The Most Beautiful Places in Scotland

You may think of bagpipes and haggis when you hear Scotland, but Scotland is also known for it’s amazing natural beauty and adorable villages. I lived in Scotland with my grandma as a girl, and was lucky enough to spend time exploring the country and soaking up all its beauty! It’s such a magical country that your eyes can hurt from seeing it all!

Me, living it up in my bagpipe days!

Between the ancient cities and the countryside of Scotland, you’re spoiled with stunning scenery! From national parks like Loch Lomond and the Trossachs to the medieval city of Edinburgh, Scotland has endless stunning sights.

Let’s not forget about the most beautiful places in Scotland up in the Highlands and on the 93 inhabited islands! Scotland boasts over 30,000 lakes, over 1,500 castles, and six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which all seem like must-sees when visiting Scotland. Keep these in mind when planning your Scotland itinerary.

But don’t feel overwhelmed about missing the most breathtaking views during your trip to Scotland! This guide covers all of the scenic Scotland destinations from its unspoiled beauty in remote parts of the country to the most picturesque towns and cities so you can choose which you want to visit.

Witness the magic of Scotland’s rugged, natural beauty and historical sights during your next vacation to the most bonnie part of the British Isles!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews & blog posts? Here are our top picks for visiting Scotland:

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Our favorite hotels in Scotland

Our favorite tours in Scotland

Renting a Car in Scotland

If you want to see authentic Scotland, I recommend you drive yourself. If you’re renting a car, there are two companies we prefer to use: Rental Cars and Expedia Cars. We have had no issues with them and have been able to find the best prices available.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Most visitors spend at least two or three days in the Scottish capital on a first-time trip, and so should you! Because Edinburgh Castle is one of the best places where to visit in Scotland for incredible views.

Edinburgh-Castle

This 11th-century castle sits on a dormant volcanic rock and is an iconic part of Edinburgh’s skyline. It houses the Scottish Crown Jewels as well as the National War Museum. Visit in the early afternoon for the one o’clock gun, a tradition that dates back to 1861.

Head to the Vennel, a stepped alley just off Grassmarket, for one of the most photogenic castle views. But the views from the castle across Princes Street are just as beautiful as the castle itself!

2. Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

Ask any Scotsperson about the most beautiful sights in Scotland and, without fail, they will mention Glen Coe. Located just south of Fort William, Glen Coe is a valley enclosed by dramatic mountains streaming with waterfalls down its jagged rock.

perfect scotland itinerary
Mystical Glencoe

Glen Coe is a visual treat with ten miles worth of jaw-dropping views. The hills are always vibrantly colored with snow, lush grass, or burnt orange depending on the season.

There are lots of hiking trails and areas of incredible natural beauty throughout Glen Coe. Loch Leven is a long, scenic freshwater lake at the end of Glen Coe with a ruined castle. The Lost Valley, the Pap of Glencoe, and Cloiche Finne Coire are all popular hikes.

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3. The Fairy Glen and Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye

Many regard the Isle of Skye as the most beautiful place in Scotland. This island is known for its dramatic landscapes with 100 ft waterfalls, an abundance of sea life, rocky mountains, pink beaches, and so much more unspoiled beauty.

Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye

It’s the largest island in the Inner Hebrides connected to the mainland by a bridge, so it’s easy to reach as well as pretty.

One of the most beautiful spots on the island is The Fairy Glen. Several small landslips have created a ridged pattern on a group of small conical hills. This otherworldly landscape looks like somewhere fairies would live, hence the name.

isle of skye
Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye

Fairy Pools are in a completely different part of the island, but the same logic applies. These shallow waterfalls and pools shimmer with different shades of green and blue in the sunlight. They look so magical that they clearly must be fairy pools!

4. Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven

Castles are some of the top places of interest in Scotland, and you have a lot to choose from! One of the most beautiful castles in Scotland is undoubtedly Dunnottar Castle on the east coast next to the North Sea.

This 14th-century castle has played host to William Wallace and Mary, Queen of Scots in its time. Today, sadly the castle has fallen to ruin but its sweeping views of the cliffs and coastline keep visitors coming back.

5. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Some of the nicest places in Scotland to visit are its two national parks, one of which is Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Loch Lomond covers 720 square miles of Scottish countryside just north of Glasgow. It boasts some of the biggest lochs (including the lake of Loch Lomond), 21 mountains over 3,000 ft, and lots of opportunities for hiking, sailing, and other watersports.

