Courtesy of www.visitscotland.com
Dumfries is known as the Queen of the South for a reason.
This Scottish market town has long been a favourite of British holidaymakers, with its culture, history, and sports promising something for every traveller.
There are literally hundreds – if not thousands – of things to do in Dumfries.
There are, of course, the obvious favourites.
These include attractions like the Dumfries Museum and Robert Burns House. But let’s imagine you want a Dumfries experience like no other.
Are there lesser-known and unique things to do in the city that most other tourists miss?
The answer is a resounding yes, and we’re going to be looking at the best of them in this article.
Here are 25 of the best and most unique things to do in Dumfries.
Looking for Leisure?
1. Dumfries Ice Bowl
There is no shortage of leisure activities in Dumfries.
Some of these may be more appealing to you than others, but we can pretty much guarantee you’ll love the Dumfries Ice Bowl.
The Ice Bowl features a professional-grade ice rink, which is used by novice and experienced skaters alike. Even a total beginner can spend an afternoon here and pick up some new skills while having a blast.
The Ice Bowl is also the site of frequent curling matches, which we seriously recommend checking out!
2. Rockcliffe Beach
If you find yourself in Dumfries during the warmer months, Rockcliffe Beach is the place to go.
Rockcliffe Beach sits on the southern end of the Dumfries coastline and is renowned for its beauty. In fact, it’s golden sands have even earned it a spot in the National Scenic Area.
While a beach is obviously best enjoyed during a sunny day, Rockcliffe’s Beach magnificence can be appreciated even in the wind and rain.
3. Galloway Activity Centre
Galloway Activity Centre is a little removed from the centre of Dumfries.
However, we highly recommend visiting it if you’re in the mood for some adventure. Here visitors can partake in a variety of exciting activities, including kayaking, windsurfing, and rock climbing.
Increasingly popular is the centre’s stand-up paddle boarding classes, which serves to introduce novices to the fastest growing watersport in the United Kingdom.
Galloway Activity Centre also boasts beautiful rustic cabins, providing wonderful accommodation right on the banks of Loch Den.
Experience Dumfries’ Arts And Culture
4. Robert Burns Centre
The legacy of Robert Burns casts a large shadow over the town of Dumfries.
Sometimes, it can feel impossible to walk down the street without seeing some reminder of his work.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; after all, the guy wrote some of the most beautiful poems and lyrics of all time.
There, you can see mind-blowing exhibitions showcasing original manuscripts written by the Bard’s own hands.
Meanwhile, the evenings are marked by presentations of contemporary cinema, during which guests can enjoy fine food and drinks.
5. Dumfries Art Trail
If you want to support upcoming artists, you should be sure to check out the Dumfries Art Trail during your visit to the town.
The trail is a collaborative effort by some of the town’s greatest artistic talents.
The studios and buildings which house the exhibitions are opened all year long, but you may have to make a special request to view certain pieces.
Although the trail is located just 15 minutes from Dumfries High Street, it is often overlooked by the general public.
Despite this, it remains one of the most culturally captivating things to do in Dumfries and should be high on your list.
6. Moat Brae
For lovers of literature, Dumfries is something of a pilgrimage site. There is, of course, the obvious connection to Robert Burns. Then, for fans of children’s classics, there is Moat Brae.
Built in 1823, Moat Brae was regularly visited by J.M. Barre during his childhood. Barre would go on to create Peter Pan based on his experiences in the house.
Today, Moat Brae serves as a shrine to Peter Pan and its creator, making it a wonderful place to visit alone or with the kids in tow.
7. Gracefield Arts Centre
© Richard Dorrell
The gallery is home to a mammoth collection of work by Scottish artists.
The total tally of work housed in the museum comes in at over 600 pieces and includes contributions from the likes of Margaret MacDonald and John Duncan Fergusson.
The building itself is also a work of art and is a Category B-listed building.
Explore The Life And Legacy Of Robert Burns
8. Burns Mausoleum
An interesting story surrounds Burns Mausoleum and its inception.
It was not the original burial site of the beloved poet, who was first buried in a simple grave. So simple, in fact, that Wordsworth recalled being unable to find the grave when he attempted to visit it.
This spawned the building of the magnificent Burns Mausoleum, which today attracts literature buffs from all over the world.
If possible, visit the mausoleum on Burns’ birthday – January 25th – to lay flowers at the Mausoleum and watch the many tribute activities which go on throughout the day.
