20 Things To Do In Scotland

Things To Do In Scotland

Scotland, a land of mystic lochs, majestic castles, and breathtaking highlands, is a dream destination for travelers. Whether you’re drawn to its rich history, vibrant culture, or stunning natural landscapes, Scotland offers a plethora of activities that cater to every type of adventurer. In this blog post, we will explore the top things to do in Scotland, from historic castles and scenic road trips to vibrant festivals and serene islands. Discover the best ways to experience this enchanting country and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Things To Do In Scotland

  1. Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that dominates the skyline of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Perched on Castle Rock, it offers panoramic views of the city and beyond. This iconic landmark has a long and fascinating history dating back to at least the Iron Age.

Inside the castle, you can explore the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, both symbols of Scotland’s royal heritage. The castle also houses the National War Museum, where you can learn about Scotland’s military history. St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, is another highlight within the castle walls.

Edinburgh Castle is also home to the famous One O’Clock Gun, a tradition dating back to 1861. Every day except Sunday, a cannon is fired at precisely 1 PM, a spectacle that attracts both locals and tourists. Walking through the castle, you can feel the weight of centuries of history. From medieval sieges to royal ceremonies, Edinburgh Castle has witnessed it all.

  1. Explore the Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands are renowned for their breathtaking scenery, rugged mountains, and serene lochs. This region offers a perfect escape into nature and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

One of the most popular activities in the Highlands is hiking. Trails like the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way provide stunning views and a chance to experience Scotland’s wild beauty up close. If you’re a fan of water sports, Loch Ness and Loch Lomond are ideal for kayaking, canoeing, and even fishing.

The Highlands are also steeped in folklore and history. Visiting the Culloden Battlefield near Inverness gives you a glimpse into the past and the famous battle that changed Scotland’s history. For a touch of magic, take a trip to the Isle of Skye, known for its dramatic landscapes and fairy pools.

Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy spotting red deer, golden eagles, and even dolphins along the Moray Firth. The Highlands’ remote beauty makes it an excellent spot for star gazing, with some areas designated as Dark Sky Parks.

  1. Discover Glasgow’s Art Scene

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and a hub for culture and the arts. It boasts a thriving music scene, numerous galleries, and stunning architecture. The city’s rich industrial heritage has transformed into a vibrant cultural landscape.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must-visit. Housing one of Europe’s great art collections, it features everything from classical works to contemporary pieces. The museum itself is an architectural marvel, set in a beautiful park.

Glasgow is also known for its street art. Take a walking tour to see the murals that decorate the city’s buildings, telling stories and adding color to the urban landscape. The city’s creative vibe is palpable in areas like the West End, where you’ll find quirky shops, cafes, and the University of Glasgow, with its Gothic architecture.

For music lovers, a visit to the Barrowland Ballroom or King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is essential. These iconic venues have hosted legendary performances over the years. Glasgow’s thriving live music scene is one of the best in the UK.

  1. Tour Whisky Distilleries

Scotland is famous for its whisky, often referred to as the “water of life.” Touring a whisky distillery is an essential part of any trip to Scotland. The country is home to over 120 distilleries, each with its unique character and flavors.

The Speyside region, in particular, is renowned for its whisky. With over 50 distilleries, including Glenfiddich and Macallan, it’s a whisky lover’s paradise. Many distilleries offer tours that take you through the whisky-making process, from malting to maturation. You can also enjoy tastings, where experts guide you through the nuances of different whiskies.

The Islay region is another hotspot for whisky enthusiasts. Known for its peaty and smoky whiskies, Islay’s distilleries like Laphroaig and Ardbeg offer a distinctive experience. Each distillery tour provides insights into the unique methods and ingredients used.

A visit to a whisky distillery is not just about the drink. It’s about the heritage and passion that goes into every bottle. Whether you are a whisky connoisseur or a curious beginner, a distillery tour is a delightful experience.

