The Best Visitor Spots & Activities In Scotland
With its picturesque, incredibly stunning scenery and array of fantastic historical sites to explore, it goes without saying Scotland has a lot to offer. Luxury golf courses, renowned whiskey distilleries and breath-taking landscapes, this article will cover the best places to choose from for your next trip to Scotland.
Enjoy a train ride through majestic landscapes and mountainous areas. Movie fans may wish to take a trip across the Glenfinnan Viaduct, also known as the ‘Hogwarts Express’, bridge in the Harry Potter Movies. Tickets can be purchased in advance and you won’t be disappointed with this memorable experience across the magnificent, historic arched bridge.
Scotland, a natural playground that is host to a wide range of outdoor activities, with golf playing a key role in an authentic, renowned part of Scottish heritage.
St Andrews Old Course
A legacy that spans over six centuries, it’s no wonder that Scotland is often referred to as the home of golf. Take a golfing trip through Scotland as the perfect opportunity to witness some of the world’s most elite tournaments being carried out. Scotland regularly hosts the women’s British Open’s and the open Championships along with a variety of other prestigious tournaments.
If Scotland’s golfing history were a human body, then St Andrews would be the heart. There are 10 unique St Andrews golf courses, either within or just on the outskirts of town. The world-famous old course has seen the likes of Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth compete, however it is also open to availability for the public. It is maintained by the St Andrews link trust, who will take care of several courses in St Andrews. There is a maximum handicap to consider before booking to play here, 24 for men and 36 for women and you will need to present your certificate to the starter on the day of your reservation. If you are playing by yourself, on the day of your check-in at the old pavilion, staff will proceed to allocate you with a two or three ball group.
Scottish Scenery & Countryside
For the more adventurous traveller, you may wish to participate in outdoor activities such as mountain biking, water sports and hiking. There is a broad range of activities to discover in Scotland. Adrenaline junkies may choose to sign up to a bungee jump and experience paragliding, motor racing, kite surfing or white-water rafting.
All activities are available to pre-book before you set off on your holidays. You can find a wide range of excursion companies and event planners online who will give you the best information and recommendations within the area you are staying.
For a little bit more of an easy-going activity, why not try horse riding and pony trekking, guided walks or wildlife watching. Scotland is home to some of the most incredible wildlife. You may come into contact with playful dolphins, seals and birds of prey. You may wish to book a 90-minute trip to the Ascrib island to see the wonderful Puffin breeding colonies with the resident Grey Seals. If you’re lucky, you may encounter whales and sea eagles too.
If you seek a more urban experience, pay a visit to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. It’s easy to fill a day with exploring the many streets, shops, restaurants and tourist attractions. Highland landscapes are visible along with stunning coastal characteristics, presenting the best of both environments. Hop on a bus tour to explore the city’s beautiful architecture and history. Tours run from Edinburgh to the highlands where you can experience breath-taking sights and highly rated movie filming locations.
For whiskey enthusiasts, be sure to choose from one of over 120 active distilleries spread out across Scotland. The highlands and islands are by far Scotland’s largest whiskey producing area. You’ll find some of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, including Glenturret, home of the ‘Famous Grouse’. Whiskey tasting experiences and day tours are available from the majority of active distilleries in Scotland. Prices and tour times will vary depending on the package you choose. These can also be purchased in advance of your trip to Scotland.
During your tour you will encounter some well-known famous malts and whiskeys, along with some of the countries uniquely original, lesser-known produce which provides a true, authentic taste of Scotland.
Allocate a day to visiting one of Scotland’s selection of fantastic, historical castles and stately homes. Include a tour of the highlands for one of the most magical memories you can make. Spectacular landscapes and historical locations make this place a rather special one indeed. Squeeze in a visit to Loch Ness, where you can find three inspiring castles located on its banks. Or, perhaps you would prefer to experience a more intricate architectural piece, which looks like it has just been pulled out of a fairy-tale book. There is a selection of spellbinding locations to discover.
Isle Of Skye
Why not pay a visit to the magical island of incredible landscapes and other worldly character? The Isle of Skye is home to some of the most recognisable movie backdrops, and thanks to its insane beauty it’s no wonder. Delve into the history of the island through its great attractions and many museums. For a magical experience, check out known by the locals as ‘The Fairy Pools’, a collection of rock pools filled with icy spring water from the Cuillin Mountains.
Visitors can embark on a stunning 2.4 kilometre walk along gravel path’s boarded by heather and rocks up towards jaw dropping waterfalls and crystal-clear pools. For adventurous explorers who are brave enough, it is advised to bring a wet suit and swim through these magnificent, natural creations, although please be advised the water is generally very cold.
The Isle of Skye holds the title of the most magnificent scenery. Whether you’re taking tours, hiking or just driving through you will witness the most majestic geological creations on the planet. The Old Man of Storr is one of the most unique sights on the island, welcoming thousands of visitors every year. The island is home to many villages and towns which will fill your day with things to do, places to explore and a delicious verity of food and drink to experience.
