Scotland

19 Best Places to Visit in Scotland

There are so many places to visit in Scotland, so it can be hard choosing where to go during a trip! Should you visit the hot spots like Edinburgh or Glasgow? Maybe relax at Loch Ness? Or experience island life at the Isle of Lewis or the Isle of Harris?

This guide is the answer to all of your questions. Read on to find all of the best places to visit in Scotland. Each place comes highly-recommended from a travel blogger who has explored the area themselves!

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Edinburgh

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Edinburgh is truly one of the best places to visit in Scotland because it’s filled with so many great historic sights and there are so many awesome accommodations. It was the first city that I explored in the country and it’s truly one of the most memorable.

Here are the best things to do in Edinburgh!

Hike Arthur’s Seat

The hike up to Arthur’s Seat doesn’t take more than a few hours and the view at the top is absolutely impeccable. It truly is one of the most picturesque parts of Edinburgh! It does get a bit hard to hike at the top, but it’s completely worth it.

Eat all the food

Edinburgh is filled with amazing places to eat. There’s cafes, restaurants, pubs, and more. I can’t recommend Oink enough, which is one of the best places I’ve eaten at while traveling. It’s located right on Victoria Street and serves up great pig roast sandwiches for only 5 pounds!

Visit the picturesque Victoria Street

Victoria Street is absolutely gorgeous. Just looking at it reminds me of something straight out of Harry Potter! This street is lined with lots of cute little places to shop, including a store called The Boy Wizard which is perfect for Harry Potter fans. Remember your camera; you’re going to want it.

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Do some Harry Potter sightseeing

J.K. Rowling famously wrote a lot of the Harry Potter series while living in Edinburgh. So much of her inspiration can be found between these cobblestone streets. For instance, there’s the Elephant House Cafe, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, Victoria Street, and more. There are even lots of tours that will take visitors to all of the top sights throughout the city that J.K. Rowling frequented.

Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s royal residence in Edinburgh. It’s open for visitors, but keep in mind that there are times that it will be in use last-minute and you won’t be able to go inside. This happened to me when I visited, but it’s still just as worth it to see it from the outside!

traveled by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages


Isle of Skye

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image courtesy of Jamie from Travel Addict

The Isle of Skye is one of the most uniquely beautiful and breathtaking places in Scotland, a country full of awe and beauty. Skye is a perfect place to visit for those who appreciate rugged beauty, hikes (of varying difficulty), and incredible landscapes. As it’s popularity grows with tourists I would recommend visiting off-peak, so outside of the summer months, and ensure you’ve packed rain gear.

What to see on Skye? Here are the highlights:

The Quiraing

A trip to Skye is incomplete without visiting this stunning landslip, which offers incredible views of the Island; it is one of the most picturesque points on the islands. And for hikers, a 4-mile hike along the elevated ridge (or you can cheat by doing a section and double back, rather than taking the entire 4-mile loop).

Talisker Distillery

Talisker is a single malt whiskey produced on Skye and shipped worldwide to be enjoyed by a global community. Their distillery is open for tours and tastings, both of which I’d highly recommend, but you’ll need to book the visit in advance. You’ll learn about the unique pairing of sea and smoke that dominates their whiskey palate and much about the process of making it.

Portree

The largest village on Skye – with it’s beautifully quaint with a charming quayside, beautiful harbor views, and charming overall vibe it is an unmissable stop in any trip to Skye. It is the best place to get food on the island, and several good pubs for a pint or a dram; as well, there are small shops along the high street.

Fairy Pools

These beautiful interconnected pools, fed by streams and waterfalls, are accessible by foot only after a short hike from a parking lot. Stepping away from the road seems to transport visitors to a magical place. The pools are remarkably clear and unusual blue color, with the ability to see straight to the bottom, and possess an otherworldly quality.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

This charming seaside castle has a long history on Skye – you can take a tour of the castle, the gardens, or even a seal tour in the neighboring bay.

traveled by Jamie from Travel Addict


Isle of Muck

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image courtesy of Jordan from Inspired By Maps

The Isle of Muck, the smaller of the Scottish Small Isles, is situated on the west coast of Scotland. It is only about 4 kilometres long and has about 45 households along with a large farm—no church, no post office, no fire station — not even a supermarket. There’s WiFi, electricity, a petite café with irregular hours, and a few diverse accommodation choices.

Yet what might be missing in everyday conveniences, the Isle of Muck repays in sheer physical charm. Beautiful white sandy beaches equal those of Fiji, crystal blue seas, isolated bays, and exotic wildlife. Seals, otters, puffins, even whales, and dolphins can be spotted here. No, we are not lying, this little slice of paradise is genuine, and in Scotland no less.

