Scotland’s Top 5 Must-Visit Towns and Cities
Full of beautiful places, it comes as no surprise that Scotland has become a ‘must-visit’ country for many people around the world. And, without a shadow of a doubt, this northernmost UK nation deserves to be celebrated! All of Scotland's towns and cities have their own unique characteristics and charm, each a perfect mix of modern and gothic architecture, as well as castles, forests, harbours and bridges. However, with so many pretty towns and cities dotted throughout Caldeonia (the Latin name for Scotland), it can be tricky to know which ones are most worthy of exploration. Therefore, so that you know exactly where to focus your travels, we have created a guide to the top 5 places to visit in this bonnie country. From the idyllic golf courses of St Andrews, to day trips and a climb up Scotland's tallest mountain, we have a lot to recommend! So, stay with us and discover what locations you really don’t want to miss.
Wondering where to go, and what the best attractions are to see in Scotland? Where better to begin than the world-famous Edinburgh!
While it may be best known for its annual arts festival in August, Scotland’s capital has a lot to offer all year round! Rich in history and full of charm, Edinburgh is a city you can visit time and time again, so whether you’ve been before or not, it deserves the top spot on your Scotland travel bucket list. If we had to recommend one way to kickstart your trip, the historic monuments of the Old Town rank highly, with Edinburgh Castle being the best place to begin! Perched on Castle Rock, Scotland's most iconic landmark was once the dwelling place of a long line of Scottish Kings and Queens, and now opens its doors to millions of visitors each year. Dive deep into Scotland’s past by casting an eye on the oldest crown jewels in the UK, or by visiting the fascinating National War Museum; located within the Castle's grounds, these two places are perfect for exploring Scotland's royal and military history. Next, we recommend making your way down the cobblestoned Royal Mile, where you'll pass St. Giles’ Cathedral and without doubt a piper or two on your way! At the bottom of this long stretch, you'll find the Scottish Parliament, an innovative and modern building that directly contrasts the historic architecture of Edinburgh Castle at the opposite end of the same road! After seeing this, you should pay Holyrood Palace a visit, which conveniently lies just around the corner. This was once home to one of Scotland’s most well-known monarchs, Mary Queen of Scots, back in the 16th century. Overlooking both the palace and the parliament, Arthur's Seat is bound to catch your eye while you’re in this area! An absolute must-visit attraction, this extinct volcano takes about one hour to climb and will leave you awestruck by its amazing 360° view of the city. You'll be able to see everything from the Firth of Forth and the rolling Pentland Hills, to Edinburgh’s New Town. While we’re on the topic, New Town, is definitely worth a visit if you’re a bit of a foodie, as it offers plenty of great places to tuck into delicious delights or to enjoy Michelin star dining experiences. Taking all this into consideration, it goes without saying that Edinburgh should be added to your list of dream destinations!
Looking for a smaller town with some of Scotland's best views? Check out Pitlochry
While Scotland's capital is full of attractions and has a multitude of things to do, sometimes escaping the city and surrounding yourself by the breathtaking scenery found in smaller, more rural towns is just what you need. Not too far from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh, you can find Pitlochry. Situated in the heart of Scotland, in the region of Perthshire, Pitlochry boasts some of the most beautiful walks in the country. The most famous of these trails includes the Queen's View, named after none other than Queen Victoria who visited the area in 1886. For the eagle-eyed among you, you may even be able to spot the impressive Schiehallion mountain from this vantage point. To continue with the theme of nature, we recommend a visit to the stunning Faskally Woods. While great for a winter wander and ideal for a springtime meander, if you visit here in October, you may be lucky enough to catch the Enchanted Forest event, where you'll see the trees light up with many magical colours! And, if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, why not head out on a day trip to Aberfeldy – just outside of Pitlochry – where you can find different adrenaline-fueled activities, including white water rafting! Just don't forget to pack your raincoat if you’re game for this trip!
