Haddington in Scotland is one of the many jewels in East Lothian and a beautiful holiday destination outside Edinburgh. Discover many things to do in Haddington, from exploring castles and ruins, delving into the history of Scotland, and much more!
Situated comfortably on the left bank of the River Tyne, Haddington was the fourth largest town in Scotland during the Middle Ages and now is the historic county and administrative centre of East Lothian. Its importance to Scotland’s history meant that this royal burgh town is filled with incredible history and artefacts you can’t find anywhere else.
Haddington’s proximity to Edinburgh means it’s an easily accessible county town to see while you explore the beautiful region of East Lothian. Don’t miss out on Haddington the next time you’re in Scotland!
In This Post
Things to Do in Haddington
The lovely town of Haddington is stocked full of many incredible things to do, and visitors are often surprised at how much this small town has hidden away!
Within Haddington, you’ll find museums dedicated to preserving the artefacts of country history, expansive gardens that bring the community of Haddington together, and ruins that detail Haddington’s past as a major city in the Middle Ages. We’re confident you’ll be spoiled for choice with the activities to do while you’re here, especially if you’ve brought your family along with you!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about what you should be doing while in this established royal burgh, see our guide for the top things to do in Haddington!
John Grey Centre
Your first location in Haddington should always include the informative John Grey Centre. It’s packed full of historical items and artefacts!
At John Grey Centre, you can learn about the historic county of East Lothian from the Stone Age up until the present day. The centre offers library and museum services, but the main attractions are the fascinating archaeological objects, archives, and paintings to peruse and see.
Come and see John Grey Centre and learn about famous Haddington figures like John Brown, author of the ‘Self Interpreting Bible’; there’s no better place to learn about Haddington and East Lothian.
The stunning Lennoxlove House sits just on the outskirts of Haddington and is one attraction you can’t miss out on seeing!
The beautiful Lennoxlove Estate is filled with gorgeous architecture, paintings, and antique furniture that immerse you into a world of nobility. Expert guides take you through the rooms, corridors, and dungeons filled with history and paint an enthralling tale of the Duke of Hamilton and other notable figures.
The estate around the house should not be missed either and offers stunning views of the Lammermuir Hills. Don’t forget to check out the agriculture and farm animals on the grounds!
Jabberwocky Soft Play & Cafe
Enter a world full of playful mysticism and wonder when you’re next in Haddington at Jabberwocky Soft Play & Cafe.
This Play Park is an excellent place to take any children for a fun day playing on jumping castles, sliding down slides, and general amusement. Families can join in on the fun or relax at Jabberwock’s excellent restaurants – the cupcakes come highly recommended!
If your children are looking for some splendid fun in Haddington, then Jabberwocky Soft Play is your best bet. Grab their company number for birthday parties, or check out their website for more information!
St Mary’s Collegiate Church
With towering stone pillars and stained glass windows, this beautiful parish church in Haddington is well worth seeing.
St Mary’s is the largest parish church in Scotland! Despite a turbulent history of wars and destruction, St Mary’s parish church has been a presence in Haddington for over 700 years. Sometimes called the ‘Lamp of Lothian’, you can see its beautiful interior when it holds its mass for the villages of East Lothian.
Even if you’re not religious, a trip to see this gorgeous parish church in Haddington should be at the top of your list for its architecture and history alone!
Just outside of Haddington lies the historic Nungate Bridge – known for its majestic stone bricks and tranquil atmosphere.
This attraction is a stone’s throw from St Mary’s Church, and it’s a great place to stop, relax, and watch the swans and ducks of Haddington frolicking in the River Tyne. It was also the punishment site, as criminals would regularly be hanged from the bridge!
From its green, you’re treated to a memorable skyline of town churches and buildings and the complex history and outstanding architecture that make this bridge an attraction you must see while in Haddington.
Amisfield Walled Garden
When you’re in East Lothian, make sure to come to take a trip to the bountiful Amisfield Walled Garden on the outskirts of Haddington, East Lothian.
Amisfield is one of Scotland’s most extensive walled gardens and a great spot to take the family for a day out! The garden is home to vast herbaceous borders, colourful vegetable and fruit beds, and shady orchards – making it a top-tier attraction!