Beginner hikers will adore the breathtaking scenery of Loch Lomond from Conic Hill, a moderate 1,184 ft climb. Hikers looking for a challenge will be rewarded with views from the top of Ben More, the highest mountain in Loch Lomond National Park at 3,852 ft.

There’s a reason why there’s a popular Scottish folk song about the ‘Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond’. Explore Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park for yourself to find out just how bonnie the banks are!

6. Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls on the Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye wouldn’t be one of the most beautiful and best places to visit in Scotland if it didn’t have multiple entries on this list! One of the other natural wonders to visit on the island is Mealt Falls, a waterfall that flows over a seacliff called Kilt Rock.

Isle-of-Skye-Cliffs

The best time to visit Scotland to see waterfalls is in the spring when rainfall is at its highest. Water flows from Loch Mealt and over Mealt Falls, a 180 ft waterfall, into the sea. Kilt Rock is a sheer cliff that allows the water to cascade with no obstructions which is an incredible sight.

7. Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands

One of the best things about visiting Scotland amazing places is that there’s usually a fascinating, folkloric story attached. There’s no myth more interesting than Loch Ness and its legendary monster!

what to do in inverness scotland

Loch Ness is Scotland’s largest lake by volume (Loch Lomond has the largest surface area) and you’ll find it in the Highlands near Inverness. Whisperings of the Loch Ness Monster, a mythical sea creature living in its waters, have continued for centuries with various sightings and hoaxes fueling the rumors.

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There are plenty of reasons to visit Loch Ness aside from the slim chance of spotting Nessie, and one is the natural beauty. Take a boat cruise or drive around its 23-mile perimeter to see more of this serene lake surrounded by woodland and green, rolling hills.

8. Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis and Harris

While the Isle of Skye is a popular island for visitors, some of the best places in Scotland to visit are more remote. The Isle of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides has so many beautiful spots that will reward you for making the extra effort to travel there!

Islands in the Outer Hebrides are known for their untouched white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. But the historical places in the Outer Hebrides offer a different kind of beauty.

The Calanais Standing Stones are a 5,000-year-old megalithic stone circle near Harris’s rugged western coastline. For Outlander fans, it’s the closest you’ll find to the fictional stones of Craigh na Dun! Visit at sunset for the most beautiful landscape don’t forget to stop by the visitor center.

9. Cairngorms National Park

Another national park and one of the most beautiful spots in Scotland is the Cairngorms National Park. It’s the largest national park in the UK covering a vast wilderness of 1,748 square miles in the northeast of the county.

This diverse landscape comprises rolling hills covered in pine trees and thick blankets of snow in the winter. Its unique ecosystem means it’s the only place in the British islands with an Arctic-Alpine environment and yes, you can even go skiing here!

During the summer, patches of heather cover the rocky outcrops and visitors flock to the charming mountain towns of Aviemore and Kingussie. Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite residence was Balmoral Castle in the Cairngorms National Park so you’ll probably love the Cairngorms too!

10. National Wallace Monument in Stirling

Of all the cool places Scotland has to offer, the National Wallace Monument is pretty cool. Not only is it a monument to one of Scotland’s most famous historic figures, but it’s located in a beautiful setting.

Sir William Wallace was one of the main leaders in the First Scottish War of Independence during the 12th century. In 1869, a 220 ft Gothic-Victorian sandstone tower was built on a hill just outside the city of Stirling.

There’s lots to love about this monument. First, the walk up the hill through woodland is beautiful. Second, the intricate stone carving and scale of the monument is impressive in itself. And third, the view across the city of Stirling, the meandering River Forth, and Stirling Castle is one you won’t forget.

11. The Royal Mile in Edinburgh

One of the top places to visit in Scotland is the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and it just so happens to be one of the most beautiful spots in the city. This mile-long street runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Edinburgh-Royal-Mile

It stretches from Edinburgh’s castle to Holyrood Palace, hence the nickname, lined with beautiful historic buildings and narrow, cobbled streets. One of the winding streets leading from the Royal Mile is Victoria Street which even inspired Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books.

12. St Abbs in the Scottish Borders

The Scottish Borders is one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland and one of the prettiest places is St Abbs. It’s a quaint fishing village that stood in as New Asgaard in Avengers: Endgame but it’s worth visiting just for the scenery.

