The 14 best places to visit in Scotland

James Smart

Nov 19, 2023 • 10 min read

where to visit scotland

Pack your camping gear (and your rainproofs) and head to some of the best places to visit in Scotland © Robert Coppinger / Shutterstock

Some of the best places to visit in Scotland will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever gazed at a whisky label or shortbread tin. Think dramatic peaks, lonely glens, lochs, tartan and haggis!

From spectacular Skye and historic Edinburgh to the rolling rivers of Speyside, Scotland’s big sights are as glorious as you’d imagine. But scratch the surface of this proud nation and you’ll find a varied and engrossing place, dotted with prehistoric villages, wild clubs, rich seafood and ruined abbeys.

So, where to start? Once you've decided on the best time for your visit , you need to decide on the best places to go while you're there. Here is our pick of the best destinations in Scotland to get you started.

Group of people walking along cliff edge looking over Edinburgh

1. Edinburgh

Best place for year-round entertainment

Scotland's capital may be famous for its festivals, but there's much more to the city than that. Edinburgh is a place of many moods: visit in spring to see the Old Town silhouetted against a blue sky and a yellow haze of daffodils, or on a chill winter’s day for fog snagging the spires of the Royal Mile, rain on the cobblestones, and a warm glow beckoning from the windows of local pubs. With a world-class modern art gallery , top museums , spooky historic sites and a majestic 12th-century castle , there's plenty to keep you entertained whatever the season.

Local tip: Start your visit to Edinburgh with a climb up Arthur's Seat , an extinct volcano for panoramic views over the city.

2. West Highland Way

Best place for long-distance hiking

The best way to really get inside Scotland's landscapes is to walk them. Here, peaks tower over lochs and sea cliffs gaze over the wind-whipped sea, but there are short woodland trails and charming strolls through valleys dusted with purple heather, too. Top of the wish list for many hikers is the 96-mile West Highland Way from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William , a weeklong walk through some of the country's finest scenery, finishing in the shadow of its highest peak, Ben Nevis.

If you don’t have the time or energy for a long-distance trek, it's possible to do just a day's hike along part of the trail. For example, you could walk the section from Rowardennan to Inversnaid, returning to your starting point using the Loch Lomond waterbus . Whichever section you take on, pack waterproofs and midge repellent. Rail lovers should note that sleeper trains run south from Fort William all the way to London, making for an easy exit after a walk.

Detour:  The 1,345m (4,413ft) summit of Ben Nevis is within reach of anyone who's reasonably fit: treat the peak with respect and your reward (weather permitting) will be magnificent views that can stretch as far as Northern Ireland.

The Kylesku Bridge spanning Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin in the Scottish Highlands, which is a landmark on the North Coast 500 tourist driving route.

3. North Coast 500

Best place for a scenic road trip

Breathtaking views abound in the Highlands , but the far north is where things become truly awe-inspiring. This is the best place in Scotland to explore by car (you can also cycle it), with some of the finest roadside scenery in Europe.

The North Coast 500 starts and ends in the likable city of Inverness , and loops past the lochs, sand dunes and golf courses of the east coast before taking in the remote cliffs and beaches of Cape Wrath, the rugged peaks of Assynt and Torridon’s desolate beauty. These sights, and the nooks of warm Highland hospitality found in the region's classic rural pubs and old crofting villages, make this an unforgettable weeklong tour.

4. Isle of Skye

Best place for photographers

In a country famous for stunning scenery, the Isle of Skye takes the top prize. From the craggy peaks of the Cuillins and the bizarre pinnacles of the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing to the spectacular sea cliffs of Neist Point, there's a photo opportunity awaiting you at almost every turn.

Skye is also one of the best places in Scotland to see golden eagles, and you’ll find convivial pubs and top seafood restaurants if you can tear your eyes from the natural world. Of course, all this tourist appeal makes Skye one of Scotland's most popular destinations. The crowds tend to stick to Portree , Dunvegan and Trotternish – it’s almost always possible to find peace and quiet in the island’s further-flung corners.

Planning tip:  Come prepared for changeable weather – when it’s fine, it’s very fine indeed, but all too often it isn’t.

5. Loch Lomond

Best place for a lakeside hike

Despite being less than an hour's drive from the bustle and sprawl of Glasgow, the bonnie braes (banks) of Loch Lomond – immortalized in the words of one of Scotland's best-known songs – comprise one of the most scenic parts of the country.

At the heart of Scotland's first national park , the loch begins as a broad, island-peppered lake in the south, its shores clothed in bluebell-sprinkled woods before narrowing in the north to a fjord-like trench ringed by mountains.

Detour: The summit of Ben Lomond (974m/3,031ft) is a popular climb – follow the well-maintained path for a 7-mile round-trip on the popular Tourist Route (allow around 5 hours).

embers of the public enjoy their first drink in a beer garden at the Rosevale Tavern in Partick on July 06, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Best place for live music and pub culture

Scotland's biggest city may lack Edinburgh's stunning setting, but it more than makes up for it with a barrelful of things to do and a warmth and energy that leaves every visitor impressed. Edgy and contemporary, it's a great spot to browse art galleries and museums , and to discover the works of local design hero Charles Rennie Mackintosh .

Glasgow’s infectious vitality is best sampled via its lively pubs and clubs, which host one of the world's great live music scenes.

Local tip:  Check out upcoming (mostly alt-rock) acts at the Barrowland  (crowned the UK's best music venue by Time Out magazine in 2023), a legendary former ballroom, or try the Sub Club for house and techno, the Clutha Bar for roots and rock, or Nice N Sleazy , a classic indie dive.

7. Stirling

Best place for castle fans

With an impregnable position atop a mighty wooded crag – the plug of an extinct volcano – Stirling ’s beautifully preserved Old Town is a treasure trove of historic buildings and cobbled streets winding up to the ramparts of Stirling Castle . This fortress has seen serious action – it was bombarded by the Warwolf, a giant 14th-century English siege engine, and was besieged during the 1745 Jacobite rising, as well as sending troops to the battle of Bannockburn (the decisive battle celebrated at the end of Braveheart ), just a few miles south.

Today, views that stretch to the Highlands, glorious tapestries and juicy history make this Scotland’s best castle – and a great family attraction.

Planning tip:  It's best to visit in the afternoon; many tourists come on day trips, so you may have the castle almost to yourself by 4pm.

Fishing boat in the harbour at Lybster on the east coast of Scotland.

8. St Andrews

Best place for golfers

Scotland invented the game of golf, and the city of  St Andrews is still revered as its spiritual home by hackers and champions alike. Links courses are the classic experience here – bumpy coastal affairs where the rough is heather and machair (coastal grass) and the main enemy is the wind, which can make a disaster of a promising round in an instant.

St Andrews, the historic Fife university town, is golf's headquarters , and an irresistible destination for anyone who loves the sport. And if you're not so keen, well, the city has impressive medieval ruins , stately university buildings , idyllic white sands and excellent guesthouses and restaurants .

The stone ruins of Skara Brae on the coast of Mainland Orkney

9. Skara Brae

Best place for lovers of ancient history

When visiting ancient sites, it can sometimes be difficult to bridge the gulf of years or build a connection with the people that built them, but Scotland’s superb prehistoric remains have an immediate impact. Few places offer a better glimpse of everyday Stone Age life than Skara Brae in Orkney  with its carefully constructed fireplaces, beds, cupboards and water cisterns.

This Neolithic village – which, at 5,000 years is older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids of Giza – lay buried in coastal sand dunes for centuries. Even today, it can feel as though the inhabitants have just slipped out to go fishing and could return at any moment.

10. Glen Coe

Best place for clan history

Scotland's most famous glen combines two essential qualities of the Highlands: dramatic scenery and a deep sense of history. The peace and beauty of this valley today belies the fact that Glen Coe was the scene of a ruthless 17th-century massacre, when the local MacDonalds were murdered by soldiers of the Campbell clan.

Some of the glen's finest walks – to the Lost Valley, for example – follow the routes taken by fleeing clanspeople, many of whom perished in the snow.

Planning tip:  Start at the Glencoe Visitor Centre for more information on this beautiful place and its tragic history.

11. Perthshire

Best place to enjoy nature's bounty

In Perthshire , the heart of Scotland, picturesque towns bloom with flowers, distilleries emit tempting malty odors and sheep graze in impossibly green meadows. There's a feeling of the bounty of nature that no other place in Scotland can replicate.

Blue-gray lochs shimmer, reflecting the changing moods of the weather; centuries-old trees tower amid riverside forests; majestic glens scythe their way into remote wildernesses; and salmon leap upriver to the place of their birth.

A group of black-and-white birds with colourful beaks stand together on a clifftop on a misty day

12. Shetland Islands

Best place for birdwatching

Close enough to Norway to make Scottish nationality an ambiguous concept, the Shetland Islands are Britain’s most northerly outpost. The stirringly bleak setting – recognized as a precious UNESCO geopark – still feels uniquely Scottish though, with deep, naked glens flanked by steep hills, twinkling, sky-blue lochs and, of course, wandering sheep on the little-trafficked roads. It's the birdlife, however, that really draws visitors here.

From their first arrival in late spring to the raucous feeding frenzies of high summer, the vast colonies of gannets, guillemots, skua, puffins and kittiwakes at Hermaness , Noss, Sumburgh Head and Fair Isle provide some of Britain's most impressive birdwatching experiences.

Local tip: Shetland is one of the best places in the UK to spot orcas (and the Northern Lights).

13. Speyside

Best place for whisky tasting

Scotland's national drink is whisky – from the Gaelic uisge beatha , meaning “water of life” – and this fiery spirit has been distilled here for more than 500 years. More than 50 distilleries are in operation in Speyside, Scotland's most famous whisky area, famed for fruity, lightly spicy flavors (head over to Islay for peatier varieties).

Ask at the Whisky Museum about the Malt Whisky Trail, a self-guided tour around the local distilleries. If you just have time for one, the Balvenie Distillery is a good bet as it still uses a traditional malting floor – the smell is glorious!

Planning tip:  Dufftown lies at the heart of the region and is host to the biannual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

14. The Scotland Borders

Best place for a country ramble

Many visitors to Scotland race up to Edinburgh and then hightail it to the Highlands, missing the Scottish Borders entirely . That's their loss. Once fought over by war chiefs and cattle thieves, the Borders region is rich in history and packed with good cycling and hiking routes.

There are grand country houses, too – Traquair House brews Jacobite Ale and has a concealed room that once hid Catholic priests – and a series of gorgeous ruined abbeys – Gothic Melrose Abbey is the best – plus birds and sea cliffs at St Abb’s Head. More active types can fish for salmon or thunder down the mountain bike trails at Glentress and Innerleithen.

This article was first published May 13, 2021 and updated Nov 19, 2023.

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The essential guide to visiting Scotland

Here’s everything you need to know about this land of lochs—when to go, where to stay, what to do, and how to get around.

Flowers fill the hills under a dramatic sky at dusk.

Why you should visit Scotland

Monumental mountains and misty glens. Castles with hidden stories. A dram of whisky straight from the source.

Best time to visit Scotland

Spring: Many attractions are open without summer crowds. Golf courses open in April; the season officially starts in May.

Summer: This is the ideal time for hiking and biking, although accommodations along the most popular routes—such as the West Highland Way —fill up well in advance. There are plenty of events, including the Edinburgh Festival and Highland Games .

Autumn: Changing leaves create arresting scenes in forests—it’s a great time to visit Perthshire , known as “Big Tree Country.” The Edradour and Glenturret distilleries are well placed for combining a walk with a whisky sampling.

Winter: The Edinburgh Christmas Market kicks off in November, and Scots prepare to celebrate Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve). On January 25, pubs honor Burns Night —the birthday of national poet Robert Burns —with a dinner of haggis , neeps (turnips), and tatties (mashed potatoes).

Lay of the land

Cities: Well-heeled capital Edinburgh hosts the world’s largest performing arts festival . The medieval Old Town looms over Princes Street gardens and the New Town with art galleries and chic bars. Glasgow is boisterous and friendly, with a lively music scene. Craggy Stirling , topped by the eponymous castle, was the site of several historic battles. On the east coast, Dundee and Aberdeen pack museums and maritime history into their walkable downtowns.

Highlands: Hikers flock to the heather-bound moors and mountains of Cairngorms National Park ,   overlapping the Speyside whisky-producing region. The landscapes surrounding Glenfinnan and Glencoe have featured in films.

Hebrides: The Isle of Skye is famed for its otherworldly topography. Flawless beaches await on Lewis and Harris . On Mull ,   stop by the colorful coastal town of Tobermory or scale the rugged slopes of Ben More.

Northern Isles: Neolithic sites, including Skara Brae, are scattered across the Orkney Islands . View Viking sites and the eponymous ponies on the Shetland Islands .

Southern Uplands: Stately homes and castles grace the Scottish Borders. Dumfries & Galloway is home to the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere and the majestic Sweetheart Abbey .

North East:   Seek out royal connections at Glamis Castle in Angus, or Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire. Photogenic Perthshire is home to the prestigious Gleneagles hotel and golf course.

Central Belt: Relive the greatest victories of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace at Bannockburn and the National Wallace Monument , respectively. The John Muir Way spans 134 miles of lochs and woodlands.

A group of boys work to pull a rope, the soil is visible where they've tried to brace themselves with their feet.

Getting around Scotland

By plane: Daily flights operate from Glasgow to several Hebridean islands. Flights to   Sumburgh (Shetland) and Kirkwall   (Orkney) depart from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.

By bus: National Express and Citylink operate buses between the major cities. Buses are limited in the Highlands and Islands.

By train: ScotRail runs most services in Scotland, mostly along the Central Belt. This reduces to a few main lines in the Highlands.

By car:   Driving in Scotland is on the left and requires an international driving permit. Road types include motorways (M), A-roads (A), and B-roads (B). Scotland’s main roads include the A1 from London to Edinburgh; the A74(M)/M74 from Gretna to Glasgow; and the M9/A9, stretching from just outside Edinburgh to Thurso on the north coast.

By boat: Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferries sail to 21 Hebridean islands; Northlink runs car ferries to Orkney and Shetland. Book well in advance.

Know before you go

Scottish languages: Scots Gaelic (pronounced “gaa-lik”) is still spoken by around 60,000 people, mostly in the Highlands and Islands. English, however, has been the main language spoken in Scotland since the 18th century. Though many believe it to be a dialect, Scots (descended from Northern English) is a distinct language , spoken by 1.5 million people.

Hours: Even in cities, restaurants can keep restrictive hours, with some kitchens closing as early as 8 p.m. On Sundays, businesses often open at 1 p.m. and may close by 4 p.m.

LGBTQ+:   Scotland legalized same-sex marriage in 2014. Glasgow hosts Scotland’s largest Pride festival, as well as the Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF) in autumn.

How to visit Scotland sustainably

Outdoors: Read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before setting out. Avoid deer stalking areas between July and February. Refrain from stone stacking, which can cause erosion .

Dining:   Farm-to-table—or, indeed, sea-to-table—is easy to find in this nation of farmers and fishermen. It’s increasingly common for restaurants to display ingredient provenance on their menu.

Shopping:   Seek out independent farm shops and sustainable distilleries . Support Scottish artisans at rural markets and festivals, such as the Pittenweem Arts Festival . Check labels to be sure the products you’re eyeing were made in country.

Accommodation and attractions: The Green Tourism certification scheme, which now operates in 20 countries, was founded in Scotland. It assesses 70 criteria, such as ethical production, carbon, and waste. Certified members—including accommodations, attractions, and tours—display a Green Tourism plaque.

What to read

Scotland: A Concise History , by Fitzroy Maclean (Fifth Edition). The former soldier and politician brings bloody battles and national heroes to life. In the fifth edition, journalist Magnus Linklater adds chapters on Brexit and the 2014 independence referendum.

Rival Queens , by Kate Williams. The historian charts the alliance between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England, which ends in devastating betrayal.

Rob Roy , by Sir Walter Scott. The celebrated writer’s classic work takes place during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715.

Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram , by Iain Banks. A humorous travelogue of Scotland’s distilleries, from the iconic to the obscure.

( For more tips on what to do in Scotland, see our Explorer’s Guide .)

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12 Best Places to Visit in Scotland

Written by Bryan Dearsley Updated May 3, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

For those looking for a memorable vacation or weekend break full of historical attractions, countless great cultural experiences, and other fun things to do, Scotland should rank highly on your list of great places to visit in the UK . Part of the appeal is the fact that, as a relatively small country with a population of just 5.5 million, you're never too far away from fantastic sightseeing opportunities and interesting places to go whatever season you visit Scotland.

Kilchurn Castle in the Scottish Highlands

Those seeking world-class cultural events should head to Edinburgh , the country's capital. Here, you'll enjoy major festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe, one of the world's leading art festivals. Best of all, much of the fun takes place around the magnificent Edinburgh Castle. Visit Edinburgh in winter and it's a whole other world, with numerous festive light displays and events to keep you busy.

Glasgow , too, is a must-visit and offers some of the country's top museums and art galleries to explore. Smaller Scottish cities like Aberdeen and Inverness in the north are not without their charms and make great bases from which to explore the majestic Scottish Highlands and lovely natural attractions such as Loch Ness and Loch Lomond .

To help you decide where to go, be sure to use our list of the best places to visit in Scotland.

1. Edinburgh

3. scottish highlands, 4. st. andrews, 5. loch ness, 6. inverness, 7. aberdeen, 8. loch lomond, 9. stirling, 10. isle of arran, 11. isle of skye, 12. fort william.

Edinburgh city skyline

If you're only able to visit one city in Scotland, make it Edinburgh. The country's capital is home to well-preserved architecture from a number of different periods of history, including numerous examples from medieval times. Of these, the most famous is, of course, the spectacular Edinburgh Castle , a picturesque, must-visit landmark that dominates the city skyline.

From the castle, you should take a stroll down the incredible shop-lined Royal Mile. One of the top free things to do in Edinburgh , this famous cobbled street connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse and is home to numerous historic landmarks, many dating to medieval times.

Among the most interesting are the tall old townhomes known as "lands" that can be found as you explore the many narrow laneways known as "winds" that sprout off from the Royal Mile.

You'll also want to explore the more recent New Town area, much of which was built in the 18th century. A highlight of this newer part of the ancient city is simply wandering among the many elegant Georgian townhomes, taking in the Grassmarket . This attractive pedestrian-friendly public square is popular for its shops, galleries, and cafés. Some of Edinburgh's best parks are located here, too, including Inverleith Park.

Edinburgh is also an important cultural destination, hosting numerous popular events and festivals throughout the year. One of the largest arts festivals in the world, the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival draws huge crowds, as do the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo , the latter held on the grounds of the castle.

Other fun things to do include visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia . Once the Queen's personal yacht, it's now a fascinating museum that allows visitors to tour the State Apartments and Royal Bedrooms. For a true British treat, book a table in the Royal Deck Tea Room for a proper high tea experience.

Top it all off with an overnight stay on the Fingal , an opulent floating hotel berthed near the former Royal yacht, and you'll have plenty to brag about back home.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Edinburgh
  • Top-Rated Day Trips from Edinburgh

Glasgow Cathedral

Situated on the River Clyde on Scotland's west coast, the city of Glasgow has, in the last few decades, reimagined itself as a major European cultural center. These days, its many excellent museums, art galleries, and festivals attract tourists year-round. It's a great city to explore on foot thanks to its many lovely parks and pedestrian-friendly streets, especially if you also take in Glasgow cathedral and the famous Glasgow School of Art.

After exploring the city center, head down to the waterfront and the Riverside Museum . One of the top tourist attractions in Scotland , this superb modern facility focuses on the history of transportation in the city through its large collections of vintage steam engines, trams, buses, carriages, cars, and seafaring vessels. There's even an authentic reproduction of 1930s shops and homes.

Glasgow has also earned a reputation for other cultural activities, too. Highlights for theatergoers include a chance to take in a play at the King's Theatre, partake in a little opera at the home of the Scottish Opera in the Theatre Royal, or a classical concert at the Royal Scottish Orchestra at the Concert Hall.

Other must-see arts-related attractions include the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum , notable for its displays of local art; and the wonderful Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style Gallery with its diverse collection that includes works by Van Gogh and Salvador Dali.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Glasgow
  • Top-Rated Day Trips from Glasgow

Sunset over the Scottish Highlands

Few travel destinations have captured the imagination to the extent of the magnificent Scottish Highlands. Stretching from the attractive garden city of Inverness on the country's rugged east coast all the way to John O'Groats in the north, this area of outstanding natural beauty is where you'll find some of the most romantic scenery anywhere.

It's so stunning, in fact, that it can frequently be spotted serving as the backdrop to hit movies and TV shows, including the hugely popular Outlander series.

Begin your exploration of the Scottish Highlands in Inverness, then head to nearby Loch Ness. Popular for its mythical monster and the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle, Scotland's most famous lake is part of Glen More, a natural fault line that's marked by the Caledonian Canal . One of the country's most amazing feats of engineering, you can easily spend a few hours (or days) sightseeing by boat along the canal.

A few popular places to visit in Scotland as you tour the Highlands include the quaint coastal town of Dornoch. One of the prettiest small towns in Scotland , Dornoch is a great place to stop for its old castle ruins and cathedral, and Aviemore, popular as a ski destination in winter .

In warmer weather, the region is popular for the hiking and biking adventures available in the Cairngorms National Park . This sparsely populated area is also great for other outdoor experiences, including sea kayaking, white-water rafting, gorge walking, and fishing.

While there are numerous tours available in the Highlands, a great option for those planning on driving is to travel along the North Coast 500 . This great tourist route takes in the best of the Highlands and other great places in Scotland.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Inverness and the Scottish Highlands

The ruins of St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews is well-known as one of the world's top golf destinations . Golfers from around the globe make the pilgrimage to St. Andrews' seven classic links courses, drawn by the prestige of playing the world's oldest golf course, the par-72 Old Course, and the chance to play where so many golf greats have teed off before them.

It's also one of the most dramatic courses, its spectacular scenery including a stretch of rugged coastline and the attractive old Clubhouse of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Founded in 1754, it's the world's oldest golf club, and its popularity as a golf mecca means you should try to reserve your tee time at least six months in advance to avoid disappointment.

Be sure to also visit the nearby R&A World Golf Museum . This modern facility is something of a shrine to the greats who've played the St. Andrews' courses, as well as detailing the history of the sport over the centuries.

Fortunately for the rest of us, there are plenty of other fun things to do in St. Andrews, too. St. Andrews is also famous as a university town, so be sure to spend time exploring the many fine old buildings associated with the University of St. Andrews.

One of the top free things to do in St. Andrews is to simply wander the university grounds, admiring the well-preserved medieval architecture. If time permits, be sure to check out on-site attractions such as its natural history museum and art galleries. The ruins of St. Andrews Castle and the town's old cathedral are also worth exploring.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in St. Andrews

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

Shrouded in myth and legend, Scotland's beautiful Loch Ness remains one of the country's top places to visit. Despite there being no definitive evidence that Nessie, the world's most famous sea monster , actually exists, that first glimpse of the water doesn't stop excited tourists from scanning the horizon excitedly... just in case.

But even without a monster sighting, you won't be disappointed. Thanks to its starring role in movies and on TV, most recently in the hit series, Outlander , places like Urquhart Castle are enough to make the journey to this Highland attraction worthwhile. Built in the 1100s, the castle now lies in ruins after being devastated by fire some 500 years ago, but not before featuring in some of Scotland's most important historical events.

Expect to spend at least a day exploring the old castle and other Loch Ness attractions . Other fun things to do include a boat cruise along the loch and, if there's time, the Caledonian Canal, which connects Scotland's east and west coasts.

Other points of interest include the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in the village of Drumnadrochit, with its displays relating to the loch's history and, of course, its monster. You'll also want to visit Fort Augustus with its old fortifications and Benedictine abbey and its viewing spots over the Caledonian Canal, where it joins the south end of the loch.

Read More: Best Castles in Scotland


It's actually difficult to visit Loch Ness without seeing at least a little of Inverness. Whether you're traveling from Glasgow to Loch Ness or from Edinburgh to Loch Ness , this stunningly attractive city in the Scottish Highlands is situated at the east end of the country's most famous lake and is a favorite jumping-off point for tours and independent travelers alike. It's also the perfect place from which to explore the magnificent Scottish Highlands.

Those "in the know" will definitely dedicate at least a little time to exploring the "Capital of the Highlands," whether for a few hours or a few days. If you do, you'll find no end of fun things to do in Inverness. This moderately sized city is first and foremost very walkable.

Start your exploration on the grounds of Inverness Castle , spending time admiring the views over the River Ness. You can then follow the river south to the picturesque Ness Islands. Connected to the shore by footbridges, this delightful park area is a perfect spot to kick back and relax.

There are plenty of great Inverness attractions to enjoy on both sides of the river. Must-sees on the west bank include the attractive St. Andrew's Cathedral , which you won't miss as it stands directly opposite the castle; and, nearer the old city center, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery . The museum is a must-visit for its displays relating not just to Inverness, but the whole Highlands region.

Other highlights include the historic 16th-century Abertarff House , and the Botanic Gardens, finishing up at Victorian Market for a spot of shopping.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Inverness, Scotland


Another of the best city destinations in Scotland , the attractive North Sea port city of Aberdeen is well worth including on your Scotland travel itinerary. Like so many of the country's top city destinations, Aberdeen is a delightful place to explore on foot. Lacing up the walking shoes will not only allow you to explore its many fine examples of old, well-preserved architecture, but also to spend time in its many pleasant parks and gardens.

A highlight of a self-guided walking tour is St. Machar's Cathedral. Built in the 1300s, it's one of the best-preserved examples of medieval architecture construction in Scotland. You'll also see many fine examples of old homes and merchant buildings made from the unique local granite that seems to sparkle in sunlight, giving the town its affectionate Silver City nickname.

Aberdeen has a second, equally complimentary nickname: "The Flower of Scotland." And it's certainly well-deserved thanks to the presence of the city's many lovely green spaces, most notably the David Welch Winter Gardens at Duthie Park.

Here, you can wander one of the biggest indoor gardens in all of Europe, home to numerous species of domestic and exotic plants. Set on some 44 acres, it's a wonderful place to explore, and in the warmer months makes a great picnic spot, especially during the park's concert season.

Other places for a good walk include Aberdeen's two miles of beaches, which are ranked some of the best beaches in Scotland; around one of the many nearby golf courses; or simply up and down the Old High Street. Dating from the late 1400s, it's popular for its shopping and dining experiences.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Aberdeen

Loch Lomond

An easy day trip from Glasgow , and also pretty easy to get to from Edinburgh, Loch Lomond is a convenient place to visit in Scotland for those seeking a glimpse of some of the country's most iconic and romantic scenery. The largest body of fresh water in the UK, it's so picturesque that one of the country's leading writers, Walter Scott, famously labeled this magnificent stretch of water the "Queen of Scottish Lakes."

Gentle activities and pursuits include boat tours and cruises and visiting attractions such as the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre . You can even get in some shopping at the modern Loch Lomond Shores entertainment complex with its family-friendly SEA LIFE Aquarium .

As popular a spot as it is for sightseers, Loch Lomond also appeals to those seeking fun outdoor activities. For adventurous sorts, the big attraction is the spectacular Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park . This vast tract of unspoiled wilderness covers an area of 1,864 square kilometers with the loch and Ben Lomond at its center. The top things to do for adventurers include fishing, boating, canoeing, and kayaking, as well as hiking and biking along its extensive trail network.

The trail network includes part of the Western Highland Way , which goes all the way north to Fort William. A good place to start your hike is at the National Park Centre in Balmaha, where you can seek expert advice in the planning and execution of your particular choice of adventure.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions around Loch Lomond

Stirling Castle

The historic town of Stirling is one of the best places in Scotland to serve as a base from which to explore the country. Situated almost half-way between Glasgow and Edinburgh, it makes for a great day trip and boasts plenty of rewarding things to see and do.

Topping the list is stunning Stirling Castle . This finely preserved old fortress is famous for once having been a royal palace, as Mary Queen of Scots spent her childhood here. It's also famous for its role in the centuries-long struggle between Scotland and England. A visit to this mini-Edinburgh Castle includes a chance to explore the well-preserved medieval structure's grand halls and rooms, either on your own or as part of a guided tour.

