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From the vibrant streets of Edinburgh to the rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, Scotland beckons visitors with a myriad of experiences. Discover the best places to visit in Scotland, where ancient castles stand sentinel, picturesque lochs reflect the sky and charming villages offer a warm Highland welcome. Whether you are drawn to the bustling cities or the tranquil countryside, a trip to Scotland promises an unforgettable journey.

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1. Edinburgh

View of Edinburgh Castle on a clear blue day during late afternoon.
Climb up Castle Rock to Edinburgh Castle, see the shiny Crown Jewels, and enjoy amazing city views.

Edinburgh beautifully combines history and modernity, making it one of the best places to visit in Scotland. From the Edinburgh Castle that crowns the city’s skyline offering the stunning views to the Royal Mile’s cobblestone streets lined with shops and pubs, every corner tells a different story.


  • Wander through the historic Royal Mile, traversing cobblestone streets and exploring centuries-old buildings and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of the vibrant street of Edinburgh.
  • Explore the National Museum of Scotland, delving into diverse exhibits spanning art, science and history and delve into Scotland’s cultural evolution over the centuries.
  • Climb to Edinburgh Castle atop Castle Rock, where you can witness the Crown Jewels while enjoying the panoramic views of the city.

2. Glasgow

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum during a clear day in Glasgow.
Dive into the world of art at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, where you'll discover everything from timeless Renaissance masterpieces to captivating contemporary exhibits.

Glasgow is one of the most popular places to visit in Scotland, where the charm of Vistorian and Art Nouveau architecture meets a thriving arts scene and friendly locals. Take a leisurely stroll along the River Clyde, soaking in the city’s atmosphere. Don’t miss the melodic notes at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. This city harmonized history, arts, and contemporary flair for a unique urban escape.


  • Indulge in a shopping spree along Buchanan Street, Glasgow’s premier shopping district which is lined with designer boutiques and vibrant street life.
  • Immerse yourself in the artistic treasures of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which includes Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary exhibits.
  • Explore Glasgow’s industrial heritage at the Riverside Museum, a striking building housing an eclectic collection of transportation marvels.

3. Isle of Skye

Rainbow over the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye in Scotland

Hike through the breathtaking Old Man of Storr, an imposing rock formation that looms over the landscape, providing awe-inspiring panoramic view of the island. 

From the dramatic sea cliffs of Neist Point to the majestic sight of golden eagles soaring high above, the Isle of Skye is a haven for nature lovers, hikers and photographers alike. Lose yourself amid the ethereal beauty of the Fairy Pools, where crystal-clear cascades are surrounded by vibrant greenery, providing a peaceful escape. With its breathtaking vistas, abundance of outdoor adventures and cozy hideaway cottages, this island is also one of the most popular places to visit in Scotland for couples.


  • Hike and witness the awe-inspiring Old Man of Storr, a colossal rock pinnacle that dominates the skyline, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the island.
  • Discover the rich history of Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, which provides a cultural and picturesque excursion on the Isle of Skye.

4. Perth

River Tay embankment with St.Matthews Church of Scotland in Perth.

While on your trip to Scotland make a stop at the picturesque River Tay in Perth.


Situated in central Scotland nearly midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Perth is one of the top places to visit in Scotland. The city is rich in history, natural beauty and contemporary culture. Unveil the cultural heartbeat of Perth at the modern Perth Concert Hall, a hub for diverse performances. With its historic allure and contemporary outlook, Perth is a captivating destination that promises a perfect fusion of Scotland's rich heritage and the pleasures of modern city life.


  • Explore the majestic Scone Palace, a historic gem surrounded by lush gardens and set against the backdrop of the River Tay, and delve into the royal past of Scotland.
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene at Perth Concert Hall, a modern venue hosting a variety of performances, from classical concerts to contemporary shows.
  • Visit the historic St. John’s Kirk, a stunning church with a rich history dating back to the 12th century, and marvel at its intricate architecture, stained glass windows and serene atmosphere.

5. West Highland Way

The lakes of Lochan na h-Aclaise on the vast bogs of Rannoch Moor
Explore the serene beauty of Rannoch Moor along the West Highland Way in Scotland.

Stretching for 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William, this iconic route takes hikers on a visual odyssey through lush forests, serene lochs and rugged mountains. Marvel at the enchanting beauty of Loch Lomond and the captivating history of Glencoe. The West Highland Way, with its ever-changing vistas and diverse terrains, offers a quintessential Scottish experience, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to explore the untamed beauty of the Scottish Highlands.


  • Venture back in time exploring ruins of castles, the towering grandeur of Glencoe, the site of Scotland’s most infamous massacre, and the Neolithic settlements around Buchaille Etive Mòr.
  • Sample fine single malt Scotch whisky on a distillery tour in Fort William, or visit traditional pubs in charming Highland villages scattered along the 96-mile trail from Milngavie to Fort William.
  • Admire the majestic landscape as you pass by stunning lochs, cascading waterfalls and the grand Rannoch Moor while trekking through breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands.

6. North Coast 500

Drive on the Kylesku Bridge on the North Coast 500 road in Scotland.

Drive on the Kylesku Bridge on the North Coast 500 road in Scotland.

Renowned as one of the best places to visit in Scotland by car (or even by bicycle), a journey in the North Coast 500 unveils some of Europe's most exquisite roadside scenery. Commencing and concluding in the charming city of Inverness, the route meanders past lochs, sand dunes and golf courses along the east coast, revealing the remote splendors of Cape Wrath, the rugged peaks of Assynt, and the desolate beauty of Torridon. Throughout this week-long tour, immerse yourself in warm Highland hospitality found in classic rural pubs and age-old crofting villages, ensuring an unforgettable exploration of Scotland's finest landscapes.