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St Abbs has a small harbor with little boats anchored to the dock and only two or three rows of houses behind but it’s such a cute town. You can walk up the headland for views over St Abbs and the two beautiful bays on either side.

13. Rannoch Moor in Perthshire

There are so many pretty places in Scotland to see while driving on the A82, the main road from Glasgow through the Scottish Highlands. One spot worth pulling over for is the viewpoint overlooking Rannoch Moor.

Known as one of the last great untouched wildernesses in Europe, Rannoch Moor comprises 50 square miles of wet bogland. While it doesn’t sound very beautiful, small lochs are dotted around this landscape surrounded by hiking and mountain biking paths.

14. Tobermory on the Isle of Mull

Aside from Skye, the Isle of Mull is one of the most popular Scottish islands to visit and you can easily travel there via ferry from Oban. Tobermory is the capital of the Isle of Mull and one of the most beautiful towns on the island.

Tobermory has an Instagrammable harbor lined with multicolored houses that reflect perfectly in the water on a bright, calm day. Tobermory Lighthouse is also a picturesque spot and there are lots of other beautiful places on the rest of the island too.

15. Glenfinnan Viaduct near Fort William

One of the best activities in Scotland to do on a first-time trip also offers some of the best views of the Scottish Highlands. If you’ve watched the Harry Potter films, you’ll know that the Hogwarts Express steam train crosses a stunning 21-arch bridge on its journey from London to Scotland. This bridge is the Glenfinnan Viaduct and you can watch a steam train cross this bridge in real life!

Perfect-Scotland-Itinerary-7-days

While it’s not the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter, the similar Jacobite Steam Train runs from April to October and travels between Fort William to Mallaig. You can either book tickets to ride the steam train or drive to the viewpoint to watch it cross the bridge. Or both!

While in Glenfinnan, you can visit Loch Shiel and hopefully see the red deer drinking from the waters too.

16. Pitlochry in Big Tree Country

If there’s nothing more beautiful to you than miles and miles of woodland, you need to visit Pitlochry. It’s a pretty, chocolate-box mountain town with pubs and tea rooms surrounded by over 200,000 acres of forest and lakes.

Pitlochry rests on the banks of the River Tummel which is fed from the scenic Loch Tummel. Head to Queen’s View Visitor Centre for an epic panorama of the loch and nearby rugged mountains!

17. Scott’s View in the Tweed Valley

Sir Walter Scott is a famous Scottish author living at the turn of the 19th century. He lived in the Scottish Borders and, according to him, the most beautiful place in Scotland was the view over the Tweed Valley.

This viewpoint was lovingly dubbed Scott’s View and there’s a bench and plaque to mark the spot. With the purple-heathered hills and lush green farmland, you can see why he enjoyed this overlook so much!

18. Lagavulin Distillery on the Isle of Islay

The Isle of Islay is famous for its whisky distilleries so it’s the best place to visit in Scotland for whisky lovers. But don’t let that deter you if you’re not a whisky drinker because there is so much beauty on this island that it’s worth visiting anyway!

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The Isle of Islay is just off the west coast of Scotland. Lagavulin Distillery dates back to 1742 and its clean white building with black windows and red chimney is very picturesque. As are the incredible views across the sea!

19. Yesnaby Castle Sea Stack in Orkney

Located off the north coast of Scotland in the North Sea, Orkney is an archipelago of 70 islands. These islands are some of the most rugged, beautiful places to see in Scotland but there’s one place in particular that you can’t miss.

The Yesnaby Castle Sea Stack is a 115 ft-tall rock formation just off the west coast of mainland Orkney. It’s part of the cliff that has worn away from the coastline to stand alone. With large gaps in its structure, it looks like it could fall like a Jenga tower at any moment!

20. White Beach on the Isle of Iona

Scotland might not have the warmest waters, but with 11,602 miles of coastline, it has some incredible beaches! One of the most picturesque beaches in the country is the simply named White Beach on the Isle of Iona, a small island off the west coast of Mull.

The Isle of Iona is known for its religious significance with many tourists visiting the Iona Abbey and Nunnery. But its soft, sandy beaches like White Beach are well worth visiting too.

21. Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle might sit atop an extinct volcano, but it’s not the only extinct volcano and hill in the city! Arthur’s Seat is one of the most scenic places in Scotland and it’s the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills standing 823 ft above sea level.

what to do in edinburgh

From the top of Arthur’s Seat, you can see breathtaking views of the Firth of Forth, across Leith harbor, above the entire city, and out towards the Pentland Hills. It’s a must-do on anyone’s first trip to the Scottish capital.

22. Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye

Yes, the Isle of Skye has so much breathtaking scenery that it must appear three times on this list! Scotland has so many dramatic mountain ranges, but one of the best views in Scotland is of the Cuillin Mountains.

The Cuillins are fairly rocky and difficult to hike, but rock climbers and advanced mountaineers love them. If you’re not ready to don a harness and summit one of these jagged hills, admire them from afar at Sligachan Old Bridge.

23. Bealach na Bà on the Wester Ross West Coast

Translating to ‘The Way of the Cattle’, Bealach na Bà is a winding mountain pass that is not suitable for RVs, trucks, or the nervous driver. But this drive traverses one of the most beautiful places on Scotland’s west coast.

It climbs through the mountains on the Applecross Peninsula and is a key road on the North Coast 500 road trip circuit. Passengers can enjoy the views over the mountains to the sea and the driver can enjoy concentrating on the many turns and climbs!

24. The East Neuk of Fife on the East Coast

Translating to ‘nook’ or ‘corner’, the East Neuk of Fife is one of the prettiest places in Scotland and one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Even better, it’s only an hour or so north of Edinburgh.

Fife is home to famous cities like St Andrews, but also cute fishing villages like Anstruther and St Monans. If you want to visit a beautiful, sleepy village on the coast and taste some of the best fish and chips you’ve ever eaten, East Neuk is the place to go!

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25. Bow Fiddle Rock on the Moray Firth

Some of the most beautiful places in Scotland are on its stunning coastline. One of those places is Bow Fiddle Rock, a unique rock formation off the northeast shelf of the country along the Moray Firth.

It has that name because this rock looks like someone is pulling a bow across a fiddle (from certain angles). It’s a cool sight and a great place to spot nesting birds from spring to fall.

26. Eolaigearraidh Beach on the Isle of Barra

One of the most southerly islands in the Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Barra is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland and worth making the effort to travel there! Thanks to its location out in the Atlantic Ocean, it’s home to some pretty spectacular beaches.

Eolaigearraidh Beach is in the north of Barra and, if it weren’t for the brisk temperatures, you could mistake its white sands for a beach in the Balearics or Bahamas.

27. Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa

This dramatic sea cave on the Isle of Staffa, just off the west coast of Mull, is one of the best things to see in Scotland and will be the highlight of your trip.

You might know part of this island’s history if you’ve visited the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. As the myth goes, an Irish giant built a bridge across the sea to Fingal’s Cave due to a disagreement with a Scottish giant. While the bridge is no longer, the geometric basalt columns in both places remain.

Fingal’s Cave is known for its unbeatable acoustics and you’re even able to sail inside the cave! Visit in spring to see nesting puffins too.

28. Ben Nevis outside Fort William

For hikers, Ben Nevis is one of the top Scotland must-see sites. It’s the tallest mountain in Scotland and therefore the UK, measuring 4,413 ft above sea level. Ben Nevis is so tall that its summit is only visible from the ground for approximately 30 days of the year!

It’s an epic mountain to climb and it also marks the end point of the West Highland Way, a 95.6-mile trek through central Scotland.

29. Eilean Donan Castle in the Kyle of Lochalsh

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most picturesque places in Scotland and it’s the second most photographed castle in the country. Edinburgh’s castle is the only one that beats it!

It’s located on the west coast close to the Skye Bridge. Dating back to the 13th century, this castle sits on a large rock at the point where three lochs meet so it’s only accessible by bridge. It’s exactly what you expect when you think of historic sites in Scotland and looks like something out of a fairytale book.

30. Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

Although the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful places in the country, it’s often overlooked due to its remote location. It marks the most southerly point in Scotland and is closer to Ireland than it is to England or any of the Scottish islands.

The daisy-colored Mull of Galloway Lighthouse looks much like the dozens of other lighthouses lining Scotland’s shores. But there’s something special about this lighthouse which sits on the edge of its own peninsula overlooking the Irish Sea.

Don’t Miss the Most Beautiful Places in Scotland on Your Trip

Scotland’s beauty spans mountains, glens, lochs, islands, beaches, castles, and more!

You’ll find the most beautiful places in Scotland on the tourist trail (there’s a reason why they’re popular) or by chance. Like the ever-changing weather, Scotland will often surprise you with awe-inspiring views on your vacation when you least expect it.

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