Planning a trip to Scotland and wondering how to narrow your itinerary down? Discover my selection of top 5 Scotland Destinations. This list, with pictures, shows you why I think they are must-sees. And if 5 is not enough, I am also introducing other interesting Scotland Tourism destinations.
Navigate back to the complete Travel Scotland Guide
Top Scotland Destinations - Map and Selection
So you already have narrowed your travel destination from the Earth to the UK and from the UK to Scotland. Great!
But still, Scotland is big and you probably don't have 6 months... So here I come with a list to help you narrow down even more and plan your Scotland vacations.
Top 5 Scottish Destinations - My selection
I think the most interesting and breathtaking regions to visit in Scotland are:
- Isle of Skye
- Wester Ross
- Orkney islands
Many photos for each further in the article
Top Scotland Destinations - Map
Here is a map to help you locate these top 5 Scottish destinations:
About my choice of the best destinations in Scotland
My selection is all about landscapes and scenery: Which regions made me go WOW and WOW at every turn?
Many people will be surprised not to find the Trossachs in my list of most beautiful places in Scotland. It is a very popular place. The reason is I did not find it as scenic as the rest. But don't worry, I still give you a list later in this article of other regions you could check out and include in your trip.
Those regions are included in one or both of the eBooks I created to simplify the planning of your road trip in Scotland:
1 - Glencoe - Top place to visit in Scotland
Where is Glencoe?
Area North West of Glasgow around the Town of Glencoe and the Ben Nevis Summit.
2h drive from Glasgow without Traffic and stopping
Why visit Glencoe?
No surprise here. As the most mountainous region in Scotland, Glencoe is number one of my top 5 Scotland Destinations.
It has all you could want: small lochs, large lochs, wild lochs, narrow valleys, large valleys, high summits...
The beautiful landscapes were formed by volcanic activity and shaped by glacier until 12000 years ago.
Highlights of Glencoe
- The wild Glen Etive which takes you on a memorable drive to Loch Etive
- Loch Leven is, to my opinion, the most beautiful Loch in Scotland. It is narrow enough and surrounded by very high summits. The main road goes on a bridge over it. I recommend taking the time to do a detour and drive all around.
- And simply driving the main road A82 through Glen Coe. Just be careful not to be too distracted by the scenery which includes river, loch, mountains, waterfalls...
2 - Isle of Skye - The most popular Scottish destination
Where is the Isle of Skye?
Skye is the largest islands in the Inner Hebrides (North West of Glasgow)
Reached able by ferry from Oban or by car. It is a 4h drive non stop from Glasgow to the Bridge.
Why visit the Isle of Skye?
No surprise here. The isle of Skye is considered on of the most beautiful islands in the world. And it deserves its spot as one of the top Scotland tourism destinations.
The island as a mountainous venter and rocky slopes. The landscapes are quite dramatic and surprisingly varied considering it is an island. Here it is all about nature.
Highlights of the Isle of Skye
There are many 'classics' to visit on the isle of Skye and, if you need info, they are included in my full list and map of things to do on Skye Island. But my favorite are not among them.
- Fairy Glen is a small area off the beaten track where you find a miniature loch, small conic hills and miniature mountains. It really feels like fairies could be appearing.
- Loch Langaig is up to the North. This small lochs is in front of an interesting layer of mountains. The bonus is that coaches can not reach it, so no herds of tourists!
- Loch Coruisk can only be reached by boat from Elgol or hiking. This wild loch is niched in the Cuillin Mountains.
3 - Wester Ross - overlooked destination in Scotland
Where is Wester Ross?
Located on the North West Coast of Scotland, the region is between Lochcarron and a little North of Ullapool. Ullapool is only 1h20min drive from Inverness. It is a great detour to drive after visiting the isle of Skye.
Why visit Wester Ross?
The Wester Ross area is a great place to immerse in nature. It is sparsely populated with many fascinating geological features and stunning landscapes which range from pink beaches to intense blue loch and crest shaped mountains.
The area is peaceful with stunning landscapes and a different atmosphere.
Highlights of Wester Ross
- Loch Maree is definitively the main attraction of Wester Ross. The long deep blue loch is magnificent.
- The Deep Freeze Mountains, a spectacular landscape where summits have been shaped by small glaciers (see photos on the Coigach Assynt article)
- But just driving around Wester Ross is very rewarding. The scenery keeps changing and is always breathtaking.
4 - Orkney Islands - best destination in Scotland for ancient history
Where are the Orkney islands?
To the North of Scotland. 2 hours by ferry from Scrabster.
Mainland Orkney is also reachable by plane.
Why visit the Orkney islands?
No mountains here but a feeling. There is a place where people have settled for thousands of years. It is the home of well preserved archeological sites in stunning coastal landscapes.
Plus there is such a peaceful feeling brought by island life. As soon as we started driving on Mainland Orkney, I felt a wave of relaxation.
Highlights of the Orkney Islands
- The Unesco World Heritage Neolithic Sites - my favorites being the Ring of Brodgar and the village of Skara Brae (which is older than the Egyptian pyramids!)
- Other evidences of settlements but more recent such as the Broch of Gurness located near a stunning white sand beach
- Wildlife - birds and more especially in the smaller islands but also near cliffs (such as Yesnaby) and lagoons.
5 - Edinburgh
Why visit Edinburgh?
It might be obvious but hey the whole city is a World Heritage Site! And its is very scenic with hills at all corners for amazing views.
Highlights of Edinburgh
- The Edinburgh Castle dominating the city at one end of the Royal Mile. I especially like the view of it from the Princes St garden
- Calton hill where you can some of the best views of the city including the castle. It is one of the best spot to watch sunset
- Simply walking the old town and imagining all the history that happened in those streets
Other Popular Scotland Tourism Destinations
I know that some people will not be happy with my top 5. It of course depends on your taste. There are many more Scotland destinations worth discovering. Here are a few more of the top touristic ones, you could add to your itinerary:
6 - Loch Assynt Reserve
7 - Loch Tay Region
8 - Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
9 - The Borders
10 - Glasgow
11 - Shetland Islands
The Shetland Islands are almost another country. The subarctic archipelago North of Scotland is attractive from wildlife and archeology lovers.
12 - Outer Hebrides
Further west from the Isle of Skye, its main islands are Lewis and Harris.
Highlights include historical site such as the Callanish Standing Stones and stunning white sand beaches.
13 - Cairngorms National Park
Between Inverness and Edinburgh the Western highland offers a different mountainous landscape from the rest of the highlands.
This is where the queen comes in summer (in the Balmoral Castle) and where people go skiing in Winter.
Discover the beautiful sceneries with my Road trip through the Cairngorms park on the old military road
14 - Inverness
The smaller Scottish Town of Inverness has a lot of water and great old houses. Walking near the rivers is quite relaxing and offers great views of its main monuments.
A great place to settle to discover the Loch Ness and tour the Whisky trail in the Speyside.
15 - Speyside
North of Cairngorm National Park and East of Inverness, the region has many river and many whisky distilleries
And of course, the Scotland destinations list include many many many more Islands...
Want to see more of SCOTLAND?
Discover more things to do & places to see in my Travel Scotland Destination Guide.
Which Scotland Destinations inspire you?
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