SCOTLAND What to See and Do

SCOTLAND What to See and Do – Guide 2024

Things to see in Scotland offer incredible places to visit and things to do in this wonderful country north of Great Britain . Popular for its castles and the wilds of the Highlands , there are also important cities here, such as its capital, Edinburgh , and Glasgow , the country’s cultural centre. As well as tartan and bagpipes , Scotland is also popular for golf . Between valleys , mountains and lakes of glacial origin, there are many reasons that bring numerous travelers here. So let’s discover in our guide the best things to do and see in the country, thus discovering it during a wonderful trip to Scotland!

Scotland, Why Visit It

Visiting Scotland, in the northern part of Great Britain, also means taking a journey into its history and wild lands . A constituent nation of the United Kingdom , its only land border is with England to the south and the territory also includes 790 islands, including Orkney, the Hebrides and Shetland . Its capital is Edinburgh , with its wonderful castle , while the largest city is Glasgow , a cultural and industrial centre. Postcard landscapes and legends , such as Nessie , and unique film locations , amidst wild and gothic atmospheres. Furthermore, among the places to see in Scotland, the wild lands of the Highlands are unmissable , with endless valleys, mountains, castles and lakes.

Eilean Donan Castle is also located here , dating back to the 13th century and on an island between the three lochs , the Glencoe valley and Loch Ness; among the places to visit in Scotland. Don’t miss the Isle of Skye , famous for its beauty. In the village of Stirling , the scene of many battles, visit its castle, overlooking the valley. The Orkney archipelago is a wild paradise home to prehistoric necropolises , the site of Skara Brae , the village of Stromness and much more. Whoever says Scotland also says whisky : among the things to do here, don’t miss the Malt Whiskey Trail to discover the most famous distilleries .

Among the sounds of bagpipes, kilts , stories between truth and legend , let’s go and see together the 10 things to visit in Scotland!

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What to See Scotland – 10 Things to See

After the introductions, let’s go and see together what to see in Scotland during our trip . This wonderful country in the United Kingdom , in fact, offers many things to see and do.

Here, you will find the map of Scotland, with the most significant places highlighted, thus discovering what to see during your trip. Subsequently, we will analyze them in detail in our guide on What to Visit in Scotland .

1. Edinburgh

Among the top things to see in Scotland that cannot be missed, we find its capital Edinburgh. Second city in the country, also the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom. Overlooking the eastern coast , like Rome it is built on seven hills . Among the things to see in Scotland’s capital, don’t miss Castle Rock and its castle , Craiglockhard Hill and Blackford Hill , which are two of the highest points in the city. Together with the castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 , the history of the city is preserved between New Town and Old Town . Founded in 1582 , Edinburgh is also home to a major university and numerous events are held each year during the Edinburgh Festival .

On gloomy days, among the things to do here in Scotland, visit the National Museum of Scotland , delving into the history of the city and the country among over 20,000 artefacts . For one of the best views of the city, especially at sunrise, head to Calton Hill . A UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are also numerous monuments, such as the National Monument , which takes inspiration from the Parthenon in Athens. Art lovers can’t miss the Scottish National Gallery and, finally, enjoy a glass of fine whiskey at the Scotch Whiskey Experience . Here, you will also learn about the distillation process and the art of blending.

Edinburgh Castle - Scotland what to see
Edinburgh Castle

2. Glasgow

Wonderful city on the River Clyde , Glasgow is among the things to see in Scotland in the Western Lowlands . Popular for its art nouveau and Victorian style , a legacy of the 18th and 20th centuries when it became rich thanks to trade. Today it is a thriving cultural centre, home to the National Theatre, Scottish Ballet and Opera ; important institutions. Among the things to see and do here in Scotland, don’t miss the square dedicated to King George III of England built in 1792 : George Square. A former slaughterhouse, here stands the Glasgow City Chambers , statues of illustrious people, such as the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott . Among the main monuments we find the Cathedral of Saint Mungo , patron and founder in the 7th century, today an example of Gothic style .

Near the cathedral, visit Provand’s Lordship : the oldest house in the city dating back to 1471 . The monumental cemetery with its 3,500 funerary monuments is also worth a visit. The city has the largest art collection by one person, Sir Burrell , who created the Burrell Collection with 8,000 items donated to the city. The Science Center stands out in the city panorama , with its futuristic and round shape, unique not only on an architectural level. Here adults and children can have fun, thanks to the I-Max giant screen and the planetarium . Furthermore, among the things to see here in Scotland, don’t miss the Glasgow lighthouse , now a museum of design and architecture, together with the Kelvingrove Museum .

St Mungo's Cathedral Glasgow
St Mungo’s Cathedral, Glasgow

3. Loch Ness

Among the main things to visit in Scotland the famous Loch Ness could not be missed. The 37km-long, narrow freshwater basin in the Highlands south-west of Inverness has become popular for Nessie legends and alleged sightings of the monster . With an extension of 56 km², it is the second largest Scottish lake, after Loch Lomond , but it is much deeper, becoming the largest in Great Britain by volume, reaching 230 m. Furthermore, on its western end to the south, Cherry Island rises near Fort Augustus , probably built in the Iron Age. Another island, Dog , was submerged after the construction of the Caledonian Canal .

Near Drumnadrochit, visit the Loch Ness Center and Exhibition to learn more about the natural history and legends of the loch, which can be visited on a cruise , departing from various locations along the shore. 2 km from Drumnadrochit, however, is Urquhart Castle . Home of Nessie, a popular lake monster from Scottish legends , the first sighting occurred in 1933 , publishing two photos of its long neck. This legend has certainly increased tourism in the area, creating a real business around this lake that is always gloomy and shrouded in fog . If you have more time, among the things to do in Scotland, cover its complete circuit , from Fort Augustus to Loch Mhor, to admire magnificent stretches.

Urquhart Castle Loch Ness - what to see in Scotland - what to see in Scotland
Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness

4. Highlands

The wonderful and wild mountainous region of the Highlands, also called the land of the Gaels, is one of the most scenic places to see in Scotland. A sparsely populated area, it has been the scene of numerous historical exploits and there are numerous places of interest here. Among its hubs we find Inverness , the capital of the region, a point of reference for culture and commerce, as well as being the gateway between eastern Scotland and the Highlands and the ideal starting point for visiting the area. Here, we also find its castle , a museum and the majestic cathedral . In addition to Loch Ness, don’t miss Urquhart Castle on its banks, the scene of the bloody wars between the Scottish clans and the Grant Tower , which offers a wonderful view of the area after its restoration in the 16th century .

For a complete immersion in nature here in Scotland among the things to do, don’t miss the Glen Coe valley . Famous Harry Potter film location, it was the scene of the massacre of the MacDonald clan . Its mountains, known as the three sisters due to the three pointed peaks: Beinn Fhada, Aonach Dubh and Son Gearr Aonach. Among the places to visit in Scotland, before arriving on the Isle of Skye , visit Eilean Donan Castle : the most photographed in Scotland and still owned by the MacRae clan today .

Castello di Eilean Donan
Il Castello di Eilean Donan

5. Orcadian Islands

The 70 Orkney Islands , a wonderful archipelago to visit in Scotland, are located 16 km off the north coast of Caithness . Of these, only 20 are inhabited , creating a natural paradise . The largest is Mainland , while the most important population center is Kirkwall . Here, we find the Cathedral of San Magnus and a port. Already during the Mesolithic these islands were inhabited by tribes and its inhabitants are known as Orcadians and have a distinctive dialect , preserving traditions . Among the things to see here in Scotland, visit the Neolithic prehistoric site of Skara Brae , overlooking the Bay of Skaill . The fishing village of Stromness is home to a charming harbour, a historic seaside town and picturesque houses.

Orkney Folk Festival is also held in May . The ancient Pictish settlement , the Brough of Birsay , as well as being a historic site offers incredible landscapes in a naturalistic oasis. The Ring of Brodgar , however, will surprise you with its mysterious and ancient charm. A ring originally composed of 60 monoliths , a magical place where the Stone of Stenness is also located just 1 km away . Two smaller islands, South Ronaldsay and Burray , are connected by bridges and are home to bucolic landscapes , scenic drives and ancient military barrages. German ships are still found in their waters , which resurface at low tide. To the south is the site of the Eagles Nest : a prehistoric mound.

