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Things to do in Scotland

Things to do in  Scotland

Welcome to Scotland

Scotland boasts centuries of colorful history, UNESCO World Heritage–listed treasures, and a rich culture. With lively cities sprinkled among unspoiled landscapes of beaches, lochs, peaks, and valleys, Scotland has plenty to offer visitors of all ages and interests. The capital city, Edinburgh, is an ancient settlement where efficient hop-on hop-off bus tours shuttle travelers to landmarks like mighty Edinburgh Castle, the creepy Edinburgh Dungeon, and the famous Royal Mile; travelers can also witness the pomp and ceremony of the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Other cities such as Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness, and Stirling all offer experiences filled with history, culture, and natural beauty. Travel by road or rail into the Scottish Highlands to experience the magic of Loch Ness or Loch Lomond, or follow hiking trails through the wilderness of Glencoe. History lovers can explore Alnwick Castle and Stirling Castle—constructed to protect Scotland against attack—and Hadrian's Wall, where the country's Roman past comes to life. To experience the best of coastal Scotland, take a multi-day tour out to the Isle of Skye or the remote Orkney Islands, where dramatic skyscapes and wild pastures await. And if you're thirsting to sample some of the world's finest Scotch whiskies, make sure to visit a traditional distillery such as Bowmore or Laphroaig on an Isle of Islay tour.

Top 15 attractions in Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle—with its fortress walls, cobbled promenades, and winding stone steps—has loomed over Scotland’s capital city for more than 1,000 years. Steeped in history, the former royal residence is now a museum, featuring detailed exhibits; period artifacts, such as the Scottish Crown Jewels; and dark dungeons that illuminate the castle’s storied past.More

Royal Mile

The atmospheric Royal Mile thoroughfare cuts through the historic core of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, extending for slightly more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Edinburgh Castle all the way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Both sides of the partly pedestrianized street are bordered by historic granite buildings bearing shop display windows piled high with symbols of Scotland, from tartan to whisky to shortbread. In between the former tenements and taverns are darkened arm-width-wide alleyways, known locally as closes.More

Edinburgh Old Town

The historic heart of Edinburgh, UNESCO-listed Old Town, is home to the city’s most visited sights. Its central artery is the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and is lined with top attractions including St. Giles Cathedral, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and the Scottish Parliament Building.More

Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge, the distinctive red-hued cantilevered railway bridge that arches over the Firth of Forth close to Edinburgh, is one of Scotland’s most recognizable symbols. A triumph of engineering, the bridge is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 1,709-foot (521-meter single cantilever span is the second-longest in the world.More

Stirling Castle

Perched above the city of Stirling on a chunk of volcanic rock, this mighty Scottish fortress has seen it all, from attacks by Robert the Bruce to the coronation of the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the premiere of the movie “Braveheart” in 1993. In addition to the impeccably recreated Royal Palace interiors and the sheer amount of history held within its robust walls, the castle also offers superb views over Stirling and Scotland’s green hills and valleys.More

Isle of Skye

Scotland's largest island, the Isle of Skye is a pocket of wilderness jutting off the coast of the West Highlands. The area is a treat for nature lovers, with its dramatic sea cliffs, windswept valleys, and glittering lochs.More

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Set amid splendid gardens at the foot of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official Scottish residence of the British royals, who first decamped here from nearby Edinburgh Castle back in the 15th century. The complex grew from a 12th-century abbey, whose ruins can still be seen on the grounds, into a full-fledged Baroque palace complete with elaborate plasterwork, sumptuous furnishings, and a number of tapestries. The palace is perhaps most famous for having hosted to the rather unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, whose beloved secretary was slaughtered here by her jealous second husband.More

Fort Augustus

A village on the shores of Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is a popular destination in the Scottish Highlands. Once a garrison in the 18th century, the scenic village today attracts cyclists, hikers, and travelers in search of the Loch Ness monster. It’s also a gateway to the Great Glen Way, a 73-mile trail that runs from Inverness to Fort William.More

St. Giles Cathedral

The official church of the Church of Scotland, St. Giles Cathedral and its famous crown spire tower over the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town. With a history stretching back over 900 years, St. Giles is renowned for its beautiful stained glass windows, ornate Thistle Chapel, and busy concert calendar.More

