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43 Best things to see & do in Scottish Highlands

  • Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom (UK)

West Highland Line

  • Fort William, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

View of the arched aquaduct with steam train crossing over it

Experience

One of the world’s greatest scenic railway journeys – 165 miles (5 hours) through Scottish mountains, moors and lochs from Glasgow, Fort William and finally Mallaig.

Adult price 15

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 4-5 hours

Loch Ness [hiking & cycling]

  • Drumnadrochit, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Blue sign of Loch Ness, with the Loch behind

Experience

The deepest and most famous loch in Scotland, said to hide a famous monster in its murky depths. Also home to the South Loch Ness Trail and the 360-degree Loch Ness walking and cycling trails.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: -

Eilean Donan Castle

  • Dornie , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

View of the castle and bridge over the surrounding water

Experience

The most photographed castle in Scotland – and arguably its most beautiful – perched on an island where three lochs meet.

Adult price 10

Good for age: 13+

Loch Lomond

  • Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Loch Lomond

Experience

Scotland’s largest loch stretches for 24 watery miles of jaw-dropping scenic splendour. It’s also home to Ben Lomond, the country’s most popular Munro.

Good for age: 6+

Isle of Skye [hiking & cycling]

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Stunning view of the rust brown landscape with a group of sharp rocks sticking up in the air

Experience

A wildly romantic history, gourmet restaurants and jaw-dropping landscapes with superb hiking and biking, Skye has it all – and a handy bridge to the mainland.

Good for age: 13+

Jacobite Steam Train

  • Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Jacobite Steam Train

Experience

One of the world’s most spectacular rail journeys – an 84-mile round trip from Fort William to the little fishing village of Mallaig along the west coast of Scotland.

Adult price 90

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 6 hours

Malt Whisky Trail

  • Speyside, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Two drams of whisky with ice on a wooden barrel - ready for tatings

Experience

The world’s only malt whisky trail – eight world-class distilleries and a cooperage, all open for tours and tastings.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Climb Ben Nevis

  • Fort William, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Snow-capped Ben Nevis mountain seen from Fort William. A lake and shipwreck in foreground

Experience

The highest mountain in Britain, ‘The Ben’ is a challenging but rewarding Munro ‘to bag’.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: Full day

Scottish Highlands’ best food & drink

  • Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Salmon is caught fresh from Highland rivers and smoked in traditional smokehouses

Experience

Lucy’s summary of typical foods, ingredients and flavours to try in the Scottish Highlands – and some of the best ‘foodie’ experiences,

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Blair Castle

  • Pitlochry, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

External view of the lovely white castle set into green hills

Experience

A picture-perfect, white-turreted medieval castle with beautiful landscaped gardens, rich in Scottish history and legend – it was the ancestral home of Clan Murray.

Adult price 15

Good for age: 13+

Stirling Castle

  • Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Stirling Castle

Experience

One of Scotland’s most dramatic and history-laden fortresses, hunkered into a volcanic crag. A real castle wow factor.

Adult price 17

Good for age: 8+

Bagging Munros

  • Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

A rocky cairn at the peak, with panoramic views behind it

Experience

Bagging a Munro is a traditional Scottish activity. Named after Sir Hugh Munro who first catalogued the country’s 282 peaks over 3,000ft, in a nutshell, it means summiting a mountain.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2+ hours

Culloden Battlefield

  • Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Close up of the stone engraved sign

Experience

An atmospheric, historic battlefield with a state-of-the-art visitor centre that brings the bloody events of 1745 to life.

Adult price 11

Good for age: 13+

Highland Safaris [hiking]

  • Aberfeldy , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

A beautiful red stag deer close up in front of a snow capped mountain

Experience

Spot red deer and golden eagles, and learn Highland history, on these excellent safaris.

Adult price 48

Good for age: 6+

Duration: 2-3 hours

Highland Games (at Braemer)

  • Braemar , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Close up of a participant in Tartan kilt holding a caber at the Highland Games

Experience

Fantastic spectacle of age-old Scottish traditions, the games feature athletic events, Highland dancing and pipe bands.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1 day

When: 1st weekend Sept

Freq: annually

Castle of Mey

  • Mey, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Castle of Mey

Experience

Turreted 16th-century castle with a beautiful rose garden – the former summer retreat of the Queen Mother.

Adult price 3

Good for age: 13+

Cawdor Castle & Gardens

  • Cawdor, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Cawdor Castle & Gardens

Experience

A place of pilgrimage for Shakespeare scholars (Macbeth was the Thane of Cawdor), this ancient fortress complete with drawbridge, turrets and towers dates back to the 14th century and is furnished with rare Flemish tapestries, oil paintings and fine antiques. The walled gardens peppered with contemporary sculptures are also a highlight.