Part of what has made the Isle of Muck so distinctive is its solitude, with just one narrow lane road, a ferry dock, and … well, not much of anything else. Since most of Muck is in open farmland, you’re free to walk about, see animals and wildlife, make friends with the stunning white Highland Horses, and marvel at the natural landscapes everywhere you go.  Not to mention the breathtaking views across the water to the cliffs of the Isle of Rum.

Everybody knows everybody on this island- and intrepid adventurers that make it here are going to be stopped by locals for a chat. They are just so happy people come to admire their little world.  And chat you should,  because they’re going to have a lot of inside scoops, advice, and tips for you. They will know popular fishing spots, how to spot the sea lions and puffins, what’s what in terms of swimming and, well, any other local knowledge of the day’s events they might impart to you. The inhabitants of Muck are all, to say the least, unique and add to the charm of this place.

Being such a small island, your travel opportunities to the Isle Of Muck are restricted to ferry services from the settlements of Arisaig and Mallaig. You can also get on one of the nature cruises from Arisaig in the peak summer season.

traveled by Jordan from Inspired By Maps


Orkney Islands

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image courtesy of Suzanne from Meandering Wild

The Orkney Islands are located 8miles from the northeast corner of mainland Scotland.  They are made up of Mainland, with the main towns of Kirkwall and Stromness and then several smaller islands reached by either causeway, ferry, or short flights. Despite their remote location, the islands have a UNESCO World Heritage status for their Neolithic past and beautiful landscapes to explore.

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall

The cathedral stands in the centre of the main town of the islands and is flanked by the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace.  Inside there are interesting headstones and carvings as well as the chance to climb the spire.

Skara Brae

Skara Brae is one of the most intact Neolithic villages ever discovered and dates back over 5000 years. Found after a storm in the 1850s, the beach location of this archaeological site is stunning.  A small visitors centre takes you back in time to put finds into context.

Italian Chapel

On the island of Lamb Holm south of Kirkwall is a small chapel inside a Nissen hut.  Built by Italian prisoners of war during World War 2, it is filled with beautiful frescoes and ironwork.

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image courtesy of Suzanne from Meandering Wild

Brough of Birsay

The Brough of Birsay is located in the northwest of the mainland and is a tidal island with a lighthouse and puffin colony.  A circular walk takes you around the island as well as visiting the nearby ruins of the Earl’s Palace.

Ring of Brodgar

This is a large Neolithic stone circle with several large standing stones that are still in place.  Close by are many other standing stones as well as a large burial mound and ongoing archaeological dig.

traveled by Suzanne from Meandering Wild


Isle of Arran

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image courtesy of Sam from Travels With My Boys

The Isle of Arran is off the West Coast of Scotland and is about an hour away from Glasgow and is the largest of the islands in the Firth of Clyde. Arran can be reached by ferry from Ardrossan, where you can leave your vehicle and go over as a foot passenger or take your car with you so you can go for a drive around the island.

There are plenty of things to do on the island, especially if you love the outdoors. Arran has something for everyone from solo travellers to families.

Cycling

The island is excellent for cycling, and there are not that many roads either, so you won’t get lost easily! You can hire bikes on the island, or you can take your own across with you. Even though the island is famous, the roads have never seemed too busy, and if you do encounter a vehicle, then drivers are usually excellent and leave you plenty of space.

Walking

There are plenty of hiking trails on the island! You could tackle the Arran Coastal Way, which I have personally done, and it is a great challenge. Goat Fell is the highest peak on the island, and most visitors to the island will try and get to the top. Goat Fell is next on my list with my eldest son as he wants to take the “mountain” on!

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image courtesy of Sam from Travels With My Boys

Enjoy the main sights

Around the island, you can enjoy plenty of excellent views, especially for those who love history and castles. You can explore Brodick Castle, Lochranza Castle (a ruin), or even visit Kings Cave (which Robert the Bruce is said to have had his famed encounter with a spider). If you do not mind a short walk, you can visit the Machrie Moor Standing Stones, which is not too far from Kings Cave, so you could do them on the same day.

Distilleries and breweries

There are 2 Whiskey Distilleries on the island (including the new distillery at Lagg) and the Arran Brewery, which makes craft beer. I have only visited the Lochranza distillery, and it was very informative to visit. I do not drink, so I did not try any of the Whiskey, but I do know it is trendy.

Golf

For being an island, there are plenty of golf courses for you to play on. I am no expert when it comes to golf, but enjoying a game of golf while enjoying the stunning views seems like an excellent reason for visiting the island.

