Scotland is one of the oldest nations in Europe. It is a country part of the United Kingdom, covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain.
Scotland is home to some of the most striking landscapes in the UK. From rolling hills, dramatic mountains, and coastlines to sandy beaches, it has a remarkable diversity of scenery.
The country is famous for its love of myths and legends, and it is home to some of the most beautiful castles in the UK. There are so many unique places to visit in Scotland and lots of hidden gems to explore.
Planning a trip to Scotland and not sure where to go and what to see? You are in the right place, in this travel guide, I share my top 10 favourite places in Scotland to help you plan your visit to Scotland.
This post contains affiliate links and if you click one I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Edinburgh is without a doubt the most important city in Scotland, it is the capital and it is indeed one of the best places to visit in Scotland. We personally love Edinburgh and it has a special place in our hearts.
Edinburgh is one of those cities that has a lot to offer for any type of traveller. It is the kind of city you can visit many times and never get bored.
The most iconic place here is Edinburgh Castle, sitting atop an extinct volcano high above the city. You can easily see the castle from every corner of the city. Edinburgh Castle has a long history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress, and it is considered one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.
Edinburgh is also home to some of the most haunted places in the world. Its narrow ancient streets and its old spooky looking graveyards provide the perfect setting for some of the scariest haunted stories and tours around the city. So if you want some fun, don’t forget to join these tours.
Best Haunted Tours in Edinburgh
Edinburgh: Underground Vaults & Graveyard Evening Tour; in this tour, you will explore the Blair Street Underground Vaults and the Canongate graveyard and will learn about some troubling tales of torture and murder. It is not suitable for children.
Edinburgh: Dark Secrets of the Old Town Ghost Walking Tour; in this walking tour you will explore Edinburgh's dark past as you visit Canongate Kirkyard, and learn about the Black Death. You will also learn about the black market for corpses in the 19th century and the serial killers William Burke and William Hare.
Edinburgh: Comedy Horror Ghost Bus Tour; in this tour, you will enjoy a theatrical sightseeing tour of Edinburgh onboard the refurbished vintage double-decker Ghost Bus.
Best Hotels in Edinburgh
Le Monde Hotel is one of the most unique places to stay in Edinburgh. This stylish 4-star hotel is located in the heart of Edinburgh and has 18 individually designed rooms.
Edinburgh Castle Apartments offers a comfortable stay and it is located just a 2 minutes walk from Princes Street and 450 yards from Edinburgh Castle.
Cheval The Edinburgh Grand located in the heart of Edinburgh, just a 3-minute walk from Princes Street, offers world-class service.
Loch Ness is famous for the Loch Ness Monster, also known as Nessie and yes, Nessie really does exist. Many people saw it, and Scientists suggest that people saw what could be just a giant eel, who knows?
Spotting Nessie can be tricky, but you can give it a try and hop on a cruise to search for the famous monster.
Let’s not forget that Nessie is not the only attraction here. Beside Loch Ness, sits the popular medieval castle of Urquhart, offering 1000 years of history.
Best Hotels around Loch Ness
Kimcraigan B&B is a small bed and breakfast offering stunning views of Loch Ness. It is an ideal place for couples and small families.
Loch Ness Clansman Hotel sits on the shores of Loch Ness and it is a 10-minute drive from Inverness. Guests can enjoy the sunset views from the hotel’s Observation bar.
Balmoral Castle is a fairy-tale-style castle in Aberdeenshire and it is one of the best places to visit in Scotland. This castle has been the Scottish holiday home to the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria in 1852. It is open to the public only from April to July every year.
The castle is quite impressive and it is perfect for photography. Unfortunately, you can’t see much of the castle's interior. The only accessible room to the public is the Ballroom, which has been converted into an exhibition. But, it is still worth a visit because the grounds are huge and beautiful. You can easily spend half day here strolling around and visiting the gardens. Plus, if the weather is suitable, you can go for a swim on the river next to the castle.
Plockton is known as the jewel of the highland for good reason. This small lochside village is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland offering stunning views overlooking Loch Carron.
It is located less than an hour drive from the Isle of Skye. We visited Plockton on our way back from Skye to the mainland. This little village with its breathtaking landscape is a true hidden gem. Despite the fact that there are different hotels, restaurants and many activities to do here, it is not known to many visitors. So it doesn’t get crowded like other hotspots in Scotland.
Here you can simply go for a relaxing walk along the seafront or take a boat tour for seal spotting.
Best Hotels in Plockton
The Haven Guest House is a small guest house in Plockton, offering comfortable family rooms, breakfast and a cosy stay.
