Must see attractions in Borders Region

  • Top ChoiceSights in Peebles

    Traquair House

    One of Scotland's great country houses, Traquair House has a power­ful, ethereal beauty, and exploring it is like time travel. Odd, sloping floors and a musty odour bestow a genuine feel, and parts of the building are believed to have been constructed long before the first official record of its existence in 1107. The massive tower house was gradually expanded but has remained virtually unchanged since the 17th century. Traquair is about 6 miles southeast of Peebles.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Melrose

    Abbotsford

    Just outside Melrose, this is where to discover the life and works of Sir Walter Scott, to whom we arguably owe both the modern novel and our mind's-eye view of Scotland. This whimsical, fabulous house where he lived – and which ruined him when his publishers went bust – really brings this 19th-century writer to life. The grounds on the banks of the Tweed are lovely, and Scott drew much inspiration from rambles in the surrounding countryside.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Borders Region

    Hermitage Castle

    The 'guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain', Hermitage Castle embodies the brutal history of the Scottish Borders. Desolate but proud with its massive squared stone walls, it looks more like a lair for orc raiding parties than a home for Scottish nobility, and is one of the bleakest and most stirring of Scottish ruins. The castle is about 12 miles south of Hawick on the B6357.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Borders Region

    Paxton House

    Paxton House, 6 miles west of Berwick-upon-Tweed, is beside the River Tweed and surrounded by parkland and gardens. It was built in 1758 by Patrick Home for his intended wife, the daughter of Prussia’s Frederick the Great. Unfortunately, she stood him up, but it was her loss; designed by the Adam family – brothers John, James and Robert – it’s acknowledged as one of the finest 18th-century Palladian houses in Britain. Four tours run daily; see the website for limited winter visiting.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Melrose

    Melrose Abbey

    Perhaps the most interesting of the Border abbeys, red-sandstone Melrose was repeatedly destroyed by the English in the 14th century. The remaining broken shell is pure Gothic and the ruins are famous for their decorative stonework – look out for the pig gargoyle playing the bagpipes. Though Melrose had a monastery way back in the 7th century, this abbey was founded by David I in 1136 for Cistercian monks, and later rebuilt by Robert the Bruce, whose heart is buried here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Melrose

    Dryburgh Abbey

    This is the most beautiful and complete of the Border abbeys, partly because the neighbouring town of Dryburgh no longer exists (another victim of the wars) and partly because of its lovely site by the Tweed in a sheltered birdsong-filled valley. Dating from about 1150, the abbey belonged to the Premonstratensians, a religious order founded in France, and evokes 12th-century monastic life more successfully than its nearby counterparts. The pink-hued stone ruins are the burial place of Sir Walter Scott.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Jedburgh

    Jedburgh Abbey

    Dominating the town skyline, this was the first of the great Border abbeys to be passed into state care, and it shows – audio and visual presentations telling the abbey's story are scattered throughout the carefully preserved ruins (good for the kids). The red-sandstone ruins are roofless but relatively intact, and the ingenuity of the master mason can be seen in some of the rich (if somewhat faded) stone carvings in the nave.

  • Sights in Eyemouth

    Gunsgreen House

    Standing proud and four-square across the harbour, this elegant 18th-century John Adam mansion was built on the profits of smuggling: Eyemouth was an important landing point for illegal cargoes from northern Europe and the Baltic. The house has been beautifully restored to reflect this and other aspects of its varied past. The hands-on exhibition makes a special effort to keep the kids entertained. Both the house and the adjacent tower-like dovecote can be hired out as self-catering accommodation.

  • Sights in Kelso

    Floors Castle

    Grandiose Floors Castle is Scotland's largest inhabited mansion, home to the Duke of Roxburghe, and overlooks the Tweed about a mile west of Kelso. Built by William Adam in the 1720s, the original Georgian simplicity was 'improved' in the 1840s with the addition of somewhat OTT battlements and turrets. Inside, view the vivid colours of 17th-century Brussels tapestries in the drawing room and intricate oak carvings in the ornate ballroom. The walled garden is a highlight of the extensive grounds.

  • Sights in Kelso

    Mellerstain House

    Finished in 1778, this is considered to be Scotland's finest Robert Adam–designed mansion. It is huge and famous for its classic elegance, ornate interiors and plaster ceilings; the library in particular is outstanding. The upstairs bedrooms are less attractive, but have a peek at the bizarre puppet-and-doll collection in the gallery. It's about 6 miles northwest of Kelso, near Gordon. There are concerts held here through the summer months.

  • Sights in Coldingham & St Abbs

    St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve

    The clear, clean waters around St Abbs form part of St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve, one of the best cold-water diving sites in Europe. The reserve is home to a variety of marine life, including grey seals and porpoises. Visibility is about 7m to 8m but has been recorded at up to 24m. Beds of brown kelp form a hypnotically undulating forest on the seabed.

  • Sights in Kelso

    Smailholm Tower

    Perched on a rocky knoll above a small lake, this narrow stone tower provides one of the most evocative sights in the Borders and keeps its bloody history alive. Although displays inside are sparse, the panoramic view from the top is worth the climb. The tower is 6 miles west of Kelso, a mile south of Smailholm village on the B6397.

  • Sights in Hawick

    Heart of Hawick

    Three buildings form the 'heart' of Hawick. A former mill holds a cafe and cinema. Opposite, historic Drumlanrig's Tower, once a major seat of the Douglas clan, now houses the Borders Textile Towerhouse. This tells the story of the town's knitwear-producing history. Behind the mill, the Heritage Hub is a state-of-the-art facility open to anyone wishing to trace their Scottish heritage or explore other local archives.

  • Sights in Coldstream

    Coldstream Museum

    The proud history of the Coldstream Guards is covered here. Formed as part of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army in 1650, they played a significant part in the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and saw service at Waterloo, in Crimea, in the Boer War, at the Somme and Ypres in WWI, and at Dunkirk and Tobruk in WWII. It remains the oldest regiment in continuous existence in the British army.

  • Sights in Jedburgh

    Mary, Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre

    Mary stayed at this beautiful 16th-century tower house in 1566 after her famous ride to visit the injured Earl of Bothwell, her future husband, at Hermitage Castle. The interesting exhibition evokes the sad saga of Mary's life and death. Various objects associated with her – including a lock of her hair – are on display.

  • Sights in Hawick

    Borders Textile Towerhouse

    The historic Drumlanrig’s Tower is a solid stone mansion that was once a major seat of Douglas clan power in the Borders. It now holds the Borders Textile Towerhouse, which tells the story of the town’s knitwear-producing history, from traditional tweed to high fashion.

  • Sights in Selkirk

    Halliwell's House Museum

    Halliwell’s House Museum is the oldest building (1712) in Selkirk. The museum charts local history with an engrossing exhibition, and the Robson Gallery has changing exhibitions. There's some local information available here too.

  • Sights in Selkirk

    Sir Walter Scott's Courtroom

    Drop into Sir Walter Scott’s Courtroom, where there’s an exhibition on the man’s life and writings, plus a fascinating account of the courageous explorer Mungo Park (born near Selkirk) and his search for the River Niger.

  • Sights in Coldingham & St Abbs

    St Abbs Visitor Centre

    This modern exhibition in St Abbs has interesting interactive displays on the often stormy history of this harbour village. Spoken reminiscences from locals like a fisherman and lighthouse keeper are the highlight.

  • Sights in Hawick

    Heritage Hub

    The Heritage Hub, formerly the corn exchange, is a handy facility for anyone wishing to trace Scottish heritage, or other local archives. If you can't visit in person, you can pay to get some research done for you.