Scottish Highlands

Discover The Scottish Highlands

Are you ready to discover the wild and wonderful Scottish Highlands? This epic region is packed full of rugged landscapes, towering mountains, and breathtaking coastlines that will take your breath away! It’s the perfect destination for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers alike who appreciate the beauty in nature.

From the stunning vistas of the Cairngorms National Park to the iconic peaks of Ben Nevis and Glencoe, the Scottish Highlands offer some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the world. But it’s not just about the natural beauty – this place is also steeped in rich history and culture that is both sad and inspiring. The history of the Highland clans show the true strength and determination of the Scottish people. 

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So why not take a road trip and wind your way through the stunning scenery, stopping at charming villages and towns along the way. You can meet the friendly locals, experience traditional Scottish hospitality, and even sample some of the famous whiskey distilled right here in the Highlands and of course meet some hairy coos (highland cows).

With ancient stone circles, historic battlefields, and centuries-old castles dotting the landscape, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a magical land of legends and folklore. And let’s not forget about the cozy pubs where you can sit by a roaring fire, sipping on a pint of ale and swapping stories with the locals!

So what are you waiting for? Grab your camera, pack your bags, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in the Scottish Highlands!

Go On An Off-Road Quad Bike Trek To Meet Highland Cows (Hairy Coos)

Highland Cows

Photo by Piotr Musioł on Unsplash

Quad Bike Treks, Aviemore offers an incredible Scottish adventure. Hop on a quad bike and ride off-road through the Scottish highlands. You will even get the chance to get up close and personal with highland cows. You are sure to want to take a photo with the fluffy gentle creatures. Kids must be aged 12 years and older to ride on the quad bike however younger kids can tag along in the Landy’s. This is an adventure not to be missed. Be sure to be dressed appropriately for the Scottish weather. 

Hike The Famous Ben Nevis- The Highest Mountain In The UK

Ben Nevis Scotland Highlands

Photo by Migle Siauciulyte on Unsplash

Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK. It stands 4,413 feet high. Start at the Ben Nevis visitor centre and embark on a 9.8-mile out-and-back trail that takes around 8 hours to complete. The ground is rocky and uneven so be sure to be wearing appropriate hiking boots. The trail is open year round but does get very cold in the winter. Be prepared for sudden and unexpected changes in the weather. Climbing ‘The Ben’ is quite the accomplishment and you will be rewarded with fantastic views at the summit. Be aware that it can get very windy so be sure to bring a windbreaker jacket, gloves and a hat. You will gain 4,399 feet in elevation on this challenging hike! Alternatively if you do not fancy the hike, you can ride up in the UK’s only gondola.

Take The Only Gondola In The UK Up To The Nevis Mountain Range

Nevis mountain gondola Scotland

Photo by Kasia on Pixabay

Sit back, relax and take a gondola up Aonach Mor, Scotland’s 8th tallest mountain which is a part of the Nevis mountain range. The gondola is the only one of its kind in the UK and reaches the height of 2,133 feet/650 meters. The ride up takes about 15 minutes and each gondola seats 6 people. There are wheelchair accessible gondolas so nobody has to miss out. This scenic ride up allows visitors to enjoy the stunning mountain without without having to climb it. There is a café at the peak station which offers incredible views. This is an amazing experience not to be missed and unlike any other in the UK.

Marvel & Walk Through The Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen Scotland Highlands

Photo by Karen Cann on Unsplash

The Fairy Glen, also known as An Gleann Eididh, is a picturesque and otherworldly natural feature located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. This area is characterized by its rolling green hills, unusual rock formations, and small pools, all surrounded by towering cliffs.

Folklore and legends abound in the area, with many locals believing that the site is home to fairies and other mythical creatures. The strange geological formations, including miniature “fairy towers,” are said to be the homes of these mystical beings. Visitors to the site can stroll up and through the hills to admire the unusual landscapes, which are said to change shape and form depending on the time of day and weather conditions.

Fairy Glen Stone Circle

Photo by Karen Cann on Unsplash

Despite its mystical reputation, the Fairy Glen is also a popular destination for walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, who come to enjoy its scenic beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Hiking trails wind through the hills, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the nearby Cuillin mountain range. There are a few hills to climb but they are not too steep or high so climbing them is fairly easy. The ground can be very slippery so be sure to be wearing good quality hiking shoes and dress for the weather. It is only a very short walk to get to the magical stone circle.