Duncraig Castle Bed and Breakfast is a spectacular Highland castle built in 1866 with a private beach area for its guests.
On the most southern tip of Loch Ness, you can find Fort Augustus. This small picturesque village is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Scottish Highlands.
The main attraction here is the historic Caledonian Canal, it is hard to miss it since it sits right in the middle of the village, which connects the city of Inverness and the small Scottish town of Fort William. There are many restaurants and cafes near the canal, you can watch the boats passing by and get the feeling of how people have lived here for centuries.
Fort Augustus is also a great place for cyclists and hikers since there are many beautiful paths around the area.
Best Accommodations in Fort Augustus
Ardgay is a two-bedroom holiday home in Fort Augustus, suitable for couples or small families.
Hill Cottage Cabins is a cute cabin with a fully equipped kitchen. It is a great place for thoes who want to explore the area on a bike.
Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle is probably the most photographed castle in Scotland. And I am sure you have seen a picture of this castle at some point. This iconic Scottish monument has appeared in various films including James Bond, Loch Ness, Highlander and many others.
This castle might look like an authentic medieval castle, but the fact is, what you see today was built between 1912 and 1932. The original Eilean Donan castle was established in the 13th century, but it was bombarded and destroyed in 1719 by the Royal Navy.
The castle is open to the public and it is one of the most popular places to visit in Scotland. After visiting the castle, it is easy to understand why so many people travel here every year.
The Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is another popular destination in Scotland, and for good reason. Skye is famous for its scenery and landscapes. It is home to some of the most iconic places in Scotland.
Skye is the fourth most populated island in Scotland. Tourism, agriculture, fishing, and forestry are the major economic activities of the residents. Whether you want to visit the Isle of Skye for a few days or stay here longer, you can always find something fun and interesting to do and places to visit here. If you are planning to stay on the island, I highly recommend you book your accommodation weeks in advance, especially during peak seasons.
While on the island make sure to go for a hike to the Old Man of Storr or Neist Point, and visit the Fairy Pools. For more tips and advice, make sure to check out my travel guide to the Isle of Skye.
Best Places to Stay in the Isle of Skye
Dalriada is a cosy bed and breakfast in Portree, offering spacious rooms with amazing views.
Tigh Lachie at Mary's Thatched Cottages is a two-bedroom holiday home with garden views in Elgol offering an amazing stay.
Inverness is a vibrant city on the northeast coast of Scotland. It is home to some historic Scottish attractions, including the 18th-century Church, the Inverness Cathedral and Inverness Castle.
Inverness is an ideal base for thoes who want to explore the Highlands of Scotland. It is actually hard to go to Loch Ness without visiting Inverness since it is on your way from Edinburgh to Loch Ness or Glasgow to Loch Ness.
There are plenty of things to do and see here, you can walk to the Inverness castle and have a great view of the city or take a stroll along the bank of the River Ness.
Best Places to Stay in Inverness
Inverness City Suites located in the heart of Inverness has free overnight parking and it is only a 5-minute walk from Inverness railway station.
No. 41 Town House is a three-bedroom property located just a 5-minute walk from the Inverness city centre. This Georgian house offers views overlooking the River Ness
Loch Ronnach located in Perthshire is a hidden gem in Scotland. The area around Loch Rannoch offers incredible natural beauty and stunning scenery. To explore the area, you can stay in the village of Kinloch Rannoch which sits on the eastern tip of the lake.
Here is a great place for thoes who want to escape the hustle and the bustle of modern life and be active in nature. There are so many walking paths in this area for all levels of abilities. Plus, Loch Rannoch has amazing cycling routes too. One of the most popular ones is the Loch Rannoch Circular which goes around the loch.
Best Hotels in Loch Rannoch
Dunalastair Hotel Suites is a Victorian hotel, located on the village square of Kinloch Rannoch, on the edge of Loch Rannoch. It offers celebrity treatment with world-class service.
Loch Rannoch Highland Club is located in the unspoiled area of Loch Rannoch. It has 85 beautiful self-catering properties, a sauna and its own grounds of seven acres.
Perth is one of Scotland’s eight cities and it served as the capital of Scotland for five centuries. Even though Perth is an ancient settlement, it received its civic status from the Queen in 2012, This makes Perth one of the newest cities in Scotland.
Getting to Perth is pretty easy, it is located in the east of the country and only an hour drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Perth is a great place for a city break or weekend getaway.
Best Places to Stay in Perth
The Royal George Hotel sits right on the bedside of the River Tay in Perth. All rooms are en-suite and some have views of the river.
Knowehead Penthouse Apartment with Rooftop Hot Tub is a two-bedroom apartment in Perth. It is a perfect place for families.