On the outskirts of town is the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre , which offers a fascinating retelling of the famous battle that took place here. It was on this spot that Scottish king Robert the Bruce sent the English army packing, and the site commemorates this historic victory with excellent displays and interactive exhibits.

If you can squeeze a little more into your Stirling itinerary, include a visit to the neighboring village of Bridge of Allan, home to the Wallace Monument . This amazing tower dominates the skyline here, offering a little history about the legendary William Wallace, as well as amazing views over Stirling and the surrounding countryside.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Stirling

The village of Lochranza on the Isle of Arran

The attractive Isle of Arran has made a name for itself as one of the top places to visit in Scotland, as it's something of a microcosm of everything that's great about the country.

Located just off the mainland from Glasgow and reached via a scenic one-hour ferry ride, this 429-square-kilometer island is therefore perfect either for a day trip from Glasgow , a weekend break, or an extended vacation.

As you tour the island by bike, car, or the regular bus service that circles it, you'll find attractive areas that resemble some of the most beautiful aspects of Scotland. In fact, you'll see everything from moors to tall mountains just waiting to be hiked across, long stretches of sandy beach, quaint fishing villages, great little golf courses, and historic castles.

If you can spare a few hours and are fit enough, be sure to allot the time needed to tackle the 873-meter Goat Fell Mountain. You'll need to set aside a few hours to do so, but you'll be rewarded for your efforts with magnificent views over Arran and the Firth of Clyde toward Glasgow, as well as northward toward Mull of Kintyre.

Also, spend time exploring Brodick Castle. This popular tourist attraction includes displays of period furniture and artworks. You'll also want to explore the castle grounds, which house an authentic iron age dwelling.

There are also plenty of great restaurants on the island, as well as a number of good hotels and resorts. Our favorites include the 4-star Auchrannie Resort , with its excellent dining and spa services; and The Douglas Hotel , set in a historic manor house with stunning bay views.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do on the Isle of Arran

The Mealt Waterfall and Kilt Rock, Isle of Skye

Another Scottish island you'll want to explore is the lovely Isle of Skye. Like Arran, Skye boasts a little something of everything that is Scotland but with the advantage that it's connected to the mainland via a road bridge.

Part of the Hebrides in the northwest section of the Highlands, this large island is some 80 kilometers in length and is a nature-lover's paradise, home to colonies of seabirds, seals, and other native wildlife. It also boasts mile after mile of rugged coastline and spectacular hill views.

Hikers and hillwalkers in particular are well-catered-to here, thanks to the island's extensive trail networks. Many of these head across romantic moors and valleys and up mountains. These include the Cuillin Hills, which boast some of the best views in Scotland.

Man-made attractions include the attractive Armadale Castle . Located near the ferry port of Mallaig, this early 19th-century edifice is set in the heart of a huge country estate and features excellent displays and artifacts related to one of the most powerful of Scotland's historic clans, the Donalds. Expect to easily spend a few hours exploring the large grounds and gardens with their walking trails, as well as the Museum of the Isles.

Also worth a visit is Dunvegan Castle. Once the seat of the MacLeod clan, it's located in the village of the same name and is a great place to embark on a boat tour or fishing excursion.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Hebrides and Isle of Skye

The Jacobite steam train on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

The attractive west coast resort town of Fort William makes an excellent starting point for excursions into the unspoiled Highlands, including Ben Nevis. Located at the south end of the Caledonian Canal, Fort William, named after fortifications built here in the 17th century, offers visitors plenty of points of interest to explore.

One of the best is the West Highland Museum in Cameron Square. Notable for its collections of furniture, paintings, weapons, and Highland costumes, it also houses an impressive collection of artifacts and documents relating to the opening of the West Highland Railway in 1894. Other highlights include exhibits relating to the celebrated conquests of Ben Nevis, notably that by Henry Alexander, who in 1911 drove a Ford Model T to the summit.

While in Fort William, why not book a stay in what's widely regarded as one of the best castle hotels in Scotland? Famously described by Queen Victoria as one of the most romantic castles she'd ever visited, Inverlochy Castle Hotel is just 10 minutes' drive from downtown Fort William and can now be enjoyed by the rest of us when the urge to splurge on a fine 5-star luxury getaway strikes.

A great excursion from Fort William is to Glenfinnan Viaduct . You'll recognize this amazing landmark from its appearances in numerous Harry Potter movies, among other films, where it served as the route the Hogwarts Express took when whisking young wizards to school.

Fun steam excursions can be enjoyed aboard the lovely Jacobite steam train along this stretch of the West Highland Line, taking in the viaduct and some of the most scenic vistas found anywhere in Scotland.

From Fort William, you can also easily get to other popular Scotland destinations. These include Glencoe, a spectacular valley famed for its breathtaking scenery, winter sports, hiking, and mountain climbing.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Fort William

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Home » Travel Guides » United Kingdom » Scotland » 25 Best Things to Do in Scotland

25 Best Things to Do in Scotland

Consider Scotland, if just for a moment, and it’s more than likely you’ll conjure up images of the Loch Ness Monster, tartan kilted Highlanders, blaring bagpipes, magnificent scenery, shaggy Highland cattle, ghostly castles, and of course, the birthplace of golf.

All together, these things are part and parcel of the fabric that makes Scotland so unique. The country lends itself to travel and explore in many different ways.

You can walk around the castles and the fabled battlefields where the ferocious clans fought against the English. You can follow in the footsteps of illustrious kings and queens. Or you can track the literary trails which were trodden by the likes of Sir Walter Scot and Robbie Burns.

A further great attraction of Scotland is its solitude, together with its remote stretches of purple, heather-laden moors, secluded expanses of beaches, and wildly romantic mountains with their lochs and deeply-set glens, all waiting to be explored. Here are the best things to do in Scotland !

1. Castle Rock, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

The most famous fortress in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has played a dominant role in the city’s skyline since the reign of King David I during the 12th Century. For good reason, it is the most popular national monument in the country.

Perched atop the plug of an extinct volcano, the spectacular castle offers terrific views over city landmarks, including Princes Street, the Royal Mile, and Holyroodhouse Palace, which lies at the far end of the Royal Mile.

Also see: Best things to do in Edinburgh .

To gain entrance to the castle, a drawbridge spans over an old moat which has its entryway from the broad Esplanade, the location for the much-famed Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which is held as an annual event in August. As you walk along the Esplanade, you’ll witness bronze statues of two Scottish heroes – Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, both of whom fought and defeated the English during the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

2. Inverness: Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle, Scotland

If you think of Loch Ness, near the small city of Inverness, you’ll likely picture the mythical monster, which, according to legend, has made a home of the loch for countless centuries. For a thoroughly detailed portrayal of the monster, there’s no place that does a better task of fueling the legend than that of Drumnadrochit Hotel’s Loch Ness Exhibition.

To add further allure to the loch, the much-photographed Urquhart Castle stands over the water as it sits on a strip of land which juts out into the loch. Irrespective the castle is now a ruin, it, together with the loch, remains among the most popular of tourist attractions within the country.

3. St. Andrews: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews

St. Andrews Golf Course

The Scots are responsible for many inventions, including the postage stamp, tarmacadam, the steam engine, the bicycle, and not least, the telephone. Arguably one of their most abiding inventions is the game of golf. Among the country’s biggest visitor draws is that of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Recognized as golf’s ruling body and founded in 1750, St. Andrews frequently plays host to the famed British Open. Worth a look is the British Golf Museum which relays the history of the “home of golf”, beginning in the Middle Ages and progressing to the present day.

4. Trossachs National Park: Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond, Scotland

Situated about 14 miles (23 km) north of Glasgow, and part of the Trossachs National Park, lies Britain’s largest lake – Loch Lomond. With its plentiful supplies of salmon, trout, and whitefish, it serves as an extremely popular locale for anglers the world over. And surrounded by spectacular mountain slopes and streams, it’s also celebrated by hikers, day-trippers, and water sports enthusiasts.

For those with boundless amounts of energy, a stiff hike up Ben Lomond, the tallest peak in the area, which stands at 3,192 ft. (973 m), is well and truly worth it merely to take in the spectacular surrounding views. At the southern end of the loch, Cameron House makes for an excellent place to experience the wonders of a Scottish castle, take in the fresh loch air, and savor the expansive range of outdoor activities.

5. Isle of Skye

Lighthouse at Neist Point, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

The Isle of Skye, known as “Cloud Island” on account of the heavy mists that often blanket the isle, and also by the Viking name “Sküyo”, is the largest of the country’s inner isles. It’s an extremely popular destination among nature lovers, and the wild, amorous mountain scenery together with the lush green glens and caves, beautiful waterfalls, and sandy beaches, which are all packed into an island that is merely 50 miles (80.5 km) in length and 15 miles (24 km) in width (at the center), serve to add to the overall appeal.

Add to this the quaint little villages and the deep inlets, the island still offers some remnants of primeval oak forests, in addition to a variety of wildlife species, including seals, otters, and over 200 species of birds. Visiting the island can be achieved either by passenger ferry or by taking a short drive across the bridge that connects to the mainland.

6. The Northern Highlands

The Northern Highlands, Scotland

Stretching from the city of Inverness up to Thurso at the northern peak of the Scottish mainland are the magnificent Northern Highlands. The ancient fault line gave rise to the creation of the Caledonian Canal, which extends from Inverness on the east coast over to the Corpach near Fort William on the west coast.

Though much of the mountainous region is entirely uninhabited, making it an ideal location for biking and hiking adventures, the area is dotted with many beautiful small towns and villages. Perhaps the most charming is the little coastal town of Dornoch, which is noted for its castle and cathedral ruins.

7. Ayrshire: The Burns Heritage Trail

Burns Monument, Alloway

A super way to experience a little insight into the life and times of Robbie Burns’ – Scotland’s favorite poet – is to take the Burns Heritage Trail. Starting in Alloway on the outskirts of Ayr, at the Robert Burns Museum, you’ll witness a wonderfully preserved thatched cottage where the poet was born and where he remained for most of his childhood years.

Upon visiting other related landmarks, the tour heads to the town of Dumfries in the south and to Robert Burns House, where he remained for the final four years of his life until he died at a young age of 36, in 1796. His final resting place is a short walk away at St. Michael’s Churchyard.

8. Aberdeenshire: The Castle Trail

Crathes Castle

The Castle Trail mainly focuses on castles located in Aberdeenshire, where 17 of Scotland’s most dramatic and best preserved castles remain. The itinerary, which utilizes the city of Aberdeen as a base, is anything from a single day up to four days in duration. You’ll be treated to such marvels as the 13th century Drum Castle, the fairy-tale looking 16th century Crathes Castle, as well as the 15th century Craigievar Castle, together with its round oriental windows, delightful towers and gables, and its quaint conical roof tops.

The tour is also a magnificent way to enjoy the dramatic coastlines and majestic mountains within the Grampian Region.

9. Stirling: The Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle

Stirling, Schotland

Perfectly situated between Glasgow in the west and Edinburgh to the east, Stirling is famed for a number of bloody historic battles, including the Battle of Bannockburn which witnessed Robert the Bruce’s defeat of the English in 1314, and the Battle of Stirling Bridge, whereby the legendary William Wallace helped to secure Scottish independence from the English King Edward I.

Just outside Stirling at Abbey Craig stands the courtly Wallace Monument, a splendid 246-step tower, which offers sumptuous views over the entire area, in addition to being the home to a number of artifacts which are claimed to have belonged to Wallace. Then, there’s the 12th century Stirling Castle, which is reminiscent of Edinburgh Castle, sitting atop a volcanic crag close to the center of the city.

10. Isle of Mull: Reside in Glengorm Castle

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

Occupying a wonderful position and surrounded by the cobalt blue ocean and ruined stone circles, together with white sandy beaches with a dramatic backdrop of the dark rocks on Mull’s northern coastline, stands Glengorm Castle.

The castle was built in 1860 and offers the perfect location for patrons to the island whereby they can book a room and enjoy their stay under the auspices of the castle’s owner Mr. Tom Nelson. The castle sits within the heart of its 5,000 acre estate, making it the ideal location to marvel at the surrounding views during an energetic hike, or sit back and relax while enjoying a dram of the local whisky.

11. Orkney: Skara Brae

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, a semi-subterranean village which is situated on the island of Orkney, is among the very best preserved villages from the Stone Age within Europe, and is estimated to have been built over 5,000 years ago. For centuries, it was completely covered by a sand dune, until, in 1850, a great storm revealed the site.

Almost immediately upon the site being abandoned, the dwellings were suffused by sand, thereby preserving the stone walls and ensuring their currently relatively unmarred appearance. Older than the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge, Skara Brae has been given the title of the “Scottish Pompeii” due to the outstanding preservation.

12. Loch Duich, Western Highlands of Scotland: Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Connected to the mainland by way of a simple footbridge which was created during the castle’s restoration during the early part of the 20th century, Eilean Donan, which is situated in the western Highlands of Scotland, is a small tidal island perched where three lochs meet – Loch Duich, Loch Alsh, and Loch Long. The castle, which takes the same name as the island, was originally established in the early 13th century, and served as a defensive port against marauding Vikings.

Today, the castle is a popular venue for both film and weddings, and is one of the most photographed structures in Scotland. It has appeared in films such as James Bond (The World is Not Enough), Bonnie Prince Charlie, The New Avengers, and Highlander.

13. Princes Street Gardens/ Edinburgh Castle: Festival Finale Fireworks

Edinburgh Castle Fireworks

Edinburgh’s Festival fireworks display takes place at the culmination of the Festival, on the 31st of August each year. It represents the world’s largest annual pyrotechnic display which is accompanied by live music, and is watched by around 250,000 revelers, which represents almost half the entire population of Edinburgh.

Among the best vantage points are Princes Street Gardens, Carlton Hill, Arthur’s Seat, and Inverleith Park, unless you have a room with a view up to Edinburgh Castle, in which case you’re in luck. The sight of 100,000 fireworks being set off by four metric tons of explosives is one not to be missed.

14. Loch Garten near Aviemore: Watch Ospreys in Close Proximity

 Loch Garten in the Cairngorms National Park of Scotland

At Loch Garten, about 10 miles (16 km) north west of Aviemore, you’ll have the opportunity to watch nesting ospreys in their natural habitat. Other than the fact that these are very beautiful birds, it’s estimated that there are less than 150 breeding pairs within the UK. Watching from a hide offers the very best opportunity of witnessing these white-bellied fish-eaters.

