I’ve lived in Scotland nearly half of my life and there are so many spectacular places to visit. Yet there are still so many more out there waiting for me to discover.
I enjoy being off the beaten track and Scotland offers that in abundance. Unlike our holiday in Switzerland, you’re unlikely to find a hotel at the top of a Scottish mountain.
It’s not all about solitude though. There are some stunning villages, towns and cities too. Here are five of my favourite places in Scotland.
Isle Of Skye
I remember when I first travelled over the Skye Bridge on my way to a hill walking adventure. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the place we were staying at and as we were camping how it would turn out. Whilst there were quite a lot of midges about, it was one of the best hill walking adventures I’ve ever had in Scotland.
Since my first visit, I’ve been back to the Isle of Skye a number of times with my family. It’s quite a large island with plenty of places to explore for all ages. Out of the holiday season, it becomes a much quieter place. It all depends on what you’re looking for as to the time of year you visit.
The red and the black Cuillin mountains dominate the Isle of Skye and offer some tricky hill walking opportunities. I’ve climbed Sgùrr Alasdair which is the highest peak on Skye. I remember the climb very well up the Great Stone Shoot to reach the top; not one for the faint-hearted.
There are so many amazing natural wonders to see around the island.
The landscape feels almost moon-like in places. Around every turn you’re greeted with an interesting view to take in. The Old Man of Storr is a must-see.
Edinburgh is an amazing city and a great place to be a part of. I went to university there and returned to live close by again almost 15 years ago. It’s a vibrant place to live and there’s always something going on of interest.
I don’t spend so much time in the city itself since I’ve had kids but it’s great to visit every once in a while. There are loads of public transport options from buses, trains to trams. We enjoy visiting the castle every couple of years. You get a great panorama of the city from its ramparts.
Princes Street is the main shopping area in Edinburgh with Princes Street Gardens situated at the base of the castle. It’s a great place for a picnic or a stroll in the sun. Most of the buildings along the street are only built on the south side of the street to preserve the views of Edinburgh Castle.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a big draw for the city and it can be an overwhelming place to be when the festival is on. There are tonnes of things to see though including plenty of shows for families. We tend to avoid the city at festival time unless there’s something we really want to see.
When you drive through Glencoe you can imagine centuries ago a thriving highland community. Now it feels more like a vast open wilderness. The first time I drove through it I was in awe of one of the mountains I could see – Buachaille Etive Mor.
It’s one of the best known munros in Scotland and is one I can can say I have conquered. From the road it looks impenetrable unless you have climbing gear. Thankfully there’s an easier route up but it’s still steep and hard going with boulders the closer you get to the top.
Glen Coe also includes the daunting Aonach Eagach ridge. It’s a long mountain ridge which is a Mecca for hillwalkers and mountaineers alike. It offers fantastic views over Glen Coe and beyond but with some tricky scrambling involved it may not be everyone’s cup of tea!
The West coast of Scotland is a diverse place of islands and mountains and Oban always feels to me like it’s at the centre of that. It’s where you’ll get a number of ferries to the Inner and Outer Hebrides for example. It’s also famous for its whisky distillery and chocolate factory.
Like Edinburgh. during the summer months Oban can be crowded with tourists. That doesn’t detract from the place though and I’m sure is the reason for the number of restaurants, pubs and shops available in the town.
We’ve been to the Sea Life Sanctuary at Oban a number of times and always enjoyed a visit. It’s such a shame that they have had to close their doors from October 2018 due to falling visitor numbers. I particularly remember the otters they had there and the support the sanctuary did for the local otter populations.
You won’t be disappointed with the scenery around Oban in any case. There’s something to see around every corner. If you walk up to McCaig’s Tower on a sunny day you’re guaranteed a stunning view over Oban and the islands beyond.
Aviemore in itself isn’t much to look at but there are some decent hotels, guest houses and chalets to stay in. The real star is the scenery around Aviemore and that’s the Cairngorms National Park. There are lots of things to do all year round.
You can take the funicular up CairnGorm mountain for some spectacular views. In the winter there’s also a number of ski runs which take you down from the top to the base station. If you’re a hillwalker, you can’t take the funicular up for conservation reasons but you can get it back down again.
What are your favourite places to visit in Scotland? Do you have any recommendations for things to do there?