12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Perth, Scotland
The "Fair City" of Perth is one of the most popular cities in Scotland. Scottish history seeps from this charming city along the River Tay. This legacy is well represented by historic buildings in the town center and royal palaces not too far away.
This longstanding history combines with several modern attractions and things to do for an outstanding Scottish experience. Museums, art galleries, and concert halls add to the culture in Perth.
But also plan on spending some time outside at places like Rodney Gardens on the River Tay. And with other day trips, including castles, palaces, and cliffside woodland parks, it's worth adding a few extra days to your stay in this lovely Scottish retreat.
Enjoy your trip and discover the best places to visit with our list of the top things to do in Perth.
1. The Black Watch Castle & Museum
The Black Watch Museum highlights the legacy of Scotland's most distinguished infantry unit, the Black Watch. The history of the Black Watch spans over 250 years and includes significant roles in every Scottish military combat. The museum illustrates this world-changing history with hundreds of artifacts, exhibits, and multimedia presentations, all housed within a historic castle.
The museum displays war-torn artifacts like rifles, uniforms, and bullet-dented armor. The price of admission includes a self-guided tour spanning two floors with an available lift. Guided tours are available for an additional fee at 11am and 1pm, seven days a week. These 60-minute tours offer extra insight that goes beyond the displays.
The historic Balhousie Castle, housing the museum, is a fascinating piece of living history. This historic castle is the ancestral home of the military unit and dates to the 12th century. Recent renovations expanded the visitor experience, adding the award-winning Bisto @ the Castle and a museum shop.
2. Walk through Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park
Some of the best walks in Perth occur on Kinnoull Hill, on the other side of the River Tay from the town center. Kinnoull Hill is the largest of five hills on this side of the river and encompasses a broad swath of prospering woodland and forest habitat. Cliffside views of the River Tay region and countryside also draw a walking crowd.
Several trails navigate throughout the woodland landscapes, including a universal access trail. A popular route meanders the park's south side for cliffside views of the Kinnoull Hill Tower ruins. And beautiful views are even accessible from the parking lot for those not interested in walking too far.
Kinnoull Hill is also popular with horseback riding and mountain biking. However, those with a bicycle might be more interested in the adjacent Deuchny Hill Bike Park. Deuchny Hill Bike Park sees less pedestrian traffic and doesn't have the same hill climbs as Kinnoull Hill.
3. Scone Palace
Scone Palace is a living piece of Scottish royal history on the north side of town. It's an ancient crowning place of Scottish Kings, including Robert the Bruce and Macbeth. It was also home to the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, which now resides in Edinburgh Castle.
This royal history is well represented at Scone Palace, and its legacy continues as the current family home of the Earl of Mansfield. The public is welcome to tour the palace with the price of admission. Many visitors opt for a self-guided sightseeing tour of the historical manor, though guided tours are also offered throughout the week.
Admission includes access to the property's 100 acres of woodland trails and gardens. And the tranquil landscape surrounding the castle is a reason to visit alone. One notable point of interest is a massive garden maze resembling the shape of a five-pointed star and comprising over 2,000 beech trees.
Official site: https://www.scone-palace.co.uk/web/
4. Branklyn Garden
Branklyn Garden is a beautiful botanic attraction on the other side of the River Tay from the town center. It was founded in 1922 by John and Dorothy Renton as a private home garden on the side of Kinnoull Hill overlooking the city. However, thanks to the Renton's careful cultivation of rare and unique plants, the garden today is a small mecca for garden lovers across the globe.
The National Trust for Scotland now operates Branklyn Gardens. There's a small fee for non-members to enter the garden. Upon entry, visitors are welcome to wander the two-acre garden along its winding paths. Something rare is often in bloom outside of the winter months. Of particular note in the garden are rhododendrons, magnolias, and a bountiful collection of alpine plants.
Take some time to enjoy a steaming beverage and a home-baked good at the on-site Tearoom. This confectionery space extends onto a terrace for a beautiful view while recharging the spirits. Admission into the garden is required to visit the Tearoom.
5. Tour Huntingtower Castle
Huntingtower Castle, once known as Place of Ruthven, is a standing piece of Scottish history not far from the town center. It dates to the 1400s and spent centuries as a royal house.
The lordly manor hosted significant events, including the notorious "Ruthven Raid" and an eventual transfer of power to the Murrays of Tullibardine, who renamed the estate Huntingtower Castle.
Historic Environment Scotland operates the castle and offers daily public access to the castle and grounds. The castle is well kept despite its longstanding stature, and its brick-laid interior provides an excellent glimpse into the past. Take some time to find the ceiling painting in the castle dating back to the 1500s.
A ramp into the first floor makes the castle accessible to all visitors. However, only stairs lead to the second floor, with no lift available.
The castle is open seven days a week throughout the extended summer season, with more limited hours during winter (October through March).
