Top 10 Scenic Destinations in Scotland for Travellers

Top 10 Scenic Destinations in Scotland for Travellers

Head off the beaten track and feast your eyes on these stunning scenic destinations in Scotland!

Scotland has a great many natural scenic destinations to enjoy; so many, in fact, that it is difficult to name just ten of them. The changeable weather plays across the rugged and ancient landscape of mountain peaks, lush glens, age-old forests, moody lochs, rolling farmland and pristine wave-washed beaches. Exploration here is a must for any nature lover. Those in search of the most eye-wateringly beautiful spots may wish to include the following on their itinerary:

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1. Rannoch Moor and Glen Coe

Rannoch Moor and Glen CoeImage credit: Bruce Stokes

A journey along the A82 between Crianlarich and Fort William will take you through some of the most breathtaking scenery you will see anywhere in the country. First, you will wind your way up through an increasingly dramatic and mountainous landscape onto the eerie, boggy high plateau of Rannoch Moor. High peaks loom around it and mists tend to play across the bogs and lochans of this strange wilderness. Stop to take some stunning photographs before turning the large sweeping curve that takes you past the breathtaking peaks of the three sisters and into famous Glen Coe, where staggering vistas await you. On the gloomiest of days, the dark, jagged mountains loom with an almost alarming intensity.

2. Isle of Iona

Isle of IonaImage credit: Graeme Pow

The Isle of Iona has a spiritual intensity and scenic impact that is truly astonishing, especially when you consider that this famous speck of an island is just a couple of miles by one mile across. This tiny jewel juts out into the Atlantic Ocean from the westernmost point of the Isle of Mull. Surprisingly, on an island of this size, it is easy to find yourself alone on one of the glorious white-sand beaches next to the vivid turquoise waters. Sitting at beaches like ‘The Bay at the Back of the Ocean’ and watching the sun set over the sea is a profoundly moving and enriching experience. Be warned, a visit to idyllic Iona could well change you forever.

3. Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull

Calgary Bay, Isle of MullImage credit: Mark Stevens

The isle of Mull is also one of the most scenic and varied of the Inner Hebrides and has many spots that could well be counted amongst Scotland’s most scenic locations for travellers. It would be a mistake to head straight for Iona. There are many beauty spots on Mull, including a couple of castles and the charming harbour of Tobermory with its colourful houses, but perhaps one of the most beautiful is the sweeping curve of Calgary Bay, with its white sands and turquoise shallows. This is just one of many fine beaches found around this very special island.

4. Loch An Eilein, Rothiemurchus

Loch An Eilein, RothiemurchusImage credit: Dunnock_D

Loch An Eilein is a scenic loch (lake) in the heart of Rothiemurchus forest. This scenic body of water has been voted one of the best picnic spots in the UK and it is easy to see why this idyllic location is so beloved. Walk around the loch amid ancient Scots pines and spectacular mountain views and enjoy some of the best low-level walking in the country. See red squirrels and other wildlife as you enjoy this delightful spot, just one of many scenic gems in the Aviemore area.

5. Cairngorm Mountain

Cairngorm MountainImage credit: Brian Digital

If you are in the Aviemore area then you should undoubtedly make your way up Cairngorm Mountain. This location offers spectacular views over the surrounding area of the Cairngorms National Park, one of the largest areas of true wilderness left in the country and indeed in the whole of Europe. You can make you way up the mountain on the funicular railway or you could choose instead to hike up. Hiking in these mountains is the best way to experience their natural, wild beauty. But you will have to be prepared as this is a harsh and at time unforgiving environment. Climbing Cairngorm Mountain (or skiing there in the winter months) will give you just a small taste of the amazing road-free environment of the interior of the National Park.

6. Sunart Oak Woods, Andnamurchan

Sunart Oak Woods, AndnamurchanImage credit: Jim Monk

Leaving behind for a time the high mountains, Sunart, over to the far west of the country, is a region that is far less well known, though no less scenic. Sunart oak woods are found on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, the end of which is the most westerly point of mainland Britain. But before you head for the far reaches of the peninsula you should take the time to see and enjoy the ancient oak woodlands. These oak woodlands are the last remnants of a temperate rainforest that once cloaked much of the Atlantic Coast of Europe. They are a truly magical and special environment that is being preserved and managed well. Stop and explore them as you make your way down the most scenic stretch of single-track road imaginable, through stunning oak woods with views of Loch Sunart.

7. The East Neuk of Fife

The East Neuk of FifeImage credit: Chris Golightly

The East Neuk of Fife is a far more gentle place yet still one of stunning scenery. Rolling farmlands billow down to a coast of gorgeous, golden-sand beaches and craggy rocks, interspersed with, historic villages. Nearby you will find the scenically stunning and historically interesting town of St Andrews, where Prince William met Kate at the prestigious university. The University is the oldest in Scotland and the third oldest in the UK, after Oxford and Cambridge. The town’s other claim to fame is that it is the home of golf. But to see this end of Fife at its scenic best, be sure to walk along the beautiful coastal path between the East Neuk villages of Elie and Crail.

8. Loch Katrine, Trossachs

Loch Katrine, TrossachsImage credit: john mcsporran

Loch Katrine is one of the images of the ‘romantic’ Scotland imaged by, amongst others, the famous author, Sir Walter Scott. Here you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the loch from a paddleboat or on a cycle ride or hike around its perimeter. Loch Katrine is within the area known as the Trossachs, home to breathtaking, romantic beauty.

9. Bealach na Ba road to Applecross

Bealach na Ba road to ApplecrossImage credit: Ian Mackay

Bealach na Ba is a road famed for its steep gradient, switchback turns and stunning views. It gives these stunning views as you ride or drive over the peaks towards the remote and rather isolated town of Applecross, on the west coast, with its views towards the famous Isle of Skye.

10. Loch Awe

Loch AweImage credit: Jim Monk

Loch Awe is one of many lochs in Scotland that are intensely beautiful. Loch Awe’s appeal lies not just in its natural beauty but in the way in which it is enhanced by the castle at its head. Castle Kilchurn is an eerie and evocative site, reflected in the still waters below along with the russet mountain slopes behind it, or shrouded in mist. This is one of many places around the country where romantic ruins seem to add to the natural beauty of a scene.

These are just some of the many astounding natural scenic highlights of Scotland. Come and discover its many and varied wonders for yourself.

Also read: A Complete Guide to Getting Around Europe

About Author

Elizabeth Waddington
Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington lives in rural Scotland with her husband and her dog. She is part of a small community who are trying to live as sustainably as possible. A professional freelance writer who works from home full time, she has over ten years of writing experience and an MA in English and Philosophy. She mostly writes about travel, sustainability and permaculture and has a particular interest in adventure holidays, camping, walking and sustainable travel. She travels whenever she can.


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