Scotland is packed with beautiful places to visit and you could honestly spend months and months exploring everything this wonderful country has to offer!
But, if you’re limited on time, then this guide should help.
I’m going to take you through all the best places to visit in Scotland, based on where we have personally visited so far!
Scotland is the sort of place that offers something all year round, but different seasons have their perks.
For example, if you visit in summer, you’ll have a higher chance of great sunshine, but you’ll be surrounded by midges.
If you don’t know what midges are, they’re the most annoying little mite/fly ever.
We get them in Ireland in the summer too and they love blood, so they lovvvee to bite, and honestly, despite attempts at creams and sprays, they still bite!
Scotland travel stats show that summer is, of course, the busiest season. So it’ll be busy at most of the attractions.
We visited in autumn time and I can honestly say it was perfect.
We got very lucky with the weather and only experienced around a week's worth of rain in the six weeks we visited.
It was cold but bearable, and I absolutely love being surrounded by autumn colours.
Plus there are two more benefits of visiting in Autumn: no midges AND a lot fewer tourists!
If you asked me where my favourite place to visit in all of Scotland is….I would say, Glen Coe.
The whole area of Glen Coe constantly had my face in shock due to the beauty that I was witnessing.
I swear it felt like I was transported to another country.
It’s just a stream of dramatic mountains, lakes, rugged beauty and more. It was honestly such a magical place to visit and if you only have time to visit one place make it Glen Coe, it’s truly one of the most magical places in Scotland.
Fort William is probably one of the most well-known places to visit in Scotland.
It’s one of the first big towns in the Scottish Highlands and a popular tourist destination thanks to being home to the UK’s tallest mountain: Ben Nevis.
It’s also home to a ski centre so is a popular place for families to visit!
We really liked Fort William and if the season was right we would have attempted to climb Ben Nevis, but even if you’re not there for the mountain itself, there are still lots of beautiful walks and views in this area to experience.
Fort William is also the starting point for one of the world's most famous train rides: The Jacobite.
Harry Potter fans will recognise it as the Hogwarts Express, and this train ride will take you through the beautiful countryside, crossing some iconic Harry Potter filming locations such as the Dumbledore's Grave and the Glenfinnan Viaduct!
There are lots of great hotels in Fort William, but the Ben Nevis Hotel & Leisure Club has a heated indoor pool, perfect after hiking Ben Nevis!
For more ideas, check out my guide on the best Airbnbs Fort William has to offer.
Loch Lomond has so much to offer every type of traveller visiting Scotland.
We loved spending time in this park, and when we visited in October, the season had finished for camping permits so we were able to wild camp in some beautiful spots!
Loch Lomond is packed with amazing views, wonderful waterfalls, gorgeous hikes and abandoned castles.
There is something for everyone.
We loved the Three Lochs Forest drive located within the Trossachs National Park.
It was amazing and we got to wild camp in an amazing spot with no one else around!
The Ben Lomond peak is the highest in the area, so it’s worth a hike! Bradley did this and found it really enjoyable!
This is definitely one of the best places to visit in Scotland for families!
Balloch is a great central town to stay in and the Queen on the Loch offers stylish rooms. For more inspiration, check out our guide on the best places to stay in Loch Lomond.
We visited the Cairngorms National Park in December so some of the mountains were beginning to showcase snow, which was super exciting.
This is the largest national park in the UK so it’s another popular place to visit in Scotland and it’s no surprise why.
It’s absolutely beautiful and there’s so much happening at the Cairngorms National Park!
From skiing or meeting local reindeers, you’ll not go bored and you’ll be surrounded by beauty the entire time.
There are lots of cute towns in this area too, but Aviemore is a good hot spot to visit stock up on snacks, petrol, and rent ski gear, or hiking gear if you need it!
But my all-time favourite place to visit within the Cairngorms National Park area is the quaint town of Braemar.
This is everything I wanted from a Scottish town, it’s adorable and oozes charm.
Go to the coffee shop called “The Wee Bothy” for amazing coffee, shortbread and lovely staff!
I could live there!
Braemar is also home to Braemar Castle which is super cool!
Visit at night time when it’s lit up for a unique experience.
We’ve only visited one island off Scotland so far, and that’s the Isle of Skye, but it lived up to our expectations and more!
The Isle of Skye is connected via the “Skye Bridge”, so it’s super convenient to get too.
This island feels totally different from other parts of Scotland and is truly rugged and ready!
We spent almost a week on the Isle of Skye visiting all the hot spots including the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Glen and so much more.
