March 23, 2023



The ten Finest Locations to Go to in Scotland

9 min read

To say that visiting Scotland was life-changing for me can be an unlimited understatement. 


I’d spent years researching my household’s Scottish ancestry, studying that the Loves have been a sept of Clan Mackinnon, with vital populations in Glasgow and the Scottish isles of Mull and Skye. 


I’d beforehand gotten an opportunity to go to Edinburgh (the place I interviewed Sean Connery!) and see main Scotland vacationer points of interest comparable to Edinburgh Fortress, the Royal Mile, and Arthur’s Seat. 



Along with Edinburgh, our journey took us by the Scottish Highlands, together with Loch Lomond Nationwide Park, Loch Ness, the breathtaking valley of Glencoe, and the well-known Doune and Inveraray Castles. 


We visited charming cities comparable to Inverness and Portree, explored the islands of the Internal Hebrides (together with Iona, Mull, Skye, and Staffa), and realized extra about Clan Mackinnon historical past by way of genealogical analysis at Armadale Fortress.


Learn on for our in-depth information to the most effective locations to go to in Scotland, which is designed that can assist you plan the right itinerary once you go to the Scottish Highlands and islands! 



The Black Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye, picture by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Finest Locations to Go to in Scotland Information

  1. Cairngorms Nationwide Park
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Glasgow
  4. Iona
  5. Loch Lomond & the Trossachs Nationwide Park
  6. Loch Ness
  7. Oban
  8. Orkney
  9. Scottish Highlands
  10. Skye

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Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Cairngorms Nationwide Park, picture by way of Canva

1. Cairngorms Nationwide Park

The most important of all nationwide parks in the UK, Cairngorms Nationwide Park encompasses 1,748 sq. miles of spectacular landscapes in northeast Scotland. 

The park’s Arctic-alpine ecosystem is residence to a few of the tallest mountains within the UK (with summits as much as 4,265 toes), putting geological formations, and three main rivers. 

Its semi-tundra moorland supplies habitat for a various array of uncommon wildlife. Guests might even see Purple Deer, Mountain Hares, semi-domesticated Reindeer, Ptarmigan, Golden Eagles, and plenty of different birds.

Outside actions in Cairngorms embrace biking, mountain biking, climbing, canoeing, and mountain climbing two of Scotland’s Nice Trails: the Cateran Path and the Speyside Manner.

Snowboarding and different winter sports activities are highly regarded right here, as are points of interest comparable to Glenmore Forest Park, the Highland Wildlife Park, the Frank Bruce Sculpture Path, and the world’s breweries and distilleries.

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St. John's Church in Edinburgh
St. John’s Church in Edinburgh, picture by Bret Love

2. Edinburgh

Each first-timer’s journey to Scotland ought to start within the bustling metropolis of Edinburgh, which has been acknowledged because the capital of Scotland since a minimum of the fifteenth century.

The traditional structure of its medieval Outdated City and the gardens and neoclassical buildings of its elegant New City guarantee a wealth of Edinburgh points of interest for guests to discover at this time. 

We began at Edinburgh Fortress, which was constructed within the eleventh century. Highlights embrace a palace museum, bronze statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, the Witches’ Memorial monument, Mills Mount Battery (the place a cannon is fired 6 days every week), and Half Moon Battery.

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Departing Fortress Rock, you may stroll the Royal Mile. Necessary historic websites alongside the way in which embrace  Holyrood Abbey, the Sir Walter Scott Monument, the Canongate Kirk (the place the Queen’s granddaughter received married), the Coronary heart of Midlothian, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Different enjoyable issues to do in Edinburgh embrace Auld Reekie’s Ghost Excursions, enjoying golf at St. Andrews, and sampling the Scottish metropolis’s glorious restaurant scene. 

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Nighttime Lights in the City of Glasgow Scotland
Nighttime Lights within the Metropolis of Glasgow, picture by way of Canva

3. Glasgow

Situated within the River Clyde, Glasgow is the port city the place the best focus of my Scottish ancestors lived. It’s additionally probably the most populous metropolis in Scotland, with over 1.8 million residents. 

The town is famed for its beautiful Victorian and artwork nouveau structure, its historic legacy of shipbuilding, and its wealthy cultural heritage. 

