One of Scotland’s newest attractions and most certainly becoming a famous Scottish landmark, the Kelpies are a must see. If you’re looking for a guide to visiting the Kelpies when in Scotland then this post is for you.
I used to live in Falkirk but left a couple of years before the Kelpies arrived. It’s a fairly overlooked area of Central Scotland so I’ve been really pleased that it, alongside the Falkirk Wheel, have started to put the area on the map. Last time we visited we *had* to pop by to see these sculptures up close!
And what an amazing sight to see too! They are a stunning piece of workmanship and you honestly can’t help but smile when you see them.
A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
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Want to get someone else to drive? This tour from Edinburgh will get you to see the Kelpies easily!
Where are the Kelpies in Scotland?
The Kelpies sculpture is situated between Falkirk and Grangemouth in central Scotland. They are almost equidistant between Edinburgh and Glasgow, about 30 miles away, and so make a great day out from either city.
About the Kelpies – myth and monument
If you’re wondering why these sculptures are referred to as Kelpies and not just horses then you might not know that Kelpies are actually a piece of Scottish folklore.
Kelpies are said to be water spirits, living in Scotland’s many lochs, (including Loch Ness) which would often take on the form of a horse. They could change into human form and as they were sometimes looking for human companionship they would encourage people to go with them. If you touched the kelpie often you would stick to it and you’d drown as the kelpie took you beneath the water.
To be honest, they are not the happiest of tales! Kelpie myths included drownings, entrails being left on the shoreside and people trying to cut off their hands and fingers to avoid being taken into the water. Hmm.
Perhaps that’s why the sculptures are so enticing to us to visit then? Perhaps they have embodied the kelpie water spirit to attract and seek out humans?
The actual monument is a dedicated to horse powered heritage throughout Scotland’s history and the kelpie name just brings in nicely that myth that Scottish folklore is so full of.
One fun fact I love is that they were modelled on actual Clydesdale horses called Duke and Baron!
Is it free to visit the Kelpies?
Yes! The whole area around the Kelpies is free of charge to visit.
There’s a charge if you want to do a tour inside the sculptures, although it’s fairly inexpensive really.
What can you do at the Kelpies?
The Kelpies are in a large parkland area called Helix which goes between both Falkirk and Grangemouth. As such there’s a lot of outside space for walking, running, cycling or just setting up and having a picnic!
The canal provides nice flat walking opportunities and a chance to see some colourful boats up close too!
You can get up close to the Kelpies and if you want to you can also go on a tour to see inside (see below). If you’re there in the evening you might also see the lights come on and light them up!
Whenever you come and visit selfies are a must – they are just so photogenic!
If you’re hungry or looking for souvenirs then the visitor centre is the place to head to. It has a gift shop and cafe inside with amazing views of those Kelpies!
If you’re traveling around Scotland with kids then they can let off steam in the adventure playground and there’s even a water play that is open on weekends and local school holidays (you might want to check before heading if it will be open).
Can you go inside the Kelpies?
Yes, you’re able to go inside the Kelpies but only as part of an organised, and paid, tour. I haven’t done the tour myself yet so can’t comment on if it’s worth it.
You can book online the tours that run daily between 11am and 2pm however if you’re here outside of those times you may still find some running that you can book in person.
The tours last 25 mins and cost around £7.50 per adult (correct as at April 2023).
Are dogs allowed?
The whole area is dog friendly – we took our dog Annie who loved it! They cannot go inside the visitor centre though and cannot go on the Kelpie Tours.
How to get there
Coming to visit the Kelpies by car is really easy. It’s located just off the M9 motorway (and you can see them if you’re driving along this motorway too!) and well signposted – look out for the brown signs.
There are two fairly big car parks so plenty of room – however if you want there’s also the option of parking at Falkirk Football Club car park and walking to the park. (check there’s not a game on though!)
The Helix car park is free but the Kelpie car park has a small charge.
If you’re travelling by motorhome you can also stay overnight in the Helix car park (there is a charge though) – a great one to keep in mind if you’re looking for a stop and you get the advantage of seeing the Kelpies all lit up at night!
If you’re looking to get here from Glasgow or Edinburgh by public transport then the train to Falkirk Grahamston station is probably best. It takes 35 mins from Edinburgh and just under an hour from Glasgow.
From the Falkirk train station you can also get a bus to the Kelpies or walk to them. It’s just over 2 miles and takes around 45 -60 mins.
For train times and to book tickets I always use Trainline which is a really easy to use website.
There are a few tours around that will incorporate a trip to the Kelpies amongst some other sight seeing. They are a great way to see a lot when you don’t have your own transport!
If you’re interested in a guided tour, check this one out:
- Loch Lomond, Stirling and Kelpies tour (From Edinburgh)
More FAQs about the Kelpies in Scotland
Can you just turn up at the Kelpies?
Yes, the whole area is open and you can arrive at any time.
If you want to do a tour of the inside of the Kelpies then you’ll want to book that ahead of time.
How much does it cost to go inside The Kelpies?
The only way to go inside the Kelpies is by going on a guided tour which costs £7.50 per adult (2023).
If you just want to explore the area around the Kelpies and not go inside the structures then it’s free!
How far apart are the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel?
The Falkirk Wheel is around 4 miles away at the other side of the town of Falkirk. You can walk in around 1.5 hours or you can drive where it will take about 15 – 20 minutes.
Are the Kelpies closer to Glasgow or Edinburgh?
There isn’t much in it – Edinburgh is around 26 miles away and Glasgow is 29 miles away from the Kelpies. So Edinburgh is closer to the Kelpies, but only just!
Does The Kelpies have a cafe?
There is a small cafe inside the visitor centre where you can grab a bite to eat. It serves local food with ingredients sourced from Scotland wherever possible. The cafe is open from 9.30am – 4.00pm
Do the Kelpies light up every night?
Yes, the Kelpies are lit up every night so if you happen to be around at dusk then it’s a good time to head over to see them completely different to how they are in the day.
They often light up in different colours and sometimes are lit up for charity with colours that are symbolic.
Is The Kelpies car park free?
There are two car parks in the area, one of which is free and the other which isn’t (except in winter).
The Helix Car park is free all year around but is a little further away from the Kelpie Statues. It has 78 car park spaces.
The car park directly next to the Kelpies is a bit bigger and not free in the peak season. It is £3 for a car between 10am and 4pm (£4 in the summer months of July and August). In the off peak season between November and March it’s free.
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🏴 Scotland Travel FAQ 🏴
Do I need insurance for traveling to Scotland?
YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!
Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.
Do I need a car for visiting Scotland?
YES – If you’re wanting to explore Scotland fully then a car is worthwhile. It will get you to all the best sights and on your own timetable
I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices in Scotland
How to book accommodation in Scotland?
For hotels I recommend Booking.com
For apartments and cottages check out VRBO
Will my phone work in Scotland?
Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.
What to pack for Scotland
Keep yourself dry be prepared for any weather is my motto for Scotland! A rain jacket and comfy shoes are a must.
See my post about what to pack for Scotland
Do I need midge spray for Scotland?
YES – if you’re traveling in the summer months to any of the west coast, highlands, islands or lochs it’s recommended.
Locals swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft!
If you’re sticking to the cities or traveling in winter, early spring or late fall then you likely won’t need it.
What’s the best guidebook for Scotland?
I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks
Where to get flights for Scotland
Skyscanner is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to Scotland.
Do I need a visa for Scotland?
Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting Scotland as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.