As an Australian who is used to seeing landscapes on the dry & arid side, I find Scotland to be nothing short of majestic.
Although Australia does have amazing lush landscapes, I haven’t quite made it to that part of the country as of yet.
I’ve been wanting to visit this country of drastic landscapes and fine whiskeys for years.
I’m stoked to be finally doing it, the best way I can imagine, in a camper van.
After spending almost 2 weeks in Scotland, I have compiled a list of my Top 12 places you must visit.
Don’t forget to hashtag #travelwiththemacadames on your travel pictures – We’d love to see where you’re exploring! We all need a bit of adventure sometimes!
Talk about castle with a view. Of all the castles I saw in Scotland, this was my favourite. Surrounded by drastic cliffs and stretches of beach, you will be hard pressed to find a better view in all of Scotland.
Stonehaven is a coastal resort very popular with watersports enthusiasts. We just popped there for the afternoon to have lunch and take a stroll on the beach. It’s approximately 1.1 km in length and is covered with beautiful stones in all sorts of colours.
There’s nowhere better to be if you’re lucky enough to get that rare sunny Scottish day.
3. Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye, which lies to the north-west coast of the Scottish Highlands, was a massive highlight of my time in Scotland. The beautiful scenery, misty weather and untouched landscapes make it one of the most serene places I’ve visited. Pretty much every nook and cranny will take your breath away.
If you’re into hiking, you will definitely want to hike the Cuillin Ranges. Also known as the Black Cuillin, the mountain’s highest point is Sgurr Alasdair at 992 m. If you don’t want to tackle it alone, contact Cuillin Guides or Skye Guides to help you on your way.
While on Skye, you absolutely must see Kilt Rock, a famous sea cliff in north east Trotternish. It is said to resemble a kilt, with vertical basalt columns to form the pleats and intruded sills of dolerite forming the pattern.
A bit further on from Kilt Rock, at the top of the island you can catch the most beautiful views of the sunset. This was our first night of free camping and I think we’ve set the bar rather high! I don’t think it can get much better than this.
And don’t forget to visit the Isle of Skye Museum of Island Life. At their visitors centre/ticketing hut – you’ll find the CHEAPEST Harris Tweed goods in Scotland. But note they only take cash, bring some with you if you want to avoid a 120 minute round trip to the nearest ATM.
4. Ben Nevis
One of my favourite things we did was hike Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. The standard route is straightforward, if slightly strenuous. I would recommend starting at the Glen Nevis visitor centre car park and see this link for map and directions.
If you have time, I’d suggest commencing the climb early afternoon because that’s when the weather seemed to clear.
We unfortunately didn’t have great views.
And don’t be a fool like me and wear flimsy runners – even in the warmer months, there is still snow at the top.
Glencoe is possibly Scotland’s most famous and most picturesque glen and was recently voted as Scotland’s most romantic glen.
It’s a great place for hillwalking and mountaineering and an ideal base from which to explore the Highlands of Scotland. From easy walks to climbing or mountain biking, there’s something in Glencoe to suit everyone.
We spent an afternoon wandering the forest and basically getting eaten alive by midges. Definitely take bug spray with you – and alot of it!
Yes this is where “Made of Honour” was filmed – hello Patrick Dempsey! I’ve had a crush on him since Grey’s Anatomy. My McDreamy. No? Just me then.
The castle is iconically situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery.
Today, you can explore nearly every part of the castle, and enjoy a journey through the history of the area. They have those weird wax figurines demonstrating what life was like in the castle back in the day. Please note though, you can’t take photos inside.
Now don’t tell me it’s only me who wanted to visit St Andrews town, where William met Kate? If you’re a royal fan like me, you must visit this gorgeous seaside town and the ruins of its once mighty castle.
The cathedral, just around the corner is also worth a visit.
And while you’re here, check out the beautiful St Andrew’s University, Scotland’s first university which dates back to 1413.
Of course no Scottish trip is complete without a visit to the iconic capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. It is one of the prettiest cities in all of Europe and should definitely be on your Scottish hit list.
A short drive between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, The Falkirk Wheel, is a must visit for any quisi nerds.
If you’re up for it, you could take their boat trip, where you actually get to take a ride on the wheel.
Although not as pretty as Edinburgh, Glasgow is definitely worth a visit.
I’d suggest heading down to The West End, particularly Ashton Lane. It has a collection of restaurants and bars, perfect for when Scotland turns on the weather.
There are heaps of cute vintage shops including a whole range of them in Ruthven Mews Arcade.
And if it’s bars and late night venues you’re after. Don’t miss Bath Street. Some of my favourite bars we visited were Flat 01, a bar/nightclub set up to look like a grimy house party, and Tiki Bar, a typical tiki style bar with loads of cocktails and cool vibes.
Oban was hands down one of my favourite spots in all of Scotland. A quaint seaside village, it’s littered with seafood restaurants, cosy cafes and cute stores.
I could not recommend the Oban Seafood Hut more highly. Nestled right across from the fishing boats, your food goes from net to mouth in minutes. We ordered this seafood platter, and it came bursting with mussels, prawns, crab & other goodies. At 12 pounds, you won’t find better value.
If you’re into your whiskey, be sure to check out the Oban Distillery. Their tour only costs 7.5 pounds and takes you through their distillery and shows you how the whiskey is made.
I found it very interesting that all their whiskey is made in their 2 original stills (unfortunately I couldn’t take photos inside). Their most popular drop is their Oban 14 Year Scotch Whiskey. It has a medium peat flavour complimented well by the subtle flavour of orange peel and salt, which comes from the sea salt in air of the region effecting the whiskey whilst it ages in oak casks.
Although I have only just gotten into whiskey, like basically this week, I could definitely recommend this as a good place to start. It’s a smooth, smoky and slightly salty.
Now… to set up my scotch room.
I’m already lusting over this scotch chair.
12. Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle is one of the most picturesque landmarks in Scotland. Nestled on the banks of Loch Ness, beside the village of Drumnadrochit, it has great views up the length of the loch, and is one of the main sites for reported sightings of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. I didn’t see the elusive monster unfortunately.
Well. That sums up my list of top places to visit in Scotland. I hope it helps you in planning your trip to this beautiful country.
I hope you enjoy your trip to Scotland and please feel free to ask me any questions!
Anisa – The Macadames. xx