Scotland is a beautiful country full of fascinating sights, magnificent scenery and adventurous things to do.
With its rolling hills, lochs, castles and stunning landscapes, Scotland is the perfect destination for an unforgettable holiday.
From discovering ancient ruins to exploring Edinburgh Castle or tasting whisky at a Scottish whisky distillery, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Scotland.
For outdoor enthusiasts there are numerous hiking trails, mountain bike trails and golf courses, while those looking to experience some culture can enjoy art galleries and museums.
Whatever your preferences may be, there’s something special waiting for you in this beautiful country.
Things To Do In Scotland
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic and well-known Scottish fortresses, with a long and complex history that dates back to the 12th century.
Located on Castle Rock atop an extinct volcano in Edinburgh’s city centre, it has been an integral part of Scotland’s military and cultural heritage for centuries.
Within its walls lies the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland; the Stone of Destiny a revered relic; a 15th century gun called Mons Meg; and the One o’ Clock Gun, which has been firing at 1pm every day since 1861.
This Scottish castle also houses the nationally-important Scottish National War Memorial as well as the National War Museum of Scotland.
The oldest structure within Edinburgh Castle is St Margaret’s Chapel, built around 1130, followed by James IV’s Great Hall from 1510.
The castle is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions and is open from 9:30am daily, it’s recommended that visitors need at least 2 to 3 hours to see all the highlights.
Address: Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
2. Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is a stunning natural area located in Scotland.
It encompasses two distinct regions – highland and lowland – divided by the Highland Boundary Fault.
The park is home to dramatic mountain peaks, tranquil lochs, bogs, glens, forests and moorlands making it a popular destination for hillwalkers and climbers.
Wildlife lovers can spot rare Scottish wildcat, pine marten, osprey, red squirrels and golden eagles – all while taking in some of Scotland’s most awe-inspiring landscapes.
Whether you’re looking for a day out walking or cycling along the many paths or exploring one of the many picturesque Lochs, there is always something to do in this spectacular national park.
Water sports enthusiasts can take advantage of the great Loch Lomond sailing facilities or expand their kayaking skills on some of its more secluded waters.
The nearby villages offer a variety of accommodation options for those who wish to stay in the area for longer from cosy Bed & Breakfast establishments to luxury hotels on the Loch Lomond shores.
Address: Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Scotland
3. Edinburgh’s Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is a stretch of cobbled streets and alleyways located in the heart of the Old Town of Edinburgh.
Named for being the traditional processional route for royalty, it is 1.81km long and is made up of Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand.
Stretching from Edinburgh Castle towards the Palace of Holyroodhouse, it is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic attractions and offers visitors a wide array of interesting sights to explore.
Lawnmarket is an old-fashioned street which contains some unique boutiques selling a range of items including souvenirs, clothing and home décor items.
The next section along is High Street one of Edinburgh’s most vibrant streets full of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants all dotted along its length.
The Canongate; an area steeped in culture with many monuments dedicated to historic figures from Scotland’s past including Robert Burns who once lived here on Bank Close Lane.
This part also contains other notable attractions like St Anne’s Church – which dates back to 1150 AD – right through to more modern delights such as Dynamic Earth.
Finally there is Abbey Strand which leads down towards the Palace Of Holyroodhouse at the bottom end of Royal Mile Roadway where key state events are held.
Address: The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8BP
4. Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle, located atop Castle Hill is one of the country’s most famous and historically significant castles.
Its long history dates back to the early Middle Ages, and it has served as a royal residence for many Scottish Kings and Queens over the centuries.
Today, Stirling Castle is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and open to visitors from all over the world.
Visitors can experience what life must have been like as well as exploring different periods of Scottish History associated with Stirling Castle such as Mary Queen of Scots and the various battles that took place there.
Several key moments such as the legendary William Wallace victory at The Battle Of Stirling Bridge or Robert Bruce’s victory at The Battle Of Bannockburn both celebrated annually with re-enactments nearby.
Visitors also have access to special exhibitions such as Kings Old Building where they can learn more about different aspects related to Scotland’s rich heritage associated with this impressive castle.
Address: Stirling Castle, Castle Wynd, Stirling FK8 1EJ
5. Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of Scotland’s most popular free attractions, houses an impressive array of 8000 objects across its 22 state-of-the-art galleries.
The collections are extensive, varied and internationally significant with natural history, arms and armour and art from various periods in history.
The most iconic painting on display at the museum is Salvador Dali’s masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’.
