Welcome to, Perth Scotland. Sitting on the banks of the beautiful River Tay, Scotland’s Fair City might be one of the smallest cities in Scotland, but this ancient place was once Scotland’s capital. Now the gateway to the Scottish Highlands and the heart of spectacular Perthshire, the city of Perth is a great place to visit in its own right. Here are the best things to do in Perth Scotland.
10+ things to do in Perth Scotland
- Explore Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park – With incredible views from the summit over Perth and the Tay, a walk in the woodland park on Kinnoull Hill is a must for those visiting Perth.
- Go paddling at Willowgate Activity Centre – based on the River Tay underneath the imposing Kinnoull Hill, try SUP, kayaking, open water swimming, and a range of outdoor activities at Willowgate Activity Centre.
- Visit Branklyn Gardens – a 2-acre hillside garden to the south of Perth city centre, Branklyn Gardens is dog friendly and managed by the National Trust for Scotland (free for NTS members, Adult £7.50). There is a great cafe on site serving up tea and homemade cakes.
- See the Meikleour Beech Hedge – the tallest hedge in the world, the Meikleour Hedge is a mile long and was first planted in 1745.
- Visit Scone Palace – discover the crowning place of the King of Scots – Scone Palace. Dogs are welcome in the beautiful grounds.
- Visit Balhousie Castle and learn about the Black Watch – discover the history of Scotland’s oldest Highland regiment at Balhousie Castle.
- Go shopping on George Street in Perth City Centre – Perth is a lovely spot for retail therapy and George Street is full of lovely boutiques and coffee shops.
- Walk the River Tay Public Art Trail – follow the river to find 20 pieces of public art.
- Climb Moncreiffe Hill – climb up this wooded hill to the south of Perth for fantastic views over the town.
- Start the Heart 200 Road Trip – take a 200 mile road trip around the delights of Perthshire starting and ending in Perth Scotland. Drive the Heart 200.
Perth City Centre
One of Scotland’s smallest cities, Perth has a compact and bustling city centre of Perth with museums, galleries, traditional pubs, restaurants and riverside walks. Visit the Ferguson Gallery (in a beautiful old waterworks) stroll along the river, go shopping on George Street and and at Concorde Music before cosying up in a traditional pub. Visit Perth.
Notable buildings in Perth City Centre include The Fair Maid’s House, linked to Catherine Glover, the heroine of Walter Scott’s The Fair Maid of Perth, the oldest house in Perth is now home to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s visitor and education centre. St John’s Kirk – the oldest building in Perth, the church gave Perth it’s nickname St John’s Toun. Visit Perth.
Created in the 1920s, Branklyn Gardens is a 2-acre hillside garden to the south of Perth city centre.Now managed by the National Trust for Scotland (free for NTS members) the garden is full of alpine plants and Japanese Maples. Built as a garden for John and Dorothy Renton Arts & Crafts-inspired house, Branklyn has a lovely cafe on site serving up tea and homemade cakes. Branklyn Gardens is dog friendly. Visit Branklyn Gardens.
Walks in Perth Scotland
Explore this small city and surrounds on foot:
- Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park – made up of Corsiehill, Deuchny Hill, Barnhill, and Biun Hill and Kinnoull Hill, this woodland park is directly accessible from Perth City Centre. With dramatic wooded cliffs, and a fantastic romantic folly, Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park gives spectacular views across Perth and to the countryside beyond. Visit Kinnoull Hill.
- Moncrieffe Hill – managed by the Woodland Trust, Moncrieffe Hill has panoramic views across Fife and Perthshire and is home to red squirrels! There are over 8 miles of paths to explore – and lots of sculptures and viewpoints to find. Visit Moncrieffe Hill.
- Perth City Centre walk – discover the river and the historical sites of Perth City Centre on this 4 mile walk. You can also spot the artworks on the River Tay Art Trail. Visit Perth City Centre.
- Scone Circular – discover Scone Palace and the lands of the Murrays on this great 5.5 circular walk to find Macduff’s folly and the Lynedoch Obelisk. Walk the Scone Circular.
Perth walks, slightly further afield
- The Hermitage – an 18th-century pleasure garden filled with giant Douglas Fir trees. The most popular is to walk to Ossian’s Hall, where a viewing platform reveals the tumbling Black Linn Falls below.
- The Birnam Oak – follow this riverside walk along the Tay to find a 500 year old oak tree mentioned in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
So, what’s in a name – is it Perth, St Johnstone, or the Fair City?
Perth has three names – ‘Perth’ – which in pictish means ‘copse or wood’, probably refers to the city’s raised location on the banks of the River Tay. In neolithic times, a great spot above the often rising flood waters of the river and right on a spot where the river can easily be forded, now crossed by the 9 arches of the Smeaton Bridge.
The ancient name for Perth is St John’s Toun, or Saint Johnstoun, taken from the church in the city centre which is dedicated to St John the Baptist. Did you know that the Perth football team is also called Saint Johnstone? Perth is also nicknamed The Fair City, after the romantic novel The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott, which was published in 1828.
Where is Perth Scotland?
Perth is the capital of the region of Perthshire, which sits centrally, and is often called the ‘heart of Scotland. The city is one of 7 Scottish cities and it sits on the River Tay.
How to get to Perth, Scotland
- By car – Perth sits on the M90 motorway and is around 1.5 hours north from the city to Edinburgh. The city is also on the A9 to Stirling, Glasgow and Inverness in the north. Other nearby towns include Crieff and Crianlarich, Blairgowrie and Braemar, and the A90 to Dundee and Aberdeen.
- By Train and Bus – Perth has a mainline train station and is connected to the rest of Scotland by City Link and Stagecoach buses. Book your train tickets with trainline.com*.
Where to stay in Perth[affiliate links]
- Murrayshall Country House Hotel – A country house hotel near Scone Palace [Review Murrayshall]
- The Salutation Hotel – the oldest hotel in Scotland
- Woodcroft House – a uxury guest house in Perth
- Old Manse of Blair – a luxury hotel with a rather good restaurant
- Bankfoot Inn – stay in a traditional Perthshire Inn
- Stay at Huntingtower near Perth which sits in 6 acres of grounds
- Blackhill Farm Cottage a self-catering cottage near Scone Palace
- Riverside Cottage in Crief is perfect for exploring dog friendly Perthshire
- Burmieston has self catering accommodation and BBQ facilities
- The Auld Manse guesthouse sits on the banks of the River Tay
- Glencroft – a thatched cottage B&B
Love, from Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.