Where should you go in Scotland? What are the most beautiful parts?
Discover my answer with a selection of top 5 Scotland Destinations, with pictures to help you decide.
And if 5 is not enough, I am also introducing other interesting Scotland Tourism destinations.
This article contains affiliate links (Disclosure page). If you purchase using my link, I get a commission at no extra cost to you.
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.
Where should you go in Scotland? Top 5 Scottish Destinations - My selection
I think the most interesting and breathtaking regions (the most beautiful parts of Scotland) are:
- Isle of Skye
- Wester Ross - Assynt
- Orkney Islands
Many photos for each destination, 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 that I did not find it as scenic as the rest. But don't worry, I will still give you a list later in this article of other regions you could check out and include in your trip.
Need to rent a car in Scotland?
- Compare prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated comparison sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (prefer a compact car for the single-lane roads)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
1 - Glencoe - Best 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? The most beautiful part of Scotland
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 up to 12000 years ago.
Highlights of Glencoe
- The wild Glen Etive which takes you on a memorable drive to Loch Etive - see my article
- Loch Leven in Glencoe is, in 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 182 through Glen Coe. Just be careful not to be too distracted by the scenery which includes river, loch, mountains, waterfalls... See the best stops among the road
Where to stay in the Glencoe Valley
- The main village is Glencoe when reaching Loch Leven - see the best rated accommodations in Glencoe
- Or you can drive around the magnificent loch Leven to stay at Kinlochleven - See options
- Or drive a little further for the bigger town of Fort William - See best rated accommodations
- I stayed at the Allengrange B&B in Kinlochleven where I enjoyed beautiful views and a delicious breakfast. Check out photos and availability
2 - Isle of Skye - The most popular Scottish destination
Where is the Isle of Skye?
Skye is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides (North West of Glasgow)
Reachable by ferry from Oban or by car. It is a 4h drive nonstop from Glasgow to the Bridge.
Why visit the Isle of Skye?
No surprise here. The isle of Skye is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world. And it deserves its spot as one of the top Scotland tourism destinations.
The island has a mountainous center 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 favorites 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 loch is in front of an interesting layer of mountains. The bonus is that coaches cannot 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.
Where to stay on the Isle of Skye
- The most practical town to reach all the best places to see on the Isle of Skye is the town of Portree - see the best rated accommodations
- Or you can choose to focus more on the South part of the island by staying in Broadford - see options
3 - Wester Ross & Assynt - overlooked destination in Scotland
Where are Wester Ross and Assynt?
Located on the North West Coast of Scotland, the combination of 2 regions 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 and Assynt?
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 lochs and crest shaped mountains.
It continues on to Loch Assynt and the natural reserve around it with the deep frozen 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.
Where to stay in Wester Ross and Assynt
- You can stay at the beginning before starting the drive in Lochcarron - see best rated options
- Or you can stay at the other end of the drive in Ullapool - see best rated options
- If you want to stay a few days in the heart of the region, I recommend the small village of Poolewe - see best rated options
4 - The islands of Orkney - where to go 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 Orkney
- 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.
Where to stay on Mainland Orkney
- The mainland is not big, so it is easy to drive around and get to all the sites quickly
- The main town on Mainland Orkney is Kirkwall - see best rated options
- Or you can stay where the ferry is in Stromness (so you don't have to drive too much if you have an early ferry) - see best rated options
5 - Edinburgh, the most beautiful city in Scotland
Why visit Edinburgh?
It might be obvious but hey the whole city is a World Heritage Site! And it 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 see some of the best views of the city including the castle. It is one of the best spots to watch sunset
- Simply walking the old town and imagining all the history that happened in those streets
Where to stay in Edinburgh
- See the best rated accommodations in Edinburgh or check out theses suggestions
- First price - Best rated hostel is the High Street Hostel located in the old town - Check photos and availability
- FAMILY - want to stay on the Royal Mile. The St Giles Apartments will offer you the flexibility of eating in or out - Check photos and availability
- MID-RANGE - The Inn Place will offer you good comfort with a great location in the old town - Check photos and availability
- APART HOTEL - The Princes Street Suites are close to everything but more modern than the old town. A great combination - Check photos and availability
- LUXURY and BEST VIEWS - The Waldorf Astoria The Caledonian offers rooms with an unobstructed view of the Castle and the old town. Amazing to wake up to see it - Check photos and availability
Those regions, and the extra ones below, are included in one or both of the eBooks I created to simplify the planning of your road trip in Scotland:
Plan your dream road trip around Scotland!
- 15 easy-to-plan maps
- 170+ pre-selected locations
- Useful planning tips
- 170+ large photos
- GPS coordinates
- 8 easy-to-plan maps
- 60+ pre-selected locations
- Useful planning tips
- 115+ large photos
- GPS coordinates
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 Tay Region
Between the Trossachs and Gairngorms Parks, the Loch Tay region is an area of beautiful hills, glens and lochs with remote roads and peaceful landscapes.
Have a look at Loch Tay and Glen Lyon as well as the famous Queen's view Scotland.
7 - Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond is one of the most touristic destinations in Scotland as it is very close to Glasgow and Edinburgh. You can hike, fish, cruise... the Trossach National Park around it is home to loch, mountains and forest.
Highlights include Loch Lomond and Cruising Loch Katrine.
8 - The Borders
9 - Glasgow, the biggest city in Scotland
As the largest city in Scotland, Glasgow is often overlooked compared to Edinburgh. Of course, it does not have its historical density, but it is a cultural hub and home to some very scenic architecture.
The 2 most magnificent buildings are the St Mungo's Cathedral and the University
10 - Shetland Islands - a wild Scottish destination
The Shetland Islands are almost another country. The subarctic archipelago North of Scotland is attractive for wildlife and archeology lovers.
11 - Outer Hebrides - go off the beaten path in Scotland!
Further west from the Isle of Skye, its main islands are Lewis and Harris.
Highlights include historical sites such as the Callanish Standing Stones and stunning white sand beaches.
12 - Cairngorms National Park
Between Inverness and Edinburgh, the Western highlands offers a different mountainous landscape than 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
13 - Inverness - a charming Scottish town
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.
14 - Speyside - the Scottish destination for Whisky
North of Cairngorm National Park and East of Inverness, the region has many rivers and many whisky distilleries
And of course, the Scotland destinations list include many many many more Islands...
Want to see more of the best Scotland has to offer?
- Most beautiful landscapes in Scotland - read article
- Best things to do in Scotland - read article
- Best Scottish Castles - read article
- Most beautiful lochs in Scotland - read article
- Most scenic drives in Scotland - read article
- The magnificent Isle of Skye - read my best-of guide
- The magnificent Wester Ross region - read article
- The Borders Abbeys including Melrose Abbey and the photogenic Jedburgh Abbey
Planning a trip to Scotland?
Check out my travel guide to help you plan:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
- 15 easy-to-plan maps
- 170+ pre-selected scenic locations
- Planning tips to make the most of your time
- 170+ large photos to decide where to go
- GPS coordinates direct to the carparks
And keep track of your own trip!
Want to see more of SCOTLAND?
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Eunice Grap says
Does the Isle of Skye have a flag? I would like one, for my grand-daughter. My son and his wife visited there and eventually named their daughter after the Isle of Skye. I don’t expect it for free. I’d be more than happy to send a check, to the proper station, to pay for it. A response would be highly appreciated.
Claire, the Travel Planning Geek says
I am sorry, I don’t know of any specific flag for the island of Skye.
And I am a Travel Blogger. I don’t live there.