There’s a whole heap of amazing things to do in Scotland! Being able to dive right into the historic charm of Edinburgh, the beautiful natural landscapes that are perfect for hiking, and the gorgeous westerly islands that scatter the country’s edge, makes Scotland one of my favourite places to explore.
Honestly, there’ll never be enough time to discover all of Scotland 😭 but there’s no harm in trying! I spent a good six years, or so, in Scotland for university and it really was the best place to study. As you can imagine, that notable saying, ‘all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy’ came to be my motto, providing me with ample excuses to hop in the car and criss-cross this beautiful country.
Take a look at my ultimate road trip map of things to see in Scotland, below. Don’t feel obliged to solely follow the route, hop into the ones you like… oh and take note of Shetland (you’ll need a ferry to get across to here). See my full list on my map, below.
Swipe left or right over the map to reveal more
1.) Shetland Islands
The Shetland Isles are a beautiful place to visit whilst exploring Scotland. Either take the boat from the mainland or leave the car and fly, whatever you choose, I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the charming Shetland Islands! Plan your visit alongside the historic Up Helly Aa Viking festival. Imagine lots of flames, hoards of Vikings and lots of fun!
The sprawling hamlet of less the 40 houses is the perfect place to for an idyllic Scottish getaway, not least because of its beautiful beach. Its soft, white, sandy beach is most definitely a great reason to visit, rent a small stone cottage and spend a few days living in this peaceful region of Scotland.
3.) Loch Ness
Yup, that monster has still not been found! Head over to Loch ness to see if you can spot the grizzly beast for yourself. Make sure to also visit Urquhart Castle that’s around 20 miles away from Inverness and don’t forget to try some traditional Scottish foods whilst you’re in the area.
Near the village of Crathie, Balmoral is a Royal estate that the Queen regularly uses to this day. Make sure to spend half a day discovering its beautiful history and sprawling estate. Balmoral Castle is open to us public between April and July every year, so plan your visit around this.
5.) Dornie (Eilean Donan Castle)
Arguably, one of the prettiest castles in Scotland the Eilean Donan Castle is well worth a visit. Nowadays, the castle is open to the public to see inside and discover its history. Just remember to visit between April and December (it closes to the public for the first 3 months of the year).
6.) The Isle of Skye
Known for it’s wild and rugged landscapes, the Isle of Skye is easily reached by the bridge that connects it to the mainland of Scotland. Take the car, swim in the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle and grab a bite to eat at the Three Chimneys restaurant to sample some top-notch Skye cuisine.
The Cairngorms is a large mountain range and a national park that is situated in the eastern Highlands of Scotland. Keep your eyes peeled for the magnificent Red Deer stags and the soaring ospreys that call this region home. In the winter months, you can even ski if the conditions are right!
Pitlochry is a gem of a place, that is filled with gorgeous little villages and beautiful landscapes. Make sure to drive to Queens View and grab a bite to eat in the Fern Cottage Resturant that sits quaintly in a stone cottage on Ferry Road.
Carnoustie is a small town around 20 minutes drive from the city of Dundee and well worth a visit. Pack your golf clubs and swing some shots at Carnoustie Golf Links, visit Barry Mill and enjoy the sandy beaches that line the town.
10.) St. Andrews
My favourite town in all of Scotland! St. Andrews is such a beautiful little place to visit. Take a wander through some of the historic buildings that make up the town and the university and spot the famous hawthorn (inside the University’s ancient St Mary’s Quadrangle) that has stood for almost 500 years and was believed to have been planted by Mary Queen of Scots, herself.
Apart from the fact that Anstruther has one of the best fish and chip shops in Scotland, it’s also a gorgeous little fishing village that’s perched on the seafront of the Kingdom of Fife. Take a drive down the coast from St. Andrews (around 30 minutes) and spend a few hours enjoying its charming seafront (with a big bag of fish and chips, naturally).
Stirling is famed for having one of the country’s largest (and impressive) castles in all of Scotland. Spend an afternoon discovering more about its history and make sure to spot the William Wallace Tower, too.
Falkirk is a relatively large town in Scotland that is around an hour or so from Edinburgh. Take your car, visit the beautiful Kelpies sculpture and see the impressive Falkirk Wheel. Make sure to grab a bite to eat at the Canada Wood Kitchen and Bar, it’s delicious.
Scotland’s capital has quite an incredible history and one that it’s eager to share with us, visitors! Take some time to visit the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and discover some of the secret spots in the city itself. There’s also a whole heap of free things to do in the city and a huge array of delicious restaurants and bars to visit in the city.
Glasgow is a bustling and vibrant city to visit in Scotland and not just because of its size. The city has a huge arts scene where you can learn much more about Mackintosh. Make sure to visit the Willow Tearooms, which he created and take a wander to the gothic east end, all before working up an appetite to visit The Honours for a bite to eat.
16.) Loch Lomond
Crossing the Highland Boundary Fault, Loch Lomond is a gorgeous place to soak up some gorgeous Scottish landscapes. Take your hiking shoes and explore this beautiful region. Oh… and don’t forget to visit the Bracklinn Falls Bridge and Lady Kentmores Antiques if you fancy a little shopping.
17.) Ben Nevis
The highest mountain in the United Kingdom, Ben Nevis is one place amazing place to hike, especially on a summers day. Make sure to plan your Scottish hike carefully, listen to local guidance and never venture up without informing others of your whereabouts. Even if this isn’t Mount Everest, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
18.) Fort William
This west coast town is a great stop off point before venturing to the top of Ben Nevis. Take a day to enjoy some proper Scottish grub, canyoning, gorge walking or white water rafting that’s not too far from the town itself. Make sure to visit the Crannog Seafood Restaurant for some fresh catches of the day.
This tranquil place is the perfect place to experience a slice of Scotland’s unspoilt natural beauty. Wander around Glencoe Lochan, visit Glen Coe Mountain and wander around the, quaint, little cottage that is the Glencoe Folk Museum.
20.) Tiree Island
Tiree is a small Scottish island that’s charm and natural beauty is well worth experiencing. Ditch the car (or just ferry it along) and explore some of the gorgeous artist’s galleries of Blue Beyond, or the delicious Chocolates and Beyond that make some yummy treats. If the sun is out, try your hand at paddle boarding or even kite surfing, too.