Everyone likes value for money, and how can something not be good value when you don’t have to part with any of your hard-earned cash?

Well, luckily for you, Moray Speyside is home to many free attractions!

Looking to save some cash? We’ve got you covered! From insightful museums to historical treasures, check out our list below of some of Moray Speyside’s best free attractions to fill your days with:

*Although these attractions are technically ‘free’, many would be delighted to accept a donation from you, so please consider this to ensure their future upkeep.

Heritage Centres and Folk Museums

As you’ll discover from this list, Moray Speyside is a region packed full of history and heritage. The region’s colourful past is helped kept alive by a collection of fantastic heritage centres and folk museums found in several of the towns and villages.

These centres are often run by a small team of dedicated and passionate volunteers who aim to share the stories and tales from particular places and periods of Moray Speyside’s history. Many of these centres are free to visit and offer a great way to pick up some quirky tales from the area’s past.

Some highlights include learning about the largest Pictish fort ever discovered in Scotland at Burghead Visitor Centre, viewing the impressive icehouse at Findhorn Heritage Centre, and discovering the slightly creepy and unsettling story of using dead dogs as buoys at Cullen Heritage Centre!

To help you get an overview of everything on offer we have summarised all the free heritage centres below. Each one deserves your visit.

Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre
Burghead Visitor Centre
Cullen Heritage Centre
Findhorn Heritage Centre
Fochabers Folk Museum

WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre

Who doesn’t love whales and dolphins? The WDC’s cute little visitor centre at Spey Bay is a great free attraction suitable for the whole family.

WDC stands for Whale and Dolphin Conservation, which is a registered charity dedicated to the protection of whales and dolphins. The WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre occupies a beautiful historic building in a lovely location right at the mouth of the mighty River Spey.  The centre is home to a small but great (and newly refurbished) visitor centre which provides insightful information on our favourite water-based animals and makes for a great day out!

Highlights include the remote cameras you can operate from inside the centre to spot whales and dolphins in the Moray Firth, as well as the audio guide which lets you hear the unique and unusual sounds of whales and dolphins.

Make sure to also enjoy the delicious home-cooked food in the cafe, and afterwards why not go for a wander down to the lovely River Spey and Moray Firth coast. Maybe you’ll even spot a dolphin or whale with your own eyes!

Elgin Museum

If you’re looking for a rundown of Moray Speyside’s colourful past, then look no further than Elgin Museum. Having originally opened in 1836, the museum is Scotland’s oldest independent museum and is home to some fascinating displays.

Located in a category A listed building at the eastern side of Elgin High Street, the museum covers an immense time period, delving into Moray Speyside’s story from the dinosaurs to the present day. Of particular interest is the museum’s collection of ancient Pictish stones, the largest such display in the region, and the ‘People and Place’ section, which tells the story of Moray Speyside over the last 1000 years.

Explore Moray Speyside’s Castles

For a relatively small region Moray Speyside is home to a surprisingly high number of castles. This likely reflects the fact that the region held an important position in medieval and early modern Scotland – acting as a link between east and west and being one of Scotland’s most fertile areas. This was a land people wanted to control.

In total there are over 12 castles in Moray Speyside. Some of which are very popular tourist attractions, such as picturesque Brodie and Ballindalloch Castle, and mighty Balvenie Castle. However, there’s plenty more and many are open air and completely free to visit and wander around.

This includes Duffus Castle, which is one of the best examples of a motte and bailey castle in Scotland (it’s worth parting with your cash at Kula Coffee Hut for some incredible coffee and home bakes), and Dunphail Castle, which can be combined with a lovely walk from Logie Steading. In total, there six noteworthy free castles to visit in Moray Speyside. Each one has their own story to tell, so why not tick them all off?  

Auchindoun Castle
Blairfindy Castle
Drumin Castle
Duffus Castle
Dunphail Castle
Rothes Castle

The Cabrach

The Cabrach is a sparsely populated area of Moray Speyside, that until recently, many people would not have heard of. Located in a very remote corner of the region, 10 miles south of Dufftown, The Cabrach has a fascinating back story. The town was once home to many hundreds of people. However, due to rural depopulation in the 1800s, many people moved away and The Cabrach became a somewhat forgotten land.

Nowadays however, things have changed thanks to the hard work of The Cabrach Trust, who have been given the task of injecting new life back into the area. There are many ongoing plans, which include opening a new heritage distillery and launching a special Cabrach tweed.

Something that is already open and free to enjoy is the lovely Cabrach Discovery Trail. This new walking route circles Inverharroch Farm and runs for 2km. With a good surface, it’s accessible for people of all abilities and even manageable for wheelchairs and prams. Along the trail there are views of the Lower Cabrach, a wildflower meadow and nature hide.

Nearby to The Cabrach is Dornell Visitor Centre, which is also free and well worth a visit. Built by EDF Renewables, the visitor centre has lots of information about local walking trails, the windfarm and local wildlife – including some protected species.

The Cabrach
Dorenell Visitor Centre

Scalan Seminary and Mills

Scalan Seminary and Mills represents an intriguing and less known part of Moray Speyside’s history, which often goes unnoticed.

Just east of Tomintoul lies the Braes of Glenlivet, a remote and expansive plateau. Here you will find the Scalan Seminary and Mills. This originally served as a secret Roman Catholic seminary where priests, known as ‘heather priests,’ were trained during the 1700s when Catholicism was prohibited. The site can be accessed by walking 1 km from the Carrachs car park, or by incorporating it into the lovely 4.5 km Scalan Heritage Trail.

Pluscarden Abbey

As this list has demonstrated, Moray Speyside is home to an abundance of fascinating historical sites and stories, from ruined castles to secret seminaries which helped keep Catholicism alive in the Highlands.

Another quirky tale from Moray Speyside is Pluscarden Abbey, which like Scalan Seminary, often gets overlooked by visitors and locals. The abbey originally dates from 1230. It is the home to a community of Catholic Benedictine monks, making it the only medieval British monastery which is still used for its original purpose.

Visitors are welcome to visit the abbey. There is parking onsite and a small exhibition tells the story of the building. Find out a bit more on the community of Benedictines living there. There is also an onsite shop.