  1. Explore the Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most iconic and picturesque locations. Known for its rugged landscapes, medieval castles, and quaint villages, it is a must-visit destination.

One of the top attractions on Skye is the Old Man of Storr, a striking rock formation that offers incredible views of the surrounding area. The Quiraing, another must-see, is a landslip that creates otherworldly landscapes, perfect for hiking and photography.

The island is also home to the Fairy Pools, a series of clear, blue pools and waterfalls fed by the River Brittle. These pools are ideal for a refreshing dip or a leisurely walk along the river.

For those interested in history, Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, offers a glimpse into the past. The castle’s beautiful gardens and views over Loch Dunvegan are equally impressive.

The Isle of Skye is also a great place to experience local culture. Visit the small town of Portree, with its colorful harbor, to enjoy local seafood and traditional music. The island’s charm and natural beauty make it an unforgettable part of any Scottish adventure.

  1. Wander Through the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a haven of tranquility and beauty in the heart of Scotland’s capital. Established in 1670, it is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the world and covers over 70 acres.

Visitors can explore a diverse range of plant species from around the globe. The garden is divided into several sections, each with its unique flora. The Glasshouses are particularly impressive, housing exotic plants from tropical and temperate regions. The Victorian Palm House, one of the tallest in the UK, is a highlight.

The garden is not just about plants; it also offers stunning landscapes and architectural features. The Rock Garden, the Chinese Hillside, and the Arboretum provide picturesque settings for a leisurely stroll. Seasonal highlights include blooming rhododendrons in spring and vibrant foliage in autumn.

Educational programs and exhibitions are regularly held, making it a great place for learning. The John Hope Gateway, a modern visitor center, offers interactive displays about plant science and conservation.

Whether you are a botany enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a delightful place to visit.

  1. Drive the North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 (NC500) is Scotland’s ultimate road trip, offering 516 miles of stunning coastal scenery, historic landmarks, and charming villages. Starting and ending in Inverness, this route takes you through some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Scotland.

Driving the NC500, you’ll encounter dramatic landscapes, from rugged cliffs and sandy beaches to rolling hills and serene lochs. Highlights include the Bealach na Bà, a winding mountain pass with breathtaking views, and the picturesque fishing village of Ullapool.

Along the way, you can visit historic sites like Dunrobin Castle and the ruins of Ardvreck Castle. Wildlife enthusiasts will have the chance to spot seals, dolphins, and a variety of bird species.

The NC500 is also a culinary journey. Local seafood, freshly caught and expertly prepared, is a highlight. Be sure to stop at some of the quaint pubs and restaurants along the route to taste the best of Scottish cuisine.

Whether you choose to camp under the stars or stay in cozy B&Bs, the North Coast 500 offers a unique and unforgettable way to experience the beauty of Scotland.

  1. Experience the Fringe Festival

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, commonly known as the Fringe, is the world’s largest arts festival. Held every August, it transforms Edinburgh into a vibrant hub of creativity and performance. With thousands of shows across hundreds of venues, the Fringe offers something for everyone.

From comedy and theatre to dance and music, the variety of performances is astounding. The Fringe is renowned for showcasing emerging talent as well as established acts. It’s a place where you can see everything from avant-garde performances to traditional shows.

The atmosphere during the Fringe is electric. Street performers and pop-up events add to the excitement, creating a city-wide celebration of the arts. Many shows take place in unique venues, such as historic buildings, parks, and even temporary structures, adding to the festival’s charm.

Attending the Fringe is not just about the performances. It’s also about exploring Edinburgh. The city’s historic streets and landmarks provide a stunning backdrop to the festival. Whether you’re wandering down the Royal Mile or relaxing in Princes Street Gardens, the Fringe offers an immersive cultural experience.

Planning your visit can be overwhelming given the sheer number of events. However, the official Fringe program and app provide excellent tools for navigating the festival. Booking tickets in advance is recommended, especially for popular shows.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a must-experience event, offering a unique blend of culture, creativity, and community.

  1. Take a Boat Trip on Loch Ness

No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to the legendary Loch Ness. This iconic loch is famous for its mythical inhabitant, the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie. A boat trip on Loch Ness offers a chance to explore the beauty and mystery of this famous waterway.

Cruises on Loch Ness provide stunning views of the surrounding Highlands. The loch is surrounded by lush forests, rolling hills, and ancient ruins. One of the highlights of any boat trip is Urquhart Castle, perched on the loch’s western shore. This historic castle offers a glimpse into Scotland’s medieval past and provides a picturesque backdrop for photos.

Boat tours vary in length and style. Some offer guided tours with detailed commentary about the history, geology, and folklore of the area. Others provide a more leisurely experience, allowing you to soak in the scenery and perhaps catch a glimpse of Nessie.

Many tours operate year-round, but the best time to visit is during the warmer months when the weather is more favorable. Onboard facilities usually include refreshments, and some boats are equipped with sonar and underwater cameras to enhance your Nessie-hunting experience.

A boat trip on Loch Ness is both a relaxing and intriguing way to experience one of Scotland’s most famous natural attractions.

  1. Hike Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis, located near the town of Fort William, is the highest mountain in the British Isles. Standing at 1,345 meters (4,413 feet), it is a magnet for hikers and climbers from around the world. Conquering Ben Nevis is a challenging but rewarding experience.

The most popular route to the summit is the Mountain Track, also known as the Tourist Path. This well-maintained trail starts at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre and gradually ascends to the top. The hike is approximately 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) round trip and takes about 7-9 hours to complete, depending on fitness levels and weather conditions.

The views from the summit are breathtaking, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding Highlands. On a clear day, you can see as far as Northern Ireland and the Isle of Skye. The summit itself is often snow-covered, even in summer, adding to its majestic appeal.

For more experienced climbers, the Carn Mor Dearg Arête offers a more challenging and scenic route. This ridge walk requires a good level of fitness and mountaineering skills, but the rewards are incredible, with stunning views and a sense of adventure.

Proper preparation is essential when hiking Ben Nevis. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so it’s important to be well-equipped with appropriate clothing, food, and navigation tools. Joining a guided tour can be a good option for those unfamiliar with mountain hiking.

Climbing Ben Nevis is a memorable experience that combines physical challenge with the beauty of the Scottish landscape.

  1. Discover Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s grandest castles, stands majestically on a volcanic rock above the town of Stirling. This historic fortress played a key role in Scotland’s history and has been the site of many significant battles, including the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Visitors to Stirling Castle can explore the Great Hall, the Royal Palace, and the Chapel Royal, all of which have been beautifully restored. The castle offers stunning views over the surrounding countryside, including the Wallace Monument and the Ochil Hills. Interactive exhibits and costumed guides bring the castle’s history to life, making it an engaging experience for all ages.

  1. Walk the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is a historic street that stretches from the iconic Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This mile-long route is packed with history, culture, and charming architecture.

Walking along the Royal Mile, you’ll encounter a variety of attractions including St Giles’ Cathedral, the Real Mary King’s Close, and numerous museums. The street is lined with shops selling traditional Scottish goods, cozy cafes, and restaurants serving local cuisine. Street performers and musicians add to the vibrant atmosphere, especially during the summer months and the Edinburgh Festival.

  1. Visit the Orkney Islands

The Orkney Islands, located off the northeastern coast of Scotland, are a treasure trove of ancient history and natural beauty. The islands are home to some of the best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, including Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old village, and the Ring of Brodgar, a dramatic stone circle.

The islands also offer stunning coastal landscapes, wildlife watching opportunities, and a chance to experience island life. The capital, Kirkwall, is home to St Magnus Cathedral and offers a charming mix of historic buildings and modern amenities. The Orkneys’ unique history and serene beauty make them a fascinating destination.

