24 Best Places to Visit in Scotland and Tourist Attractions

Best Places to Visit in Scotland

When you think of Scotland, pictures of tweed Highlands, skirling bagpipes, the Loch Ness Monster, deserted castles, and stunning scenery probably come to mind. All of these are a highly accurate preview of what visitors might expect to see there and contribute to the mystery of this special nation. So, continue to read about the best Places to Visit in Scotland.

Each method of exploring Scotland will provide you with life-changing experiences, whether you choose to travel by boat, on foot through its trails, by beautiful train, or by car. History is galore as you take a tour of its castles and historical battlegrounds where clans engaged, allow you to walk in the literary footsteps of Sir Walter Scott and Robbie Burns, or allow you to retrace the paths of great kings and queens.

Scotland’s tranquillity with its far-flung stretches of heather-covered moors, desolate beaches, and wild, beautiful highlands is another of its main draws.

desolate beaches

You’ll discover that every destination is brimming with fascinating things to see and do, whether you decide to ponder on its thriving cities, historical towns, or wild moors and islands.

Scotland’s major attractions are a bit as magnificent as you’d expect right from its majestic Skye and regal Edinburgh to the swirling rivers of Speyside. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover a diverse and captivating region studded with prehistoric towns, wild clubs, delicious seafood, and abandoned churches and cathedrals.

So where should you begin? Determine the ideal time for your visit (mentioned below), you must choose the greatest Scotland destinations to visit while you are there. Here are our top picks for Scotland’s tourist attractions to get you started.

1. Fort Williams is the Place where Harry Potter’s ‘Hogwarts Express’ Originates

Hogwarts Express

Fort William, a charming resort town on the west coast, is a great place from which to launch expeditions into the pristine Highlands. It is one of the unique places to visit in Scotland and can be found at the southern terminus of the Caledonian Canal.

The West Highland Museum in Cameron Square, which is renowned for its collections of furniture, paintings, weapons, and Highland garb, is one of the major attractions here.  

Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is frequently remembered from the Harry Potter film franchise is where the Hogwart Express is shown when taking young wizards to school.  Along this section of the West Highland Line, the magnificent Jacobite steam train offers enjoyable steam cruises that allow passengers to see the viaduct and some of Scotland’s most breathtaking landscapes.

2. Perthshire offers the Complete Scottish Experience

Scottish Experience

In Perthshire, the flower-filled towns, tempting malt aromas from distilleries, and sheep grazing on breathtakingly lush meadows may all be found. No other site in Scotland can match the sense of the abundance of nature here.

Experience the Salmon jumping up the coast to the spot where they were born. Also not miss the breathtaking valleys that cut their way through lonely wildernesses, and the shimmering turquoise lagoons that echo the shifting moods of the weather are the highlight of the best of Scotland.

3. Ben Nevis is the Ideal Destination for Hiking

Ben Nevis

Walking around Scotland’s landscapes is the greatest way to truly experience them. In addition to the wind-whipped ocean and sea cliffs that tower over the lochs within this area, there are also short woodland trails and delightful strolls through valleys that are covered in purple moss. 

The 96-mile West Highland Way, which runs from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William over the course of a week passes through some of the most beautiful terrains in the nation before ending in the shadow of Ben Nevis. It is the highlight of the best places to go in Scotland, at the top of the bucket list of many hikers. 

Anyone who is reasonably active can climb to the summit of Ben Nevis, which rises to a height of 1345 meters (4413 feet). If you treat the peak with respect, you will be rewarded with stunning views that may reach as far as Northern Ireland. It is possible to hike along a portion of the trail in a single day if you don’t have the time or energy for a lengthy excursion.

4. The ideal Day Trip on the West Coast is to Loch Lomond

West Coast is to Loch Lomond

The Bonnie Braes of Loch Lomond, immortalized in the lyrics of one of Scotland’s most well-known songs, constitute one of the most picturesque areas in the country.  It is just an hour’s drive from the hustle and congestion of Glasgow and is one of the top places to visit in Scotland.

The loch, which is the centerpiece of Scotland’s first national park, starts out as a wide archipelago in the south with a wooded shoreline covered with wildflowers. It later narrowly traverses to a fjord-like basin surrounded by mountains in the north. 

Follow the well-maintained trail for a 7-mile round trip on the popular Tourist Route to reach Ben Lomond’s peak.

