The charming market town of Dumfries is located in the historic county of Dumfriesshire in South West Scotland. It sits by the mouth of the River Nith, which flows southward into the Solway Firth. Dumfries has deep historic roots that may stem as far back as the Roman occupation, which makes it a unique holiday destination to enjoy.

You’ll have no problems finding Dumfries attractions to keep you busy here, but we’d love to make it that bit easier for you. We have put together a list of the top things to do in Dumfries to complement your itinerary, with major attractions like Galloway Forest Park and Drumlanrig Castle.

So, have a look at our fantastic list of the best things to do in Dumfries down below!

27 Things to do in Dumfries

Dumfries is a brilliant place to visit. From museums to castles, parks to walking tours – there’s plenty to fill your day if you’re looking for things to do.

Visitors of all ages have some many things to look forward to, with ample attractions like Castle Douglas, Threave Castle, and Gretna Green. With all the great days out to be had, don’t miss out on visiting this fun and friendly town. Check out our list of all the best things to do in Dumfries below!

Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura

In the truly storybook setting of an 18th-century windmill lies a treasure trove of local history. Take a walk back in time as you browse fossilised footprints from the Solway marshes.

Footprints of prehistoric reptiles are displayed alongside ancient stone carvings and the tools of the earliest inhabitants of the region. Also not to be missed on your visit is the magical Camera Obscura, a fantastical journey through the weird and wonderful world of illusions. It was installed in 1836 and is the oldest working instrument of its kind in the world.

Enjoy stunning panoramic views of the countryside and town which stretch on for many miles on clear days. History buffs and curious minds are encouraged to drop by!

Robert Burns House

People come from far and wide to visit the home of Scotland’s national poet at the Robert Burns Centre.

The legendary wordsmith once laid pen to paper here, creating some of the most famous pieces of poetry in Scotland. You can explore the house where he lived, breathed, and wrote some of his most beloved poems.

Spend some time browsing Burns’ original manuscripts and the lyrical words they hold. Check out the desk and chair where he worked – see if inspiration strikes you. too. Famous visitors like Wordsworth, Keats and Coleridge have also been drawn to this site of literary history.

This is truly an unmissable visitor centre for Burns enthusiasts.

Mabie Farm Park

For a fantastic family day out, visit Mabie Farm Park!

It sits nestled close by the magnificent Mabie Forest. The surrounding scenery is utterly gorgeous and would make a great background for a family photo.

The park offers the home-spun atmosphere of a farm while offering many indoor and outdoor activities, such as the Mabie Farm Play Barn.

Children and children at heart will love the beautiful scenery, adventures, learning about the animals and the charming tearoom.

Come and enjoy the outdoors with the whole family.

Gracefield Arts Centre

Lovers of art will enjoy this impressive collection of Scottish art and exhibitions. The centre features over 400 paintings dating from the 1880s to the present day. It also features local, UK and international craft makers.

Dumfries has long had a culture of art. It is said to hold more art and craft practitioners per square mile than any other place in the UK.

There’s also an outdoor play area for the kids to enjoy while you browse.

Dock Park

This beautiful waterfront green space is a lovely place to spend a day.

The park’s crown jewel is a 19th-century bandstand. With the addition of new equipment and new lighting, it has been revived to its former majesty.

There is new colourful play equipment suitable for all ages to keep the kids entertained. They’ll also love to explore the historic maze, which has stood its ground since the 1970s.

For a bit of family fun, why not try the Peter Pan-themed mini golf area, designed by local artists?

This beautiful and fun-filled park is well worth a visit.

Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum

This amazing museum is run by volunteers and is based inside an old WW2 Airfield, with a cosy little café on site.

The Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Group founded the museum in 1977.

The impressive collection includes both civil and military aircraft, aero engines, artefacts, plus a modest collection of memorabilia.

It is a must-see for lovers of history and makes for a very interesting family day out.

Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust

Reignite your childhood imagination as you explore this wonderful museum.

It is a celebration of the beloved lost boy, Peter Pan. The museum breathes life into this most nostalgic of stories in a way that both children and adults will adore.

Past visitors of all ages recommend it highly. A day spent here is one steeped in nostalgia and magic.

It is one of the best things to do in Dumfries to satisfy the child at heart in all of us.

Caerlaverock Castle

This stunning medieval fortress is well worth a visit, especially on clear days. The storybook setting makes for an incredible picnic site, and the castle itself is truly a treasure to behold.

The towering red sandstone walls are unique in Britain due to their triangular shape and twin-towered gatehouse. You can learn all about the castle’s turbulent history within. For an even better experience, consider downloading the Castle Quest app before your visit.

