The 20 most visited Scottish attractions of 2015

Edinburgh Castle was the number one visitor attraction in 2015 Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh Castle was the number one visitor attraction in 2015 Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Scottish visitor attractions recorded another successful year last year, as numbers rose notably for the second year running.

Edinubrugh Castle was the most visited attraction in 2015 according to annual figures released by by the The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), which represents key visitor attractions in Scotland,

The Falkirk Wheel made it in at number 10 on the list Picture:  Robert Perry

The Falkirk Wheel made it in at number 10 on the list Picture: Robert Perry

Nationally the country experienced a rise of 3.4 per cent with over 27 million visits made across almost 260 sites.

This follows on from a rise of 6 per cent in 2013-14, suggesting that Scottish attractions are experiencing a boom period.

Areas which experienced largest growth in visitor numbers include boat tips and marine related attractions (11.9 per cent); gardens (7.5 per cent); castles and heritage sites (5.1 per cent) and museums and galleries (2.7 per cent).

Edinburgh remained top of the list, with nine of the top 20 attractions located in the city - however, Glasgow also experienced great growth with several limited-run exhibitions such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum’s “Hatching the Past: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies”, which attracted 82,000 people from Easter to mid-August, contributing to a 2.4 per cent increase in visitor numbers overall for the city’s attractions.

Heather Jackson, Director of Enterprise at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which saw a rise of 10.2 per cent in visitor numbers said: “April, May and June saw us welcoming more than 100,000 visitors each month. We also had a really strong summer season, driven by events such as Cake Fest Edinburgh on Midsummer’s Day, as well as our unique autumn ‘Botanic Lights’ event, which attracted an audience of 26,000”.

Outlander is being credited with increased visitor numbers at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre and the Highland Folk Museum.

Jacobite Cruises, which offers scenic cruises on Loch Ness, also recorded an 11 per cent rise in passengers.

In Grampian, National Trust for Scotland properties outperformed other similar heritage sites.

Drum Castle’s new fit-for-purpose gallery space, created in a ground-breaking collaboration with Aberdeen Art Gallery, generated a high number of repeat visits while innovative events programmes at Brodie and Crathes Castles proved extremely popular.


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Douglas Walker, Chair of ASVA said: “After a number of challenging years for the sector, it is clear that visitor attractions are entering what we hope will be a period of sustained growth. The attractions which have done particularly well in 2015 are those that have invested in their visitor offer by developing innovative new products and services, as well as launching creative events and exhibitions programmes, all of which are vital for keeping visitors coming back time and again”.


Top 20 Scottish Visitor Attractions (number of visitors)

1. Edinburgh Castle (1,568,508; +5.9 per cent)

2. National Museum of Scotland (1,567,310; -4.4 per cent)

3. Scottish National Gallery (1,377,710; +6.4 per cent)

4. Kelvingrove Art Gallery (1,261,552; +12.4 per cent)

5. Riverside Museum (1,131,814; +7.8 per cent)

6. St Giles’ Cathedral (1,108,842; +7.7 per cent)

7. Royal Botanic Garden (889,420 +10.2 per cent)

8. Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop (775,868; -0.9 per cent)

9. Edinburgh Zoo (633,500; -5.7 per cent)

10. The Falkirk Wheel (605,432; +17.7 per cent)

11. National War Museum (601, 074; +1.3 per cent)

12. Gallery of Modern Art (589, 791; -5.2 per cent)

13. Edinburgh Bus Tours (552, 006; +4.4 per cent)

14. Stirling Castle (458,932; +4.1 per cent)

15. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (457,655; +40.6 per cent)

16. The People’s Palace Museum (362,795; -4.6 per cent)

17. New Lanark World Heritage Site (352,704; -1.3 per cent)

18. Glasgow Science Centre (352, 303; -0.1 per cent)

19. Urquhart Castle (348, 691; +5.5 per cent)

20. Centre for Contemporary Arts (333,741; +2.3 per cent)