Besides the ospreys, the forest at Loch Garten is inundated with red squirrels, crested tits, and red deer, so it really is a nature lover’s paradise. Do note that the hide is open from April to August.

15. North West Highlands: Bag Seven Munros in a Single Day

Scotland landscape from Loch Alsh viewpoint

Arguably, there are some 284 ‘Munros’ peaks that rise above 3,000 ft. or 915 m in Scotland. No less than seven of those are located on a single long ridge in Kintail, North West Highlands, above Glen Shiel. As such, for those with a passion for bagging Munros, this is indeed the Munro-baggers cricket score! The first Munro, Creag a’ Mhaim, which is the easternmost of the Munros located on Cluanie Ridge, is 3,107 ft. (947 m), makes for a stiff climb, even for an experienced hiker. Once the first has been victoriously ascended, the final six await!

All seven Munros can easily be completed in a day, albeit a long day, and the Cluanie Inn makes for a good starting point, as well as the ideal finishing point to rest those weary legs and enjoy some fine Scot’s ale.

16. Isle of Arran

 Isle of Arran, Scotland

Only 166 square miles (267 sq. km) in size, and being a mirror image of the mainland’s rugged landscapes, it’s for obvious reason why the little Isle of Arran is recognized as “Scotland in Miniature”. Just like the mainland, Arran boasts sandy beaches, majestic mountains, castles, moorland, a diverse array of wildlife, beautiful little fishing harbors, and extremely friendly people.

Even though the isle’s highlights, among them being Goat Fell Mountain and Brodick Castle, can be visited within a single day, it’s best to allow for a few days in order to explore this wonderful wee Scottish island.

17. Gairloch, Wester Ross: Live in a Lighthouse

Rua Reidh Lighthouse

If you’ve ever fancied staying in a lighthouse, now’s your chance. Rua Reidh lighthouse, not far from Gairloch in Wester Ross, is located at the very end of a single-track road which stretches 11.8 miles (19 km) and is merely used as an ambling pathway for sheep and deer. The lighthouse is perched atop the black rocks overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean and over to the Outer Hebrides.

Like all lighthouses in the UK, Rua Reidh is now fully automated and thus the keepers’ quarters have been transformed into en-suite bedrooms, bunkrooms, and a cosy living room together with a wood-burning stove. For more information, contact the lighthouse owner at www.

18. Outer Hebrides: Sea Kayaking Around an Archipelago

Sea kayaking in Scotland

Paddling to an island that is entirely deserted and then having a BBQ on the beach might seem like something you can only achieve in a dream, but it’s perfectly possible to achieve in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland where almost all of the 200 plus islands are uninhabited. And the best way to experience the archipelago is to do so by boat. The surrounding waters are crystal-clear and the destination is prime territory for sea kayaking.

Fortunately, for those with little to no experience of kayaking, there are local professionals who will take you out. And if you are seriously committed, you can turn the adventure into a week-long camping expedition. To get started and pick up your kayak, visit the isles of Harris, Lewis, Barra, or Uist.

19. Pollok Country Park, Glasgow: The Burrell Collection

Pollok Country Park, Glasgow

The Burrell Collection in Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park hosts everything from Rodin sculptures, ancient tapestries, Chinese ceramics, to Impressionist works by Cézanne and Degas. The collection, which was donated by Glaswegian shipping magnate and art collector Sir William Burrell, is open daily and entry is free of charge. Art lovers who have already witnessed the treasures on offer claim that the museum’s milieu and variety of art is almost beyond comparison.

20. Islay and Jura: Whisky at its Finest

Laphroaig Distillery In Islay

The islands of Islay and Jura, both situated on the west coast of Scotland, play host to some of Scotland’s very best whisky distilleries, including Ardbeg, Jura, Bowmore, Kilchoman, Laphroig, and Lagavulin.

Although the distilleries can be visited at any time of year, for the whisky aficionado, the best time to go is during the weeklong whisky festival which occurs every summer. Besides the gargantuan quantity of whisky to be had, the festival includes ceilidhs (traditional Scottish dance), cooking-with-whisky evenings, Celtic music concerts, in addition to a charity whisky barrel ‘push’ across Islay. And on the final day, festival revelers are treated to a carnival held on Port Ellen Green.

21. Melrose: Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey, Scotland

Founded back in 1136 by Cistercian monks, Melrose Abbey was built on the behest of King David I of Scotland. Although it is now a ruin, you can still witness the lavish masonic décor which is considered to maintain the embalmed heart of David I’s great-great grandson, Robert the Bruce. The abbey represents one of Scotland’s most historically significant structural remnants.

22. Grampian Mountains: Climb Britain’s Highest Peak

Carn Mór Dearg Arête

If you have at least some hill-walking experience, don’t be tempted to take the Tourist Path in order to reach the summit of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, which stands at 4,409 ft. (1,344 m) above sea level. Instead, follow the far more adventurous and spectacular Carn Mór Dearg Arête, which is one of the finest ridges in the country, as it sweeps in an almost perfect arc over to the North Face. Once you reach the top, you’re welcome to join the masses of tourists as they make their descent along the main route, and at the bottom, take pleasure from a pint of real ale served at the Ben Nevis Inn.

23. South Harris, Outer Hebrides: Luskentyre Beach

Luskentyre Beach, Scotland

Located on the breathtaking west coast of South Harris overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Outer Hebrides, Luskentryre Beach offers a peaceful and timeless getaway for the intrepid visitor to the islands of Scotland. The beach is among the most beautiful coastal areas in Scotland, together with its creamy, white sands, blue-green seas, and vibrant green hillside which makes for the perfect backdrop.

24. Laggan, Kingussie: Go Mountain Biking

Mountainbiking in Scotland

Scotland has the reputation as one of the world’s best destinations for those who like to partake in the sport of downhill mountain biking. And that’s a reputation that is well deserved as a plethora of dedicated downhill tracks now dot every part of the country. One that stands above the crowd is Laggan Wolftrax, located 1.25 miles (2 km) from Laggan, which is near Kingussie in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.

If you’re a teenage thrill seeker, there are a number of black runs (the most severe) available for you. For those who prefer a gentler jaunt around the woods, there are easier-going blue runs (moderate) as well as flat trails, and tea and cake await you in the caféteria at the end.

25. Aviemore, Cairngorms: Rothiemurchus Forest

Rothiemurchus Forest

The largest tract of ancient forest that remains in Britain is located about 2 miles (3.2 km) from Aviemore in the Cairngorms. The Caledonian pine forest provides a good way to escape from it all and enter a world that’s akin to a Lewis Carroll novel, as the pine trees twist and turn and spread their woody fingers over the surrounding juniper and heather.

For the best chance to witness capercaille, badgers, and pine martens, pay a visit to the hide which is heated and provides night-vision cameras.

25 Best Things to Do in Scotland:

  • Castle Rock, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle
  • Inverness: Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
  • St. Andrews: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews
  • Trossachs National Park: Loch Lomond
  • Isle of Skye
  • The Northern Highlands
  • Ayrshire: The Burns Heritage Trail
  • Aberdeenshire: The Castle Trail
  • Stirling: The Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle
  • Isle of Mull: Reside in Glengorm Castle
  • Orkney: Skara Brae
  • Loch Duich, Western Highlands of Scotland: Eilean Donan Castle
  • Princes Street Gardens/ Edinburgh Castle: Festival Finale Fireworks
  • Loch Garten near Aviemore: Watch Ospreys in Close Proximity
  • North West Highlands: Bag Seven Munros in a Single Day
  • Isle of Arran
  • Gairloch, Wester Ross: Live in a Lighthouse
  • Outer Hebrides: Sea Kayaking Around an Archipelago
  • Pollok Country Park, Glasgow: The Burrell Collection
  • Islay and Jura: Whisky at its Finest
  • Melrose: Melrose Abbey
  • Grampian Mountains: Climb Britain’s Highest Peak
  • South Harris, Outer Hebrides: Luskentyre Beach
  • Laggan, Kingussie: Go Mountain Biking
  • Aviemore, Cairngorms: Rothiemurchus Forest
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From pristine beaches to magnificent castles, exciting cultural attractions and ancient heritage, Scotland has it all. Come pay us a visit. We promise you won't be disappointed.

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Sure, we have stunning castles and monuments. Yeah, we have more than 460 museums and galleries. Of course, we have internationally-renowned, national performance companies. However, we’re also an amazing hotbed of new and emerging music, home to one of the largest concert venues in the UK and have a well-earned reputation for putting on a party and having a great time.

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One Week in Scotland

One Week in Scotland: The Perfect Itinerary

where to visit scotland

This seven-day Scotland touring itinerary has something for everyone, whether you're an urban connoisseur or a wilderness fan. Historic castles, legendary outlaws, and mythical sea monsters all vie for your attention. So does the seafood, fished from cold North Sea waters, as well as the water of life—more commonly known as Scotch whisky. Any short visit to Scotland is bound to leave you hungry for more.

This driving itinerary is organized day by day rather than hour by hour. It's meant to give you a good overview while providing enough freedom to allow you to pick and choose without losing the plot. As long as you end up in the suggested destination at the end of each day, you should have plenty of time to discover what makes Scotland special and especially loved by visitors.

Day 1: Edinburgh

TripSavvy / Jess Macdonald

Morning: Start your day in Edinburgh early, with a hearty Scottish breakfast at your hotel. Edinburgh is a very hilly city and you want to stoke up on carbs for all the walking. Don't pass up the oatmeal that's usually included in a Scottish breakfast. The pinch of salt they add makes it very special.

Then head for the bottom of The Royal Mile ; starting at The Palace of Holyrood House, this street climbs through Old Town and ends at Edinburgh Castle. Though most people walk down the Royal Mile, we think it works better in the opposite direction when you still have lots of energy.

The Palace of Holyrood House , the Monarch's official residence when she is in Scotland, is only partially open to the public. The self-guided audio tour will take you an hour or less.

Across the street, you'll find the Scottish Parliament. Controversial (it cost more than $506 million after an original proposal of $12 million) and architecturally interesting, you can see the key areas in about 15 minutes.

Afternoon: The Inn on the Mile is a handy place to stop for lunch, and is about three-quarters of the way up the Royal Mile .

When you're done eating, climb up to Edinburgh Castle for the spectacular views at the top. Unless you are fascinated by military history, skip the museums and exhibits; instead, walk down through Princes Street Gardens to the Scottish National Gallery on the Mound.

Evening: Sample any one of more than 300 brands of scotch whisky at the Bow Bar on West Bow in the Old Town. Then head for an early supper at Edinburgh's famous Italian deli, Valvona & Crolla , or a casual pizza at the popular La Favorita. If jet lag is starting to set in, order online and they'll deliver to your hotel room.

Day 2: Scotts View, Abbotsford, and Traquair

 Michelle Kelley Photography/Getty Images

Morning: Head out of the city and south into the Borders, a county punctuated by the meandering River Tweed and rich in history and literary connections. On your way, take a few minutes to stop at Scott's View . A favorite of novelist, playwright, and poet Sir Walter Scott, this spot gives you stunning views of the Eildon Hills , three distinctive volcanic plugs, and the Tweed Valley. There's a small parking area with an orientation table a historic marker.

Afterwards, pay a visit to Melrose Abbey . Built in the 12 th century, the abbey is believed to be the burial place of Robert the Bruce's heart . There is a memorial stone marking the spot.

Make your way to Abbotsford House next. Sir Walter Scott almost bankrupted himself building this remarkable faux-medieval fantasy palace surrounded by beautiful gardens on the Tweed. After his death in 1832, the house immediately became a place of literary pilgrimage. It has been open to the public since 1833. Stop for lunch at Abbotsford before moving on to Traquair.

Afternoon: Traquair House is the oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland and has been in the same family for 900 years. It is a fascinating place, connected to stories of political intrigue, Jacobites, secret Catholics, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Mary Queen of Scots. You can even sample a bevy from Traquair's own brewery. The house and grounds can be visited daily between April and the end of October, and weekends only in November.

Evening: Return to Edinburgh and enjoy some fine dining in Leith, the city's waterfront district. Try The Kitchin or Restaurant Martin Wishart , both owned by celebrity chefs and spangled with Michelin stars. Book either online before you leave home.

Day 3: The Forth Bridges, Falkirk Wheel and Stirling Castle

Morning: It's just a 15-mile drive from Edinburgh to the Forth Bridges . When the first one opened at Queensferry in 1890, it was the world's biggest man-made steel structure and a marvel of Victorian engineering. About nine miles from Edinburgh, the historic railroad bridge is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, joined by two other remarkable bridges. When the Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964, it was the largest long-span suspension bridge outside the U.S. The Queensferry Crossing opened in 2017 and is the longest three-tower cable-stayed bridge in the world. There's a terrific viewpoint to see all three at Hawes Pier in Queensferry.

The Falkirk Wheel is the world's only rotating boat lift. It raises and lowers boats and their passengers—to a height of 115 feet—between the Forth&Clyde and Union Canals. Book ahead on the website and you can take a 50-minute ride on it. Have some lunch at the visitor center before moving on.

Afternoon: Plan on spending the whole afternoon at and around Stirling Castle , about 13 miles away. Sitting on top of an impressive volcanic rock and protected on one side by dramatic cliffs, the castle has long remained a symbol of Scottish independence with its strong connections to William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Mary Queen of Scots. It was first mentioned in 1110 when King Alexander built a chapel there, but in all likelihood it is much older. There are a range of guided and self-guided audio tours you can take to see the royal palace's great halls and kitchens, chapel, and regimental museum. From the castle walls, you can see Stirling Bridge, the site of William Wallace's 13 th -century victory over the English.

Just below the castle is Stirling Old Town . It is a virtually intact Medieval town and you should plan on spending some daylight hours walking around it.

Evening: Have dinner and spend the night in Stirling. There's a good selection of hotels and plenty of casual bistros, cafés, and pubs.

Day 4: The Cairngorms, Urquhart Castle, and Loch Ness

Morning: Fill up on fuel and water before leaving Stirling; you'll be passing through some of the emptiest areas and highest plateaus of Cairngorm National Park . First stop: Balmoral , the Queen's private vacation home. Built by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria, the Scottish Baronial estate is surrounded by beautiful woodlands and mountain views. You can only visit a small part of the house, but there is usually an interesting exhibition to see. The house is closed to the public when the Queen and the royals are in residence, from August through October. Tickets need to be booked in advance.

