Historic Scotland Explorer Pass

Note

Due to COVID-19 this pass is currently not available.

What’s the Scotland Explorer Pass?

First an important note: The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is not an Edinburgh Pass. It includes only one attraction in the Scottish capital and ten more in the surrounding area. The Scotland Explorer Pass is suitable for people who travel all over Scotland by car.

The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is a ticket to 78* historic sites in Scotland. These are castles, palaces, cathedrals, abbeys and similar historic sites. With just one pass you can experience the 5,000 year old history of the region.

The more attractions you visit with the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass, the more money you save. Because you only pay once for the pass and don’t have to buy any more tickets afterwards.

The Explorer Pass is valid for 3, 7 or 14 consecutive days, depending on which option you choose. You can purchase the pass from a number of websites and activate it at the first attraction you visit in Scotland.

With the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass you will receive a detailed brochure with all the information about the attractions and a map showing all the sights. You can download this useful guide now.

*During winter season (October to March) many remote attractions are closed. However, some 40 attractions remain open throughout the season, including the important Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle. In winter, however, the purchase price of the pass is cheaper.

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How Much Does the Pass Cost?

The following table contains a price overview. The prices vary according to season. In winter the Explorer Pass is cheaper because many of the participating attractions are closed.

The price of kid’s tickets refers to children between the ages of 5 and 15 years. For younger children, admission to all attractions is free of charge.

A family is defined as two adults with up to six children (5-15 years).

Note: The winter pass is only available from Historic Environment Scotland.

What’s Included in the Scotland Pass?

With the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass you can visit up to 78 historic sites in summer (about 40 in winter). Among them many famous attractions, which we list below. Next to the name of the attraction you’ll find the entrance fee for individual tickets:

  • Edinburgh Castle: £15.50
  • Stirling Castle: £14.00
  • Urquhart Castle: £9.60
  • Melrose Abbey: £6.00
  • Skara Brae: £9.00
  • Iona Abbey: £9.00
  • Fort George: £9.00
  • St Andrews Castle: £9.00
  • Doune Castle: £9.00

This is just a small selection of the attractions included. For a full list of participating attractions please refer to the official brochure. In addition to Edinburgh Castle, there are ten other sites near Edinburgh.

Scotland Explorer Pass includes Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle: one of the main attractions in the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass

Other benefits of the Explorer Pass

  • 20% discount on audioguides in Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Glasgow Cathedral.
  • Free participation in one-day events of Historic Scotland.

By the way: You’re allowed to visit several attractions in one day.

Our Assessment of the Included Attractions

The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass includes almost all the major historical sites in Scotland. One exception is the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, which is not included in this otherwise comprehensive pass.

The large number of places of interest makes the Explorer Pass look a little confusing at first. Therefore we recommend to download the digital brochure with the included map of Scotland. The “Historic Scotland App” – free for Apple and Android devices – is also useful. It contains information about all the locations and it shows which attractions are nearby.

Not every attraction is always open. Many are closed from October to March, but temporary closures may in summer as well. Always check the closure updates on the official website before your trip.

Validity of the Scotland Explorer Pass

The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is available in three versions: a 3-day, a 7-day and a 14-day pass. These are consecutive calendar days. The pass is activated when you use it at the first attraction. From then on the clock counts. You can easily visit several attractions in one day.

Is the Scotland Pass Worth it?

The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is worthwhile for travellers who travel around Scotland by car and are interested in historic sites. Attractions are spread throughout Scotland, so you will find several locations in each region where you can use the Explorer Pass.

The pass is so inexpensive that it’s worth it from the fourth attraction onwards, provided you visit the castles that are the most expensive to buy individually. Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle alone cost a total of £39.60, while the 7-day Explorer Pass is only £40.

Most other locations are cheaper than these three castles, but would usually cost £6.00 to £9.00 if purchased separately. The purchase price of the Explorer Pass is quickly recovered as soon as you visit a few attractions.

When Isn’t the Scotland Pass Worth it?

The Explorer Pass is not worthwhile if you only spend your time in Edinburgh. In this case the Royal Edinburgh Ticket would be much more useful. It includes Edinburgh Castle as well as the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Yacht Britannia and a two-day tour on the Hop-on Hop-off buses.

The Explorer Pass is probably not worthwhile even if you are not interested in the major attractions, but only want to visit remote, less popular places that only cost a few pounds when purchased separately.

Where Can You Get the Pass?

The Scotland Explorer Pass is available at Get Your Guide. When you purchase it, you specify the date on which you want to use the Explorer Pass for the first time. You will then receive an email confirmation with a voucher that you can print out or save to your mobile phone and show at the first attraction in Scotland.

Note: For the winter pass, visit the official website of Historic Environment Scotland.

Alternatively, you can buy the Explorer Pass at many of the participating attractions in Scotland.

What We Like About the Scotland Pass

 The Explorer Pass includes top attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle.

The pass is worthwhile even if you visit only three attractions and therefore pays off very quickly.

The family pass for parents with up to six children is very attractive.

With 3, 7 or 14 days you have enough time to visit many historical sites.

What We Don’t Like About the Scotland Pass

 The Explorer Pass includes only one attraction in Edinburgh.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is not included in the pass.

It is not a diversified sightseeing pass. The included attractions are only historical sites.

FAQ About the Explorer Pass

No, each attraction can only be visited once with the Explorer Pass. Your ticket will be validated electronically upon entry. However, you can visit several attractions in one day.

After you have purchased the Explorer Pass online, you can redeem the voucher at any time at the first attraction.

After activation, the pass is valid for 3, 7 or 14 consecutive calendar days – depending on which option you choose.

Basically, yes. However, you should note that not every attraction is open every day. Sometimes there are temporary closures, which you can check online beforehand.

From October to March many attractions are closed continuously.

For a few attractions, you will need to announce your visit in advance. Please refer to the “pre-booking” section on the official website.

The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is available for children between 5 and 15 years old. They pay a reduced price. Older teenagers have to pay the regular price. Children under 5 years of age do not need their own pass. They get free entry everywhere.

If there are two adults with at least one child, the family pass is always worthwhile.

The Explorer Pass is published by Historic Environment Scotland. If you have any questions you can contact the team by email (ticketing@hes.scot) or by phone on +44 (0)131 668 8095.

Yes, if you buy your Scotland Explorer Pass with Get Your Guide you can cancel the purchase up to 24 hours before your departure.

Alternatives to the Scotland Explorer Pass

For travellers who only stay in Edinburgh, the Explorer Pass is not worthwhile. Instead, we recommend the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, which includes the following attractions for a fair price:

Another alternative is the Edinburgh City Pass, but it does not include any of the above attractions.

If you can’t warm up to a city pass, there are online tickets for many attractions in Edinburgh and Scotland that you can buy at Get Your Guide. In addition to the attractions mentioned above, which are included in the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, there are also the following attractions: