At the mention of Scotland and you’ll probably think of legends, lush scenery, Braveheart, and the outstanding traditional customs. However, Scotland is much more than that, with numerous landmarks and tourist attractions, packed all in one small country. With many historical places and epic destinations to explore, I’ve no hesitation in saying that you should visit Scotland at least once. So, to have the perfect Scottish experience, here are the top ten tourist attractions that are worth savouring!
1. World Heritage Site; Edinburgh Castle
Welcome to the magnificent standing symbol of Scotland’s heritage; Edinburgh Castle!
Considered as a national icon, Edinburgh Castle has dominated Scotland’s skyline since the 13th century, becoming one of the top tourist attractions there. The castle offers the most breathtaking views of the city, as well as evidence of Scotland’s rich history and unique architecture. Every single corner tells a different story, whispering with tales of kings, queens, prisoners, and soldiers from the past. Go on a tour within the walls of this mighty fortress, with its Great Hall, Royal Palace, and St. Margaret’s chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh. The Scottish crown jewels, the Regimental Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and the famous “Stone of Destiny” are among the notable highlights of the castle. This magnificent castle is one of the most popular reasons to visit Scotland.
And while you are there, won’t it be perfect to have a tour in the old town of Edinburgh, the Royal Mile? –Spend a couple of hours walking up and down the streets of Royal Mile and explore its shops, pubs, museums, and cafes. The town is packed with magnificent brick townhouses and many historic landmarks, including the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse. If you have extra time after your tour, pay a visit to the National Museum of Scotland, one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland. It is undoubtedly a treasure trove of many medieval artefacts, art, and science exhibitions, making it one of the most famous landmarks in Britain outside of London. Also, St. Giles Cathedral, the unique structure of Edinburg, is worth the visit. This trip must be atop your bucket list in Scotland, don’t you think?!
2. The Historical Stirling Castle
Fabulous and majestic, Stirling Castle is one of the charming and best-preserved Renaissance structures in the entire of Britain, as well as being one of the top tourist attractions. It was also the residence and coronation site for many kings and queens. Defensively situated on cliffs, the castle is mostly famous for the Battle of Bannockburn and the Battle of Stirling Bridge, which witnessed a victory for the Scottish independence under the leadership of William Wallace.
As you step inside, you’re automatically transported into the 16th century, and you get to experience the art and culture of this era. Considered as one of Scotland’s most spectacular castles, it’s one of the most excellent examples of Scottish architecture and history. Also, the Bannockburn Heritage Centre houses many exhibitions and artefacts that you can’t miss. Between Stirling and Bridge of Allan, you can view the majestic Wallace Monument, with the 246-step tower, among scenery that will take your breath away. This castle is also one of the prominent reasons to visit Scotland.
3. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Another famous tourist attraction, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is home to an extensive collection of more than 8,000 artefacts and items. The fascinating collections give you a glimpse of the European and Scottish culture over the centuries. The place boasts around 22 wide-ranging themed galleries, exhibiting arms, armours, and other artworks from different periods of history.
Providing insights into the Glasgow life, it has become the leading destination for the admirers of the Arts & Crafts movement and the 20th-century Art Nouveau styles. A Van Gogh portrait, a 1944 Mark 21 Spitfire, Bronze Age tools, and magnificent jewellery from Arran and Kintyre are among the significant highlights of the museum’s treasures. You can also view another noteworthy exhibit, Salvador Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross. With the fantastic architecture and extensive collection, it is easy to get lost in its beauty! And, you know what the good news is? – It is totally free!
4. The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae
History buff or not, you’re going to enjoy our next trip! Just put on your comfortable shoes and let’s get going.
Considered the “Heart of the Neolithic Orkney,” Skara Brae is one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland due to its historical significance. It counts as one of the most preserved Stone Age villages in the entire of Europe. That’s why it has been added to the list of UNESCO heritage sites. The archaeological marvel was covered in layers and layers of sand, until a windstorm exposed this village to the world, triggering thousands of questions. Called the “Scottish Pompeii,” the archaeologists have concluded that this village was inhabited until 2,500 BC, making it older than the Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
Also, they could find a wide range of preserved furniture and artefacts, belonging to the distant era. You can view these artefacts in the visitor centre, along with a short explanatory video and an official guidebook. As you roam, you’ll be wondering what civilisation flourished there and why they abandoned their homeland. You even try to picture the prehistoric man, living in the houses scattered around the village and how his life was. Don’t worry; I do this too!
5. The Medieval Doune Castle
Here comes my favourite part of the trip! And, if you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan, you’ll love it too.
Located at the village of Stirling, the 14th-century fascinating castle, with its mighty towers and striking walls, has been one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland. Besides, it has one of the best-preserved halls, more than any other Scottish castle.