Note: If you're in the area when the Queen is in residence, visit Blair Castle on the Blair Atholl estate or Braemar Castle instead.

Afternoon: Heading north on a curving route from Balmoral, you'll enter an area that has recently been dubbed the SnowRoads . It includes the highest public road in Britain and the highest public road mountain pass. The scenery, though lonely and empty, is also spectacular. In the northwest corner of the Cairngorms is Speyside, one of Scotland's most important whisky-making areas. Stop in the little market town of Tomintoul to pick up a bottle or two for later.

Now's your chance to look for the Loch Ness Monster. Urquhart Castle offers a high vantage point over Loch Ness. Even though it's a ruin, the location makes this one of the best castles in Scotland.

Evening: End your day by driving to Invermoriston Falls, a spectacular series of rapids and waterfalls crossed via a historic, pedestrian-only 19 th -century bridge . The Glenmoriston Arms Hotel, across the parking lot for the falls, has decent food, traditional music, and comfortable beds.

Day 5: Eilean Donan and Glencoe

Morning: Leave Invermoriston for Eilean Donan Castle , probably the most quintessential image of an early medieval Scottish fortress. The drive there is unforgettable; you'll pass forbidding dark lochs through valleys of brooding mountains.

Originally built as a fortress to defend the mainland from the Vikings, Eilean Donan was destroyed in the  Jacobite rebellion of 1719 . It was rebuilt between 1911 and 1932 from surviving ground plans of earlier buildings. The castle occupies an island at the confluence of three great sea lochs, but you can reach it on foot via a stone bridge. Eilean Donan's re-enactors make this a fun visit.

Afterwards, drive over to Fort William , often called the gateway to the Highlands. The town—located underneath the shadow of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis—is a handy place to stop for lunch. There are plenty of quick food outlets and fish and chip shops, but if you're feeling adventurous, hop on a gondola for a mountain lunch at the Snowgoose Restaurant .

Afternoon: Glencoe is one of the most important landscapes in Britain and no visit to the Western Highlands would be complete without. Be sure to check out the  eco-friendly visitor center . Here you can start a short nature and wildlife walk on the edge of the glen, find out more about the epic adventure trails, and immerse yourself in the sad history of betrayal and murder that still haunts this valley.

Evening: In the nearby village of  Ballachulish , you'll find a range of accommodation, from hotels and guest houses to campsites. There are places to eat within a short distance of the visitor center as well.

Day 6: A Scenic Drive and a Loch Lomond Cruise

 Dennis Barnes/Getty Images

Morning: Take the short, scenic drive through Glencoe to the green, romantic hills of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park . It's an easy, quiet road, but take your time and stop whenever you see a place to pull over; the scenery is spectacular and the geology that formed it astonishing.

When you reach Loch Lomond, continue down its west bank to Tarbet or all the way to Balloch on the southern shore. Tarbet is a quiet village near a narrow part of the loch, with good tourist services and access to some fabulous cycling. Balloch is the main commercial tourism center for Loch Lomond. What you do for the rest of the day depends on how active you like to be.

Active Afternoon Itinerary: If you want to see as much as possible, head over to Tarbet and park in the public parking area near Tarbet Pier. After you explore the village, hire a bike from Cruise Loch Lomond . You can take the bike with you on the Waterbus to Inversnaid; from here, ride the four miles along the north shore of Loch Arklet to Stronachlachar.

At Stronachlachar Pier, board the Steamship Sir Walter Scott for a round trip cruise on Loch Katrine. When it's over, cycle back to Inversnaid and return to Tarbet Pier on the water taxi. Then make your way to Balloch for the night.

Relaxed Afternoon Itinerary: Want to take it much slower? Instead of going to Tarbet, drive to Balloch and climb aboard the " PS Maid of the Loch ," the last paddle steamer built in Britain. Afterwards, grab some souvenirs at Loch Lomond Shores, a nearby shopping center.

Take the Waterbus from Balloch Pier to Luss, a conservation village on the west bank of Loch Lomond. Most of the cottages in in this flower-bedecked village date from the 18 th and early 19 th centuries. There are several marked circuits ranging from an easy, 15-minute walk around the village to an hour-long Heritage trail.

Walk to the end of Luss Pier for good views of Ben Lomond. From Luss, you can take a short Waterbus trip to Inchcailloch, a secluded island just offshore with several good paths. Return to Luss, and from there, back to Balloch for the evening.

Day 7: Glasgow

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Morning: It's a mere 20 miles from Balloch to Glasgow, Scotland's liveliest city. When you reach the city, tour the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum . It's a huge late Victorian storehouse, featuring everything from Scottish and European paintings to dinosaur skeletons and stuffed animals. Don't miss Salvador Dali's remarkable "Christ of Saint John of the Cross," one of the museum's great treasures.

When you're done exploring the museum, check out Kelvinbridge. This part of Glasgow's already trendy "west end" (so hip the name is never capitalized) was recently voted one of the 50 coolest neighborhoods in the world. Shop for vintage and retro fashions, and buy a takeaway picnic at Roots, Fruits and Flowers —Glasgow's local answer to Whole Foods.

Afternoon: Climb the hill of Kelvingrove park—one of Glasgow's gorgeous green spaces—and enjoy your picnic there. Then check out the City Center Mural Trail . Made up of 25 murals, this trail of outrageous street art is all within an easy stroll of the city center.

Have your mind blown by an afternoon show at Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre . A permanent exhibition by a Russian emigré artist, this indescribable production combines kinetic sculpture, automata, music, and lighting effects.

Evening: Make your last meal in Scotland a good one. Dine in Finneston, the hub of Glasgow's somewhat macho foodie scene. Try The Finnieston , known for its top seafood and gin bar. Or chow down on amazing dry-aged beef and game at Porter & Rye.

Glasgow's nightlife is famous. For comedy, take your chances at The Stand . See new and emerging bands at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut or downstairs at Òran Mór, a multi-arts venue that also hosts comedy and theatre.

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The Best Times to Visit Scotland for Good Weather, Fewer Crowds, and Lower Prices

Plan your Scotland trip based on what you want to do, see, and avoid.

where to visit scotland

Scotland may be a small country — about the size of South Carolina — but it offers an impressive variety of destinations and landscapes. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, Ben Nevis, Glen Coe, and the Isle of Skye are all must-sees for anyone who wants to experience the magic of Scotland. To get the most out of your trip, you'll want to make sure you visit at the most opportune time.

Scotland's seasons fall into three main categories:

  • High Season: June to August
  • Shoulder Seasons: April to May and September to October
  • Low Season: November to March

Each of the Scottish seasons offers advantages and disadvantages, so deciding when to visit will depend on your priorities. Whether you're hoping for pleasant weather, fewer crowds, or more affordable prices, here are the best times to travel to Scotland .

Ellen Lindner/Travel+Leisure

Most Popular Time to Visit Scotland

A majority of travelers make their way to Scotland in the warmer months. Tourist season in Edinburgh ramps up in June and peaks in August, with several major festivals — including the Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe — happening throughout the month. The capital's summer temperatures rarely surpass 70 degrees, so traversing the hilly city is usually pleasant.

Visitors also descend on Scotland from late May to September to experience the Highland Games , a Scottish tradition dating back hundreds of years. Towns around the country host their own versions of the Games, usually in the form of a one-day event featuring traditional Scottish sports (like tug-of-war and the hammer throw), as well as food, music, and dancing. The Braemar Gathering, held in September, is one of the best-known events, with the British royal family making an appearance in the small town every year.

Outside of the summer months, the winter holiday season is one of the most popular times to visit Scotland. Celebrations of New Year's Eve — called Hogmanay by the Scots — are particularly raucous. In Edinburgh, Hogmanay festivities draw more than 70,000 visitors every year.

Michela Sieman/Travel + Leisure

Best Times to Visit Scotland for Smaller Crowds

If you want to avoid the crowds on your Scottish vacation, consider traveling in the fall, winter, or spring. Most schools in the U.K. — much like in the U.S. — go on summer break in the months of July and August. By planning your trip outside of that period, you'll miss the throngs of local and foreign tourists whose travels are tied to their children's school schedules.

The Isle of Skye , with its rapidly increasing tourism profile, is a spot travelers would be especially smart to avoid in the busy summer months. Visiting in the off-season means lots more room to roam among the island's 600+ square miles. There are other advantages too, from increased odds of spotting a puffin (they're most common on Skye in early spring) to the views of stunning snow-capped mountains in the winter.

Best Times to Visit Scotland for Good Weather

Scotland — like the entire United Kingdom — isn't particularly known for its weather. More often than not, it's drizzly and a little dreary. When the weather shows off, though, there's nothing more remarkable than a sunrise peeping over a Scottish glen or the sun setting behind Edinburgh Castle .

To experience Scotland's best weather, you'll need to plan your trip at the right time — and have a bit of luck on your side. Temperatures are highest in the summer, but weather can be fair in the springtime, too. According to the Scottish tourism bureau , the period from March to May is the country's driest, and its temperatures rarely dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit — though they don't often climb above 55 degrees, either. Temperatures are similar in the fall, a season that's also known for stunning foliage. Scotland rarely sees extreme winter weather (particularly in southern cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow), but starting in November, you'll want to shift your schedule to account for shorter days — the winter sun can set as early as 4 p.m.

Best Times to Visit Scotland for Lower Prices

As temperatures drop, so does the number of tourists in Scotland — and, accordingly, the prices. If you want to save money, book your trip in the low season, from November to March. While some more fragile historical sites may close during this time due to weather concerns, there are plenty of other things to do, including skiing in the Cairngorms, curling up by a fireplace in a cozy boutique hotel (like The Fife Arms in Braemar), or exploring the Christmas markets in Edinburgh.

One exception to this rule, though, is the period directly surrounding the winter holidays. Since Christmas and New Year's are popular travel times in Scotland, deal-seeking visitors may want to avoid scheduling a trip during the final weeks of December or the first week of January.

Best Time to Explore the Highlands

To have the most sunlight and best weather, many people head to the Scottish Highlands in the summer, between May and September. Starting in October, the weather can be unpredictable — freezing temperatures, gale-force winds, and snowfall are all possible. That said, the snow-capped mountains are a sight to behold, so if you plan a Highlands road trip in the winter, pack a warm winter coat and make sure your rental car is properly equipped to handle any icy conditions.

Best Time to Visit to Avoid Midges

From May until September, travelers have a high chance of running into midges , especially in the Highlands. These flying, biting insects prefer wet, humid, and cloudy conditions and come out in full force in July and August. To avoid the midges, book your trip to Scotland between late September and early May.

Worst Times to Visit Scotland

The worst times to visit Scotland will depend, of course, on each traveler's preference. If your top priorities are avoiding big crowds and pesky midges, July and August are months you should miss. (The high prices that accompany this busy season can be another dissuading factor.) August is especially busy in Edinburgh, when a host of culture fests descend upon the capital, bringing millions of art lovers along with them. This is great for those who want to partake in the superb cultural offerings, but not so great if you want a quiet sightseeing trip.

If your main goal is optimal weather, meanwhile, the winter months should be avoided. With its dreary skies, short days, and chilly temperatures, the winter is best suited for visitors in search of cozy indoor pursuits, not (relative) sun and warmth.

To avoid extremes in both climate and crowd size, travelers should consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.

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20 reasons to visit Scotland at least once in your life

Posted: September 19, 2023 | Last updated: September 19, 2023

The Isle of Skye is full of legends and places said to have magical properties. The <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Sligachan River</a>, for instance, supposedly grants eternal beauty to those who rinse their faces in its bewitched waters. Near the village of Glenbrittle, <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Fairy Glen</a> lies in a lush valley where wishes are granted amid the enchanting, crystal-clear waters of the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Fairy Pools</a>.

Discover Edinburgh

Harry Potter fans are in for a treat when they visit Scotland as J.K. Rowling drew inspiration from numerous legendary sites. Start by climbing aboard the Hogwarts Express (actually called the Jacobite Steam Train) and crossing the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Glenfinnan Viaduct</a> in the Highlands. From there, you’ll see Loch Shiel and the mountains over which Buckbeak and Harry Potter flew in the third film of the series. Then, for a stroll along Diagon Alley, head to Victoria Street in Edinburgh.

Dive into the world of Harry Potter

A destination par excellence for a Scottish road trip, the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">North Coast</a> travels through the Highlands for over 800 kilometres (500 miles). Discover incomparable landscapes and enjoy many outdoor activities along the way. We recommend spreading your getaway over five to seven days. Take this extraordinary route to quaint fishing villages, pristine beaches, and stunning mountains in six Scottish regions.

Explore the Highlands on the North Coast 500

<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Glencoe’s lush valleys</a> will surely amaze you, while also revealing more about Scotland’s tumultuous history. Famous for its scenic beauty, Glencoe is also known for the MacDonald clan massacre of 1692. While some believe the place is haunted, its mountains and invigoratingly fresh air manifest an undeniable Zen. The popular An Torr and Glencoe Lochan trails make it a must stop for hikers as well.

Admire beautiful Glencoe

<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Scotch</a>, the country’s national drink, is a type of malt or grain whisky made only in Scotland. From Campbeltown to Islay, you’ll find many <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">distilleries</a> in whatever region you visit. Each locale offers its own version of Scotch, and you may notice some differences, such as woody versus fruity notes or a unique aging process. Edinburgh offers several exclusive tastings, including the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Johnnie Walker Experience</a> on Princes Street.

Taste the best Scotch

From <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Dunvegan</a> to <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Kilchurn</a>, Scotland has no shortage of mythical castles. Among the most fascinating and famous for its epic setting, <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Eilean Donan</a> is surrounded by nature and three large lochs. Former home of the Mackenzie and Macrae clans, it also played an important role in the Jacobite rebellions. <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Stirling Castle</a>, located between Glasgow and Edinburgh, has also witnessed several bloody battles, including the defeat of the English by the celebrated Robert the Bruce and William Wallace during the Middle Ages.

Visit medieval castles

Affectionately known as “<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">hairy coos</a>,” these beautiful, shaggy cows are easy to spot when travelling the roads of their native region, the Highlands. Animal lovers with be happy to know that many farms will let you feed and pet them.