If you did not want to do any of the above, then you could also enjoy a spa break and sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning scenery.  The isle of Arran should be on your to-do-list if you are planning on coming to Scotland.

traveled by Sam from Travels With My Boys


North Coast 500

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image courtesy of Lynne from Wander Your Way

The far northwest of Scotland is wild, rugged, and remote — and it’s stunning!

It’s a part of Scotland that is off the tourist trail, takes time to get to (but is so worth it), and where a car is a must.

There is a driving route called the North Coast 500 that goes around this peninsula. Many folks race around it. But I recommend taking your time.

I didn’t make it very far around as I stayed for five nights in the Gairloch area in a settlement known as Big Sand. It’s gorgeous with views of the Torridon Hills to the south and the Isle of Lewis and Harris to the west. I’m going to concentrate on this part of the Northwest peninsula.

Any spot along the North Coast 500 is a place to slow down and enjoy the beauty of unspoiled Scotland.

Here are a few things I recommend for this particular part of the North Coast 500.

Walk or drive out Rua Reidh Lighthouse and do some walking

I drove to Melvaig and parked. From this parking area, the road is very narrow, but it’s drivable to the lighthouse. I chose to walk to take in the views of the sea at a slower pace. Once you get to the lighthouse, which does have rooms, you can pick up the dirt trails along the coast. Since Scotland is a right of way, you can go anywhere. The views are stunning from here!

Visit Inverewe Garden

I did not make it to this National Trust site, which is an epic fail on my part. This garden is located in an area where the Highlands meet the Gulf Stream, so the flora is unique. There are trails to walk, historic buildings to explore and much to learn about wildlife and plants.

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image courtesy of Lynne from Wander Your Way

Eat at The Barn Cafe

The Barn Cafe was a short walk across a field from where I was staying, Solas B&B in Big Sand. Believe it or not, this fabulous cafe is part of Sands Caravan and Camping. The food was delicious! I highly recommend eating a meal here.

Walk on Gruinard Beach

As you drive further north from Inverewe Gardens, you’ll come to a little overlook. At this overlook, you’ll spot Gruinard Beach. Drive a bit further and park in the lot for this lovely beach. Go for a walk on this beautiful stretch of sand. If the weather permits, maybe a picnic is in order. For those brave souls, go for a swim in the chilly water.

Drive further north, stopping when the spirit moves you

As you drive further north on the A832 and the A835, you’ll come to more places to stop and drink in the gorgeous scenery. I drove almost to the town of Elphin around the Knockan Crag Nature Reserve. I wish I had gone further as this is the beginning of the Assynt region of the peninsula. I hear it’s spectacular. So don’t be afraid to take a drive and stop for views or walks.

Get out on a trail

There are lots of trails all over the Northwest, including some around Big Sand and Gairloch, where I stayed. Pack up your daypack and get out and explore. This part of Scotland is made for hiking!

traveled by Lynne from Wander Your Way


Glenfinnan

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image courtesy of Debbi from My Debstinations

Glenfinnan is a small village in the northwest Highlands of Scotland, just 17 miles from Fort William. Known for its picturesque scenery, Glenfinnan is a popular highlight for many (especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan). Despite its small size (with an average population of 120), the majority of things to do in Glenfinnan are off the main road. This gives travelers a unique perspective on exploring the rustic and authentic beauty of this portion of the Scottish Highlands.

Here are 5 things you can do in Glenfinnan (all of them are free except for the ticket on the Jacobite Steam Train):

Explore its stunning landscapes

Glenfinnan is surrounded by towering mountains along the banks of Loch Shiel, so it’s an incredible place to hike or just explore for the day.

Viaduct Trail

This is a 1-2 hour walk passing through Glenfinnan Viaduct and Loch Shiel and has an incredible view of the steam train chugging along the viaduct.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

This is the most commonly visited attraction in Glenfinnan, since you can actually ride the Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express) to Fort William and Mallaig in the summer. Harry Potter fans flock to this iconic site!

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image courtesy of Debbi from My Debstinations

Glenfinnan Monument

This is a historical monument from 1815 dedicated to Jacobite clansmen who died during the Jacobite rising.

Glenfinnan Station Museum

This is a working railway station that tells the history of the viaduct and life in the West Highlands.