5. Visit Edinburgh for one of the best city Holidays in all of Europe

Edinburgh

Although Scotland’s capital city may be well known for its festivals, there is much more to the place. Visit Edinburgh in the spring to see the Old Town partially obscured against a cloudless sky and a yellow haze of blossoms. 

On a chilly winter day, the fog snatched the towers of the Royal Mile. It is that time of the year when a warm feeling implores from the windows of local pubs.

Begin your tour by climbing Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that offers sweeping views of the city. 

Whatever the season, there is plenty to keep you entertained in this city, including a top-notch modern art gallery, renowned museums, creepy historical buildings, and a magnificent castle from the 12th century. And, is one of the must-see places in Scotland.

6. The Burns Heritage Trail is Strictly for the Literary and Art Lovers

Robert Burns House

A trip to Scotland is incomplete without touring the landmarks connected to the nation’s most well-known citizen, poet Robbie Burns. Along the Burns Heritage Trail, you may learn about the poet’s life and times while also soaking in some of the most spectacular views in the country. And, is one of the best places to see in Scotland.

Begin at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, a little town outside of Ayr. Here you can see the immaculately restored wooden home where the poet was born and spent a large portion of his youth.

You can view the magnificent Robert Burns House here, where the renowned poet lived for the final four years of his life. Burns’ life is vividly shown at this attraction, which is now a museum featuring remnants related to him. His final resting place is nearby in St. Michael’s Churchyard.

7. Visit the Borders to See the Other side of Scotland

Scottish Borders

Many tourists to Scotland rush to Edinburgh before making a beeline for the Highlands, completely omitting the Scottish Borders. This is where they miss the showstopper! The Borders region is rich in history and full of excellent cycling and hiking trails and is considered as one of the most memorable visits in Scotland.

Traquair House, which makes Jacobite Ale contain a secret room where Catholic priests once hid, is one of the big country houses. There are also a number of stunning abandoned abbeys, the best of which is Gothic Melrose Abbey. Fishing for salmon and riding a mountain bike down Glentress and Innerleithen’s trails are options for those who prefer to stay active.

8. The Isolated Assynt Peaks are Aesthetically not from This World!

Assynt Peaks

The Scottish region of Assynt feels like another planet. The landscape has an epic unsettling quality due to the isolated sandstone peaks that rise like great monuments from the marshy moorland here. The views from the top can, of course, extend for miles depending on the weather.

Here are several fantastic climbing routes, but you’ll need some skill and an eye for heights to complete them. Suilven (2,372ft) is a long, isolated, broken-backed ridge, while Stac Pollaidh (2008 ft) rises like a crumbling crest. An Teallach (3486ft) has a circuit that reaches the top of the world. In addition, it is the easiest to reach of the three.

The views from the roads that wind through this wildness can be almost as beautiful as those from the summits. The coast here is one of the best places in Scotland for sea kayaking.

9. Visit Scotland’s Most Stunning Outpost, the Shetland Islands, And Venture off the Beaten Path

Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are Britain’s most northern frontier, yet they’re close enough to Norway to make the concept of Scottish ethnicity dubious.

With deep, barren highlands surrounded by steep hills and glittering fjords, this remote landscape is recognized as a precious UNESCO nature reserve that feels peculiarly Scottish. But the true appeal for tourists is the bird. 

The large flocks of gulls, greenfinches, sandpipers, puffins, and marsh harriers grace their presence at the Hermaness, Noss, Sumburgh Head, and Fair Isle. 

It is one of the best places in Scotland for its most magnificent bird-watching opportunities, right from their initial arrival in late spring to the loud feeding frenzy of high summer. 

10. Visit the Site of the Battle of Culloden

The Culloden Battlefield

The Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre is one of the few Scotland destinations that have the ability to pull at one’s emotions. In what is considered by many as a massacre, the battle was Scotland’s final attempt to achieve independence from England which was crushed here in April 1746.

You should start your visit at the visitor centre here. In addition to its excellent displays that provide context and first-hand descriptions of this pivotal day in Scottish history, the museum also features a fantastic holographic film that depicts the major developments as it happened. There is also a rooftop observation deck with a view of the actual battlefield.

