Scotland Dropdown content sports such a strong selection of tourist attractions – from castles and cabers to kilts and whisky – it’s easy to forget that there is much more to this land. Venture away from the cities and you'll find rugged mountains, remote glens and mile-upon-mile of wave-lashed beaches. Ready to explore? Here are seven Scottish places that you've probably never heard of, but must visit.
Located 40km off Scotland's far northwest coast, the
It may look like the gnarled New Zealand countryside which doubled so superbly as the setting for the Lord of the Rings films, but this Tolkienesque landscape is actually on Scotland’s
St Kilda is an archipelago so impressive that it became the first place in the world to be recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage list for both its natural heritage (it is home to the unique Soay sheep and the St Kilda field mouse) and its human history (its inhabitants lived a unique communal life until it was abandoned in 1930).
To get here, you have to endure an often (very) bumpy boat ride across forty miles of ocean from the Western Isles, but the sheer cliffs and striking rock formations are worth the effort.
Few Scots have even heard of the UK’s most remote inhabited isle, and there's little wonder why: there are less than forty hardy Foula locals.
Getting here is an adventure in itself, with a twenty-mile boat journey from the
Venture out across the rugged and wild interior and you can see bonxies (huge skuas) and arctic terns swooping above your heads in summer. Or, enjoy a picnic by the sea as you watch orcas hunt for seals on rocky shores that even the Romans never conquered. They dubbed Foula the Ultima Thule, or the end of the known world, when they spied it in the distance.
Despite being the UK’s largest national park – and home to the largest mountain plateau in the UK –
It feels a world apart, too, as you ramble across a lunar landscape where the UK’s only wild reindeer herd roam and the wrecks of crashed WWII aircraft lie frozen in time. The plateau is a paradise for well-prepared walkers in summer, while skiers and snowboarders take over in winter.
Fancy a visit to the Norwegian fjords? Well, save yourself some cash and head to
The clear, cobalt-blue waters and lack of development mean marine life is bountiful here – look out for seals, dolphins and, as you get closer to the open sea, whales. You can stay at the Torridon Youth Hostel, the relaxed Ben View or the seriously posh mock baronial Torridon Estate, which has the best of the spectacular loch views.
Let’s talk surfing. We all know about Australia’s Bondi beach and the brilliant waves in Bali – but what about
Unsuspecting walkers are often surprised to find the surreal spectacle of a dozen surfers lying out in the Pentland Firth, looking to catch some of the serious waves you get in these tumultuous waters, the Orkney Isles just visible behind them in the distance. The conditions are so good that a volley of surf championships have been held here, including two world championships for kayak surfing.
Explore more of Scotland with the