Residents and visitors have voted on their top ten visitor attractions in Angus. They made their selection from a huge variety of entertaining and memorable things to do for families in this beautiful, historic, and inspiring region of Scotland.
There really is something for everyone here, from ancient buildings and fascinating museums to glorious gardens and grounds to explore.
So, in no particular order, here are the top 10 visitor attractions in Angus, as voted for by the people who live here or those who just love to visit.
1. Arbroath Abbey
Explore the substantial ruins of a twelfth-century abbey steeped in Scottish history. Founded by William I in 1178, in memory of martyr Thomas Becket, the abbey remained one of the nation’s grandest monasteries for almost 400 years.
One of the most famous documents in Scottish history was sent from the abbey in 1320. Scotland’s nobles swore their independence from England in the Declaration of Arbroath to the Pope. You can learn more about this historic document at the visitor centre when it reopens in 2021 after refurbishment.
One of many sights you can see at the abbey is a marble effigy thought to depict William I, also known as William the Lion. You can enjoy the sound of your own voice in the sacristy, which has one of the longest echoes in the country. And you can also step inside one of the most complete abbot’s residences in Britain.
An outstanding attraction and special place to visit.
2. Arbroath Signal Tower Museum
Staying in Arbroath, next we have a fascinating museum that tells the compelling story of Arbroath’s maritime heritage. Located next to Arbroath harbour, the Signal Tower was the shore station and family accommodation for the Bell Rock Lighthouse, which is Britain’s oldest surviving rock lighthouse. It still stands today, warning ships away from the jagged Bell Rock, 11 miles offshore on the dangerous Inchcape Reef.
The Signal Tower was built in 1813 and was used to send signals to and from the lighthouse. In 1974, The Signal Tower buildings became a museum. Here you will discover what life was like for the lighthouse keepers on board the Bell Rock, and for their families back home. Hear the story of how the lighthouse was constructed over 200 years ago – an engineering marvel at the time.
You’ll also learn more about the town’s fishing history and the world-famous Arbroath Smokie at the museum.
3. Barry Mill
Located just outside Carnoustie, Barry Mill is a hidden gem and rare example of Scotland’s industrial heritage. This picturesque working mill offers you a rare glimpse into the life of a miller, a tough job involving sacking-up, hoisting and grinding the grains.
Peaceful Barry Mill was once the beating heart of a rural community – supplying food, providing a place for trade and gossip, and witnessing the transition from a rural to an industrial society. The water-powered mill produced oatmeal and other foods, as well as providing work for local people, for almost 800 years.
Visit to see first-hand the ingenuity of engineering that kept the mill in business. Watch the wheel turning, the water splashing, and the machinery moving. Take a relaxing stroll alongside Barry Burn to enjoy the wildflowers. Breathe in the natural beauty of the mill’s charming countryside setting that includes a waterfall and hidden forest.
4. Brechin Cathedral and Round Tower
Brechin offers another historic and memorable attraction; its ancient Parish Church that has stood in the town for nearly 1000 years.
Brechin Cathedral is a beautiful haven of tranquility where you can immerse yourself in the tangible sense of spiritually and history. The magnificent stained glass windows, impressive entrance porch with elaborately carved arch, and other beautiful features will make a lasting impression.
Look to the southwest and gaze upwards to see the Round Tower standing 25m tall and nearly 5m wide. One of only two Irish-style towers in Scotland, this is a significant part of Brechin’s history and dates from around 1100 AD. Originally free-standing, the tower became attached to Brechin Cathedral in 1806.
The sense of great history here is enhanced by an intriguing display of carved Pictish stones. You’ll see many wonderfully vivid beasts and human figures carved into the stones, including a depiction of King David wrestling a lion.
5. Edzell Castle and Gardens
A short drive into the countryside from the picturesque village of Edzell you’ll find Edzell Castle and Gardens. The whole family will enjoy exploring these fascinating castle ruins and beautiful gardens.
You can really get a sense of what life was like for the Lindsay family who occupied it during the 16th century. Take a look inside the impressive tower house – a fine example of a typical 16th-century nobleman’s residence.
The walled garden at the castle offers you some fantastic photo opportunities with its unique sculptures and intricately carved panels. The architectural framework surrounding the garden is unique in Britain.
The garden includes a delightful summer house where the Lindsays would relax on a fine summer’s evening. Visit in early July to see the wonderful bedding plants in bloom.