Adult price 14

Good for age: 8+

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Glencoe

  • Ballachulish , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Glencoe mountains rising up from the battlefield

Experience

A magnificent brooding glen that was the scene of Scotland’s bloodiest historic massacres – the slaying of the unarmed MacDonald Clan.

Adult price 6

Good for age: 13+

Urquhart Castle

  • Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Ruined castle in the foreground, the loch stretches away behind

Experience

This former medieval fortress, on the shore of the loch, once was the home of Scotland’s Grant Clan. Built in the 13th century, it was subsequently destroyed by the English in 1692 following the crushing of the Jacobite Rebellion at Culloden. You can watch a film of its history in the visitor centre.

Adult price 10

Good for age: 8+

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Golfing in Scotland

  • Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Golfing in Scotland

Experience

Scotland is known as the birthplace of golf and is renowned for exceptional golf courses, rich tradition and unsurpassed golfing history.

Adult price 285

Good for age: 13+

Duration: -

Cairngorm Reindeer Herd

  • Aviemore, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Close up of a reindeer on the mountain, with tour group walking in the distance behind

Experience

A charmingly old-fashioned Highland wildlife experience – trek to see wild reindeer roaming the mountains of the Cairngorms.

Adult price 19

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 2 hours

Fort George

  • Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Fort George

Experience

This 18th-century coastal fortress, still a working barracks, overlook the Moray Firth built after the Battle of Culloden to house the British army. You can wander around the complex, dipping into the regimental museum, checking out the historical tableaux depicting soldiers’ lives and climbing up onto the canon-peppered battlements.

Adult price 10

Good for age: 13+

The Fairy Pools [Walking]

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Lovely small waterfall with mountains behind on a sunny day

Experience

This famous pool, fed by the River Brittle that cascades in via a series of enchanting waterfalls, is a popular destination for walkers and wild swimmers (prepared to brave the cold). It’s a 2.5km, 40-minute return walk from the nearest car park through Glenbrittle Glen. You can also walk to it from Dunvegan Castle.

Good for age: 4+

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Three Chimneys

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Three Chimneys

Experience

Foodies have been making a pilgrimage to this legendary restaurant, founded by Scottish food heroes, Shirley and Eddie Spear, for over three decades for its famous eight-course tasting menu. There are comfy bedrooms if you want to stay.

Adult price 50

Good for age: 13+

Website >

Old Man of Storr

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Tourists climbing Old Man of Storr rock formation at Isle of Skye, Scotland

Experience

A short drive north of Portree on the Trotternish Peninsula is the 720m-high ‘Storr’, a large rocky outcrop that dominates the landscape. On the Storr’s steeper eastern slope you’ll find the famous ‘Old Man’ of Storr – a 50m high rock ‘tooth’. Great for a drive-by, or stopping for a walk.

Good for age: 8+

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial view of the dramatic coastline cliffs with a large waterfall pouring into the sea

Experience

Another geological highlight of the Trotternish Peninsula is Kilt Rock, an impressive 90m cliff constructed of odd-unusual basalt blocks. Close by is the plunging Mealt Waterfall, fed by Mealt Loch. See them from the same observation point, 17km north of Portree and just south of the village of Staffin.

Good for age: 4+

Royal Lochnagar Distillery

  • Ballater, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Royal Lochnagar Distillery

Experience

Queen Victoria’s favourite tipple was said to be Scotch whisky and claret. Nudging up to Balmoral, her beloved holiday home in Royal Deeside, this picturesque stone distillery, in the shadow of the majestic Munro, Lochnagar, was founded in 1826.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Dunrobin Castle

  • Golspie, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Dunrobin Castle

Experience

A fabulous fairytale castle, designed to resemble a fancy French chateau, with ornate formal gardens, modelled on those at Versailles. It’s the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Sutherland.

Adult price 14

Good for age: 8+

Falls of Foyers

  • Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial view of a large waterfall

Experience

Hike up to the 165-feet high Falls of Foyers to see a famous optical illusion. Stare at the water then flick your eyes sideways to see the rock wall move upwards. The waterfall feeds into Loch Ness.

Good for age: 8+

Website >

Scottish Game Fair

  • Scone, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Close up on a row of the ends of bagpipes

Experience

Traditional game fair with gundog displays, sheep-racing and pipe bands in the grounds of Scone Palace.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 3 days

When: End of June

Freq: annually

Dufftown Whisky & Heritage Centre

  • Dufftown, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Whisky Museum in Dufftown. The museum houses a selection of distillery memorabilia. Exterior view with doors and windows.

