be had.
THIS IS CHEAP!
Another great option for cheap coach travel within Scotland is the Scottish CityLink Explorer Pass. As well as reductions on main inter city routes in the country, this pass is also valid on the Megabus.
Getting to and around Scotland is sometimes easier by air. In some cases, it may also work out cheaper than other types of transport. One thing is for sure, air travel is a lot quicker than land or sea travel, especially in a country like Scotland.
There are international airports at five locations in the country; Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Prestwick. Especially if you are travelling a long way, these could offer the best option for arriving and leaving for your holiday.
Within Scotland itself, there are flights which are remarkably short, on very much smaller aeroplanes. There are internal flights available from Glasgow to the Western Isle of Barra, and from Aberdeen to Shetland. There is also a service between Edinburgh and Wick John O'Groats, right at the top of the Scottish mainland. This can save an awful lot of time.
Booking air flights ahead can be a great way of saving money and time for families. In some cases, the cost can be competitive with train travel.
How much could I budget a day for a family of four?
Scotland can be a relatively cheap part of the UK to visit with your family, depending on where you go. Avoid major tourist attractions at peak times, or take advantage of free events, especially in Edinburgh and other major cities. With meals out and travel, you could spend £200 per day; more sensible days out should cost less than £100.
What's the average price of activities
Cheap holidays for families in Scotland can cost you as little as £60 per day for all your activities. This will cover a full day at Edinburgh Castle for a family of four. City sightseeing tours are available in Edinburgh and other major Scottish cities. These can cost as little as £40 for the day.
What's the cheapest form of accommodation with a swimming pool?
For a family of four, it may be cheaper to hire a cottage with a swimming pool than book into a hotel. Hotels with swimming pools are usually of the luxury variety, so could cost from £200 per night. There are family friendly rentals available all over Scotland which could work out much cheaper, especially over more than one night.
By booking ahead, you can make your family holiday to Scotland a roaring success while not breaking the bank. With options for cheap accommodation and travel, as well as amazing things to do there is no better place for families.