Along with a few Harry Potter films, Glenfinnan has also been used as a filming location for popular TV shows such as “Outlander” and “The Crown.” Thus, whether you’re looking to satisfy your inner geek or just want to photograph some iconic landscapes on an easy trail, Glenfinnan is a must-do while you’re in Scotland.

traveled by Debbi from My Debstinations


South Queensferry

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image courtesy of Fiona from Fiona Travels from Asia

A peaceful town located to the west of Edinburgh, South Queensferry is easily accessible by a 20-minute train journey from the beautiful capital of Scotland. This quaint town makes a convenient half-day trip from Edinburgh for those seeking a haven from the hustles and bustles of tourist groups in the capital.

Upon visiting South Queensferry, don’t forget to:

See the renowned Forth Bridge

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Forth Bridge (aka Forth Rail Bridge) is a distinctive landmark voted as Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder in 2016. There is a viewing point at Ferry Glen – a woodland situated between the Dalmeny railway station and High Street – where you can enjoy a great view of the Forth Bridge and the Firth of Forth.

Take a stroll around the Hawes Pier

If the weather is good, nothing feels more relaxing in South Queensferry than taking a stroll around the Hawes Pier. This is also a great place to watch the sunset and breathe in the fresh air from the river. You can even board one of those day cruises to fully enjoy the scenery around this area.

Enjoy fresh seafood at various restaurants

South Queensferry prides itself on a number of seafood restaurants which serve delicious fresh seafood prepared in various styles. You can visit The Boat House or Samphire Seafood on High Street to try these delicacies while simultaneously enjoying a beautiful view of the river.

Visit the Queensferry Museum

If you are interested in knowing more about the history and traditions of Queensferry, don’t miss the chance to visit the Queensferry Museum on High Street. Entrance is free and you will also be able to enjoy a stunning view of the Firth of Forth and the Forth Bridge from here.

Walk along High Street

High Street is where you can truly experience the unique vibes of South Queensferry. Walking along High Street, you will find a wide range of interesting places to drop by, including lovely coffee shops to sit and chill when it’s sunny, cool souvenir stores to purchase a piece of Queensferry and bring back home, as well as cozy old book shops whose owners are both friendly and knowledgeable.

With all these interesting things to do in South Queensferry, this pretty town is surely the place to be if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway from the bustling Edinburgh.

traveled by Fiona from Fiona Travels from Asia


Oban

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image courtesy of Jan from Leisurely Drives

A little gem in the beautiful but less-traveled part of Western Scotland, Oban, is a large seaside village with a few nice attractions, but more than this it has charm and some of the pleasures of life – fresh seafood, good whisky and an interesting seafront.

Oban and its surrounds can be an ideal base for several enjoyable day-trips to explore this part of Scotland. 

There are some interesting places to visit in Oban:

McCaig’s Tower

McCaig’s tower is an unfinished tower prominently visible over the Oban skyline. It almost looks like the Roman Colosseum. You can get a beautiful panoramic view from the viewing platform on top of a  rather steep hill.

Oban Distillery

Oban distillery: Its informative tour is highly recommended. The 14-year old single malt is popular due to its fortification with crystallized ginger!

Carnasserie Castle

Carnasserie Castle: Located in Kilmartin, this ancient castle cum residence would be interesting for architecture admirers.

Connel Bridge and the Falls of Lora

Connel Bridge and the Falls of Lora, about 5 miles from Oban, offer great views from the car park viewpoint. The unique falls, technically a white water tidal rapid, is worth viewing.

Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle is a half ruined castle in Connel. This fortress is another must-see for history buffs.

Finally, if you have the time, you could visit the famous Inveraray castle and its lovely gardens, which is just an hour’s drive away from Oban. Apart from the above, Oban is the seafood capital of Scotland and boasts of a plethora of terrific restaurants – many overlooking the bay. 

traveled by Jan from Leisurely Drives


Isle of Lewis

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image courtesy of Peter & Lauren from Oursocalledlife

The Isle of Lewis’ main settlement is the bright and vibrant town of Stornoway, it’s the largest island and the capital of the Western Isles but it’s more than that, the Isle of Lewis offers many breathtaking opportunities, it is rich in history and beauty with unique experiences that cannot be seen elsewhere.

Callanish Standing Stones

Older than Stonehenge and with a real air of mystery. No one knows what they were for, some suggest to track lunar cycle, some say they are shaped like a cross and some say they were giants turned to stone, we’ll never know for sure but what we do know is that they have become a world-famous symbol of the Isle of Lewis. 

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

The Gearrannan Blachouses are a collection of stone cottages from an old crofting village. You can take a step back in time by visiting one of the refurbished blackhouses to experience these cottages as they would have been and to see how the people lived and worked. 

You can even watch some traditional weaving of Harris Tweed.

