Scotland might not be on your mind when planning your next holidays (unless you have seen the movie Braveheart and Skyfall). It is far, cold and wet you think ! But did you know Scotland is the land of the most beautiful beaches in the world ? Scotland will fascinate you by its dramatic treks through the Highlands, its highest mountain so called Ben Nevis and its 30,000 Lochs scattered all over the country. Let me take you to you to these must-see places in Scotland I convinced my other half to visit.
1) Bannockburn, Stirling and Falkirk
We got to know Scotland starting with a bite of history heading first to Bannockburn town south of the city of Stirling. The Battle of Bannockburn remains legendary for liberating the Scottish people in 1314. Today, weapons and other relics are kept in a multi-award-winning visitor centre on the battlefield where Robert the Bruce raised his standard and assembled the Scottish Army in preparation for the Battle. Walk up to the status of Robert the Bruce and witness what was once violent and bloody fights..
Few miles away visit Stirling and its medieval Castle on a craggy volcanic rock. On the outskirts the National Wallace Monument, it overlooks the site of the 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace defeated the English.
Go and meet the Kelpies in Falkirk, two humongous horse head visible from miles away. They are the largest equine sculptures in the world .
2) Loch Lomond
Not far from Glasgow, Lock Lomond is a place you must visit. The largest freshwater loch in Scotland. A paradise for trek lovers and famous for sailing, swimming, fishing, sightseeing, cycling and camping. Find a breath taking view of the loch by going up the surrounding hills.
As you driving into Glencoe, you can’t miss this impressively distinctive pyramid-shaped mountain, Buachaille Etive Mor, known for its dark history of the massacre of the Macdonals. This is the perfect scenic match for one of the James Bond movies (Skyfall). Make a stop at the visitor centre. Pull on a pair of shoes and walk up the 4km trail to reach one of the glen’s great secrets, the Lost Valley. The legend said that this is where the Clan MacDonald hid the cattle they rustled from their neighbours.
4) Ben Nevis Summit
Climbing the Scottish most iconic Mountain (1,345 meters or 4,411 ft) is a must when visiting Scotland. You do not need to be an experienced hillwalker to reach the top via the tourist path but make sure you are properly prepared with the right gears for a wide range of temperatures. Waterproofs, layers and a good pair of trekking shoes with gaiters are a must. The risk of hypothermia from getting cold and staying cold is very much present at the Ben Nevis Summit but worth doing.
5) Glenfinnan Viaduct
Find your way up the hill to get the best photo shoot at the iconic Glenfinnan viaduct featured in several Harry Potter movies. You can always hop on the Jacobite original steam train for one of the greatest railway journey in the world. From Glenfinnan head in the direction of the Mallaig village and take the ferry to most remote UK’s pub, The Old Forge, which can be found on the Knoydart peninsula. Alternatively make your way back to Port Williams.
6) Isle of Skye
Also called the Little Scotland, Isle of Skye will surprise you by it diversity and will be most probably one of your greatest memory. Top things to do are to walk and swim to the Fairy Pools near Glenbrittle, visit the main town Portree with its colourful houses.
Admire the Kilt Rock and the Meat Falls dropping in the ocean and climb the Old Man of Storr, the iconic pinnacle of Isle Of Skye.
You wont miss on your way, the shaggy haired, long horned Highland cattle. Luv them !
7) Plockton and Torridon
Even if it rains, make a stop in Plockton and its picturesque harbour for few hours, it is considered by many to be the most charming village in the U.K. Make you way to the small village Torridon in the Torridon Hills. Another mountain paradise for hikers, climbers and nature lovers. You can purchase any topographic maps are the local store in the village if you want spend few hours hiking in the area.
8) Sandwood bay
Sandwood Bay is one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in the world. Plan for a 13km walk along the coastline on a bleak moorland track (4hours). Start from the Blairmore village’s car park. When the bay come into view, admire the sight : the sea is as clean as it is clear, a 2km long stretch of sparkling sand with wild surroundings.
9) Loch Ness Tour
Unless you are very lucky, don’t expect to meet Nessy here ! If Loch Ness is a very touristic area and not as spectacular as its neighbour Loch Lomond, you should go and see it before leaving the Highlands. On the Western part of the loch, visit the Urquhart Castle, the most iconic castle on the bank and drive to the Eastern part, expect it to be wilder and not so touristic.
10) Cairngorms National Park
Two days trip at the Cairngorms National Park in the North East Scotland is worth the drive. It is the best ski resort in the U.K offering all sort of activities during the summer. Home to rare and endangered species the Cairngorms has the most ambitious landscape-scale nature conservation action in the country. You can access the park from different routes but we will recommend to go to Aviemore, two hours away from Edinburgh.
Beauty, mystery and romance.
You have different travel options to go across Scotland (bus, taxi, train, bike) but the best way will be to have your own car or to rent one!
Best time to go to Scotland is May to September. But the weather is always unpredictable so take your waterproofs !
- You can always come back to Scotland for a city break in Edinburgh.