Scottish Highlands Travel Guide

Scotland  
Credit

Courtesy of miroslav_1/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Scottish Highlands

The best way to tackle this wildland is to figure out what kind of adventure you want to have. If you're looking for heart-pumping hikes, hit up the mountainous Cairngorms National Park or traverse the U.K.'s tallest peak, Ben Nevis. For low-level adventures, seek out Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, walk along the scenic cliffs at Ducansby Head or road trip to one of the region's many beautiful beaches. Time sensitive travelers will enjoy the verdant Glencoe or Eilean Donan Castle while fantasy fans will have fun trying to spot Nessie in Loch Ness. Whatever you choose to do, make sure part of your trip includes exploration of the unique geography that comprises the Isle of Skye, consistently lauded as one of the most magical places in the Scottish Highlands. 

How we rank Things to Do

Updated October 8, 2017

  • #1
    Things to do in Scottish Highlands
    View all Photos
    #1 in Scottish Highlands
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you only had time to visit one part of the Scottish Highlands, let it be the Isle of Skye. Located on the west coast of the Highlands, Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides. The island is filled to the brim with otherworldly landscapes. There's a lot

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    Glencoe
    View all Photos
    #2 in Scottish Highlands
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    You may hear the word "glen" a lot during your trip to the Scottish Highlands. A glen is another word for a narrow valley and the Highlands is filled with them. The most popular glen for visitors – not to mention one of the most popular attractions in the Scottish

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    Cairngorms National Park
    View all Photos
    #3 in Scottish Highlands
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Cairngorms National Park is its own world. You could easily spend days exploring the many mountains, lochs, rivers, forests and villages that comprise the United Kingdom's largest national park. Measuring 1,748 square miles, Cairngorms not only boasts four of Scotland's five tallest mountains but also five of the U.K.'s six

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Eilean Donan Castle
    View all Photos
    #4 in Scottish Highlands
    Castles/Palaces
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Castles/Palaces
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Of all the castles to visit in the Scottish Highlands, Eilean Donan Castle is the one worth taking the detour for. Located near the small town of Dornie in the northeastern Highlands, Eilean Donan Castle is considered an icon among locals for its rich history and picturesque placement at the

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Glenfinnan & the West Highland Line
    View all Photos
    #5 in Scottish Highlands
    Hiking, Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The "Harry Potter" movies were filmed throughout the Scottish Highlands (the location of Hagrid's hut can be found inGlencoe), but the most recognizable location is in Glenfinnan. Remember that stately, stone bridge the Hogwarts Express always crossed on its way to Hogwarts? That's the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Jacobite Steam Train,

    ...Read More »
  • #6
    Loch Ness
    View all Photos
    #6 in Scottish Highlands
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    You can't leave the Scottish Highlands without visiting the infamous Loch Ness, Scotland's largest loch (by volume). Loch Ness is known worldwide for housing the mythical, dinosaur-like monster, Nessie. The loch spans 23 miles in length and is 700 feet at its deepest, making the Nessie conspiracy all the more

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
    View all Photos
    #7 in Scottish Highlands
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Scotland's first national park houses Loch Lomond, Britain's largest loch. The park is much smaller than its northern neighbor (Cairngorms National Parkis 1,748 square miles while Loch Lomond & The Trossachs measures 720 square miles), but it still offers plenty of things to do. While Cairngorms is known for its

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    Beaches
    View all Photos
    #8 in Scottish Highlands
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you really want to take in the full spectrum of the Highlands' geographical grandeur, make time for its beaches. Some of the beaches feature waters so clear and sands so white they resemble the kind of shorelines you'd find in theCaribbean. In contrast, there are also a plethora of

    ...Read More »
  • #9
    Golf
    View all Photos
    #9 in Scottish Highlands
    Golf
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Golf
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're a golfer and happen to be in the Scottish Highlands, you'll want to take advantage of the region's beautiful courses. In fact, the Scottish Highlands is home to some of the best golf courses in the world. Here, you can find courses both along the water and inland

    ...Read More »
  • #10
    Duncansby Head
    View all Photos
    #10 in Scottish Highlands
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    England has the White Cliffs of Dover, Ireland has the Cliffs of Moher and the Scottish Highlands has Duncansby Head. Located on the northernmost tip of Scotland's east coast, Duncansby Head features jagged cliffs – draped in rich, evergreen vegetation – that stretch as far as the eye can see.

    ...Read More »
  • #11
    Ben Nevis
    View all Photos
    #11 in Scottish Highlands
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The most popular trail in the Scottish Highlands is also one of its most challenging. Ben Nevis, the U.K.'s tallest mountain, sits just 7 miles southeast of Fort William. Nevis clocks in around 4,406 feet high, yielding incredible views at the top for those tough enough to ascend its summit.

    ...Read More »

Explore More of Scottish Highlands

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019