Must Visit Destinations for your Scotland Adventure
There’s no doubt Scotland has become increasingly popular for adventure seekers. Whether you’re looking for snow capped mountains, pristine beaches, ancient heritage or crumbling castles – Scotland is THE destination for adventure.
With so much ground to cover, it can be difficult to know where to start. Whether you’re looking for epic hikes, tropical beaches or a taste of culture, we’ve pulled together some useful suggestions to set you on the right path for your Scotland adventure.
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Although we might seem to favour Wales (it’s our home, we’re allowed to be biased!), there’s no denying that the hikes in Scotland are pretty epic. The rugged and seemingly magical landscape could easily sate your need for adventure for the rest of your life.
With over 2,000 hikes listed on Walk Highlands, it would take some sturdy walking boots to tackle them all! So for now, we’ve narrowed it down to three to kick off your Scotland adventure.
The Quiraing is a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye. The whole of the Trotternish Ridge escarpment was formed by a great series of landslips; the Quiraing is the only part of the slip still moving. In fact, the road at its base, near Flodigarry, requires repairs each year.
With features like The Prison, a pyramidal rocky peak which can look like a medieval keep when viewed from the right angle, The Needle, a jagged 120-foot-high landmark pinnacle, and The Table, a flat grassy area slipped down from the summit plateau, the circular Quiraing route covers around 6.8km and takes around 2 hours.
One of the Torridon ‘Big Three’, Ben Alligin is a classic round and includes the Munros of Tom na Gruagaich and Sgurr Mhor. Ben Alligin’s Gaelic name translates to ‘Jewel Mountain’. Ben Alligin offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Highlands. On a clear day, the views can stretch as far as Skye and the Outer Hebrides.
One of the most prominent features of Beinn Alligin is a great cleft known as Eag Dhubh na h-Eigheachd, which cuts into the ridge south of the summit. The scar is the result of the most spectacular rockslide in Britain, which runs out into the corrie of Toll a’ Mhadaidh Mor. Dating back around 3750 years ago, local folklore says that shepherds on the mountain would hear cries from the scar. This Ben Alligin walking route covers around 11.3km and takes around 5-7 hours.
Last but not least, we can’t talk about the best hikes in Scotland without mentioning Ben Nevis – the ultimate hike on your Scotland adventure. Ben Nevis lies in the north west Highlands, near the town of Fort William and attracts around 125k walkers a year!
Once a massive active volcano which exploded and collapsed inwards on itself millions of years ago, you can find evidence of an explosion in the form of light-coloured granite at its summit. Unusually for a mountain in Scotland, Ben Nevis features the ruins of an observatory, which was permanently staffed from 1883 until its closure in 1904.
If you want to reach the summit of Ben Nevis and back to the visitors centre, it will take around 7-8 hours and you’ll cover around 16km.
What better way to clear a whisky hangover than a stroll along a wind-whipped coastline. Scotland is blessed with miles of stunning beaches, all with white sand and turquoise waters – so here are three of our favourites to complete your Scotland adventure.
St Ninian’s Isle
St. Ninian’s Isle beach is a large tombolo, a natural sand causeway with sea on either side, on the west coast of Shetland, linking the South Mainland with the Isle. The beach itself is breathtaking, and so it’s not a surprise that it’s often featured in promotional material photos of Shetland. The beach is in a rural farming region, with an archaeological site located on St. Ninians Isle.
Want to see this picturesque beach for yourself? Take a look at this circular walk that will ensure you get the full breathtaking tour.
With its stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you took a wrong turn and ended up on a Caribbean island! Protected by hundreds of small tidal islands known as skerries, Arisaig bay is a popular destination for sea kayaking enthusiasts. After exploring by sea, why not pay a visit to the heritage, wildlife and visitor hub where you’ll find Scottish books and local crafts.
This stunning bay is home to a huge variety of sea and wading birds, colonies of seals and a thriving otter population. A breathtaking destination like this should definitely be on your list of must see places in Scotland.