Kelvingrove has something for everyone; besides all the incredible artefacts it also boasts an onsite restaurant and café where visitors can enjoy some refreshments throughout their visit.
There’s even a gift shop so you can take home a piece of Scotland with you!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a great way to spend a few hours exploring with its stunning displays of art from around the world giving it unique appeal.
Address: Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG
6. Northern Highlands
The Northern Highlands of Scotland are renowned for their stunning landscapes, with breathtaking mountains, white sandy beaches, heather-strewn hills and ruined castles.
The area is sparsely populated and retains its ancient beauty, with a long history of human settlement.
Durness is a picturesque village on the north coast of the highlands home to Loch Eriboll and Smoo Cave, both popular tourist attractions, as well as numerous archaeological sites.
Assynt boasts scenery from the dramatic peaks of Quinag to the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, making it a must-see destination for anyone visiting the highlands.
There are also many spectacular beaches in the area where visitors can relax or explore.
Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of mainland Scotland and is particularly renowned for its birdlife such as puffins and razorbills.
Meanwhile Kildonan Burn (west of Helmsdale) offers those brave enough to go gold panning a chance to find some hidden treasure.
The Northern Highlands offers visitors an abundance of activities to enjoy, including hillwalking, wildlife spotting, fishing and kayaking along coastal routes.
From rugged mountain passes to sandy bays and picturesque lochs these wild lands have captured the hearts and imaginations of people from around the world for centuries.
Address: Northern Highlands, Scotland
7. Loch Ness
Loch Ness, located in the Highlands, is one of the most famous and mysterious bodies of water in the world.
It is a large freshwater loch extending for 23 miles southwest of Inverness and takes its name from the River Ness which flows from the northern end.
Not only is Loch Ness known as one of Scotland’s most beautiful natural landscapes but it is also home to arguably the world’s most famous mythical creature, Nessie, more commonly known as the Loch Ness Monster.
Loch Ness has been inspiring stories, myths and folklore since at least 565AD when an Irish monk wrote about meeting a ‘water beast’ that lived in it.
Since then there have been countless reported sightings of various shapes and sizes all claiming to be ‘Nessie’.
While many people doubt the existence of a monster living in the lake, there are still some who remain convinced that this mysterious creature does dwell deep within its waters.
Loch Ness contains more water than many other lakes in England and Wales, making it by far the largest body of water in the Great Glen area.
The banks of Loch Ness are made up of thick forest, high cliffs, moorlands and hills which all make for an incredibly picturesque scene.
Not only does Loch Ness provide stunning views but it also offers activities such as fishing, boating and monster spotting!
Loch Ness is one of Scotland’s most iconic locations and attracts millions of visitors every year who come to witness its beauty or maybe even catch a glimpse of its elusive mythical monster!
Address: Loch Ness, Scotland
8. Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle is a ruined castle located on the banks of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.
The present ruins date back to the 13th and 16th centuries, however there was an earlier medieval fortification that occupied the site before that.
It has been listed as one of Scotland’s most important castles due to its strategic importance during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.
This Scottish castle was then held by the royal family until it was granted to Clan Grant in 1509.
Despite this, conflict continued and Urquhart Castle was raided several times.
Nevertheless, it was strengthened and expanded over time, becoming a formidable fortress set atop a rocky promontory overlooking Loch Ness.
Unfortunately, its stronghold status could not save it from being partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces.
After this, Urquhart Castle began to decay more rapidly but parts of it were maintained by local families who used it as a home until the 20th century when it opened to the public for visitors.
Its popularity has seen it become one of Scotland’s most visited castles today as people explore its historic ruins and take in lovely views over Loch Ness.
Visitors can explore the ruins and also discover the secret stories behind Urquhart’s turbulent past, including tales involving William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, through the audio-visual presentations available at the visitor centre nearby.
Address: Urquhart Castle, Drumnadrochit, Inverness, IV63 6XJ
9. Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia is a beloved former royal yacht of the British monarchy which served from 1954 until 1997.
During her 43-year career, she travelled more than a million miles and hosted numerous dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth II, as well as state visits of foreign royalty.
Britannia was constructed at John Brown & Co Shipyard in Scotland, upon completion, she was 104 metres long with a displacement of 4500 tonnes and powered by two diesel engines.
Her first significant voyage took place in 1954 when she carried Queen Elizabeth II to Malta to meet the Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1977, Britannia became the first Royal Yacht to circumnavigate the world during her Silver Jubilee Tour, visiting five continents and visiting over 35 countries along the way.
