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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Scotland in 2023

The 15 Best Places to Visit in Scotland in 2023

Are you looking to learn more about Scotland while exploring the natural world? Scotland has a long and vast history, including dozens of historically significant locations that will fascinate you with new facts while enjoying stunning views.

However, traveling to Scotland can be a vast undertaking for many tourists, but knowing what you want to do, how to get there, and how to adjust your vacation to experience everything can be challenging.

Read on to learn about the best places to visit in Scotland and things to consider before going.

15 of the Best Places to Visit in Scotland

Scotland has stunning places, historical landmarks, and castles to explore. These locations can make your Scotland vacation an experience you’ll never forget.

Whether you want the perfect places to get pictures or the best meals in the world, Scotland has everything to make your vacation unforgettable.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Amazing mid-day view of the Edinburgh Castle, one of the best places to visit in Scotland, as seen from the fountain in front

Michal 11/Shutterstock

Edinburgh Castle is the most famous place to visit in Scotland and offers all its visitors a stunning view of the city. It’s constructed on a hill overlooking Edinburgh.

As a result, this location is an exciting piece of ancient history, famous for its defense of the city and country. Edinburgh Castle has lush, awe-inspiring grasslands on every side. These views are breathtaking from the high-level windows.

2. Edinburgh

Historic Dean Village in Edinburgh, one of the best places to visit in Scotland, pictured from the creek between the town buildings

essevu/Shutterstock

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and includes what had been separate surrounding villages from the 1800s and 1900s. Edinburgh is rife with medieval streets you can explore.

giving you a near-mythical feel as you walk. This location is a marvel of medieval architecture and often gets lauded for its stunning appearance and form.

3. Inverness

Neat view of an aqueduct at Iverness, one of the best places to visit in Scotland

Babettst Bilgergalerie/Shutterstock

Inverness is now the seat of the Scottish Highlands. However, this location was once another village with a castle overlooking the area. This location rests on a river through which the famous Loch Ness flows.

Inverness is perfect for finding some of the best local meals and entertainment. This area has a thriving social life and nightlife where you can explore historical sites, enjoy hot meals, and walk through medieval streets.

4. Mary Kings Close

Sign pointing to Mary King's Close, one of the best places to visit in Scotland

ChrisDorney/Shutterstock

Mary Kings Close is a hidden street cut off from society in the 17th century to prevent the spread of the bubonic plague through Europe.

Interestingly, this area has been uninhabited but remains a fascinating peek into life during the 16th and 17th centuries. You may even spot a ghost haunting the street if you’re lucky!

5. Arthur’s Seat

Aerial view of Arthur's Seat, one of the best places to visit in Scotland, seen overlooking the city on a blue sky day

Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock

Located in Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat is the top of a set of hills cresting an ancient volcano. Hiking up to this location will give you one of the most stunning views of nature Scotland offers.

Though this hike can be strenuous, it’s the perfect day adventure for visitors who love to see nature and get a clear view of the world.

6. Elephant House

The Elephant House pub, one of the best places to visit in Scotland, as seen from across the street during the day

Edinburgh, UK – January 18, 2020: The Elephant House gourmet tea and coffee house in Edinburgh city in Scotland/Fotokon/Shutterstock

Elephant House is one of the most famous Scottish locations because it’s where J.K. Rowling wrote some of her Harry Potter series.

This quaint location has been open since 1995 and has a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle from the back room. Since becoming the famous birthplace of Harry Potter, the cafe has become a staple for authors and readers alike.

7. Kelvingrove Park

View of the Kelvingrove Park pictured on a summer day

Glasgow, UK, June 2013: View of Kelvingrove Park full of people enjoying the Scottish summer with the main building of Glasgow University on the top of the hill/DrimaFilm/Shutterstock

Kelvingrove Park is 85 acres and remains the perfect location for a romantic getaway for couples who want to enjoy a quiet afternoon.

At Kelvingrove Park, you can see a wide array of buildings with a Victorian aesthetic, complete with a museum and art gallery full of iconic pieces you’ll never forget.

8. Applecross

Gorgeous view of Applecross, one of the best things to do in Scotland, pictured during dusk with a parked car overlooking a big lake and hills with windy roads

Grafxart/Shutterstock

Applecross is a peninsula in Scotland that has tons of things to do. This area has cottages to enjoy and campsites for adventurous tourists wanting to experience the outdoors.

Additionally, you can stay in hostels or inns and engage in many guided tours that will tell you about the wildlife in the area. While kayaking, you may see a whole pod of orca whales traversing the area.

9. Dunvegan Castle

Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, one of the best places to visit in Scotland, as seen at dusk

Jose Arcos Aguilar/Shutterstock

Dunvegan Castle is one of the best castles to visit since it offers some of the most amazing views in the country. This castle rests on the water and remains surrounded by trees, shrubbery, and foliage. You can explore the castle’s interior and the estate on the premises.

However, you’ll also be able to enjoy the vast gardens that house tons of native and unique species to Scotland. Don’t forget to look out over the water! You might spot a sea lion or other sea creature right off the coast.

10. Cairngorms National Park

Lake and hills seen from someone perched at the top of a hill at Cairgorm National Park

iweta0077/Shutterstock

Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the United Kingdom and remains the perfect location for hiking, birdwatching, and watersports.

You can take a boat on the many lakes, rivers, and bays in this national park when the weather is warm. Alternatively, you can engage in snowsports, like skiing and sledding, during the winter.

