Top 10 Things to do in Scotland
Scotland is a wild, intrepid, beautiful part of the world. Check out our top 10 things to do in Scotland for some ideas and inspiration. Some classics and of course some of our own crazy twists. There is a real mix up for solo travellers, couples and families. Scotland really does have something for everyone.
Top 10 things to do in Scotland
1. Swim in a loch Top 10 things to do in Scotland
Scotland is home to over 30,000 beautiful lochs spread all over the country. If you want to visit a famous loch, you can go monster spotting at Loch Ness near Inverness. If you want to experience more a more remote loch you will be spoilt for choice. For example- you could visit long, stunning Loch Shin which is in the North of Scotland. If you get to a remote loch there’s nothing like getting your kit off and taking a refreshing dip! Just watch out for the midges (small biting insects) that are particularly intense on summer evenings. Top 10 things to do in Scotland
Cost: Your body heat and dignity
Location: There are plenty of lochs throughout the length and breadth of Scotland
Time: 5 mintes if your tough like me
Top tips: Bring a towel
2. Check out the sea stacks
If you are heading up to John O’ Groats (the north east tip of Scotland) don’t miss the sea stacks of Duncansby Head. The stacks are around 3km East of John O’Groats and you can get a beautiful view of them from the coastal cliff path. If you are lucky you may also get to see some unique coastal wildlife such as puffins. If you’re in the area it is also worth checking out Dunnett's Head- the most Northerly point of mainland Britain and around 30 minutes from John O’Groats.
Location: 3km East of John O'Groats
Time: 30 minute round walk from the carpark at Duncansby Head
Top tips: Wrap up warm- it's often windyTop 10 things to do in Scotland.
3. BBQ on a beach
It may not be the first thing you picture when you think of Scotland, but the west coast boasts some stunning beaches with mountainous backdrops, clear cool water and soft sand. If the weather forecast looks good buy a disposable BBQ and some burgers and head to the beach. There are plenty of amazing beaches to choose from.
Cost: The cost of food and a disposable BBQ
Location: We enjoyed Achmelvich Beach which is around 60km north of Ullapool by road and would take around 1-2 hours to drive from Ullapool. There is a Youth Hostel and camp site next to the beach.
Time: As long as you like- depending on the weather
Top tips: Some of the beaches are quite remote so it is recommended to buy your food and BBQ from supermarkets in bigger towns or cities
4. Explore Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh is a beautiful historic city and is well worth a visit. If you spend some time in Edinburgh it is well worth taking a tour of the castle. Not only will you be able to learn about the rich history and heritage of Scotland you will also be able to see the Scottish crown jewels and get some amazing views of Edinburgh.
Cost: Adults 25 USD or GBP 17.00 Children 5-15yrs 15 USD or GBP10.20
Location: Edinurgh city centre
Time: 2-3 hours
Top tips: Book tickets in advance on their website to reduce waiting time. Guided tours included in the ticket price.
Check out the Edingburgh Castle website for more info HERE. Top 10 things to do in Scotland.
5. Have haggis with everything
Every culture has its uniquely odd dish that you need to be brave to try. Scotland’s answer to this is Haggis, a dish made from sheep heart, liver, lungs mixed with oats and spices. It may not sound appetizing but most people are pleasantly surprised. Traditionally haggis was packaged in a sheep’s stomach but nowadays it is often stored in plastic packaging. Scots serve haggis with with everything- chips, burgers, baked potatoes and much more.
Cost: Eating out 5GBP-20GBP
Location: Pubs, cafe's, restraunts and bars
Time: 20 minutes
Top tips: If you want to have a traditional Haggis meal keep your eyes open for pubs and restaurants that serve “Haggis, Neeps and Tatties” (Haggis served with mashed turnips, mashed potatoes, and whiskey sauce).