The garden fell into steady decline and disrepair in the 1800s. The town’s local community decided to enact some self-help and revitalise the site into the gorgeous garden it is today.
On a hot day, there’s nothing better than an afternoon exploring the stunning Amisfield Walled Garden.
St Martin’s Kirk
The sturdy St Martin’s Kirk has been around since 1100, making it a great example of a Romanesque-designed church in Scotland!
Famed theologian John Knox is said to have attended St Martin’s Church as a youth, making this spot particularly important in Scotland’s history. The church’s chancel was destroyed in 1560 during the Protestant Reformation, but you can still explore its ruined state to this day.
If you want a place of interest to rest a bit and survey the atmospheric landscape, then this church is an obvious choice in the historic county of East Lothian.
National Museum of Flight
Situated on Scotland’s best-preserved World War II airfield site, the National Museum of Flight is one of the superb attractions in Haddington that you need to add to your list!
The Museum has many hangar buildings filled with great aircraft from the world wars and after. Every hangar presents incredible models of aeronautical engineering and information. The tour’s highlight is the model Concorde, and you’ll be delighted to hear you can enter the interior of this magnum opus aircraft.
The Museum also has a flight simulator, so grab a seat and try your hand at piloting an aircraft!
Pencraig Standing Stone
As you travel the central road east of Haddington, you’ll likely spot this prominent lone standing stone in the middle of a country field.
This curious attraction stands about 3-metres and is open to be seen by anyone crossing through to North Berwick or onwards into East Lothian. The Pencraig Standing Stone has been around for centuries, and its peculiar triangular shape brings many visitors to try to discern its purpose!
Chesters Hill Fort
Explore one of Scotland’s most well-preserved Iron Age hill forts, complete with defensive ramparts and ditches!
This impressive hill fort has been standing for over 2,000 years and makes for an incredible journey of historic recounting in East Lothian. The natural structure of Chesters Hill Fort looks incredibly unique but is not easy to reach, so make sure you’re on the right path to this established location.
This ancient hill fort lies just north of Haddington, making it a great attraction to catch if you’re coming down from the town of North Berwick.
Myreton Motor Museum
Founded in 1966 by Willie Dale, the Myreton Motor Museum is one of the best attractions near the town of Haddington, East Lothian.
A trip to Motor Museum takes you back to a time of ingenuity and spectacular engineering, with commercial vehicles, bicycles, and motorcycles from 1899! The museum even has posters and toys which date back to the 1800s.
The Myreton is a fantastic place to see if you’re fascinated by old cars; there’s no better place to indulge in this part of Scotland’s history.
Barnes Castle Vault
Near the historic town council of Athelstaneford sits the unfinished buildings of Barnes Castle, sometimes called The Vault.
This mighty structure was built in the late 16th century, but with the death of Sir John Seton of Barnes, it was never fully completed. Today, its vast ruins offer an excellent opportunity to delve into a world almost 400 years ago!
The Castle is now used as storage for farmland vehicles but still maintains its ancient importance – check out this attraction when you’re in Haddington, East Lothian.
Haddington is a paradise for history lovers and adventurous visitors, and Hailes Castle is an excellent addition if you love both.
Hailes Castle is intricately tied to Scotland’s remarkable history, the War of Independence, and Mary, Queen of Scots. The fortified manor dates back to the 1200s and is comfortably situated in the beautiful Garleton Hills and Tyne Valley.
The royal burgh town of Haddington has many great attractions, but Hailes Castle is one of its best!
Tyne River Walk
One of the best ways to start your morning in Haddington is by taking a calming walk along the River Tyne!
It’s common to see dog-walkers and cyclists making use of the beautiful paths that lead through town along the river, with gurgling streams and sounds of wildlife and civilisation beautifully intermingling.
Gracious white swans, red squirrels, and ducks are a common sight, making walking along the river banks a feast for the senses!
The Oriental Garden
Near the sports centre in Haddington is a hidden gem of an attraction that not many visitors get to experience – The Oriental Garden!
Integrated into the town is a beautiful garden space influenced by Eastern styles and traditions. The Garden has ponds and blooms that genuinely enrich the streets and houses nearby and creates a unique and splendid atmosphere that’s easy to get lost in.
