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run down castle along a lake in the scottish highlands
Travel tips

12 breathtaking landscapes in Scotland you need to see

Nov 02, 2021 by Lindsay Day

Steeped in history and brimming with natural beauty, Scotland’s landscapes have inspired everything from enduring myths to romantic songs to blockbuster films. Whether you’re dreaming of seeing snowcapped mountains, pristine beaches, or something in between, you’ll find it in Scotland. Here are 12 of the most stunning natural landscapes in Scotland to see on tour.


1. The Scottish Highlands

Majestic mountains. Windswept coastlines. Mysterious lakes shrouded in mist. These are landscapes in Scotland many travelers dream of—and just some of the jaw-dropping scenes you can soak up while exploring the Scottish Highlands on tour.

Check out our tips for planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands →


2. Isle of Skye

This island in northwestern Scotland is a bit of a drama queen—in the best possible way. There, the famous Mealt Falls tumble to the sea from soaring clifftops, towering rock pinnacles pierce the sky, and wispy clouds crown Alpine mountain peaks. Take in the Isle of Skye’s dramatic scenery during an excursion on our Edinburgh & the Castles of Scotland tour.

Looking for more to do? See the top things to do on the Isle of Skye →


3. Loch Ness

Known for being home to a mysterious monster, this placid lake in the Scottish Highlands is one of the best places to visit in Scotland for travelers who love mythology. Take a Loch Ness cruise while touring Scotland and you’ll discover that it’s one of the most beautiful places in Scotland to boot.

Check out our guide to mythical places you can visit around the world →


4. Bow Fiddle Rock

Wondering where to go in Scotland to catch the sunset? This natural sea arch, located near Portknockie on the northeastern coast of Scotland, is a picture-perfect spot. While visiting Scotland on tour, spend a free day there hiking, kayaking, and bird-watching before the sun goes down.

See highlights from Go Ahead staffer Lori’s tour of England, Scotland, and Ireland →


5. Dunnottar Castle

This former fortress perches atop a rocky outcrop 160 feet above the North Sea in Aberdeenshire. It’s also among the most beautiful places in Scotland for coastal views. Up for a scenic stroll? Walk to the castle from the nearby town of Stonehaven (less than two miles away) via the picturesque coastal path during a free day while on tour in the Scottish Highlands.

Check out more breathtaking castles to visit in Scotland →


6. Traigh Hornais Clachan Sands

On the Outer Hebridean island of North Uist, this idyllic white-sand beach is one of the best places to visit in Scotland for swimming, snorkeling, and picnicking. Travelers on tour in Scotland can take a ferry ride to North Uist from the neighboring Isle of Skye in their free time. Another option: Add a pre- or post-tour stay in the area to your trip and explore to your heart’s content.


7. Glenfinnan Viaduct

Eagle-eyed travelers who visit this striking, 1901-built structure at the edge of Loch Shiel in the Scottish Highlands might recognize it from several Harry Potter films. (All aboard the Hogwarts Express!) For primo photo ops, make your way up the Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail or to the lower slopes of the hill known as Beinn an Tuim during your free time on tour.

Heading to Scotland? Get your reading list ready! →


8. Eoligarry Beach

North Uist isn’t the only Outer Hebridean island with postcard-worthy beaches. Barra, the chain’s southernmost island, is home to eye-popping Eoligarry Beach, one of the best places to visit during free time in Scotland for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing.


9. The National Wallace Monument

High above the city of Stirling (roughly 45 minutes by train from Edinburgh), this tower stands in tribute to Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace. It’s also one of the best places to visit during free time in Scotland for a combination of history and natural scenery, thanks to the mountainous, rocky, and forested landscape around it.

Follow The Go Ahead Travel Guide to Edinburgh for things to do in the Scottish capital →


10. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Bonnie banks, indeed. Pay a visit to this peaceful lake—located in the heart of a national park and surrounded by verdant hills—with us while on tour in Scotland and you’ll see why it’s so fondly featured in “Loch Lomond,” one of Scotland’s most famous and enduring songs.


11. An Lochan Uaine in Cairngorms National Park

Situated in the heart of the UK’s largest national park, this tree-rimmed lake is said to have gotten its bright-green color from clothes that local fairies wash in it. Whether you believe that tale or not, be sure to wander to the lake’s edge and dip your toes in its cool, clear water.

Visit Cairngorms National Park on an individual pre- or post-tour stay, or on a Customized Tour of Scotland →


12. Yesnaby Castle Sea Stack

Travelers wondering where to go in Scotland to see unique rock formations and crashing waves should head to the west coast of Orkney, a group of islands north of mainland Scotland, during their free time. That’s where they’ll find this otherworldly rock formation. It’s a nesting place for sea birds—not to mention a stunning photo op and one of the most beautiful places in Scotland.

Ready to see these beautiful places in Scotland for yourself? Check out our Scotland tours.

Free time tipsKnow before you go
About the author | Lindsay Day
A devoted aisle seat-sitter, Lindsay first traveled overseas—to Italy and Greece—with EF as a high school sophomore. Since then, she’s visited nearly 60 countries on six continents (one of these days, Antarctica!). When she’s not in the office (or on the road), she’s probably cooking up a new plant-based recipe or biking on a local rail trail.

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