She also embarked on three South African tours between 1995 and 1997 to promote democracy following Nelson Mandela’s election as president.
At present, Britannia is retired and permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh where visitors can explore the five decks that once served as private quarters for members of the royal family or take part in guided tours around her interiors.
Address: Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Dr, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
10. National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the country’s rich heritage and culture.
Opened in 2006, it is the result of the merger between the new Museum of Scotland and the adjacent Royal Scottish Museum and is part of National Museums Scotland.
The two buildings that make up the museum provide an interesting contrast: one was built in 1998 to house the Museum of Scotland, while the Royal Museum dates back to 1861.
This makes for a unique combination where visitors can view centuries of history with ease.
The museum holds an impressive array of collections from around the world, including historic finds from archaeological digs in Scotland, medieval objects, natural history items, and pieces of art from various cultures.
These are displayed over 16 galleries and tell stories from across time and continents.
This popular attraction is free to visit and has a range of interactive areas, in addition to traditional displays, where visitors can explore touch screens and digital activities.
There are also special exhibitions held throughout the year as well as talks and events organised by staff members who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with you.
A definite pick for your Edinburgh itinerary!
Address: National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
11. Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland, and the British Isles standing tall at 4,411 feet (1,345 m) above sea level.
It stands at the western end of the Grampian Mountains close to the town of Fort William and is a popular destination for those looking for a challenge with an estimated 130,000 ascents each year.
The mountain has been famous for centuries and is rich in both geological interest and local folklore.
The very summit features a large cairn dating back to 1883 which was built by workers from the nearby observatory.
Ascending Ben Nevis can be achievable by even those who are less experienced climbers but it should not be underestimated as conditions can change quickly and unpredictably affecting visibility and footing on some of its steeper sections.
Even so, anyone making it to the top will be rewarded with spectacular views out across Scotland’s wild countryside that can extend all the way to Ireland on clear days.
Those wishing to stay closer to base camp still have plenty of options such as visiting Glen Nevis, one of Scotland’s most stunning glens situated directly beneath Ben Nevis or taking part in one of many outdoor activities available including abseiling and white water rafting.
Visitors can also enjoy a ride on the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola, this popular visitor attraction is located 7 miles from Fort William and takes you up Aonach Mòr Mountain.
With the journey to the Gondola Top Station taking around 15 minutes, where you can find a restaurant and a bar, it’s one of the best places to visit for great views.
Address: Ben Nevis, Fort William PH33 6TE
12. Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is a picturesque and unique island situated in the Inner Hebrides archipelago of Scotland.
It is the largest and northernmost major island in Scotland, and has been inhabited since the Mesolithic period.
It has an illustrious history as it has been occupied by numerous peoples including Celts, Picts, Gaels, Vikings, MacLeod and MacDonald clans.
Today’s Isle of Skye remains a popular tourist attraction due to its alluring landscape which includes lush green glens and rugged mountains glazed with snow-capped peaks.
Notable landmarks include Kilt Rock, an impressive 200ft cliff face resembling a kilt and Neist Point, a spectacular lighthouse located on top of cliffs which offers breath-taking views across the Minch Sea towards Skye’s sister islands.
The coastal waters are also home to seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales making it ideal for whale watching expeditions.
The Isle of Skye also boasts hills covered with heather fields which offer stunning views for nature lovers who can explore many walking trails leading them through lush forests, over rushing rivers and past waterfalls.
Visitors can cross the Skye Bridge or take the Malaig to Armadale ferry from Scotland’s northwest coast which takes up to 45 minutes to cross to the Isle of Skye.
Address: Isle of Skye, Scotland, IV42 8YD
13. Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park is a stunning mountain range located in north-eastern Scotland.
Spanning an impressive 5,200 square kilometres of land, the park is the largest national park in the United Kingdom and was expanded into Perth and Kinross back in 2010.
It consists of a diverse range of terrain including heather moorland, ancient Caledonian pine forests, and alpine mountains like Ben Macdui which stands at 1309 meters above sea level.
The Cairngorms are a popular destination for outdoor activities such as walking, cycling, mountain biking and rock climbing.
This area is especially attractive to hillwalkers who strive to climb all 55 Munros (mountains above 3,000 feet (910 m) in height) within this region.
In addition to its abundance of natural beauty, two Great Trails also pass through the park –– The Speyside Way and The Cateran Trail these allow visitors to explore the area from different angles with ease.
