15 Best Things To Do In Dumfries, Scotland

15 Best Things To Do In Dumfries, Scotland

By will

Dumfries, Scotland is a picturesque town full of history and natural beauty. From the Robert Burns Centre to the Troqueer Bar Hill, there are plenty of activities to enjoy here. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day out or an adventure, there’s something for everyone in Dumfries.

In this article, I’ll be discussing the 15 best things to do in this lovely town. From museums to nature reserves, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy for hours. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate Dumfries experience, look no further – here are the 15 best things to do in Dumfries, Scotland.

Visit the Robert Burns Centre

Photo by Billy McCrorie

See the birthplace of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, at the Robert Burns Centre! Located in Dumfries, this museum and visitor center provides an educational and immersive experience into the life and works of the beloved poet.

Here you can explore a variety of exhibits, including the ‘Burns Cottage’, the original house in which Burns was born. The cottage interior has been painstakingly restored to reflect the time period in which Burns grew up.

You can also explore a number of interactive displays and exhibits, which provide a deeper look into the poet’s life and his work. Additionally, the centre has a collection of Burns artifacts, including original manuscripts, letters, and other personal items.

Finally, there is a special interactive exhibition that allows you to explore Burns’ world through an audio-visual experience. Whether you’re a fan of Burns’ poetry or simply looking to learn more about Scotland’s literary heritage, the Robert Burns Centre is a must-see in Dumfries.

Explore the Dumfries Museum

Dumfries Museum
Photo by Richard Sutcliffe

Visit the Dumfries Museum to explore the area’s rich history and culture! You won’t be disappointed – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

The museum is filled with artifacts, old photographs, and interactive displays that bring Dumfries’ past to life. You can learn about the area’s long and fascinating history, from the time of the Romans to the Industrial Revolution, and beyond.

The museum also has a variety of changing exhibitions, featuring art, photography, and other works inspired by Dumfries and the surrounding region. There are also interactive activities and educational programs available for visitors of all ages.

The Dumfries Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon learning about the area’s rich culture and history.

Take a Stroll Through the Old Town

Old church at Girthon
Photo by M J Richardson

Stroll through the winding streets of the Old Town and soak in the centuries-old atmosphere! It’s easy to see why the Old Town of Dumfries has been around since the 12th century.

The cobblestone streets and the historic buildings give off an almost magical feeling. Meander through the lanes and take in the quaint shops, traditional pubs, and historical landmarks.

As you explore, you’ll discover some of the oldest churches in Scotland, as well as centuries-old monuments and statues. You don’t even have to worry about getting lost in the Old Town, as all of the streets are well-marked and connected to one another.

Taking a leisurely stroll around the Old Town is one of the best ways to experience the charm of Dumfries.

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Enjoy the Scenery at the River Nith

Take a break from your Old Town exploration and head down to the River Nith for some beautiful views! Enjoy watching the river flow past the lush green banks as you take in the peaceful scenery.

The River Nith is a stunning natural wonder, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. Along the banks, you’ll find locals fishing, boating, and even some taking a dip in the river.

The river flows through the town, providing a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The peaceful atmosphere is the perfect place to relax and reflect on your day. Take a seat on the banks and enjoy the natural beauty of the River Nith – a unique and beautiful sight to behold in Dumfries, Scotland.

Have a Picnic at Drumlanrig Castle

Pack a lunch and head to Drumlanrig Castle to have a picnic surrounded by breathtaking views of rolling hills and lush forests!

Located in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland, Drumlanrig Castle is a 17th-century castle that boasts a long and storied history.

The castle sits atop a steep hill, and its grounds are filled with beautifully-maintained gardens and woodlands. It’s the perfect spot for a peaceful picnic with friends and family.

The grounds are also ideal for taking a leisurely stroll or for running around and exploring the grounds with children.

You can also take a guided tour of the castle while you’re there, to learn more about its history and architecture.

No matter what you do, you’re sure to have a wonderful time at Drumlanrig Castle, surrounded by its beautiful natural scenery.

