Linlithgow is a town which is easy to overlook, particularly as it's based between the 2 major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. But if you're looking to visit a relaxed Scottish town with plenty of interesting history and a surprising amount to see and do, then Linlithgow is a great place to head. We wanted to publish a guide for anyone planning to visit Linlithgow in 2023, let's get into it:
Where is Linlithgow?
What is there to see and do in Linlithgow?
There is actually quite a bit to see and do in Linlithgow, despite the relatively small size of the town. Here are some highlights:
This beautiful building has a special place in Scottish history and is a very interesting place to visit. As the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, the palace offers a unique glimpse into the country's royal past. Despite being built in the 14th century, the grandeur of the building is still evident and it is still a very impressive building to see up close. We love that it's located just a stone's throw from the town centre. Inside the palace, you can explore rooms such as the King’s Bed Chamber, which really give you an insight into what life must have been like for the people that lived here. It costs just £10 to enter the palace for adults, and kids can enter for £6. Learn more and plan your visit here - historicenvironment.scot
Once you've visited the palace, you should absolutely take some time to explore the nearby loch. The walk around the loch is a couple of miles long and is a perfect way to explore the surroundings. Expect to see lots of wildlife including swans and ducks, who will often head for a walk along the grass. Dogs are welcome but it's advised that they're kept on a lead, especially near the wildlife. The walk around the loch is fairly self-explanatory, but if you'd like to follow the route then you can find out more here - walkhighlands.co.uk
St Michael's Parish Church
Another beautiful building to visit in Linlithgow is St Michael's Parish Church. Most of the current church dates from the 15th century after a fire, and it is remarkably well-preserved given how old it is. The church is particularly interesting to visit for fans of architecture, who will likely notice an interesting blend of styles. For example, the French-inspired West doorway, and the recessed south door with the impressive arch. You're free to enter the church most days, however it's recommended that donations are given, and if there is a service on then of course it's worth remembering to be respectful of others. Learn more about the church here - stmichaelsparish.org.uk
Linlithgow Canal Centre
The canal which runs through Linlithgow is very relaxing to walk alongside, but you can actually take a boat ride along the Union canal if you wish. Operated by the Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS), the Linlithgow Canal Centre gives you the opportunity to take a boat trip along the canal in a traditional 40 seater boat. If you're feeling adventurous then you can actually hire a boat to take along the canal, which is a really memorable experience. The prices are extremely reasonable for such a great experience, and it's run by volunteers too which is quite amazing. Learn more here - lucs.org.uk
Stop at The Cross Well
This monument in the centre of Linlithgow is easy to walk past, but it's well worth taking a moment to admire it. Built in 1807, the Cross Well is actually a spring well which has been covered by a fountain which is intended to look like an imperial crown. You can easily spend quite a bit of time admiring the intricate details of the structure, including the many heads and faces, and of course the unicorn at the top.
The House of the Binns
Located just outside Linlithgow, this impressive 17th century country mansion has been the home of the Dalyells for over 400 years, and is now expertly managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Visitors to The House of the Binns can explore much of the interior of the building, where you can admire the impressive collection of family portraits, furniture, and silver. Other highlights include the very rare Scottish Renaissance painted wood decoration inside the house, as well as the remarkable plaster ceilings which were commissioned for the visit of King Charles I to Scotland. Once you've explored the house, the grounds are also a joy to explore, and you've got a number of trails you can follow which take you through woodland. We highly recommend a visit, and an adult ticket is just £11. Learn more here - nts.org.uk
Explore the independent shops and businesses
Linlithgow is actually home to a number of excellent independent businesses, including cafes, restaurants, and shops. Coffee places like White Dove Coffee and The Lochside Cafe serve up hand-roasted, fairtrade coffee, and both make for a better alternative to the Costa Coffee in town. If you're staying for lunch or dinner then you've got options such as Bar Leo (a great Italian), Mason Belles (local ingredients with a twist), and Cafebar 1807 (great for a meal or an evening drink).
The Line Gallery
Scotland is home to an endless pool of talented artists of all sorts, and The Line Gallery in Linlithgow is an excellent place to head to if you want to experience this for yourself. At the gallery, you'll find an eclectic mix of art pieces from a variety of local artists. This includes everything from paintings to ornaments and more. You'll always find plenty of smaller pieces here which make for a perfect gift. And if you get the chance to visit an exhibition held at the gallery, we highly recommend it. Learn more here - thelineonline.co.uk
Beecraigs Country Park
A couple of miles south of Linlithgow in the Bathgate Hills you'll find Beecraigs Country Park, a lovely place for walks and other activities. At 370 hectares in size, this is the largest of the 3 country parks in West Lothian and has a great mix of woodland and open space to explore. There is so much to do here for everyone - take a stroll around Beecraigs Loch, visit the animal attractions, enjoy the adventure play area, or bring your bike and follow one of the excellent cycling trails. If the sun is out, this park is just a short trip from Linlithgow and is well worth a visit. Learn more here - westlothian.gov.uk
If you want to learn more about the local history of the town then a trip to Linlithgow Museum is highly recommended. The museum is packed with interesting exhibits and artefacts, including plenty of information about the royal history of the town and the importance of Linlithgow in Scottish history. But there are also lots of exhibits about the lives of the working class men and women of Linlithgow throughout history, which is just as interesting. You'll learn about how these people made their living and what daily life was like for them as they lived alongside the royals. Highlights include the bronze statue of Mary Queen of Scots which you find as soon as you enter the museum. Learn more and plan your visit here - linlithgowmuseum.org
Things to be aware of before visiting Linlithgow
If you have more than few days in Linlithgow, you're very well-placed to explore some of the other great areas of Scotland. Stirling has an excellent castle and some great traditional pubs, and of course Edinburgh and Glasgow are both large cities with plenty to see and do. You're well connected to all 3 cities via the train station at Linlithgow. You're also close to Falkirk where you'll find the impressive Kelpies structures.