Take time to navigate and see the gorgeous Oriental Garden on Haddington’s west side, and you’ll be thankful that you did!
Haddington Farmers’ Market
This monthly delight is reason alone to come and see Haddington in East Lothian – we bet you’ve never seen anything like it!
Haddington Farmers’ Market is on… you guessed it: Market Street! It’s a joyous occasion with smiling locals and incredibly fresh produce. Even if you’re not planning to buy anything, walking down market street and chatting to the independent retailers about their lives is an excellent way to understand Haddington.
The true star of the show, though, is the food: loaves of bread, fruits, brews, and meats are yours to try while soaking in the town’s atmosphere. Don’t miss this event on the last Saturday of each month!
Explore Haddington’s High Street
One of the two main streets in Haddington, Haddington’s High Street is an excellent destination for shopping, accommodation, and much more to explore!
You can easily access attractions and council buildings from Haddington High Street like the Lennoxlove House, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Haddington Corn Exchange, and John Muir House! Excellent dining options and shops line the street, and most people come out and discover the lively atmosphere the same night they arrive!
The High Street is home to the administrative centre of East Lothian, with many important historical buildings contributing to Haddington’s growth. Gallow Green is a lovely suburb with quaint shops and housing at its western extremity.
Check out the high street of this county town; you certainly won’t regret it!
St Mary’s Pleasance Garden
This private garden is a sanctuary away from Haddington’s bustling town, located in the heart of town adjacent to the church.
St Mary’s Garden is a lovely 1970 Scottish garden with trim row hedges, shrubs of wildflowers, and even a cottage garden that attracts bees, butterflies, and other insects! It’s connected to the Haddington House, making it a quick trip to reach the park if you stay at this hotel.
Enjoy walks along Waterloo Bridge in the mornings past the St Mary’s Church before reaching this lovely garden.
Check Out Malt Kiln Gifts
Located on the High Street of Haddington sits the wonderful Malt Kiln Gifts, a gift shop that will charm you with its keepsakes and souveneirs!
Visitors will be spoilt for choice with the selection of toys, puzzles, jewellery, handbags, and other unique accessories. The designs and products at the shop are genuinely Scottish, and many of the brands at Malt Kiln Gifts were birthed in the Highlands.
If you’re looking for a gift to give your friends, then a trip to Malt Kiln Gifts is in order!
Visit the Cheese Lady
Turophiles will be delighted to hear about the Cheese Lady, a farmhouse and artisanal cheese shop on Court Street in Haddington.
The Cheese Lady is home to a jaw-dropping selection of cheeses! You can make a whole afternoon out of choosing a selection of their cheeses, crackers, and wine and relaxing at one of the beautiful spots in Haddington.
As reported in the East Lothian Courier, the Cheese Lady is one of Scotland’s favourites and has won awards for it! This established store is one of the best attractions in Haddington if you’re a cheese connoisseur.
Stop by the Hopetoun Monument near Byre’s Hill for the best panorama views in East Lothian.
The Hopetoun Monument is staggeringly tall, towering almost 30-metres above the branch line of nearby trees that dot Byre’s Hill! Better yet, you can take the 132 steps up to the top and see miles and miles of the East Lothian countryside.
There is no better location to get views of this beautiful region of Scotland, so take some time to see this immense attraction near Haddington.
Head past the town of East Linton, and you’ll eventually arrive at the delightful Preston Mill – a set for the famous series ‘Outlander’!
This scenic attraction sits along the bank of the River Tyne and is impossible to miss. Its beautiful waterwheel, millpond, and doocot are yours to explore and give an excellent view into how millers worked here.
The nearby stream is also teeming with wildlife, so don’t be surprised to see kingfishers, herons, and even otters!
Aberlady Nature Reserve
The Aberfeldy Nature Reserve is one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland and truly depicts the natural abundance found here.
The Nature Reserve has miles and miles of stunning coastline to explore, particularly the rolling dunes and enchanting woodlands. If you’re looking for a piece of solitude within East Lothian, then this Nature Reserve is one of the best places to enjoy the tranquillity of Scotland.
Amongst the bountiful nature, there is a wild variety of wildlife to see. Deer, seals, and sea birds make this part of East Lothian their home, and it’s an excellent spot for any budding wildlife watchers!