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image courtesy of Peter & Lauren from Oursocalledlife

Lews Castle/Museum Nan Eilean

Lews Castle is a large Victorian mansion that sits upon a hill overlooking the town of Stornoway. Not only has it been refurbished for visitors and creating beautiful hotel accommodation but it is also home to Museum Nan Eilean, which hold some of the infamous Lewis Chessmen! 

Surrounding the castle are the castle grounds and here you can find magical walks, cycle routes, fishing spots and even the local golf course.

Butt of Lewis

The Butt of Lewis is the most northerly point of the Isle of Lewis and even made the Guinness Book of Records as the UK’s windiest destination. Here you will find some incredible sights which surround the lighthouse, with incredible crushed and twisted rocks standing up to 80ft high and some which date back as far as 3 billion years old.

Mangersta Sea Stacks

The Mangersta Sea Stacks are a sight to see. There are many beautiful beaches on the Isle of Lewis but none offer such a dramatic backdrop as the Mangersta Headland with its high sea cliffs and its seabird colonies.

You can even book a free stay in the Mangersta Bothy which is on the edge of the sea-cliff and wake up to those incredible views.

traveled by Peter & Lauren from Oursocalledlife


Isle of Harris

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The Isle of Harris is in the Outer Hebrides, north of mainland Scotland, and is only accessible by a domestic flight or ferry. But the effort it takes to get there is rewarded by fantastic scenery.

The top 5 things to do are:

Luskentyre Beach

Luskentyre Beach – with its wide white sands and aqua-marine water make it worthy of the TripAdvisor award for3rd best beach in Europe. Try to visit when the tide is out and the sun shining to see the beach at its best

Scarista Beach

Scarista Beach – another pretty, crescent-shaped beach with the Harris hills in the background and Atlantic waves crashing onto the sands

Visit the Gin Distillery

Visit the Gin Distillery – since 2015 a local gin distillery in Tarbert has been producing Isle of Harris gin. A tour and tasting is the perfect wet weather activity

Drive the Golden Route

Drive the Golden Route – the one-lane road on the rocky southern side of the island has very different scenery to the sandy beaches on the northern side

Go Hiking

Go hiking – there are many hills to climb for fantastic views over the island and out into the Atlantic. The two best hikes are Ceapabhal Hill and the full day circular walk over Beinn Dhubh

It is possible to visit at any time of year, but the main tourist season is April to September and some of the local cafes and restaurants might be closed outside of this period.

The Outer Hebrides is more remote than other areas of Scotland and sees less visitors. As a result there are few hotels, restaurants and shops outside the largest town, Stornoway. A self-catering Isle of Harris cottage is the best choice for accommodation.

traveled by Kristin from Adventures with Ensuite


Aviemore

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Aviemore is one of the largest towns in the Cairngorms National Park. It has good rail connections to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, and many accommodation and dining options. All these make it an ideal base for exploring the area even without having a car.

Craigellachie National Nature Reserve

Craigellachie National Nature Reserve is a protected area less than 10 minutes away from the train station. It offers four hiking trails of easy to moderate difficulty doable in a few hours. My favourite route is the one going up to the viewpoint, which provides great views over the area.

Strathspey Railway

The Strathspey Railway is a traditional steam train that offers a relaxing way to see the beauty of the area. It departs from Aviemore train station and stops at Boat of Garten and Broomhill. The services are not very frequent, so check the timetable in advance.

Rothiemurchus Estate

If you fancy some outdoor adrenaline activities, you should head to the Rothiemurchus Estate. They offer pony trekking, Segway tours and more. If you become an Explorer, you will get a map of trails around the area. My favourite is the one to Loch an Eilein, a picturesque loch with a ruined castle.

Glenmore Forest Park

At the Glenmore Forest Park, apart from hiking routes, you will find the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, which organises hill trips to spot deer, learn more about them and hand-feed them. Besides, across their visitor centre, you will find Loch Morlich, with a sandy beach and a water sports centre.

Cairngorm Mountain

Lastly, a short bus ride from the centre of Aviemore is the Cairngorm Mountain. In the winter, it operates as a ski centre, while in the rest of the year is the starting point of hikes to the top of Cairn Gorm Mountain and Ben Macdui, the highest peak in the Cairngorms National Park.

traveled by Elina from Empnefsys & Travel


Inverness

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image courtesy of Emily from Dalton’s Destinations

Exploring the Highlands is a must when visiting Scotland. Spend a weekend in Inverness, soaking in its beauty. From mysterious stones to stunning overlooks, Inverness is one of my favorite places in Scotland.

Clava Cairns

The Clava Cairns is a collection of standing stones and massive tombs, or cairns. This place is full of mystery and speculation as to why they are there. To some, it is just a burial ground, to others, a place to study the sun.  The parking lot is very small, I recommend you go early.

