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SPONSORED: Follow the official advice and enjoy a summer of family fun in Scotland

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Summer is here and people from across the country can enjoy the many attractions that we have on our doorstep, as long as we follow UK Government advice and enjoy summer safely.

There are plenty of places to go and things to do to suit every budget. Here is our guide to the numerous great days out in across our region.

With gardens entering their second week of opening in Scotland and the five-mile restriction on non-essential travel lifted, the country has begun to look forward to a summer of fun.

While social distancing measures are still in place and it is important not to take undue risks, there are plenty of things to do safely.

Zoos and animal parks around Scotland re-opened on June 29, and now that the five-mile restriction has eased they can welcome visitors from near and far.

Edinburgh Zoo, Five Sisters Zoo in West Lothian, Blair Drummond Safari Park in Stirling and the Highland Wildlife Park in the Cairngorms National Park have all reopened, with customers asked to book in advance.

Fife Zoo suffered a devastating fire just days after reopening after the Covid-19 lockdown, but no animals were harmed and owners have said they hope to return to normality as soon as possible thanks to support and fundraising from the local community.

Stately homes and gardens have also reopened, with several National Trust for Scotland properties now open to visitors.

These include Culzean Castle and Country Park in Ayrshire, Threave Garden in Dumfries and Galloway, Brodie Castle’s garden and grounds, Arduaine Garden in Argyll and Crathes Castle’s garden and estate in Aberdeenshire. Historic Environment Scotland has said that it will monitor the situation and reopen properties in due course.

Unstaffed outdoor sites are already open, so visitors can enjoy walks around Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park and West Lothian’s Linlithgow Peel among others.

Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile.

Walkers and climbers are now welcome to visit the country’s national parks to enjoy some outdoor exercise.

Guidelines remain to avoid touching surfaces or opening gates where possible, to follow signs and avoid coming into contact with farm workers where applicable, and to keep dogs on leads and avoid areas known to be busy.

Pubs and restaurants without door space have also been allowed to reopen. Glasgow’s The Cranside Kitchen, near the Rotunda, has claimed to be the country’s largest beer garden, with a free-to-enter area seating more than 200 guests with social distancing measures in place.

The beer garden offers a range of drinks alongside food from five popular Glasgow restaurants, Rioja, Halloumi, Pickled Ginger, Kilmurry & Co and La Rotunda.

In Edinburgh the Corn Exchange has billed itself as the largest beer garden in the city, having transformed the car park into a space where people can enjoy drinks as well as play darts, ping-pong, swing ball and watch sport, all while observing the necessary hygiene routines.

With hundreds of smaller beer gardens open around the country – including Dundee’s The Kilted Kangaroo and Aberdeen’s Siberia Bar and Hotel – there is no shortage of options for enjoying this summer safely and enjoying good times in Scotland.

Zoo is ready for visitors

Gary Curran with a wildcat born in lockdown.

Five Sisters Zoo in West Lothian opened up to the public on June 29, with a number of new measures in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.

These include mandatory advance booking to avoid crowding and queues, a oneway system around the zoo, hand-washing stations and the cancellation of any activities which involve the public touching or feeding the animals.

The soft play area and restaurant are also closed, but food kiosks are still open.

Keeper talks have been cancelled, but several videos of the talks have been made available online.

The zoo is currently opening at about one third of capacity to ensure space for social distancing, and owners say they will monitor the situation and review measures in place after the first couple of weeks.

“It’s been good so far, the feedback we’ve had has been really positive,” said assistant manager Gary Curran.

“The past few months have been quite difficult financially, so it was a relief to be able to open safely.”

He added: “We’re looking forward to the rest of the summer and hopefully some more good weather!

“People really enjoy it here and they’re having a good time so far.”

Take time to ensure that you are in the know before you go

Summer is here and our colourful countryside, breathtaking beaches and glorious gardens beckon.

Many attractions are reopening, but have restricted visitor numbers and pre-booked time slots, so the UK Government recommends looking at the official websites for attractions and organisations you plan to visit before you travel, so that you’re in the know before you go.

To make your days out as enjoyable as possible, we encourage you to plan your trip in advance and to check all of the important facilities and attractions, while looking after our great outdoors.

To ensure we’re all doing our bit to travel responsibly, here are a few simple steps to help make planning easy. When planning your trip, check that important facilities – like toilets and car parks – are open before you travel so you’re not caught short. If you have an attraction in mind, please check online to see if you need to pre-book a time slot.

Some places may be extremely popular, so get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem that you can brag to friends about.

Keep two metres apart from anyone outside your household where you can. This applies to walking, running, cycling, sitting and sunbathing too.

Wear a face covering at all times when on public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs.

Take time to know before you go

Make sure you have a bank card because many outlets are currently only accepting cashless payments and you don’t want to miss out on that ice cream.

And take hand sanitiser with you – you don’t know where will be open for you to wash your hands.

Leave the car behind where possible and visit attractions by walking or cycling.

Please remember that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different guidelines, advice and timescales for re opening tourism.

To help you enjoy summer safely, please check the respective official sources for information prior to travelling by using the website

The mark that shows visitors we are good to go in Scotland

With many of our favourite attractions now beginning to reopen their doors, Scottish tourism bosses have teamed up with Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitEngland and VisitWales to come up with a way for people to check whether they are “good to go”.

The We’re Good To Go initiative was developed jointly by the four UK Visitor agencies. The UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark will provide a “ring of confidence” for visitors as the tourism sector works towards reopening.

The We’re Good To Go mark means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place, ensuring they can welcome visitors back with confidence. The scheme is free to join.

UK Government tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I want to encourage the public to experience a great holiday this summer and be confident that they can do so safely.

“This new industry standard will show people that tourism businesses, destinations and attractions are adhering to the guidance. “It puts safety first and is an important move in getting this industry back up and running.”

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead, said: “We are pleased that after a very difficult few months Scotland’s tourism industry are starting to welcome visitors.

We’re Good To Go In Scotland

“However, it’s important to remember that things may be a little different now, there may be reduced facilities available or if busy, a greater need to follow physical distancing restrictions to protect yourself and others.

“Planning and researching will also become an important part of the holiday experience and we really want visitors to ‘know before they go’ when it comes to travel; checking what is open and pre-booking if required.”

To obtain the mark businesses must complete a self-assessment through the online platform including a check-list confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the We’re Good To Go mark for display in their premises and online.

Businesses across the UK are assessed according to their respective national guidance including the social distancing and cleanliness protocols that must be in place.

For more information on staying safe, please go to