44 Wonderful places to visit around Scotland

quiraing

Castles, coastlines, enchanting history & landscapes, browse some wonderful places to visit around ‘bonnie’ Scotland.

1. Barra

Kismiul Castle

One of the famed Outer Hebrides, the island of Barra is also one of the most southerly of the Western Isles.

Read More – Outer Hebrides – 7 Beautiful Islands you need to visit

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

Luskentyre Beach

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.

Read More – Outer Hebrides – 7 Beautiful Islands you need to visit

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.

3. Eriskay

Eriskay beach

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.

4. Skye

The Storr Skye

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.

5. Colonsay

Colonsay beach

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

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.

7. Arran

Machrie Standing Stones

‘Scotland in Miniature’ itself, Arran on the Firth of Clyde is the very best of the country distilled down into one magnificent island.

Read More – ‘Scotland in Miniature’ – The Wonders of Arran

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

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.

9. Staffa

Staffa

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).

Read More – Inner Hebrides Tour – 6 Glorious Scottish islands visited

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

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

Glenfinnan Viaduct

A symbol of the Scottish Highlands, Glenfinnan Viaduct is a fantastic highlight during a journey along the scenic West Highland Line.

Read More – Admire the Highlands during an irresistible Scottish Steam Break

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

Urquhart Castle

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

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.

Read More – Orkney – 11 Incredible places to visit

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

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.

15. Islay

Soldier’s Rock

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

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.

During August, the castle hosts one of the world’s greatest shows – the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo!

17. Iona

Iona Abbey

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.

18. Lerwick

Up Helly Aa

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.

19. Jarlshof

Jarlshof

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

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

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

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

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.

24. Tobermory

Tobermory

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

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.

26. Jura

Jura

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

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

Dunvegan Castle, seat of the clan MacLeod, and its accompanying gardens dates back to medieval times.

This amazing fortress has been the home of the 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

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.

30. Dumfries House

Dumfries House

Set in around 2000 acres, stately Dumfries House is one of Scotland’s grandest homes.

Famous for its beautiful gardens and furniture collection, this stunning home and estate date sback to the 18th century.

Inside, look out for wonderful pieces of Thomas Chippendale furniture. Out in the gardens, stop by the maze and Asia-inspired Tranquil Bridge.

31. Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle

With 189 rooms, Dunrobin Castle is one of the largest stately homes in the Northern Highlands.

Famous for its stunning gardens, Dunrobin Castle overlooks the Moray Firth.

Dating back to the 1300s, the house is one of the country’s oldest continuously inhabited houses.

32. The Hermitage

The Hermitage

A beautiful stretch of woodland, head to Perthshire to experience the Hermitage. Take to paths leading to a waterfall, Ossian’s Hall, a totem pole and past towering Douglas fir trees.

33. Castle of Mey

Castle of Mey

Once a royal residence, the Castle of Mey was the Queen Mother’s home in Caithness.

Close to John o’ Groats, the castle and grounds offer fantastic (on a clear day!) views of the Orkney Islands. We recommend climbing the castle tower for the best views possible.

34. Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave

Set in limestone cliffs, Smoo Cave is located in Sutherland. Accessible by boat or a path leading from a car park, the cave is one of Scotland’s most impressive natural highlights.

At 50 ft high, the cave entrance is one of the largest in Britain!

35. Isle of May

Isle of May

Out on the Firth of Forth, the Isle of May is home to seals, seabirds and an intriguing smuggling past.

During a visit, catch sight of nesting seabirds including puffin and learn about the island’s colourful history.

36. Kilmartin Glen

Kilmartin Glen

Discover over 500 years of Scottish history at Kilmartin Glen, home to a collection of standing stones, stone circles, historic cairns and carved rock.

Lying between Lochgilphead and Oban, the glen has over 300 ancient moments to see during your visit.

37. Duncansby Sea Stacks

Duncansby Sea Stacks

Just off the shore off Duncansby Head, admire impressive sea stacks rising high out of the North Sea. Spikey, pre-historic-looking, these are one of Scotland’s great natural wonders.

Close by, the local lighthouse has warned vessels since the end of WWII.

38. Handa

Handa

A bird haven, the remote island of Handa is famous for its breath-taking cliffs.

Puffin, guillemots and razorbills use the island as a breeding site. Just off the shoreline, look out for minke whales, grey seals and bottlenose dolphins.

39. Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow

During the First World War, Scapa Flow was the base for a number of Warships patrolling the North Sea, fighting in some horrendous naval battles with the German Empire.

At the conclusion of the war, German ships were scuttled here, turning this famous body of water into a diving paradise.

There are also some British ships scuttled here alongside their former rivals. At certain points, you can visibly see rusted parts of vessels jutting out above the waterline.

Today, there is a visitor centre going into detail about the history of this former Naval Base, allowing you to get up close to some old Naval weaponry – thankfully long out of commission!

Browse exhibitions inside an old former fuel tank that could at one time accommodate several thousand litres of crucial fuel for ships that were once great feats of engineering.

40. Glen Coe

Glen Coe

One Scotland’s most beautiful places, Glen Coe has been immortalised in the silver screen by films including Skyfall and the Harry Potter franchise.

The road through this famous glen is one of the world’s great journeys, steep valley rising high either side as you drive through.

41. Kilchurn Castle

Kilchurn Castle

Standing at the head of Loch Awe, the ruins of Kilchurn Castle attract visitors from all over the world.

A great photo opportunity, the castle was originally constructed during the 1400s.

42. Gigha

Gigha

The most southerly of the Outer Hebrides, Gigha welcomes visitors with beautiful sandy beaches and lovely views.

A key island attraction, Achamore is one of Scotland’s great gardens, created by Colonel Sir James Horlick in the late 1940s.

Throughout, admire a vast collection of Rhododendron and Camellia thriving in Gigha’s generous climate.

43. Royal Botanic Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens

Dating back to the 17th century’s the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh contains a huge collection of plants from around the world.

Set in over 70 acres, garden highlights include the Alpine Houses, the Arboretum, Rock Garden and Woodland Garden.

44. Scone Palace

Scone Palace

Once the crowning place of Scottish kings, Scone Palace is one of the country’s most important landmarks.

During a visit, admire beautiful gardens and the follow in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots, Macbeth, Robert the Bruce and others.

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‘Scotland in Miniature’ – The Wonders of Arran

Outer Hebrides – 7 Beautiful Islands you need to visit

Orkney – 11 Incredible places to visit


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