Stromness orkney islands - what to visit in scotland - things to visit in scotland
Stromness, Orkney’s second largest settlement

6. Isle of Skye

During your trip to Scotland, among the things to see you cannot mention the wonderful Isle of Skye, the largest of the Inner Hebrides , off to the north-west. An incredible place in terms of landscape, where you can admire mountains, beaches, moors and picturesque towns in just 1,500 km 2 . Already inhabited in ancient times by Celtic tribes, Vikings and clans, after a past of fishing and farming, today the island’s activity is tourism . Starting your visit from the village of Portree , to the east, discover Skye and the islands around it. Furthermore, this place has been an inspiration for filmmakers, poets and writers .

If Portree is characterized by The Lump promontory , B&Bs and colorful houses, in Dunvegan you will find a 1200s castle with wonderful gardens and a pier , from which boats depart to spot seals . Furthermore, Skye is also famous for the famous Talisker whiskey and you can visit the distilleries here. Among the things to visit here in Scotland, on the Trotternish peninsula , go to the Storr hill for a hike to see the Old Man of Storr : an ancient 55 m monolith. Also on the peninsula is the Quiraing , an area with panoramas worthy of fantasy films, among needles , hills and unique rock formations , such as The Needle or The Prison peak .

Neist Point Isola Skye
Neist Point, the far west on the Isle of Skye

7. Loch Lomond

Largest lake in Great Britain and absolutely among the things to visit in Scotland, Loch Lomond could not be missing from our guide. Located in the south of the country, between the counties of West Dunbartonshire , Stirling, Argyll and Bute , the eastern shore belongs to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park . Furthermore, the lake is located in the Trossachs region , also known as the small Highlands for its landscape variety, including woods and lakes. Land of clans and warriors like Rob Roy MacGragor, protagonist of Walter Scott’s novels . The shores of the lake and the Queen Elisabeth Forest Park, especially in summer, are a much loved place for hikers and boat trips can be taken in the lake , thus admiring unique views and the over 30 islands within it, leaving for a cruise from Balloch .

Here, you can also travel, among the most popular things to do in Scotland, the West Highland Way : the longest itinerary in the country, arriving in Fort William along the shores of the lake. Furthermore, near the lake, visit the village of Balquhidder , famous because the tomb of Rob Roy is found here in its small cemetery . Crossing the lake by boat, it will also be possible to admire the wild Arrochar Alps or the mighty Ben Lomond: a mountain with a height of 974 m.

Rowardennan on Loch Lomond - things to see in scotland - scotland things to see
Rowardennan, sul lago Loch Lomond

8. Glencoe

From our article Scotland what to visit , among the most iconic landscapes to see in Scotland, don’t miss the Glencoe valley . A barren landscape characterized by severe mountains and places between legend and history , this is one of the main places that push travelers from the Highlands to the High Lands , in a landscape that is dark and wonderful at the same time. Furthermore, this area is crossed by the A82 , a road that runs from Glasgow along Loch Lomond , continuing north and arriving in Fort William : the capital of the west. The valley is also dominated by the Three Sisters peaks and the Anoach Eagach . Here there is also a visitor center at the end of the valley, ideal for starting the visit and discovering the main itineraries .

Among the most popular are the Buachaille Etive Beag circuit, the Alt Coire Gabhail and the Devil’s Staircase . Thanks to its wild landscapes and the sparse population of the area, apart from a few cottages, the valley has served as a film location several times , such as for Bravehart , Skyfall and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . Furthermore, it is famous historically for being the scene  of the Glencoe massacre in 1692 , during the Glorious Revolution .

Three Sisters Of Glencoe
Le Three Sisters, a Glencoe

9. Saint Andrews

Also known as Cill Rìmhinn , today Saint Andrews is a wonderful university town and former royal burgh on Scotland’s east coast of Fife . Until the 10th century , Kilrymont then took the name of the apostle, becoming the most inhabited center in the region. Among the things to see here in Scotland, don’t miss its cathedral , built in the 8th century, becoming the country’s ecclesiastical capital until the Reformation . Today, however, this city is known for being the home of golf . In fact, here is the headquarters of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club , founded in 1754 , becoming an authority for this game worldwide and organizing the oldest tournament and the only one held outside the United States .

In addition to being the home of golf, among the things to see here in Scotland, home to one of the oldest universities in the country, we find its main historic streets between Market Street, North Street and South Street , you can observe historic houses, bistros for enjoy fresh fish and typical Scottish cuisine , ancient wrought iron doors and the ruins of the ancient cathedral overlooking the bay. By going to St. Rule’s Tower , however, you can observe a magical view of the city, of the ruins of the monastic building and of the bay. To the north of the cathedral is The Pends : the ancient gateway to the city dating back to 1300 . Finally, don’t miss the area around the University, full of Gothic-style buildings and wonderful gardens.

