The Scottish Borders has now opened itself up to visitors again, which is great news for anyone who loves castles, craft shops and cosy afternoon teas.
Or if outdoor adventures are more your thing, then there are activities galore to enjoy across a stunning landscape of beaches, forests and hills. In fact, there is an overwhelming selection of experiences in the Borders, as this region has many fascinating faces. So whether you love books, bird spotting or proper beer, you will find something for you.
With this in mind, here is our quick guide to some of the key visitor attractions that you can enjoy in spring and summer 2021 (please bear in mind that as circumstances can change at short notice, it's always best to contact places directly. Pre-booking is usually essential at this time):
Stately homes, castles and grand houses
Bit of a history buff? Or do you just love to stroll around manicured gardens and grounds? Then you're in luck, as many historic homes and estates in the Borders are open to visitors again.
Set on a hilltop and surrounded by meadows, Thirlestane Castle is an enhanting landmark close to Lauder. Currently, you can now book a guided tour to view the amazing collection of furniture, art and toys, explore the extensive parklands, then sit down to a warm scone in the tearoom.
Designed by legendary architect Robert Adam, Mellerstain House near Kelso is still closed, but the good news is that the grounds, gardens and cafe are now open Friday to Monday. A fascinating highlight of the grounds is the thatched Tea Cottage, which was built in the 19th century as a fantasy hideaway for the estate owners to relax the lake. While at Mellerstain you can also explore the Borders Sculpture Park, Formal Gardens and Italianate Terraces.
Dreamy Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, has also flung open its doors again for guided tours. This 19th century house and estate overlooking the Tweed includes wildflower meadows and woodlands, as well as a treasure trove of objects that inspired Scott's literary works. The house's stylish and airy Ochiltree's cafe has an outdoor balcony, should you prefer to eat al fresco.
Outdoors and wildlife
If you feel that it's high time to embrace fresh air and nature again after a year of restrictions, then you'll be spoiled for choice in the Borders.
One of the most adorably eccentric activities in the region is Beirhope Alpaca Trekking at Kelso, which offers a chance to take a friendly alpaca for a walk across the Cheviot Hills. You can also get up close to animals like cows, goats and sheep on a weekend open farm visit to Jacksons at Jedburgh's, which is set in 435 acres of rolling greenery.
To take to the trees like Tarzan, head to GoApe in Glentress, where you can explore the forest through a treetop rope course, go on a zip line thrill ride and try out various challenges (needless to say, kids will absolutely love it). Or if you're in the mood for a hike, then the high moorland of the Lammermuir Hills (near Airhouses) offers everything from ancient forts to woodland walks to riverside strolls. Or you could head to the remote and beautiful St. Mary's Loch in the Yarrow Valley, which offers walking paths and a nearby ruined tower house.
Speciality shops and galleries
Has your shopaholic side been a bit thwarted over the past 12 months? Then maybe it's time for a cheeky wee spree again. Thankfully, the Borders is crammed with gift shops, textile mills, specialist food stores, galleries and a whole lot more.
Foodies can sample a range of local flavours and produce at various outlets across the region. For instance, Born in the Borders at Tweedbank is now open seven days again and offers a visitor centre, food shop, restaurant, brewery and gin distillery. Or if you're sweet-toothed you're in luck as the Borders is famous for its traditional treats, so why not head to Jedburgh Chocolate House for a tin of classic Jethart snails? And if you're a fan of proper ales, then Beer Craft in Kelso is an Aladdin's Cave of independent labels.
If arts and crafts are more your bag, then have a nosy at the award-winning Hirsel Gallery in Coldstream (based in the grounds of the stately home of the same name). The gallery displays woodcraft, glassware, textiles, print and jewellery, as well as original art and sculpture. Another great spot for a nosy is the Flat Cat Gallery in Lauder, which houses paintings, ceramics, sculpture, jewellery and even soft toys, much of them locally made.
Also known for its cashmere finds is Johnstons of Elgin, which actually has two outlets (Elgin and Hawick). Also in Hawick is Pringle of Scotland, home of the iconic Argyle sweater, and the landmark, 150-year-old Teviotdale Mills.
Beaches & boat trips
Don't forget that you will have the whole of the Berwickshire Coast to explore this spring and summer too, from the 'secret smuggler's tunnel' at Cove to the crab pools dotting Coldingham Bay to the beautifully sandy stretch of beach that is Pease Bay.
Or if you'd enjoy a jaunt across the water, then you could take a wildlife boat cruise from the seaside town of Eyemouth to the world-famous seabird colony of St. Abb's Head. And if you fancy a few extra thrills, why not make it a rib boat trip?
Craving a change of scene? Then book a stay in a luxurious Airhouses holiday lodge near Lauder. You can enjoy your own hot tub, stunning countryside views and plenty of other luxuries too.
You might also like:
Five Fun Things To Do in the Scottish Borders This Year.
Four Fascinating Hidden Gems of the Scottish Borders.
Your Summer Wildlife Spotting Guide to the Scottish Borders.
Airhouses is more than an award-winning holiday escape — it’s an experience you will never forget. Explore woodland walks, hiking trails and the peaceful village of Oxton (plus Edinburgh is less than an hour away). And don’t forget to say hello to our friendly animal family of alpacas, goats, donkeys, pigs, Shetland ponies and more.