Spend some time exploring these grounds on your own. The highlights include  Scottish clan burial monuments, a Memorial Cairn, and the Cumberland Stone, which designates the location from which the English controlled the battlefield. The Old Leanach Cottage is one of the few remaining structures.

11. Visit St. Andrews, the Mecca of Golfing 

Visit St. Andrews

Golf was created in Scotland, and both amateurs and professionals consider St. Andrews to be the game’s ancestral birthplace. The Links courses here are one of their kind – coastal courses with heather and machair as the rough. The wind, which can quickly turn a good round into a tragedy, is the major nemesis here.

Golf’s headquarters are located in St Andrews, a storied university town in Fife that is one of the best places to visit in Scotland for golf enthusiasts. If not, the city offers superb guesthouses, restaurants, and university buildings alongside the majestic medieval remains.

12. Wander the Riverfront in Dundee

V&A Dundee

It is the docks of Dundee that used to export Jute, a fiber used in textiles, all over the world, but the region was severely affected by the industrial collapse in the 1980s. 

The regeneration began when the restored 1901 Discovery Shop, which sailed the Antarctic under the famed explorer Robert Falcon Scott, was designed to endure being frozen into the ice pack.

V&A Dundee, a cutting-edge museum with a slatted facade that resembles a spaceship crossed with a sea cliff, was opened along the banks in 2018. 

You may explore the city’s textile traditions at the Verdant Works. Or simply chart your own course through Dundee’s nautical legacy by parasailing on the Tay, and it is one of the best places to visit in Scotland.

13. Visit Glasgow to Experience the Fantastic Scottish Bar Culture

Glasgow

The largest city in Scotland may not have the picturesque location of Edinburgh. More than that, it makes up for it with a tonne of things to do and warmth and enthusiasm that leaves every visitor thrilled. 

One of the cool places to visit in Scotland that lets you explore its art galleries and museums. The city also enlightens you about its local design legend Charles Rennie Mackintosh creations.

Glasgow’s vibrant clubs and pubs, which feature one of the best live music scenes in the world, are the perfect places to experience its captivating liveliness. 

Visit the famed Barrowland, a former ballroom, to experience up-and-coming alt-rock performers. You can also check out the Sub Club for house and techno, the Clutha Bar for roots and rock, or Nice N Sleazy, for a vintage indie dive.

14. Island Exploration on Mull

Hebrides

It is highly advised to visit the Hebrides. The islands are dispersed off of Scotland’s west coast, with one foot in the Atlantic and the other in Scotland. 

One of the best of these islands is Mull, which you can use as a base for the incredibly accessible outdoors after you get past its charming villages.  Although there are cliffs, mountains, and breathtakingly gorgeous beaches. It is a boat cruise activity that is worth every dime!

There are several nearby isles, such as Lona whose abbey served as an important command post for the spread of Christianity through Britain. 

The Isles of Staffa were the ones whose bizarre pillars served as inspiration for Pink Floyd, and are top places to visit in Scotland

The Isles of Lunga is where thousands of impossibly appealing puffins nest in spring and summer. Families would especially enjoy it because the small boat rides will fascinate the kids.

15. In Summers, the Fortress Fans Must Head to Stirling 

Fortress Fans Must Head to Stirling 

Stirling’s impenetrable Old Town is a treasure trove of historic buildings and cobblestone lanes flowing up to the ramparts of Stirling Castle. 

One of the top Scotland destinations here is the extinct volcano that is perched atop a powerful wooded rock and is visible from nook and corner of the city. 

This fortress has been a victim of several battles. It was besieged during the Jacobite uprising in 1745 and was blasted by the Warwolf, a massive English assault cannon from the 1400s.

Today, the stunning tapestries, panoramic vistas of the Highlands, and the castle’s rich history make this a wonderful family destination. The best time to go is in the afternoon because so many people go on day tours and by 4 pm you might nearly have the castle to yourself.

16. Some of Scotland’s Most Breathtaking Beauty May Be Seen on the Isle of Skye

Skye

The Isle of Skye wins top honors in a nation known for its breathtaking scenery. There is a photo opportunity waiting for you virtually wherever you look, from the jagged peaks of the Cuillins, the peculiar cornerstones of the Old Man of Storr to the breathtaking sea cliffs at Neist Point.

