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Scotland's UNESCO Heritage Sites

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Did you know Scotland has six UNESCO Heritage Sites? These are New Lanark, St Kilda, Neolithic Orkney, Edinburgh, Antonine Wall, and The Forth Bridge. 2017 was the year of celebrating History, Heritage, and Archaeology but wait 2020 is coming and it's the year of Coasts and Waters. What better year to share Scotland's UNESCO Heritage Sites as each has its own story to tell!

Looking out of the Water of Leith to Dean Village.
Dean Village, Edinburgh ©MDHarding

Scotland's UNESCO Heritage Sites

New Lanark World Heritage Site

Discover who social pioneer and mill founder Robert Owen was, behind New Lanark World Heritage Site. Enjoy the surroundings with woodland walks and the year-round views from the rooftop terrace. Sitting along the River Clyde this unique 18th-century cotton mill village is the perfect place to step back in time to see historic working machinery, how the mill workers lived, and the nearby Falls of Clyde waterfalls.

There are interactive displays and educational rides such as the Annie MacLeod Experience ride, in which a 3-D hologram of mill girl Annie Miller reveals her amazing story on life in New Lanark during the 1820s.

There is also a cafe with delicious treats and a shop selling locally made textiles.

Located only an hour from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is a great family day out hosting a variety of events throughout the year. This October one of the exhibitions is Shining Lives: Fortunes of Fate.

Shining Lives: Fortunes of Fate is a lighting, projection, and living history event which will tell the story of The Fortune Ship Highlanders, beginning with their ill-fated voyage from Skye to North Carolina and traveling with them to a new life at New Lanark Cotton Mills.

Journey with us through New Lanark’s iconic landscape, and watch as the 230-year-old mill buildings bring to life new films and live characters, interwoven with imagery from our rich archive.

High vantage point looking out over New Lanark World Heritage Site.
New Lanark World Heritage Site ©MDHarding

St Kilda

St Kilda is one of the most remote archipelagoes of islands located on the northwest coast of Scotland. The St Kilda UNESCO World Heritage site islands are known around the world for their dramatic cliffs and over half a million seabird population, as well as capturing the interest of people across the globe.

In 1930, the last St Kildans left the island of Hirta. See the small jollyboat that once ferried the locals, visitors, supplies, and letters to and from the steamship S.S Dunara Castle at the Riverside Museum, Glasgow.

Explore St Kilda UNESCO World Heritage site with either a day trip or overnight camping trip which depart from the Isle of Skye or the Isle of Harris. These rough and rugged islands are steeped in history, heritage, and archaeology. Discover an insight into how the population lived and the beauty of today, however, don’t forget your camera to capture this unique trip!

With the trips departing early and returning late from remote locations, I recommend booking accommodation in advance. If departing from the Isle of Skye and the port of Uig, the Uig Hotel is an ideal location to stay and experience the delicious local, fresh Scottish cuisine.

Hundreds of Gannets flying by the boat to get a meal.
Gannets At St Kilda ©NTS

Neolithic Orkney

It's hard to imagine what life would have been like over 12,000 years ago! Turn back time with a visit to Neolithic Orkney where time stands still at the village of Skara Brae dating back more than 5000 years. The prehistoric village is the best-preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe. Located on the Bay of Skall it consists of eight clustered houses. Occupied from around 3180 BC to about 2500 BC.

Did you know as well as direct flights from Edinburgh to Kirkwall, Orkney you can also take the overnight ferry from Aberdeen or why not drive to the most northern part of mainland Scotland - John O'Groats and take a day trip? The day trip takes you not only to Skara Brae but the Italian Chapel the Churchill Barrier and more!

Inside one of the historic homes at Skara Brae.
Skara Brae, Orkney ©MDHarding


The only city that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both the Edinburgh old town and new town encompass a great deal of history. Only 100 years apart the striking architecture of each side of the city is a must-see. Follow the Water of Leith through the new town into Dean Village, through the upmarket Stockbridge and beyond as it flows out into the Firth of Forth. Did you know that the ships traveling into Leith would rely on the time ball situated on top of the Nelson Monument, Calton Hill? The 762kg time ball was added to the monument in 1852 and enabled the captains to set their chronometers for accurate navigation by observing the dropping of the ball at one o'clock Greenwich Mean Time each day. Nine years later the one o'clock gun at Edinburgh Castle was added, to give an audible signal as sometimes the sea-haar would be so great that the time ball would be invisible.

You can visit the museum inside nelson Monument for free or climb to the top for £5.00 to see the incredible surrounding views.

Architecture and a vintage Edinburgh Tour Bus.
Lawnmarket, High Street (Royal Mile), Edinburgh ©MDHarding

The Antonine Wall

Frontiers of the Roman Empire such as The Antonine Wall are protected and part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Known as Vallum Antonni to the Romans, the turf fortification was built across the central belt of Scotland. Extending between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde impacting the landscape. Today you can still see large sections such as that at Callendar Park, Kinneil House, and much more! By 70 AD much of Scotland was under Roman control, discover more about the Romans in Scotland while visiting some of these historical sites.

A section of the Antonine Wall.
Antonine Wall, Kinneil House, Bo'Ness ©MDHarding

The Forth Bridge

The red cantilever Forth Bridge spans 541 metres, the world's longest when opened in 1890. Today the iconic rail bridge is visited and admired by many from around the world. You can visit by car into the village of South or North Queensferry and by a train traveling on-wards to towns and cities on the east coast of Scotland. There is also the local 43 bus that travels nine miles from Edinburgh city centre.

Get ready for the climb of your life and support Barnardo's with The Forth Bridge Experience.

The red rail bridge going across the Firth of Forth River.
Forth Bridge ©MDHarding

I hope you have enjoyed reading and are inspired to visit one or more of Scotland's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As always, I would love to hear from you. Please email your comments/questions to:

Happy Travels:) x

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