The Nationwide Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Ballet, and Scottish Opera are all based mostly in Glasgow, which additionally boasts an distinctive meals, artwork and music scene. 

So naturally there’s an unimaginable array of issues to do in Glasgow, from museums (Riverside Museum of Transport & Journey, Glasgow Science Centre) and historic websites (The Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral) to visiting a various assortment of breweries, distilleries, and eating places. 

For nature lovers, there’s Pollok Nation Park, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove Park, and the historic Glasgow Inexperienced. 

READ MORE: The 20 Finest Cultural Festivals Across the World

Iona Abbey on the Hebridian Island of Iona, ScotlandIona Abbey on the Hebridian Island of Iona, Scotland
The traditional Iona Abbey on Iona Island, picture by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

4. Iona

Situated off the southwest coast of Mull within the Internal Hebrides chain of Scottish islands, Iona is a tiny island (lower than 3.5 sq. miles) with a inhabitants of lower than 200 folks. 

It’s not simple to get to: Guests should take a 50-minute ferry from Oban to Mull, catch a bus from the primary Craignure ferry terminal to Fionnphort, then take a brief 4-minute boat trip throughout the Iona Sound. 

However there’s one magnificent attraction that makes this the most effective locations to go to in Scotland: The Iona Abbey, which was based in 563 by an Irish priest named Columba (who’s now revered as a Saint). 

Iona Abbey turned the dominant establishment behind the unfold of Christianity among the many Picts and Scots, and stands at this time as one of many area’s most elaborate and best-preserved abbeys from the Center Ages.

There are numerous highlights of this common Christian pilgrimage, from outstanding architectural particulars and the Ninth-century St Martin’s Cross to an historical burial floor, the Rèilig Odhrain.

It’s believed to comprise the graves of 48 Scottish, 8 Norwegian, and 4 Irish kings, together with Cináed mac Ailpín, a.ok.a. Kenneth MacAlpin, the King of the Picts.

READ MORE: The 30 Finest Unique Islands to Go to

Loch Lomond, Scottish Highlands
Loch Lomond, picture courtesy of Go to Scotland

5. Loch Lomond & the Trossachs Nationwide Park

Measuring 22.6 miles lengthy and 0.62 to 4.97 miles extensive, Loch Lomond is the biggest lake in Nice Britain, and one of many 3 largest lakes within the UK. 

Thought of the boundary between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the Highlands, the 720-square mile Lock Lomond and the Trossochs Nationwide Park is the oldest of the nationwide parks in Scotland. 

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With its location near main cities like Stirling and Glasgow, this is among the hottest Scottish points of interest, drawing almost 3 million guests annually. 

The park’s myriad wildlife habitats (together with 22 giant lochs and 50 rivers) are residence to species comparable to Beavers, Golden Eagles, Osprey, Peregrine Falcons, Purple Deer, Purple Squirrels, and Scottish Wildcats.

There are a great deal of enjoyable issues to do in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs, together with scenic boat rides, mountain climbing the Nice Trossachs Path (one in all Scotland’s Nice Trails), visiting the Birds of Prey and Sea Life Centres, the TreeZone Aerial Journey Course, and water-based actions like fishing and water snowboarding.

READ MORE: 30 Cool & Bizarre Ocean Animals Across the World

Urquhart Castle on western shore of Loch Ness
Urquhart Fortress on Loch Ness, picture by way of Canva

6. Loch Ness

A world-renowned attraction within the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness is the 2nd largest lake in Scotland, stretching 23 miles south of Inverness. Fed by the River Ness, the lake reaches depths of 755 toes. 

Native mythology means that the murky lake is residence to the Loch Ness Monster, with reported sightings of the massive, long-necked sea serpent courting again to the times of Saint Columba (circa 565 AD). 

You don’t should consider within the sensational cryptozoological folklore to understand the picturesque lake, which is surrounded by 9 charming villages. and the historical ruins of Urquhart Fortress.

Whenever you’re attempting to catch a glimpse of “Nessie,” different issues to do at Loch Ness embrace exploring the historical ruins of Urquhart Fortress, Fort Augustus, and the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition.

The latter is within the Village of Drumnadrochit, which can be an important place to take scenic boat rides or go on horseback driving excursions. 