As you pass through its massive gatehouse, you’ll be able to view the Lord’s Hall, along with the minstrels’ gallery, the duchess’ apartments, and the Great Hall. Some people say that Doune Castle explains what a medieval castle truly is! With its mythical architecture, there is no doubt; it is the perfect setting for every historical fantasy. Whenever I came across Doune Castle, I always picture myself as one of the Starks, living in “Winterfell. One thing for sure, I will never imagine myself as Bran Stark!
6. The Spectacular Luskentyre Beach
Tired of all the activities? – You deserve a relaxing time at the beach!
Located on the west coast of South Harris, Luskentyre Beach is a magical place, with crystal-clear waters, shimmering against miles of white sand and green hills. Peaceful as it is, the picturesque beach is a popular holiday destination in Scotland.
It is considered one of the most spectacular beaches in not only Harris but also the UK. Some people even claimed that it’s like a slice of heaven. Book your trip and judge for yourself! Also, remember to snap photos of the heavenly, scenic spot of Traigh Rosamol while you’re there.
7. Ben Nevis; Scotland’s Iconic Summit
Don’t you want to join a group of hikers as they head up Britain’s highest mountain? – I do!
Ben Nevis is a popular tourist attraction, especially for climbers and hikers, who are rewarded with the most stunning views after a 2.5-hour ascent. On a clear day, you can view the mountain entirely from the coastal town of Fort William.
If you’re into climbing, you can still enjoy the nature and tranquillity of the area. Hop aboard the “Jacobite” steam train and enjoy a ride over the amazing Glenfinnan Viaduct. Of course, you’ll recognize the train from the “Harry Potter” movie, and it has been a top tourist attraction since then. If you have time, the best way to explore the town is through the “West Highland Museum,” where you can view a valuable collection of paintings, weapons, and Highland customs.
8. The Lovely Isle of Arran
A short break on the Isle of Arran is all you need to forget about the boring routine, right?
One of the famous holiday destinations, the Isle of Arran is the perfect location for a mystical field trip, with its magnificent coastline and dramatic mountain views. Popular with its sandy beaches, massive forests, cultural festivals, and creamy Arran liqueur, it is the perfect example of an ethnic Scottish island.
Don’t forget to bring your binoculars to see the red squirrels, deer, seals, and sharks, playing in the area. Up for an adrenaline-pumping adventure? – Goat Fell Mountain, the largest mountain on Arran, is the answer! And, if you’re not much of a hiker, a ferry ride will be just as perfect. Scotland’s National Trust, Brodick Castle, with its massive gardens, waterfalls, and treasures, is a top tourist attraction on Arran.
Moreover, the Arran Heritage Museum, Arran Art Gallery, and King’s Caves are among the notable highlights of the place. If you want to camp under the stars, beside a beautiful glen and rolling hills, you’ll not like to skip Glen Rosa. Also, you can visit the Machrie Moor Standing Stones, the prehistoric site, and enjoy the scenery in close proximity.
9. The Small Island of Eilean Donan
The western Highlands of Scotland will take you on a journey through time and history!
The tidal island is home to the picturesque 13th-century-castle, Eilean Donan castle that was built as a defence against the Vikings. You might be able to recognise the medieval castle. Know why?! – It counts as one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland and an iconic symbol of the city. Besides, it was the location for many movies, including James Bond, Highlander, and “The World is not enough.” A marvellous castle built in the middle of the lake, it’s easy to be one of the top tourist attractions in the entire of the UK.
10. Loch Ness and the Great Glen
Get ready, my friend because we’re planning an unforgettable holiday at the Scottish Highlands!
One of the world’s famous lakes, Loch Ness is a deep, freshwater canal, surrounded by steep mountains and mysterious locks. It is considered one of the popular holiday destinations and the most popular reasons to visit Scotland, and it’s easy to see why! With the medieval castles and forts, rich natural countryside, and Scottish traditions, you get to uncover a world steeped in history. Also, you can get a glimpse of Nessie, the mythical creature living in the lake.
If you don’t believe in monster myths and folklore, you just have to discover for yourself. The ruins of Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness Exhibition are among the significant landmarks of the area. And, so you know, the perfect views of the castle and the whole region are better seen from the canal. What will be better than cruising or taking a boat in the tranquillity of the Caledonian Canal?
Travelling to Scotland gives you a great opportunity and insights into British history and culture, with stunning places unlike anywhere else. And, if you still have more time, visit the Rosslyn Chapel, Broch of Mousa, the Cairngorms, the Cuillin Hills, and the mesmerising Kelpies. Still need a fun, scary experience? – Why don’t you make way for the underground attraction of the Edinburgh Dungeon?!
All these magnificent landmarks and tourist attractions above makes Scotland one of the popular holiday destinations.