About Us

5 March 2019

Scotland’s iconic castles are a hit with visitors

The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) has published its Visitor Trends Report for 2018

A photo of Stirling Castle towering over the city of Stirling. The distinctive colour of the Castle's Great Hall can be seen. A sunsoaked mountain is in the background.

Our sites performed well in 2018 with Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles featuring in the sector’s top 20 visited sites according to the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA).

ASVA, which represents the interests of the key visitor attractions sector in Scotland, has over 450 members comprising some of Scotland’s most popular and iconic castles, galleries, museums, historic houses, heritage sites, wildlife parks, gardens and leisure attractions.

Analysis of statistics submitted by 232 of the organisation’s member sites for its annual 'Visitor Trends Report' confirms that 30,262,245 visits were made to those sites in Scotland in 2018, which represents a modest increase of 0.1% over 2017 figures. The increase comes on top of a 9.7% rise in 2017, which itself followed a 6% rise in 2016, confirming once again that visitor attractions in Scotland are enjoying a period of sustained growth.

Edinburgh continued to dominate the marketplace, with 10 of the top 20 attractions located in the city. The National Museum of Scotland welcomed the most visitors over this period, while Edinburgh Castle retained its status as the most popular ‘paid’ attraction. Both sites attracted more than 2 million visits each. This is the second time that any visitor attraction in Scotland has surpassed the 2 million milestone after Edinburgh Castle broke the record in 2017.

Edinburgh Castle can be seen dominating the city skyline across the rooftops.

Edinburgh Castle retained its status as the most popular ‘paid’ attraction

Commenting on another successful year for Historic Environment Scotland sites, Susan Loch, Head of Visitor Operations and Customer Service at Historic Environment Scotland and ASVA Board Member, said: "We are delighted that heritage attractions across Scotland have seen an increase in visitors. These figures demonstrate the appeal that Scotland’s heritage has on visitors and how important heritage attractions are to the tourism industry.

It is fantastic that more and more people are visiting our sites each year. Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, which are included in ASVA’s top 20, all had a record-breaking year in 2018, welcoming a combined total of over 100,000 more visitors from the year before."

Welcoming the news, Gordon Morrison, Chief Executive of ASVA said:

"These figures demonstrate that the visitor attractions sector in Edinburgh has excelled once again. Attractions that have invested in their visitor offer by providing fantastic customer service and innovative new products and services, supported by creative and effective marketing campaigns, are not only reaching new visitor markets but are actively encouraging their existing visitors to return time and again".

Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2018

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

Follow Historic Environment Scotland

Twitter: @HistEnvScot | @welovehistory

Facebook: @HistoricEnvScotland | @VisitHistoricScotland

Instagram: @HistEnvScot | @historicscotland


For further information, please contact:

Stacey Dent
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct line: 0131 668 8097
Mobile: 07557 489 322