If you can tear your eyes away from the natural world, Skye is also one of the best spots in Scotland to observe golden eagles. If not, you can also discover friendly bars and outstanding seafood restaurants there. In fact, Skye is one of the most well-liked and top places to see in Scotland due to all its tourist appeal.

17. The Speyside Whisky Tour is Something not to Miss!

Whisky Festival

Whisky, which derives from the Gaelic uisge beatha, has been distilled in Scotland for more than 500 years. It is the country’s national beverage. Speyside, Scotland’s most renowned whiskey region, with more than 50 active distilleries and is known for its delicious, gently spicy aromas. It is one of the best places to go in Scotland for its distilleries. 

The yearly Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is held in the center of the area at Dufftown in April every year.  Indulge into the Malt Whisky Trail, a self-guided tour of the neighborhood distilleries, at the town’s Whisky Museum. 

18. Skara Brae in Orkney is a Prehistoric Treasure

Skara Brae in Orkney

When visiting ancient monuments, it might be challenging to establish a relationship with the people who built them, yet Scotland’s outstanding prehistoric remains have a profound effect. With its meticulously built furnaces, dormitories, closets, and water tanks, Skara Brae in Orkney provides one of the best glimpses into typical Stone Age life.

This Neolithic settlement, which at 5000 years old predates both Stonehenge and the Giza Pyramids, was buried for ages in coastal sand dunes.

Even now, it often seems as if the residents have just drifted away to go fishing and might show up at any moment. And, is one of the most unique places to visit in Scotland

19. Aberdeen Features Scotland Which is yet to be Discovered!

Aberdeen Features Scotland

One of the best cities to visit in Scotland include Aberdeen, a charming port city on the North Sea, on your trip itinerary for Scotland. Like so many of the top metropolitan attractions in the nation, Aberdeen is a great spot to tour on foot. 

By putting on your comfortable shoes, you’ll be able to see the city’s several beautiful examples of old, well-preserved architecture as well as spend time in its numerous relaxing green spaces.

St. Machar’s Cathedral is one of the main highlights in the city. The 13th-century building is  Scotland’s best-preserved specimen of medieval architecture. 

Additionally, there are numerous exquisite examples of historic residences and commercial architecture constructed from the characteristic local granite, which gives the community the cherished nickname Silver City.

The second, equally flattering nickname for Aberdeen is “The Flower of Scotland.” And it’s definitely well-deserved given the sheer volume of magnificent green places in the city. 

One such is David Welch Winter Gardens at Duthie Park. You can explore one of Europe’s largest indoor gardens, which is home to a wide variety of domestic and foreign plant species. It is a fantastic site to explore and offers a terrific picnic venue in the warmer months, especially during the park’s music season. It is spread out over around 44 acres.

20. Experience the legendary North Coast 500

North Coast 500

The Highlands are home to many breathtaking views, but the further north is when things really start to take your eye off the ball. With some of the most beautiful roadside scenery in all of Europe, this is the ideal area of Scotland to visit by car. Also, one of the best places to visit in Scotland for couples.

The North Coast 500 begins and ends in the charming city of Inverness and makes a loop around the lochs, shorelines, and golf courses. It also boasts the isolated cliffs and beaches of Cape Wrath, the rocky hills of Assynt, and the stunning wilderness of Torridon. 

This week-long tour is unforgettable thanks to these vistas and the charming Highland hospitality found in the area’s traditional rural pubs and historic crofting communities.

21. Discover Scotland in Miniature at the Isle of Arran

Isle of Arran

As somewhat of a microcosm of all that’s great about Scottish landscape, the charming Isle of Arran has established itself as one of the must see places in Scotland.  

This 429-square-kilometer island, which can be accessed from Glasgow by picturesque one-hour ferry, is thus an ideal day trip getaway. 

In reality, you’ll see everything, including moors, huge mountains, long stretches of sand beach, charming fishing villages, fantastic tiny golf courses, and medieval castles, all begging to be strolled through.

22. Take a Stroll Through Glen Coe’s Breathtaking Surroundings

Lost Valley

Where to visit in Scotland where the beautiful landscape is adorned with brutal history? The most well-known glen in Scotland combines spectacular beauty and a rich feeling of history. The peacefulness and grandeur of this valley now belie the brutal massacre of the local MacDonalds by Campbell clan warriors in the 17th century.

Many of the clan people who fled the area perished in the snow, but some of the best hikes in the glen—to the Lost Valley, for instance—follow their paths. 