Time your visit so you can enjoy one of the many special themed days or re-enactment days that take place here.
6. Hospitalfield House, Arbroath
We’re going back to Arbroath now to visit an impressive Art & Crafts house. This is the perfect destination if you have an interest in art or just love exploring the many historical houses spread throughout Angus.
Hospitalfield House was originally a hospital built in 1260 to support Arbroath Abbey and later converted to a monastery. The estate eventually became privately owned, and in 1890 it was left in trust to support artists.
Hospitalfield’s inspiring collections will give you insight into 19th and 20th-century history; from the vision of artist Patrick Allan Fraser to the years of the art college.
You can enjoy a lively programme of entertaining and educational public events here, including quarterly Open Weekends, weekly tours during the summer, and residencies for artists. Be sure to also visit the Picture Gallery – one of Scotland’s most significant Victorian rooms.
The walled garden is currently being redeveloped with a new cafe and fernery which open in 2021.
7. House of Dun, Montrose
Talking of historical houses, you can travel back to the 18th-century with a visit to this elegant Montrose country house set amid glorious gardens and woodland. Designed with Georgian pride and baroque extravagance by renowned architect William Adam, House of Dun is every bit a laird’s home.
Words cannot accurately describe the impressive level of precision and fine detail throughout this stunning building. Visit to admire the detailed plasterwork by Joseph Enzer in the saloon and the hand-stitched woolwork and embroideries by Lady Augusta FitzClarence. And in the kitchen, you’ll find a traditional clockwork roasting spit, a labour-saving device that was once at the forefront of technology.
Outside, acres of lush woodland surround the beautiful formal gardens. Erskine’s Café provides indoor and outdoor seating for you to sit and enjoy light lunch bites, cakes, and drinks in the courtyard. And kids will love the fun woodland play area.
8. Inglis Memorial Hall & Library, Edzell
Visit the quaint village of Edzell to see the Inglis Memorial Hall, a spectacular landmark building near the distinctive entrance archway.
The library’s collection offers a fascinating glimpse into a late Victorian library, reflecting what was considered interesting and important in fiction and non-fiction at the time. You can even browse through the loan records to get an idea of what was popular in the first half of the twentieth century.
The Library Room has been restored to its full splendour and is now a visitor centre offering engaging audio-visual displays on the history of the library and its place in the community. You can also discover more about Edzell’s other attractions here, making it an ideal starting point for your visit.
After spending time browsing through the intriguing information inside, you can take a relaxing walk through the beautiful rose garden next to the hall.
9. JM Barrie’s Birthplace, Kirriemuir
Author and playwright JM Barrie is best known as the creator of Peter Pan. He spent his childhood in this small, traditional weaver’s house in Kirriemuir, which is now a fascinating museum.
Visit to see the writing desk that Barrie used when writing the Peter Pan story, as well as the original costumes used in the very first production of Peter Pan. The house also includes a Victorian bedroom and a washhouse in the yard which was used as Barrie’s very first theatre. It was here that the young author performed his first play at the age of seven and that provided inspiration for the Wendy house in Peter Pan.
You can also explore the fun, jungle-themed garden but watch out for the life-sized driftwood sculpture of Tick Tock, the crocodile.
A unique attraction that offers an enjoyable and memorable experience for children and grown-ups.
10. Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre
Take another journey back in time at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. The centre is located on the site of Britain’s first operational military airfield and offers a unique collection of fascinating photographs, artefacts, memorabilia, and aircraft.
You can get hands-on with history here by trying on uniforms and interacting with the fascinating interactive exhibits. And you can marvel at the full-size replica of the B.E.2a aircraft flown by No.2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps – the first squadron to land in France at the start of World War One. You can also step inside an authentic 1940s house and a full-size Anderson shelter.
The Heritage Centre ensures future generations will remember the service of the men and women who served at Montrose Air Station. On your visit, you will hear unforgettable stories of their lives and learn more about this significant time in history.
More days out in Angus
There is so much to see and do here in Angus. Take a look at the variety of places to visit, plus our other Insider’s Guides.
Insider’s Guide to Places to Eat
Insider’s Guide to Nature and Wildlife
Insider’s Guide to Food and Drink
Insider’s Guide to Family Days Out
Insider’s Guide to Coast and Waters
Insider’s Guide to Cycling Routes
Insider’s Guide to Beauty Spots
Insider’s Guide to Walking Routes
Insider’s Guide to Hidden Gems