Culloden Battlefield 

The Battle of Culloden was the turning point in Scottish history. Just 11 euros to enter, stop by the memorial and visit the ‘clan stones’. The battleground walk is very easy. There are paths all the way around to the left side of the battlefield, however, it does not make a complete loop.

Loch Ness

I had the amazing opportunity to take a cruise down Loch Ness. Tickets are available online or at the Loch Ness visitor center, 22 euros per person (adult). I highly recommend this, it is such a beautiful way to see the Loch.

Urquhart Castle

The castle would have been standing today. However, during the Jacobite uprisings, the government forces did not want the castle to fall into the rebels’ hands, so they destroyed it. There are many paths to explore in the ruins. General Admission: 9 euros.

Castle Leod

This has been the home to the Clan Mackenzie Chieftains for over 500 years! I was told, when the owner is home, he is known to talk to the guests and even invite them into his home! On the castle grounds, there is an awesome tree walk you can explore. There were so many unique trees! We found a tree that dates to the 1500s!

traveled by Emily Dalton from Dalton’s Destinations


Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

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image courtesy of Christa from Expedition Wildlife

On a visit to Scotland’s Highlands, Glencoe is a must-visit destination for those who want to explore the region’s natural beauty. From picturesque lochs to babbling brooks, rolling hills and heather-hewn moors, Glencoe offers an ideal escape to experience the finest outdoors in Europe.

Three Sisters

Even a drive through the hills is worth the trip, especially to the Three Sisters car park, which looks over the mountains and waterfalls of the upper Glencoe Valley.

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image courtesy of Christa from Expedition Wildlife

Glen Etive

Scotland’s Right to Roam laws allow visitors to pull off at one of the many roadside stops to explore around on foot – Glen Etive is one such not-to-miss natural wonder. Birdwatchers will rejoice in keeping an eye out for ptarmigans and red grouse flitting around the rocky landscape.

West Highland Way

The country’s famous long-distance trek, the West Highland Way, also traverses through this path and is perfect for those seeking some extra adventure. Stop at the Glencoe Visitor’s Center for a hiking map and updated trail information.

Loch Leven

Water lovers have the opportunity to sea kayak, paddleboard, boat, and sail the massive Loch Leven. The loch sits just at the edge of Glencoe, and myriad nature trails run all along the water’s edge. Evening sunset strolls around Loch Leven make for some wonderful “golden light” photography.

Clachaig Inn

Top off any adventure-filled day with a hearty meal and some live Scottish music at the Clachaig Inn!

If going to Scotland in winter, take note that the days are quite short, yet the scenery is equally as stunning. Glencoe is the perfect jumping-off point for other awesome destinations in Scotland, including Ben Nevis, Castle Stalker, and Glenfinnan. Definitely don’t miss the opportunity to visit Glencoe and its beauty on your trip to Scotland!

traveled by Christa from Expedition Wildlife


Crieff

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image courtesy of Kalyn from Girl Gone London

Crieff is one of the most charming towns in Scotland, nestled in Perthshire just about an hour from Edinburgh. Known for its distillery, old-fashioned high street and the gorgeous grounds of the Crieff Hydro resort, you’ll be able to find something to do here no matter your interests.

Check out the top things to do in Crieff for visitors to dream up your Scottish bucketlist!

Crieff Hydro Hotel

From horseback riding to walks on the glen to a wonderful meal at the top restaurant, the Miekle, Crieff Hydro Hotel isn’t just a place for sleeping, but a destination for activities, gorgeous views of Crieff and more. Get afternoon tea in the Winter Garden and watch the locals play bowls on the lawn. 

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image courtesy of Kalyn from Girl Gone London

Get Shortbread on the High Street

Stop by JL Gill on the Crieff High Street for the best shortbread you’ll ever eat. You can’t go to Scotland without trying some of their world famous buttery shortbread, and this shop has plenty of homemade shortbread on offer, as well as other delightful candies and treats. 

Take a Walk in Macrosty Park

With one of the best children’s play areas in Crieff, Macrosty Park is a family-favorite. There are also peaceful walks along a stream and beyond. Bring a picnic and plan to spend a sunny day people-watching and enjoying the atmosphere in this park. Parking is free on-site, which makes it a no-hassle day out!

Glenturret Distillery

Ever wanted to see how Scotch whiskey is made? This is Scotland’s oldest working distillery (or so they claim), and regular tours will take you through the entire process as you see how their famous whiskey is made. Also, they have two distillery cats who help to keep the mice out who may just join you. 

