Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

A historic palace, artisan food scene, jaw-dropping natural wonders, fabulous museums… Perth ticks all the boxes.

Perth is rooted in ancient history as the place where Scotland’s monarchs were once crowned and is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. But in 1975 it suffered the ignominy of being stripped of its city status. However that all changed in 2012, so 2022 marks a decade since Perth successfully snatched back its city crown.  And this picturesque dame on the banks of the River Tay is on the up.

Scotland’s ‘newest’ city is still alive with its colourful past, plus has swathes of green space, culture and beavers (yes, you read that correctly).

Here are eight reasons you should make a bee(ver)line for Perth….

1. There’s a slice of royal history at Scone Palace

Perth is home to Scotland’s destiny – Scone Palace is a grand historic edifice that presides just back from the Tay and a little upriver from the city. It has played a pivotal role in Scottish and indeed British history.

For centuries the Stone of Destiny housed here was used to crown Scotland’s monarchs, before it was taken off to Westminster Abbey in the 11th century. The last monarch it was used to crown was Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, or technically Queen Elizabeth I in Scotland.

Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland (Image: jean Morrison/Shutterstock)jean Morrison/Shutterstock

What you see at Scone Palace is a replica (although many stories and counter-stories swirl around the ‘real’ stone) with the original Stone of Destiny currently in Edinburgh Castle. There are plans to bring it home to Perth at the revamped City Hall.

As well as the copycat Stone (pictured below), there are numerous lavish state rooms to visit at Scone Palace, plus a glorious swirl of grounds and a maze to ramble around in.

Replica Stone of Destiny, Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland (Image: Awe Inspiring Images/Shutterstock)Awe Inspiring Images/Shutterstock

2. Perth is clean and green

It may be a city, but Perth has the vibe, open space and green lungs of a relaxed town. There are plenty of pedestrianised streets and this ‘Champion of Champions’ in the Britain in Bloom competition is packed with parkland. Legend has it that King James VI was so frustrated by his men relaxing playing golf in the North and South Inch parks – which neatly bookend the city centre – instead of doing their archery practice that he banned golf.

Perth is also dissected by the mighty River Tay, Scotland’s longest river. Once busy with Viking longships, Baltic traders and French wine merchants, the waters have now been reclaimed by wildlife. Check out the ‘Perth Big Five’ while kayaking with Outdoor Explore – otters, kingfishers, seals, osprey and, of course, beavers (more on those later).

North Inch, Perth, Scotland (Image: Skye Studio LK/Shutterstock)Skye Studio LK/Shutterstock

3. This is St. John’s Town

The local football team – who snared both Scottish cups in 2021 – are called St Johnstone, after Perth’s old name. This dates back to the city’s patron saint, whose legacy lives on in the vaulting St. John’s Kirk of Perth.

Its spire has stood tall on a skyline dotted with church spires for more than half a millennia. The surrounding monasteries didn’t survive the riotous effects of a typically incendiary speech from John Knox during the Reformation in 1588, but somehow this grand ecclesiastic treasure was spared for you to appreciate.

READ MORE: 9 great ways to experience Loch Lomond

St. John’s Kirk of Perth, Scotland (Image: PK289/Shutterstock)PK289/Shutterstock

4. Perth is a cultural hub

The most exciting new development is the Mecanoo-designed museum currently emerging from the grand shell of Perth City Hall. But already open is the Fergusson Gallery, a stunning gallery housed in an old waterworks dedicated to Scottish Colourist JD Fergusson. It’s a tribute to the achievements of his pioneering modern-dancer wife, Margaret Morris, too.

Perth Museum and Art Gallery is another unmissable joy. They’re very proud of Georgina Ballantine’s salmon, thought to be the largest salmon ever hauled from the Tay: it is said to have taken two hours to haul in, weighing a whopping 64lbs (29kg).

Perth Museum and Art Gallery (Image: Perth Museum & Art Gallery/Facebook) Perth Museum & Art Gallery/Facebook

Elsewhere, military history buffs must check out the award-winning Black Watch Museum, which celebrates one of Scotland’s oldest British Army regiments whose origin dates back to 1725. It’s a controversial regiment within Scotland due to their role in quashing anti-British government fervour in the 18th century.

The collection spans exhibits from those Jacobite struggles in Scotland, through both World Wars and then on to Afghanistan. Uniforms, diaries, military equipment and more poignantly tell the story of past conflicts and the people involved.

The annual Perth Festival of Arts also ripples through the city in spring, with the largest events gracing the impressive Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre.

5. The city has a stellar food scene

Perth is known as the ‘Fair City’ and it has long been interested in all things foodie and fair trade – so much so that Perth was the first place in Scotland to be recognised by the Cittaslow movement, which champions ‘slow food’ and local heritage. Scotland’s first farmers’ market was held in Perth too.

The most famous restaurant is the award-winning 63 Tay Street, down by the banks of the Tay. Here local-boy-made-good Graeme Pallister works creative wonders with a ‘Local, Honest, Simple’ philosophy. Think confit partridge with haggis and neep (swede) purée; smoked salmon mousse with blood orange salad; and elevated flapjack with honeyberry compote.

Scallops at 63 Tay Street, Perth, Scotland (Image: 63 Tay Street/Facebook)63 Tay Street/Facebook

Wider Perthshire’s culinary larder is also much celebrated – from lamb and beef, through to its fantastic soft fruits – so local restaurants have lashings of fine produce to work with.

6. Spot those beavers!

In 2021 Perth officially announced it was the first UK city in over 400 years to be home to a wild beaver population. There have been colonies of beavers dotted around Scotland for years, including on lower stretches of the River Tay, but not in a city

If you’re very lucky you will see them in the heart of the city from the riverfront boulevard, but you’ve got a much better chance if you work your way upriver into the northern extremities of North Inch. Sunrise and sunset are the best times of day to catch sight of these super-cute creatures. You’ll see their handiwork even if you don’t spot them.


Historic waterfront, Perth, Scotland (Image: Robin McKelvie)Courtesy of Robin McKelvie

7. Perth is the heart of Scotland

Arguably no city in Scotland is better set up for exploring and using as a base. The ‘Big Tree Country’ of Perthshire tempts on all sides. There are direct trains to all of Scotland’s other half dozen cities – Dundee is just 20 minutes away.

The Highlands are just to the north too with their main road artery, the A9, whooshing around the fringes on its way from Central Scotland north to Inverness and beyond. Motorways scoot off to Glasgow and Edinburgh too, with Edinburgh Airport less an hour away. Dundee Airport is even closer.

8. Explore the new driving route

Perth is the ideal place from which to embark one of Scotland’s newest long-distance driving routes, a slower-paced rival to the crowded North Coast 500. The roughly circular Heart 200 takes you through 200 miles (322km) of some of the most spectacular loch and mountain-strewn scenery of Perthshire, and beyond into a few of the surrounding regions.


Highlights include the UK’s oldest tree, hulking Loch Tay and the trim villages of Crieff and Comrie. You could tackle it all in one day, although a more relaxed two-day adventure with an overnight stay in Perth brings a richer travel experience in this deeply scenic, attraction-sprinkled part of Scotland


By Lala