9. Robert Burns Ellisland Farm
Courtesy of www.visitscotland.com
Any list of things to do in Dumfries is going to be very heavy on Robert Burns-related activities. While we’re trying to keep them to a minimum here, there are a few which are simply too good to leave out.
Robert Burns Ellisland Farm is one of them.
The home was designed & built by Burns as a gift to his wife and is a testament to his love for her.
Sitting on the banks of the River Nith, it boasts views that even Burns himself would have struggled to put into words.
Tourists can venture inside the home and catch a glimpse into the poet’s life through memorabilia, manuscripts, and souvenirs.
10. The Burns Heritage Trail
You don’t necessarily have to be a fan of Robert Burns to enjoy the Burns Heritage Trail.
The path, which travels through Burns’ birthplace all the way to his gravesite, will take you across some of the most picturesque country roads in all of Scotland.
The trail is scattered with monuments and cafes, so you’ll never have to worry about getting bored behind the wheel.
Lose Yourself In The Past Through Dumfries’ Historic Sites
11. The Old Bridge Museum
So much of Dumfries’ identity is tied up in Robert Burns that it can be easy to forget that the town has a history that doesn’t hinge on the poet’s work.
Thankfully, there are plenty of museums, tours, and exhibitions which offer a glimpse into the non-Burns history of the town.
Take, for example, The Old Bridge Museum.
This museum started out life as a house all the way back in 1660, when it was built into the bridge with which it shares its name.
Though it is no longer lived in, The Old Bridge Museum holds the distinction of being the oldest house in Dumfries.
Its contents are a constant reminder of this, ranging from centuries-old kitchen utensils, nursery toys, and more!
12. Lincluden Collegiate Church
© Darrin Antrobus
Lincluden Collegiate Church was once one of the most influential religious houses in Scotland.
Today, however, it lies in ruins and is regularly victimized by vandals and graffiti artists.
Why, then, should you visit the church?
For starters, the past of Lincluden Collegiate Church makes it one of the top historic things to do in Dumfries.
The church was built in 1160, making it one of the oldest structures in the area. 400 years later, while other churches were being destroyed during the Reformation, Lincluden Collegiate Church survived and remained in use until the 1700s.
Pilgrims visit its ruins to this day, as do historians, archaeologists, and tourists wishing to stray off the beaten track. Will you be among them?
13. St. Quernan’s Well
St. Quernan’s Well is stepped in history, with evidence suggesting it was being used as a pilgrimage site as far back as the 1500s.
It is tradition for visitors to throw coins into the well or tie ribbons on the surrounding trees. Many of the coins which rest at the bottom of the well today date back hundreds of years, lending a degree of immortality to its earliest visitors.
Travel to St. Quernan’s Well when you visit Dumfries and you too can leave your mark.
14. Ruthwell Cross
The Ruthwell Cross is one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon artifacts in existence.
Conservative estimates date the cross back to 680 AD, which is remarkable given its near-pristine condition.
Almost perfectly preserved, the cross sits in Dumfriesshire, where it is housed at Ruthwell Church.
Standing at a staggering 18-feet tall, the cross is a reminder of the magnificent skills of Britain’s earliest craftsmen and engineers.
It attracts both religious and historical pilgrims, who regardless of their beliefs, must agree on the sheer splendour of the Ruthwell Cross.
15. New Abbey Corn Mill
Not far removed from Dumfries is New Abbey Corn Mill.
We know a corn mill doesn’t sound all that exciting, which is why so many people overlook it when they visit the area.
The reality is that New Abbey Corn Mill offers a surprisingly fascinating insight into life in Scotland prior to the 20th century.
The mill has been refurbished and is in full working condition, allowing visitors to experience it just as those who spent their working lives within its walls 200 years ago.
If possible, we suggest visiting the mill during the summer months. This is when water is its most plentiful and the waterwheel is at its most powerful.
Things To Do In Dumfries With My Kids?
Courtesy of https://www.dalsconefarmfun.co.uk/
16. Dalscone Farm Fun
Some people struggle to find things to do in Dumfries with their children.
While it is true that family activities are not always well advertised in the town, they exist in abundance.
One of our favourite family things to do in Dumfries is Dalscone Farm Fun. Dalscone Farm Fun features a soft-play area, to keep young children happy.
For older kids, there is crazy golf, go-karts, trampolines, sailing, and more.
There is so much to do at Dalscone Farm Fun that adults may even find themselves joining in on the activities!
17. Dino Park at Hetland Garden Centre
Hetland Garden Centre is so much more than a garden centre. One visit to the centre’s Dino Park and that becomes perfectly clear.
