There’s something alluring about Scotland that’s unmatched by almost any other place. Whether it’s the ancient castles or the rolling moors and misty lochs, there’s a lot to fall in love with while you’re here. And it’s no matter if you’re walking hand in hand with your love or you’re traveling solo through the rolling hills of Scotland’s countryside – there’s an air of romance that defines what it means to traverse this awe-inspiring destination.
Scottish Highlands, Islands, Glens & Lochs
Scotland’s majestic landscape offers a patchwork of fields, woodlands, and hills, dotted with settlements and cut through by shining rivers while historic castles perch beside lochs and glens to tell stories of a time before. Every turn will leave you awe-struck, as you take in bluebell woods, heather-clad heathlands, deep valleys, and mirror-like lakes. Admire the beauty of the Grampian Mountains, the North West Highlands, Skye, the Valley of Glencoe, and Loch Lomond.
The wild and windswept Highlands offer up dramatic scenery and a plethora of baronial castles, a testament to the country’s gripping history. Wind north through sweeping glens, and you will understand this ancient land. Take in the waterfalls and haunted past of Glencoe Valley, Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, and iconic Eilean Donan Castle.
Perhaps Scotland’s most famous glen, the volcanic valley of Glen Coe offers striking waterfalls, craggy trails, and imposing peaks. This glen, with its giant peak known as the “Great Shepherd of Etive," looks both picturesque and formidable no matter the weather. Be sure to keep a lookout for the native golden eagles and wild red deer as you travel through the area.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Containing some of the most spectacular landscapes in all of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is one of a collection of beautiful islands in the Inner Hebrides. No visit is complete without seeing Dunvegan Castle, which has been the ancestral home of the chiefs of the MacLeod clan for eight centuries. Expect to see treasures like the Dunvegan Cup, alongside idyllic gardens and items associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Orkney Islands, Scotland
Go off the beaten path to the most northern point of the British mainland, John O’Groats. Board the ferry to the beautiful Orkney Islands. Across the windswept islands lie relics spanning human history, from pagan stone circles to reminders of wartime tragedy. The countryside is breathtakingly majestic, and the tranquility supports a quieter pace of life. Here the hardy locals say they live ‘below the wind and above the water.’ Make sure to visit the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae, the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, Kirkwall, and the small chapel built by Italian prisoners during World War II.
Loch Lomond, Scotland
Described by novelist Sir Walter Scott as the ‘Queen of Scottish Lochs’, Loch Lomond is a peaceful lake situated in southern Scotland. Part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, this pretty destination is surrounded by woodlands, red deer, and Scotland’s iconic flame-haired Highland cattle.
Loch Ness, Scotland
Loch Ness might be one of Scotland's most famous lochs thanks to legend, but it's also the largest volume of fresh water in Great Britain. The loch was introduced to the world's stage in 1933 with the first reported siting of something mysterious lurking in its murky waters. Today, the loch is known by many as the home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, Nessie, a reputedly large and unknown animal. Keep your eyes peeled for Nessie and the ruins of Urquhart Castle! (Though, you probably can't miss the castle as it's one of the largest in Scotland by area.)
For many, it’s Scotland’s fascinating cultural legacy that’s romantic and intriguing, the story set in the castles and clearings that are still around today. In Edinburgh, the Royal Mile is arguably the city’s most important area and connects Edinburgh Castle with Holyroodhouse Palace, the official Scottish residence of the Queen.
The Scottish capital of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations and offers a wealth of sights to digest. Stroll down the Royal Mile past St Giles Cathedral, explore the 18th century 'New Town' with its classical Adam facades, shop on Princes Street or marvel at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where Mary Queen of Scots lived - it is still the official Scottish residence of the Queen. In summer, join the celebratory crowds at the Edinburgh Festival, and witness the unforgettable spectacle that is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Despite its rather misleading name, The Royal Mile is in fact over a mile long and comprised of several different streets. Jam-packed with cobbled courtyards, secret stairways, towering tenements, and incredible cityscape views, along the Royal Mile you'll also find the Witches Well, the famous Cannonball House, Tollbooth Kirk, and The Writer's Museum dedicated to Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson - three of Scotland’s most famous writers.
Edinburgh Castle in Scotland
Sitting atop an extinct volcano and once surrounded by a loch, it’s no surprise this spot has been fortified for most of its human history. Now a Scottish icon, this tall, dark stone castle houses the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the giant Mons Meg, and the National War Museum.
Edinburgh, Scotland Tours
See the iconic Edinburgh Castle and walk within its walls to view the Scottish Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny, and Mons Meg.
In the Highlands, you'll find the iconic and water-surrounded Eilean Donan Castle. Even the bloody history of Glamis Castle offers tales of romance. Visitors can delve straight into Scotland’s fascinating history at any one of the many castles in this gorgeous country.
Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland
There’s nothing more romantic than the dramatic landscapes that accompany a drive along the northwest coast of the Scottish Highlands. Perhaps one of the most iconic sights of the area is the small tidal island of Eilean Donan, home to the stunning 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle, charmingly positioned atop. Situated where three sea lochs meet, the island is surrounded by reflections of the majestic hills and faraway snow-capped mountains – it is little wonder that the castle is a quintessential stop in the Scottish Highlands.
Glamis Castle in Scotland
Follow in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots, James V, Bonnie Dundee, and the ill-fated Janet Douglas at Glamis Castle, the ancestral seat to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372. Visit the chapel, crypt, the royal apartments, and Duncan’s Hall to get a real taste of history. Even Shakespeare has a part to play as Glamis Castle was also the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth!
Stirling Castle in Scotland
As one of the largest and historically important castles in Scotland, Stirling Castle was considered the “key to Scotland” sitting atop 250ft high Castle Hill, at the meeting point between the Lowlands and the Highlands. The castle was once home to generations of Steward kings and queens, including Mary Queen of Scots.
Go on an Outlander Tour of Scotland
Highland Trail Inspired by Outlander
Lovers of Diane Gabaldon’s books will flip for this Outlander-inspired expedition through the landscapes of Scotland.
Follow in the footsteps of Jamie and his beloved Sassenach, and embark on an adventure full of tales of Redcoats and rugged Highlanders.
Take a stroll through Claire’s herb garden and Geillis Duncan’s home in the 16th-century town center. Be captivated by stops at Mrs. Baird’s B&B (the Covenanter Hotel in real life) and the Highland Folk Museum. Feel the drama of the battlefield of Culloden – on the windswept moors on which Claire and Jamie were forced to part ways.
Visit the 15th-century walls of Blackness Castle on the shores of the Firth of Forth, the backdrop for the infamous Fort William prison. Cross the Firth to the fictional village of Cranesmuir to hear the tales of witchcraft and spells.
Continue to adventure through the Outlander universe and travel south to soak up the seafaring heritage of Ullapool, a fishing town on Loch Broom and home to Thomas Telford’s famous herring port. Traverse the rugged countryside and venture to the islands to stay the night on the picturesque Isle of Skye. While staying on the island, a rare treat indeed, learn about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s daring escape “over the sea to Skye” aided by the Jacobite heroine, Flora MacDonald.
With these and many more Outlander moments, this journey is sure to have Gabaldon fans touching each stone circle they come across, hoping for a wee bit of magic.