Meet Highlands cows

Mountain climbing adepts may be interested in scaling the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Cuillin Hills</a> while in Scotland. Separated by the Sligachan Valley, these two mountain ranges are located on the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Isle of Skye</a>. While a long, rugged ridge makes ascending the Black Cuillin more difficult, the gentler, rounder Red Cuillin remains challenging. The Black Cuillin leads climbers across several Munros, mountains rising nearly one thousand metres (over 3,000 feet) high.

Climb the Cuillin Hills

<p class="Body"><span><span><a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">This mysterious monster is a household name across the globe.</a></span></span><span> But despite written reports, an Apple Maps sighting, and photographic stills, there is still no definitive proof that either confirms or denies the existence of the prehistoric beastie that has fascinated fans for more than a thousand years. </span></p>

Sail on the mysterious Loch Ness

Fans of the series <em>Outlander </em>are likely to put <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Inverness</a> on their Scottish itineraries. Indeed, the city has inspired many travellers. The Culloden Battlefield, the site of the last hand-to-hand combat in the United Kingdom, is just a quick drive away. Sitting on the banks of the River Ness, Inverness also features tours of a castle and its botanical garden. It’s also an excellent entry point for exploring the Highlands or venturing onto Loch Ness.

Visit Inverness

Covering more than 4,500 km<sup>2 </sup>(1,700 mi<sup>2</sup>), <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Cairngorms</a> is the largest national park in the United Kingdom. You’ll find some of Scotland’s highest peaks, numerous sparkling lochs, and vast forests of native Caledonian pine. An ideal playground for water sports, cycling, and hiking, Cairngorms National Park is also home to <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Balmoral</a>, the late Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite castle.

Explore Cairngorms National Park

<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Skye</a> is not only the largest island of the Inner Hebrides, it’s also an incredible destination for enjoying some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery. Among its most enchanting stops you’ll find breathtaking landscapes at <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Kilt Rock</a>, feel like you’ve reached the end of the world at Neist Point Lighthouse, and enjoy tasty fish and chips in the colourful town of Portree.

Discover the Isle of Skye

Scotland has no shortage of impressive hiking spots, and the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Quiraing</a> is probably its most magnificent. Located on the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish Peninsula, the site provides visitors with access to the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Old Man of Storr</a>, a mythical rock formation adding a bit drama to the surroundings.

Explore the Quiraing

In the heart of the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Outer Hebrides</a>, the Isle of Harris is home to spectacular scenery bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Among its many white sandy beaches, Luskentyre and <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Seilebost</a> offer splendid mountain views, turquoise waters, and green pastures. This island paradise is perfect for windsurfing.

Relax on the Isle of Harris

Enter the world of fairies.

Meaning “<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">dear green place</a>” in Gaelic, the aptly named <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Glasgow</a> is home to <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">90 parks and natural areas</a> along the Clyde River. In addition to its superb university and the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum</a>, music lovers can visit the Scottish Opera and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. For those who prefer sports, Glasgow boasts two soccer teams and one rugby team.

Visit Glasgow

<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">St Andrews</a> is the perfect Scottish destination for golf enthusiasts. Founded in 1754, the town’s famous <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Royal and Ancient Golf Club</a> hosts the British Open every other year. About an hour and 15 minutes by car from Edinburgh, St Andrews is also home to <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Scotland’s oldest university</a>, the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral, and beautiful beaches like <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">West Sands</a>.

Visit St Andrews

Also known as the Silver City, <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Aberdeen</a> is sure to please culture lovers. The summer months feature numerous plays at His Majesty’s Theatre and symphony concerts at the Music Hall. More intrepid visitors may dare to visit the Tolbooth Museum, Aberdeen’s most haunted locale. Those with a taste for castles will find nearby <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Dunnottar</a> and <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Craigievar</a> make easy day trips.

Explore Aberdeen

Located in the north of Scotland, <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Shetland</a> borders the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea. Geographically closer to Norway than to Scotland, the island culture incorporates Scandinavian traditions. In January, for example, Viking structures are burned and locals dress up during the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">fire festival</a> commemorating the sun’s return following the winter solstice. Winter also offers glimpses of the northern lights, while puffins and Shetland ponies take centre stage during the rest of the year.

Visit Shetland

Enjoy several important cultural events when visiting Scotland between May and September. More than 60 <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Highlands Games</a> are held across the country, giving locals and tourists alike a chance to show off their clan colours in a series of fun, sporting, and traditional events. In August, both the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Fringe Festival</a> and events surrounding the bagpipes and kilts of the <a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener">Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo</a> take Edinburgh by storm.

Immerse yourself in Scottish culture

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International passenger survey.

The 2023 International Passenger Survey (IPS) by the Office of National Statistics showed almost four million overseas tourists came to Scotland last year, an increase of 15% on 2019 levels with spend also up 41%.  

The previous record for international visits was in 2018 when Scotland welcomed 3.7 million overseas tourists. 

This means that in 2023, Scotland was the only UK nation or region to surpass 2019 levels.  

The main purpose of international visitors trips to Scotland last year was for a holiday (2.5 million visits). This was followed by visiting friends and relatives (1 million), then for a business trip (366,000).

European visitors were responsible for more than half of all trips (58%) with trips increasing by almost a fifth compared to 2022.

This was followed by North American visitors which accounted for almost a quarter of total visits (24%), up by 16% on the previous year. Visitors from the rest of the world accounted for 17% of all inbound visits.

people standing at a reception desk to enter a visitor attraction

IPS key stats

Almost 4 million

 visits to Scotland in 2023 from international visitors

Over 34 million

nights spent in Scotland by international visitors in 2023

£3.6 billion

international visitor spend in 2023

47% increase

in spend from visitors of "Other Countries" in 2023 compared to 2022

Response from our Chief Executive, Malcolm Roughead

Responding to the latest IPS update, Malcolm Roughead, our Chief Executive, said: "These figures mark a turning point for tourism in Scotland, showing not only recovery but crucially growth in international visitors with number of visits and spend now above 2019 levels. Scotland is the only UK region to have reached this milestone.

They are further evidence of the strength of Scotland's offering and the clear desire for people across the world to experience this, with record demand from North America.

Our international visitors are hugely important to Scotland’s tourism industry, as well as the wider economy. They often stay longer and spend more, generating several billions of pounds annually, supporting a wide range of businesses, jobs and communities across the country. With many businesses still recovering from the challenges of the pandemic and current economic climate, this will be welcome news." 

“At VisitScotland we're not complacent and remain focused on delivering our core purpose to drive the visitor economy and sustainably grow its value in Scotland."

"This includes influencing both international and domestic visitors before they leave home through our digital channels, as well as working with travel trade and transport partners to support tourism businesses here in Scotland."

"By encouraging regional and seasonal spread we can ensure Scotland remains a competitive year-round, must-see, must-return destination.”  

Read the full survey

The ips is available now to download, related links, research and insights, food tourism experiences are a recipe for success, international visitors, latest statistics.

International tourism in Scotland returns to pre-pandemic growth

Scotland was the only part of the UK to reach the milestone last year, according to official figures

  • 12:50, 17 MAY 2024
  • Updated 13:00, 17 MAY 2024

Visitors to Bruce's Stone in Dumfries and Galloway

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New figures have revealed that Scotland welcomed its highest number of international visitors ever last year.

The 2023 International Passenger Survey by the Office of National Statistics showed almost four million overseas tourists came to Scotland last year - an increase of 15% on 2019 levels - with spend also up 41%.

The previous record for international visits was in 2018, when Scotland welcomed 3.7 million overseas tourists.

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “These figures mark a turning point for tourism in Scotland, showing not only recovery, but crucially growth in international visitors, with number of visits and spend now above 2019 levels.

“Scotland is the only UK region to have reached this milestone.

“They are further evidence of the strength of Scotland's offering and the clear desire for people across the world to experience this, with record demand from North America.

“Our international visitors are hugely important to Scotland’s tourism industry, as well as the wider economy,“ he continued, noting that they often stay longer and spend more, generating several billions of pounds annually, supporting a wide range of businesses, jobs and communities across the country.

“Early feedback from tourism businesses, travel trade and airline partners are this international demand is continuing into 2024 with increasing interest for visiting at different times of the year and exploring lesser-known locations,“ stated Roughead.

“At VisitScotland we are not complacent and remain focused on delivering our core purpose to drive the visitor economy and sustainably grow its value in Scotland - this includes influencing both international and domestic visitors before they leave home through our digital channels, as well as working with travel trade and transport partners to support tourism businesses here in Scotland.“

Digging into the figures, there were 3.9 million inbound visits to Scotland in 2023, surpassing 2022 by 23% (3.2 million) and 2019 by 15% (3.4 million).

Inbound visitors spent £3.5bn in 2023, up 13% up on 2022 (£3.1bn) and 41% on 2019 (£2.5bn).

Visits from North America (+16%) and Europe (+19%) were both up. Visits from ‘other countries’ - which includes Australia and China - also saw a significant rise in 2023 (+53%), compared to 2022.

Spend from visitors of these other countries in 2023 saw the largest increase (+47%) compared to 2022. Visitors from North America spent just slightly more (+3%) compared to 2022. Visitors across Europe in 2023 spent 9% more than 2022.

Visits from North America accounted for 24% of all inbound visits and 39% of spend during 2023. Visits from Europe accounted for 58% of all inbound visits and 39% of spend during 2023.

During the past year, Scotland has seen record demand and seat capacity from Europe and North America, with the return of pre-Covid routes from China and Middle East.

US: United and Delta have increased their Newark, Boston and New York JFK services into Edinburgh with a new Delta service from Atlanta. JetBlue will launch its first Scotland route between New York JFK and Edinburgh on 22 May.

Canada: WestJet seasonal routes from Calgary and Toronto have returned for 2024 with a new service between Halifax and Edinburgh launching 20 June.

China: Hainan Airlines seasonal service between Beijing and Edinburgh returned 17 May with 2024 schedule extended into October.

Middle East: Emirates have announced the return of daily service between Edinburgh and Dubai in United Arab Emirates from November increasing connectivity between Scotland and Asia-Pacific.

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Euro 2024: How to follow England and Scotland in Germany this summer – and what to do in each city

Some bargain flights are still available – if you are prepared to fly into neighbouring countries, article bookmarked.

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Final countdown: Olympiastadion, Berlin, where the Euro 2024 final will be played on 14 July

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The stage is set for Europe ’s summer festival of football: the Euro 2024 finals in Germany . We now know all the teams who have qualified for the continent’s greatest football tournament, and when and where they will play their opening matches.

England and Scotland qualified emphatically. Sadly, Wales went out on penalties to Poland, who along with Georgia and Ukraine were last to qualify.

Euro 2024 kicks off in Munich on Friday 14 June and ends with the final in Berlin on Sunday 14 July.

Many fans will want to travel to Germany. Whether you are planning a midsummer’s dream trip to support your team or just want to soak up the atmosphere, these are the key questions and answers.

The venues?

  • Berlin Olympiastadion (capacity 70,000)
  • Munich Football Arena (67,000)
  • Dortmund BVB Stadion (66,000)
  • Stuttgart Arena (54,000)
  • Gelsenkirchen Arena AufSchalke (50.000)
  • Hamburg Volksparkstadion (50,000)
  • Cologne Stadium (47,000)
  • Dusseldorf Arena (47,000)
  • Frankfurt Arena (46,000)
  • Leipzig Stadium (42,000)

Read more on Europe travel :

  • Where to visit in Cyprus for a 2024 holiday
  • Why I chose Marseille over Paris for the Olympic Games
  • The best kids’ club resorts in Europe

Where and when are Scotland’s group-stage games?

14 June v Germany in Munich (the tournament’s opening match)

19 June v Switzerland in Cologne

23 June v Hungary in Stuttgart

Where and when are England’s group-stage games?

16 June v Serbia in Gelsenkirchen

20 June v Denmark in Frankfurt

25 June v Slovenia in Cologne

What are the basic travel mechanics?

Fortunately for supporters of England and Scotland, all the games – except for the opening match between Germany and Scotland in Munich – are in western Germany.

For Cologne, where England will play Slovenia and Scotland will play Switzerland, surface travel looks best: ideally a Eurostar train from London to Brussels and a connection from there.

But it will be much cheaper for groups of supporters to go by road. Many people will take cars across, and the Dover-Dunkirk or Harwich-Hook of Holland ferries are probably best – though Newcastle to Amsterdam and Hull to Rotterdam are also feasible, if expensive.

There’s a wide choice of flights on budget airlines from across England and Scotland to Germany , but they won’t be low-cost during the tournament for key games. It could be smart to fly to somewhere close to Germany instead.

For example, to reach Gelsenkirchen, the venue for England’s first game against Serbia, Eindhoven in the Netherlands is an option. Remarkably, for those flying out on 15 June and returning on 17 June, Ryanair has flights between London Stansted and Eindhoven for £15 each way.

For Scotland’s game against Hungary on 23 June in Stuttgart, you could fly on easyJet from Edinburgh to Basel in Switzerland and get a cheap train from there; out on 21 June, back on 24 June is currently £184 return.

Will travelling around the host nation be easy?

Yes, because German Railways has a vast, high-density network, with low fares if you don’t take the fastest expresses.

There is no real need to book anything in advance – you can buy tickets on the day. The network will feel the strain on match days, but trains will be supplemented by long-distance coaches.

If you’re driving your own car, the autobahns will be busy – and you will also find parking in cities and near venues difficult.

All ticket holders will get 36 hours of free local transport around each match.

Which brings us to the thorny question of tickets...

All group-match tickets have been sold, and the Uefa resale platform has now closed. The organisers say “There will be no further opportunities to resell tickets.”

But many tickets for the knock-out stages have been held back, and will go back on sale from 23 June onwards. Uefa says: “Tickets reserved for knockout-stage matches will be sold during the tournament upon the qualification of the teams for the respective matches.”

Tickets for the Round of 16 matches involving successful teams in Scotland’s group should go on sale from 9pm BST on 23 June, and England’s group from 9pm BST on 25 June.

Or you can settle for the fan zones – which will be in attractive locations such as Cologne’s old town, the Altstadt.

What about accommodation?

Unlike Paris, where hotel rates are steadily falling ahead of the Olympic Games , demand for rooms in and near host venues is rising – along with prices. For many fans, Germany is extremely accessible.

In Cologne, on the night of Scotland’s group game against Switzerland (19 June), many properties are sold out, and basic budget hotel rooms are selling for £400.

