Castles, coastlines, enchanting history & landscapes, here 29 wonderful places to visit around ‘bonnie’ Scotland to consider adding to the bucket list.
One of the famed Outer Hebrides, the island of Barra is also one of the most southerly of the Western Isles.
Connected to neighbouring Vatersay via a causeway, Barra offers up a wonderful coastline home to splendid beaches with medieval Kisimul Castle set on its own rock out in Castle Bay.
2. Lewis and Harris
The Largest of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and one of the biggest in the entire British Isles, Lewis and Harris is full of Scottish wonder and a key stop during any Hebridean adventure.
Exploring the island (separated in two parts), monumental Scottish landmarks to look out for include the ancient monoliths known as the Standing Stones of Callanish, Gearrannan Blackhouse Village and beautiful Luskentyre Beach, perhaps one of the country’s finest.
Reached via Barra or South Uist, the remote island of Eriskay and its pristine white sandy beaches are forever associated with the film ‘Whisky Galore!’.
Based on true events that saw a ship holding valuable whisky cargo strike rocks to the north, tales of locals saving the crew and reportedly salvaging the precious cargo have captured the imagination of visitors for well over half a century.
The Isle of Skye is home to a collection of spectacular sights, many of which have been immortalised on biscuit tins and postcards sent around the world.
Alongside the towering Cullin Hills, further magical landmarks to look out for throughout this walker’s paradise include the striking Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, Dunvegan Castle, the views at Neist Point and the wonderfully blue Fairy Pools.
Out exploring the charm of Islay and Jura, Colonsay is just a stone’s throw away (or short ferry ride).
When ‘in Rome’ we thoroughly recommend undertaking the journey to this characterful Scottish Isle, it will be well worth the effort.
One of the most remote places in the UK, the island’s coastline has a number of beautiful beaches to enjoy with the vast collection of rhododendron at Colonsay House Gardens home another major tourist draw, particularly amongst those with a passion for gardening.
6. Eilean Donan Castle
Immortalised on film throughout the years, Eilean Donan Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic sights.
Standing on its very own tidal island resting at the point where three lochs meet, Eilean Donan Castle is close to the village of Dornie.
With its own colourful history intertwined with the Jacobite risings, this key Scottish landmark is located on the main route eventually leading on to the Isle of Skye.
‘Scotland in Miniature’ itself, Arran on the Firth of Clyde is the very best of the country distilled down into one magnificent island.
Whether learning about Scotland’s best-known export at the local distillery, wandering out into the great outdoors or paying a visit to Brodick Castle under the shadow of towering Goat Fell, Arran is a treasure trove of memorable experiences.
8. Loch Katrine
Beautiful Loch Katrine is tucked away in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.
Surrounded by Scottish wilderness holding strong ties to the tales of Rob Roy McGregor, visitors can take to the water aboard the SS Sir Walter Scott steamship, named after the famous Scot.
The uninhabited Inner Hebridean island of Staffa, named by Vikings, is an amazing basalt pillar island.
The island’s huge basalt columns and caves have attracted tourists for centuries (including Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott).
Arriving via short ferry ride and stepping ashore, visitors can explore some of the more accessible parts of the island, keeping an eye out for local wildlife including Puffins during the warmer months.
Celebrated for its natural acoustics, a venture into Fingal’s Cave is a fantastic Staffa highlight.
10. Treshnish Isles
A short jaunt to the Treshnish Isles is one of the greatest wildlife experiences Scotland has to offer.
Following the coastline of this small yet charming archipelago, visitors can admire a diverse collection of wildlife including otters and seals.
Nestled on cliffs, chances are high for those with a keen eye (or a set of binoculars!) to witness Atlantic Puffins, Guilliemots and Kittiwakes out enjoying the Scottish sunshine.
11. Glenfinnan Viaduct
A symbol of the Scottish Highlands, Glenfinnan Viaduct is a fantastic highlight during a journey along the scenic West Highland Line.
Looking out across Loch Shiel, this amazing feat of Victorian engineering is in close to the point where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard, starting the Jacobite rising in 1745.
12. Loch Ness
Lore reaching all corners of the world suggests that a mysterious creature resides in Loch Ness.
Close to the city of Inverness, this famous freshwater loch attracts visitors from all over the world.
Over 700ft at its deepest point, you will be hard-pressed searching for the elusive ‘Nessie’.
However, a walk along the shoreline and an exploration for Urquhart Castle are reason enough to visit one of the country’s most scenic locations.
13. Ring of Brodgar
The mythical Ring of Brodgar lies in the heart of Neolithic Orkney – one of four UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites in Scotland.
Holding a crucial role in lost ritual ceremonies originally performed thousands of years ago, a degree of mystery still surrounds this famous site to this day.
14. Loch Lomond
Alongside Loch Katrine (highlighted earlier), Loch Lomond is one of the UK’s best-known lakes.
Surrounded by woodland and the most southerly Munro in Scotland – Ben Lomond – the loch is one of the most visited attractions in Scotland thanks to its close proximity to Glasgow.
Famously once home to the ‘Lord of the Isles’ who once ruled the Hebrides, Islay is celebrated around the world for its whisky and coastline.
Enjoy lovely beaches, catch sight of the local wildlife and admire the staggering Soldier’s Rock sea stack (pictured).
16. Edinburgh Castle
Resting atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most photographed places in the world.
Found at the top of Royal Mile, the oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century.
Looking out across the capital, the views are spectacular from this famous fortress.
Key sights include the Water Scott Monument, Arthur’s Seat and, off into the distance, the three bridges crossing the River Forth.
Often referred to as the ‘cradle of Scottish Christianity’, the car-free island of Iona is the perfect place for a stroll.
Follow the coastline, enjoy the beaches and pay a visit to Iona Abbey during your time on the island.
The capital of the Shetland Isles, the port of Lerwick hosts the grand finale of Up Helly Aa Fire Festival each January.
Welcoming the year and signalling the lengthening of the days, the festival nods to Shetland’s Viking heritage in spectacular fashion.
This ancient Bronze Age settlement is of huge archaeological importance.
Carefully excavated, visitors are transported back in time, gaining a sense of Shetland life practised thousands of years ago.
20. Hermaness Nature Reserve
The most northerly point in the UK, bird haven Hermaness Nature Reserve is a must-visit during time on Shetland.
Following walkways leading through this extremely precious landscape, a fantastic variety of birds are often spotted nesting on dramatic cliffs including fulmars, gulls and kittiwakes.
21. Scalloway Castle
On the Shetland mainland, 16th century Scalloway Castle lies in the former capital.
Right on the harbour front, Patrick Stewart, earl of Orkney and Shetland, once resided in this famous castle – one of the two found throughout the entire Shetland Isles.
22. Eshaness Cliffs
A beautiful scenic spot on Shetland, the cliffs at Eshaness have been shaped by the sheer force of the North Atlantic. Looking out into the deep blue, the next major landmass is the Faroe Islands.
Visitors here can follow a circular walking route along the coastline starting at historic Eshaness Lighthouse.
23. Skara Brae
A key place to visit on Orkney, the remarkably preserved prehistoric village of Skara Brae was once home to some of the UK’s first-ever farmers living off the land thousands of years ago.
The colourful port of Tobermory is, for many, the perfect introduction to Mull.
Brightly painted buildings line the waterfront that you can wander along, fish and chips in hand, enjoying the weather and fine views looking out across to the UK mainland.
25. Duart Castle
Close to Tobermory, Duart Castle, seat of Clan MacLean sheds light on over 800 years of local history.
Lovingly restored in the early 20th century, the castle charts the history of the clan and island.
Once home to George Orwell of ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’ fame, Jura is actually where the novelist wrote the celebrated dystopian look at future society.
True Scottish wilderness awaits visitors exploring the small Inner Hebridean gem dominated by the towering ‘Paps of Jura’.
27. Standing Stones of Callanish
Another mythical Scottish point of interest, the carefully arranged Standing Stones of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis date back to the Bronze Age.
Hosting ritual activity thousands of years ago, this eye-catching landmark is a must-experience.
28. Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle, seat of the clan MacLeod, and its accompanying gardens dates back to medieval times.
This amazing fortress has been the home of MacLeod family for over 800 years.
Restored in the 19th century, different architectural features were added through the years, giving the castle a unique look and feel inside as you explore centuries of Scottish history.
29. Drumlanrig Castle
Dumfries & Galloways Drumlanrig Castle is set within a lovely estate stretching over 100,00 acres.
First constructed in the 17th century, visitors can choose to explore themselves or in the company of experts providing insight into the fascinating natural history of the estate.