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Panorama of sunset at Quiraing mountains at Isle of Skye, Scottish Highlands

Things to do in  The Scottish Highlands

The Scotland of storybooks

Picture Scotland and it’s the Highlands that first comes to mind—the land of the towering snow-capped mountains, ancient castles, deep lochs, and mist-shrouded glens that have adorned countless postcards. But the Highlands are more than just eye candy. This is where Scotland’s multi-layered history and complexities are brought to vivid life, whether on the blood-soaked battlefields or in the haunting valleys emptied by the Highland Clearances. The region also offers some of the best outdoor adventures in Europe. From mountain climbing to castle bagging, there are plenty of things to do in the Scottish Highlands.

Top 15 attractions in The Scottish Highlands

Eilean Donan Castle

One of the most photographed sites in Scotland, the Eilean Donan Castle dates back to the 13th century. Built as a defense against the Vikings and used during the Jacobite rebellions in the 18th century, this loch-side castle was restored in the 20th century and is now a popular destination for weddings and tours.More

Jacobite Steam Train

Chugging through the misty lochs and sweeping glens of the Scottish Highlands, the Jacobite Steam Train (or Jacobite Express) is one of Britain's greatest train journeys, taking passengers on a nostalgic train ride between Fort William in the West Highlands and Mallaig on Scotland's west coast. The 84-mile (135-km) round-trip route passes Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain, and the Glenfinnan viaduct, seen in theHarry Potter films when the Jacobite Steam Train was featured as the fictional Hogwarts Express.More

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

A vast landscape of hills and mountains, lush valleys, mist-shrouded lochs, and shady woodland trails, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park makes an easy rural retreat from Scotland’s biggest city. Located just north of Glasgow, the park also serves as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands.More

Ben Nevis

Rising 4,409 feet (1,344 meters) above sea level, Ben Nevis is Scotland’s tallest mountain and a premiere destination for climbers. Once a massive volcano that exploded and collapsed inward, the summit is frequently shrouded in mist. In Gaelic, it is called the “mountain with its head in the clouds” and also “venomous mountain.”More

Isle of Skye

Scotland's largest island, the Isle of Skye is a pocket of wilderness jutting off the coast of the West Highlands. The area is a treat for nature lovers, with its dramatic sea cliffs, windswept valleys, and glittering lochs.More

Dalwhinnie Distillery

At a remote spot in the Cairngorms National Park, Dalwhinnie is one of the most famous names in Scotland’s lucrative whisky business. Thanks to the purity of local snow-fed water and its proximity to a former drover’s road crossing the Highlands, Dalwhinnie Distillery has been producing whiskies in its signature white-washed facility with its matching pair of pagodas since 1897. The distillery is best known for its smooth, heathery, 15-year-old malt and its traditional production methods, which include barley harvested in Scotland. The “Uisghe Beatha,” or “water of life” is then mixed in copper stills, condensed in traditional wooden worm tubs and aged in oak casks.Dalwhinnie Distillery is often visited on whisky tours that include visits and tastings at a number of distilleries in central Scotland and the Scottish Highlands. Travelers may tour the facility to see the distillers at work, learn about Dalwhinnie’s whisky traditions, sample classic single malts and opt for gourmet chocolate pairings.More

Skara Brae

Dating to 3,000 BC, this Neolithic village predates the Egyptian pyramids. The Skara Brae settlement—hidden underground until a storm uncovered it in 1850—includes Stone Age dwellings complete with stone beds and furniture. A visitor center hosts exhibits including a reconstruction of one of the ancient houses.More

Fort Augustus

A village on the shores of Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is a popular destination in the Scottish Highlands. Once a garrison in the 18th century, the scenic village today attracts cyclists, hikers, and travelers in search of the Loch Ness monster. It’s also a gateway to the Great Glen Way, a 73-mile trail that runs from Inverness to Fort William.More

Loch Ness

Visitors flock to Loch Ness hoping to catch a glimpse of its elusive and eponymous monster, Loch Ness. This lake in the Scottish Highlands is worth the trip even if you don’t believe the rumors. Vast and surrounded by magnificent Scottish scenery, Loch Ness is a popular boating and sightseeing spot.More

Callanish Standing Stones

Overlooking Loch Roag and the hills of Great Bernera, the Callanish Standing Stones—also known as the Calanais Standing Stones—comprise 13 large stones set around a Celtic cross–shaped monolith, with some 40 smaller stones radiating out from the center. Built between 3,800 and 5,000 years ago, this stone circle was erected at around the same time as the pyramids of Egypt.More

Glenfinnan Monument

The Glenfinnan Monument stands in the village of Glenfinnan in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands. It was erected in 1815 to commemorate the Jacobite Rising of 1745 that began in Glenfinnan when Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard on the shores of Loch Shiel claiming the thrones of England and Scotland in the name of his father, James Stuart. Designed by Scottish architect James Gillespie Graham, the monument stands 60 feet tall at the head of the lock and has also come to honor Alexander MacDonald, who built the tower but died before it was completed. Jacobites still gather at the monument each year on August 19 to commemorate the 1745 uprising.The monument has been in the care of the National Trust of Scotland since 1938 and a visitor center offers information and exhibitions, as well as a café and ticket booth. An audio guide is available that details the Prince’s final campaign from Glenfinnan to Derby and back to Dulloden.More