Drummond Castle

While you can’t go inside, Drummond Castle is famous for its gorgeous and landscaped gardens. Used as a filming location over the years, it is truly a magical place to escape into. You’ll find hidden mazes, stunning views, and colorful blooms as you explore. 

traveled by Kalyn from Girl Gone London


Isle of Whithorn

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image courtesy of Nicola from Travelling With Boys

If you’re in the Dumfries and Galloway region, it’s worth a trek off the beaten path towards the rugged coast where you’ll find Isle of Whithorn. 

Isle of Whithorn is located three miles south of Whithorn and thirteen miles south of Wigtown and is a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours taking in the sights and sounds of one of the most southerly points of Scotland.

Steamboat Inn

It’s likely you’ve travelled to this stunning village from quite a distance thanks to its remote location, so why not stop off at the Steamboat Inn first for a bite to eat and a pint of Sottish ale. The outdoor seating overlooks the harbour meaning you can watch the lobster boats come in and out as you enjoy delicious homemade food.

St. Ninian’s Chapel

Head out towards Isle Head to discover the ruins of St. Ninian’s Chapel, located next to the rugged coastline. Free to enter and easily accessible, St. Ninian’s was a 13th century chapel which would have been visited by pilgrims stopping off on their way to Whithorn Priory. Outside the chapel is ‘Witness Cairn’, a pile of painted stones for modern day pilgrims to leave their mark. 

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image courtesy of Nicola from Travelling With Boys

Isle of Whithorn Tower

Continuing up the path from St. Ninian’s Chapel is the Isle of Whithorn tower, a large square, white tower which stands on the highest point of Isle Head looking out over the wild and windy coast. On a clear day, you can look out from here towards the Lake District and Isle of Man and the rest of the Kirkcudbrightshire coast.

Isle Castle 

One of the island’s oldest buildings and perhaps recognisable from the film The Wicker Man is Isle Castle built in the 17th century. Looking for like somebody’s home than a traditional castle, it can be easy to miss, but this historical landmark is well worth a visit when on the Isle. 

traveled by Nicola from Travelling With Boys


Shetland

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image courtesy of Nichola from Global Mouse Travels

Shetland, at the very top of the UK, is as far north in the country as you can get and have their own culture, community and feel. The islands here are completely unique, lying just over 200 miles from Norway (who it once belonged to) there is an undeniable Norwegian lilt to the Scottish accent here. On our trip to Shetland with kids we explored the islands and found a collection that was both welcoming and interesting, packed full of history and culture. This is somewhere that really gets under your skin and we loved it.

Lerwick

Spend time in the capital of Lerwick where a foodie revolution is occurring. Eat in the restaurants, shop the little boutiques which sell unique, locally produced products and wander through the streets with bunting fluttering overhead.

Hermaness National Nature Reserve

Head to the furthest north you can get and the island of Unst. Visit Hermaness National Nature Reserve here where sea birds including Gannets, Fulmars and Puffins crowd the cliffs creating an unbelievable spectacle. The views out to the Muckle Flugga lighthouse are beautiful.

Viking Sightseeing

See Viking remains across the islands. From the remains at Jarlshof through to reconstructed Viking houses in Unst, the Viking presence is tangible.

Mousa

Head out to the island of Mousa where an Iron Age broch (the largest in Scotland) dominates the skyline and clouds of sheep wool litter the ground. This is an RSPB maintained island packed full of wildlife (particularly the Storm-Petrels which come here to nest) and there’s a perfect circular walk around it.

Noss

Take a boat trip around Noss where you might spot whales, dolphins, and seals along with other sea birds dancing around. The wildlife all over Shetland is breathtaking and the birds nesting on the cliffs here is another of those moments that feels spectacular.

Shetland feels mystical and magical and is a fantastic place for a trip that all the family will love.

traveled by Nichola from Globalmouse Travels


Islay

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image courtesy of Allan Wilson from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor

Pronounced eye-la, Islay is the southernmost island of The Inner Hebrides located just off the east coast of Scotland towards the island of Ireland. And while it is not the most scenic or exciting island for scenery and landscapes, it is easily one of the most popular island destinations in Scotland due to its world-renowned whisky trade. Meaning it is also easy to reach by regular ferry services from the mainland of Scotland making it possible to cover on a day trip to Islay leaving from the port at Kennacraig.   

Whisky Distilleries

Islay is foremost famous for its peat-smoked whiskys including many big-name global brands like Bowmore, Ardbeg, and Laphroaig. On the island, there are 8 fully functioning whisky distilleries and each offers their own unique distillery tours and experiences. Giving 8-days of whisky exploration alone.  

