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Top 7 Must-See Places in Scotland

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Neist Point Lighthouse on the Isle of Sky, Scotland

Neist Point Lighthouse on the Isle of Sky, Scotland

The must-see destinations in Scotland connect the drama of the landscape, the breadth of the past, and the lively ambiance of contemporary life.

From historic architecture to charming railways, mysterious lakes, and colorful gardens, the country offers beauty and intrigue in abundance.

Whether you are interested in historic castles or encounters with the majestic golden eagle, these are the places in which you can enjoy Scotland’s timeless wonder.

1. Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

With hidden nooks and blind corners that urge you forward, Edinburgh is wondrous to explore. With intimately narrow alleyways paved with cobblestones and boasting connections to centuries of aristocratic authors, the city has a worn and welcoming ambiance. Bordered by colorful hillsides, decorated with the spires of Gothic architecture, and crowned by the hanging silhouette of the castle, simply standing in its presence is an experience.

Highlights: Edinburgh Castle | Palace of Holyroodhouse | Royal Mile | Arthur’s Seat | National Museum of Scotland

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

2. Glasgow

Gothic interior of Glasgow Cathedral with stained glass windows

Interior of Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow is a city of surprising sophistication, but with a humble ambiance that represents a welcoming metropolis. Stately Victorian mansions, exciting museum galleries, and labyrinthine arcades provide a diversity of experiences, from vintage shops to second-hand books. Greenery sprouts from the 70 parks and open spaces, underpinning the city’s charm. With artistry, charisma, and a particular grandiosity, Glasgow represents Scotland’s progression through time.

Highlights: Glasgow Cathedral | Glasgow School of Art | Merchant District | University of Glasgow

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

3. Aberdeen

Aberdeen rises like a flower on the edge of the North Sea, as the Rivers Dee and Don converge. The parks and gardens create a vibrant ambiance of seasonal color, giving way to stretches of sandy beaches, golf courses, and streets lined with atmospheric shops. The silver-gray granite buildings create an alluring shimmer, lending credence to the nickname “Silver City”. With access to nearby castles and whisky country, Aberdeen is a welcome surprise against the backdrop of the unruly sea.

Highlights: Duthie Park | St. Machar's Cathedral | University and King’s College of Aberdeen | Brig o’Balgownie

Recommended length of stay: 1-2 days

4. Dundee

Broughty Castle on the Broughty Ferry Shoreline in Dundee, Scotland

Broughty Castle on the Broughty Ferry Shoreline in Dundee, Scotland

Friendly, charismatic, and welcoming define Dundee, Scotland’s fourth-largest city. The waterfront offers a glimpse into the former bustling port and the evolution of where architecture and art meet. The Old Town offers great shopping and culinary specialties. Whether hiking to the top of the extinct volcano or winding through the galleries of the V&A Dundee Museum, the city on the edge of the sea can feel more like a charming town than a bustling city.

Highlights: Moncrieffe Island | Branklyn Garden | Old Town | Church of St. Johns

Recommended length of stay: 1-2 days

5. Inverness

Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness in Inverness, Scotland

Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness in Inverness, Scotland

The River Ness runs through and acts as the heart of Inverness. With a passionate history of battles and reinvention, much of the city reflects the completion of the Caledonian Canal and often serves as a base for traversing the Highlands or searching for the infamous Loch Ness Monster. But the city has an indelible charm, stemming from the Victorian Market to the Botanic Gardens, Neo-Gothic architecture, and modern artworks. With a rich sense of self-awareness, Inverness is like no other destination in Scotland.

Highlights: Inverness Castle | Caledonian Canal | Urquhart Castle

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

6. Stirling

National Wallace Monument in Sterling, Scotland

National Wallace Monument in Sterling, Scotland

Stirling is a treasure of historical preservation, with Old Town crowning the summit of an extinct volcano. Antique architecture frames the cobblestone streets and ramparts continue to provide the castle with an impressive silhouette. A Victorian-Gothic ambiance sweeps through the cityscape, connected to the brooding monument of William Wallace. The high ground prevails with panoramic views and a connection to the depths of cultural history.

Highlights: National Wallace Monument | Bannockburn Heritage Centre | Stirling Castle | University of Stirling

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

7. The Highlands

Memorial cairn at the battlefield of Culloden near Inverness

Memorial cairn at the battlefield of Culloden

The Scottish Highlands are wild and untamed, secluded, and eternally enticing. As one of the few destinations in Europe where you can experience solitude, the lonely landscapes evoke an ethereal beauty amidst the rawness of nature. From hiking the hills to witnessing the turbulent tidal waters, kayaking or absorbing the tradition through shared legends, the Scottish Highlands are an enchanting collection of scattered villages, castle ruins, and untouched space.

Highlights: Loch Ness | Culloden Battlefield | Chowder Castle | Elgin | Loch Maree

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

How many days is enough to see Scotland?

Jacobite Steam Train on the Glenfinnan viaduct in Scotland

Jacobite Steam Train on the Glenfinnan viaduct in Scotland

Ten to 12 days in Scotland will give you the best chance to experience the entire country, while keeping your goals and needs in mind, as well as how you prefer to travel. This amount of time gives you plenty of space to travel between cities, enjoy the historic streets, discover the Highlands, and sample life around the country as you embrace local heritage and daily custom. Whether you want to take a scenic steam train or search for a mythical creature, you can set your own pace in Scotland.

More Travel Information & Tips

Scotland embraces its dramatic landscapes and fascinating history with a composure specific to locals. With millennia of history featured in Highland mountains to preserved castles, Scotland takes you beyond the British Isle to reach mysterious corners and alluring heritage demonstrated in the countless things you can do. Are you planning a tour of Scotland? You can speak with a Scotland travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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