6. Perth Museum & Art Gallery
Perth Museum & Art Gallery is a favorite family attraction in Perth and one of the oldest established museums in Scotland. It's hard to miss the museum, near the western end of Smeaton's Bridge, with several eye-catching colors adorning its Greek-style columns.
Admission is by donation only at the Perth Museum & Art Gallery. Permanent exhibits at the museum explore Perth's longstanding history and the natural world. Some permanent exhibits also explore out of this world, including a display of meteorites.
Rotating exhibits make up the bulk of things to see at the Perth Museum & Art Gallery. The museum adds new installations to the lineup throughout the year. These rotating exhibits range from local history photographs to international art pieces and ensure something new to see with each visit.
7. Attend a Performance at Perth Concert Hall
Perth Concert Hall is a state-of-the-art venue and performance space that draws crowds to the city. It's grown a reputation for its sound and stage capabilities, attracting some of the biggest touring acts in the nation. And the visitor experience often leads to repeat performances, starting from walking into the giant glass foyer and entering the 1,000-seat auditorium.
A wide variety of acts tour the Perth Concert Hall throughout the year. Expect classical music on the lineup, including orchestral performances and solo performers. The venue also attracts comedians, pop stars, country bands, and a broad mix of local programming.
Horsecross Arts operates the Perth Concert Hall. This charity organization also manages the adjacent Perth Theatre, home to Scotland's oldest repertory theater company. This part of the entertainment production puts on several award-winning plays and shows throughout the year. These performances take place in a recently renovated Edwardian auditorium.
Official site: https://www.horsecross.co.uk/
8. The Fergusson Gallery
Housed in a historic water tower near the River Tay and South Inch Park is the Fergusson Gallery. This free art museum primarily highlights the work of John Duncan Fergusson, also known as JD Fergusson, who has roots in the region. The gallery also devotes space to his wife, Margaret Morris, who was an influential modern dancer.
It's fun to wander the cylindrical walls of the gallery, which is draped by several pieces of art and other artifacts like costumes and easels.
Expect to spend approximately 30 to 60 minutes touring the gallery space and gift shop. Along the way, learn more about this famous Scottish colorist and his groundbreaking wife.
9. River Tay and Rodney Gardens
River Tay, the longest river in Scotland, is the natural lifeline of the city. Perth's long history intertwines with the banks of the river, dating back at least to the 1200s, when it became a royal burgh. Today, the river is much easier to cross by walking or car, and its scenic beauty still draws visitors.
Walking along the west banks of the river, closest to the city center, is a scenic experience. But there's even more to see, thanks to the River Tay Public Art Trail installed on both riverbanks. This collection of sculptures pairs nicely with some of the most picturesque parts of the city.
Rodney Gardens is arguably the most beautiful part of the River Tay Public Art Trail. This free-to-visit garden space is on the other side of the river from the town center, across the Queens Bridge from South Street. It features dozens of eye-catching botanic displays and artistic sculptures.
10. Explore Perth High Street and Town Center
Perth High Street and its town center are fun to wander around. The River Tay bounds this shopping and dining area to the east, with several other city tourist attractions within walking distance. This includes the Perth Concert Hall; the Perth Art Museum & Gallery; and other places like Concorde Music, stocking an extensive vinyl collection since 1967.
High Street is the primary pedestrian quarter to wander. Thru traffic isn't allowed in this busy stretch of town, but there are plenty of people emerging from the storefronts and eating al fresco at the local cafés. The St. John's Shopping Centre has a pedestrian entrance off High Street and has the most concentrated collection of shops in town.
Don't limit your wanderings just to High Street. Other charming thoroughfares include George Street and St. John Street, both branching away from the Perth Concert Hall. And the river is always within quick walking distance, luring shoppers with its postcard appeal.
11. South Inch Park and North Inch Park
South Inch and North Inch Park are two open green spaces perfect for an afternoon of nice weather. They are each on the west side of the River Tay, near the city center, with approximately a half-mile span between them. It's easy to access either park during a day of exploring around town.
South Inch spans 86 acres, including areas like a skate park and dedicated sports pitches. Concrete trails traverse this open space, often with trees lining the path's edge. But the real place for pedestrian traffic is along its western edge. A popular playground attracts families here, and a nearby wetland is a hot spot for bird-watchers.
North Inch, a half-mile north along River Tay, also features abundant flat green space popular for lawn games. It also features a long circular path along its border and next to the river. This popular route offers a great walk when the weather is nice.
12. Greyfriar's Burial Ground
Greyfriar's Burial Ground is a quick side trip worth taking when wandering around Perth. It's located just north of South Inch Park along the River Tay. It contains a beautiful collection of old gravestones and monuments dating to the 1500s. Walking through this well-kept burial ground evokes the region's long history.
The grounds of Greyfriars are under lock and key and typically open to the public from the morning until late afternoon. Any tour of the headstones and monuments is self-guided, with plenty to discover around each corner.
The burial ground offers an excellent add-on stop to visiting The Ferguson Gallery just down the street.