Scotland should rank pretty highly on your list of places to visit. Part of its appeal is the fact that you’re never too far away from magical sightseeing opportunities and some truly interesting places to go. From breathtakingly beautiful natural landscapes to cultural landmarks here is a list to help you decide where to go when you visit Scotland.
If you are only able to visit one city in Scotland visit Edinburgh. Here you are treated to well-preserved architecture from a number of different periods in history. Medieval period castles to the more recent New Town area of the 18th century allow you to take a modern stroll through history.
It is also an important cultural destination. One of the largest arts festivals in the world takes place here, drawing huge crowds.
2. Scottish Highlands
There are very few destinations that have captured the imagination to the extent of the Scottish Highlands. Stretching from the garden city of Inverness on the east coast all the way to the north, this outstanding natural beauty is bound to take your breath away.
Begin your exploration of the Scottish Highlands in Inverness, making sure to stay at the beautiful Inverness Palace, then head straight to nearby Loch Ness and Glen More. This natural fault line is marked by the Caledonian Canal, one of Scotland’s most amazing feats of engineering and a delightful way to do some sightseeing by boat.
3. Loch Ness
Easily one of the first things most people think about when asked about Scotland, this lake is shrouded in myth and legend and is one of the country’s top places to visit. Despite there being no evidence that “Nessie” exists, this doesn’t stop excited tourists from scanning the water eagerly.
This historic town is one of the best places to call home to explore the rest of the country. Almost halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, it makes for a great day trip and has in itself plenty of great things to do.
5. Isle of Arran
The Isle of Arran is another top place to visit. It’s considered something of a miniature of everything that’s great about Scotland and is just off the coast of Glasgow. A scenic one-hour ferry ride will take you to this 429-square-kilometer island and is perfect for either a day trip from Glasgow, a weekend break, or even an extended vacation.
You can tour the island by bike, car, or bus service and find small areas that resemble some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. From little hills to tall mountains begging you to hike them, long stretches of sandy beach, picturesque fishing villages, lovely little golf courses, and historic castles, it truly is a microcosm of Scotland.
6. Isle of Skye
Another Scottish island, the lovely Isle of Skye is a nature lover’s paradise. Home to a variety of seabirds, seals, and other wildlife, along with kilometer after kilometer of rugged coastline and spectacular hill views.
It also features a little something of everything that is Scotland. One of the biggest differences between the two is the advantage of it being connected to the mainland via a bridge, so there is no need to take a ferry.
7. Fort William
This west coast resort town makes an excellent starting point for excursions into the Highlands. Fort William offers visitors plenty of places to explore, including the West Highland Museum in Cameron Square, known for its noteworthy collections of furniture, paintings, weapons, and Highland costumes.
There is also an impressive collection of artifacts and documents documenting the opening of the West Highland Railway in 1894. From Fort William, you can also easily get to other popular destinations in Scotland. This includes Glencoe, a spectacular valley famed for its beautiful scenery, hiking, mountain climbing as well as a plethora of winter sports and Glenfinnan Viaduct.
8. Glenfinnan Viaduct
A great excursion from Fort William is to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. For Harry Potter fans this is recognizable as the bridge the Hogwarts Express is seen riding along on the way to the school. For fans wanting to experience this in real life, or tourists wanting to enjoy a beautiful scenic train ride along this stretch of the West Highland Line, a steam excursion can be enjoyed aboard the lovely Jacobite steam train.
Scotland may not be huge, but it has so much to offer. Don’t waste a trip here by trying to be spontaneous and seeing where it takes you. By all means, explore places you didn’t know about before that you’ve learned from locals and other travelers, but be sure to have a plan and don’t skip the places on this list! Happy traveling!