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14 April 2021

Tickets on sale for some of Scotland’s top visitor attractions

Scotland’s most famous historic heritage sites, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, are getting set to lower their drawbridges

Aerial view of Stirling Castle

Online booking opens today (Wednesday 14 April) for some of Scotland’s most iconic sites as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) prepares to open the gates to more than 20 ticketed sites this month.

Tickets are now available for sites across the country allowing visitors to enjoy over 5,000 years of history. The historic sites, which include Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle, will reopen on Friday 30 April following the Scottish Government’s proposed dates for the reopening of the tourism sector and mainland Scotland moving to COVID protection level three.

New technology is also being implemented as part of HES’s new visitor offering. Visitors will be able to explore the stories of many of the sites in innovative ways through downloadable maps, family trails, quizzes and quests, music, poetry and personal accounts to tell stories throughout the centuries, videos exploring Gaelic culture and words, and digital fly throughs to areas of sites usually restricted to visitors.

Visitors will also be able to access audio tours on their mobile phones during their visit. Following an initial launch last autumn at Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Doune Castle, the web app audio tours will now also be rolled out this spring at Fort George, Glasgow Cathedral, Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey and St Andrews Castle.

Visitors will be able to enjoy access to outdoor spaces at sites as well as some indoor spaces where safety measures have been put in place and physical distancing is possible. Some areas of sites, such as enclosed spaces, will remain closed to visitors, full details at www.restarthistory.scot.

All visitors, including members, will be required to pre-book tickets online and to use contactless payment where possible; one-way systems will be implemented in some locations; visitors must wear face coverings in any indoor/enclosed spaces including retail and catering areas; and visitor numbers will be limited for safety reasons.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said:

“We know how keen our Historic Scotland members and visitors are to get back to our sites, so we’re delighted to reopen over 70% of our properties on Friday 30 April.

Scotland’s heritage sector is a key part of our tourism offer – from providing jobs to increasing our wellbeing – and, in addition to reopening the sites that reopened last year, we will also reopen further sites across the country on a phased basis over the upcoming months.

“We hope visitors will also enjoy learning about the fascinating stories of our sites through our new technology – including QR codes, online videos and digital audio guides for an innovative insight into Scotland’s past.

“In line with Scottish Government guidance, safety measures have been implemented at our sites, and we look forward to welcoming visitors and members back for a safe and enjoyable visit.”

HES is Scotland’s biggest operator of visitor attractions, with over 300 properties in its care. Earlier this month, HES announced a phased approach to reopen its properties, with over 70% of its free to access and ticketed properties reopening on Friday 30 April. This date will also allow members of the public access to over 200 unstaffed and key-keeper sites across Scotland where HES can provide free and safe access and where physical distancing can be readily maintained.

All sites will follow the HES minimum operating standards, which were developed to set a benchmark for the safe reopening of historic sites and resumption of operational activities.

Tickets must be booked online in advance from the HES website. To book tickets, visit: restarthistory.scot

For information on further HES sites reopening, visit: historicenvironment.scot/reopening

Tickets can now be booked online for the following sites:

  • Aberdour Castle
  • Blackness Castle
  • Caerlaverock Castle
  • Craigmillar Castle *
  • Dirleton Castle
  • Doune Castle
  • Dryburgh Abbey
  • Dunblane Cathedral
  • Dundonald Castle
  • Dunfermline Abbey Nave
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Elgin Cathedral
  • Fort George
  • Glasgow Cathedral
  • Huntly Castle
  • Jedburgh Abbey
  • Linlithgow Palace
  • Melrose Abbey
  • St Andrews Castle
  • St Andrews Cathedral
  • Skara Brae
  • Stirling Castle
  • Tantallon Castle
  • Urquhart Castle

* Free tickets will initially be available for the grounds of Craigmillar Castle only but need to be pre-booked online.

About Year of Coasts and Waters 2021

The Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2021), led by VisitScotland, will be showcased throughout 2021. Activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink - whisky.

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
Mobile: 07221 959 962