Best things to do in Scotland

updated 7/12/2021
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Are you wondering what are the best things to do in Scotland

you need to include in your trip? Read on to make sure you don't miss out on these big ones, taken straight from our travel guide The Rough Guide to Scotland .

1. Eigg

Perfect example of a tiny, friendly Hebridean island, Eigg offers with a golden beach to lie on, a hill to climb and stunning views across the sea to its neighbour, Rùm.

© Shutterstock

2. Celebrate Hogmanay

Traditional New Year celebrations

, with whisky, dancing and fireworks staving off the midwinter chill.

© Shutterstock

3. The Cairngorm mountains

Natural splendour and terrific outdoor activities such as hiking, mountainbiking and in winter even skiing, plus the last remaining Caledonian pines - the Cairngorms

have it all.

© Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock

4. Gearrannan, Lewis

Stay in the thatched blackhouse hostel in the beautifully restored former crofting village on Lewis


© Shutterstock

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5. Melrose Abbey

Ruined Cistercian abbey

situated in the most beguiling of Border towns.

© Richard Melichar/Shutterstock

6. Tobermory

The main town on the beautiful island of Mull

, and Scotland’s most picturesque fishing port.

© James McKay/Shutterstock

7. Scottish Parliament

Enric Miralles’ startling, contemporary design for the Scottish Parliament

has transformed the old Holyrood area of Edinburgh .

Scottish Parliament Debating Chamber © Duirinish Light/Shutterstock

8. Glen Coe

Moody, poignant and spectacular, Glen Coe

of dramatic James Bond fame is within easy reach of Fort William .

© A Jellema/Shutterstock

9. Staffa and the Treshnish Isles

View the basalt columns of Staffa’s Fingal’s Cave from the sea, and then picnic beside the puffins on the Isle of Lunga.

© Aelice/Shutterstock

10. Edinburgh Festival

The world’s biggest festival

of theatre and the arts transforms Edinburgh every August.

© Tana888/Shutterstock

11. Islay

Hebridean island

with no fewer than seven whisky distilleries, and wonderfully varied birdlife that includes thousands of wintering geese.

© Shutterstock

12. Jarlshof, Shetland

An exceptional archeological site on the Shetland isles

taking in Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish, Viking and medieval remains.

© Shutterstock

13. Shetland Folk Festival

Shetland is the place to experience traditional folk music, and the annual Folk Festival is the best time to do it.

© Shutterstock

14. Scottish Pubs

Forget the great outdoors and install yourself in one of Scotland’s cosy and convivial hostelries.

© Shutterstock

15. Glasgow School of Art

Finest example of the unique style of Glasgow

architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Vintage looking The Glasgow School of Art © Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

16. Burrel Collection, Glasgow

An unconventional but impressive museum at the heart of Glasgow’s

cultural renaissance.

Glasgow is also famous for its greenery. Read our guide to Glasgow's parks

and see why it's a city worth visiting.

Burrel Collection, Glasgow © rubiphoto/Shutterstock

17. Mousa , Shetland

The mother of all Iron Age brochs (round towers) on an island off the coast of Shetland


Mousa Broch is the finest preserved example of an Iron Age broch or round tower. It is in the small island of Mousa in Shetland, Scotland © Marcin Kadziolka/Shutterstock

18. Edinburgh Old Town

Lose yourself in the capital’s medieval cobbled streets and closes and enjoy the unique city vibes of Edinburgh Old Town


Street view of the historic Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland - shutterstock

19. Stirling Castle, Stirling

Enjoy a commanding outlook over both Highlands and Lowlands from Stirling Castle

, one of the grandest castles in Scotland.

© mountaintreks/Shutterstock

20. Museum of Scotland , Edinburgh

Learn about nature, history and discoveries in Scotland, and marvel at treasures including the ivory Lewis chessmen the striking modern National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh


© Heartland Arts/Shutterstock

21. South Harris beaches

Take your pick of deserted golden sand beaches in South Harris

, or further south in the Uists.

© Shutterstock

22. Iona

The legendary home of Celtic Christian spirituality, Iona

is an island of pilgrimage today as in antiquity.

Iona Abbey, Scotland © Heartland Arts/Shutterstock

23. Caledonian forest

Among the gnarled pines, survivors of the great ancient forests in the Scottish Highlands

, you can encounter one of Scotland’s largest populations of the elusive red squirrel.

© Shutterstock

24. Dunnottar Castle

Memorably dramatic ruined fortress just south of Aberdeen, surrounded by giddy sea cliffs

© aiaikawa/Shutterstock

25. Calanais, Lewis

Prehistoric standing stones that occupy a serene setting on Lewis

, the largest of the Western Isles.

© Shutterstock

Are you looking for even more Scotland inspiration? Check out our round up of the most remote places in Scotland

, as well as the most beautiful places in Scotland as voted by our readers.

Ready to travel to Scotland

? Find out about the best time to go , the best places to visit and top things to do in Scotland . For inspiration use the Scotland itineraries from The Rough Guide to Scotland and as well as the bookable itineraries created by our local travel agents in Scotland . A bit more hands on, check out the map of Scotland , learn about getting there , getting around Scotland and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

We may earn commission from some of the external websites linked in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

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updated 7/12/2021
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