Loch Ness

While visitors flock to Loch Ness hoping to catch a glimpse of its elusive and eponymous monster, Loch Ness—a lake in the Scottish Highlands—is worth the trip even if you don’t believe the rumors. Vast and surrounded by magnificent Scottish scenery, Loch Ness is a popular boating and sightseeing spot.More

George Square

The cultural center of Glasgow, George Square dates back to 1781. It was named after King George III and today is surrounded by grand buildings including the Glasgow City Chambers. See statues of great Scots, visit the city’s main tourist information office, and go shopping at the annual Christmas market all in this one central square.More


Steeped in history, the Grassmarket is located directly below Edinburgh Castle and is just a minute’s walk from the famous Royal Mile and the National Museum of Scotland. A vibrant and historic area, here visitors can soak up the medieval atmosphere while marvelling at one of the most iconic views in the city, the mighty Edinburgh Castle.A stroll over the George IV Bridge leads to the Greyfriars Bobby statue and through some of Edinburgh’s oldest and most famous streets, including Candlemaker Row, Victoria Street, and West Port.The Grassmarket was traditionally a meeting point for market traders and cattle drovers, with temporary lodgings and taverns all around. It was also once a place of public execution, and a memorial near the site once occupied by the gibbet was created in 1937 to commemorate more than 100 people who died on the gallows in a period known as The Killing Time.Nowadays, the old market area is surrounded by pubs, clubs, shops, and two large hotels. Most buildings in the area are Victorian, with several modern buildings on the area’s south side.More

Arthur's Seat

One of several peaks in the long-extinct volcanic ridge that towers behind Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat offers hill walking in the heart of the city. Set within the 640-acre (260-hectare) Holyrood Park, it’s also the site of a 2,000-year-old hill fort. On a clear day, the summit promises spectacular views of the cityscape.More

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

A vast landscape of hills and mountains, lush valleys, mist-shrouded lochs, and shady woodland trails, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park makes an easy rural retreat from Scotland’s biggest city. Located just north of Glasgow, the park also serves as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands.More

Glasgow Cathedral

Dating back to medieval times, Glasgow Cathedral is the only medieval cathedral on Scotland’s mainland to have survived the Reformation almost fully intact. A magnificent Gothic construction, it features stained-glass windows, a 15th-century stone choir screen, and the tomb of St. Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Scotland

Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
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Isle of Skye, The Highlands and Loch Ness- 3 Day Group Tour from Edinburgh
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Edinburgh Castle Tour: Fast-Track Guided Tour in English
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The Isle of Skye & Eilean Donan Castle from Inverness
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Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle and the Kelpies from Edinburgh
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Full-Day Trip to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands with Lunch from Edinburgh
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Recent reviews from experiences in Scotland

