Things to do in Scotland:- From spectacular natural beauty, majestic castles, and rich folklore to abundant wildlife, Scotland has it all. It is an incredible country that offers something for every kind of traveller.
Whether you are planning to hike Ben Nevis, enjoy birding on St Kilda, or learn about the folklore on the Isle of Skye, there is a plethora of fun activities to enjoy here. With so many options, it can be challenging to narrow down your choices.
Wondering what to include in your Scotland trip itinerary?
We’ve got you covered with our list of the best things to do in Scotland: –
1. Go back in time at Edinburgh Castle
Nestled on top of a black basalt rock, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic structures in the country. This 13th-century castle is home to St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in the capital.
Other notable attractions include the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, and bronze statues of heroes Robert the Bruce and William Wallace who keep a watch over the gates of the castle.
There’s a drawbridge across a moat from the broad Esplanade that will lead you to the castle.
A guided tour of this fascinating structure will take you back in time.
Visiting in August?
Attend the well-known Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Scotland.
2. Stroll along the Royal Mile
Wish to soak in a local vibe?
Take a stroll along the Royal Mile. It’s a cobblestone stretch that connects the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
There are numerous shops, cafes, restaurants, museums, tearooms, and distilleries such as the Scotch Whisky Experience that you can check out.
Make sure to explore the narrow alleys called “winds”, that go among small hidden closes. Got some more time on your hands? Visit the beautiful Holyrood Park nearby.
3. Ride the Jacobite Express
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is a must-have experience on your Scotland vacation. Jacobite Express is the real-life counterpart of “Hogwarts Express” and has been featured in Harry Potter movies.
Go for a four-hour ride from Fort William and Mallaig across the Highlands on this famous train. You can enjoy drinks, sip on some tea, or even relish wizard treats, that add to the memorable experience.
It departs twice a day and offers one of the best train rides worldwide. Make sure you book your ticket months beforehand to get a seat.
It costs around 57 pounds for a ride in the standard class. Looking to pamper yourself? Book the 89-pound ticket in first class.
4. Take a dip in Loch Lomond
Rejuvenate your senses as you swim in the largest lake in Britain. Located only a short drive from Glasgow, the lake offers a host of recreational activities that draw nature lovers and adventure junkies alike.
From swimming, and boating to hiking, there is something here for everyone. Due to the abundance of salmon, trout, and whitefish, fishing is another popular activity here.
You can also take a long trek up to the towering Ben Lomond, or explore Cameron House located at the loch’s south end, and play on its lakeshore golf course.
Looking for some indoor fun?
Head to Loch Lomond Shores and explore the shopping malls, restaurants, a farmer’s market, and Loch Lomond SEA LIFE Aquarium which features the biggest shark tank in the country.
5. Explore the Isle of Skye and the Inner Hebrides
Escape into nature at the largest inner isle of Scotland. The Isle of Skye is home to lush valleys, glens, caves, gushing waterfalls, and scenic beaches.
It also features some remains of primeval oak forests and has plenty of wildlife such as seals, and around 200 bird species. You can get here via a car through the bridge or take a ferry.
There are several other isles in the Inner Hebrides.
One of the most notable is Iona which is considered the “Cradle of Christianity” for the country.
In the 6th century, St. Columba reached the island to spread the gospel. It’s also home to the oldest Christian cemetery in the country where over 60 Scottish kings lay in peace, including Macbeth.
6. Look for Northern Lights
Northern Lights are one of the most fascinating natural phenomena in the world. You can try your luck at witnessing these fascinating green, pink, and purple hues in the sky in Scotland.
Visit sometime between September through March as it will increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights.
The Shetland Islands, the Isle of Skye, and the Outer Hebrides are considered the best vantage points.
There’s a high probability of seeing the northern lights when there are no clouds, less pollution, and enhanced solar activity.
7. Get aboard The Royal Yacht Britannia
Treat yourself to some regal treatment at the Royal Yacht Britannia. It has taken many royal dignitaries around the world, travelling for over 1,000,000 miles.