Admire Mealtfalls: The Waterfall That Falls Straight Into The Ocean

Mealtfalls Scotland

Photo by Sam Quek on Unsplash

Mealtfalls is a waterfall that is located on the isle of Skye in Scotland. It is situated on the western coast near the village of Kilt Rock. The waterfall is particularly impressive when the tide is in, as the water drops directly into the sea. It looks as though you are somewhere in Iceland or the Faroe islands but Mealtfalls proves that Scotland can compete with the rest of the world for pure natural beauty.

The falls are easily accessible by car. There is a car park nearby along with a viewpoint from where the falls can be observed. Visitors can also walk to the base of the falls, however, the path is steep and can be slippery in wet weather.

Hike The Storr

Old man of Storr Scotland highlands

Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash

The Storr is a steep, jagged, unearthly looking rock formation that stands 2,211 feet high. It is jagged and steep on one side and features a grassy slope on the other side. The hike out to this incredible formation is a 5.3-mile circular trail that takes you up 1,896 feet in elevation. It takes an average of 4 hours to complete. It is best to have a backpack to ensure that your hands are kept free for the hike up.

 Be aware that the weather in Scotland can change without warning so be sure to have a windbreaker jacket handy along with a hat and gloves for the colder months. There are no facilities here and whilst entry to the hike is free, parking costs a couple of pounds. This hike is best attempted between March and September, however, is open year round. What an incredible sight!

Explore The Whimsical Fairy Pools

Fairy pools Scotland highlands

Photo by Adam Gavlák on Unsplash

The Fairy Pools are absolutely stunning and are a must-visit when in Scotland. Head out on the 2.3-mile out-and-back trail that takes you up 508 feet in elevation. The trail itself is free but parking costs a couple of pounds. Enjoy this gorgeous trail with multiple waterfalls of vibrant blue and green coloration and even cold swimmable pools if you are feeling daring. Be aware that the trail isn’t well-marked but due to its popularity, you will easily be able to find your way. The trail is bumpy and requires you to jump over stepping stones, so always practice caution and be sure to be wearing good hiking shoes.

Visit The Picturesque Town Of Portree

Portree Isle Of Skye Scotland

Photo by Bree Anne on Unsplash

Portree is the largest town on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It is a picturesque coastal town known for its colorful buildings, stunning harbor views, and charming atmosphere. The town is surrounded by rugged mountains and rolling hills, providing a dramatic backdrop to the colorful streets and buildings.

Portree offers a range of accommodation options, from traditional Bed & Breakfasts to modern hotels, making it a popular base for those exploring the island. There are also plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars in Portree, offering visitors a variety of dining and shopping options.

Visit One Of Scotland’s Most Photographed Castles: Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan castle Scotland

Photo by Crawford Jolly on Unsplash

Eilean Donan Castle is a picturesque and historic castle located on an island at the point where three lochs meet in the Highlands of Scotland. The castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic and recognizable landmarks, and is considered one of the country’s most photographed castles.

Eilean Donan Castle was originally built in the 13th century as a defensive structure to protect the local area from Viking raids. Over the centuries, the castle was added to and expanded, and played a key role in several important historical events, including the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.

 Today, the Castle is open to visitors, and offers a fascinating glimpse into Scotland’s rich history and cultural heritage. Going up into the castle itself is not wheelchair accessible however, you can go right up to it along the picturesque bridge which is worth it alone for the picture. There are restrooms, a gift shop and cafe in the visitor center right by the parking lot which is all wheelchair accessible.

Hike The Crying Hills Of Glencoe

Glencoe Scotland

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

Glencoe is a beautiful valley in the Scottish Highlands that is known for its stunning scenery and outdoor activities, including hiking. There is a legend associated with Glencoe that describes it as the “Crying Hills.” According to legend, the hills of Glencoe are said to be haunted by the spirits of the Macdonald clan who were massacred by government troops in 1692. After it rains and as it’s raining, you can see dozens of waterfalls trickle down the hills in Glencoe giving it the name of the crying hills and if you were to venture out at night, it is said that you can hear their screams. 

There are several hiking trails in Glencoe, ranging from easy walks to challenging mountain climbs. One of the most popular hikes is the Aonach Eagach Ridge, which is a challenging scramble that offers stunning views of the valley. Hiking the Aonach Eagach Ridge hike is a 6.2-mile/ 10 kilometer loop trail with an elevation gain of 3,609 feet/1,100 meters which takes between  6-8 hours to complete.

The trailhead for the Aonach Eagach Ridge hike is located at the Glencoe Mountain Resort car park. From there, you’ll need to walk along the road for about 0.6 miles/1 kilometer to reach the start of the trail.