The Cairngorms is truly an amazing part of Scotland that is filled with exceptional landscapes and abundant wildlife; it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for adventure!
Address: Cairngorms National Park, Ballater, AB35 5YJ
14. Fort William
Fort William is a town located in the Scottish Highlands on the west coast, situated on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe.
It is the second largest settlement in both the Highland council area and the Scottish Highlands.
The town boasts a rich history having been inhabited by Clan Cameron for centuries and was even invaded by Oliver Cromwell during the Wars of Three Kingdoms.
Today, the town is renowned as one of Scotland’s premier tourist destinations and its surrounding Highland region provides an array of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy such as hillwalking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking and mountain biking.
The nearby downhill mountain bike track has made the area a magnet for extreme sports lovers from all over world who come to challenge their skills against some of the toughest terrain.
In addition, Fort William serves as both the start and end of two major long-distance trails; The West Highland Way which starts near Glasgow and winds its way through some stunning scenery before ending at Fort William.
The Great Glen Way passes through scenic landscapes like Loch Ness with the route from Inverness to Fort William.
This makes it an attractive option for those looking to explore Scotland and these trails on foot, or cycle them independently.
For visitors Fort William’s town centre provides a good shopping experience with local shops, specialty stores, gift and souvenir shops.
Address: Fort William, Scotland
15. West Sands Beach St Andrews
St Andrews West Sands is an idyllic Scottish beach located on the northeast coast of Scotland.
The stretch of sand is over a mile long and backed by some of the world’s most renowned St Andrews golf courses.
Just 15 minutes walk from the town centre, this beach is a popular destination amongst locals and visitors alike, who come to take advantage of its excellent amenities.
The dunes that border West Sands are among some of the most important in Scotland, forming part of a Special Area for Conservation which encompasses the Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary.
These dunes provide natural defence against the sea, but also play host to some incredible wildlife.
Here you may spot an array of birds and animals such as redshank and short-eared owls, as well as rare insects like the silver-studded blue butterfly.
As well as being a beautiful area, St Andrews West Sands offers plenty for visitors to enjoy too.
The beach is popular with walkers and runners looking to take in its stunning scenery while getting some exercise, while swimmers can make use of lifeguards during peak season.
A dune stabilisation programme ensures that this beautiful coastal environment remains protected for future generations to enjoy.
Address: West Sands Beach St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland, KY16 9XL
16. Robert Burns Heritage Trail
The Robert Burns Heritage Trail is a well marked trail that passes through Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire.
The best place to start the trail is at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum located in Alloway.
This circular driving trail takes visitors along some of the most scenic landscapes in Scotland.
The trail celebrates the life and times of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robbie Burns, and takes in his birthplace, cottages, houses and areas associated with Burns.
Address: Robert Burns Heritage Trail, Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire, Scotland
17. Riverside Museum
Located at the junction of the River Clyde and Kelvin, the Riverside Museum is an award winning transport museum that showcases transport memorabilia from around the world.
The museum has over 3,000 objects on display, with more than 90 touch screen panels full of images, films and memories that give excellent descriptions.
Some of the highlights include steam trains, historic cars, trams, motorbikes and a driver’s cab from a ‘Train of the Future.’
The museum is open daily and is free to enter.
Address: Riverside Museum, 100 Pointhouse Rd, Partick, Glasgow G3 8RS
18. Princes Street
This historic street, located in central Edinburgh, is home to several important monuments, restaurants and attractions.
One of the most famous places to visit in Edinburgh, Princes Street is the main shopping street and has many interesting and unusual shops.
Other attractions include: Princes Street Gardens, Scottish National Gallery, Johnnie Walker Princes Street and the Scott Monument.
Address: Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2BY
Where is the British Golf Museum in Scotland?
The British Golf Museum is located across from the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse in Saint Andrews, that is part of golf’s ruling body.
Can you go on the Harry Potter train in Scotland?
The Harry Potter train is called the Jacobite steam train Express and is located in the town of Fort William.
If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter Movies then this is a great excursion.
When is the best time to visit Scotland?
Scotland is a year-round destination, but the summer months are the best time to visit Scotland and attract the most visitors.
Can you swim in the Fairy Pools Scotland?
The Fairy Pools located in Glen Brittle on the Isle of Skye are one of Scotland’s most famous wild swimming destinations.
Can you go sea kayaking in Scotland?
Sea kayaking in Scotland is great, especially on the west coast that enjoys the wildness of the Atlantic Ocean.