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View of Oban's Coast in Scotland
View of Oban’s Coast, picture by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Oban

The common customer won’t take into account the Gaelic city of Oban to be a should see in Scotland. 

Situated 37 miles northwest of Inveraray, the port city was merely an in a single day cease on our tour earlier than heading to the islands of Mull, Iona, and Staffa (which is residence to beautiful columnar basalt formations). 

However the resort city is wealthy with historical past. There’s Dunollie Fortress, which overlooks the bay and dates again to the Bronze Age. And the world-renowned Oban Distillery, which was based earlier than the city in 1794. 

Different common issues to do in Oban embrace the Royal Nationwide Mòd (a celebration of Scottish Gaelic tradition), the Argyllshire Gathering Highland Video games, World Pipe Band Championships, visiting McCaig’s Tower, and taking day journeys to the islands of the Internal Hebrides.

Oban is taken into account the “Seafood Capital of Scotland,” so the meals scene there’s additionally noteworthy. 

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Orkney Islands off Scotland's northeastern coast
Orkney Islands, picture by way of Canva

8. Orkney

Very similar to the Philippines or the Galapagos, Orkney is an distinctive archipelago of islands positioned off Scotland’s northeastern coast. 

A part of Scotland’s Northern Isles, Orkney is positioned about 10 miles off the coast and consists of round 70 islands, of which solely 20 are inhabited. 

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With a complete land space of 380 sq. miles and a inhabitants of round 22,000, Orkney is a haven for nature lovers, historical past buffs, and anybody who craves that “getting away from all of it” feeling. 

Settled by Vikings circa 875 AD, these islands are residence to among the oldest Neolithic websites in Europe. Courting again some 5,000 years, the “Coronary heart of Neolithic Orkney” is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Web site, and really a must-see.

Different issues to do in Orkney embrace attending cultural festivals (St Magnus Worldwide Arts Pageant, Orkney Folks Pageant, and so on) and taking boat excursions to see the archipelago’s copious marine life. This consists of tons of Dolphins, Seals, Sea Otters, Whales, and seabirds comparable to Puffins, Kittiwakes, and extra. 

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Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands
Eilean Donan Fortress, picture by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

9. Scottish Highlands

There’s no denying the truth that the Highlands rank among the many most stunning locations in Scotland, with their rolling hills, beautiful rock formations, pine forests, historical castles, and numerous wildlife

As soon as you permit Edinburgh and head west, the dynamic panorama adjustments instantly, from the huge peaks of Ben Nevis (tallest mountain within the UK) to the fertile valley of Glencoe. 

When you love water, this space is residence to quite a few waterfalls dashing down dramatic cliffs, to not point out two large lakes, Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. 

Historical past buffs will get pleasure from visiting the traditional Doune Fortress (a.ok.a. made well-known by Monty Python’s Holy Grail and Sport of Thrones) and exploring Inveraray Fortress (made well-known by Downtown Abbey).

When you’re a fan of Outlander, you gained’t wish to miss the city of Inverness, the place the bloody Battle of Culloden ended Scotland’s Jacobite rising of 1745.

READ MORE: Exploring Historic Doune Fortress within the Scottish Highlands

Secret Fairy Pool on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
Secret Fairy Pool on the Isle of Skye, picture by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

10. Skye

The Isle of Skye is the second largest island in Scotland, spanning 640 sq. miles off the nation’s west coast. Due to being featured on numerous “Finest Islands within the World” lists, it’s additionally the preferred. 

There’s an extremely numerous array of issues to do on the Isle of Skye, together with actions for avid hikers, households, foodies, historical past buffs, and nature lovers.

Nevertheless it’s vital to know the unfavorable impacts of mass tourism on the world, and plan accordingly if you wish to keep away from the crowds of peak summer time journey to Europe.

For out of doors journey, take a look at the Black Cuillin hills, the 5 Sisters mountain vary, spectacular waterfalls at Kilt Rock and the Fairy Swimming pools, and the breathtaking surroundings of the Quirang (one of the vital well-known filming areas in Scotland). 

When it comes to man-made Isle of Skye points of interest, don’t miss Armadale Fortress, Dunvegan Fortress, the charming city of Portree (Skye’s largest), and the Talisker Distillery. –by Bret Love; lead picture by way of Canva

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