11. Portree

Neat view of the waterside down of Portree, one of the best places to visit in Scotland, as seen at sundown

Nataliya Hora/Shutterstock

Portree is a village nearby the Isle of Skye and is famous for the colorful buildings that line the bay. This area is surrounded by stunning hills, giving the location a sloping and fantastical feel.

Portree is a newer location and is only around 200 years old, but remains an ideal vacation destination because of the many watersports adventures available in the bay and the hikes to be had in the hills.

12. Skye Fairy Pools

The Skye Fairy Pools, a top pick for must-stt places to visit in Scotland, pictured with rolling green hills in the background and the falls in the foreground

elxeneize/Shutterstock

The Skye Fairy Pools are small waterfalls that pool into small ponds with crystal clear water and stunning foliage growing from cracks in the surrounding rock.

These clear pools are a 40-minute walk from most inns and hostels in the area, making them the perfect getaway for a day dipping into the cool water.

13. Loch Ness

Ruins of Urquhart Castle on the coast of the lake in Loch Ness, one of the best places to visit in Scotland

JeniFoto/Shutterstock

What is a Scotland vacation without visiting the world-famous Loch Ness? This location is a perfect place to go out on a boat, fish, and enjoy the sights of the sloping hills on each side of the water. You may get lucky and see the famous monster lurking in the depths of the water below!

14. Glencoe

Sun beaming through the rolling hills in Glencoe, one of the best places to visit in Scotland

EyesTraveling/Shutterstock

Glencoe is another famous location in Scotland, and there’s no wonder why. Glencoe is home to some of the largest and most breathtaking hills, valleys, and hiking trails in the country.

Glencoe is a perfect place to get a slice-of-life experience from Scotland and understand how the locals live. Additionally, Harry Potter fans may enjoy walking through the area where the third movie was filmed.

15. The Isle of Skye

Fair Glen Skye island pictured during the late evening on the Isle of Skye, one of the best places to visit in Scotland

Mikemike10/Shutterstock

The Isle of Skye is one of the best locations to visit in Scotland because of its stunning nature and 50-mile-long stretch. Visitors can walk the length of this area, stop for pictures, and enjoy the unique and one-of-a-kind views this area offers.

Interestingly, the Isle of Skye has been home to plenty of fossils, clan wars, and revolutionary wars during Scotland’s dark and vicious history.

Things to Consider

Before setting out on your Scotland adventure, you may need to consider a few things. Transportation, sun protection, and the weather are some of the biggest concerns when traveling in Scotland.

Be Culturally Appropriate

Scotland is a country where people are friendly to tourists and enjoy sharing pieces of their culture. However, you must remain polite and culturally appropriate when visiting Scotland.

Failing to do so may will result in you being subjected to ridicule or even being removed from your lodging. Jokes are fun but do your best to avoid poking fun at any accents while vacationing in Scotland.

Be Mindful of Accents

Speaking of accents, these can be challenging for those unfamiliar with them to understand. Take some time before your vacation to learn about the different Scotland accents and try to understand them.

Miscommunication can cause a lot of strife, especially on vacation, and learning about Scottish accents can help keep miscommunication at bay.

Bring a Raincoat

Scotland is famous for its rainy weather, so you’ll need to bring a raincoat to handle travel during showers.

You may find yourself exploring a castle or enjoying the Scottish Highlands when an unexpected shower rolls in and soaks you. However, a raincoat can keep you cozy without pushing you out of the area for the day.

Be Friendly

Scottish locals are very friendly to travelers, and they’ll happily give you instructions and precise directions and make small talk with you.

Always ensure you show the proper respect by saying hello and goodbye when leaving your lodging and being kind to those holding open doors and bringing drinks to your table.

Be Prepared for Cold Nights

Scotland is famous for their beautiful weather and frequent showers. As such, you’ll likely need a set of comfortable, warm clothing to keep you cozy when the temperatures dip at night.

Wool socks, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and thermal wear is a must when visiting Scotland — even in the summer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eilean Donan Castle, one of the best places to visit in Scotland, pictured on a gloomy day

Georgi Djadjarov/Shutterstock

These answers may help you decide if Scotland is a good location for you and what you may need to bring or remember when going to this near-magical location:

What is the most beautiful part of Scotland?

Many agree on one thing: Scotland’s castles are among the most beautiful things to visit in the area. Scotland is home to stunning forestry, fortresses, and landscapes that easily put the rest of Europe to shame.

What is the number one tourist attraction in Scotland?

The number one tourist attraction in Scotland is Edinburgh Castle which is littered with tourists daily. This castle is among the most famous locations and has a long, messy, and fascinating history.

What’s the best part about Scotland?

There are dozens of exciting parts of Scotland, but the most visited portions are the ancient castles, the Scottish highlands, and the area famous for the spotting of the Loch Ness Monster.

How many days in Scotland is enough?

Scotland is a vast country with dozens of places to explore and experience. You’ll likely need anywhere from nine to ten days to enjoy everything Scotland has to offer. With only a few days, you may be able to experience much because of travel time and the time it takes to explore one location.

What is the best month to go to Scotland?

Scotland is not a tropical location, making it one of the best places to visit in the summer. Consider taking a trip to the Scottish Highlands in August or May, when temperatures are warm enough to keep you comfortable but likely won’t cause heat stroke or exhaustion.

So, What’s the Best Place to Visit in Scotland?

The best place to visit in Scotland is also the most popular and will likely be packed with tourists and locals alike: Edinburgh. Edinburgh is home to Edinburgh castle and plenty of nightlife you can experience daily.

This location has some of the best meals and entertainment in Scotland. Additionally, Edinburgh is full of history and culture that will have you so immersed, you’ll never want to leave. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Scotland today!