The Three Distillery Walk

The arrival port at Port Ellen marks the beginning of a convenient walk for those arriving on foot to the island known as the “3 Distilleries Walk”. This follows a 3-mile route connecting 3 of Islay’s more prominent Whisky distilleries Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg along the southern coastline of the island. 

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image courtesy of Allan Wilson from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor

Island Tour

There are is some tourist interests as well away from Islay’s whisky distilleries and the island can be covered on a simple road trip on a short visit including the lighthouses of Islay, the American Monument, and some nice sands at Machir Bay beach.  

Islay Wines

Not fussed for whisky? Then there is always Islay Wines. This is a newly established business on Islay and is the only West Coast winery in Scotland. They are also open for free tastings throughout the week. 

traveled by Allan Wilson from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor


Inveraray

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image courtesy of Chrysoula from All About Castles

The stunning town of Inveraray in Scotland lies on the banks of Loch Fyne, the picturesque architecture reflecting perfectly in the lake’s still waters. This Georgian town centres around the church, jailhouse and castle, built for the Campbell Clan and is a spectacular place to visit to get a taste of historic Scottish life.

Visit the Castle

Located on the edge of Loch Fyne, Inveraray Castle is a neo-Gothic fortress that has been in the Dukes of Argyll family since the early 15th century and which today welcomes visitors to discover historic armour, weaponry and artwork. Guests can explore the house and gardens and can also walk up to Dun Na Cuaiche to enjoy excellent views of the castle and the town and loch beyond.

Visit Inveraray Jail and Courthouse

The Inveraray Jail and Courthouse is a living museum where visitors can step back in time to the 19th century to uncover the stories of those who were tried and imprisoned here. Gruesome punishments and strict sentences were doled out here and visitors can see the cells and courthouse where it all took place!

Walk around Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne is one of Scotland’s many picturesque landscapes with gentle hills gracing the shores of the lake and deer, birdlife and even sometimes seals and otters being spotted around the water’s edge. Take in a small section of the lake as you walk out from Inveraray, perhaps stopping to enjoy a picnic en route.

Check out the Scottish Georgian architecture

Established in the mid-18th century by the Adam family and architect Robert Mylne, Inveraray is a planned town known for its Scottish Georgian architecture, with a grand neoclassical church, the Georgian jailhouse, the folk museum and the bell tower.

Visit a Family-Run Brewery

An alternative activity to enjoy while visiting Inveraray is the Fyne Ales Brewery, a family-owned farm who create Scottish beer and ales, taking water from the hills around Loch Fyne and turning it into the delicious amber nectar.

traveled by Chrysoula from All About Castles


Fort William

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With around 6,000 inhabitants, Fort William is the largest city in the western Highlands and, without question, an important focal point of any road trip through Scotland. It forms an axis with Inverness and Fort Augustus / Loch Ness, along the lochs of the Central Scottish Highlands. In the tourist hotspot, you will find many bars and shopping opportunities.

However, you will not find the most important sights in the city itself, but as daily destinations in all directions:

Ben Nevis

No doubt the main attraction of Fort William is the ascent of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain at 1,345 meters. But be careful: The tour should be planned and prepared accordingly, not only because of some difficult climbing passages, equipment and weatherproof clothing are essential. The paths can be very crowded depending on the weather and time.

Nearby Mountains

The Ben Nevis is still a size too big or too touristy for you? Then the mamores are a good alternative. The picturesque mountain range lies between Kinlochleven and Glen Nevis. Here are a few more Munroes, the Scottish name for mountains higher than 3,000 ft. (914 meters).

In winter the whole region is a great destination for skiers and snowboarders with the appropriate infrastructure of slopes and lifts. In summer the area becomes more and more popular for mountain bikers.

Loch Linhe

If you prefer the water instead of mountains, a boat trip on the picturesque Loch Linnhe is a great option. The ships regularly depart from Fort William and on board you have a completely different perspective of the city, surroundings and nature.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

You will find a special structure around 20 kilometers west of Fort William: The Glenfinnan Viaduct, also known as the Harry Potter Bridge and a world-famous photo opportunity.

West Highland Museum

One of the attractions in Fort William itself is the West Highland Museum. Especially when the weather doesn’t play along for outdoor activities – and that should happen here and there in Scotland. In the museum, you will learn a lot about the history of the Highlands and the islands. Admission is free (!), Donations are requested.

You see, Fort William is a great starting point for exploring the Western Highlands.

Traveled by Phil from JOURNICATION Travel Blog


Now go explore some of the best places to visit in Scotland!

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