You can take an audio tour and explore the five main decks, Crew’s Quarters, Engine Room, the Bridge, State Apartments, and Royal bedrooms.
Experience life like a royal as you indulge in some afternoon cakes and tea in the Royal Deck Tea Room. You can also view the Rolls-Royce Phantom V that used to travel on the yacht.
Looking to stay close to this royal vessel?
Book a room at the Fingal Hotel which is built in a former lighthouse.
8. Appreciate the grandeur of Stirling Castle
Only an hour’s drive from Glasgow lies this impressive Renaissance building. James V and Mary Queen of Scots spent their childhood here.
Its opulent halls and elegant rooms are carefully restored to adhere to their 16th-century appearance.
As you visit the castle, you’ll find interpreters in costumes that will transport you back in time as they explain the rich history of the palace.
The castle is known for the Battle of Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the English invaders in the 14th century.
It’s also popular for the Battle of Stirling Bridge. You can learn more about these battles at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre.
Visiting with kids?
Plan your visit on a weekend as History Hunter programs are specially organised for the young ones. You can also visit the Wallace Monument nearby which offers incredible views of the area.
9. Hike Ben Nevis
If you’re an avid hiker, hiking Ben Nevis is one of the best things to do in Scotland. At a height of around 1,345 meters, it’s the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK.
You’ll begin your trek from the Visitors Centre at the base of the mountain and take the Mountain Track to the summit. It’s a six-hour long out-and-about trek.
The views from the top are breath-taking, stretching 150 miles across the Scottish Highlands and to Ireland.
Got some more time on your hands?
You can also explore the coastal town of Fort William which features many attractions such as the West Highland Museum which offers a peek into the history of the 17th century fort.
10. Drive the North Coast 500
Wish to witness the idyllic natural beauty of Scotland? Go on a road trip on the North Coast 500 or NC500.
Stretching for 516 miles, the road will take you from Inverness to Applecross, along the western shores to John O’Groats, and back to Inverness.
Along the way, you can photograph rugged landscapes, unwind at sandy beaches, relish regional produce, spot wildlife, explore museums, and interact with locals, there are endless activities to enjoy during this road trip.
11. Golf at St. Andrews
Golf is said to have been invented in Scotland. Whether you’re an amateur or a pro golfer, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is sure to delight.
Established in 1750, it’s recognised as a ruling body of golf across the world. It’s also the site of the British Open which is held at one of its numerous 18-hole golf courses.
The most popular is the par-72 Old Course which is spread along the coast. You can learn more about the history of the sport and the place at the old Clubhouse and the British Golf Museum here.
Keep in mind that you might have to reserve around six months in advance for tee times. If you miss out, try your luck at the lottery for reserving them two days in advance.
12. Search for the monster at Loch Ness
The mythical monster of Loch Ness is widely known. Legend says that the monster inhibited the loch for several centuries. Monster searching tours are also organised here.
Other than that, you can enjoy the incredible natural beauty and plenty of outdoor activities at one of the largest lochs in Scotland. You can go kayaking, boating, and hiking.
Got some more time on your hands?
Explore the ruins of the 12th-century Urquhart Castle nestled on the hillside. You can also go on a cruise ride since Loch Ness is joined to the other lochs by the Caledonian Canal.
So, start with the one that attracts you the most and get ready for an epic vacation in Scotland.
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Q. How many days is enough for Scotland?
10-15 days are required for exploring the country’s best attractions.
Q. What is Scotland most famous for?
Scotland is famous for its fascinating castles, the Scottish Highlands, the Scottish Whiskey, and the fabled Loch Ness monster.
Q. How can I spend 3 days in Scotland?
You can travel from Glasgow to Skye on the first day. The following day, you can explore Skye and then drive to Inverness via Loch Ness. The third day can be for going from Inverness to Edinburgh while exploring Culloden and Stirling on the way.