Visit the Sweetheart Abbey

After finishing your picnic at Drumlanrig Castle, take a short drive to the Sweetheart Abbey. Dating back to 1273, this iconic landmark is a must-see for any visitor to Dumfries.

The abbey, originally called the Abbey of New Abbey, was built by Lady Devorguilla Balliol as a memorial to her late husband, John Balliol. This stunning building is a popular tourist destination and has a wonderful atmosphere that has been preserved for hundreds of years.

The abbey is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is home to a variety of interesting sculptures and monuments. Explore the abbey’s stunning cloister and the remarkable chapter house, which was described by Queen Victoria as being ‘one of the most beautiful places she had ever seen.

Stop and admire the beautiful stained glass windows and the ancient tomb of Lady Devorguilla Balliol, which is located in the south transept of the abbey. The Sweetheart Abbey is a must-see attraction in Dumfries and offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

Go Shopping in Dumfries Town Centre

Shopping in Dumfries Town Centre offers a variety of stores to explore, from high-end boutiques to quaint shops selling local goods. You can find clothes, jewelry, and shoes for any occasion, as well as items for your home.

A stroll along the cobblestone streets is a great way to experience the area’s unique atmosphere. Take your time to browse the store windows, or step inside to find something special.

Local shops offer a range of unique items, from handmade crafts to Scottish-made woolens. You can also find souvenirs for the perfect memento of your visit to Dumfries.

Whether you’re looking for a special gift or something for yourself, you’ll find something to suit your needs in Dumfries Town Centre.

Get Lost in the Caerlaverock Wetlands

After a hard day of shopping in the town centre, why not take a wander into the Caerlaverock Wetlands? Located just outside of Dumfries, these wetlands are a haven for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers alike.

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As I enter the wetlands, I can’t help but be amazed by the beauty of the area. The rich greens, blues, and purples of the flowers and trees create an incredible landscape that’s simply breathtaking. As I wander around, I can see all kinds of birds and wildlife in their natural habitats, giving me a real appreciation of the great outdoors.

I’m also able to take in the rich history of the area, seeing the remains of ancient castles and other historical sites. I can’t help but feel a deep connection to this place, as if I’m part of something bigger.

Whether it’s a leisurely stroll or a more adventurous exploration, the Caerlaverock Wetlands is an absolute must for anyone visiting Dumfries.

Take a Boat Ride on the Solway Firth

Experience the beauty of the Solway Firth like never before – hop aboard a boat and take a cruise!

Marvel at the stunning views of the coast from the comfort of your boat as you drift along the calm waters of the firth.

You’ll see the area’s rich wildlife, including the grey and common seals that are often spotted swimming alongside the boat.

Get a closer look at the many castles, such as Threave Castle, which lies on an island in the middle of the firth.

You may even glimpse the Isle of Man in the distance!

Boats can be hired from the many ports along the Solway, or you can book a tour to make the most out of your experience.

The boat ride is definitely one of the best ways to explore the beauty of the Solway Firth and the stunning scenery of Dumfries.

Visit the Threave Garden and Estate

After a peaceful boat ride on the Solway Firth, I was ready to explore the Threave Garden and Estate.

Located just a few miles from Dumfries, Threave offers a unique escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The grounds of the estate are filled with spectacular views of the rolling hills of Scotland, and the gardens are simply stunning.

There are many different types of flowers and plants, including rhododendrons, azaleas, and roses.

There are also several trails winding through the estate, allowing visitors to explore the area at their own pace.

The Threave estate also houses a castle, which is one of the most iconic structures in the area.

The castle offers a glimpse into Scotland’s past, and provides a great opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the region.

Inside the castle, visitors can explore the stately rooms, the great hall, and the chapel.

The garden is also home to a variety of wildlife, including red squirrels, roe deer, and a number of different birds.

After a day of exploring the grounds, visitors can take a break and enjoy a meal in one of the estate’s restaurants or cafes.

Go Hiking at the Criffel Hill

Climbing Criffel Hill is an invigorating way to explore the beautiful Scottish countryside. Standing at 550 meters, Criffel Hill offers stunning views of the surrounding area, including the Nith Estuary, the Solway Firth, and the hills of Cumbria just across the border in England.