We even got to stay on a private island with its very own lighthouse, which was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited and one of the most romantic places stay in Scotland (especially if you’re celebrating something!)
Read more in our Eilean Sionnach Lighthouse Cottage review.
Simply put, the Isle of Skye should be top of your Scotland itinerary!
When you visit via the Skye bridge, you should definitely make a stop at the Eilean Donan Castle- it’s seriously cool and was free to walk around when we went.
Read More: 3 Day Isle of Skye itinerary
Check out my in-depth guide on the best places to stay on Skye.
If you’ve decided to road trip the iconic NC500, which is Scotland’s answer to route 66, then you’ll find yourself passing the North Coast of Scotland!
We loved the North Coast because again, it offers something unique to other parts of Scotland.
There are lots of great towns along the way, and we can recommend a stop at BettyHill for cute coffee shops and friendly locals.
When you visit the North Coast you’ll have to stop at John O Groats since it’s the furthest point on mainland UK.
Visit the colourful houses, grab a coffee and then go searching for dolphins, sharks and seals! (We saw seals)
Read More: The Best Road Trips in Scotland
We’ve visited Glasgow twice now, and it will always make my list of the best places to visit in Scotland!
I may struggle with the accent, but the people, the sights, the atmosphere is all worth it.
Glasgow is an awesome place to have a city break.
The university grounds are beautiful in Autumn, the Kelvin grove Art Gallery & Museum is amazing and there are so many great pubs and bars for buzzing nightlife.
There are so many amazing hotels in Glasgow, you can search for them all right here.
If you want to visit an area of Scotland that’s not overly touristy, then a road trip to the South West Coast should be top of your list.
The Scottish tourism board actually created a road trip called the Southwest Coastal 300, which you can probably guess is a 300-mile road trip of the south west Coast!
Bradley and I did it and we loved this area of Scotland.
The hub of the area is the Galloways National Park (where you can actually go searching for stars at night), but this area of Scotland is breathtaking but didn’t feel overly busy to me.
There are so many castles and tea rooms here- I LOVED it!
I’d say this is one of the more unique places to visit in Scotland in comparison to everywhere else we visited.
Check out my guide on the best hotels on the west coast of Scotland.
Inverness is probably my favourite city in Scotland (that I’ve been too so far).
I love that it’s a city, but it’s small.
It’s basically the capital of the Scottish Highlands but it’s charming and quaint.
You could easily see all the best sights in Inverness in a day if you’re short for time, but what’s nice about this city is that you can just wander around and explore without the worry of getting lost.
I also love that Inverness isn’t overpriced, so if you’re looking for one of the more cheap places to visit in Scotland, then Inverness won’t break the bank!
There are some great hotel deals in Inverness that you can book right here.
You can’t go to Scotland and NOT go in search of Nessie!
Before we visited Scotland this was definitely one of my bucket list places to visit.
Just because I’ve heard so much about it.
I really wanted to do a Loch Ness cruise and learn more about the myth of Nessie, but we visited during Covid times and they weren’t running due to low visitors!
But it’s still a cool place to visit in Scotland and we even got to wild camp right on the Loch Ness lake, which was pretty cool.
Since this is only a short drive from Inverness, it’s often a popular day trip for visitors.
Lots of great Airbnbs available, and this Luxury Croft overlooks Loch Ness on it's own private deck, amazing! Book it here.
Stirling is a really cool city in Scotland since it’s sort of created around this awesome castle.
It’s a charming city full of character, and I’m pretty sure I counted like 16 coffee shops on my visit.
We wandered the old town, grabbed some lunch and just took in the sights.
We also did a walk just outside the city centre and got epic views from Sterling from above.
I think this is a beautiful place to visit in Scotland if you’re looking for a romantic city break!
Stirling has a wide range of hotels available that you can book here.
Bradley and I sort of stumbled across Oban because we needed to get a replacement on our van tyre, but it was definitely worth the drive.
Known as the seafood capital of Scotland, this town is a tourist hot spot in the summer months.
It’s small but mighty!
We wandered around the town, checking out the shops and views of Ballimore and the Isle of Mull.
We also checked out the McCaig's Tower which was really unique and felt like I’d been transported to Rome!
You may also like: Best dog friendly hotels in Scotland
Since it's a popular tourist town, there are lots of hotels to choose from.
Glenfinnan is 100% one of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland.
Not only can you go to the Glenfinnan Viaduct and catch a view of the Harry Potter train coming across the tracks, but there are so many beautiful walks and sights in this area.
