with 18 Comments

Top 10 Things to do in Scotland

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

Wild swim adventure in beautiful loch 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 

Sea stacks at John O Groats

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.

Cost: Free

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

Achmelvic Beach Scotland west coastIt 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 castle Scotland History

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 Haggis traditional Scottish food

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 Glentress mountain bike trail jump

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. 

To find out more about bike rental at Glentress check out their website HERE



7. Climb Ben Nevis Hiking Ben Nevis Summit cloudy day

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 Burial mound Scotland Grey Cairns of Camster

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

Mirror people artwork Aberfoyle

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 Eas a' Chual Aluinn

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. 

Cost: Free

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
  • Climbing
  • Sailing
  • Rowing 
  • Log throwing... haha seriously check out the highland games if you are there between May and September


Follow Pete Tryon:

Latest posts from
  • - March 16, 2018
  • - January 28, 2018
  • - December 25, 2017

18 Responses

  1. Suzanne
    | Reply

    What a great list of activities for Scotland! If it’s one thing I regret, it’s not climbing Ben Nevis. I already climbed Mount Snowdon and Scafell Pike and narrowly missed Ben Nevis because I had other plans that summer. However, I would like to do it before I die, fingers crossed!

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Thank you and well done for conquering Scarfell and Snowdon. Ben Nevis is an epic mountain and I do hope you get a chance to climb it sometime- summer is definitely best. Happy adventuring!

  2. Mel Butler
    | Reply

    You have some tips here for Scotland. I just love Scotland it is such a beautiful natural landscape. I am super impressed that you guys swam in the Loch the couple of times that I have gone past there it has been way to cold. I am definitely adding sea stacks of Duncansby Head to my next trip to Scotland that look so very cool and amazing.

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Hi Mel,
      Thank you glad the top tips have helped. Fortunately we were there in the summer so the weather wasn’t too cold for loch swimming- I’d not be so keen in the winter! 🙂 Really loved going to see the sea stacks- they are super close to John O’Groats so you can hit two birds with one stone.
      Happy travels,

  3. Lisa
    | Reply

    I never knew Britain’s tallest waterfall was in Scotland! It looks really beautiful, and ‘Id love to see it one day. Also would never think of doing a bbq on the beach, but with so many great places, I’ll take your advice. Swimming in the loch however is something I’ll watch others do!

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Hi Lisa, It really is an epic waterfall- well worth the trek. The west coast is so beautiful – great for enjoying beaches. I do hope you get to enjoy more adventures in Scotland 🙂

  4. I love the hiking and beautiful nature you have highlighted in this post. While I have been to the UK in my travels, I haven’t as yet ventured up north to Scotland although I plan on doing this on the next trip. I really love all the things you have included here – the one that really took me by surprise was the BBQ on the beach – that’s not what I had pictured for Scotland. Looking forward to reading your other adventures, particularly the upcoming one on wild camping.

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Hi Nicole, Scotland will be the perfect place for an intrepid adventurer like you and I hope you have an amazing time there. If you are wild camping in Scotland during the summer take lots of mozzie repellant to ward of the midgies and also keep checking yourself for ticks (they carry lime disease). The BBQ on the beach is definitely weather dependent- but the weather can be surprisingly nice in the summer and the beaches on the north west coast are a stunning location to enjoy a good burger 🙂 Happy travels

  5. Christie
    | Reply

    Okay don’t tell anyone this but I might’ve had to google “what is a loch?” one minute into this post… Haha. Oh, a lake! Funny. Now I know where lochness monster came from/means. I have been dying to go to Scotland so this is super helpful! I’m gonna pin it for when I get there – hopefully in 2018!

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Haha its a funny word isn’t it? Not sure why they aren’t just called lakes – but I guess they are pretty unique. So glad that our blog has been helpful and drop us a comment if you have any other questions about Scotland.
      Good luck spotting the loch Ness monster 😉

  6. Hendrik
    | Reply

    These are some really cool tips here! Since we want to travel to Scotland next summer, I found here so many interesting and helpful information, really much appreciated.
    The haggis, I know it seems a bit special, but I would really love to try it 🙂
    The Ben Nevis mountain sounds like my personal favourite, not only because its totally free. But hiking the highest mountain in the UK sounds like a great challenge to me.

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Hi Hendrik, thank you- so happy to hear that our blog helped. Haggis is one of my favourites- but then I have many favourites when it comes to food 🙂 Ben Nevis is a pretty epic challenge. I’d definitely recommend doing it during the summer. I really hope you enjoy your trip to Scotland and do drop us a comment if you have any questions.

  7. Dada
    | Reply

    Scotland oh how I would like to visit it one day! Imagine swimming in the Loch Ness and encounter the monster! That would be the ultimate experience of a lifetime!😂🙏 I am chasing waterfalls so YES YES for seeing Britain’s tallest waterfall! And coming from Thailand we eat almost every part of an animal so Haggis sound delicious to me! I think belive that I would enjoy seeing Scotland. Hopefully one day.

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Really hope you do get a chance to visit Scotland some day. Lochness is a very beautiful loch- and definitely worth a dip to see if you can find the monster 🙂 The tallest waterfall is also epic- definitely worth the trek. I have to say- Thailand is such an epic beautiful country with loads of adventure.

  8. Raghav
    | Reply

    I have been visiting UK all my life but never made it to Scotland for some reason. I really have been fascinated by it and this post only adds to that. I wasn’t aware of the tallest waterfall being here, but Edinburgh during festival season is high on my Must Visit list. As for swimming in the Loch, well, I guess as long as Nessy doesn’t show up it should be okay.

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Hi Raghav, Scotland is a unique and stunning part of the UK and definitely worth a visit. The Edinburgh festival is pretty epic. Loads to see and do. Defintly book your accomodation early- it gets very busy during festival season. Happy travels.

  9. Samah
    | Reply

    This is a fantastic list of things to do and you’ve painted a beautiful picture of Scotland. Climbing Ben Nevis would be top of my list as I love a good, long hike as well as seeing the tallest waterfall. I’ve heard of haggis growing up.. I mean I eat lamb on the regs, but I’m not sure if I’d be able to stomach it.

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Hi Samah, thank you- Scotland is hard for a top 10 because there is just so much to do! Ben Nevis is pretty epic- genuinely quite a challenge. I do hope you get a chance to climb it. Haggis does taste pretty awesome if you don’t mind the concept of what you are actually eating 🙂 Please let us know if you get to Scotland and find some other epic things to do.

Leave a Reply