This hike is a great way to get an understanding of the stunning landscape of Dumfries. The terrain is varied, with rolling hills, woodlands, and heather-covered slopes. The trail is well-marked, making it easy to follow and enjoy the scenery.

With a few rest stops along the way, you can take your time and soak up the beautiful views. Criffel Hill is an excellent spot for those looking for a memorable hiking experience in Dumfries.

Taste the Local Cuisine at a Pub

Treat yourself to a delicious meal in one of the area’s cozy pubs and sample the local flavors of Dumfries. Whether you’re looking for a classic fish and chips or a hearty steak pie, there’s something for everyone.

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Take in the sights and smells of the pub’s atmosphere, with locals chatting and laughing over drinks and food. Try a traditional Scottish dish such as haggis or cullen skink, a creamy smoked haddock soup.

In addition to the great food, many of the pubs in Dumfries offer live music and entertainment. Join the locals in singing along to traditional Scottish tunes and enjoy the upbeat atmosphere.

If you’re looking for a unique and tasty dining experience, try one of the pubs in Dumfries for a memorable night.

Take a Tour of the Greyfriars Church

Explore the stunningly beautiful Greyfriars Church, located in the heart of Dumfries. Witness the impressive architecture and take in the rich history of this ancient building.

Dating back to the 1600s, Greyfriars Church has been an integral part of the Dumfries landscape for centuries. Its impressive bell tower looms over the city, while its iconic spire can be seen from miles away.

Inside, the church is even more beautiful. Its intricately decorated stained glass windows, gleaming marble floors, and soaring columns draw visitors in. Take a guided tour to learn more about the history of this sacred place and explore its many nooks and crannies.

An afternoon spent at Greyfriars Church is sure to be a memorable one.

Enjoy the Wildlife at the Mersehead Nature Reserve

Experience nature’s beauty up close when you visit the Mersehead Nature Reserve. Located just a few miles outside of Dumfries, this nature reserve is a great spot to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Home to a wide variety of wildlife, visitors can spot birds, mammals, and even amphibians. The reserve also has a range of trails, which are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a more intense hike. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful time in nature or a more active outdoor experience, the Mersehead Nature Reserve caters to all kinds of visitors.

Wildlife enthusiasts will especially enjoy exploring the reserve. There are plenty of hides and observation points where you can watch the local wildlife. You might spot birds such as the redshank or water rail, or try to catch a glimpse of the Roe deer. The reserve is also home to a wide variety of amphibians, including frogs, toads, and newts.

With so much to see and explore, the Mersehead Nature Reserve is the perfect spot for a day out in Dumfries.

Explore the Troqueer Bar Hill

Take in the stunning views from Troqueer Bar Hill, a protected area just outside of Dumfries. This picturesque hilltop provides a spectacular view of the surrounding area, including the city of Dumfries, the River Nith, and the Solway Firth.

Troqueer Bar Hill is also home to a variety of plant and animal species, including wildflowers, rabbits, and birds. It’s the perfect spot to take a leisurely stroll and take in the natural beauty of the environment.

While exploring the area, you may also come across a historic monument, known as the White Hart Stone. This large stone is said to commemorate the death of a local landowner who was killed in a battle in the 13th century. It’s a great place to stop and reflect on the area’s rich history and culture.

No matter what you choose to do while exploring Troqueer Bar Hill, you’re sure to enjoy the beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere.


My time in Dumfries was filled with amazing experiences and wonderful sights. I was astounded by the beauty of the Robert Burns Centre and enthralled by the stories of the Dumfries Museum. I was also enchanted by the stunning views of the River Nith.

I had a wonderful picnic at Drumlanrig Castle and got a taste of the local cuisine at a pub. I also got to explore deeply the Greyfriars Church, the Mersehead Nature Reserve, and the Troqueer Bar Hill.

All in all, it was an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to come back. Dumfries is a truly magical destination that has something for everyone and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a unique and memorable holiday.

About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.