Saint Andrew's Cathedral ruins - what to do in Scotland - things to do in Scotland - things to do in Scotland
The ruins of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral

10. Stirling

About 50 km from Edinburgh, our guide of what to see in Scotland during the trip could not miss Stirling, in the Central Lowlands . Furthermore, this area was historically an important crossroads in the history of Scotland between north and south. Thanks to its historic centre , which develops around its medieval castle located on the top of a hill of volcanic origin, the city is absolutely among the things to visit in Scotland, located in the center of the country. Moving instead to the Abbey Craig hill we find the Wallace Monument : a 19th century tower built where the battle of Stirling Bridge took place in 1297 and the English defeat by William Wallace , protagonist of the film Braveheart .

The city is small in size and can be visited in one day comfortably on foot. Its historic centre, once a medieval market in the shadow of the castle, is characterized by Broad Street , where the column with the unicorn , the symbol of Scotland, is located . At the end of the street we find the Mar’s Wark , an ancient palace, then arriving at the city castle. Another fundamental street of this city, a must see in Scotland, is the one dedicated to St. John , parallel to Broad Street. Here, behind the old city prison , there is the tourist office and the church of Holy Rude : a Gothic construction dating back to the 15th century.

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle

What to do in Scotland, the 5 experiences not to be missed

During your stay in Scotland, in addition to visiting the main attractions and places described previously in our guide , we also want to point out the activities to do in the country, thus making your trip unique. Between culture , adventure , tradition , history and local food , an experience in Scotland will unite the desires of all travellers.

So let’s not waste time and discover together the 5 experiences to have in Scotland !

1. Attend a bagpipe concert

Among the things to do absolutely in Scotland to fully immerse yourself in its culture , discover traditional folk music through a bagpipe concert. Scotland’s musical heritage has ancient origins, dating back thousands of years, and even today music plays a fundamental role in the daily life of its people. Some musical instruments, such as the bagpipe, come from the 15th century and the first stringed musical artefact was found on the Isle of Skye and dates back 2300 years .

To attend a bagpipe concert and immerse yourself in true Scottish musical culture, around the North Coast 500 you will find the best places to live this experience. In the villages of Dornoch and Beauly , above all, they organize many bagpipe and Ceilidh evenings : a traditional social meeting between music and dance. Among the best festivals to watch these musical performances, however, we find Celtic Connections , in the heart of Glasgow . In April, however, the Mull Music Festival is held on the Isle of Mull or in Edinburgh, don’t miss the Edinburgh International Festival , experiencing the Celtic soul of Scotland to the fullest through this instrument born in the 11th century .

bagpipe group - places to visit in scotland - scotland places to visit - scotland what to visit
The bagpipe is a true symbol for Scotland and the soul of its traditional music

2. Take the Whiskey Trail

To live an experience that is absolutely among the things to do in Scotland if you love fine whisky , follow the Malt Whiskey Trail . Unique itinerary, between whiskey and wonderful nature in Speyside to discover this typical drink and its production in the area with the largest number of distilleries . Along this route you will admire incredible landscapes, stopping at the numerous distilleries to taste and learn the secrets of the alcoholic drink along 130 km . Many hikers love to travel the route on foot, in about 3 days , walking in idyllic settings , between white beaches and forests, stopping at historic distilleries .

Three of the most popular types of whiskey in the area, we can find Glen Grant, Glenfiddich and Macallan . The first distillery we will find along the itinerary, starting from Banffshire , is the Glenlivet Distillery , finally arriving at the Forres and Elgin distillery . In Scotland this drink is a true institution and its origins are unknown, although the distillation process is known to have originated in China, in 2000 BC, and then reached the whole world. Distillation probably arrived in the 12th century in the British Isles, holding the record today with Ireland, which however uses a different distillation in three phases. Scotch whiskey is peated , complex and has a robust taste .

historic machinery Glenfiddich distillery, Dufftown
Historic whiskey distilling machinery at Glenfiddich Distillery, in the village of Dufftown

3. Trekking and outdoor sports

As we have before, among the things to see in Scotland, the country is a real paradise for hikers , especially in summer, offering itineraries for all levels. However, before you start walking, it is important to know the Scottish Outdoor Access Code , protecting us and the environment around us. Among the most popular routes is the Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail , best known for appearing in Harry Potter . 4km of easy walking, alongside Loch Shiel and Glenfinnan Moment , dedicated to the Jacobite clan and built in 1815 .