23. Indulge in the Folklore of the Monster of Loch Ness

The mythological beast that, according to mythology, has called this 23-mile-long loch home for countless generations comes to mind when you think of Loch Ness. 

It is the largest body of water in Scotland’s Great Glen and is a section of a canal that connects the country’s east and west coasts. The Caledonian Canal connects it with three additional lochs. 

Each of the lochs and the canal are surrounded by some of the most breathtaking highland scenery. But Loch Ness itself is particularly picturesque due to the charming ruins of Urquhart Castle perched on its hillside above the lake. The 12th-century castle, which served as the setting for numerous antiquity stories, was destroyed by fire some 500 years later.

The best views of the castle can be served on a Loch Ness cruise or arriving by boat. The Loch Ness Exhibition at the Drumnadrochit Hotel offers interesting facts about its geological origins. 

24. The Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival

The capital of Scotland is a hub for the arts and culture, and it is particularly well-known for its festivals. 

These range from the glittering Edinburgh Fringe, the biggest arts festival in the world, to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which welcomes more than 1,000 intellectuals from the world.

The streets are alive with performers and festival-goers, and pubs are filled until the wee morning.

There is always a tonne of enjoyable events and entertainment possibilities here between these and well-known worldwide events like the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The city becomes one of the best places to visit in Scotland in August. 

In August, the largest arts festival in the world features a never-ending array of theatre, comedy, and other performances. While it attracts big names, it’s also a place where legends are created; Tom Stoppard, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and countless other top satirists who have cemented their reputations through successful runs in Edinburgh.

Best Time to go to Scotland – Monthly Wise

Scotland is a dream vacation spot because of its picturesque Highlands, breathtaking wilderness, and cultural cities. However, picking the appropriate time for you to visit to Scotland is crucial due to its unpredictable weather and events that draw large crowds. Here is our guide to choosing the ideal time to visit Scotland, whether you want to brave the masses during Edinburgh’s festival season or flee to the wilds of the Highlands and Islands.

January

The country returns to work after getting over its hangover from the Hogmanay festival, but only until Burns Night. Although it is chilly and dark, skiing can be enjoyed this time of the year.

February

The greatest time to go skiing, ice climbing, and winter mountaineering. It is typically the coldest month of the year. Snowdrops are starting to bloom as the daylight hours increase. 

March

In Scotland, March can be a dull month, but the outlook for the weather is improving as spring approaches.

April

Sea eagles arrive at their nests in Loch Garten, and the bluebell woodlands around the shores of Loch Lomond blooms. The weather gets better and better in April although severe downpours are still frequent.

May

Scottish weather is frequently at its finest in May, when you can see wildflowers on the Hebridean machair, blooming hawthorn fencing, and cherry trees in city parks.

June

As the long summer days continue until 11 p.m., Argyllshire is ablaze with pink rhododendron blooms in the month of June.  Confetti hung in border towns to commemorate gala days and Common Ridings Festival.

July

School vacations start, along with the busiest season of the year for resort areas. For birdwatchers in Shetland, it is peak season.

August

The city of Edinburgh is crowded with tourists because it is festival season. This is the busiest month for seeing minke whales and basking sharks on the west coast.

September

A great time of year for outdoor activities is after the summer break. It is that time of the year when midges disappear, wild brambles in the hedgerows are up for harvesting, and the weather is frequently dry and moderate.

October

As the tourist season comes to an end and focuses shifts to log fires and malt whiskies in country-house hotels. The forests of Highland Perthshire and the Trossachs burst with colors in the autumn.

November

Even though the days are growing shorter, this is still a great time to enjoy the fall foliage and visit the galleries and pubs in Scotland’s cities.

December

As the shortest day of the year draws near, comes the darkness. Christmas and New Year celebrations provide a respite from the frequently chilly and rainy weather.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is so much to see and do in Scotland. It’s likely that your list of must-see attractions will rival all but the most seasoned of visitors. Luckily for you, all of these are easily accessible by car or train. Don’t have a car? We bet your favorite travel companion does. Scotland is a vacation spot that begs to be experienced with friends and family. Simply put, there’s no better way to experience Scotland than with a trusty sidekick. Pick out your “Best Scotland” itinerary ahead of time so you know what places to hit while on your trip, and set off on your adventure!

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