Just across the road from the Viaduct, you’ve got the Glenfinnan Monument with simply amazing views across Loch Shiel and if you drive a little further down the area you’ll come to Loch Eilt which was used a lot in the Harry Potter movies.
Cabin Camas Tana is the ultimate place to stay in Glenfinnan; pure Scottish vibes!
Mallaig is a port town in the Scottish Highlands that is significant due to the workings of the town.
You can either drive there or visit as part of a ride on the Jacobite Express, but it’s worth visiting this small area.
It's a one way in, one way out sort of road, but you can get ferries to other islands in Scotland from here, including the Isle of Skye.
This small town is now home to tourism, but once was thriving fishing, working village.
Now you can visit one of the coffee shops, grab a bite to eat, take a walk around the harbour and pick up some souvenirs!
Glenwood glamping pods are a great choice!
Applecross is one of the towns made famous by the NC500, but what’s really unique about this pace is that it’s literally in the middle of nowhere.
You drive across an epic mountain pass and eventually, you’ll come to the very small town of Applecross.
It’s raw, it’s beautiful and randomly, it’s home to a hotel, Michelin guide restaurant and lots of deer.
This is one of the best places to visit in Scotland by car and you can’t get there via public transport.
Things to do in Applecross
The Applecross Inn of course! Book your stay here.
If that's sold out, Fearnmore House not far from Applecross. Book this Airbnb here.
Last but not least on our Scotland travel guide is to visit the capital city of Edinburgh.
We visited over my birthday and it was fantastic.
Edinburgh was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.
Cute cobblestone streets, a ridiculous amount of cute coffee shops, amazing vibes and much more.
I'd say it's one of the best places to visit in Scotland and makes for a perfect Scottish citybreak.
Wedged between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Falkirk was an unexpected place to visit, but left a lasting impression!
This is a really cool place to visit in Scotland and is home to some super unique sights.
Firstly, you’ve got the Falkirk Wheel, which is truly random as it’s the ONLY rotating boat lift in the world.
This is run by the Scottish Canals and a visit here will allow you to not only take a boat cruise but there is so much to see and do on-site, including, crazy golf, waterpark for kids, segway safari, canoeing, and so much more!
It’s a perfect place to visit in Scotland if you’ve got children, but both Brad and I enjoyed it as adults!
Falkirk is also home to “The Kelpies” which are truly epic.
They are 30-meter-high horse-head sculptures depicting kelpies and based on legend.
They are a sight to behold and you should 100% visit at nightfall when they light up. It was a fantastic sight to see, very unusual and one of my favourite things to do in Scotland!
Also, if you’re visiting a campervan or motorhome, you can stay at the Helix Carpark (which is where the Kelpies are” for £5 a night which is perfect if you want to see them lit up in the evening!
If you’re not wild camping, then there are a range of hotels in Falkirk to suit you, and you can even rent out boats on the Scottish canals!
Aberdeen is a coastal city in Scotland located on the east coast.
It’s a typical port city and offers ample opportunities for shopping.
But when visiting here, I suggest you head to the beach, park up, take a stroll along the promenade, and perhaps grab a bite to eat at one of the many on-beach restaurants and cafes.
Then, you should visit Codona's amusement park, which again is perfect for kids, or just big kids like Brad and I.
We had a wander and played some crazy golf, but there’s also really cool go-kart racing, roller coasters, general amusement games, and much more!
Being a very popular coastal city, there's lots of choice for accommodation that you can check out here.
Golf enthusiasts will want to visit St Andrews for the fact that it’s home to one of the world’s most famous and oldest golf courses!
That’s partly why Bradley wanted to visit, and we managed to visit on a day where the sun was shining, so we strolled alongside the golf courses and the beautiful beach.
But, even if you’re not interested in golf, St Andrews should still be on your list of places to visit in Scotland because it’s a super cute and beautiful town!
Lots of sweet shops, cafes, and much more.
We situated ourselves in the British Golf Museums restaurants because they offered amazing views of the beach and golf courses and a range of great food- so we can recommend there!
This is a cute little village on the Northeast coast of Scotland and if you’re driving the North East 250 Scotland road trip, then you’ll come across it.
I signify this as a point of interest because it’s got a couple of good sites around it.
Firstly, you’ll have to visit Bow Fiddle Rock which is truly an amazing natural rock formation, and worth visiting, and secondly, there is also Findlater Castle not far down the road.
There are lots of places to choose from when it comes to hotels in the North East of Scotland, and Portknockie is home to selection too.
So there you have it, my guide to the best places to visit in Scotland.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful or inspirational in planning your next Scottish adventure.
Which one are you most excited to visit?
Drop me a comment below.