6. Mountain bike on some epic tracks
Nothing screams adventure like racing down a muddy track through the woods on a mountain bike and Scotland has some amazing tracks to offer. Glentress is an awesome place to mountain bike. Glentress has mountain bike routes for people of all skills levels. If you are new to mountain biking stick to the green routes. The great news is you don’t need to bring your own bike because bikes can be rented from the bike hire shop at the bottom of the hill. If you're a keen mountain biker, head to Ben Bhraggie near Golspie on the North East Coast and have a go at the longest purpose built mountain bike track in the UK.
Cost: The tracks are FREE for anyone to use. Bike rental: Typical price for a full suspension bike 120USD or GBP 80.00 and for a front suspension bike (hard tail) 38 USD or GBP 25.00, Helmets included.
Location: 3km East of Peebles
Time: We would recommend at least half a day
Top tips: If you want to stay in this beautiful area for a few days you can stay in a small wooden teepee. One teepee could comfortably sleep up to 4 or 5 people which would make it cheaper than a hostel.
7. Climb Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis is tallest mountain in the UK (elevation 1,345m) and is a respectable challenge even for fit hikers. The climb is an arduous 6km up a steep well trodden path. In clear weather the view is epic- however, the peak of Ben Nevis is often cloudy due to the sheer altitude- the peak often disappears into the cloud. It is recommended that you return down the same path.
Cost: Totally FREE
Location: If you want to climb Ben Nevis your adventure starts in at the Glen Nevis car park in Achintee (around 2km south of Fort William).
Time: It is advisable to leave around 8 hours for the full journey up and down the mountain. Avoid the winter months (November-February) where there is less daylight hours and the weather is worse. Be prepared for adverse weather as conditions can change quickly all year round.
Top tips: It is well worth having a map and compass, a good rain coat, warm clothes, spare food and drink and good walking shoes. It is often cloudy on the summit making navigation a challenge.
8. Discover the history
Scotland has a rich and impressive history. You can visit spooky ancient burial mounds (called Cairns) some of which are over 5,000 years old, the sites of historic battles and castle ruins. If you’re planning to visit the north east coast check out the Grey Cairns of Camster. If you are heading to the North West coast visit Castle Tioram 60km West of Fort William.
Cost: Some sites are free to visit such as the Grey Cairns of Camster.
Location: There are many sites of historic interest around Scotland
Time: 1-3 hours
Top tips: Some sites are very remote and buses may be irregular. It may be worth considering hitching or renting a car or camper van if you wish to visit more remote sites.
9. Explore the forests
Scotland is home to thousands of hectares of stunning woodland which are great for walking, running, biking. You may see some fantastic wildlife such as squirrels, deer and stags. If you want to swing through the canopy, check out Go Ape. It is a series of bridges and swings through the canopy that could be described as a mid air obstacle course.
Cost: Free unless you wish to do an activity like Go Ape. Go Ape prices and opening times vary but you can expect to pay around 30GBP for an adult ticket (45USD). The "Mirror People" are free to see.
Location: There are centres located in Aberfoyle, Glentress and Crathes Castle. The spooky “mirror people” in the picture are part of an art project in the woodland at David Marshall Lodge in Aberfoyle.
Time: 1-2 hours
Top tips: Go Ape is seasonal so check in advance if you are keen to visit.
10. Visit Britain's tallest waterfall
Britain's tallest waterfall is located in located in North West Scotland in a very beautiful region called the Assynt. The waterfall is called Eas a' Chual Aluinn and has a breathtaking 200m drop. Eas a' Chual Aluinn is a 9km walk from the nearest road across boggy terrain. This is a very remote area and you are unlikely to see many other trekkers on route.
Location: The start of the trek is on the A894 around 3km south of unapool. Look out for a steep bend and a roadside carpark (layby).
Time: It is advisable to leave a full day for the round trip
Top tips: Dress for the weather and bring good walking shoes, map and compass and spare food and water. Take care at top as it is steep.
There’s always more
There's always more that 10. Here's just a few more that we have done or are planning to do on our next trip:
- Wild camp
- Visit Isle of Skye
- Visit the Hogwarts castle or ride the train
- Stay in a castle
- Visit a whiskey distillery
- Log throwing... haha seriously check out the highland games if you are there between May and September