In Edinburgh, head to Holyrood Park to reach the summit of an extinct volcano via a 5km uphill trek that offers unique views of the city once you reach the top after an easy hike. One of the most loved places by hikers is Glen Coe and its idyllic landscapes, as well as the gateway to reach the Lost Valley of Coire Gabhail on a route through the mountains and the ancient hideouts of the Macdonald clan. Furthermore, thanks to its numerous lakes, another much loved sport in Scotland is fishing , which attracts numerous enthusiasts every year. But furthermore, its landscapes are also ideal for mountain bike lovers .

4. Play a round of golf

Enthusiasts, among the things to do in Scotland, absolutely cannot miss the opportunity to play a round of golf in its homeland! In fact, in the country there are over 550 grassy and tree-lined golf courses, as well as historic links . Furthermore, during your trip you may also have the opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world . St. Andrews is where golf was born in the 15th century , called gowf , at the local Links, a well-known Old Course that expanded to 18 holes from 22, creating today’s standard . In 1860 , the first Open Championship was held at Prestwick .

Furthermore, the British Golf Museum is located in St. Andrews . Other golf meccas in the country include Gleneagles and its three courses, Blairgowrie , where Greg Norman triumphed, and Macdonald Cardrona . Playing a round of golf in Scotland, among the numerous things to do, is also an experience made unique by the landscapes that surround you, savoring a good glass of malt whiskey after the match and totally immersing yourself in local traditions.

5. Discover Scottish craftsmanship

Speaking of Scottish craftsmanship, we can only mention tartan and its textile industry first . Finally, among the things to do in Scotland, don’t miss a visit to the Borders Textile Towerhouse to discover the secrets of local knitwear and tweed . Here, in fact, photographs and artefacts of the wool tradition are preserved inside a historic Hawick tower and ancient residence from the 1700s . Historic wool fabric born in the Highlands , it characterizes the typical kilt ; both Scottish symbols .

Its iconic design is achieved with a predefined pattern called sett , woven with a twill loom , intertwining the blocks horizontally and vertically . Historically, the colors and designs of tartan were related to a particular clan from 1815 and were registered by the Highland Society of London , becoming a distinctive mark. Today, not only kilts are made from tartan, and it is possible to take home many items with this design as souvenirs .

tartan kilt - scotland what to see and do to visit
The traditional Kilts with Tartan pattern

What to See in Scotland, Recommended Itineraries

So, after seeing what to see, visit and do in Scotland you are ready to pack your bags and leave !

Therefore, let’s discover the itineraries together based on your needs. Here’s what to visit in Scotland!

Scotland What to See in 10 Days

To discover Scotland and its spectacular landscapes in 10 days, we recommend our Group Tour: Enchantment of Scotland. A trip dedicated to those who want to explore the Highlands and visit the most beautiful Scottish castles.

Group Tour: Enchanted Scotland

In short: Scotland tour from Glasgow to Edinburgh between nature and castles.
Itinerary: Glasgow, Arran, Loch Lomond, Skye, Dunnottar, Edinburgh.
Duration: 8 days – 7 nights
Confirmed Departures
Code: SCARCH0801

What to See in 15 Days in Scotland

If you have two weeks at your disposal, however, we recommend combining a trip to Scotland with a tour of England.

Available DaysWhat seeRecommended Tours
What to see in Scotland in 10 daysGlasgow, Arran, Loch Lomond, Skye, Dunnottar, Edimburgo.Group Tour: Enchanted Scotland
What to see in Scotland in 15 daysScotland + England

How to Visit Scotland?

Now that, thanks to our What to See Scotland guide , you have a clearer idea of ​​what to visit on your trip, before leaving we recommend that you find out as much information as possible about the documents needed for entry. Visit our Safe Travel section for all the necessary information and the various restrictions.

Furthermore, considering the morphology of Scotland and its position, before organizing a trip to the country it is important to also take into consideration its climate , organizing ourselves according to the areas we want to visit and not forgetting a raincoat in any season. Furthermore, the best time to visit Scotland is summer.

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