Step into the park and you will be transported back 150 million years, to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Fossils and recreations of famous dinosaur species lend a surprisingly realistic feel to the park, while video lessons and games will provide your children with an education to compliment their fun.
Much like Farmer’s Den, the Dino Park at Hetland Garden Centre features a soft play area, giving your kids plenty of room to run and play and tire themselves out before bedtime.
18. Mabie Farm Park
© NX9571 & NX9570
Mabie Farm Park is quite similar to Dalscone Farm Fun. However, it caters more to older children than younger ones.
As its name suggests, the park is home to a petting zoo, where kids can have close-up encounters with a variety of animals.
Meanwhile, there is trampolining, crazy golf, and even water slides for additional entertainment.
When lunchtime rolls around, you can take a break in the Mabie Farm Park Tearoom. The tearoom is renowned throughout Dumfries for its delicious Scottish delicacies and traditional teas.
Support Dumfries’ Businesses
Courtesy of www.visitscotland.com
19. Tarff Valley Town and Country
Most of the activities listed in this article won’t set you back a whole lot.
However, if you do want to splash some cash, there are plenty of places to go in Dumfries.
Tarff Valley Town and Country, for example, has long been a favourite of locals.
However, the fact that it is located on the outskirts of town means it is often overlooked by tourists. Tarff Valley Town and Country caters to all sorts of customers, from farmers to those who crave big city life.
You can find designer clothing, sporting goods, toys, and the best traditional Dumfries cuisine. In fact, the store is so varied that we suggest setting an entire afternoon aside for your visit!
20. Loreburne Shopping Centre
Loreburne Shopping Centre dominates the Dumfries High Street and is home to a range of both popular brands and small businesses.
Among the stores you’ll recognize are the likes of outdoors juggernaut Trespass, sneaker giant JD Sports, and the King of Bargains, Poundland.
We also suggest hitting up stores like The Fragrance Shop, where you’ll find a cavalcade of wondrous perfumes to take home to your friends or keep for yourself.
21. Dock Park
If you want to spend some money on something the whole family will enjoy, try visiting Dock Park; one of the most versatile places in all of Dumfries.
It has something for every member of the family, whatever interests they may have. History buffs will delight in touring the historic bandstand, which has sat in the park since the 19th century.
For kids, there is crazy golf and a maze, as well as plenty of space to run and play.
If you’re an art lover, you’ll no doubt revel in the local artwork which is scattered throughout the park, perfectly complementing Dock Park’s natural beauty.
22. Kilnford Barns
Dumfries has largely managed to resist globalization, which has allowed it to keep its quaint Scottish charm.
If this is to continue, however, it’s important that those who visit the town make a conscious effort to support local businesses. This is why we urge you to spend some money in places like Kilnford Barns.
This family-run business sells the finest organic meats in the region, using only traditional production methods to ensure a totally natural taste.
It also stocks crafts and gifts manufactured by Dumfries’ most skilled craftspeople. Indeed, the quality of Kilnford Barns’ products makes supporting local businesses feel like a privilege.
And What About Nightlife?
23. The Globe Inn
Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet drink or a wild night on the town, Dumfries is the place to be.
If you’re looking for the former, we suggest visiting The Globe Inn. This historic pub dates back hundreds of years and was put on the map by, you guessed it, Robert Burns.
Burns frequented The Globe Inn towards the end of his life.
He even embarked on a whirlwind romance with a maid at the tavern, for whom he wrote the poem “Gowden Locks of Anna”.
The bedchamber used by the couple throughout their affair can still be visited at The Globe Inn.
Additional artifacts believed to have been owned and used by the Bard can be viewed during one of the pub’s many Burns Nights, which take guests through the life of Burns and his time in Dumfries.
24. The Venue
If you find yourself craving a big night out during your time in Dumfries, The Venue is the venue!
The most popular nightclub in the town, The Venue boasts two floors, one of which is fitted with the only fully-equipped live music stage in town.
This, obviously, makes it the best place to catch live music during your vacation.
The nightclub portion of the venue, which opens every weekend, promises the latest hits, the most affordable drinks, and state of the art lighting.
N’Dulge offers the best of both worlds.
Part pub, part nightclub, tourists can enjoy a meal and a night of dancing without ever leaving the building. Similarly, N’Dulge caters to all types of taste buds.
For those hoping to try something traditional, the menu is loaded with all kinds of Scottish delicacies.
If you’d rather something more modern, N’Dub has everything from mouthwatering nachos to sensational strawberry daiquiris.