But you can save approximately half the cost by booking in Dusseldorf, about 20 minutes by train from Cologne. Go further, to Aachen (less than an hour away), and rates halve again.

While many Berlin hotels are sold out on the night of the final, a very good hotel room in Leipzig (the Amano Home ) is only €79 (£69) on the night of the final, with trains taking 75 minutes to reach the German capital.

Is it worth waiting until the knockout stages?

Quite possibly. A valid strategy is to do nothing now and see if England and Scotland progress beyond the group stage. From then onwards, everything becomes easier – pressure on transport and accommodation eases because lots of fans sadly go home.

Over the four-day spell of the Round of 16, from 29 June to 2 July, could be the prime time to be in Germany.

And, if you are feeling optimistic, you could even book a cheap flight to Berlin for the final on 14 July. Ryanair is currently selling flights on 11 July, returning on 16 July, for just £137 from Edinburgh to the German capital.

What shall I do between the matches?

This guide focuses on the England and Scotland host cities, in order of their matches. But the best of the rest will follow.

Munich (Scotland v Germany, 14 June)

The Bavarian capital is the favourite German city of many travellers. The Altstadt, the old town, has the beautiful Marienplatz – dominated by the neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (new town hall), which stretches across its northern side. Shortly before 11am and noon each day, crowds gather for a glockenspiel performance that features a Bavarian knight beating a French challenger in a jousting tournament. For the best view of Munich (and, on a clear day, the Bavarian Alps), visit the tower of St Peter’s Church, just south.

Eat and drink

Warm summer evenings will mainly be spent on cafe terraces and in beer gardens, but the state-owned Hofbrauhaus is well worth visiting for the dizzying choreography of the well-attired waiting staff and the conviviality of the location – augmented from time to time with all the oompah you would expect from a Bavarian band.

Gelsenkirchen (England v Serbia, 16 June)

The Ruhr is off many tourists’ itineraries, but the former coal and steel hub for Germany’s economic and military might is fascinating. Gelsenkirchen itself is actually little more than a northern suburb of Essen (don’t show this to any locals). The industrial archaeology is remarkable, with much of the former Zollverein coal mine handed back to nature – and visitors. You can clamber, carefully, around this Unesco-listed gem. And the German Football Museum is just minutes away in Dortmund (see below).

Essen in central Essen: it is difficult to go wrong, but I like the Pfefferkorn Essen. South of the city centre, Il Pomodoro is a reliable Italian.

Cologne (Scotland v Switzerland, 19 June; England v Slovenia, 25 June)

Cologne is a city designed for walking. Start by climbing the bell tower of the dom (cathedral); the 509 steps are challenging, though you can pause halfway up to admire the glocken (bells). From the public gallery at a height of 97m, you get a fine view of the old town – and some ungainly modern buildings that were erected after the Second World War, in which 90 per cent of the city was destroyed. The Museum Ludwig, adjacent to the dom , celebrates modern art by the likes of Dali and Warhol. For 19th-century works and earlier, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum is a dramatic modern structure.

Eating, drinking and shopping are the main interests of the locals in what is arguably Germany’s friendliest big city. The local Kolsch beer – light and well hopped – will cheer even losing fans. The tastiest brand is Gaffel, whose home ground is the Gaffel Haus on Alter Markt. But the atmosphere is even more convivial at the Brauhaus Sion, which also serves up sauerbraten : beef marinated for what seems like months, which melts in your mouth in minutes.

Frankfurt (England v Denmark, 20 June)

Europe’s financial hub is far more rewarding than you might imagine. It has a traditionally restored old town, complete with the chance to ascend the tower of St Bartholomew’s (location for medieval coronations of holy Roman emperors), though with some questionable 1960s embellishments. Among the wealth of attractions in this wealthy city: Goethe’s House, where the national poet was born in 1749.

Goethe could have been talking to football fans when he wrote: “If you’ve never eaten while crying you don’t know what life tastes like.” Cross one of the bridges to go south of the Main and sample ebbelwei – apple wine, a cousin of cider – in Ebbelwoi Unser, where you can also dine on sausage, dumplings and sauerkraut.

Stuttgart (Scotland v Hungary, 23 June)

The capital of Baden-Wurttemberg, a big, prosperous southwestern state, feels different from many other German cities: with hilly surroundings and a sense of space, it is a location for getting out and about. Top attraction: the Mercedes-Benz Museum. But if you want to be alone after the match, try Schloss Solitude, just west of the city.

Could this be Germany’s most amazing bar? Jigger & Spoon is a modern take on the speakeasy bar, two floors below the city streets in the vault of a bank, which you reach by going into the office block at Gymnasiumstrasse 33 and taking the lift down two floors. Somehow it includes a cigar lounge. For dinner, the Stuttgart Rathskeller in the basement of the city hall is unbeatable.

Best of the rest – Simon Calder’s top recommendation for each of the other host cities

The wall may have come down in 1989, but 35 years on, the scars of the division of the German capital are still evident. The Palace of Tears at Friedrichstrasse railway station, where people checked out of East Germany to the West, is now a museum, and provides a profoundly emotional experience.

Controversy drags on about England’s third goal in the 1966 World Cup Final: the German Football Museum even has a special investigation into the linesman’s questionable decision against West Germany, using an interactive media station. Unsurprisingly, there is rather more focus on the occasions when German players won the Weltmeisterschaft (in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014).

The Church of St Nicholas was built in 1874 by the great British architect Gilbert Scott. It was devastated during the Second World War by Allied bombers, but the spire survived and remains one of Europe’s tallest church structures. The crypt contains a small museum commemorating the wartime destruction of Hamburg and the victims of the Third Reich. Nearby, visit Altona Fischmark, the ornate fish market where The Beatles used to breakfast after their all-night shows on the Reeperbahn.

One of Germany’s most rewarding cities owes much of its beauty to the Rhine; a riverside highway is now confined to a tunnel. Take the Weisse Flotte €20 Panorama-Fahrt (no sniggering, please) to appreciate the setting and learn more about the monuments.

In this fine East German city, do mention the Cold War. The Zeitgeschictliches Forum focuses on four decades of state communism. You are taken through the whole sorry story, from the Nazi era via the postwar carve-up of Germany decided in Potsdam, and spy cameras disguised as cigarette packets, to the night in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down.

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The Scottish Parliament to visit the South of Scotland for the first of its 25th anniversary regional events

16 May 2024

The visits, which form part of the Scottish Parliament’s 25th anniversary commemorations, are to hear people’s reflections on the Parliament and their aspirations for its future. They will also reflect on 25 years of devolution and the impact of the Parliament on local communities.

The visit on Monday 20 May has been set up in collaboration with community partners Borders Community Action, Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) and Burnfoot Community Futures.

It will start in the morning with meeting local people at Mac Arts Centre in Galashiels. In the afternoon the visit will move on to Burnfoot Community Futures in Hawick, meeting with parents, children and young people involved in using the centre. The Presiding Officer will be joined by South of Scotland constituency and regional MSPs.

The purpose of the day is to enable local communities to learn more about the work of the Scottish Parliament and for the Scottish Parliament to learn more about what the people of Scotland want from it.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Presiding Officer Rt Hon Alison Johnstone MSP  said:

“In our 25th anniversary year, there will be reflection on what the Parliament has achieved. While that is important, I want the Parliament’s focus to be firmly on the future.

“I want to use this milestone to hear from people in the South of Scotland and all over the country about their aspirations for their Parliament.

“I hope that this visit encourages more people to be inspired to get involved with their Parliament – from a visit or watching a debate online, to giving their views to a committee or contacting their local MSP about issues that are important to them.

“This visit is also an opportunity to highlight the achievements of community groups in the Scottish Borders, whose work provides vital support for many people."

  Juliana Amaral, Chief Executive Officer at Borders Community Action said:

“We are delighted to be part of the round of celebrations of the 25 years of Scottish Parliament in the Scottish Borders. We truly believe that community participation is the cornerstone of a vibrant democracy, and it is part of our role to ensure that the third sector and the voices of those in rural communities who are often overlooked are heard. We look forward to the events and building a stronger relationship with the Scottish Parliament, so we can ensure our communities' insights are valued and heard. Together, we can collaborate with a Scottish Parliament that truly represents and serves all its people.”

Zoe Hall, Chair at Burnfoot Community Futures said:

“We are delighted to welcome the Presiding Officer, Parliamentary staff and MSPs to our hub here in Burnfoot. Like many communities in Scotland, we are experiencing challenging times and we look forward to focussing on how the Parliament can work alongside our community to achieve a fairer and wealthier future.”

Lynn Molleson, Development Officer at DTAS said:

“At DTAS, we are proud to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our community anchor members throughout Scotland. In these times of poly-crisis (financial, climate and health-related) the work of our members has never been more needed and our network is growing.

“As we look back on 25 years of having a Scottish Parliament we can celebrate legislation that actively supports greater community empowerment and gives a route map for increased community ownership and community wealth building. We also welcome the opportunity to reflect on what communities need from their Parliament to best assure a fairer, more equitable future.”

The South of Scotland visit is the first of eight planned events across Scotland for the Presiding Officer to listen to communities about the issues they care about and encourage more people to join in with the work of the Scottish Parliament, as it marks 25 years.

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Breaking news, the worldwide drive to clamp down on free speech is doomed to backfire.

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The House of Representatives voted to make the slogan "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" illegal at colleges.

“Palestine will be free!” chant the protesters. “From the river to the sea.”

Some says that’s a call for genocide — another holocaust — elimination of Israel and all Jews.

So, should the chant be illegal?

The House of Representatives just voted to make it illegal at universities. Both Republicans and Democrats voted for the bill.

Canadian politicians go further. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants people “advocating genocide” sentenced to life in prison.

“We’re a laboratory of bad ideas,” says Canadian Ezra Levant.

Levant, founder of Rebel News, asks, “Who’s going to determine who’s going to be prosecuted? A law like that gives a politician the chance to criminalize his peaceful opponent!”

Canadian politicians already do that.

“I wrote a [critical] book about Justin Trudeau,” says Levant, “a knockoff of ‘The Sopranos.’ I called it ‘The Libranos’ because he’s with the Liberal Party. He hated that book. . . and so, I was prosecuted.”

Levant was called before investigators working a government organization that polices “unregistered political advertising,”

“They fined me,” he says. “Five years later, I’m still in court over a book that criticized Justin Trudeau.”

“Canadians must like this,” I tell him. “Trudeau gets reelected.”

“A lot of Canadians and Americans and Brits,” he sighs, “want a net nanny — for the other guy.”

Brazil already has that.

A judge there recently ordered X to block the Twitter accounts of people who support the former Brazilian president.

Elon Musk refused.

He said, “We will probably lose all revenue in Brazil and have to shut down our office there. But principles matter more than profit.”

Good for Musk.

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A new law in Scotland says “misgendering” someone , like calling a trans woman “he,” can get you seven years in jail.

“Freedom of speech and belief are at an end,” responded “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling.

The day Scotland’s new law took effect, she intentionally broke it by misgendering people on Twitter, saying, “I look forward to being arrested.”

By law, she should have been.

Last year, British police arrested thousands of people for “spreading hate” on the Internet.  

“J.K. Rowling has the wealth to fight a strong defense,” Levant points out. “She and Elon Musk are the two people in the world who have done more to stop cancel culture.”

Being “canceled” shouldn’t be an issue in America.

Our First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.”

Should that “River to the Sea” House bill become law, it would be something new.

Americans have mixed feelings about free speech.

A RealClearPolitics poll reports that 61% believe government should restrict hateful posts.

Yikes. Government?

Will the party in power get to decide what’s “hateful”?

“I don’t think you reduce hate when you police it in that way,” says Levant. “The ability to speak the truth is a more pressing value. Even if we’re going to hurt a feeling, even if we’re going to upset the apple cart, that’s what freedom of speech means. It trumps other values. Give people that peaceful outlet for their grievance.”

“If you cork them up, if you don’t let them have the safety valve of free speech, they’ll explode in another way, possibly including violence. . . . Free speech is a preventive mechanism that prevents an escalation of problems.”

I agree. It’s good that so far, American police say their campus arrests are for trespassing or property damage, not words.

I don’t agree with what most of the demonstrators say.

But I’ll defend their right to say it.

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Scotland at EURO 2024: Fixtures, stats, coach, tickets

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Article summary

Scotland will face Germany, Switzerland and Hungary in Group A.

Article top media content

John McGinn and Stuart Armstrong celebrate a Scotland goal

Article body

What group will scotland be in at euro 2024.

Scotland have been drawn in Group A alongside Germany, Switzerland and Hungary.

Scotland's Group A fixtures

vs Germany (Munich, 14 June, 21:00) vs Switzerland (Cologne, 19 June, 21:00) vs Hungary (Stuttgart, 23 June, 21:00)

Who is Scotland coach?

A highly popular figure, Steve Clarke gained managerial experience at West Bromwich Albion, Reading and Kilmarnock before being given the Scotland job in May 2019. He led his side to their first EURO finals since 1996 after they qualified for EURO 2020 via the play-offs, but they finished bottom of Group D. However, a highly impressive qualification campaign means that they will now go into EURO 2024 full of confidence that they can improve on their performance from three years ago.

How did Scotland qualify for EURO 2024?

Group A runners-up: P8 W5 D2 L1 F17 A8 Clarke's side were confirmed as finals contenders after Norway failed to pick up three points at home to Spain on 15 October. Scotland have qualified for back-to-back EUROs, having been eliminated after the group stage in all three finals appearances. They have not won a game at the tournament since EURO '96.

Scotland's EURO pedigree

Previous EUROs : 3, most recently EURO 2020 EURO best : Group stage (1992, 1996, 2020) EURO 2020 : Group stage

Scotland EURO stats

Most final tournament appearances.

6 : Andy Goram 6 : Gary McAllister 6 : Stuart McCall

Most final tournament goals

1 : Brian McClair 1 : Paul McStay 1 : Ally McCoist 1 : Gary McAllister 1 : Callum McGregor

Scotland tickets for EURO 2024

The latest UEFA EURO 2024 ticket information can be found here.