  1. Take a Steam Train Ride on the Jacobite

The Jacobite Steam Train, often referred to as one of the greatest train journeys in the world, runs from Fort William to Mallaig. This scenic route takes you through the breathtaking landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, including views of Ben Nevis, Loch Morar, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films.

The journey is approximately 84 miles round trip and offers a nostalgic travel experience with vintage carriages and the unmistakable sound of a steam locomotive. It’s a perfect way to soak in the beauty of the Highlands in a leisurely and unique manner.

  1. Explore the Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the UK, offering a diverse range of outdoor activities and stunning natural landscapes. The park is home to five of the UK’s highest mountains, ancient forests, and an abundance of wildlife, including red squirrels, ospreys, and wildcats.

Popular activities in the Cairngorms include hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding. The Cairngorm Mountain Railway provides access to the higher elevations, offering breathtaking views and a gateway to the Cairngorm Plateau. For a more relaxed experience, visit one of the charming villages within the park, such as Aviemore or Ballater.

  1. Sail to the Isle of Mull

The Isle of Mull, located in the Inner Hebrides, is known for its picturesque landscapes, wildlife, and colorful harbor town of Tobermory. The island is easily accessible by ferry from Oban and offers a tranquil retreat with a variety of activities.

Nature lovers can enjoy wildlife tours to see eagles, otters, and whales. The island’s diverse habitats, from rugged coasts to lush forests, provide excellent opportunities for hiking and birdwatching. Historical sites such as Duart Castle, the ancestral home of the Clan Maclean, add to Mull’s charm.

  1. Visit the Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is a remarkable piece of engineering that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. This rotating boat lift is the only one of its kind in the world and has become a major tourist attraction.

Visitors can take a boat trip on the Falkirk Wheel to experience the lift in action and learn about the history of Scotland’s canals. The visitor center offers interactive exhibits, and the surrounding area includes scenic walks and the Kelpies, two giant horse-head sculptures that are part of The Helix park.

  1. Explore the Borders Abbeys

The Scottish Borders region is home to several stunning medieval abbeys, including Melrose Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, and Kelso Abbey. These historic ruins offer a glimpse into Scotland’s monastic past and are set in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Borders.

Each abbey has its unique features and history. Melrose Abbey, for example, is the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart, while Dryburgh Abbey is the final resting place of Sir Walter Scott. Exploring these abbeys offers a peaceful and reflective experience, complemented by the scenic beauty of the Borders countryside.

  1. Attend the Highland Games

The Highland Games are traditional Scottish events that take place throughout the summer, showcasing Scottish culture and athleticism. These events feature competitions in traditional Highland sports such as caber tossing, hammer throwing, and tug-of-war.

The games also include piping and drumming competitions, Highland dancing, and displays of Scottish clan heritage. Attending a Highland Games event is a fun and immersive way to experience Scottish culture, with a festive atmosphere and plenty of opportunities to enjoy local food and drink.

  1. Visit the National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland, located in Edinburgh, is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that span Scotland’s history and culture. The museum’s diverse collections include everything from ancient archaeological finds to modern technological innovations.

Highlights include the Lewis Chessmen, the exquisite silverwork of the Traprain Treasure, and the stunning Grand Gallery. The museum also features interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, making it a great destination for visitors of all ages. Admission is free, and the museum offers an engaging and educational experience that shouldn’t be missed.


Scotland is a country that captivates with its diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the ancient stones of Stirling Castle and the bustling streets of Edinburgh to the serene beauty of the Isle of Skye and the thrilling heights of Ben Nevis, there are countless things to do in Scotland that cater to all interests. Whether you’re exploring the depths of its legendary lochs or soaking in the culture at the Fringe Festival, Scotland offers experiences that are as varied as they are unforgettable. Plan your adventure today and uncover the magic that awaits in this remarkable corner of the world.

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