While planning our trip to Scotland, Marty and I knew that we wanted to do a couple of things. We not only wanted to stay in a beautiful castle, but we also see the abbeys in Scotland.
Luckily we were able to do both. (I also wanted to do some Spa Breaks in Scotland, but Marty didn’t seem so keen on that. LOL! )
So, to help with your planning, we have put together a list of our 3 favorite abbeys in Scotland that are worth your vacation time!
Money-Saving Tip- If you’re a history lover like we are, then we highly suggest you looking buying a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. This pass saved us so much money!
We were able to visit all of the abbeys in Scotland listed in this article as well as many other fabulous sites in Scotland, including Edinburgh Castle during our 2 days in Edinburgh.
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Our 3 Favorite Abbeys in Scotland
1. Jedburgh Abbey
Brief History of Jedburgh Abbey
Don’t worry, I’ll keep the history lesson to an overview for you. 🙂
Established in the 1100s in the Scottish Borders region, Jedburgh Abbey carries quite a history. David I founded a priory here in 1138 that was later raised to the state of an abbey.
Although none of the buildings from this early time period survived, archaeologists have found artifacts giving away the history of the abbey.
Although monastic life was usually peaceful for the priests, this abbeys strategic border location meant it was often caught in the turmoil between Scotland and England.
The abbey not only served as a church and home for the priests, it was also the wedding venue and castle home to royalty. King Alexander III married his wife, Yolande de Dreux, on the beautiful property and the two used it as their royal castle.
The demise of monastic life on this site came with the Protestant Reformation of 1560.
Why Visit Jedburgh Abbey
Today is Jedburgh Abbey is set smack in the middle of the town of Jedburgh. Despite being surrounded by city life, Jedburgh is a beautiful site.
After much love from architects and historians, Jedburgh is one of the best-preserved abbeys in Scotland. The beautiful mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles makes it a photographer’s dream.
There is beauty at every angle and around every corner.
While you’re in the area be sure and explore the town of Jedburgh and the other fun sites located here.
2. Melrose Abbey
Brief History of Melrose Abbey
The first Cistercian monastery in Scotland, Melrose Abbey was founded by David I in 1136.
Surrounded by fertile soil and the River Tweed, Melrose Abbey was a great spot to showcase the power of David I.
The beautiful abbey dedicated to St Mary the Virgin was admired and loved by many, and it showed in her lavishly decorated adornments.
Probably the biggest compliment of all to this abbey is that several powerful people chose it as their final resting place, including Alexander II.
It is also noted that although the bodily remains of Robert the Bruce are housed at Dunfermline Abbey, his heart is buried here at Melrose.
The remains you see today have survived attacks from Edward I and II, Richard II, and the War of the Rough Wooing. These remains are still some of the best examples of medieval church architecture to date.
Take particular notice of the elegant piers, the window tracery, and of course the fabulous carvings on the exterior.
My personal favorite is the bagpipe-playing pig.
Why Visit Melrose Abbey
Melrose was my favorite abbey. Standing tall and majestic, her beauty just seemed to beckon us in from the moment we saw her.
While all of the views are magnificent, I especially loved the view while standing in the graveyard. Breathtaking!
Be sure to walk to the top of the top to get a bird’s eye view of the remains and the grounds while visiting. You’ll be glad you did!
Visit the chapter house where the remains of Robert the Bruce’s heart is said to be buried. Overall, this is a fabulous historic site that is deserving of your time while in Scotland.
Oh yeah, and there is a great little ice cream shop on the corner by the grounds. I mean, everyone loves ice cream!!
3. Dunfermline Abbey
Brief History of Dunfermline Abbey
This is one of the abbeys in Scotland that hold a special place in the country’s heart.
Founded by Margaret in 1070 as a priory in Dunfermline, this is where she married Malcolm III. Margaret invited over Benedictine monks from Canterbury, making this the first Benedictine house in Scotland.
Made an abbey in 1128 by David I, Dunfermline began to take on a new shape.
David I built a new grand church with Romanesque pillars and a magnificent nave.
Although the church suffered damage in 1303, it was later rebuilt and is still today used as an active Church of Scotland congregation.
Why Visit Dunfermline Abbey
Like many abbeys in Scotland, Dunfermline also served as a home to many people.
The fabulous Dunfermline Palace remains are right on-site, and give you an insight into the grandeur of the once fabulous palace.
Serving as a royal residence, to James VI’s queen, Anna of Denmark, the palace is full of history. The last monarch to be born in Scotland, Charles I, was born here in 1600.
The abbey itself is gorgeous with its beautiful architecture and incredible stained glass windows.
While visiting, be sure and walk through the fabulous Pittencrieff Park and feed the squirrels. They seemed to be smitten with Marty.
Are the abbeys in Scotland worth your vacation time?
Well, that’s up to you to decide.
We actually visited a few more abbeys during our time in Scotland, these three were our favorites.
Given the fact that we love old churches, photography, and history, we felt that these three abbeys were well worth the time we spent visiting them.
We would also explore the towns and find a fun place to eat or see other attractions while we were there, so this made visiting the abbeys even better.
Suggested Scotland Tours
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Book Your Flight:
We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.
Book Your Vacation Package:
If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.
Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!
For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience.
Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”
Book Your Accommodations:
We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!
There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.
Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!
HotelsCombined is another cool site. They allow you to compare all of the top travel sites with one search to ensure you are finding the best deal out there. Kayak works in this way as well.
If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.
Tour Companies We Trust:
We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!
For a guided city tour, check out City Sightseeing and BigBus Tours. These bus tours are so much fun and easy to hop on and hop off at top attractions in cities around the world.
CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.
Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.
Looking to Save Time and Money?
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.
Wednesday 25th of March 2020
Having lived in Scotland a long time ago, I remember visiting castles but not abbeys specifically. Hard to believe that Dumferline Abbey is still being used as a church today. I’m just amazed at the grandeur of all these abbeys built well over 800 years ago. So majestic! That Historic Explorer Pass was well worth it!
Thursday 26th of March 2020
It really is incredible to see them and experience their beauty and history. We loved having the Explorer Pass it was well worth it to us for sure!
Tuesday 24th of March 2020
I am sooooo a history loving girl! I've always wanted to go to Scotland, and your beautiful images (okay, Marty's photos LOL) make me want to go even more. I'll definitely have to check out the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass!
Thursday 26th of March 2020
We love history also, Sage, and were in heaven during our time in Scotland. I know that you would adore it!
Juleen Meets World
Monday 23rd of March 2020
Oh, these abbeys are beautiful. I'll ensure to visit at least one when I finally make it to Scotland. Thanks for sharing.
Tuesday 24th of March 2020
Thank you for reading, Juleen. They are all so gorgeous.
Monday 13th of August 2018
Scotland looks absolutely stunning. The architectire is incredible. This is now at the Top of my list! Thanks for sharing.
Monday 13th of August 2018
Thank you so much for reading, Christina!
Anisa Karen Alhilali
Saturday 11th of August 2018
These are beautiful, I hadn't heard of any of them. I did visit Holyrood Abbey, which is attached to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. I would love to visit these too. Also, glad to hear you got the Historic Scotland pass. We have the English equivalent and it has saved us lots!
Saturday 11th of August 2018
We didn't make it to Holyrood Abbey :(. Next time! And good to know about the English equivalent of the pass. We will have to keep that in mind.