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#Highlands

The Best Places To Visit And See On The Scottish Highlands

The Paradise of Nature
Chapters

A few words about the Highlands of Scotland

Scotland

Highlands, the paradise of nature in Northern Scotland. The journey to the Highlands is not just an experience; it is an adventure you will remember for a lifetime. 

Vast plains, lush green meadows, mountains, waterfalls, castles, and lakes are some of the unique landscapes you will witness. Start your itinerary from the mysterious Loch Ness and venture all the way to the Isle of Skye. 

In this article, you will discover the best places to visit and see in the Scottish Highlands, the best time to visit them, how many days you need to stay, and general useful tips for your Highland program.

The tree is reflected on the lake in a magical way. Surrounding it are mountains and a bridge in the middle of the photo.
The landscape that will enchant you in the Highlands.

The Top 10 Places of the Highlands

1. Inverness

Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, stands out for its beauty and unique architectural buildings, making it one of the best places in the Highlands.

Visit the city’s most popular attraction, Inverness Castle, and admire the view from above. Also, see the oldest church, St. Stephen’s, and if you want to learn more about the local history and culture of the Highlands, visit the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, which offers free admission.

Additionally, make a stop at the oldest railway bridge in the United Kingdom, the Greig Street Bridge, and get up close to Inverness Cathedral, which will impress you with its architecture, stained glass windows, and stone and wood carvings.


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Sunset in the enchanting capital of the Highlands, Inverness. The colors of the sky and the natural beauty of the city captivate every visitor.
The most magical time of the day in Inverness.

2. Loch Ness

Visit the most famous and mysterious lake in Scotland, none other than Loch Ness. It’s so vast that it connects Inverness to Fort Augustus and is particularly known for the so-called “monster” of Loch Ness, which is the reason all tourists visit this place. 

You can enjoy the lake by taking a cruise, and through this experience, try to catch a glimpse of Nessie or uncover its mystery. The cruise can start either from Fort Augustus or from Loch Ness itself.

The famous monster of Loch Ness, also known as Nessie, is usually described as a large, enigmatic creature, with a long neck and a head resembling that of a dinosaur. 

3. Fort Augustus

One of the most popular destinations in the Highlands is the picturesque village of Fort Augustus, known for its canals, as it is built along the Caledonian Canal. If you want to learn more about the history of the canals, visit the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre. 

From there, you can take a cruise to explore Loch Ness. Alternatively, for a more thrilling experience, try kayaking or canoeing. On the other hand, if you prefer walking, explore the most popular route, the Great Glen Way.

4. Ben Nevis

Are you a nature and adventure lover?

Experience a unique adventure during your trip to the Highlands by conquering the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom, Ben Nevis. It’s a favorite spot for skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. You can start your hike either from the town of Fort William or the Glen Nevis area.

 If you visit during the winter, head to the Nevis Range ski resort, which offers a breathtaking view of the mountain range. Keep in mind that regardless of the season, due to the high altitude, temperatures can be low. Therefore, make sure to have the appropriate equipment with you.

5. Glenfinnan και Hogwarts Express

Do you want to see up close the train that appears in the Harry Potter movies?

The impressive Glenfinnan Viaduct is where the Hogwarts Express passes, the magical train that transported students to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If you want to fully experience it, board the Jacobite Steam Train, which departs from Fort William and arrives in Mallaig. Through this scenic route, you will enjoy the boundless nature, the lakes, the trees, and the castles.

Please note that the train passes through the viaduct twice a day, once in the morning at 10:30 and once in the afternoon at 15:00.

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Get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the Scottish Highlands! Experience scenes from the Harry Potter movie and prepare for a unique experience with the famous Jacobite Steam Train. Secure your tickets now and get ready to travel back in time, discovering the magic of the Highlands in the most charming way.

The Hogwarts Express bridge stands out within a unique landscape featuring snowy mountains and green meadows.
Discover Glenfinnan and the Hogwarts Express, the famous mode of transportation from the Harry Potter film series, in a unique Scottish landscape.

6. Isle of Skye

Your trip to the Highlands cannot be complete without a visit to the second-largest island in Scotland. Vast natural landscapes, waterfalls, mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, beaches, and cliffs will leave you amazed.

Some of the most famous landscapes of the Isle of Skye include the Quiraing’s valleys, the Fairy Pools’ waterfalls, the Old Man of Storr’s rock, and Kilt Rock and the Mealt Falls. You can access the Isle of Skye either by car, crossing the Skye Bridge, or by taking a ferry from Mallaig.

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A Scottish cow is enjoying tranquility in the vast green meadow.
Scotland is renowned for its cows, which roam freely in its enchanting landscapes.

Old Man of Storr

The iconic symbol of the Isle of Skye with the highest number of visitors is the Old Man of Storr. And rightfully so, as you’ll witness a rock standing at a height of 50 meters. The shape of this stone giant gives the impression that it’s “gazing” towards the sky.

You can admire it by simply parking your car or by taking a hike, which takes about 1 hour to ascend. However, the view of the Trotternish peninsula will reward your efforts. The best time to visit the Old Man of Storr is during sunset or sunrise when the colors in the sky create magical scenes, making for impressive photographs.

Fairy Pools

Do you want to experience the ultimate magic of nature?

The Fairy Pools are a series of waterfalls and crystal-clear pools that have transformed the Isle of Skye into one of Scotland’s most popular destinations. To reach the Fairy Pools, you have to walk for about 20 minutes to encounter the first large and impressive waterfall. What makes this place so special is the combination of waterfalls and pools surrounded by stunning mountains.

Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls

Wondering what else to see on the Isle of Skye?

