The ruggedly beautiful Scottish Highlands rank among Europe’s last wild places and the most sparsely populated regions on the planet. Three days gives you plenty of time to soak up its quiet beauty while exploring the wildlife, landscapes, and rich history dating back as far as the Stone Age. Here’s how to make the most of your time.
Day 1: Into the Wild
Kick off your trip with an excursion to one of the best spots in Britain for wildlife watching, the Orkney Islands. Ferries depart from John O’Groats and cross Pentland Firth to the archipelago. Keep an eye out for swooping sea birds along the ragged sandstone cliffs, as well as seals and whales just offshore. Visit prehistoric standing stones and tombs containing 12th-century Viking carvings, and tour the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae. In the evening, unwind at a local pub over a glass of Speyside whiskey, the original Scottish single malt.
Day 2: Lochs and Legends
Take today to delve into some of the legendary sites and stories of the Scottish Highlands with a day trip to the magical Isle of Skye. Drive along the shores of Loch Ness, the purported home of the elusive Nessie, and stop at 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic images. Upon arrival on the island, take in the stunning scenery and colorful harbor, grab lunch in the main town of Portee, and tour the coastline to see some of Skye’s named natural landmarks, such as the Old Man of Storr, Lealt Falls, and Kilt Rock. Visit with a guide to learn more about the stories and legends behind these names.
Day 3: Modern Highlands
Take your last day to pursue your own interests in greater depth. Consider a guided tour of the Speyside region from Inverness to sip single malts from several local distilleries, or combine a distillery tour with a visit to Cairngorms National Park. Outlander fans can spend the day visiting filming locations throughout the Highlands, including Fraser Cave, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield, and the ancient Clava Cairns. No matter how you choose to spend your day, end your trip with a bang at a Celtic ceilidh—a traditional party with a Scottish meal followed by singing and dancing to Highlands tunes.