You’ll pay nothing to visit many of Scotland’s top attractions. Plenty of them are free to enter, and there’s an array of free events and experiences to enjoy too. Explore castles, museums, art galleries and more, all for free, on a day out that won’t leave you out of pocket.
Here are just a few ideas for free days out in our part of central Scotland.
The Kelpies at Helix Park
The Helix is an exciting new parkland providing activities such as cycling, walking, watersports and much more. The Helix is also home to The Kelpies, two 30-metre-high horse head sculptures which are a true feat of engineering.
The Helix is a new attraction located between Falkirk and Grangemouth. Described as ‘A place for everyone’ there is so much to discover.
There are currently 500km of connected cycle paths which provide the ideal way to explore the parkland and surrounding area. Discover one of many routes including the 16-mile core route, Helix Around Town Tour (HArTT) starting at The Helix and heading to The Falkirk Wheel, Callendar Park and back to The Helix using cycle ways, towpaths and parkland. The paths are multi-use if you prefer to explore by foot. The Helix is linked by two National Cycle Routes as well as the new John Muir Trail making it incredibly accessible and the ideal base to explore from.
As well as the new Helix canal extension to the Forth & Clyde canal allowing far easier access to the canal from the Forth River the Helix also boasts a new lagoon. This lagoon at Helix Park will provide a great opportunity for watersports, including canoeing, dinghy sailing, kayaking and even wakeboarding.
The Helix is also home to the magnificent Kelpies which are the world’s largest equine sculptures. Designed by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, these sculptures are each made with 300 tonnes of structural steel and are monumental tributes to the horse power heritage that was vital to the early industries of central Scotland.
You can enjoy The Kelpie Experience while you are there with a guided tour. The brand new visitor centre is now open 10am – 5pm 7 days a week. Pop in to browse the gift shop and sample some tasty home baking or lunch.
Nearby attractions include Callendar House in Falkirk and the Falkirk Wheel. The town of Falkirk is only 2 miles from The Helix and here you will find a variety of shops, eateries and all local amenities.
The Helix Car Park and The Kelpies Car Park are both open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This may be subject to change.
Charges apply for The Kelpies car park, 10am – 5pm, everyday.
Larger vehicles: £4
FREE parking is available at the Helix Park car park and also at Falkirk Stadium (a short 2 minute walk across the road from Helix Park) all year round, except on match days involving Falkirk Football Club. It may be worthwhile checking Falkirk Football Club’s fixtures list before departing for The Helix and The Kelpies.
The Visitor Centre at The Helix
Open 10:00am to 5:00pm, 7 days a week.
The Plaza Café is open seven days from Easter to October and serves a selection of sandwiches, snacks, hot and cold drinks, and ice creams for warmer days.
The Helix Park Toilets are located at the Plaza Cafe. The normal opening hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm. The toilets at the Plaza Cafe in Helix Park will remain open until 8:00pm during the summer season.
The Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boatlift, which is used to connect the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in central Scotland.
The Falkirk Wheel is a magnificent, mechanical marvel which has been constructed to 21st century, state-of-the-art engineering. It is already being recognised as an iconic landmark worthy of Scotland’s traditional engineering expertise.
Designed to replace a series of lock gates built in the 19th century – long since demolished and replaced by housing – The Falkirk Wheel is the showpiece of the Millennium Link project where coast-to-coast navigation of the canals has been re-established for the first time in over 40 years.
Dundee Contemporary Arts
Visit an exhibition, see a film, take a print course and enjoy great food at Dundee’s international centre for contemporary arts.
Located in the centre of the city, Dundee Contemporary Arts is a vibrant building with five floors hosting unique exhibitions, world cinema, a café-bar, and a print studio.
Enjoy a coffee in the Jute Café Bar, which turns into one of Dundee’s most popular bars in the evening, and browse the centre’s shop for a unique selection of jewellery and crafts.
The Visual Research Centre runs a variety of events and exhibitions, and many courses suited for all abilities are run by the Print Studio.
Dundee Contemporary Arts is located just a short walk from the city’s main shopping centre and railway station.
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is one of the Top 10 UK visitor attractions, and in the Top 20 of the most visited museums and galleries in the world.
Fresh from a £47 million redevelopment, the museum houses a spectacular array of over 20,000 fascinating artefacts. Our magnificently diverse collections will take you on an inspirational journey through the history of Scotland, the wonders of nature, world cultures and the excitement of science and discovery – all under one roof.
For more ideas and information about other free things to do while on holiday in Scotland see the Visit Scotland website at https://www.visitscotland.com/