On your Scotland itinerary, head to Kilt Rock and the Mealt Falls, where you’ll encounter cliffs and a 60-meter waterfall cascading into the sea. Specifically, Kilt Rock is an impressive cliff composed of colorful minerals and geologically formed layers. These vibrant layers resemble the traditional Scottish kilt, from which it took its name.

The view from Kilt Rock offers stunning panoramic landscapes towards the Staffin Bay and the ocean, making it one of the most photographed spots on the Isle of Skye. Similarly, the Mealt Falls are waterfalls where the waters tumble down from the high cliff into the Mealt Bay and continue towards the ocean.

Quiraing

Another unique landscape of the Isle of Skye in Scotland is the Quiraing, and it is one of the most popular destinations for hiking and photography on the island. The geological formations will astonish you in the Quiraing mountain range. Reach the large parking area to enjoy the most incredible view of the mountains, the lush landscapes, and the rocky formations that will leave you in awe.

Endless green meadows with rocky formations protruding from the ground.
Experience the incredible beauty of Quiraing in Scotland, one of the most stunning landscapes in the world.

Portree

Stay in the largest town on the Isle of Skye, the beautiful Portree. There, you will have the opportunity to find a plethora of restaurants, shops, and hotels. The location of Portree is ideal for exploring most of the tourist attractions. Portree impresses with its colorful little houses lining the harbor. The sight created when the sunlight hits them resembles a painting. Your stroll along the harbor will grant you a unique view of lush peaks.

The colorful cottages of Portree are reflected on the water, creating a unique landscape.
Portree - the picturesque harbor of Scotland.

Eilean donan castle

Do not forget, on your trip to the Highlands, to visit the most photographed castle in Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle. It is situated on a small island in Loch Duich, connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. In reality, it is not on the Isle of Skye but just outside the bridge before entering the island. 

Eilean Donan Castle has played a significant role in Scotland’s history; it was destroyed by the army of William of Orange in the 17th century and restored in the late 19th century. Explore this medieval castle and learn all about its history. Moreover, did you know that it has been used as a filming location in many movies? 

Eilean Donan Castle set in an idyllic atmosphere with its stone bridge standing out.
Discover the enchanting beauty of Eilean Donan Castle!

How many days do I need to stay in the Highlands?

To enjoy the most popular attractions, you will need 2-3 days. However, if you want to get a comprehensive experience of the Highlands, you will need about a week. If you have 3 days for the Highlands, below you will find a daily itinerary with the best places to visit and see in these magical landscapes.

1 day in the Highlands

  • Inverness
  • Loch ness
  • Fort August
  • Ben Nevis
  • Glenfinnan, Hogwarts Express

2 day in the Highlands

  • Portree
  • Old Man of Storr
  • Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
  • Quiraing 

3 day in the Highlands

  • Eilean Donan castle
  • Sligachan Old Bridge
  • Fairy Pools
  • Dunvegan Castle

When is the best time to visit the Highlands?

If you wonder when is the best time to visit the Highlands, the ideal seasons are spring and summer. Specifically, from April to August, these months offer suitable weather with warmer temperatures, mild climate, and plenty of sunshine to experience the unique landscapes of the Highlands.

The most beautiful lake with crystal clear waters, an island in it and mountains around it.
A spectacular Scottish lake in the Highlands.

Driving in Scotland

Driving in Scotland is a unique experience that allows you to discover the stunning landscapes and numerous attractions this beautiful country has to offer. One important thing to know is that traffic drives on the left-hand side, meaning the driver sits on the right side of the car.

Although driving on the left and having the driver’s seat on the right might seem unusual at first, it shouldn’t deter you from exploring Scotland by car. While it might feel odd initially, with a bit of attention, you’ll become comfortable from the first day itself. And remember, your journey through the narrow lanes and picturesque countryside of Scotland will be an adventure that stays etched in your mind.

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Highlands: The Best Places to Stay​

The top 3 choices for accommodation in the Highlands are Inverness, Portree, and Fort William. 

Specifically, Inverness is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and serves as an ideal location to explore other popular points of interest in Scotland, such as Loch Ness and Fort Augustus. Stay at the most central and modern hotel in the city, the AC Hotel by Marriott Inverness.

Portree is an excellent accommodation choice as it is situated in a breathtaking location, surrounded by lush mountains, lochs, and amazing landscapes. Portree serves as a central base to explore the Isle of Skye and visit various points of interest, such as Quiraing, Fairy Pools, Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, and Mealt Falls. Stay at the Luxury Super Central Cottage with a Hot Tub/ Gym, which offers a terrace, mountain views, and a hot tub. 

Book Your Accommodation Early and Secure Lower Prices Now, you can uncover the magic of the Highlands with comfort and style by making a reservation at one of the wonderful hotels situated conveniently close to all the attractions. Hotels in the Highlands

Lastly, another ideal option is Fort William, a popular tourist town in Scotland that offers many wonderful attractions and experiences for visitors. From Fort William, you can explore nearby sites such as Ben Nevis and Glenfinnan. Stay at the Clan Macduff Hotel for an unforgettable accommodation experience in Scotland. 

A wooden cottage stands in the background, with a serene lake in front of it.
Experience authentic accommodation in the Scottish Highlands, amidst lush landscapes.

Useful tips for the Highlands

Here are the 4 most useful pieces of information for your trip to the Highlands:

1. Attractions: While these places are located in vast landscapes, if you’re going there by car, there is private parking available at each attraction, where you’ll need to pay a small fee. 

2. Weather: Always have an umbrella with you, as the weather in the Highlands can be unpredictable. 

3. Clothing: Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring a waterproof jacket for possible rain. 

4. Driving: In Scotland, traffic drives on the left side of the road. If you’re not accustomed to this, it may take some time to adjust.

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