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The best things to do in Dumfries and Galloway

Explore on foot, Explore on wheels, History and heritage, Open spaces, Towns and villages

There are so many attractions in Southwest Scotland – if you know where to look – but what are are the best things to do in Dumfries & Galloway? Let us be your guide…

Explore the universe in land art

Wander through the Crawick Multiverse (pictured above), a former coal mine now an astonishing and enlightening work of land art. Themes of space, cosmology and astronomy are explored using stone sculptures, winding paths and lookout points. A truly special place designed by landscape architect Charles Jencks, who also created the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Go for the solstice festival. DG4 6ET

Go wildlife spotting

Grab your binoculars and head for the Moffat Community Nature Reserve. This former gravel quarry is a haven for birds and butterflies. Its 35 acres of tranquil green space includes a lochan, water meadow, lint pool, wader scrape, magnification posts and wildflower meadow. Whatever time of year you visit there’s something to see: from swans and richly coloured insects to lapwing and curlew. DG10 9SF

See Scotland’s highest village

Any list of the best things to do in Dumfries & Galloway wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the highest village in Scotland: Wanlockhead (a short drive from Moffat). Its rival for the title is nearby Leadhills. Both remote spots are worth stopping at on the scenic drive up. Discover the Museum of Lead Mining and Scotland’s highest pub, the Wanlockhead Inn. You can pan for gold here too. Hop onboard a train on the Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway, a 2ft narrow gauge railway that operated during 1900-38, and see a range of ex-industrial engines in this high moorland setting.

Find a historic knitting pattern

Sanquhar is home to the famous knitting pattern. Your first stop will be A’ the Airts centre, a hub of community art and activities with a buzzing café and shop. Here you can see how the unique pattern, which dates back to the 17th century, brings hats, scarves and even pictures to life. Local artists and crafters also exhibit here. Learn more about the Sanquhar knitting traditions at the Tolbooth Museum next door. Sanquhar also has the world’s oldest post office (1712). DG4 6BL

Dress up in the past at a modern museum

Lose yourself at the Devil’s Porridge Museum – a ‘top thing to do in D&G’ according to TripAdvisor. Modern, interactive and packed with artefacts, film audio, photographs and costumes to dress up in, it tells the story of the world’s largest munitions factory – HM Factory Gretna. A day out here would not be wasted. Eastriggs, DG12 6TF

Take a wee dram at this whisky distillery

Learn how single malt Scotch whisky is made at the Annandale Distillery on a tour of this superbly designed building and its historic site in Annan. There’s a wee dram to sample – naturally – and a ‘driver’s dram’ to take home. The original cask is available to buy – for a cool £1 million. The Maltings Coffee Shop on site is worth a visit in its own right and all around is novel artwork to gaze upon. Annan, DG12 5LL

Fly to Peter Pan’s place

The ‘enchanted land’ that inspired JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, Moat Brae house is a masterpiece of Georgian architecture. There’s also the Neverland Discovery Garden on the River Nith, which has a pirate’s ship, a gang plank, ‘speaking’ plants and stone crocodiles to hunt down. Plenty of fun for adults too. Dumfries, DG1 2EA

Walk up (or just look at) one of the UK’s highest waterfalls

Hike alongside the Grey Mare’s Tail, a spectacular nature reserve and hanging valley. Its magnificent waterfall cascades at 60m. At the top is Loch Skeen (45 minutes), where you’ll find dramatic scenery, craggy hillsides and geological interest, wild flowers and upland birds – and the perfect picnic stop. DG10 9LH

Discover a most unusual chapel

Seek out a little-known treasure. This cheerful place of worship with its bright and beautiful altar, ornate religious statues and handmade ornaments (some with tinsel) tells the story of the Ukrainian prisoners of war who settled here in 1947 because they could not return home. Hallmuir, near Lockerbie. DG11 1BN

Relax and wonder at a Himalayan garden (as seen on TV)

Discover rare plants from the Everest region of the Himalayas at Craigieburn Garden & Nursery and see them flourish in Moffat. The waterfalls, statues and Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags provide a relaxing sanctuary for visitors, while the nursery is well stocked with woodland species. DG10 9LF

That’s not the entire list of the best things to do in Dumfries and Galloway: read our blog Moffat’s ultimate shopping guide here.

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