Luskentyre is one of the largest and most spectacular beaches on the Isle of Harris. Named one of the UK’s best beaches in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, Luskentyre sands boasts miles of white sand and stunning green-blue water.
For photographers, Luskentyre offers unparalleled landscapes, particularly in late spring and summer, when ample evening light lingers, and the retreating tide unveils an expansive area of channels and sandbars. Keep an eye out for two white ponies who reside around Luskentyre.
What springs to mind when you think of Scotland? Probably tartan, shortbread and bagpipes, right? Or whisky. It would be rude to make the journey to Scotland and not visit one of the many distilleries to pick up a souvenir or two.
Standing in the Cairngorm National Park, Dalwhinnie Distillery can be found in the heart of the Scottish Highlands in the village of Dalwhinnie. Built in 1897 and currently the highest distillery in the country, Dalwhinnie is named for its location at a junction of old drove roads, between two mountain ranges. Year after year it survives the coldest of conditions to produce smooth, golden heather honey-like spirit.
Glenmorangie has existed as a distillery since 1843 when William Matheson bought a licence to make whisky on the site of a brewery located near the Tarlogie Springs in Ross-shire in the highlands of Scotland.
The Tarlogie Springs, Glenmorangie’s own water source and most prized asset, is the product of rain that has been forcing its way through layers of limestone and sandstone for a hundred years. With towering stills as tall as giraffes, this distillery should be added to your must visit list.
Isle of Harris
Home to the award-winning Isle of Harris Gin and the forthcoming single malt whisky, The Hearach, this was the first legal distillery ever built on Harris.
Take a tour to gain insight into the heart of the distilling operation. Guided by knowledgeable local staff, you’ll learn all about island life, and leave with a newfound appreciation of the distillery and how Harris makes its spirits.
Scotland’s culture can be traced back almost a thousand years and it’s just as alive today as it has ever been. From the ancient clans of the 12th century, each generation has added their own cultural thumbprint, creating a unique and vibrant country. True Scottish culture is so much more than bagpipes and haggis.
Harris Tweed Mill
The Carloway Mill is the oldest Harris Tweed Mill in the world. Using machinery that dates back to 1892 visitors have the unique opportunity to witness how our skilled craftsmen continue to work the very same machinery their forefathers used.
Set up to promote and maintain the tradition of Harris Tweed weaving in the island tradition, Carloway Mill is a nonprofit company. This mill is unique even in the world of Harris Tweed as they offer visitors guided tours and working demonstrations to take you through the process of creating tweed on the original Victorian machinery.
West Highland Museum
Found on the High Street in the heart of the historic town of Fort William, The West Highland Museum has an impressive collection of stories around the region and its history.
The most renowned and unusual collection surrounds Bonnie Prince Charles and the Jacobite cause. You can also find a wealth of curious and fascinating collections relating to less well-known aspects of the lives of the people of the West Highlands, from political warfare to the coming of the industrial and modern age.
Stonehaven is a fishing village just outside of Aberdeen. While there may be lots to do all year round, the best time to visit is during the Hogmanay Fireball Ceremony – locals roll giant flaming balls of hay down the high street and into the sea. The ceremony in Stonehaven is the most well-known of its kind and is watched by thousands of people each year.
Fireball ceremonies have been around in Scotland for centuries, believed to be a pagan ceremony representing purification and destruction. They’re popular in Scotland as they serve as a reminder of the country’s pre-Christian past.
So many places, so little time
So there you have it. A whistle stop tour of all things that make up an epic Scotland adventure. This is by no means a complete list, but it’s up to you to fill in the blanks for yourself. We’re giving you a little taste of true Scottish adventure. What are you waiting for?
Take a look at our Highlands & Islands Road Trip, packed with some of the most epic experiences and hidden gems. This trip is guaranteed to kick your Scotland adventure off to the best start and introduce you to our favourite hiking spots, stunning beaches, iconic culture and a distillery or two!