Top Places To Visit In The Highlands
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What are the top places to visit in the Highlands? We look at the best places to visit while in the Scottish Highlands including Loch Ness, Isle of Skye and Ben Nevis.
Things to Do in the Highlands
Very different from the busy Scottish city scenes of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, the vast, green and wild Scottish Highlands are sure to amaze you.
Visiting the Highlands truly is an extraordinary experience as the North-Western region of Scotland provides an abundance of thrilling adventure possibilities such as:
Hikes in the wonderous moors and mountains, magnificent castles and ruins to visit, tremendous lakes and incredible scenic roads.
The Highlands offer a natural playground ready to be explored with big open skies, mind-blowing landscapes, exquisite food, hospitable people and amazing places to stay, such as towns like Mallaig, Inverness, Culloden and Glencoe.
Due to the region's turbulent history, The Highlands are home to some of the world's most beautiful and idyllic castles and ruins, such as:
Urquhart Castle, Dunrobin Castle and Eilean Donan Castle.
You can get lost in a picturesque fantasy world exploring majestic mountains and mysterious lochs, such as:
Loch Linnhe, Loch Leven and of course, Loch Ness.
You can visit Britain's largest National Park, witness dolphins capering off the Moray Coast, marvel at the sensational seascapes, shop in the Highland Capital of Inverness, walk in the shadow of Britain's highest peak, the impressive Ben Nevis, or traverse the charming islands and remarkable stretches of west and north coastlines.
Best Places to Visit in the Scottish Highlands
1) Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
No holiday in the Scottish Highlands would be complete without paying a visit to the home of the ever-popular Nessie. Loch Ness is understandably one of the most famous lakes in the world and an absolute must-see when taking a trip to the Highlands.
While a sighting of the Loch Ness monster is far from guaranteed, this absolutely beautiful area, packed with various wildlife and picturesque scenery, will do little else to disappoint those who want to visit. Sitting alongside the impressively striking lake of Loch Ness, you will also find the magnificent, 1,000-year-old ruins of Urquhart Castle.
Tickets can be bought to access the castle, allowing you the opportunity to climb the Grant Tower, which provides a perfect lookout across one of the most beautiful areas in the country.
A sight you will undoubtedly want to see.
2) Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is situated northwest of the Scottish Highlands and is connected to the Scottish mainland by a bridge. It is an excellent spot for everything from wildlife viewing to fossil hunting.
Discover the spectacular landscapes of rocky valleys, mountains, cliffs, moors and white sandy beaches. For the hikers and nature enthusiasts, the Isle of Sky is paradise on earth. While quite a few islands off the west coast of Scotland make up the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye is the largest.
Several villages are scattered throughout the island's peninsulas, all of which radiate out from the Cullin range.
The range offers an excellent opportunity for climbing because of its 12 peaks, which reach more than 3,000 feet high. Another notable feature the Isle of Sky offers is the Fairy Pools, where visitors can swim in the beautifully serene water that pools under the cascading falls.
3) Ben Nevis
The highest mountain in all British Isles,
Ben Nevis is quite the sight to see.
Referred to fondly by locals as ' The Ben', it is located closest to the town of Fort William, less than a 20-minute drive from the base.
During the summer months,
conquering the peak is a worthy challenge for moderately
experienced and fit climbers.
4) Eilean Donan Castle
Understandably one of the most impressive castles in Scotland.
13th century Eilean Donan Castle is situated on an island where three great lochs are focalised to create a
perfectly enchanting scene. The island has
no official residents but is
open to tourists for most of the year.
Glencoe is one of the region's most prominent and well-known valleys, primarily due to its immense beauty. Entirely surrounded by epic peaks,
Glencoe valley provides some of the best views in Scotland.
Whether you want to take a picturesque drive through the valley or would prefer to experience an adventurous hike, the area offers plenty of outdoor escapades and attractions.
West Highland Way is an
extremely popular long-distance hiking trail, part of which can be walked through
the great glen. Alternatively, you can take a
kayak onto Loch Leven, or if you're visiting in season,
skiing and snowboarding on the tips of Glencoe Mountain Resort.
6) Cairngorms National Park
The Cairngorms is a National Park that covers almost 2,000 square miles of land.
This national park provides excellent surroundings for outdoor activities.
no end to the extensive opportunities available, whether it's leisurely walking through the gardens, strenuous climbs, skiing and snowboarding, treetop walks, mountain biking, white water rafting, or canoeing. You can also take a moment to
visit Cairngorm Brewery to taste some
outstanding locally brewed beers.