Trotternish Ridge

Trotternish Ridge is a large wilderness area on the Isle of Skye in northern Scotland. It is a 20 mile walking trail and has some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland. Though most of the summits aren't very high, it is a challenging walk with many ascents and descents. There isn't a distinct path in most places, but firm grassy areas will keep you on track. Due to the length of the walk, many people break up the hike into two days and camp on the ridge.Walking Trotternish Ridge is a constant up and down as you make your way through the many peaks. The highest point of the ridge is Storr at 2,359 feet high. It is one of the most photographed parts of the region, though the entire ridge walk provides stunning views. The ridge is best hiked in good weather since poor conditions can make it difficult to see the edge of the cliffs.More

Great Glen Way

Running from coast to coast through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, there are few better introductions to Scotland’s wild north than the Great Glen Way. One of Scotland’s 26 Great Trails, the long distance hiking route runs for 79 miles (117km) from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east.The scenic trail takes around 5-6 days to complete and is suitable for all abilities, with the well-marked route following mostly towpaths and flat woodland trails, tracing the route of the Caledonian Canal. Highlights along the way include Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak, which overlooks the start of the trail; the Meall Fuar-mhonaidh hill walk, an optional detour offering spectacular views; and Loch Ness, the fabled home of the Loch Ness Monster. Alternatively, the Great Glen Way can also be tackled by bike, boat or even kayak.More

Rannoch Moor

With its expanse of heather-speckled moors, peat bogs and mist-veiled lochs, Rannoch Moor offers an enchanting introduction to the wild scenery of the Scottish Highlands. Vast, remote and uninhabitable, the moors stretch over 12,800 hectares (128 between Glencoe and Loch Rannoch, and have long been a favorite spot for hikers and photographers looking to escape the beaten track.The easiest way to take in the dramatic scenery of Rannoch Moor is with a ride on the West Highland Railway, a historic route that runs through a 23-mile stretch of the moors. Alternatively a number of hiking, cycling and 4WD trails offer the chance to discover the rugged moorlands and the surrounding mountains, as well as spot native wildlife like Red and Roe deer, red squirrel, Golden Eagle and even the elusive Scottish Wildcat.More


Made famous in the final scene of the classic film Braveheart, the Battle of Bannockburn was where King Robert the Bruce led the greatly outnumbered Scottish forces to victory over the English in 1314. To this day, the victory is hugely celebrated in Scottish history and the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre is one of the most popular tourist destinations in central Scotland.More
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Top activities in The Scottish Highlands

The Isle of Skye & Eilean Donan Castle from Inverness
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Hogwarts Express and the Scenic Highlands Day Tour from Inverness
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Loch Ness Sightseeing Cruise from Clansman Harbour
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Isle of Skye Day Tour

Isle of Skye Day Tour

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All about The Scottish Highlands

When to visit

The Scottish Highlands are a four-season playground for those who love to get outdoors. You could plan a winter visit to tackle the slopes of Glenshee, then return in summer to go windsurfing on Loch Morlich. May through September offers the benefits of long daylight hours and warmer temperatures but try to avoid the peak months of July and August.

Getting around

The best way to get around the Scottish Highlands is by private car or tour. Public buses and trains can get you between the bigger towns but services around more remote areas can be scarce. If you are planning to drive, note that many roads in the Highlands are narrow or single-track, so allow extra time for your journeys.

Traveler tips

Scotland’s single-track roads require following a certain etiquette—travelers should remember that local people use these roads for daily business. If you are on a single-track road and see a vehicle approaching you or the driver behind wants to overtake, pull into a passing place on your left. And never park in signposted passing places.

People Also Ask

How many days do you need in the Scottish Highlands?

Within a week, you could explore much of the Highlands, including an island or two (such as the easily accessible Isle of Skye). If you only have three or four days to spare, you can still see a lot, but it would be better to stick to just one area of the Highlands, such as the Cairngorms or Lochaber.

What are the Scottish Highlands famous for?

The Scottish Highlands are famous for their wild and majestic landscapes: the mountains, glens (valleys), lochs (lakes), and ancient forests. The region is home to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom, and the Cairngorms, the largest national park in the United Kingdom. The Highlands are also known for their many whisky distilleries.

Is it worth going to the Scottish Highlands?

Yes, it is worth going to the Scottish Highlands. This is the most beautiful region in Scotland and arguably in the entire United Kingdom. Visitors to the Scottish Highlands will get a greater sense of the country’s history, culture, and identity than they could by just visiting the Lowlands.


A list of the most beautiful places in the Scottish Highlands would include the fairytale-like landscapes of the Isle of Skye: the dramatic peaks of the Torridon Hills; the remote peninsula of Applecross; and the island-studded, forest-fringed Loch Lomond. You’ll find beautiful landscapes anywhere you go in the Highlands.

What clothes should you wear in the Scottish Highlands?

Layers. No matter what time of year it is, you should be prepared for unpredictable weather—and multiple climatic variations in a single day. Be sure to bring a waterproof jacket and sturdy, waterproof walking shoes (preferably hiking boots) if you are planning outdoor adventures. And don’t forget your swimming gear if you fancy a spot of wild swimming.

Do you need a car in the Scottish Highlands?

No, technically, you do not need a car and can get around by bus and train, but having your own vehicle (or booking a tour) will make life much easier. Many of the region's top attractions and destinations are spread far apart and can take a long time to reach by public transportation.


The Scottish Highlands information

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