If I could, I would spend weeks exploring everything there is to see and do in Scotland. Unfortunately, that’s not possible for me and the majority of people so we have to settle for a week or less. These are ten places you need to visit in Scotland if you only have a limited time there.
I love waterfalls! Remember that time I was so excited when I finally figured out how to get silky smooth water in my pictures from Mount Rainier? Well, I happened to like the non-silky smooth photos for this waterfall better.
Northern Scotland is full of waterfalls all over the place. Some of them are tiny streams trickling down the mountainside. Others have massive amounts of water cascading over the rocks. And you don’t have to look very far from the road to see some amazing ones!
I might be a little biased in thinking this is one of the must-see castles. Huntly was home of the Gordon’s and if you didn’t know, I am a Gordon! A couple of years ago Mom and I did an Ancestry DNA test and I immediately signed up for their free trial afterward. I was able to trace my family history all the way back to the Gordons of Huntly.
After my disastrous car rental and getting The Bus, I made it there after it had closed. Standing at the gate, disappointed I didn’t make it in time, a friendly local told me it was okay to hop the fence and wander around the castle grounds, so I did. I think it was even better wandering around after hours with no one there but me and the ruined castle. I do not recommend hopping fences.
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Bealach na Ba
Bealach na Ba is a mountain pass that takes you to over 2,000 feet in elevation on the way to Applecross, a small coastal town. It was one of the best roads we went on. The views on the way up were stunning and the views from the top were equally as stunning.
And the best part? It started snowing as we made our way up the twisty road.
There’s really not much more I can say about it. It was one of the places that you just have to see for yourself and take in all the beauty.
Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park is home to the snow road, a road typically covered in snow during the winter months. You can also find a ski resort or two along the route. This past winter was a little bit sad for Scotland as they didn’t receive enough snow to open their ski resorts. There was snow when we made it there, just not enough to go skiing.
Other highlights along the snow road were the lookout just before Cock Bridge when coming from the north and all the places you can pull off along the side of the road with sweeping views.
Tour Caringorm National Park and the Glenfiddich Distillery
Be aware if you go in the spring that there will be mud. I ended up wearing most of the mud we found in the national park by the end of the day. Bring an extra change of jeans just in case you’re a klutz like me!
Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan was a castle I had seen it plenty of times around the internet and was always somewhere I wanted to see for myself. But it wasn’t something we planned to see, it was purely a happy accident we stumbled across it.
We didn’t go inside and instead took pictures of the outside before continuing on the road trip.
I loved Ullapool. Granted I didn’t venture very far beyond my hotel, but what little bit I saw of the town was perfect.
I stayed at the Arch Inn and had a delicious dinner from the pub on the main floor and a delicious breakfast in the morning. Before I loaded up The Bus, I walked along the rocky shore to the end of the road searching for cool rocks to take home with me. Instead, I found something much cooler, sea glass!
I can’t wait to go back and properly explore this cute little town more.
This isn’t the name of a particular loch, this really means visit any loch you can find in Scotland.
One of my favorite loch’s was down a side road we happened to pull off on. The was an old paved trail that followed the shoreline away from the road. There was nothing there but water, trees, mountains in the distance, the wilderness, and us. And it was perfection!
While I didn’t get the chance to stop at Loch Ness, it is definitely one of the must-see Lochs in the Highlands. There are many tours that take you on a boat around the lake giving you the opportunity to spot the ever-elusive Nessie.
Out of all the castles I saw in Scotland, Slains Castle was by far my favorite! I found it purely by chance while searching what there is to do near Aberdeen on Google Maps.
Slains is a ruined castle on the coastal cliffs of Aberdeenshire that you are free to wander around and through. In 1925, the roof was removed so the current owners wouldn’t have to pay taxes. Over time, nature reclaimed the area and the remainder of the building fell into ruin leaving what we see today.
Frequently referred to as the North Coast 500 or NC500 is a 516-mile route that links many of the tourist sites into one iconic route. It is one of the best routes I’ve ever driven. The scenery and landscape are absolutely stunning. You’ll be left in awe the whole way.
Many of the roads follow the coast while some take you inland over and through mountains. Small seaside villages dot the route and sheep are everywhere.
The Highlands is full of wildlife and epic landscapes. It’s a huge area and you’ll need more than a week to do it all properly, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Have you been to Scotland? The Highlands? Slains Castle? Which was your favorite part? Would you go back?
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