Definitely one of my personal favourites on this list. Who doesn’t love an old Scottish castle?

Sweetheart Abbey

If the name isn’t enough to draw you in, hopefully, we can convince you to give this magnificent 13th-century Abbey a visit.

The story behind the naming of the Abbey is one of love and devotion.

Monks chose the name to honour the Abbey founder, Lady Devorgilla. She founded the Abbey in tribute to her beloved husband, John Balliol.

Of all the excellent things to do in Dumfries for couples, there is none more steeped in historic romance.

Devorgilla Bridge

The bridge is named after the Lady of Galloway, Lady Devorgilla, also famed as the mother of King John Balliol.

This centuries-old landmark was built in the 15th century and is one of Scotland’s oldest standing bridges.

Overlooking the clear glassy waters of the River Nith, the picturesque bridge makes for an excellent photo opportunity.

Lincluden Collegiate Church

Come and see the crumbling gothic remains of this ruined religious house.

Said to have taken the place of a nunnery which fell into moral and physical decay, the church is deeply eerie. There is an atmosphere of mystery and history which saturates the very stones.

If you find yourself drawn to old places with a strange or sordid past, this decrepit church is a must-see.

Burns Mausoleum

Dumfries’s oldest house now stands as a monument to the past. A snapshot of everyday life in the town can be glimpsed when you visit this Victorian home. Beautiful and spooky is this monument to one of Scotland’s most beloved literary figures.

The house once served as an inn and may even have been frequented by the legendary wordsmith himself, Robert Burns. If you are visiting the Devorgilla Bridge, I can’t recommend stopping in to view this little piece of the past.

For those interested in architecture, this is an absolute must-see. And for those not so interested in architecture, think of the excellent Instagram pictures. The mausoleum and its surrounding grounds are beautiful, eerie, and absolutely worth a visit.

Dumfries and Galloway Golf Club

The 9th hole at Dumfries and Galloway Golf Club

Dumfries is a Scottish town, so, naturally, there are ample golfing opportunities. This utterly beautiful parkland course measures 6222 yards and welcomes visitors year-round.

The course itself is rigorously maintained to a very high standard and benefits from stunning surrounding scenery. For any avid golfers who are considering a trip to Dumfries, worry not; this course will definitely not disappoint.

Crichton Memorial Church

This towering church is like a mini cathedral, and it’s a truly spectacular sight to behold.

It is noted as one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical architecture in Southern Scotland. The inside of the church is no less stunning. Delicate stained glass in the windows showcases figures of the virtue’s justice, faith, hope, fortitude and charity.

The beautiful colours cast enchanting shadows on the ground as the light pours in. Of all the things to do in Dumfries, this grand church is amongst the most aesthetic.

7Stanes Mabie

Lovers of the great outdoors will really enjoy this truly beautiful cycling park.

There’s lots to do here to fill your day. Open spaces for kids to play, picnic and barbeque spaces, walking trails and opportunities for wildlife watching.

For cyclists ranging from beginners to experts, this park is ideal. It is even home to one of the world-class 7stanes mountain biking centres.

It is definitely one of the more versatile of the top things to do in Dumfries.

See Dumfries’ Stone Circles

Twelve Apostles Stone Circle

The Twelve Apostles Stone Circle is a strange historical landmark that may not look like much at first sight. But the mysterious nature of it draws visitors year-round.

Smaller but no less unusual is the Easthill Stone Circle. It lies not far from where the Twelve Apostles sits and shares some striking similarities in shape and orientation. This suggests the two may be linked somehow.

If you’ve visited any of these stone circles in other places, you’ll be familiar with the odd atmosphere of antiquity that hangs around them.

Even if only out of curiosity, it’s worth making a point to see the stones.

New Abbey Corn Mill

Fitting in well with the historic nature of a lot of places on our list is this 18th-century water-powered mill. The New Abbey Corn Mill isn’t one of the most popular attractions; it’s certainly one that you can’t miss! Why should you spend time here?

This corn mill acts like a time capsule for the miner’s craft. Even today, it is functional; it’s used to show visitors how oatmeal was made in the 18th century.

Definitely an interesting way to spend an afternoon!


Another one for the nature lovers!

Criffel is a very beautiful hill which towers high at 570 metres. It appears even taller than it is due to how it dwarfs the hills that surround it. The climb to the top can be split into two halves. The first half is steep and challenging, with enchanting forest scenery surrounding you.