Just a wee trip
David_D, Mar 2023
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
Highly recommend this tour if you want to see Scotlands country side.
Joyce_C, Feb 2023
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
It was a great experience to see and experience the different places in Scotland.
Sitting on the top, right...
Julie_K, Feb 2023
Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off City and Britannia Joint Tour
Sitting on the top, right in front with the large window to see and hear all snout Scotland was fascinating.
Freezing history lesson
Anastasios_A, Jan 2023
Edinburgh Castle Guided Walking Tour - Tickets Incluided
I d recommend this tour be done on a sunny day, but these are pretty rare during the winter, so dress appropriately!
Beautiful Scotland and easy great tour
Maria_C, Dec 2022
Loch Ness & Highlands Day Tour from Edinburgh (*inc. Cruise from 1st April 2023)
Made me fall in love with Scotland!
Sum up Scotland in 3 days
Reyu_c, Dec 2022
3-Day Isle of Skye Inverness Highlands and Glenfinnan Viaduct Tour from Edinburgh
Most of the touristy attractions in Scotland are covered in this trip so please expect a lot of traveling.
Wonderful day trip!
Sadie_M, Nov 2022
Highlights of Scotland Luxury Private Tour With Scottish Local - Customisable
Definitely would recommend this day out if you’re looking to see a bit of more of Scotland outside of Edinburgh!
an eventful tour of the Scottish Highlands
Daniel_A, Feb 2023
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
Had a few days in Edinburgh, and I knew also wanted to see Scotland famed Highlands.
land of fife
Ellen_M, Oct 2022
St Andrews & The Fishing Villages of Fife from Edinburgh
Stuart gave us lots to see with wonderful stories to accompany the highlights of the tour.
Amazing excursion
Daniel_R, Oct 2022
Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands Day Tour from Edinburgh
The trip was very well organised and it was easy to travel with kids.
Perfect day trip from Edinburgh
molford, Oct 2022
St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
Perfect day trip from Edinburgh to visit the beautiful town of St Andrews as well as a few other small villages.
Great Tour
Meaghan_H, Oct 2022
Highlander Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield 8 Seater Tour from Inverness
A great way to see Culloden and the Inverness area.
Thank you ACE!
Morgan_K, Oct 2022
White Water Rafting and Cliff Jumping in the Scottish Highlands
We would absolutely go back even just to see staff again, it was a great and memorable part of our trip to Scotland.
Tour the Highlands
Patricia_T, Oct 2022
Loch Ness & Highlands Day Tour from Edinburgh (*inc. Cruise from 1st April 2023)
We got to see a lot and our driver was very informative all the way.
Great daily excursion with Rabbie’s
Radmila_D, Oct 2022
St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
Plenty to see and learn, effortless trip with Kevin from Rabbie’s!
Being able to see more of...
Davis_N, Oct 2022
Highland Lochs, Glens & Whisky Day Tour (*inc. entrance from 1st April 2023)
Being able to see more of Scotland and understand the history of it.
A Grand Visit to the Highlands
Walter_I, Sep 2022
3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Small-Group Tour from Edinburgh
A great way to see this special part of Scotland.
Great day out!
Tamara_S, Jan 2023
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
The best way to see the Scottish Highlands in a day.
Great one day tour of the Scottish highlands!
Audrey_L, Mar 2023
Glenfinnan, Glencoe and Fort William Full-Day Tour from Edinburgh
Highly recommend if you want to see more of the Highlands but don't have that much time to explore.
a tremendous stewart guide (pun intended)
Samira_E, Mar 2023
Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Small-Group Day Tour from Inverness
I had never seen mountains covered with fallen snow before, so it was something else.
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People Also Ask

What is Scotland known for?

Scotland is a land of instantly recognizable images (or clichés, depending on your opinion): tartan, bagpipes, haggis, mist-shrouded mountains, heather-clad hills, and haunting valleys. The small country has an outsized cultural reputation and has produced some of the world’s best literature, music, and art.

What should you not miss in Scotland?

Many visitors make the mistake of sticking to Edinburgh and its surroundings. You shouldn’t miss the chance to get out into the countryside—easily done in a small country. The Highlands are within easy reach from the capital and home to some of Scotland’s most majestic landscapes.

How many days is enough for Scotland?

Ten days is enough time to get a good taste of Scotland. You can see all of the highlights of Edinburgh and Glasgow, explore the highlights of the Highlands (including Glencoe and Loch Ness), and add on a visit to an island, such as Arran, Islay, or Mull.

What food should you try in Scotland?

Scottish food has an unfair and outdated reputation. The country boasts farm-to-table fare featuring world-class ingredients, from fresh seafood to wild game. Make sure to try Scottish salmon, local cheeses, and grouse, as well as distinctively Scottish dishes like cullen skink (a hearty fish soup), black pudding, and, yes, haggis.

Which cities should you visit on your first trip to Scotland?

You shouldn’t miss Edinburgh, the jewel in Scotland’s crown and home to its top attractions, including Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. But don’t sleep on Glasgow: Scotland’s grittier and inarguably friendlier city is less shaped by tourism, offering an earthier and perhaps more authentic view of Scotland.

What is the best way to travel around Scotland?

Rent a car if you can. Public transportation is extensive but train and bus timetables are not always convenient when traveling to more remote parts of the country. Alternatively, book guided tours and let someone else tackle driving on narrow country roads.


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