All times CET

Selected for you

Scotland: EURO records and stats

Scotland: EURO records and stats

EURO contenders: Germany

EURO contenders: Germany

EURO contenders: Hungary

EURO contenders: Hungary

EURO contenders: Switzerland

EURO contenders: Switzerland

We've refreshed our website design so things may look a little different if you've been here before. We'll be making more improvements soon so watch this space.

8 Places You Must-Visit in 2024

If you’ve ever wondered what the best places are to visit in Scotland each season, you’re in the right place. These Scottish gems have huge amounts to offer and several of them have exciting things to shout about across the year in 2024.

where to visit scotland

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, Caithness

© VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

where to visit scotland

Tobermory on the Isle of Mull

Weather: June, July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with average maximum temperatures ranging from approximately 15-17°C (or 59-63 °F).

where to visit scotland

Tiree Wave Classic Windsurfing Competition, The Isle Of Tiree

Argyll & The Isles

Location: West coast of central Scotland with islands lying off the coast.

As summer and the warmer weather arrives it’s the perfect time to explore Scotland’s magical islands. Head to the west coast where Argyll & The Isles awaits with an enticing range of things to see and do, family-friendly activities, attractions, watersports and more.

Explore from the Isle of Tiree  renowned for its surfing and the Isle of Jura known for its mountains and wild deer, to a wealth of whisky and distilleries on Islay  and the Isle of Mull with the famous town of Tobermory lined with colourful houses and shops.

Start your journey on the mainland where you’ll be greeted by friendly locals, Scottish culture, the sunny outdoors and delectable seafood to sink your teeth into. Perch yourself on a bench or grassy spot overlooking the sea to enjoy your seafood of choice whilst you soak in the sun.

Oban is an ideal harbour to base yourself if you’re looking to explore the local islands. The summer months see a range of wildlife and boat tours leaving from the port, so you’ve got plenty on your doorstep. Hop on a ferry to the surrounding islands of Lismore, Kerrera and Mull for an exciting day trip, or to extend your trip further with a stay on some of the islands.

Explore Argyll & The Isles

where to visit scotland

Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate, Banchory

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Got time for two destinations?


Location: North coast of eastern Scotland.

If you’re a fan of castles a sunny day is the perfect time to see them in all their glory, and if it rains it creates a dramatic atmosphere you won’t find elsewhere. Home to more than 260 castles, stately homes and ruins Aberdeenshire really is a playground for exploring the history of the region, and of Scotland as a whole. Scotland’s Castle Trail takes you around 19 of the most famous castles in Aberdeenshire, from the coastal Dunnottar Castle and the fairytale Crathes Castle , to the grand Castle Fraser and the picturesque Tolquhon Castle .

Elsewhere, head off on an adventure to see what else the region has in store. From walking trails and driving routes with magnificent scenic views, to heritage trails, Munro bagging and wildlife spotting, you’ve got plenty of choice to keep the whole family entertained.

Visit Aberdeenshire

where to visit scotland

The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry

Weather: In the autumn, Scotland is likely to experience temperatures ranging from around 8-15°C (46-59°F) from September to November.

where to visit scotland

River Garry

Location: Southern areas of the Highlands.

Autumn is arguably one of the most beautiful times of the year in Scotland thanks to our abundance of lush forests, woodlands and mountains. There are plenty of places to see the stunning colours of the leaves change throughout the season, but Perthshire is often picked as a special spot.

Also known as ‘Big Tree Country’, it is home to countless forests where you can soak up the autumnal atmosphere on a woodland wander. A great way to experience Perthshire is at night. Book tickets for the Enchanted Forest which takes places throughout October in Pitlochry with illuminated trails, light displays and installations.

If that’s not enough, autumn is the perfect time to pick your own pumpkins. Whether you’re a budding chef and love to cook up a storm with seasonal produce, a young artist that loves pumpkin carving, or if you’re looking for an extra addition your autumnal décor, head to a local farm to pick your own pumpkins. Broadslap Fruit Farm and South Ardbennie Farm & Pumpkin Patch offer a great family day out.

Why not take that farm experience a step further with a farm stay? Get back to nature and make friends with all the local farm animals with cosy self-catering cottages, rustic accommodation and more. Guardswell Farm offers an eco-friendly getaway with a chance to properly switch off, Blairmore Farm is a working farm with a range of cottages to choose from, and Springfield Farm Bothies gives you that rural escape with a touch of luxury. Explore more farm stays in Perthshire .

Visit Perthshire

where to visit scotland

Professional mountain biker Ruaridh Cunningham at 7stanes, Innerleithen

Scottish Borders

Location: South east of central Scotland.

The Scottish Borders also boasts family-friendly farm experiences. Head to Jacksons at Jedburgh where you can meet the hairy Highland cows, help to feed the newborn lambs, enjoy self-guided walks, and the wee ones can let off energy in the play areas too. Elsewhere, Hillhouse Farm Escapes in Lauder is a quaint and peaceful location offering welcoming self-catering cottages to cosy into surrounded by rolling hills, walking trails and cycle paths.

Why not get outdoors on two wheels this autumn? This corner of Scotland is a haven for cyclists, with miles of cycle trails and paths that loop their way around the vast countryside. Explore the hidden spots of the area, as well as soaking up the stunning views that stretch as far as the eye can see.

If you prefer something at a faster pace, there are plenty of mountain biking opportunities here too. Head to one of three 7Stanes Mountain Biking Centres in the Scottish Borders - Newcastleton, Innerleithen and Glentress - where you can test your skills on the range of routes, or if you’re a newbie there’s plenty of beginner trails too.

Explore the Scottish Borders

Skiing on Cairngorm Mountain

Skiing on Cairngorm Mountain

© VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

Weather: December, January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the average maximum temperature usually around 5°C (41°F).

where to visit scotland

The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd

The Highlands

Location: Mountainous area in the north west.

Nothing says Scotland more than a snowy winter escape in the Highlands. An area that’s on almost every Scottish explorer’s must-visit list is the jaw-dropping landscapes of the Highlands. Whether it’s the iconic Isle of Skye, the magnificent Cairngorms National Park , or admiring the whales and dolphins playing in the waters off the Moray Speyside coast, you’ve got plenty to choose from for a winter getaway in the Highlands.

The Highlands offer up the perfect playground for every outdoor enthusiast. With all types of terrain and weather conditions there’s a wealth of activities you can get involved in. There’s skiing and snowboarding paradise here with 5 resorts close by and plenty of snowfall if the temperature is right. Munro baggers will be in their element with hundreds of peaks to choose from. Just make sure you’ve got all the right equipment with you. If scaling a peak isn’t for you then there are plenty of low level woodland walks and trails you can follow that look magical in the snow.

After a day in the outdoors, treat yourself to a slow and relaxing festive period with a luxury or spa stay in the Highlands. With spectacular views everywhere you look and the chance of snow dancing outside your window, you’re in for a tranquil time before the new year starts.

Make sure you add a few hidden gems to your itinerary too. Badenoch is a trip into the history and heritage of the region with fascinating stories of the land and people to uncover. Near Inverness you’ll find Nairn . Did you know this seaside town is one of the sunniest and driest places in Scotland? Don’t forget the West Highland Peninsula - full of rugged, untouched landscapes and the perfect conditions for stargazing in the night sky, it’s a must-do!

Explore more in the Scottish Highlands

where to visit scotland

Stargazing in the Mull of Galloway

Dumfries & Galloway

Location: South west of central Scotland.

Speaking of stargazing , Dumfries & Galloway is one of the best places in Scotland to see the twinkling night sky in action. With rural locations away from the light pollution of cities, people often spot shooting stars, constellations and other planets here. If you’re looking for a winter getaway, you’re spoilt for choice on places to stay, from family-run B&Bs, quaint cottages, glamping treehouses and more.

The area is a great place for walking too, with the Southern Upland Way and dozens of locals walks on your doorstep, you can choose from lots of short and sweet strolls, or challenge yourself with the longer walking routes. If you want to see the sights but don’t fancy the walk, explore the South West Coastal 300 driving route which takes you on a loop around the regions starting and finishing in Dumfries, or head along the Galloway Tourist Route from Gretna to Ayr. You’ll pass ancient abbeys, coastal lighthouses, grand castles and more along the way.

Visit Dumfries & Galloway

Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Scotland’s must-visit destinations. These were just a few of the best places to visit across the seasons but the adventures don’t stop here. Where will you go next?

Weather: you can expect average maximum temperatures to range from approximately 7-13°C (or 45°-55°F) during the months of March, April and May.

where to visit scotland

Leven Links Golf Course in the Kingdom of Fife.

© Fife Council / Airborne Lens

Location: East of Scotland, across the Firth of Forth north of Edinburgh.

As spring comes into full bloom it’s the perfect time to admire Scotland’s blossoming outdoors and dig your teeth into the natural larder which is now becoming ready for harvest.

In Fife you can visit a variety of farms that offer a family-friendly ‘pick your own’ experience, with a range of produce to choose from as well as farm shops with homemade goods, freshly grown fruits and vegetables and more to buy and take home. It’s a great way to get back to nature with the wee ones.  Pittormie Fruit Farm , Cairnie Fruit Farm , and Pillars of Hercules are just a few of the farms you can head out to visit. Make sure to check ahead for what produce is available at each farm before you head off.

Fife also boasts the perfect landscape for seaside and beach activities . With miles of coastline, sandy beaches, hidden bays and more, you can put the spring weather to the test with a cool dip in the sea, or relax on the shores with an afternoon of making sandcastles. Leven East Beach , Elie Harbour , and Aberdour Silversands are just a few beaches that are worth a visit.

Alongside stunning coastal locations, you can find a range of pretty fishing towns and villages that are full of character and are home to many cafés, restaurants and eateries to enjoy too. Why not explore Crail , Anstruther or Burntisland ?

Fife is also the place to be if you’re a golfing enthusiast. Home to more golf courses than anywhere else in Scotland, it’s the perfect destination for the beginners and pros alike. From the iconic Old Course in St Andrews and Kingsbarns Golf Links to Aberdour Golf Club and Leven Links Golf Course , you’ve got plenty of choice, all of which boast incredible views to admire whilst you tee off.

Plan your trip to the Kingdom of Fife

where to visit scotland

Duncansby Stacks, Wick

© markmcgeephotos

Caithness & Sutherland

Location: Furthest north area of mainland Scotland.

If you’re looking for more outdoor adventures and rustic towns and villages, why not explore Caithness & Sutherland? The far north of the Highlands calls to the avid explorers and hikers as the spring weather and warm sun brings the landscape to life after the winter.

This vast area of beautiful Scottish scenery offers a trip back in time with a history lesson or two about the land and people. Visit the most northern point, John O’Groats, as well as a number of ancient sites and attractions, such as Dunrobin Castle , Smoo Cave , The Castle & Gardens of Mey , and Wick Heritage Museum .

This region recently won an award in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Destinations of 2024 and once you’re here, you’ll easily see why! If you head north by train, the scenic route winds its way through the Flow Country – the most extensive blanket bog system in the world.

This incredible area stretches across Caithness and Sutherland, comprising an array of ecosystems, flora, fauna, and plays a vital part in the fight against climate change.

Learn more about travelling to Caithness & Sutherland

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    Edinburgh Castle is a true icon of Scotland and has dominated the skyline of the capital for centuries. Unusually, it's set atop an extinct volcano. It takes the title of Scotland's most-visited paid-for attraction. Similar places to explore: Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Falkland Palace.

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    11. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. Scotland's first national park and one of the country's most popular destinations. Considered one of the most scenic parts of the country, The Trossachs National Park and Loch Lomond are some of the most popular places to visit in Scotland.

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    The largest of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye is an absolutely mesmerizing Scotland destination with lots of things to see and do.Its striking landscape is filled with soaring emerald-covered mountains, dramatic sea cliffs that touch down to seashell-strewn stretches of sand, unique rock formations and waterfalls almost everywhere you look, some of which plunge into the turquoise waters ...

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    Yeah, we have more than 460 museums and galleries. Of course, we have internationally-renowned, national performance companies. However, we're also an amazing hotbed of new and emerging music, home to one of the largest concert venues in the UK and have a well-earned reputation for putting on a party and having a great time. Learn more about ...

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    With more time, slow down and linger in the Highlands. Stretch out your visit by adding an overnight in Glencoe (more time for hiking) and/or Wester Ross (more scenery). If you do the NC-500 driving loop around the north of Scotland, it's well worth adding a night (or two) on the Orkney Islands.

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    Dunnottar is one of the most recognisable castles in Scotland. Perched on the cliff edge of the North Sea, it boasts a dramatic and evocative atmosphere with centuries of history. Marvel at the intricate details and amazing condition of the castle, alongside the incredible panoramic views out to sea. 2.

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    There are a range of guided and self-guided audio tours you can take to see the royal palace's great halls and kitchens, chapel, and regimental museum. From the castle walls, you can see Stirling Bridge, the site of William Wallace's 13 th-century victory over the English. Just below the castle is Stirling Old Town. It is a virtually intact ...

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    The previous record for international visits was in 2018 when Scotland welcomed 3.7 million overseas tourists. This means that in 2023, Scotland was the only UK nation or region to surpass 2019 levels. The main purpose of international visitors trips to Scotland last year was for a holiday (2.5 million visits).

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    New figures have revealed that Scotland welcomed its highest number of international visitors ever last year. The 2023 International Passenger Survey by the Office of National Statistics showed almost four million overseas tourists came to Scotland last year - an increase of 15% on 2019 levels - with spend also up 41%.. The previous record for international visits was in 2018, when Scotland ...

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    The visit on Monday 20 May has been set up in collaboration with community partners Borders Community Action, Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) and Burnfoot Community Futures. It will start in the morning with meeting local people at Mac Arts Centre in Galashiels.

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    Scotland has an incredible variety of places to visit. From historic castles to whisky distilleries, wildlife farms to museums and galleries. Plan a day out or longer break with these great visitor attractions in Scotland. Experience Scotland's stories, including our rich history, scientific discoveries and cultural landmarks.

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    The day Scotland's new law took effect, she intentionally broke it by misgendering people on Twitter, saying, "I look forward to being arrested." ... see also J.K. Rowling, transgenderism ...

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    This vast area of beautiful Scottish scenery offers a trip back in time with a history lesson or two about the land and people. Visit the most northern point, John O'Groats, as well as a number of ancient sites and attractions, such as Dunrobin Castle, Smoo Cave, The Castle & Gardens of Mey, and Wick Heritage Museum.