See If You Can Spot The Famous Loch Ness Monster At Loch Ness On A Cruise

Loch Ness Scotland

Photo by Alicia_Chan on Pixabay

Loch Ness is the world famous 23-mile long freshwater lake located up in the Scottish highlands. Made famous by the alleged sightings of the Loch Ness monster, Nessie. The best way to experience the loch is by cruising down it. Of course you can just look at it from the banks but we recommend getting out on the water. Jacobite cruises offer several different tours that last around 2 hours, some just take you around the loch while others stop off at the castle. You will board the vessel at Dochgarroch and be able to take in the beauty and mystery of the lake and legend that made it famous. There are hot drinks available for purchase on board. Dogs are allowed to board the vessel and there is wheelchair access on both the Jacobite Rebel and Jacobite Maverick. While it is important to note that only the Jacobite Maverick has wheelchair accessible toilet facilities available on board the vessel. Don’t forget your camera for this one, who knows, maybe you will spot Nessie. Cruises run year-round.

Visit The Historic Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Scotland Highland clans

Photo by Diana Poell on Pixabay

Culloden is a historic site located in Scotland, near the city of Inverness. It is best known as the site of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746. The battle was the final confrontation of the Jacobite Rising, in which Bonnie Prince Charlie and his supporters attempted to regain the British throne for the Stuart dynasty. The Jacobites were defeated by the British army, and the battle marked the end of the Jacobite cause and the start of a period of repression against the Highland way of life.

Today, Culloden is a visitor attraction and a place of pilgrimage for those interested in Scottish history. The site includes a battlefield trail, which takes visitors past the mass graves of the fallen Jacobite soldiers, as well as an interpretation center with exhibits and artifacts related to the battle and the Jacobite Rising. The center also includes a multimedia presentation that provides a vivid and immersive experience of the battle and its aftermath.

Visitors to Culloden can also explore the nearby Culloden Moor, which is a peaceful and serene place that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The moor is also home to a number of monuments and memorials related to the battle, as well as a peaceful graveyard where many of the fallen Jacobites are buried.

Feed The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd

Reindeer Scotland Highlands

Photo by Joe Green on Unsplash

The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd is Britain’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer and are found in the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. These reindeer are tame and friendly animals. They are a joy to all who come and see them. The Shop is open everyday (except Jan-early Feb)  they offer a daily guided hill trip to go up and see the reindeer. During the Winter, trips depend on the weather and also may be dependent on whether or not they can find the herd. It is an absolutely magical experience especially for animal lovers.

Hike Through Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park

Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

One of the best hikes in Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is the Lairig Ghru Hike. This hike is approximately 19 miles in length and can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to complete, depending on your level of fitness and hiking experience.

The hike begins at the Linn of Dee car park and follows the Lairig Ghru pass through the heart of the Cairngorms. The trail winds through a beautiful valley and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and landscape. The hike is known for its challenging terrain, with steep ascents and descents and rocky, uneven paths.

The elevation gained on the hike is approximately 2,500 feet, with the highest point being at the summit of Braeriach at 4,252 feet.

Visit Scotland’s Stonehenge: Calanais Standing Stones & Visitor Centre

Calanais Standing Stones

Photo by schotti highland on Pixabay

Calanais Standing Stones is a Neolithic monument located on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is also known as Callanish, and is one of the most famous and important prehistoric sites in Scotland. Calanais Standing Stones were erected around 5000 years ago, during the Neolithic period. The stones form a complex of around 50 megalithic structures, including a circle of 13 standing stones, a central monolith, and a series of avenues and cairns. The purpose of the stones is still a mystery, but they are believed to have had religious, ceremonial, or astronomical significance. Similar in significance to the much more famous Stonehenge in England. 

The visitor center at Calanais provides a range of facilities for visitors, including a café, a shop, and restrooms. The café serves a variety of snacks and drinks, and there is also an outdoor picnic area. The shop sells souvenirs, books, and maps, and there is a tourist information desk. The visitor center is wheelchair accessible and has parking for disabled visitors.

Admission to the standing stones themselves is free, but there is a charge to enter the visitor center.

Stand In Awe Of The Duncansby Coastal Stacks

Duncansby Coastal Stacks Scotland Highlands

Photo by M W on Pixabay

Duncansby Stacks are a group of sea stacks located in the far north of Scotland, in the county of Caithness. The stacks are formed from Old Red Sandstone and stand up to 100 feet (30 meters) tall. They are a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts due to their unique and dramatic appearance. The stacks are located near the Duncansby Head lighthouse and can be viewed from the nearby coastal path. They are also a popular spot for birdwatching, as many seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes, nest on the cliffs and stacks.