  • Hike the arduous trails of the Applecross Peninsula to be rewarded with panoramic views of rugged, untouched Scottish wilderness meeting the sparkling sea.
  • Spot puffins, dolphins, whales and seabirds galore while touring sea caves and secluded bays by boat to embrace the richness of marine life flourishing along the coast.

7. Stirling

Stirling Castle during a clear day in Stirling, Scotland.
Step back in time at Stirling Castle, where history comes alive within its majestic walls.

Stirling, Scotland’s historic treasure, boasts the impressive Stirling Castle and tales of William Wallace. Wander through the Old Town’s cozy streets, filled with shops and pubs. Don’t miss the National Wallace Monument and its breathtaking views. Whether exploring the Ochil Hills or the River Forth’s shores, Stirling blends history with modern charm. It’s a must-visit Scottish city where ancient stories and scenic beauty come to life.


  • Immerse yourself in history as you explore the grand Stirling Castle, uncovering the stories within its walls and enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Ascend the National Wallace Monument to gain a heightened perspective on Scottish history, enjoying breathtaking views and learning about the life and legacy of Sir Willaim Wallace.
  • Meander through the charming streets of Stirling’s Old Town, soaking in the medieval atmosphere and discovering landmarks like the Stiriling Bridge.
  • Step into the past at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, where interactive exhibits and reenactments bring the Battle of Bannockburn to life, provisioning insights into Scotland’s struggle for independence.

8. St. Andrews

A close up view of the ruin of St. Andrews Castle in the sunset.
Dive into the mysteries of St. Andrews Castle on a captivating tour through its medieval fortress.

Home to the world-famous St. Andrews Links golf course, it’s a golfer’s paradise. The town’s ancient streets lead to the iconic St. Andrews Cathedral ruins. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along West Sands Beach for stunning sea views. Discover quaint shops, delightful cafes and a welcoming small-town vibe. Whether you are a golf enthusiast, history buff, or nature lover, St. Andrews offers a delightful Scottish escape with its unique blend of heritage and natural beauty.


  • Immerse yourself in history as you explore the majestic ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, marveling at its medieval architecture and climbing St. Rule’s Tower for panoramic views.
  • Play a round of golf at the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews. Follow in the footsteps of golfing legends and appreciate the iconic Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole.
  • Take a stroll along the scenic West Sands Beach, enjoying the sandy shoreline and soaking in views of the North Sea.
  • Uncover the secrets of St. Andrews Castle as you tour the medieval fortress, exploring its underground tunnels and learning about its pivotal role in Scottish history.

9. Orkney

Mystic Ring of Brodgar, one of the places to visit in Scotland

Be captivated by the awe-inspiring Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic marvel and soak in panoramic views of the enchanting Orkney landscapes.


Orkney is a scenic archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, renowned for its abundant wildlife, archeological sites and coastal scenery. The islands offer a chance to see puffins, seals, and other creatures up close as you sail amidst towering sea cliffs or walk windswept beaches. History buffs will be fascinated by Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old preserved Stone Age village and the towering Ring of Brodgar, a perfect stone circle erected by Neolithic people. Those seeking quiet and natural beauty can wander through the picturesque farmland, relax in quaint fishing harbors like Stromness, or sample exceptional local seafood, cheese, beer and whisky. With its rugged coastal landscapes, abundant wildlife, and traces of bygone eras, Orkney Islands offer an unforgettable glimpse of Scotland’s northern isles.


  • Immerse yourself in the ancient past as you explore the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, wandering through well-preserved Stone Age houses and gaining insights into prehistoric Orkney life.
  • Marvel at the awe-inspiring Ring of Brodgar, standing amid the Neolithic stone circle surrounded by a circular henge. Experience the mystical ambiance and enjoy panoramic views of the Orkney landscape.
  • Admire the architectural splendor of St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, exploring its interior adorned with stained glass windows and historical artifacts. Delve into the medieval history of this iconic Orkney landmark.

10. Shetland Islands

A close up view of Jarlshof at Shetland Islands during a clear day.
Embark on a historical journey at the Jarlshof archaeological site in Shetland.

With over 100 islands to explore, visitors can discover rugged cliffs, towering sea stacks, and an abundance of wildlife, including puffins, arctic terns, seals and otters, in Shetland. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy miles of dramatic coastal trails to hike and photograph, spectacular sea kayaking and some of the best cold water scuba diving sites. The islands also boast a rich history including well-preserved Iron Age brochs, Norse archaeological sites, medieval ruins and remnants of the whaling and fishing trade. With sparse crowds, wild landscapes and unique heritage, the peaceful Shetland Islands provide an unforgettable escape off Scotland’s northern coast.


  • Dive into Shetland’s rich history by exploring the Jarlshof archaeological site, where you can unravel millennia of human settlement, from prehistoric times to the Norse era and medieval periods.
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant festivities of the Up Helly Aa Festival in Lerwick, featuring a torch-lit procession, the burning of a Viking galley, and lively celebrations that pay homage to Shetland’s Norse heritage.
  • Marvel at the natural beauty of Sumburgh Head, where a historic lighthouse stands sentinel over a nature reserve. Witness seabird colonies and explore the lighthouse museum.

From bustling cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow to the remote Northern Isles, Scotland captivates with its diverse landscapes. Travelers can explore legendary castles, soak in cosmopolitan culture, sample fine whiskies, traverse misty glens, or spot wildlife during their trip to Scotland. Whether you seek outdoor adventures, heritage sites, or contemporary attractions, there are many places to visit in Scotland that offer experiences to suit all interests.

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Published by Astha Joshi, updated on January 29, 2024
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