Pay a visit to the Isle of Skye’s bustling main town of Portree. Here you will find an excellent selection of leisure facilities, boat cruises and plenty of shopping opportunities along with luxurious hotels, guest houses and self-catering establishments. For more outdoorsy people, there are a variety of campsites nearby to choose from. The circular shape of the towns natural harbour is edged with high cliffs, and home to working fishermen providing the freshest seafood.
Located back in the highlands, the deep valley and gigantic mountains of Glen Coe are believed to have been carved out centuries ago by icy glaciers and volcanic eruptions. This picturesque location lies between the banks of Loch Leven, and the mouth of the famous Glen. Dubbed the outdoor capital city of the UK due to its impressive span of nature and beauty, perfect for explorers and adventurers from all walks of life. The road through Glencoe takes you through the centre of an ancient volcano. Here you will stumble across a well-known filming hotspot used in Hollywood movies such as James Bond’s, ‘Skyfall’, and a number of the Harry Potter films.
Glencoe and its surrounding areas house a wonderful variety of accommodation, including cosy inns and luxurious guest houses. Whether you choose to stay on the Lochside with an un-interrupted view across Loch Leven, or further up the glen on the glorious riverbank, you will not be disappointed. Regular public transport runs from Glencoe to Glasgow and Fort William, so you can venture out and explore these incredible locations during your stay. If you are travelling in the hopes of exploring outdoor activities and adventures, then Glencoe really is a great place to base yourself.
There are a number of self-catering options to be experienced at Glencoe. By booking a self-catering lodge, you’ll be met with views of spectacular mountains, just a short walk away from the local villages. Enjoy delicious, traditional, hearty Scottish food from one of the nearby inns and restaurants.
During the autumn and winter seasons, due to shorter periods of sunlight and increased lengths of darkness. On a clear night it is possible to witness the natural phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, also known as The Northern Lights. When light pollution is at a minimum, the Aurora Borealis can be experienced throughout most of Scotland. The Isle of Skye offers a cosy base for exploring the northern lights by staying in a traditional wigwam located on the tip of the island. The Isle of Skye is home to no less than nine dark sky discovery sites, providing a perfect location for stargazing as well as hunting for the Northern Lights.
When the aurora is strong it can occasionally be seen from the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. However, to increase your chances of a sighting it’s best to head out to more rural areas where light pollution is at a minimum.
Don’t forget to allocate some time to exploring some of Scotland’s most exhilarating woodland and wildlife watching. During the spring, you may come into contact with baby animals such as fluffy lambs, yellow chicks and all sorts of wildlife among forest trails. Remember to take the time to be very quiet and if you’re lucky you may witness wildlife such as foxes, red squirrels, badges and even wildcats in their natural habitat. You may wish to book an assisted tour to increase your knowledge of these creatures and their many characteristics.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Scotland’s woodland areas and forests. You may wish to pack a picnic, find a peaceful spot to enjoy your lunch and soak up your tranquil surroundings.
Take a trip to the Hermitage in Dunkfield and enter a mythical haven. Feel as though you have entered an alternative reality bordering on fictional, as you wander deep into the woods discovering the picturesque 18th century folly. Perhaps you may wish to experience these woodland retreats on two wheels, by hiring a bicycle or joining an assisted mountain biking tour. There are a variety of trails to explore, great for both nature lovers and thrill seekers.
As we all know, Scotland is renowned amongst locals and tourists as the tartan capital of the world. So why not take a mill tour at the Lochcarron of Scotland visitor centre in Selkirk? Specialising in textiles since 1947, this wonderful place is home to Scotland’s leading producers of exclusive ranges of fine tartans, tweeds and knitwear. On-site visitors can find a coffee shop to relax with refreshments before browsing in the visitors shop and centre.
Open minded visitors may wish to take a trip to the world-famous Loch Ness in search of a monster lurking in its waters. Over the years thousands of sightings and eyewitnesses have come forward, of a monster with a snake like head often referred to as Nessie. Keep your eyes peeled as you set sail on the number of boat trips to take a closer look for Nessie. Nearby you can visit the Loch Ness centre, an exhibition along with Nessie-land, to learn more of the Loch’s natural history and legends that surround it. After a bit of fun at the visitors centre and exhibition, you may wish to explore the nearby world-famous Urquhart Castle, perfect for a romantic day out.
However long your stay, you will not struggle to find activities to fill your days, during your time in Scotland. There is always something to be discovered, observed, appreciated and remembered when visiting this beautiful country. From the urban, social capital city of Edinburgh to the completely remote islands off the Isle of Skye. There really is no other place on Earth quite like Scotland, that offers unbelievably stunning scenery whilst also being completely enriched with culture and heritage.
Remember to engage with locals for an authentic feeling, along with recommendations for new experiences. This way you will truly make memories that will last a lifetime.