A stream flows alongside you, always close by, constant and refreshing with its crystal-clear running water. As you reach the end of the first half and approach the second, you’ll see a quaint wooden bridge. This is a great spot to recharge and take in the fresh air before you face the summit.

Of all the great things to do in Dumfries, this climb is among the most peaceful. Check out the full guide on Walkhighlands.

Explore the Local Lochs

Loch Arthur

The town of Dumfries has more than one stunning loch worth visiting. Each of them is less than half an hour away and well worth the effort to go and see them.

Loch Arthur is a lovely place to visit. The location is very easy to reach, and there is even a little shop nearby that sells products made by local people.

Lochrutton Loch is vast and impressively deep, so fishing here should be fruitful. In the centre of this freshwater loch lies a crannog known as Dutton’s cairn, said to date as far back as the Early Iron Age.

Carse Loch is surrounded by beautiful woodland and, especially on clear days, makes for a lovely picture. Also, a stellar picnic spot.

A loch for every purpose!

Waverly Bar

scottish sayings
We were having too good a time and forgot to take a photo. Apologies for the stock imagery…

For a date night in Dumfries I highly recommend the Waverly bar, easily accessible from the nearby train station.

Wonderfully friendly bar staff are on hand to offer excellent service with a smile. The bar is also pet-friendly and plays host to the occasional quiz night.

One of the top things to do in Dumfries is if you’re looking for a taste of the local atmosphere.

The Five Archers

The pub is a bit more on the mellow side for those who fancy a more low-key atmosphere in the evening.

The décor and vibe are traditional, and everyone is very friendly. It’s a great place to relax, chat or even watch the game together.

Would definitely recommend stopping in for a drink on your visit.

Nearby Tours

We’ve put together the best of the local tours to make navigating them a little simpler for you. These tours each offer something a little bit different and are all absolutely brilliant.

Solway Tours

Solway Tours offers small group tours led by historians. Get picked up from your hotel, airport or cruise terminal before setting out on your bespoke tour.

These 5-star historic and ancestral tours are incredibly informative and interesting, tailored to suit your group.

Burns Tours

Burns Tours Dumfries takes you on a walking tour of all the best spots linked to the late, great literary figure of Robert Burns.

The remarkably talented guides really know their stuff. They’ll mostly focus on Burns and his time spent in Dumfries but will also include some local points of interest.

Dumfries Art Trail

Dumfries Art Trail features an impressive collection of independent artists, makers and galleries.

The trail is only 15 minutes from the main street and stays open throughout the year.

If you’re looking for things to do in Dumfries that will entertain a full group of curious minds, any of these amazing tours will do the trick.

Hetland Garden Centre

Looking for some more relaxed things to do in Dumfries?

Hetland Garden Centre is a pleasant day out that families, friends, and couples alike can enjoy. Avid gardeners and novices will be delighted with the range of stunning plant life. There are plenty of trees, shrubs, cottage garden plants and alpines to browse. With friendly staff to answer any questions, you could spend the whole day here.

Hetland also has a charming little tea room with mouth-watering cakes – personally, my favourite feature of the garden centre.

There’s also a superb Dino Den and Soft Play for the kids. Encourage their imagination and get out their energy in one!

Dumfries Ice Bowl

One of Scotland’s leading ice rinks is right around the corner from your cosy retreat in lovely Dumfries.

With excellent facilities and an impressive itinerary of activities, the Ice Bowl makes a great day out. Tire out the kids, tire out the adults – and have fun while you do it!

The onsite café and bar are great, and the staff are friendly and always happy to help.

Dumfries Bowling Club

Founded in 1859, Dumfries Bowling Club is a friendly and vibrant club located in Dumfries town centre.

It’s one of the many fun things to do in Dumfries that will keep both the kids and the grown-ups happy.

Visitors to the area are encouraged to drop in and show the regulars what they’ve got.

Queensberry Monument

While you visit the deeply historic town of Dumfries, consider taking a minute to see the local landmark – the Queensberry Monument.

Robert Adam designed the stone column in 1870, which now sits in proudly between the High Street and English Street.

The impressive monument towers high and makes for a great picture.

WetJets Park

Get your blood pumping when you hit the water at Scotland’s top Flyboarding and Jet Ski Centre.

Flyboarding is growing rapidly as an extreme water sport, so if you like a bit of adrenaline, you should try it. On your visit, you’ll have the chance to really experience the thrill of it.

They also offer rides on inflatables and jet skiing, if that’s more your thing. You can find something to suit the whole family.

Don’t miss out on this heart-pounding fun.

Local Hotels in Dumfries

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