7) Luskentyre Beach
Luskentyre Beach is an absolute marvel to bestow.
With the sea as crystal blue as the Caribbean and pure white sands as bright as the Australian shores, this extraordinary area sits in strong contrast to the surrounding greenery of the Scottish Highlands.
Luskentyre is located on the
island of Harris, reachable from the mainland by ferry. The island offers an abundance of opportunities for
hillwalking, cycling, and general
8) Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
The Trossachs National Park is one of the best places to visit when on a Scottish holiday.
It sports around 750 square miles of land, with Loch Lomond situated in the centre.
While there are
various things available to do and see throughout the park, one of the prime recommendations is to cycle along the
stunning lake following the West
Loch Lomond cycle path.
9) Glenfinnan Viaduct
A must-visit for any Harry Potter fan, The Glenfinnan Viaduct operates 100 feet above the ground and spans 1,000 feet.
Exhibiting one of the most iconic and famous scenes of the Hogwarts Express, you too can be a part of the magic during your day trip to the Scottish Highlands.
The steam train that actually runs this 84-mile round trip route from mid-April to mid-October is named The Jacobite.
Tickets for this experience are highly sought-after and tend to run out of availability pretty quickly, so our advice would be to prepare in advance if you plan to include it in your Scottish Highlands tour.
If a couple of hours train journey isn't your thing, you can
trek below and beside the bridge to incur
different views and photo
10) Duncansby Head
Perched on the most north-easterly point of the British mainland, Duncansby Head provides some positively sensational scenery.
With the vast body of water, numerous rock formations, and beautiful small islands dotting the sea, this location is one of Scotland's most tranquil and visually appealing spots.
A brief walk will bring you to the far side of the lighthouse for the most
desirable east coast views.
11) Loch Shiel
While visiting Glenfinnan, you should take some time to admire Loch Shiel, the majestic lake bordering the village.
Loch Shiel is another beautiful location featured in the famous Harry Potter movies, most significantly in the fourth.
The lake provides a small beach perfect for picnics and is home to the Glenfinnan Monument and the statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Another place to visit around Loch Shiel is The Glenfinnan Church, a charming and mysterious Gothic church located on a hill outside of the village.
Several hikes are also available starting from Glenfinnan Visitor Centre.
12) Fort William
When visiting the Scottish Highlands, we recommend a visit to Fort William.
Situated at the base of Ben Nevis, it is one of the most significant towns in the region.
It is entirely animated during the summertime and has numerous little shops, traditional pubs, and a charming city centre. Fort William is also home to the West Highland Museum and the starting point for the Ben Nevis hike.
The Caledonian Canal is also
close to Fort William.
13) Steall Waterfall
Located around a
20-minute drive from Fort William, the
impressive Steall Waterfall is an extraordinary 120 meters in height.
Located in the
mountains of the enchanting highlands, you will need to
hike to reach the waterfall in the Ben Nevis
gorges; it provides
spectacular scenery with authentic and
14) Sandwood Bay Beach
Sandwood Bay is a gorgeous natural bay located in the North region of the map.
7 km from Blairmore car park, Sandwood Bay Beach is considered one of
Scotland's most beautiful and enchanting beaches, surrounded by
incredible wild hills and dunes.
Scottish distillery tours
If visuals aren't your thing or you're stuck for something extra to do whilst visiting the Highlands of Scotland, you should definitely visit a Scottish distillery.
There are around 47 active distilleries in the region, as the Highlands is the largest area for whisky production in Scotland.
The distilleries can be an extremely interesting experience as not only do they include some magnificent whiskies but also allow you to grasp a bit more of the exciting local culture.
Built in 1897, one of the best to visit is the Tomatin distillery. Legend states that its whisky is made with water from the surrounding rivers.
During your visit, you will be shown all the different rooms, learn more about the fabrication process , and, of course, end with a whisky tasting session.
Best Time to Visit the Scottish Highlands
Deciding on the best time to visit the Scottish Highlands is dependent on what you hope to accomplish and see during your time there. Suppose you are interested in experiencing a Scottish winter wonderland?
In this case, you will find visiting in the cooler months preferable. Although it is worth remembering that the Highlands are very far north, so with winter comes concise days and long, dark nights unideal for sightseeing road trips.
On the other hand, May through to September is the perfect time to plan a trip if you want plenty of daylight , adequate weather for outdoor excursions, and safer driving conditions.
The Highland Games will typically occur throughout those same peak months; however, it is probably best to avoid crossing paths with the events unless you are interested in spectating.