There is a coastal path that runs near the stacks, but it can be rough and uneven in places, and may not be suitable for everyone. Additionally, the weather in the area can be unpredictable and can make the walk to the stacks difficult, especially in strong winds and heavy rain. It is recommended that visitors come prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear. The sight is well worth it though.

Take A Boat Tour Out To The Isle Of Staffa, Fingal’s Cave & See The Puffins

Hop on a boat tour with Staffa tours and depart from either Iona, Tobermory, Oban, Fionnphort or Ardnamurchan. Hop on the boat and discover these incredible rock formations, see the native wildlife like the cute puffins, whales, dolphins, sea eagles, seals, basking sharks and porpoises and explore Fingal’s cave. Fingal’s cave is otherworldly and exceptionally symmetrical, you can’t miss it. Tours run from April till August! There is some climbing and hiking to do once you are on the island to get up to see the puffins and into the cave so be sure to be wearing shoes with good grip.

Ride The Hogwarts Express Through The Scottish Highlands

Jacobite train, Hogwarts express Scotland Highlands

Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

This is often referred to as the greatest railway journey in the world. West Coast Railways Jacobite Steam Train runs from Early April through to the end of October. It does not run in the winter months. This steam train is the real life Hogwarts express from the famous Harry Potter books and film series. Embark on this 84 mile round trip through the Scottish highlands. You will pass incredible sights like Ben Nevis, Arisaig, Loch Morar and Loch Nevis. There are several different ticket options to choose from, standard, first class, first class with table and your own private compartment which can seat up to 6 people(this is the compartments you see on the Hogwarts express). What’s more you can even order high tea for the journey which lasts around 6 hours in total return. What an experience not only for Harry Potter fans but those who appreciate old steam trains. 

Gellions Bar: Live Scottish Folk Music

Scotland Folk Music

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

The Gellions in Inverness is a historic pub that has been operating since the 1800s. Its traditional Scottish decor, live music, and welcoming atmosphere make it a popular nightlife spot for locals and visitors to enjoy drinks and entertainment in the heart of the city. Join them for their ceilidh on a Saturday night.  A ceilidh is a social event with Scottish folk music, singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling.

Try Some Traditional Haggis At The Dores Inn

Haggis Scotland

Photo by Benjaphon Khidhathong on Pixabay

The Dores Inn is a family-run pub and restaurant. It serves up traditional Scottish cuisine like haggis if you dare to try it. They also serve salmon, steak, fish and chips and the local’s favorite sticky toffee pudding.  Choose to sit indoors or outdoors and get sweeping views of the world famous loch ness!

Sample Some Whiskey At Talisker Distillery

Talisker Whiskey Scotland

Photo by Noe TCHAGASPANIAN on Unsplash

The Talisker distillery is a Scotch whisky distillery located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It was founded in 1830 and is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. The distillery is owned by the drinks company Diageo, and it produces a range of single malt whiskies.

Talisker whisky is known for its smoky and peaty flavor, which is a result of the peat used to smoke the barley during the production process. The water used in the production of Talisker whisky comes from a nearby underground spring, which is said to contribute to the whisky’s distinctive taste.

The distillery offers tours to visitors, which includes a visit to the production facilities and a tasting of Talisker whisky. The visitor center also has a shop where you can purchase Talisker whisky and other souvenirs.

Talisker has won numerous awards for its whisky, including the “Best Islands Single Malt” at the 2019 World Whiskies Awards. The distillery also has a loyal following of whisky enthusiasts who appreciate its unique flavor and history.

In addition to producing whisky, Talisker has also been involved in environmental conservation efforts on the Isle of Skye. The distillery has partnered with the Talisker Bay Community Trust to help maintain the local landscape and wildlife.

There you have it, the Scottish highlands are quite a magical place full of legend and folklore. The landscape will take your breath away and give you memories to last a lifetime. 

I hope you have enjoyed my blog on Discovering Scotland. Download the Tripio app now and start creating your very own custom itinerary for your dream vacation. Travel has never been so easy. Get Tripio to generate a custom top 10 just for you. Your dream vacation awaits and it’s as easy as downloading the Tripio app. Our travel experts have spent countless hours researching destinations so you don’t have to. What are you waiting for? I will see you in our next destination, till then keep traveling!

Interested in more of the UK, check out: Northern Ireland’s Top 10 Must-See Places

or more of Scotland, Exploring The Charms Of Edinburgh

Written by Gemma Winchester, Tripio Guru

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