What is a nice family friendly place to visit? Check out Millport (the Isle of Cumbrae’s only town)
We wouldn’t be exaggerating by saying that Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world. Easily accessible and full of things to do for the whole family, we recommend the town of Millport. Situated on the Isle of Cumbrae (not far from the seaside town of Largs), Millport is one of the best places to visit if you're looking to relax and unwind. Popular among cycling enthusiasts, you can hire a bike from a rental shop in Millport and head off on the 10-mile cycle path that loops around the island. Take in the picturesque scenery as you go, including views of the Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig. Once you’re back in the heart of Millport, why not take a break by the town’s quaint harbour? It’s the perfect place to sit and watch the boats float on the water. Just a short walk from the harbour stands the UK’s smallest cathedral. Stunning both inside and out, the Cathedral of the Isles is well worth a visit! Other interesting but less conventional landmarks include Crocodile Rock and Lion Rock – ancient rock formations that, as their names suggest, take the shape of crocodiles and lions (yes, you read that correctly)! While you may not spot a real-life crocodile in Millport, it is home to an array of different wildlife species, including seals, birds and even dolphins! Trust us, this is one isle you’ll definitely want to step foot on. And, if you like the sound of visiting a Scottish island town, you might also be interested in checking out our comprehensive guide to the best Scottish islands!
Which part of Scotland is the most beautiful? Take in the magnificent sights of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands
Fort William is the perfect base for those wanting to explore Scotland’s incredible northwest coast. Surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, it's an outdoor-lover’s paradise! One of its major selling points is its proximity to Scotland's tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, which is arguably the most beautiful backdrop in the country! For those willing to brave the climb, the unmatchable view from the top of the jagged mountain makes the physical endurance worthwhile – you’ll be able to see as far as the coast of Northern Ireland on a clear day! Even in the fog and rain, Fort William still has a lot to offer. Head to the local station to jump on an old-fashioned steam train, and sit back and relax as you cross over the incredible Glenfinnan Viaduct – better known to some as the bridge to Hogwarts in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter. Day trips aside, Fort William is the perfect place to discover traditional Scottish pubs, quaint old churches, and ancient Jacobite artefacts at its West Highland Museum. It’s equally ideal for a spot of mountain biking or hiking. If you’re travelling here northward by car, we recommend taking the scenic route and stopping off at Glencoe. A deep valley surrounded by stunning rugged-edge mountains, its view makes you feel like you've stepped into a whole other world. Full of history, it's where the massacre of Glencoe took place and, more recently, it was the backdrop to James Bond's Skyfall.
St Andrews: a must see for tourists and locals alike, with lots of things to do
No trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to St Andrews, the supposed final resting place of the country’s patron saint. You won't be short on things to do here, as this medieval town is full of great places to visit. Most famously, it’s the dwelling place of one of the world’s oldest universities: the University of St Andrews. With its buildings spread across the town, you can walk around the university’s expansive grounds, tracing the footsteps of scholars from the 15th century all the way up to the present day. However, St Andrews isn't just an educational hub... It is in fact also the ‘home of golf’, and its 18-hole golf course is where the first ever game was played, some 600 years ago! Attracting visitors from all over the world, St Andrews’ golf course offers guided tours, allowing you to see first-hand where the globe’s greatest players have hit their best shots! And, as if there wasn't already enough celebrated history to discover in this wonderful town, we also strongly suggest a walk along West Sands, the beach where the world-renowned opening scene of Chariots of Fire was shot. History aside, it's also a great beach for walking, running, and swimming. So, with plenty of points of interest, St Andrews is definitely a town to tick off the list. You're guaranteed to be walking a whole lot, so make sure to pack your comfiest trainers!
Start planning your trip to Scotland now!
Whichever town or city you decide to visit in Scotland, we know that you won’t be disappointed! Oozing history and culture, as well as beautiful architecture and landscapes, Scotland is a fantastic place for a mini getaway. However, before you leave, don't forget that it also lives up to the stereotype of being one of the rainiest countries in the world, drizzling up to 250 days of the year! So that nothing dampens your trip, make sure you're prepared with a suitable jacket, hat, and pair of walking shoes to protect you from the wet and wild Scottish weather!