Experience

A gem of a museum, offering a fascinating insight the history of whisky, how it was and is manufactured, who made it, sold it – and even smuggled it. It houses all kinds of memorabilia and whisky-making equipment. It’s also a great place for the latest tips on distilleries and where to get the best drams in Speyside.

Good for age: 18+

Dunvegan Castle

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Dunvegan Castle exterior - A beautiful castle of golden stone set into the hills

Experience

This 13th-century castle – restored in the 19th century – was the traditional seat of Clan Macleod, one of the Highland’s most celebrated clans. It’s filled with Highlands clan history – portraits, weapons, and assorted clan memorabilia and heirlooms.

Adult price 15

Good for age: 4+

Website >

Arbikie Distillery

  • Montrose, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Arbikie Distillery

Experience

A true grain-to-glass distillery on a 2,000-acre independent family estate on the Angus coast. They grow all the ingredients on their farm for their award-winning spirits including the first climate-positive gin made from peas, potato vodka and Scotland’s first rye whisky in 200 years. They’ve also recently launched a striking new state-of-the-art visitor experience and tasting room.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Lost Loch Distillery

  • Aboyne, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Lost Loch Distillery

Experience

This chic craft distillery in Royal Deeside is Scotland’s first absinthe producer: local botanicals-loaded Murmichan is named after a wicked fairy. They offer micro tours, tastings and absinthe-making workshops. They also produce gin, of course, and haroosh – a moreish hand-crafted whisky, brambleberry and honey concoction.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Dunnet Bay Distillery

  • Dunnet, Thurso, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Dunnet Bay Distillery

Experience

This small artisan distillery produces award-winning Rock Rose seasonal gins and vodka made from Holy Grass (once laid on church floors to scent the air). The copper still is named Elizabeth in honour of the late Queen Mother who summered at the Castle of Mey nearby – and famously liked a G&T.

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Cooking classes at Ballintaggart Farm

  • Pitlochry, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Cooking classes at Ballintaggart Farm

Experience

This foodie bolt-hole offers field-to-fork cookery classes in Highland Perthshire themed around ‘seasonal suppers’, ‘pickling, preserving and fermenting’ and ‘fire and foraging’. You can stay over in one of 12 luxury bedrooms, or book into the Grandtully Hotel, their sleek sister property nearby.

Adult price 25

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 5 hours

When: Selected dates

Freq: Selected dates

Website >

John O’Groats

  • John o' Groats, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

John O’Groats

Experience

Famously ‘the end of the road’ and touted as the most northerly point on the UK mainland (although that’s actually Dunnet Head nearby), this once tacky tourist spot has now been spruced up. There are wildlife-watching boat trips from the little harbour and spectacular clifftop walks.

Good for age: 13+

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Castle Tioram

  • Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial drone shot of Castle Tioram, it is a ruined castle that sits on the tidal island Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland. It is located west of Acharacle, approximately 80 k

Experience

Pronounced ‘cheerum’ this atmospheric, 13th-century ruined fortress on a tidal island in Loch Moidart in Lochaber on the west coast has been uninhabited for around two centuries. Closed to visitors due to the dangers of crumbling masonry you can still wander across the sandy causeway to marvel at its ancient exterior.

Good for age: 6+

Kinloch Lodge

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior of front of Kinloch Lodge

Experience

This family-run, manor house hotel offers a combination of stylish comfort and warm hospitality from owner Isabel. If you don’t stay, then go for the outstanding gourmet food – using fresh local ingredients and traditional Highland recipes. There’s a whisky bar with over 120 different bottles.

Good for age: 18+

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Loch Bay Restaurant

  • Isle of Skye , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Loch Bay Restaurant

Experience

Skye punches above its weight in terms of foodie enclaves and chef Michael Smith’s Scottish seafood restaurant in the village of Stein on the Waternish peninsula – is one of the Michelin-starred highlights.

Good for age: 18+

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The Oyster Shed

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

The Oyster Shed

Experience

This little shack up a bumpy track near Talisker Distillery is the place to go for freshly shucked oysters straight from the oyster farm in tidal Loch Harport. It’s rough and ready with a lean-to and picnic tables and a sea-loch-view to die for.

Good for age: 18+

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The Barn

  • Aviemore, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

The Barn

Experience

On the edge of Aviemore in the Cairngorms the rustic-chic Rothiemurchus Estate farm shop, cafe and deli sells beef and venison from their farm along with a range of local artisan produce – such as Inshriach gin.

Good for age: 18+

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